Opinions By COGwriter
This article consists of three parts. The first are quotes that were available from the Church of God, In Truth website in February 2001 (though the first quote was on the website 9/12/03, and some 02/13/06, 11/06/06, and 2012/2013 information is also included). The second are some of my comments about the quotes. The third has never materials and newer comments. The emphasis of this particular group seems to be the determination of the new moons and rejection of the calendar rules used by the Jews and most of the Churches of God.
Part I - Quotes from Church of God, In Truth
"The Church of God in Truth is dedicated to the task of enlightening the brethren in God's Church of the error to which God's people have been introduced. When following the Jewish calendar, sometime referred to as "God's Sacred Calendar," we have failed to meet with our God on His appointed Feast, 60% of the time" (Home page of website 9/12/03).
"The true conjunction occurs the instant the sun and moon (not the earth) come into conjunction, when the light of the sun strikes the face of the moon at an angle which makes it not visible to us on the earth. To say it another way the true conjunction of the moon is the instant when the sun and moon come into conjunction and begins the dark moon phase. This instant happens everywhere on earth at the same time. The Church of God, In Truth calculates that instant of conjunction of the dark moon phase from Jerusalem time zone to see what date this occurs, using sunset to sunset (24 hour) time as the time for the new moon day...It is important that God's people should recognize that there is a difference between man's astronomical mean [or middle] conjunction and God's true conjunction. There is always a true conjunction before a mean [or middle] conjunction. God established the moon to show us when the month begins. This cycle of the moon determines the lunar month. It begins and ends with the true conjunction of the moon and sun! " (Russell, James. God's True Conjunction Versus Man's Mean Conjunction).
"The Pharisees, those who practice Judaism, intercalated the POSTPONEMENTS into the Hebrew calendar, that most of the Churches of God keep today. The churches that follow the Hebrew calendar are representing and supporting Judaism, which Christ condemns" (Russell, James. Prove All Things, Letter September/October 2000).
"Eight years ago the Church of God, In Truth, mailed out its first letter to God's scattered brethren. This letter carried a warning message about the postponements, and man's tradition of placing more importance on keeping the postponed days rather than God's appointed Holy Days that's described in Leviticus 23. "Sanctify them through Your truth: Your Word is truth" (John 17:17). Some churches claim to be teaching the whole truth or the full truth. Most also say, that they are teaching and standing behind all eighteen truths that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong restored and taught! These eighteen truths were documented on Monday August 25,1986 in the edition of the Worldwide News written by Joseph Tkach Sr. The 17th truth on that list of restored items is speaking of the Hebrew Calendar. "(17) The Authority of the Sacred Calendar, preserved by the Jews. Before Mr. Armstrong revealed this to the Church of God (Seventh Day), they were confused as to when the year should begin. Mr. Armstrong made clear the importance of the Jews preservation of the weekly cycle." Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong accepted the authority of the Jews for the Hebrew calendar, postponements and all In the "Good News" April 1981, pg. 5, Herman L. Hoeh quotes from a 1940 letter written by Mr. Herbert Armstrong which states, "In conclusion, unless God has preserved His sacred calendar through the Jews, than we do not know how to figure Passover or any of the Holy Days this year." Mr. Armstrong was a strong leader and very persuasive. This is evident when we look at his teaching and beliefs that God gave the Jews the authority to postpone and to change days and dates for their convenience. Today we see those believers of the 18 truths going down the same path. These believers are following the traditions of men rather then the laws that God gave to Moses! In the book of Mark we find Christ speaking to the Pharisees and Scribes "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. And He said unto them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own traditions. Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things do you" (Mark 7:6-9,13). "For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe My Words?" (John 5:46-47). These verses are talking to those tribes that are in Jerusalem. There were three tribes involved-Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. All those who practice Judaism were responsible for disobeying God's Oracles, HIS WORDS!" (Russell, James. Who is of the Synagogue of Satan? Letter, June 2000).
"Don't let Satan steal your crown. You can easily and simply prove what the new moon is. The word crescent in the Bible is associated with idol worship. Crescent is a different word than new moon. By worshiping and counting months from the crescent moon, you are postponing God's true Holy Days by two days in the Spring and three days in the Autumn this year 2000. We must stop following the traditions of men and start following the Word of God!" (Russell, James. What We Found! Letter, January 2000).
