Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Babylon the Great

I have wanted to write a post on this topic for some time. I figure I’d better do it now.

After recently discussing at length with several members of various Armstrongist Churches of God on the topic of judgment and condemnation (they weren't talking much about it but I sure was), I spoke with one man who seemed to make a personal crusade of condemning the Catholic Church because he so deeply believes that the Catholic Church is Babylon the Great, as taught by Alexander Hyslop and Herbert Armstrong. Considering my recent posts on True History of the True Church and Who Is the Beast, how deeply and deliberately flawed those teachings were, how they were clever deceptions crafted for no other reason than to bring down the Pope and raise up Herbert Armstrong, I thought it would be appropriate to point out a few flaws in this theory as well.

Mystery

(REV. 17: 5) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Revelation 17: 5 says the word “mystery” and the word “Babylon” in the same sentence. Mr. Alexander Hyslop concludes, and Herbert Armstrong swallows whole, that it refers to an entity known as a mystery religion. However, we can conclude only one thing: the Bible must interpret this “mystery”.

In 27 places in the New Testament, Strong’s 3466, the Greek “musterion”, is translated as “mystery” or “mysteries”. Including the one in the statement on the forehead of Babylon the Great.

Mystery: Musterion (Strong’s 3466, Greek) from a derivative of ‘Muo’ (to shut the mouth); secret or “mystery” (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites)

The word carries the inference that it is something secret that is only revealed to the initiated. The initiated in this case can only be the saints.

(COL. 1: 26) the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

Speaking from the perspective of Armstrongists for a moment, Presbyterians are not saints – they are the harlot daughters of the harlot church. [I personally disagree with this, but it is an accurate statement from the Armstrongist perspective.] One must ask, then, how could the mysterious identity of Babylon the Great be revealed to Alexander Hyslop, a Presbyterian Minister, in the 1850’s?? He is the man who wrote “The Two Babylons” in 1853, from which Herbert Armstrong took his interpretation of Babylon the Great. Is he a saint, or is he wrong? Think on that.

Being a Greek word, musterion is found nowhere in the Old Testament. But the idea is there. God revealed secrets to Daniel and others. My point is, the truth must come from God. No man will think his way into the correct understanding of it. God’s word is the Bible. If your understanding comes from somewhere other than the Bible, chances are high that you’re speculation is wrong.

(REV. 17: 7) When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns.

The angel explains the mystery. Not Alexander Hyslop.

A Great City

Herbert Armstrong taught that the woman is a church. Let’s ask the Bible.

(REV. 17: 18) The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.

The woman is “the great city”. She is again described as a city in this and the next chapter. One can scream and cry that it’s a false church, but that’s not what the one who explains the mystery says.

Search the Bible and you will see that a city is not a prophetic symbol of a false church at all but of a city directly and a nation by association and symbolism. In the same way that when we say “Washington D.C.”, we mean it, but we could also mean the whole United States since that city is a symbol of our nation as a whole – and Paris is a symbol of France, and Moscow of Russia, and Jerusalem of Israel. In order to believe this is referring to a church, we would have to ignore the angelic explanation and redefine the Bible’s own symbolism. That isn’t letting the Bible interpret itself!

Reference that in Hosea 2 and 4. Now notice how a nation’s children are her citizens. Thus, God usually refers to the citizens of a nation as “daughters” (eg. daughters of Zion). If that is so, then Babylon the Great being the “mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” actually means her citizens are harlots.

Israel and Babylon

I would like to investigate a few oddities in the Bible. Specifically I will be showing the similarities between Israel/Judah/Jerusalem, and Babylon the Great, and Babylon. Am I doing this to bash Israel? Certainly not! Israel will be brought back to God. I only do this to show that there is an alternative to the speculative interpretation of prophecy pawned as truth by Herbert Armstrong.

1) Adultery and Prostitution

Throughout the Bible idolatry is likened to adultery. Here is a major clue as to the identity of Babylon the Great.

In doing a word search for adultery, I have come across some interesting things. Idolatry is likened to adultery and spoken of more often than actual marital infidelity. Yet more interestingly, there are only two entities who are ever called an adulteress - Israel (including Judah), and Babylon the Great. Both Israel and Babylon the Great are also called prostitutes.

