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11/15/06 a.m. The current Pontiff's recent comments on military service were translated into English two days ago and are part of the following update:

The Roman Catholic Church no longer has a position consistent with the early Church or the New Testament. And essentially, this seemed to have began no later than the fourth century.

In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine declared in favor of the religion of the Roman Catholics. Around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics,

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians,3304 and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure? (Chapter LXIV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

Some of those referred to as Paulians (Paulicians) and Cataphrygians were part of the true Church of God (please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3). Note that they are condemned for private assemblies and being haters of truth. Apparently Constantine felt that supporting the biblical sabbath, the biblical Passover, and other biblical doctrines were against his non-Christian version of the truth.

It is astounding to note it has been reported that,

More Christians were killed (by other Christians!) in the first century after the Council of Nicea than had been killed by pagans in the century before Nicea. Constantine, only one year after convening the Council of Nicea, had his own son (Crispus) put to death. Later he suffocated Fausta (his wife) in an overheated bath. Then he had his sister's son flogged to death and her husband strangled. (1) It was also during the reign of Constantine that the cross became a sacred symbol in Christianity, just as it had been in pagan religions.(2) Throughout his reign, Constantine treated the bishops as political aides. He agreed to enforce whatever opinion the majority of the bishops formulated (Chaimberlin RA. Anti-Judiasm and the Council of Nicea. From Petah Tikvah Magazine Vol. 14, No. 3, http://www.yashanet.com/library/antisem.htm 4/28/04).

Of course, we in the Churches of God do not believe that true Christians were involved in intentionally killing Christians as true Christians are opposed to fighting in the military.

Leading Roman Catholic theologians tried to justify war in the fifth and thirteenth centuries, and Thomas Aquinas actually listed some of the objections that real Christians should have to war:

Objection 1. It would seem that it is always sinful to wage war. Because punishment is not inflicted except for sin. Now those who wage war are threatened by Our Lord with punishment, according to Mt. 26:52: "All that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Therefore all wars are unlawful.

Objection 2. Further, whatever is contrary to a Divine precept is a sin. But war is contrary to a Divine precept, for it is written (Matthew 5:39): "But I say to you not to resist evil"; and (Romans 12:19): "Not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved, but give place unto wrath." Therefore war is always sinful.

Objection 3. Further, nothing, except sin, is contrary to an act of virtue.

But war is contrary to peace. Therefore war is always a sin.

Objection 4. Further, the exercise of a lawful thing is itself lawful, as is evident in scientific exercises. But warlike exercises which take place in tournaments are forbidden by the Church, since those who are slain in these trials are deprived of ecclesiastical burial. Therefore it seems that war is a sin in itself.

On the contrary, Augustine says in a sermon on the son of the centurion [Ep. ad Marcel. cxxxviii]: "If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the Gospel would rather have been counselled to cast aside their arms, and to give up soldiering altogether. On the contrary, they were told: 'Do violence to no man . . . and be content with your pay' [Luke 3:14. If he commanded them to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering." (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Online Edition Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS. Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

After listing 4 valid objections, Aquinas attempts to justify war over those objections. I would simply comment here that it is impossible to Do violence to no man if you are killing or trying to kill others--thus for Aquinas to use Augustine's argument here simply does not prove his point. The main point of Luke 3:14 is that John the Baptist taught that newly repentant people who happened to have been in the military (and who probably were not allowed to quit) should do NO VIOLENCE. Presumably, like the Apostle Paul taught about slaves (1 Corinthians 7:21), soldiers were being told that they should accept their burden until they could be free of it--and perhaps because of them doing no violence, it may be that they might be allowed out of their military obligation early (military commanders generally do not want soldiers who will not fight).

Anyway, to further justify war, Thomas Aquinas continued with:

Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace, which Our Lord "came not to send upon earth" (Matthew 10:34). Hence Augustine says (Ep. ad Bonif. clxxxix): "We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore, in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace" (Ibid).

Perhaps I should add here that the term "evil peace" is in no version of the Bible that I have ever seen, hence does not appear to be a valid reason for justifying Christian participation in warfare.

The Crusades were one of the most famous use of the military by those associated with the Roman Catholic (as well as Eastern Orthodox) Church.

As well as the famous inquisition:

The next major step in the establishment of the Inquisition was taken by Innocent III...In the West, the same pope launched a "Crusade" against the Cathars, or Albigenses, of Southern France in 1208...In the second century of the Christian Era, most Christians refused to take up arms at all.. One millennium later, Christians were not only fighting for the church against "infidels" who had conquered ancient biblical lands, but against other Christians, heretical ones, who only asked to be able to live in peace on their ancestral soil...Perhaps for medieval popes the crucial factor that caused them to condemn dissidents was really the dissidents' rejection of papal authority (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 260-261).

But using military force was not just Rome's position in the Middle Ages.