"The big lie in God's Church today is: IT IS OK TO POSTPONE, CHANGE, AND PROFANE GOD'S ANNUAL HOLY SABBATHS! When you attend a Church that says it's alright to postpone God's annual Holy Days, then that means you agree with the lie that is being taught and practiced! It means you agree with liars and that they have the authority to over-rule God and His Word. "If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked" (Pro 29:12). BECAUSE "Every word of God is pure" " (Russell, James. The Big Lie. Letter, November 1999).
"The Catholic Church in the fourth century A.D. changed God's weekly seventh day Sabbath to Sunday worship, thus postponing God's weekly Sabbath to the next day. The same scenario is found to be evident when following the Pharisees (Judaism) traditional laws that are found in the Mishnah and Talmud, which God's inspired Word condemns! It was the oral traditions that postpone the Feast of Trumpets in God's Holy Day calendar! In the New Testament Christ condemned the oral law of the Pharisees. "He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mark 7:6-9). Christ continued His thoughts in the book of John. "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. "But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?" (John 5:46-47). God's Holy Days (not the Jews) are to be kept at their appointed time and are not to be postponed for the convenience of men" (Russell, James. Willful Ignorance? Letter, September/October 1999).
"The new web site name is: www.postponements.com" (home page 02/13/06).Part II - Comments about Their Teachings
Really, there are three primary arguments against all the new/moon calendar teachings of the Church of God, In Truth (COGIT).
The first is quite simply, that until the last couple of decades, it was not possible to know when the following event in this COGIT quote "the true conjunction of the moon is the instant when the sun and moon come into conjunction and begins the dark moon phase" occurred. Knowledge of this information is a relatively modern development and was not available to early Israelites, therefore a calculated calendar was the only logical one.
Related to this is the next COGIT statement "This instant happens everywhere on earth at the same time." If this is true (and I am no astronomer, but have essentially been around the world), it would not be visible from all parts of the earth, thus would not always have been visible from Jerusalem, or even known in Jerusalem. Also weather can be a factor--observation may not work on cloudy nights, whereas a calculated calendar is not affected by weather.
The second argument is the fact that Jesus himself observed the postponements and the calendar that the Jews calculated, even though COGIT says, "The churches that follow the Hebrew calendar are representing and supporting Judaism, which Christ condemns." GCG used to have an article which documented that Jesus observed the Hebrew calendar, and my research since has confirmed that.
While it is true as COGIT mentions, that Jesus condemned the Pharisees, it is not true they were always to be ignored. Jesus, Himself, also observed the same calendar that we of the Continuing Church of God do--including the "postponements" that COGIT rails against (for detailed proof, please see article on Hebrew Calendar).
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, Saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do" (Matthew 23:2).
The third is more of an observation than an argument. COGIT condemns those who follow the Hebrew calendar, yet who was one of the first to do that? COGIT somewhat rightly (it has the time period too late) states, "The Catholic Church in the fourth century A.D. changed God's weekly seventh day Sabbath to Sunday worship, thus postponing God's weekly Sabbath to the next day."
But COGIT forgets that it was the same 4th century emperor Constantine who declared:
" "a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews in the most solemnity...rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages this rite, in a more legitimate order...Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews...let us withdraw ourselves, my much honored brethren, from that most odious fellowship. It is indeed in the highest degree preposterous, that they should superciliously vaunt themselves, that truly without their instruction, we cannot properly observe this rite...[they continue] wandering in the grossest error, instead of reforming their calculation..." (A Historical View of the Council of Nicea, Eusebius, pp. 52-53). Constantine, like many self-styled experts today, considered himself more knowledgeable about the calendar than the Jews, and asserted that they should reform their calculations. Constantine's attack was aimed, however, not at influencing the Jews, but rather the Christians who followed the Jewish calendar in determining the time of the Passover. The true Church was not following its own calendar model; rather it was using the same model that Jesus Himself had followed--the one preserved and used by the Jews!" (Ogywn, John. The Hebrew Calendar--Part 2. LCN. January/February 2001, pp. 7-11).
Those who reject the proper calendar, like COGIT has done, are following the example of Constantine, not Jesus. Constantine would not follow the Jewish calendar--which is the calendar that Jesus would have followed.
The Jourmal: News of the Churches of God ran the following:
DALLAS, Texas—If you haven’t yet heard about the calendar postponements, just wait a while. Questions about the Hebrew calendar and the touchy subject of its postponements are a hot topic in many of the Churches of God. To some people postponements are no big deal. To others they’re the mark of the beast. What are they? Do the brethren need to be concerned about them? Do they make any difference one way or the other?
A conference at the Hilltop Inn here Jan. 3-5, 1997, convened to take up those questions in earnest. ...
