GCA Booklet Matters Brought Up in Emails in October 2012

By COGwriter

Some have asked me for details about various literature errors in the Living Church of God (LCG) that I had attempted to resolve while I attended with them. In addition to the Falling Away matter, Man of Sin matter, the Fundamental Statement of Beliefs and other booklet matters, this one is specific to errors in the God's Church through the Ages booklet that I began to raise in 2006.

At the outset, I want to make it clear that I did respect John Ogwyn's efforts to correct some of the errors that the old Radio and Worldwide Church of God had in some of their publications related to church history. Furthermore, my working with John Ogwyn related to this before convinced me that if he remained alive, he would have had no hesitation making at least the majority of my proposed changes and/or corrections. I also personally confirmed this with his son Charles Ogwyn back in 2009.

Yet on numerous occasions, LCG told me that after they would run out of printed copies of that booklet, they would correct it and from then on only send out corrected ones. But they kept printing more--although they made a few limited corrections in 2010, they left the majority of errors in (see Some Problems with the God's Church Through the Ages booklet, 2010 edition). An email to me from Dr. D. Winnail dated 3/31/2011 related to that booklet stated "We appreciate you efforts and input on the Church History booklet...At the moment we are only reprinting small numbers of the booklet to meet immediate needs." But that is not what happened, more and more were printed. As of November 2013, many errors remained in the online version of this booklet. THIS BOOKLET IN CERTAIN PLACES PERPETUATES CATHOLIC MYTHS THAT THOSE IN THE CHURCH OF GOD WHO HAVE THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH WOULD NOT DO.

LCG will likely either keep perpetuating Catholic myths with this booklet, finally admit their errors, make some corrections without admitting error, or replace it with something else. They need to fix this booklet. They should not be afraid to admit that it contains errors.

I will also add here that when Dr. D. Winnail visited me on August 26, 2012 he admitted that the booklet was full of errors and asked me to re-write it completely. However, when I mentioned that to Richard Ames on October 8, 2012, he told me that Dr. Winnail had no authority to say that, but that Richard Ames would once again consider changes to it if I submitted them to William (Bill) Bowmer, LCG's Executive Editor.

Email to William Bowmer 10/18/12

On the telephone, William Bowmer asked me to send him only the top ten errors in the booklet. So, here is what I sent in an email to him on October 18, 2012:

Dear Bill:
Nice speaking with you today.
Per your suggestion, I have just gone through the GCA booklet again and here, in page number sequence, are my top ten suggested deletions:
1. p. 6.  Remove "By Jude’s time, the true faith had already been once and for all delivered." 
The Book of Revelation had not yet been written by then, so perhaps this statement should be removed.
2. p. 6, Remove, "It is clear that Jude does not allow for “progressive revelation”!" 
But since John's epistles, etc. had not yet been penned, perhaps this statement should be removed (or reworded).
3. p. 8.  Remove, "During this dangerous era, the Roman church under its Bishop Sixtus (ca. 116–126ad) began holding Sunday worship services and ceased observing the annual Passover, substituting Easter Sunday and “Eucharist” in its place. This is the clear record preserved by Eusebius of Caesarea, a late third- and early fourth-century scholar, who became known as the “father of church history.” Eusebius quoted his information from a letter of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (ca. 130–202ad) to Bishop Victor of Rome."
I have been unable to find any proof that Sixtus began holding Sunday worship services.  At least one Catholic source believes that Irenaeus may even have made up the name Sixtus, hence it is odd that LCG would want to claim he did something that there is not real evidence of.  The "Eucharist" seems to have come from a one-time follower of Valentinus, named Marcus, who influenced Clement of Alexandria.
4. p. 8 Remove the bolded words from the following:  As the conflict between Judaism and the Empire heightened, many “Christians” in Rome, under the leadership of Bishop Sixtus, took steps to avoid any possibility of being considered Jews and thereby suffer persecution with them.
Steps were taken, but whether they involved Sixtus is not truly clear.
5.  p. 9.  Please remove bolded portions: As Bacchiocchi asserts, “Ignatius, Barnabus, and Justin, whose writings constitute our major source of information for the first half of the second century, witnessed and participated in the process of separation from Judaism which led the majority of the Christians to abandon the Sabbath and adopt Sunday as the new day of worship” (p. 213). Ignatius of Antioch, in about 110ad, wrote, “It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practice Judaism” (Magnesians, 10). He also talked of “no longer observing sabbaths.” Yet John, writing his gospel scarcely 20 years earlier, emphasized that Jesus kept the same Festivals the Jewish community kept (John 7:2; 11:55).
The Ignatius matter is based upon a mistranslation and I got Dr. Bacchiocchi to acknowledge that.  In the COGs, we must be careful about Ignatius as many on the internet falsely cite him as proof that the Sabbath was done away.  Polycarp, who we trace our history through, praised Ignatius, and we should not condemn him nor publicly agree with a mistranslation that the Sabbath was shown to have been done away by him.
pp. 12-13.  Please delete the following two sections:
"As various controversies raged during the second century, a new approach to church government was to have consequences of monumental proportions. This approach was an emphasis on what was termed “Apostolic Succession.”"
"But, beginning with the writings of Clement, bishop of Rome, we find a new emphasis. Clement wrote a letter to the church in Corinth about 100ad, probably very shortly after John’s death. The editors of masterpieces of Christian Literature summarize Clement’s principal ideas as: “The way to peace and concord is through obedience to established authorities, the elders. Christ rules the churches through the apostles, the bishops appointed by them, and the approved successors of the bishops.”