In the NIV, Revelation 17: 2, 4; 18: 3; 19: 2 all translate the Greek word “porneia” as “adultery” in reference to Babylon the Great. Other versions use “fornication” instead of “adultery”. Porneia can refer to adultery. Figuratively, it refers to idolatry.

If adultery is violating a marriage contract, and Babylon the Great commits adultery, then Babylon the Great was in a marriage contract. Only Israel was ever said to be in a marital relationship with God. Only Israel can commit adultery against God. How, then, can this Babylon the Great be something other than Israelite? She commits spiritual adultery against God, therefore she had to be in the marriage relationship.

Israel’s sin was abandoning its marriage contract with God to rebel against Him, lusting after idolatry and sin, and preferring friendship with the world over devotion to God (adultery and prostitution). These are the only definitions given for ‘spiritual’ adultery and prostitution. What, then, could possibly be different about Babylon the Great’s adultery and prostitution? If prostitution is leaving God to love the world and its idols, then Babylon the Great left God to love the world.

Personally, I feel this going on about adultery is mere details and much ado about semantics. I included it anyway simply to make a point.

2) Tender and Delicate

(ISA 47: 1) about Babylon

1 Go down, sit in the dust, Virgin Daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, Daughter of the Babylonians. No more will you be called tender or delicate [Str. 6028: luxurious].

(JER 6: 2) about Jerualem

2 I will destroy the Daughter of Zion, so beautiful and delicate [Str. 6026: luxurious].

3) Receives Double

(REV. 18: 6) about Babylon the Great

6 Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup.

(JER. 16: 18) about Israel

18 I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols."

(ISA. 40: 2) about Jerusalem

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

(ISA. 51: 19) about Jerusalem

19 These double calamities have come upon you- who can comfort you? - ruin and destruction, famine and sword - who can console you?

4) Queen

(REV. 18: 7) about Babylon the Great

In her heart she boasts, 'I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.'

(ISA. 47: 5) about Babylon

5 Sit in silence, go into darkness, Daughter of the Babylonians; no more will you be called queen of kingdoms.

(LAM. 1: 1) about Jerusalem

1 How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces [nations] has now become a slave.

(EZE. 16: 13) about Israel

13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.

5) Widowhood

(REV. 18: 7) about Babylon the Great

7 Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, 'I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.'

(ISA. 47: 8-10) about Babylon

8 Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.' 9 Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. 10 You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.'

(ISA 54: 4) about Jerusalem

4 Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

6) Scarlet, Gold, & Jewels

(REV. 17: 4) about Babylon the Great

4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.

(REV. 18: 16) about Babylon the Great

16 and cry out: " 'Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! 17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!'

(JER. 4: 30) about Jerusalem

30 What are you doing, O devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why shade your eyes with paint? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.

7) Sorceries

(ISA. 47: 12) about Babylon

12 Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries,

(ISA. 57: 3) about Israel

3 But you-come here, you sons of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!

8) Swift Destruction; One Hour

(REV. 18: 10) about Babylon the Great

10 'Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!'

(REV. 18: 17) about Babylon the Great

17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!'

(REV. 18: 19) about Babylon the Great

In one hour she has been brought to ruin!

(ISA. 47: 9) about Babylon

9 Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day

(JER. 4: 20) about Israel

20 Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.

9) Blood of the Saints

(REV. 17: 6) about Babylon the Great

6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

(REV. 18: 24) about Babylon the Great

24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth."

(ACTS 26: 9-11) about Jerusalem

9 I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.

(REV. 11: 9) about Jerusalem

8 Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

(I KING 18: 4) about Judah

4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)

(I KING 19: 10) about Israel

10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

(NEH. 9: 26) about Israel

26 But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they put your law behind their backs. They killed your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.

(MATT. 23: 34-35) about Israel

34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

(MATT.23: 37; LUKE 13: 34) about Jerusalem

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

(LUKE 11: 47-51) about Israel

47 Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.' 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

(ACTS 7: 52) about Israel

52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him

(I THS. 2: 14-15) about the Jews

14 For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men

10) Great City

(REV. 18: 21) about Babylon the Great

21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.