Notice the following curious statements from the current its pontiff, Benedict XVI, who to a large degree is supporting his predecessor, as well as the position of Aquinas:

In this regard, the Introduction of "Spirituali Militum Curae" expressly cites "Gaudium et Spes," recalling that those doing military service must be considered as "ministers of the security and freedom of peoples", because, "if they carry out their duties properly, they also truly contribute to stabilizing peace" (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," n. 79).

If, therefore, the Council calls members of the armed forces "custodians of security", how much more so would be the Pastors to whom they are entrusted!

I therefore urge you all to ensure that military Chaplains are authentic experts and teachers of what the Church teaches and practices, with a view to building peace in the world.

Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution is an important milestone in this teaching and its contribution in this context can be summed up in the words you have rightly chosen as the theme of this Congress: "'Ministerium pacis inter arma' -- Soldiers at the service of peace".

My Predecessor considered this "ministerium pacis inter arma" "a new proclamation of the Gospel in the military world, of which the Christian soldiers and their communities cannot fail to be the first heralds" (Address, Third International Congress of Military Ordinariates, 11 March 1994; ORE, 23 March, n. 5, p. 6).

The Church is missionary by nature and her principal task is evangelization, which aims to proclaim and to witness to Christ and to promote his Gospel of peace and love in every environment and culture.

The Church is also called in the military world to be "salt", "light" and "leaven", to use the images to which Jesus himself refers, so that mindsets and structures may be ever more fully oriented to building peace, in other words, to that "order planned and willed by the love of God" (Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2006, n. 3; ORE, 21 December 2005, p. 6), in which people and peoples can develop to the full and see their own fundamental rights recognized (cf. ibid., n. 4).

The Church's teaching on the subject of peace is an essential aspect of her social doctrine. Grafted onto very ancient roots, it continued to develop in the past century in a sort of "crescendo" which culminated in the Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," in the Encyclicals of Bl. John XXIII and of the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, as well as in their Addresses to the United Nations Organization and their Messages for each World Day of Peace.

This insistent appeal for peace has influenced Western culture, fostering the ideal that the Armed Forces are "an exclusive service for the security and freedom of peoples" (John Paul II, Address, Third International Convention of Military Ordinariates; ORE, 23 March 1994, n. 5, p. 6). (Benedict XVI. Giving Priority to the Soldier's Christian Formation. Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered in the Vatican on Oct. 26 to the participants in the 5th International Congress of Military Ordinariates. From http://www.zenit.org/english/ 11/13/06 ).

Benedict XVI seems to clearly be teaching that participants in the military are essential to the Roman Catholic's teaching on peace. We in the Churches of God take a different view. Notice that the Bible prophecies about Jesus:

He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken (Micah 4:3-4).

Thus, we in the Churches of God see no reason to encourage behaviour that Christ will eliminate.

The above was added this morning to the article Military Service and the COGs .

The current pontiff is in the news again for a meeting he is intending to have tomorrow about priests who broke their vows of celibacy:

Pope calls meeting on married priests

The Times - Nov 15, 2006

THE Pope will gather church officials for a “reflection” on celibacy and marriage for priests tomorrow. The move has been prompted by the rebellion of an excommunicated Zambian archbishop, who has founded a movement for the promotion of married clergy.

The Vatican says that the heads of its congregations or ministries would examine the situation “created by the disobedience of Monsignor Emmanuel Milingo” and consider requests for exemptions to the celibacy rule for priests who wished to marry or who were already married.

It made clear that Pope Benedict XVI had not called the meeting intending to make significant changes but to discuss the issue in general and some circumstances in particular. “The meeting was called because of what happened with Mgr Milingo,” the Vatican said, “but they will also discuss the situation of priests who have left and who want to come back”...


An article of related interest may be Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters?

11/14/06 a.m. The current issue of WCG's Together (AKA the Worldwide News) has the following questions and answers about its name:

We haven?t heard anything about changing the church?s name for a while. Have we dropped the idea?

No, not at all. But we are not rushing into adopting a new name just to make a change. This is a serious and important decision, and we must make it carefully.

What progress have we made?

When we asked for suggestions for a new name, we had several hundred ideas submitted by members and ministers. We appointed a committee who looked at the suggested names and came up with a short list of possibilities.

Many of the names were unsuitable for a variety of reasons. Some were too long and cumbersome. Others sounded rather cultish. Some of the best suggestions were names already being used by other churches and groups and because of that, we could not use them.

The committee favored Grace Fellowship International, as it had all the elements that we felt were important: our transition from legalism to grace, the international nature of the church and the fact that we are indeed a Christian fellowship. Then we found that this name also was in use, making it unavailable to us. Even variations on this name could subject us to legal challenges. The next most desirable name, Grace International Communion, was met with mixed reactions when we announced it as a possibility.

Such as?

Many people told us they did not like the sound of the name. That is to be expected. Any new name will take some getting used to. Some people who initially did not like it have told us that they eventually warmed up to it. Several have written to tell us they would prefer that we reverse the order of the last two words, that is, Grace Communion International.