About ten years later Ignatius stressed the same point, “Unity and peace in the church and the validity of the church are acquired through faithful adherence to the bishop” (Masterpieces). By the middle of the next century, the claims had grown so forcefully that Cyprian of North Africa stated: “The focus of unity is the bishop. To forsake him is to forsake the Church, and he cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother” (Chadwick, p. 119).

These claims were being made to hold brethren in an organization that was rapidly developing into what we know today as the Roman Catholic Church. How different these appeals are to those of Paul and the other New Testament leaders who pointed to the Scriptures and to the fruits of their ministries for authentication (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1; Acts 17:2). No longer able to rely on a clear appeal to Scripture, second- and third-century church leaders increasingly based their claim to the loyalty of the brethren upon their assertion of being duly ordained successors of the Apostles and the bishops who succeeded them. While they increasingly abandoned what the Apostles taught, these deceivers sought to hold brethren together by appeals to unity and to the memory of the Apostles."
The reality is that Catholic scholars somewhat admit that those that we in the COG claim to have ties to actually also had "apostolic succession."  We also teach a type of apostolic succession and should be cautious about totally dismissing the concept as we embrace parts of it.  There are also several technical errors above (such as the fact that there is no proof that Clement wrote the letter attributed to this, and certain Catholic scholars agree with me on that) and questionable assertions in the writings above I have asked to be removed.
With the last paragraph for possible deletion above, if instead of starting with "These claims," it started with "Claims" that would also seem to be fine and would fit with the flow.
6. page 17-18, Please remove:
"Origen, like Tertullian coined a generic term for the ‘three’ of the divine triad. The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are ‘three hypostases’.… Origen’s major contribution  to the formulation of the trinitarian doctrine is the notion of eternal generation. His generic term for the ‘three’ (hypostases) will be adopted and refined in the fourth century” (p. 1054)."
"This same utter lack of sound-minded understanding of the real meaning and intent of Scripture is poignantly displayed in much of his theological writing. “Origen introduced the possibility of a remedial hell [purgatory]” (International Bible Encyclopedia, “Hell”). He also played an important part in what later developed into Catholic Mary-worship by first proposing the idea that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus."
The term "three hypostases" was originally coined by the universally (included by Catholics and Protestants) heretic Valentinus, not Origen.  Catholics, however, would prefer to overlook that.
And on the second point, actually, Origen taught something a bit similar to what we in the COGs teach--purgatory itself came to the forefront after aspects of Origenism were condemned.  We should not perpetuate Catholic myths that some of their views were held earlier than they actually were.
Also, Origen was not the first to propose that Mary was a perpetual virgin--this seems to have originated with the false Protoevangelium of James, which came out prior to Origen gaining prominence.
7. p. 23 Please remove: "After his death, however, we know of no other strong, prominent leader among those faithful churches in Asia Minor."
There were other COG leaders in Asia Minor in the third century who were strong/influential.  Apollonius of Ephesus would seem to be one.  The reality is that around the late middle of the third century, the Greco-Roman confederation gained power in Asia Minor. 
8. p. 25.  Please remove the bolded portions: "Thus, the true Church would have to remain in hiding for 1,260 years following the Nicene Council. Historically, that is what happened."
When one tracks when the COG seems to reappear, it is difficult to prove this precisely, hence while the 1260 years did start sometime in the 4th century, we should not insist it was 325 A.D. which is what the above suggests.
9. This following one is tricky in that I suggest adding one word which I bolded: "The very fact that, in the latter fourth century, the Greco-Roman Church felt the need to legislate against Sabbath observance shows that faithful remnants, particularly in Asia Minor, persevered in the Truth."
It was the Greek Orthodox, not the Church of Rome, that proposed that legislation.  The Council of Laodicea was attended by Greek Orthodox and not Roman Catholic.
10. There are many issues with the 19th century and the old CG-Adventist that became CG7.  If you are willing, perhaps we can also edit them as well.
Of course, there are many other minor matters that can also be addressed that I left out in order to limit this to ten as you asked for.  I also did not bring out many assertions in the booklet that do not seem to have historical proof.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Best regards,
Bob Thiel