(REV. 14: 8) KJV about Babylon the Great

8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

(REV. 11: 9) about Jerusalem

8 Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

(REV. 16: 19) about some city, probably Jerusalem because of the context

19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

(JER. 22: 8-9) about Jerusalem

8 People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?' 9 And the answer will be: 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.'

(LAM. 1: 1) about Jerusalem

1 How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.

The Seven Hills

(REV. 17: 9) Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.

At this point, some may be wondering about the seven hills of Rome.

First off, these are symbolic hills, they are not real hills. They represent nations and their leaders. I find it convenient that we spend so much time demanding that a woman is a symbol for a church, but we immediately forget what hills and mountains are symbols of. Second, they don't belong to the "woman in Rome", they belong to the beast she rides. From an Armstrongist perspective - that would be the seven German hills of the 10-nation European combine. Makes no sense when you look at it like that, does it? This whole teaching from HWA is full of such holes.

I did a quick internet study on the cities of the world which are built on 7 hills. I found 7 other cities around the world that are listed as being built on 7 hills: Tallahassee, Florida; Seven Hills City, Ohio; Nevada City, Nevada; Cincinnati, Ohio (this is just a nickname, it is not literally on 7 hills); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Istanbul, Turkey (formerly Byzantium and Constantinople); and finally Jerusalem, Israel.

That’s right, Jerusalem was a city on seven hills before Rome was built. It is not hard to find more information about this. Byzantium was the capitol city of the eastern Roman Empire. Emperor Constantine chose the area specifically because it has seven hills. It was a tradition with origins in superstitious religious beliefs that the number seven made something sacred. But the name “city on seven hills” is not exclusively a Roman title!

Something to Think About

At one time or the other, Herbert Armstrong claimed the Pope was the "little horn", Babylon the Great, the False Prophet, and the Image of the Beast. How can the Catholic Church be Babylon the Great who rides the Beast -and- the little horn of the Beast -and- the Image of the Beast that is besides the Beast -and- the False Prophet that empowers the Beast?

(REV. 17: 16) And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

So let me get this straight... The Pope is the "little horn" of the Beast that comes up among the other 10, the Pope plucks up three of those horns, yet all 10 join with him to burn his own church with fire? Not possible under HWA's timeline. Not possible under HWA's interpretation. Yet there it is in the Bible, plain as day. And then we see this:

(REV. 19: 20) Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

So, the Catholic Church rides the Beast, is hated and killed by the Beast, yet it works false wonders for the Beast and creates the mark of the Beast, and is later thrown alive with the Beast into the lake of fire? If the Pope is killed by the Beast, how can he make war with Christ at His return? These things cannot be!

Conclusion

Certainly this is exciting and dreadful. Who could Babylon the Great be? Odds are she is Israelite in nature. The similarities between Jerusalem and Babylon are dumbfounding. Jerusalem is a city, symbolically representing Israel and Judah; Babylon the Great is a city, symbolically representing some heretofore unrevealed nation. But from what we’ve read, one would think “Babylon” is a Biblical nickname (so to speak) of Jerusalem - along with Egypt and Sodom. Only the Bible can interpret the Bible, and this study comes straight from it. But I make no claims of knowing for sure.

I am in awe at the sheer volume of information linking Israel to Babylon the Great which has been overlooked by Herbert Armstrong. I overlooked it for the majority of my life because I followed him. I was at fault for not proving what I heard, as the Bereans did!

When I point these things out to people, they do not want to hear it because they love what they already accept – even though it is based on the ravings of a 19th century fraud and not on the Bible itself. They swear it’s true! They boldly proclaim the next Pope will fight Christ. They continue to point out problems with the Catholic Church as if they themselves have none to worry about. They judge and condemn a billion of God’s hand-crafted children with nothing more than speculative interpretation. It appears that they love to judge and condemn. Is this right? Is this Godly? We should be comparing ourselves to Christ and letting Him judge! Ask yourself - what if I am wrong?

(MAT. 12: 7) But if ye had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.