Critics of postponements, such as James Russell of the Church of God in Truth and Mr. Maayeh of the Scattered Brethren, say that no man has the right to postpone the festivals. They draw direct comparisons be- tween the annual feasts and the weekly Sabbath. Mr. Russell goes so far as to equate acceptance of the postponements with bearing the mark of the beast. ...
Make peace, not war
Norm Edwards of Michigan, former publisher of the newsletter Servants’ News, is one who calls for church members to live in amity with each other in spite of calendar differ- ences. Mr. Edwards, who says he can- not find sufficient scriptural reason not to observe the postponements, points out that following them helps brethren worldwide keep the festivals at the same times.
On the other hand, James Russell obviously and sincerely believes a festival postponed is no better than a weekly Sabbath postponed. The Roman church postponed the Sab- bath. Where’s the dime’s worth of difference?
As you might expect, the answers are not quite that cut and dried. ...
True astronomical conjunction
James Russell of Corona, Calif., believes the year begins with the new moon closest to the spring equinox. He believes the months begin at the “true” astronomical conjunction (when the earth, moon and sun are in line).
This system usually starts the month one or two days before the Hebrew calendar and fairly often starts the year a month before the Hebrew calendar.
Using the true astronomical con- junction is different from the method used by the Hebrew calendar, which is based on the mean, or average, con- junction; that is, it assumes that every cycle of the moon consists of 29.530594 days.
In reality the moon’s orbit is not round and is not on exactly the same plane as the earth’s orbit around the sun. Thus Mr. Russell’s method re- quires complex calculations to come up with. Mr. Russell acknowledges that these calculations were probably beyond the abilities of ancient observers. (Cartwright D. Outlook on postponements affects festival observances. The Jourmal: News of the Churches of God. July 31, 2017, pp. 1,13)
It is good that James Russell acknowledges that what he is doing was really not possible in ancient times. That being the case, then Jesus would not have been operating under James Russell's calendar).
Is is NOT possible that the Israelite calendar postponements are the 'mark of the Beast' (to learn more about that subject, check out the Mark of the Beast).
Although I do believe that James Russell is a decent man (I spoke with him a couple of times in the past), I am strongly opposed to the division and misinformation that he pushes.
As far as I can determine, COGIT does not have a radio or television presence. It does, however, have a magazine titled Prove All Things. Overall, COGIT seems to emphasize its calendar calculations--though it does discuss other subjects. The change of its URL to postponements.com shows that its emphasis is calendar differences.
COGIT's July-August 2009 newsletter ends with:
Can anyone afford to postpone God's appointed times?
But since Jesus observed the postponements (see article titled Hebrew Calendar) this group is making a big deal about an error it simply has in understanding (as well as emphasis).
Let me state that presuming that Jesus was killed in A.D. 31, then postponements were used then (for details, check out my article Calculated or observed calendar?).
As of 09/06/17, there is no obvious major literature available from COGIT (though there are letters and a few other items). They have the same two booklets that they had sixteen years ago when I first wrote about them, plus added one, plus a Spanish version (which has been there for at least four years).
As far as internet reach, as of 09/06/17, COGIT's main website, postponements.com had an Alexa ranking of over 14,852,000 which means that few go to it. COGIT simply is not reaching many with its odd message.
If any think that this work is "hot," I can not see how (though James Russell does seem to express anger at times).
We are getting closer to the time of the end, and this means that the most faithful will be supporting the work that is fulfilling Matthew 24:14 related to proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world as a witness. COGIT does not even have a booklet to do this after over two decades of existence. In the Continuing Church of God, we not only have such a booklet, we have it available in around 100 languages (go to www.ccog.org).
COGIT, in my opinion, is just another groups that has on its own, decided that it has one or more doctrines that are more important than proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness. Sadly, it is not the only one.
Although it has been reported that "The doctrinal differences among the Churches of God are miniscule. You can't get a knifes edge between us on doctrines" (Dart, Ron. CEM Founder Talks About Bickering, Bridges, the Future. The Journal. July 31, 1999. p.6), this author does not believe that one can examine the teachings of groups, such as COGIT, and come to that conclusion (nor apparently would Herbert Armstrong, for proof please check out some quotes from HWA on holding fast to doctrine).
Laodicean Warning for God's People If you have read this far you are probably a current or former member of one of the Churches of God and may be interested in reading this warning article.
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Thiel B., Ph.D. Teachings of the Church of God, In Truth. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2001, 2003,2006, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2017 0906