Some even wrote to tell us that the name sounds Roman Catholic. This is rather ironic, because our current name, Worldwide Church of God, when translated into some of the European languages, sounds like the ancient name of the Roman Catholic Church. We have actually received letters from Roman Catholic bishops objecting to our current name.

So, because we are a truly worldwide fellowship, adopting a new name is no easy decision.

All things considered, wouldn?t it be easier just to stay with what we have?

No, not if all things are considered. In some cases, our current name is a barrier to proclaiming the gospel effectively. Some people have an immediate negative reaction to our name because of our past, and they leave thinking we are the same church we once were. We have also been told that our present name sounds as if we are associated with one of a number of sectarian groups, or that we are a Pentecostal denomination. To some people, our name sounds pretentious or old fashioned.

When considering a name for our denomination, we need to consider the future as well as the past. Choosing a name for a church is not simply a spiritual matter. It has practical implications. The name becomes the church?s trademark, and helps people form a concept of who we are. What we call ourselves also has business and legal implications.

The name should not misrepresent what the church is. Older members will remember that our church has been known as Worldwide Church of God only since 1968. Before then, we were known as the Radio Church of God. This made sense at the time, as the church had pioneered religious radio broadcasting. In the thirties, forties and maybe even the fifties, a name that included the word ?radio? sounded dynamic and modern. But by the ?60s, it had begun to sound quaint and out-of-date. Membership was growing, and congregations were established around the world. We needed a name that described what our church had become. So ?Worldwide? was chosen, and it has served us well. But we need to ask if it is time for yet another ?upgrade.?

Many well-established organizations, corporations and financial institutions have changed their ponderous old names to something snappier to reflect new realities.

But isn?t it more important that the name of the church sounds right to God?

In the past, we put much emphasis on the idea that the precise name of the church was one of the identifying marks of ?the true church.? But were we right about that?

Even the name ?Christian? was not divinely revealed. It was first used by the people of ancient Antioch to describe the followers of Jesus in their city (Acts 11:26). However, it was a good name, and it stuck.

Obviously, we would not choose a name that we thought would meet with God?s disapproval. But it is not a precise combination of words that makes any group ?God?s church.?

Many congregations in the United States have already changed their names. Why doesn?t that solve the problem?

Those name changes are for individual congregations, based on local needs and considerations. They are relatively easy to make. However, we still need a corporate name for the denomination that identifies our entire worldwide body and meets the many legal and commercial criteria both in the USA and around the world.

Changing the corporate name is vastly more complicated today than it was in 1968. It isn?t just a case of coming up with some words with which we can emotionally and spiritually identify. We must take into account legal and business considerations, and we do not want the new name to have the same shortcomings as the old name. That is not so easy.

So where do we go from here?

The committee continues to receive suggestions and review names to discover which are appropriate and can be trademarked. The ideal name would be one that is modern sounding, unambiguous, catchy enough to be memorable, short enough to be a telephone greeting, able to be translated accurately, descriptive of who and what we are, and dynamic enough to reflect our mission. We have not found it yet. Please keep praying that just the right name will become evident to the church.

A new name is not the most urgent priority for our church. But it is important, and if we adopt a new name it must be the right one.

Since WCG is no longer a true "Church of God", I encourage them to make a name change. NOTE: The font changes and ? found throughout the above are in the original.

11/13/06 a.m. The following statement, just made the news:

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
Church's text on its belief that the Papacy is the Antichrist.
Source: Church Website at Faith - Doctrinal Statements http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?

Therefore on the basis of a renewed study of the pertinent Scriptures we reaffirm the statement of the Lutheran Confessions, that “the Pope is the very Antichrist” (cf. Section II), especially since he anathematizes the doctrine of the justification by faith alone and sets himself up as the infallible head of the Church.

We thereby affirm that we identify this “Antichrist” with the Papacy as it is known to us today, which shall, as 2 Thessalonians 2:8 states, continue to the end of time, whatever form or guise it may take. This neither means nor implies a blanket condemnation of all members of the Roman Catholic Church, for despite all the errors taught in that church the Word of God is still heard there, and that Word is an effectual Word. Isa 55:10, 11; cf. Apology XXIV, 98, cited above under II.

We make this confession in the confidence of faith. The Antichrist cannot deceive us if we remain under the revelation given us in the Apostolic word (2 Th 2:13-17), for in God’s gracious governance of history the Antichrist can deceive only those who “refused to love the truth” (2 Th 2:10-12).

And we make this confession in the confidence of hope. The Antichrist shall not destroy us but shall himself be destroyed—“Whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming” (2 Th 2:8).

We reject the idea that the fulfillment of this prophecy is to be sought in the workings of any merely secular political power (2 Th 2:4; cf. Treatise on the Power and the Primacy of the Pope 39).