(LUK. 6: 37) Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

(ROM. 2: 1) Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

(ROM. 14: 4) Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Concentrate on your own walk with Christ!

Am I concluding Israel or the Jews certainly are Babylon the Great? Absolutely not! Then what on earth am I doing? This and this alone: offering an alternative. What if you are wrong?

God calls for us to wake up and watch! Does a watchman stare off in one fixed direction? What if the enemy sneaks in from behind? Was he, then, actually watching? No! If we stare in one fixed direction, the one people have been staring in for over 150 years, we are not living up to what God expects of us. What if you are wrong?

By all means, keep looking at churches to fulfill this symbolic Babylon the Great. Look at other things as well. But stop all the judgment and condemnation because you don’t know it to be sure! There are convincing alternatives. What if you are wrong? What, then, comes of your judgment and condemnation?

I personally believe Alexander Hislop’s conclusion was dead, dead wrong; he couldn’t understand the mystery; his motivation was clearly slanderous accusation and condemnation. His was a cleverly crafted deception. Read “The Babylon Connection” by Ralph Woodrow for a detailed and easy to understand look into Alexander Hyslop’s folly. What we’ve been taught was incorrect. We must look to God by His Spirit through the Bible to clue us in as to who she is because nothing and no one else can. When the time comes, it will all become clear.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Belleville COG through?

Al Buchanan, minister of the Belleville Church of God, almost universally considered one of the least oppressive ministers in the oppressive Worldwide Church of God splinter-groups, has announced his intention to step down from the ministry.
Depending on your point of view, this could be a black day in Armstrongism or a time to celebrate.

In his announcements given during Sabbath services on October 17th, he recounted how several members of his close family narrowly averted death in the Gulf of Mexico at the FOT 2009 in Panama City, Florida. (Praise God in the highest terms for this merciful Providence.) The event was so emotionally devastating, he realized he could no longer function in the role of minister.

In a message given on October 24, 2009, entitled "Loving One Another", Al laid out more details about his decision to step down. There apparently was a second family issue involved about which he will not divulge details. He also mentions that this is a decision he has been going back and forth on for several months. Thus, it would appear these family tragedies are the straw(s) that broke the camel's back.

If you are not immediately familiar with Al Buchanan, he was once closely tied with Ronald Weinland. They co-hosted a Feast of Teabernacles in Seveirville, Tennessee, in 1999, as Mike's timeline will plainly show over at the "False Prophet Ronald Weinland" blog. Al soon began to see through Weinland's illusion of friendliness, recognized his deceitfulness and love of power, and he severed ties with Weinland quickly. Al Buchanan was a pillar of support for the Church of God - Toledo, after Ron Weinland's seizure of the Church of God, Inc. in February 2000, where he disfellowshipped the Board and kicked out every voting member in Toledo who he thought might oppose his scheme to set himself up as sole ruler. Since then, the Belleville church and the Toledo church have been extraordinarily close. Al remains a critic of Ron Weinland.

Several people have written, called, and sent cards expressing their sympathies for his family. Regardless of what you may think about an Armstrongist minister, Al is a man, a fellow human being, who almost lost several cherished members of his close family. Understandably he would be shaken. I think he and his family deserve a degree of sympathy, understanding, and human compassion - even if the best you can do is to say nothing at all. Al was a good friend to me, as was his family, as were most of the Belleville congregation. I would personally appreciate it.

Whether they accept it or not, my heart goes out to them deeply. I am so thankful this didn't end much worse. Praise God for that.

He has also received some support for his decision to step down, and some calls for him to change his mind. This decision greatly affects the Belleville COG and the Church of God - Toledo. One, or maybe both, may cease to exist depending on how this turns out.
Nothing is set in stone yet! He may yet be convinced to change his mind. Keep an eyeball on this for further developments.

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

Acts 17:11

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Another True History?