After getting the above email, William Bowmer had additional concerns about other parts of the GCA booklet.

In the past LCG had been sent the detailed references to demonstrate the first nine errors above and I spoke with one of its leaders in-depth about the 10th.

Here are some references for those interesting in verifying the reality of these errors:

  1. While some scholars say Jude was written as early as 66 A.D., Dr. Charles Ryrie dates Jude as being written 70-80 A.D. (Ryrie C. Ryrie Study Bible. Moody Bible Institure, 1985, p. 1925), 1st John 90 A.D. (ibid, p. 1912), 2nd John 90 A.D., (ibid, p. 1912), 3rd John (ibid, p. 1920), and Revelation in the 90s A.D. (ibid, p. 1928).
  2. While date estimates vary, all biblical scholars recognize that Revelation was written after Jude.
  3. There is nothing I have seen in the early historical records that states that Sixtus initiated the Eucharist--the Eucharist seems to have come from the apostate Marcion (Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? ). As far as Sixtus, Catholic scholar E. Duffy suggested that Irenaeus may have made the name up to fit in a list (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p.14). Catholics recognize Marcion as a heretic, so claiming it was from Sixtus instead is perpetuating a Catholic myth.
  4. The greater conflict between professors of Christ and Jews came after the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 A.D.), and this was after the time currently claimed for Sixtus (115-125 per Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p. 3). The late SDA scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi had the Sunday introduction occuring after 132 A.D. (see Bacchiocchi S. God's Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103). Many Catholics on the other hand like to point to Sixtus as proof of early Easter Sunday.
  5. a. Ignatius and his writings were endorsed by Polycarp of Smyrna (see Chapter XIII, Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson (American Edition, 1885; Reprint Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, pp. 33-i36), hence since Polycarp is believed to have been part of the Church of God, then Ignatius must be as well. A proper translation of what he wrote, especially combined with his other writings, proves that he did not teach against the Sabbath in favor of Sunday (see Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath). While he was alive, I got Dr. Bacchiocchi to admit his error and told LCG about that. On the internet, there are Catholics who cite Ignatius as 'proof' of early Sunday worship for Christians--this is a Catholic myth that LCG has continued to perpetuate.
    b. The Apostlic Succession part is a bit more complicated to explain, but I sent LCG a paper that contained more details about that on 2/23/2011, that was dated 2/22/11 (see Some Problems with the God's Church Through the Ages booklet, 2010 edition). Furthermore, references such as those from Tertullian (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum. Circa 200 A.D. as cited in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York) and others in the article Apostolic Succession provide additional proof of my points here.
  6. a. The three hypostases origin has been attributed to the heretic Valentinus (Source: Logan A. Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), 'On the Holy Church': Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9.  Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95), who came decades before Origin. This is important because while Rome accepts that Valentinus was a heretic (see Valentinus: The Gnostic Trinitarian Heretic ), it considers Origen a great scholar. By teaching that Origen and Tertullian originated this three hypotheses teaching and not the heretic Valentinus, this helps support certain Catholic myths about the trinity.
    b. The Church of Rome adopted its purgatory doctrine after it condemned Origen's views (for details see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?). While Origen was not completely correct, his teachings on those that were not incorrigibly wicked (e.g. Origen. Commentary on the Gospel of John (Book I). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 9. Edited by Allan Menzies, D.D. American Edition, 1896 and 1897. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight) were closer to that of the Church of God than the Church of Rome--for more details, check out Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?
  7. Other strong leaders in Asia Minor after Polycrates included Apollonius of Ephesus and Camerius of Smyrna. It was not until later in the third century that the Church of Rome was able to dominate and essentially takeover that area (see Eusebius. Church History, Book VII, Chapter V, Verse I).
  8. At least one leader in LCG told me that the Nicene Council 325 date was wrong as that did not trigger enough persecution then to drive the Church of God into the wilderness. Furthermore, Emperor Constantine did not issue his famous Edict Against Heretics until around 332 (see Schaff P. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration...).
  9. The Council of Laodicea in Asia Minor in the fourth century was not a Roman council, but one by the what we know today as the Greek or Eastern Orthodox.
  10. Robert Coulter, former president of CG7-Denver, who functions as a historian for CG7 stated to me on several occasions, (two scecific dates prior my departure from LCG were September 8, 2008 and November 14, 2012) that the early leaders of CGA (Church of God-Adventist), which later became CG7, were unitarians that denied the deity of Jesus Christ. The acceptance of the deity of Jesus was formally declared by a CG7 council in August 1924, only a few years before Herbert W. Armstrong became associated with them. Since the deity of Jesus is a central Christian/Church of God doctrine, I do not believe it is proper to trace succession through various of the early CGA. My LCG minister (Dr. Fall) and I discussed this and he, too, took the position that the COG should not count as true leaders those that deny the deity of Jesus.