We reject the idea that the teaching that the Papacy is the Antichrist rests on a merely human interpretation of history or is an open question. We hold rather that this teaching rests on the revelation of God in Scripture which finds its fulfillment in history. The Holy Spirit reveals this fulfillment to the eyes of faith (cf. The Abiding Word, Vol. 2, p. 764). Since Scripture teaches that the Antichrist would be revealed and gives the marks by which the Antichrist is to be recognized (2 Th 2:6,8), and since this prophecy has been clearly fulfilled in the history and development of the Roman Papacy, it is Scripture which reveals that the Papacy is the Antichrist.

Source: http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=795&contentID=4441&shortcutID=5297

However, a politician, who apparently does not know what her church actually teaches, took exception to this:

Star Tribune (Minneapolis St-Paul) - Oct 30, 2006

The labyrinthine doctrine of a theologically conservative Lutheran denomination has wound its way into the Sixth District congressional campaign, a twist that has Republican Michele Bachmann's campaign fuming and DFLer Patty Wetterling's denying any role.
Liberal blogs are abuzz with claims that the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the parent of Bachmann's church, holds that the pope is the antichrist.

"Good grief, that's ridiculous," said Bachmann spokeswoman Connie Slama.

The issue surfaced on the Internet last week at www. faithfuldemocrats.com, got a mention on Saturday's Star Tribune opinion page and was the subject of a weekend debate question that WCCO-TV's Pat Kessler put to Bachmann.

Kessler asked: "The Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reports ... that the church you belong to is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod which, it says, regards the Roman Catholic pope as the antichrist. Is this true? Do you share the views of your church? And, why should any Catholic in the Sixth District vote for you if it is true?"

Bachmann replied, "That's a false statement. ... It's abhorrent, religious bigotry. I love Catholics, I'm a Christian, and my church does not believe that the pope is the antichrist. That's absolutely false. ... I welcome and have as part of our family many Catholic members as well."

My experience is that many do not know what their church teaches on a variety of matters. Speaking of antichrist, an article of possible interest may be SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.

Here are a three articles that Protestants may wish to read to see if there beliefs are truly based upon the Bible:

Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, Martin Luther's writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the COG is NOT Protestant.
Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants How the COGs differ from mainstream Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a COG background.

11/12/06 a.m. Today CG7 considers this to be a day for prayer for the persecuted church, as its website announced:

Local Churches are Encouraged to Participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

On other CG7 matters, a reader sent in the following quote from the Oct/Nov issue of CG7's Bible Advocate, p.30 under 'International Tour/IMC coming to North America'. The article is by Ramon Ruiz, International Ministerial Congress (IMC) President:

During the next congress the IMC will use much of its time (a) analyzing the theological topic 'Other .Days' to clarify our position regarding the observance of days other than the weekly Sabbath

And the reader of this page then asked me:

Could they be considering the Bible annual days - or is it a reference to Christmas, Easter etc? Have you heard anything?

To answer the second question, what I know (and reported here earlier) is that CG7 is re-looking at its doctrinal statement, possibly to shorten it. It is unlikely to endorse the pagan holidays directly. As far as speculation, my guess (based upon CG7's actions the past few years) is that it will confirm that Passover has been historically held on the 14th, but that its members should not condemn those who have other dates or other days that CG7 does not officially endorse (which would include both the biblical holy days, as well as the pagan days, as like it or not, CG7 has members who keep both).

An article of possible interest may be Church of God, Seventh Day.

LCG's Wayne Pyle reported:

Our preliminary response on Thursday did not even come close to predicting this week’s exceptional response! This week’s program is breaking all previous response-records for The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy booklet. For whatever reason, the Thursday response was low compared to the following days. We aired new program #281, “Keys to Understanding Prophecy,” offering The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy (USP). From Thursday through Sunday, we received 2,988 phone calls, and we are expecting the final count to be about 3,700. 

The Philadelphia work continues to move forward.

Yesterday, I added the following information to my article on Irenaeus:

Irenaeus did hold several views that we in the Churches of God hold that differ markedly from those now held by the Roman Catholic Church and certain other mainstream churches.

Specifically, he endorsed the millennium, was opposed to allegorizing prophecies in the Book of Revelation, claimed he was opposed to using tradition over scripture, and was opposed to baptism by annointing.

Here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia notes about the millennium:

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a native of Asia Minor, influenced by the companions of St. Polycarp, adopted millenarian ideas, discussing and defending them in his works against the Gnostics (Adv. Haereses, V, 32)...

The most powerful adversary of millenarianism was Origen of Alexandria. In view of the Neo-Platonism on which his doctrines were founded and of his spiritual-allegorical method of explaining the Holy Scriptures, he could not side with the millenarians. He combatted them expressly, and, owing to the great influence which his writings exerted on ecclesiastical theology especially in Oriental countries, millenarianism gradually disappeared from the idea of Oriental Christians...