Upon completing my study of Herman Hoeh’s “True History of the True Church”, 1959 edition, I saw that the study was so long the best way to get the information out was to write a small post summarizing what I’d found. What I had found was disturbingly similar to another study that I had done earlier about Herbert Armstrong’s 1960 booklet “Who Is the Beast.” I thought it would be good to summarize that earlier study here in the same way I did for “True History”.
A little background if you’re interested… I had already done a post on “Who Is the Beast” earlier this year. That post came from an incomplete review of the booklet by that name. I had always wanted to do a full review of the booklet, but I had never been able to bear it. Finally, by the grace of God, I found the fortitude to finish what I’d started and I completed a full study of “Who Is the Beast.” You may write to me and request a copy. (I hope to soon have them shared out online so you can just go pluck one for your own.) This post that I do now simply breaks up the highlights from that full study into easy to digest chunks.


CLAIM
“It [The Roman Empire] absorbed all others [Greece, Persia, & Babylon], occupied all their territory, was greater and stronger than all.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.6

FACTS
Rome did not occupy all of the territory of the three previous empires (Greece, Persia, and Babylon). None of the first three empires occupied territory in Europe, where the majority of Rome was. Nor did they span across northern Africa as Rome did. They spread out far into east where Rome did not go, down the Euphrates where Rome was not, and even into India where Rome could not go. The only areas that overlapped all of the 4 empires lies within the western Middle East – (roughly this would include) eastern Egypt around the Nile, northern Arabia, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and sections of southern and eastern Turkey.

CONCLUSION
This statement is false. One could make an argument that the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman I came far closer to this than Rome ever did.


CLAIM
“The Roman empire in Northern Africa was overrun by the Vandals, who sacked Rome in 455.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.9

FACTS
This is horn #1.
“Overrun” is a bit of an exaggeration, I’d say. They rose up while the Roman Empire was occupied with fighting for its life against Attila the Hun. Attila was the real destroyer here. In 455, invited to Rome by the widow of Emperor Valentinian III to save her hide from the new Emperor Maximus, the Vandals found themselves in a position to walk right into Rome, unhindered, to sack it for two weeks. Afterwards they spent most of their time, much like the Vikings, looting coastal cities. The Vandals, who were not Roman, nor conquered Western Rome, nor administered the wound to the beast (according to HWA), nor remained on the Italian peninsula in 476 AD (when the wound was supposedly delivered), were part of a Roman beast?
They, as the "first horn", weren’t the first to invade, either. They were the fourth barbarian group to attempt an attack on Rome in 100 years. Of note are the Visigoths (meaning Western Goths - not to be confused with the Vandals) who invaded in 408-410. These Goths went on to remove Britain, Spain, and France from Roman control by 423. This is years before the Vandal invasion in 455. And this is completely ignored! Why then aren’t the Visigoths counted as a horn? They did an awful lot more than the Vandals did. Attila the Hun decimated everything he touched, overran the Romans at every turn, and invaded Italy in 452 only to turn back suddenly for no known reason. All of this is ignored. What else is ignored? Where is mention of the Angles, Saxons, Franks, Lombards, and Bergundians? Missing!

CONCLUSION
This claim is true! But what this claim implies, that the Vandals were the first major group to wound Western Rome, is false. The Vandals did little real and lasting damage to Rome, especially when compared to the Goths or the Huns. HWA clearly cherry picked this group because they were in Rome, and he focuses on Rome for the sole purpose of discrediting the Pope.


CLAIM
“Then in 476 Odoacer set up his government at Rome, called the HERULI.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.9

FACTS
This is horn #2.
Odoacer (aka. Odovacar, aka Otto) of the Heruli did not set up his government at Rome, he set up his government at Ravenna. As a side note, he drove the Vandals from Sicily.

CONCLUSION
This claim is false.


CLAIM
“But it [Odoacer’s Heruli government] did not heal the deadly wound, for this was a government IN Rome. It was not a ROMAN government, but one of foreign barbarians.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.9-10

FACTS
It’s a Roman horn, but it isn’t Roman in any way? How is it a Roman horn, again?
Now pay close attention. Odoacer voluntarily renounced any title of Emperor that he gained by defeating the West and made peace with Eastern Rome by recognizing the rule of Emperor Zeno. Odoacer submitted to Zeno to prevent trouble from the East. Zeno then made him Patrician of the Western Empire - in other words, Odoacer was an official of the Eastern Roman government.