The ten errors should not be published, and several of them perpetuate Catholic myths.

Catholics wants people to believe that their view of history is correct and "their" early leaders (which they call early church "fathers") taught certain doctrines early and hence the Church of Rome really has not changed from the original faith. The fact that the Catholics are wrong about Ignatius and their own records prove that ones they consider to have been heretics introduced the trinity and the eucharist is something to be pointed out--and not endorsed as LCG has been doing.

Email Response from William Bowmer 10/18/12

Here is the response from William Bowmer, Executive Editor for the Living Church of God to the ten listed in my email of 10/18/12:

Dear Dr. Thiel,

Thank you for your precise and thoughtful note.  It is very helpful.  

With more than 20,000 copies of GCA currently in inventory, it will be a while before we need to reprint the booklet, so there should be time to consider your suggestions carefully.  I'll let you know if/when any decisions are made.  I do immediately have a question about one specific recommendation in your list below, which I'll send in a separate message after this one.

Regarding the "many assertions in the booklet that do not seem to have historical proof," it might be the case that Mr. Ogwyn sometimes wrote "Such-and-such happened" when we could reasonably distance ourselves by stating that "Many scholars believe that such-and-such happened…" or "Church scholars have assumed…" so as to give us a little "breathing room" within which to make clear Mr. Ogwyn's point of view without asserting dogmatically that it is universally accepted.  So, it might be helpful if you could give me another "top ten" instances where such "wiggle wording" might be recommended, where we would simply be asserting Mr. Ogwyn's understanding without raising it to "Thus saith…" status.

Bill Bowmer


I did not find this decision to distribute over 20,000 error-ridden copies acceptable (especially since I was told in 2011 that very few copies would be printed with the errors and the errors fixed around then), but was pleased that he was again interested enough to ask about more issues with the booklet.