St. Augustine was for a time, as he himself testifies (De Civitate Dei, XX, 7), a pronounced champion of millenarianism; but he places the millennium after the universal resurrection and regards it in a more spiritual light (Sermo, CCLIX). When, however, he accepted the doctrine of only one universal resurrection and a final judgment immediately following, he could no longer cling to the principal tenet of early chiliasm. St. Augustine finally held to the conviction that there will be no millennium...The struggle between Christ and His saints on the one hand and the wicked world and Satan on the other, is waged in the Church on earth; so the great Doctor describes it in his work De Civitate Dei. In the same book he gives us an allegorical explanation of Chapter 20 of the Apocalypse...at all events, the kingdom of Christ, of which the Apocalypse speaks, can only be applied to the Church (De Civitate Dei, XX 5-7). This explanation of the illustrious Doctor was adopted by succeeding Western theologians, and millenarianism in its earlier shape no longer received support...

The Middle Ages were never tainted with millenarianism; it was foreign both to the theology of that period and to the religious ideas of the people. (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Millennium and Millenarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Since perhaps beginning with Origen, and definitely since the time of Augustine, those associated with the Roman Catholic Church have done away with the meaning of the Book of Revelation by way of allegorizing its actual meaning. Irenaeus, however, condemned those who would do that:

1. If, however, any shall endeavour to allegorize [prophecies] of this kind, they shall not be found consistent with themselves in all points, and shall be confuted by the teaching of the very expressions [in question]. (Book V, Chapter 35, Verse 1 ).

Yet The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

St. Augustine has perhaps more than any one else helped to free the Church from all crude fancies as regards its pleasures. He explained the millennium allegorically and applied it to the Church of Christ on earth (Van Den Biesen C. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler. Apocalypse. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is sad that Roman Catholic scholars seem to believe that allegoricially understanding the Book of Revelation (which they call The Apocalypse) helped to free the Church from all crude fancies.

Notice that Irenaeus seems to only endorse baptism through immersion in water as opposed to annointing a head and mumbling phrases:

But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book I, 13:1-2; 21:3-4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. KnightBook).

What was one of the bad practices of the Gnostic Valentinians? According to Irenaeus, they relied on tradition more than scripture:

1. Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book 1, Chapter 8, Verse 1).

1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, "But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world." And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 2, Verse 1).

For these men are not more to be depended on than the Scriptures; nor ought we to give up the declarations of the Lord, Moses, and the rest of the prophets, who have proclaimed the truth, and give credit to them, who do indeed utter nothing of a sensible nature, but rave about untenable opinions (Book II, Chapter 30, Verse 6. BY ST. IRENAEUS OF LYONS; Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson American Edition, 1885 Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Is that not what the Roman Catholics now do?

How can the modern Roman Catholic Church consider that Irenaeus was an important saint since he condemned many of its current practices?

The above information and more is included in the article Irenaeus: The Most Dangerous Heretic?

11/11/06 a.m. Last night, ICG's Mark Armstrong reported:

Our nation has taken a sharp left turn this week, and the world is rejoicing.  This organization has never endorsed any political party or candidate, but the terrorists did!  Hugo Chavez did!  Socialist Europe did, and they got their way.  Can this possibly bode well for the future of the United States?  It is simply impossible for us to ignore what has taken place and where our nation is headed...

Iran is on the brink of going nuclear and celebrating our imminent demise, North Korea HAS GONE NUCLEAR, Lebanon is again a staging ground for the next war between Hezbollah and Israel.  And this week, following war games complete with mid and long-range missile demonstrations, Iran boasted of its intentions to share its missiles and its technology “with others.” 

Imagine how relieved I was to check in on CNN just before the election, and heard that this whole war on terror thing was cooked up by George Bush just so he could pull off the greatest power grab in the history of the country!  That’s right.  The threat from radical Islam is just a ruse so the president and his buddies can eavesdrop on our phone calls and peruse our financial transactions without a warrant!  And the real crime?  The real crime is that the media, the citizens, all of us sat by and let him get away with it!  Well, he’s a lame duck quacking now.  Now we can make buddies with Iran, maybe compare notes on nuclear fission.  We’ll look forward to national health care, subsidized college tuition, and amnesty for all illegal aliens.

I have no political comments about the above, but do have two things to say. The first is that the Bible suggests that the Islamists are not done with the descendants of Israel, no matter what happens in US elections (please see the article Is There A Future King of the South?). The second is that today is veterans' day, and even though I am a veteran (I spent four years in the USAF), those in the COGs need to realize that we in the COGs do not fight, as is discussed in the article Military Service and the COGs.

Speaking of Islam, the following was written by UCG's Melivin Rhodes:

Note the following quotes from prominent Muslims down through the centuries.

The prophet Muhammad in his farewell address in March 632 said: "I was ordered to fight all men until they say 'There is no god but Allah.'"

Saladin, who drove the Europeans out of Jerusalem in the 12th century, proclaimed in January 1189: "I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah."

More recently, note the words of the leader of the 1979 Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: "We will export our revolution throughout the world… Until the calls 'there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah' are echoed all over the world."