CONCLUSION
This claim is technically incorrect. “The wound” is purely a matter of speculation and “the healing of the wound” is also purely a matter of speculation. One can claim it starts or ends whenever one wants it to. I would prefer such a claim be built on more accurate information.


CLAIM
“These three kingdoms [Vandals, Heruli, & Ostrogoths], sweeping into the Roman territory, filled the period known in history as the ‘transition age.’ (See Myers' Ancient History, page 571.) That is, a TRANSITION between the wound and the healing.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.10

FACTS
They are part of what Myers calls “The Transition Age”, but they do not by any means fill that period. Myers lists the “Transition Age” as being from 476 - 800 AD! The Vandals, the first of these three, came in 455 A.D. That is 21 years before the start of the “Transition Age”. The Ostrogoths, the last of these three, were conquered in 554 A.D. That is 246 years before the end of this age. That is longer than the time the United States has been a nation!
It was NOT a “transition” from wound to healing.

CONCLUSION
Herbert Armstrong grossly misquotes his source. This isn’t even remotely accurate. How could he have read Myers and not known this? He could not. Then why did he do it? Maybe it was because the word “transition” was too tempting to leave off. Maybe he thought you’d never check. Maybe he never read his source; maybe Herman Hoeh did the research and this booklet was slapped together from a bunch of old material and deemed “true”. I don’t know.


CLAIM
“Now Daniel saw a ‘little horn’ coming up AMONG these ten, before whom these first three were ‘plucked up by the roots.’”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.10

FACTS
Let’s define two terms according to Herbert Armstrong’s understanding. “Little Horn” = the Pope. “First three” = Vandals, Heruli, & Ostrogoths.
With those definitions in mind, four things here are incredibly important.
First, the little horn [Pope] is to come up among the other 10 (not after the first three) – in their presence. The Pope as the Bishop of Rome preceded these people by a couple hundred years according to Catholic history, and over two thousand years according to Alexander Hyslop’s teachings which HWA promoted as gospel. The Pope didn’t come up among a single one of these horns here mentioned, let alone all ten, so he cannot be the little horn.
Second, the Vandals, Heruli, and Ostrogoths could not be the first three horns. According to Herbert Armstrong’s own words in this very booklet, they aren’t Roman. If they aren’t Roman horns then they aren’t part of a Roman beast, and therefore they don’t count!!
Thirdly, the “little horn” is in no way fundamentally different than the other ten. It is a horn. By Herbert Armstrong’s own definition in this very booklet, a horn is a king, not a church – just like the rest. He even goes out of his way at the start of this booklet to deny the beast is Catholic. This horn just comes up among the other 10 is the only difference.
Fourth, did anyone consider it WASN’T the papacy who plucked up the Vandals, the Herulii, or the Ostrogoths? But actually the Vandals plucked themselves up (the Pope let them into Rome), the Herulii were plucked up by the Ostrogoths upon request by the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno, and the Ostrogoths were plucked up by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian – not the Pope. The Pope wasn’t in the slightest bit involved!

CONCLUSION
This claim is a speculative butchering of prophecy. I do not mean to say the Bible is false, but how HWA interprets it is convoluted. His dependence on Alexander Hyslop’s teachings drives him to find a way to fit the Pope in as the little horn – and by extension, the beast – thus he twists his earlier statements into a Gordian Knot.
It is my opinion that the Visigoths (along with the other missing peoples) were not chosen as a horn because they were not in Rome and there was no plausible way to tie them to the Pope. Even though at first glance this booklet is about prophetic history, the real purpose is to display the Pope as evil.


CLAIM
“Prior to 554, Justinian had written a letter to the pope, acknowledging his supremacy in the West.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.19

FACTS
This statement comes with no footnote to tell us where he gets this information. From 537-555, Vigilius held the office of Pope. This must be the Pope referred to.
According to New Advent online Catholic encyclopedia article 15427b on Pope Vigilius, Vigilius was an Italian noble by birth and therefore deserving honor in the West. He was made the papal representative in Constantinople. While in Constantinople, he became involved in political intrigues with Empress Theodora. A controversy boiled for decades over a religious group known as the Monophysites, and both Theodora (who greatly favored them) and Justinian (who greatly disfavored them but wanted to keep the peace) wanted to win them over. In return for his promise of aid, Theodora gave Vigilius a great sum of money (700 pounds of gold) and letters authorizing him to be the next Pope.
Perhaps this is the letter HWA referred to.

