Sabbath Sentinel: Sabbatarian/Waldensian Apostolic Succession List?

COGwriter

The January-February 2021 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel put out by the Bible Sabbath Association, which is not a Church of God group (though it has members that are in the COGs, as well as members who are not), has the following:

Sabbatarian/Waldensian Apostolic Succession List?

By Dr. Bob Thiel

Could there be a list of successive Sabbath-keepers from the time of the original apostles to present?

Yes.

After seeing several published claims in the 19th and 20th centuries of apostolic succession related to a group known as the Waldensians [1-6], I contacted historians and librarians associated with the American Waldensian Society to see if they had a list to back up such claims—I also contacted leaders in several Sabbatarian churches.

Those I was in communication with were unaware of any such list, even though several documents claimed that early Waldensians (also known as Vaudois) had true succession and/or some type of list prior to the time of the 16th century Protestant Reformation [1-7].

However, to assist, the Waldensians referred me to Moravian scholar Dr. Craig Atwood as well as the Archivo Della Tavola Valdese–the historical archives of the Waldensian Church in Italy—for more information.

Dr. Atwood provided information that the succession of Moravian prelates was accepted by the British Parliament in 1749 (Acta Fratrum Unitatis in Anglia), because they claimed succession via the Waldensians [2, 7].

The Waldensians, or at least a Moravian portion, claimed to have originally descended from ‘‘a branch of the Greek church’’ from the 9th century [3]. Moravia is a historical region in the east of the Czech Republic and one of three historical Czech lands, with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. In the 18th century, the Episcopal Church seemed to accept the Moravians as having valid Greek church succession [3].

Some indicate that the Waldensians came from a branch of the 4th century Greek church [7], which would point to Asia Minor and Antioch. Another source seems to point to the Waldensians being a branch of the 3rd or 4th century Antioch church [8]. Even Roman Catholic sources acknowledge that there were Sabbath-keeping leaders in Antioch in the 3rd or 4th centuries [9]

While there were different groups called Waldensians by the Roman Catholics, some did keep the Sabbath as well as hold to other doctrines not held by the Roman Catholics or the bulk of the Protestants [10].

Although modern Waldenesians observe Sunday, notice the following:

Sabbathkeeping among Waldensians was most widespread in Bohemia and Moravia, places to which they fled during papal persecution. A fifteenth-century manuscript, published by church historian Johann Döllinger in History of the Sects, reports that Waldensians in Bohemia “do not celebrate the feasts of the blessed virgin Mary and the Apostles, except the Lord’s day. Not a few celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews.” [11]

Here is what Johann Döllinger published in Latin in the above source, with my translation below it:

festa divae virginis Mariae et Apostolorum non celebrant, solam diem Dominicam aliqui. Nonnulli vero cum Judaeis sabbatum celebrant, [12]

the festival of the blessed virgin Mary and the Apostles not celebrated, only some the Lord’s day. Not a few of the people celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews,

There were differences among the Waldenesians. Some kept the Sabbath. The succession list in this article only includes leaders, starting with the apostles, who seemingly kept the seventh-day Sabbath.

In the 14th century, the assertion of Waldensian apostolic succession was reported by a Dominican monk:

Waldenses … push back their beginnings to the age of primitive Christianity. Thus they deny that they first appeared as a set of heretics breaking off from the historical Church, and claim to have preserved the purity of the faith through the ages, while all the rest of the Church was degenerating and accumulating the corruptions against which they protested from the first.

Claim to apostolic origin. — This claim is first met with in a Dominican monk at Passau in the year 1316, who states that the Waldenses are the most ancient of all the sects, some even saying that this sect ‘duravit a tempore patrum.’ It was but a step to add that the Waldensian church was founded by St. Paul when on his way to Spain. [4]

The Latin duravit a tempore patrum translated to English means they ‘‘lasted from the time of the fathers.’’ While there could be groups with ties to Spain, since the Waldenses elsewhere indicated that they came from part of the Greek church originally (apparently Asia Minor/Antioch) [3,8], that would seemingly rule out Spain (though there were different groups called Waldensians).

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that earlier succession claims were made by other groups, such as those known as Paulicians and Cathari [13-14]. The 12th century abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, a declared doctor of the Roman Church, called, ‘‘The Cathari, a sect of the Waldenses’’ [15].

Reportedly, Waldensians ‘‘Being scattered abroad in various countries, … they supported amongst them the true apostolic succession of ministers and bishops, after the aforesaid manner of appointment, without break, down to the year 1450, about which time the separation of the Bohemian Brethren from the then prevailing religion of Bohemia took place for sufficient causes’’ [6].