Two months after Sept. 11, Osama bin Laden said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad."

Perhaps more chilling are the words expressed by seventh-century Byzantine officials in Egypt of the Arab invaders: "We have seen a people who love death more than life, and to whom this world holds not the slightest attraction" (quoted by Karsh, p. 23).This description was penned by people who represented the superpower of their day—the Eastern Roman Empire. The same words could be written of today's suicide bombers.

A biblical prophecy about the Arabs, the descendants of Abraham's other son Ishmael, says something very similar: "He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren" (Genesis 16:12).

Is There A Future King of the South?

Here is a followup story to one posted here a couple of days ago:

Islamic hackers again fail to disrupt Vatican web site 

Catholic World News - Nov 10, 2006 

For the second time in as many months, computer hackers affiliated with a radical Islamic group tried and failed to penetrate the Vatican web site, the Italian AGI news service reports.

Islamic militants who identified themselves as "leaders of the electronic jihad" announced on their own internet sites that they would launch a "large-scale battle" against the Vatican site this week, in response to what they saw as insults against Islam by Pope Benedict XVI.  The exact form of the attack was not explained.

According to the AGI news story, an attack was launched on November 9, but thwarted by security measures on the Vatican site. A similar effort to disrupt the Vatican internet site was made in October-- again without any significant effect.

11/10/06 a.m. It is a historical fact that, sadly, non-COG groups have tended to accept various doctrines that pagan Greeks held in preference to those of the Bible. And the truth is still known in the 21st century. Yesterday, a reader of this page forwarded me a link to a recent article in US News regarding a couple of doctrinal points that most of the mainstream accepts. Notice the following (bolding mine):

Plato, most influentially, separated the soul, or psyche, from the material body and argued that this reasoning part of our being was immortal. His idea was so powerful and attractive that it has kept philosophers intimately engaged with it to this day. Then, too, because so many influential Christian theologians were part of this philosophical tradition, Platonic ideas have left a lasting imprint on Christian beliefs. The body may die, many Christians hold, but the soul lives on, presumably extending into eternity those qualities that we associate with our conscious minds and our sense of selfhood...

Malcolm Jeeves, an honorary professor of psychology at the University of St. Andrews, is one of many believing scientists..."The immortality of the soul is so often talked about that it is easy to miss that the Jewish view did not support it," Jeeves says. "Furthermore, the original Christian view was not the immortality of the soul but the resurrection of the body." But Platonism did creep in, Jeeves acknowledges, winning over such influential Christian theologians as Augustine and John Calvin. (Tolson J. Is There Room for the Soul? New challenges to our most cherished beliefs about self and the human spirit. US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, October 23, 2006).

So there you have it. Some of the leading non-Church of God scholars got what people now accept from paganism. And some non-Church of God scholars do understand that the original Christians did not accept the immortality of the soul, but taught the resurrection of the body.

It may be of interest to note that the false idea that humans could not die as they possessed immortality was, according to Justin, believed by false Christians who descended from Simon Magus:

"To Simon the holy God." And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him. And a man, Meander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetaea, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art. He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his...All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them...But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you (Justin. First Apology, Chapter XXVI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

All of the above is included in the article Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?

Speaking of early Christian beliefs, the following was added yesterday to the Early Christianity page:

Recall that Jesus taught: "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14).

Jesus knew that the true teachings of God and the true Church would only be found by a few. An article of related interest might be Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants.

On other matters, I noticed yesterday that the since the two UCG leaders visited LCG, the popularity of my article Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God has increased greatly. Perhaps I should also add here that RC Meredith is not feeble or at death's door (nor guilty of the absurd chrages that have been brought up), but even if he were to somehow become incapacitated or die, LCG is not going to merge with UCG--LCG has other leaders, and one would take his place. LCG is different from UCG and LCG's work is different. Some articles of possible interest may be:

The Philadelphia Church Era
The Laodicean Church Era
Are the Laodiceans the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees?
Did Roderick C. Meredith Really Make 26 Doctrinal Changes?
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?

11/09/06 a.m. By the time you read this, some Muslims apparently hope to have diminished the reach of the Vatican's messages:


AKI - Nov 8, 2006

Dubai  - Muslim hackers allegedly supporting al-Qaeda have announced - for the second time in a month - a planned attack on the Vatican's official website. The assault has been planned by Islamist cyber-rogues for Thursday 9 November at 12 am Mecca time (10 am in Italy).