CONCLUSION
Not exactly what HWA makes it sound like, is it? This claim is deceptively misleading. They gave Vigilius the papacy, not the civil rule. Justinian wanted the Pope to be the ecclesiastical leader, but Justinisn himself was the supreme ruler of both civil and ecclesiastical matters.


Let us briefly discuss the Holy Roman Empire. We will need it to go on.
About the nature of the empire, it was a very loose succession of mainly German kings who passed down rule in succession to their relatives. About the empire’s territory, it shifted to and fro mainly in German lands which were outside of the Roman Empire. At times it included some of southern France and chunks of Italy. It was not really an empire at all; it was more of a confederation. About the empire’s beginning, the start of this “empire” is something scholars debate. There is no solid time to say “HERE is where it started.” The agreed-upon start is when Otto I was crowned in 962 AD. Otto started the dynasty. About the name of the empire, it was not called “Roman Empire” until after 1,000 AD, it was not called “Holy” until after 1100 AD, and it was not called the “Holy Roman Empire” until after 1200 AD. Its full name became the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation. About its end, we should know that Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor and he abdicated the title on August 6, 1806 in an attempt to prevent war with Napoleon. Napoleon was never a Holy Roman Emperor.
Yet HWA plays on our lack of historical understanding to lead us to believe that this empire was one cohesive and all powerful unit dominating the Western Roman territories from the day it sprang out of Justinian, finished and complete, to its final day under Napoleon in 1814. This is utterly not so! It approaches the point of being deceptively not so.

CLAIM
“Power was given to this beast [Holy Roman Empire], once healed, to ‘CONTINUE FORTY AND TWO MONTHS’ … Thus, the healed beast is to continue 1260 years.”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.10

FACTS
Does he mean ‘continue and then come to an end’? Because that isn’t what happened. If we add 1260 years to the year 554 A.D. we will get 1814 A.D, but the Holy Roman Empire started in 962 and ended in 1806, which is 844 years not 1,260. If we count 1,260 years from 962 A.D., we reach the year 2222. And, as we all know, Garibaldi/Mussolini/Hitler were considered the ninth horn, and we have one final “resurrection” yet to go. That’s quite a gap! There is no end in sight.
Or, did he mean ‘continue uninterrupted’? Because that isn’t what happened either. Justinian’s “Imperial Restoration” touted as the “healing of the wound” only lasted 3 grand years after Justinian’s death – ie, 568 A.D. Then there was a gap of hundreds of years until Charlemagne was crowned in 800 A.D. His Frankish Carolingian Empire really only lasted until 888 AD. (I thought the French were Israelite according to HWA, Reuben to be specific, and the Beast was "Gentile". Do Charlemagne and Napoleon even count?) Then there was another 74 year gap until 962 A.D. when what eventually became known as the Holy Roman Empire was first formed by Otto I. There were multiple gaps during the Holy Roman Empire. That ended in 1806. There was another decades-long gap until the time when Garibaldi unified Italy in 1870. Another decades-long gap lasted until Mussolini and Hitler came on the scene in the 1930’s. Another gap has lasted ever since. All of these huge gaps somewhat blow this theory out of the water.
Now, please note, in Herman Hoeh’s “True History of the True Church” 1959 edition – one year before this booklet - the interpretation of the 1,260 years is not the same as we see here:
“As a result of the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), the great false Church commenced 1260 years of Tribulation (Rev. 12: 6) with full force.”
-Herman Hoeh, “True History of the True Church” 1959, p.19
Now we must ask ourselves, precisely how many different interpretations of the 1,260 years is one church allowed to have?