A branch of the Greek Orthodox Church essentially approved Waldensian succession in 1451 through the acceptance of the ordinations of some Waldensian presbyters who accepted their church [5].

Interestingly in the early 1700s, John Potter, Anglican Bishop of Oxford/Canterbury, said the Moravian bishops (who claimed descent from the Waldenses) had ‘‘true succession’’ and made a point that ‘‘only those ignorant of church history could cast any doubt about it’’ [2].

But in this century, no Waldensian list dating back to the apostles has been found in modern Waldensian sources.

Marco Fratini, who works at the Waldensian Library in Italy, said that the archives there did not have such a list [16]. He also stated that such a list would be difficult to compile as there are a variety of doctrinal inconsistencies related to modern Waldensians. He is correct about that, but also there is the historical problem that people of various beliefs were termed Waldensians, not because they were all part of the same group, but because they were not in communion with, or were considered to be in opposition to, the Roman Catholic Church.

Notice also the following:

Roman Church they refused to give it the name of Catholic, and showed in what it had departed from true catholicity. The Vaudois, therefore, are not schismatics, but the continued inheritors of the church founded by the apostles. This church then bore the name of Catholic, [17].

That being said, Marco Fratini of Archivo Della Tavola Valdese also emailed me on September 3, 2020 to encourage me to send him such a list if I came up with one. In June 2021, I sent him a list with through 1525 that follows:

31 – c. 64-68 Apostles Peter and Paul c. 67
c. 98 – 102 Apostle John
c. 100 – c. 157 Polycarp of Smyrna
c. 157 – c. 160 Thraseas of Smyrna
c.160 – c. 167 Sagaris of Laodicea
c. 167 – c.170 Papirius of Smyrna
c. 170 – c. 180 Melito of Sardis
c. 180 – c. 200 Polycrates of Ephesus
c. 200 – c. 220 Camerius of Smyrna
c. 220 – c.254 Nepos of Arsinoe
c. 254 – c. 275 Unnamed Antiochian(s) or possibly Dorotheus
c. 275 – 312 Lucian of Antioch
c. 313 – 380 Unnamed Antiochian(s)
c. 380 – c. 470 Unnamed Antiochians or Unnamed Nazarenes
c. 470 – c. 500 Constantine of Antioch and Aushin
c. 500 – c. 645 Unnamed ‘Paulicians’
c. 645 – c. 650 Unnamed leader with New Testament from Syria
c. 650 – c. 684 Constantine of Mananali (Silvanus)
c. 684 – c. 696 Simeon
c. 697 – c.702 Sergius
c. 702 – c. 717 Paul the Armenian
c. 717 – c. 746 Gegnesius
c. 746 – c. 782 Joseph (Epaphroditus)
c. 783 – c. 800 Unnamed Paulician(s)
c. 801 – c. 835 Sergius (Tychicus)
c.836 – c. 919 Unnamed Paulicians
c. 920 – c. 950 Basil
c. 951 – c. 980 Jeremiah
1000s Sergius (27 years)
c. 1110 – 1140 Peter DeBruy (Pierre De Bruy)
1140 – 1155 Arnold of Brescia
1156 – 1181 Nicetas
1181 – 1205 Peter Waldo
1205 – 1224 Arnold Hot
1224- 1300 Unnamed Waldensians
c. 1310 – 1322 Walter the Lollard
1322 – c. 1335 Raymond the Lollard
c. 1335 – c. 1460 Unnamed Waldensians
c. 1460 -1492 Anthony Ferrar
1492 – 1525 Stefano Carlino or Unnamed Waldenesians

He responded to that list by stating:

Dear Dr. Thiel,

thank you for the exhaustive list.

I don’t know all of them, but it’s interesting. So I’m not able to suggest modification.

Best regards

Marco Fratini [18]

However, since we know that Anabaptists in Moravia were known for keeping the seventh-day Sabbath [19], and the Moravians claimed ties through the Waldensians, the following Moravian Sabbath-keepers could be added next of the list:

1526 – 1528 Moravian Sabbatarian Anabaptist ‘traveling minister’
1529 – 1540 Andreas Fischer

So, yes, there now is a list going back to the original apostles through the Waldensians and Moravian Anabaptist Sabbath-keepers. But, it is not as complete as preferred.

There are, of course, other possible lists and I expect to make modifications for other purposes, but for now this list looks plausible–even considering that several of the leaders on it were denounced by other churches based on real and fabricated teachings [cf. 20].