The announcement was made on Wednesday through the creation of an ad hoc site where hackers can download programmes to start the internet attack. "The leadership of the electronic Jihad has decided to undertake a grand attack against the official Vatican site following the insults by the Pope against our Prophet," read a statement. 
"With Allah's blessing, the attack will succeed thanks to the help of our brothers if we all attack simultaneously. We ask all our brothers to be present at the hour of the attack for a joint action, because they (Catholics) have struck our religion. They must be fought and deserve to be attacked and not only on their internet site," the statement continued. http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Terrorism&loid=8.0.358003360&par=

On a somewhat related note, some anti-COG Protestants seem to believe that trying to stop the COGs from broadcasting is such a good thing that they hope to organize to do so. A member of COG-eim told me about the following article:

Take action!
Years ago we became aware that the most popular local “Christian” radio station in Birmingham carried cult programming– 2 splinter groups from the Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. They teach/taught that they were the only one true church, denied the Trinity, denied the physical bodily resurrection of Christ, and taught salvation was earned by keeping the 10 Commandments plus more law.

After much pressure and resistance, the station eventually took them off the air. In the process, we discovered that the FCC does not require Christian stations to carry any programming that is in conflict with their teachings. We also learned that commercial interests and pragmatism took precedence over the responsibility to teach sound doctrine and protect the flock from fatal error.

Now there has been a resurgence of cult programming on local and national “total Christian” stations and networks. Our brother James Kieferdorf has expended his time and resources fighting this from his home in Dallas, Texas.

He documents that programs such as Ron Dart’s, “Born to Win” program as well as other Armstrong cult splinter groups like the United Church of God and other Churches of God (not to be confused with the Pentecostal Church of God head quartered in Cleveland, Tennessee or the Church of God headquartered in Anderson, Indiana) are on many stations. Some of the programs are “Wonderful World Tomorrow” and “Beyond Today.”
These cult programs may be heard on Salem Broadcasting, Crawford Broadcasting and Inspirational Family Radio. They are on some local stations as well. They also carry a number of Seventh-day Adventist programs which are often cultic.

Do a little research and see if these programs are on your town’s Christian radio. If so, contact us for some guidance and help to get them removed. Mr. Kieferdorf has been successful with a number of stations already. Crawford, Salem, and Inspirational are dragging their feet. You can make an important difference! An eternal difference! http://www.arcapologetics.org/worldviews/worldviews-2006-04.htm

It is sad that Protestants do not realize that the trinity is not biblical and that trinitarianism was not taught by the early Church (binitarianism was). After they are resurrected, most of the anti-COG types will realize the error of their ways.

The statement from these antagonists "They teach/taught that they were the only one true church, denied the Trinity, denied the physical bodily resurrection of Christ, and taught salvation was earned by keeping the 10 Commandments plus more law" is in error other than the trinity point.

CEM is not a church and does NOT teach it is the one true church, nor does UCG teach it is the one true church (though they teach that they are part of it). We in the COGs DO teach the bodily resurrection of Christ. And the COGs do NOT teach, nor have they ever taught, that salvation is earned from keeping the ten commandments. On that last point, here, for clarification, is what LCG teaches from its posted Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs:


Salvation is God’s gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Romans 5:10). Upon repentance and baptism, God justifies us from our past sins. We then begin an ongoing process of "being saved" as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Our salvation will be complete at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). In observing the biblical Festivals and Sabbaths, we come to understand more deeply God’s plan of salvation, and the steps toward salvation that we take as Christians.

 Steps toward salvation:

Faith in Christ
The first important step toward salvation is coming to complete faith in God and in Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 6:1; 11:6). Peter said, "be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:36-38).

A vital step toward salvation is repentance of sin—repentance of transgressing God’s law (1 John 3:4). As the New Testament Church began, Peter was inspired to command, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you…" (Acts 2:38). Since every human being has sinned (Romans 3:23), and the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23), each sinner must turn from breaking God’s law, and be willing to obey His Maker through Christ living within him (Galatians 2:20).

Baptism by immersion
After God calls us and brings us to repentance, and we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, the next vital step to salvation is water baptism. One should be baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 9:1-18) as a sign of total surrender to God and of a willingness to bury the old self (Romans 6:3-6).

Receiving God’s grace
Salvation is the result of the application of both God’s "law" and His "grace" (Greek charis). "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it [that faith] is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9)! We are "justified by His [Christ’s] blood" and are "reconciled to God through the death of His Son [but] we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:9-10).

At baptism, the Christian enters the "new covenant" with God (Matthew 26:28). That new covenant does not do away with the law of God. God writes His laws in our minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:8-10). When one is baptized, he or she makes a solemn covenant with God that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he will keep His commandments and live a godly life from that day onward! It is Christ who actually lives His obedient life within us through the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul was inspired to write, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, KJV).

Receiving God’s Holy Spirit
When we repent, accept Jesus and are baptized, God forgives us our sins (Acts 2:38; cf. Psalm 103:3, 10-13). If we are truly to overcome sin, we must receive God’s "power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Through God’s dynamic Spirit we can keep His commandments. According to New Testament teaching, the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the hands of Christ’s Apostles, or elders (Acts 8:17; 9:17; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6).

Exercising "living" faith
According to the Word of God, faith is vital for salvation, being one of the foundational doctrines of the Bible (Hebrews 6:1). "Without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). But living faith involves doing what God says, obeying Him! "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20).