Email to William Bowmer 10/19/12

Here is what I sent to address the question about assertions that John Ogwyn made:

Dear Bill:
For the John Ogwyn assertions I am referring to, I have not found any recognized scholars that seem to hold to most of them.  I suspect he got some of his information from AC class notes and third party sources and that is what he conveyed to me once.
Perhaps, the statement "some believe" without defining who believes might work and possibly could be added to some of the statements I will provide you here (and I have done so in bolded text).
So, here it goes the ten:
1. p.10: some believe under the influence of Polycarp and his disciples, was baptized as a Christian at Ephesus in about 130ad.
There is no early document that directly supports the above.  Please realize that Justin taught against Polycarp's view of Christianity and did not associate with those who held Polycarp's views.
2. p. 12: predecessors since Bishop Sixtus
There were no clear Bishops of Rome prior to Anicetus and there may not have been a Sixtus at all.  Replace the word "Bishop" with "possibly presbyter."  We should not perpetuate Catholic myths about Rome having Bishops starting with Linus and including Sixtus.
3. p. 15: Origen was, as we shall shortly see, one of the least sound-minded individuals ever to be accepted as a Christian theologian.
I would eliminate the above assertion as it really adds nothing and is questionable.  But this is a judgment call on your end.
4. p. 18 Tertullian lived in Carthage and some believe was one of the first to teach that a fiery hell began at death. 
I presume it is Tertullian's Against Marcion that John Ogwyn's source relied on and perhaps that is one way to interpret what Tertullian wrote.
5. p. 21: Nicolaitans (followers of Simon Magus).
Instead of asserting this refers to followers of Simon Magus (and some, like Irenaeus, believed that this is possibly related to a fallen Christian, possibly the one identified in the Bible as the deacon Nicolas in Acts 6:5), instead consider replacing that expression with lawless Christians
6. p. 23: Some believe as a young man, Polycarp had been a personal disciple of John and had observed the Passover with him on several occasions.
While some may infer and deduce the above, I would state that it is perhaps a logical assertion, but still an assertion as opposed to a documented historical fact.
7. p. 23: In his old age, Polycarp even made a journey to Rome seeking to convince the bishop of Rome, Anicetus, of his errors in not celebrating the biblical Passover date and in observing, in its place, an annual Sunday Paschal observance (Easter) some believe and a weekly celebration of “Eucharist.”
The above is an assertion that may be in error.  There is no evidence that Polycarp denounced a weekly Eucharist that I am aware of, though it may be logical to conclude that he did.  Yet that would be based on COG beliefs (which while likely accurate) that others may challenge, as opposed to actual historical documents. 
8. p. 23 In the closing decades of the second century, Polycrates, a faithful church leader who some believe had been personally trained by Polycarp, arose. Some believe he remained the only Christian leader of prominence who was faithful to the example of the Apostles of the Jerusalem Church of God.
Polycrates was A successor to Polycarp, but there were other successors before and after him.  I have seen nothing that states that Polycarp trained him or that he ever met Polycarp.  Polycarp's direct successor in Smyrna was apparently Papirius (though Thraseas of Eumenia who died in Smyrna may have led the entire COG before he did, as possibly did Melito of Sardis--all three were prominent leaders), while Polycrates was in Ephesus and did not seem to gain overall authority until decades after Polycarp's death.
I would prefer that you change the statements more than simply adding "some believe."
9. p. 33. Some believe, however, it was only in the final decades of the sixteenth century that the Church could begin to emerge openly in Germany and Britain.
The above assertion by John Ogwyn may be true, but it was more true in the 17th than in the sixteenth century.
10.  The booklet in various places traces the history of the true COG through leaders who seemed to have denied the deity of Jesus.  Instead of dealing with them in this list limited to ten, I simply mention that and will be happy to assist further should you wish that.
Best regards,
Bob Thiel


It remains my position that LCG publishing the error-filled booklet is harmful to the truth and the final phase of the work. By doing what it has done, LCG has given credence to Catholic myths about Sunday vs. the Sabbath and other historically and biblically-improper positions (like their 'eucharist,' see also Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist?). Perhaps it should be mentioned that at least one Charlotte-based LCG evangelists told me on multiple occasions that it was fine to send out this GCA booklet, despite its errors, as most people were not knowledgable enough to notice them.

I expressed disagrement with that view then and still disagree with it now.

We all make mistakes, but Christians who have a love of the truth need to be diligent in correcting them when they truly learn of them. The Charlotte evangelists have known of various ones in this booklet for years and at least one leading employee there has told them that I was right about all of them.

Of course, LCG can do what it wants. But, because of its attitude towards various errors and literature issues, I do not believe that without massive repentance it can possibly lead the final phase of the work. That is part of why the Continuing Church of God had to form when it did.

Back to home page

COGwriter November 17, 2013