I invite others who have insight and could possibly help improve the list (and fill in gaps, if possible) to contact me.

My email address is COGwriter@aol.com

Bob Thiel

References

[1] Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association:…Annual Meeting with Constitution and By-laws and List of Members, Volume 17; Volume 19. The Association, 1919, pp. 190-191
[2] Podmore C. The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760. Clarendon Press, 1998, pp. 210-239
[3] Martin JH. Historical Sketch of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania With Some Account of the Moravian Church. Philadelphia,1873, pp. 8, 51
[4] Adeney W. Waldenses, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics Volume 12. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922, p. 664; the cited earlier source for this was from ‘‘Contra Valenses, in Maxima Bibliotheca…, Lyons, 1677-1707, xxv, 262 ff’’
[5] On the Episcopacy of the Herrnhuters, Commonly Known as the Moravians. The British Magazine, volume 7. 1835, pp. 645-647
[6] Benham D. Notes on the Origin and Episcopate of the Bohemian Brethren. Dalton & Lucy, 1867, p. 104
[7] Atwood CD. Community of the Cross Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem. Penn State Press, 2004, p. 23
[8] Edwardson C. FACTS of FAITH. Christian Edwardson, 1943, pp. 18, 153
[9] Cardinal Newman, John Henry. The Arians of the Fourth Century. Longmans, Green, & Co., New York, 1908, pp. 7, 9
[10] Robinson R. Ecclesiastical Researches. Francis Hodson, publisher. 1792. Original from University of Chicago, Digitized Nov 19, 2015, pp. 299-304
[11] DamsteegT GF. Were the Waldensians Sabbathkeepers? Adventist World – November 11, 2017, p. 15
[12] Döllinger J. Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters (Munich: Beck, 1890), Vol. II, p. 662.
[13] Fortescue, Adrian. ‘‘Paulicians.’’ The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911
[14] Weber, Nicholas. ‘‘Cathari.’’ The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908
[15] Taylor A. The history of the English General Baptists of the Seventeenth Century. 1818, pp. 22, 24
[16] Re: I: Prima successione dell’elenco dei leader. Email from Marco Frateri to Dr. Thiel, September 2, 2020
[17] Muston A. THE ISRAEL OF THE ALPS. A COMPLETE HISTORYOF THE WALDENSES AND THEIR COLONIES. Translated by J.Montgomery. LONDON: BLACKIE & SON, 1875, pp. 11-13
[18] Re: Waldenian Prima successione dell’elenco dei leader. Email from Marco Frateri to Dr. Thiel, June 17, 2021
[19] Clasen CP. Anabaptist Sects in the Sixteenth Century: A Research Report. Mennonite Quarterly Review, VOl. XLVI, July 1972, pp. 256-279
[20] Hoeh, A True History of the True Church. Radio Church of God, 1959, pp. 18-19

Dr. Thiel is the overseeing pastor of the international Continuing Church of God, www.ccog.org. He also posts daily reports on Church of God and prophetic news at www.cogwriter.com

We put together a sermonette related to the above:

20:46

Jesus said that the true church would continue to the end of the age. Did any in the groups called Waldensians (or Waldenses), Vaudois, or Moravians have apostolic succession? Were there such claims over 500 years ago?  Did any group claim to have an actual apostolic succession list of bishops? Was such a list at least partially accepted by the British Parliament in the 18th century or the Greek Orthodox Church in the 15th century or others centuries ago? Could the Waldenses have came from the true church in Antioch or Asia Minor in the 3rd or 4th centuries? Do modern American Waldensians claim to have such a list? What about the ones associated with that church or its Archivo Della Tavola Valdese in Italy? Did Dr. Thiel put together such a list and share it with them? Can such a list be seen today? Dr. Thiel goes over that and some of his research into this topic, while also asking for others to help fill in the gaps or assist in improving the list in this video. Dr. Thiel also discusses its symbol with a candle on a lampstand pointing to the fourth star and Jesus words in Revelation.

Here is a link to our video: Waldensian Apostolic Succession.

The true Christian Church of God, and all of its true ministers, have laying on of hands succession from the original apostles to present.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
The Christian Sabbath. This is a series of articles from the Catholic Mirror essentially proving that the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, that the Lord’s day in Revelation 1 is not a reference to Sunday, that the Church of Rome implemented Sunday, and that nearly all Protestants followed Rome.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day? A related sermon is also available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? A YouTube video or related interesy may be: Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him.
Theophilus of Antioch This is one of the second century leaders of some Christians in Antioch and is considered a Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.



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