Growing in the "grace and knowledge of God"
After repentance, acceptance of Christ, baptism and receipt of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17-18), the recently baptized and newly begotten child of God must continue to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord" (2 Peter 3:18). "Glorification"—putting on immortality—is the final step in receiving salvation (1 Corinthians 15:53). Ultimate salvation for mankind comes at glorification in His Kingdom. (Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 3:21; 2 Timothy 2:10).

It is sad that not only do our attackers try to block our message, but they also feel that they have to improperly portray what we teach in order to do it.

Perhaps if they better understood the teachings in the following three articles, they might realize why we in the COGs are not Protestant and how we really differ from them:

Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, Martin Luther's writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the COG is NOT Protestant.
Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants How the COGs differ from mainstream Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a COG background.

11/08/06 a.m. During this Fally Holy Day season, CG7-Denver (which does not observe them), had a potentially important meeting:

From October 2 - 7, the ministers of the Church of God (Seventh Day) met in Overland Park, Kansas, for the biennial meeting of the North American Ministerial Council.

The 65 documented ministers in attendance represented about half of the total number of licensed and credentialed ministers in the US and Canada.  In addition to the ministers, there were about 20 observers officially seated at the meetings.  The NE District was represented by five ministers and two spouses: Paul Heavilin, pastor, Muskegon, MI; Max Morrow, pastor, Owosso, MI; Jose Antonio Vega, pastor, Lanham, MD, accompanied by his wife, Alba; Richard Wiedenheft, District Superintendent, and Paul VanderHorst, associate pastor, Petersburg, MI, accompanied by his wife Jean.

With "The Wonderful Names of Jesus," as a theme, the ministers spent time on Monday evening and each morning worshipping, lifting high the name of Jesus and praising God, listening to a sermon on the theme, and praying together.  Elder Wiedenheft preached at the opening service Monday evening about Jesus as the Son of God and Son of Man; Elder Morrow preached Tuesday morning about Jesus as Lord.  Subsequent morning services focused on other names and roles of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Council business, led by president Loren Stacy, began each morning about 9. Early in the week the License and Credentials Committee chair, Glen Palmer, reported that it had granted licenses or credentials to 15 men in the past two years.  One early matter for Council consideration was a major presentation about the nature of the relationship between Jesus, the Son of God, and the Father, which resulted in no change to our doctrinal teaching on this point.  Other major business was consideration of a proposed restatement of our fundamental doctrines, a restatement that was intended to simplify and shorten our existing statement, reducing the number of sections from 27 to 12 by grouping together those that are related without making any changes to the meaning of the current statement.  There was a great deal of discussion on the proposed restatement, a significant number of amendments were offered and some were accepted.  In the end the new statement was accepted by a vote of 44 to 8.

Part of the resolution adopting the new statement of faith was a requirement for the appointment of a committee to "prepare a document that amplifies each 'Statement of Faith' with a study, accompanied by Scripture texts, and report its work to the Council in session in 2008..." Three of the five members of this committee are from the NE District: Richard Wiedenheft, Max Morrow, and Antonio Vega; the other two are Calvin Burrell and Roy Marrs.

The afternoons were generally devoted to special seminars and presentations meant to edify and encourage the ministers; one, a panel discussion on ministerial ethics, was led by Larry Marrs.  Max Morrow and Antionio Vega sat on the panel along with Ken Knoll and Glen Palmer.  Elder Wiedenheft gave a presentation about recent research on diet, disease, and health and the importance of taking care of our bodies which are tools for ministry in God's hands.

Sabbath morning the ministers were joined by the members of the Kansas City church for worship services.  Elder Antonio Vega gave the sermon entitled "Almighty God is He."  The week and the Sabbath culminated with a banquet for all the ministers which included a devotional by Calvin Burrell, a prayer time led by Elder John Howell and ordination of the three of the new ministers who had not yet been ordained: Jose Hinojosa, Chicago, James Sawyer, Topeka, KS, and Eddie Villalba, Denver.  Outgoing president Loren Stacy introduced the new officers:  Robert Coulter, president, Carl Palmer, vice-president, and Ken Knoll, secretary; they will preside over the next meeting of the North American Ministerial Council which will take place in the fall of 2008.

Sometimes when they get together, they seem to be more liberal, other times they seem to be more conservative. Two articles of possible interest may be the Church of God, Seventh Day and The Sardis Church Era.

With the addition of Part 3 on Sunday, there are now four articles on China at the COGwriter.com site:

China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 1: Genesis and Chinese Characters This article provides information showing that the Chinese peoples must have known about various accounts in the Book of Genesis up until their dispersion after the Tower of Babel.
China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 2: The Sabbath and Some of God's Witness in China When did Christianity first come to China? And is there early evidence that they observed the seventh day sabbath?
China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 3: China in Prophecy What is Ahead for China? What will happen to nearly all the Chinese?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformattedGood News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.

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Volume 10, issue 26 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006