CONCLUSION
This claim is complete bunk. Armstrong gets the dates wrong. His theory is full of generations-long gaps. His interpretation of the 1,260 years is one thing in one booklet, and another thing entirely in another booklet.


CLAIM
“’So CLOSED,’ says West’s Modern History, page 377, ‘A GOVERNMENT THAT DATED FROM AUGUSTUS CAESAR.’”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.10

FACTS
Surely, Willis Mason West does not intend this statement to be taken literally, as to say that he believed the Holy Roman Empire was literally an unabridged continuation of the Roman Empire from 27 B.C. This is more of a symbolic statement. Read his book and you will see that for yourself. But true to form, HWA misquotes West in a few different ways.
West, in “Modern History: Europe, from Charlemagne to the present time”, p. 377, actually says, “Nearly all these German states, too, except Austria and Prussia, were leagued in the ‘Confederation of the Rhine,’ under Napoleon as ‘Protector.’ Of course the formation of this League amounted to a dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire; and in 1806, Francis II [of Austria; the last Holy Roman Emperor] laid down the venerable title [of Holy Roman Emperor]. So closed a government that dated from Augustus Caesar.”

CONCLUSION
This claim is misleading. Take the information in this claim with that of the preceding claim. West refers to Francis II of Austria, not Napoleon I of France. West refers to 1806 as the end of the Holy Roman Empire, not 1814. And West infers the beginning of this government was with Augustus Caesar in 27 BC, not Justinian in 554 AD.


CLAIM
“This CHURCH GOVERNMENT or ORGANIZATION is the IMAGE OF THE BEAST!”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.23

FACTS
This claim comes directly from an old copy of the Plain Truth. We have whole swaths of material in this booklet copied almost verbatim from HWA’s oldest material. Read the April-May 1940 edition of the Plain Truth magazine for more.
The gist of what HWA is saying comes from page 9, where he says this:
“Yes, CHURCH GOVERNMENT is the ‘IMAGE’ of the ‘BEAST.’ When people speak of ‘MY Church,’ they mean their organized denomination.”
-Herbert Armstrong, Good News Magazine, April-May, 1940
In other words, all organized, hierarchical church governments were the image of the beast.
This idea grew from a statement HWA made one year earlier, in 1939:
“There is not single HINT in the NEW TESTAMENT of any Church BOARD with authority to rule, to govern, to decide doctrine, or to handle tithes and church finances (the whole church). In a later number we shall devote an article to explaining Acts 15, which certainly sets no such example.”
-Herbert Armstrong, Good News magazine, Feb. 1939
You will note that this entire belief is utterly undone later on in HWA’s life. There is no real difference in what Pope Leo I did and what HWA did. HWA is reported to have said that government is the one thing the Catholic Church got right.
One would retort that the Worldwide Church of God was not a state. Let’s see what Stanley Raider had to say about that.
The following is a snippet of transcript from a televised interview Stanley Rader did with Mike Wallace on the "60 Minutes" program back in 1979:
[Wallace] "Are you suggesting that Herbert Armstrong is a head of state?"
[Rader] "Exactly. Exactly. And..."
[Wallace] "And you're the Secretary of State?"
[Rader] "You got it. By God you got it, Mike. That's it! That's the whole key. This is a state and we are representatives of God, and I am Mr. Armstrong's Secretary of State."
-Stanley Rader, “60 Minutes” interview with Mike Wallace, starting at time stamp 8 minutes 29 seconds.
You can download the audio file in .mp3 format from the Painful Truth website. Look at the bottom of the page for "Rader-Mike-Wallace-Interview.zip".

CONCLUSION
This claim is purely HWA’s own opinion. Is it the “image of the beast”? You decide. At one time in HWA’s life, when he was trying to legitimize his split from the COG7, he says yes! At another time, when he wanted to cement his personal control over the Worldwide Church of God, he says no! But while he was saying no, he was clubbing the Catholic Church for doing what he was also doing.


CLAIM
“But this church became a MOTHER, and DAUGHTER CHURCHES came out of her…”
-Herbert Armstrong, “Who is the Beast?” 1960, p.24

FACTS
As time drew on, HWA became more and more like the Catholic Church he so demonized. So, according to his very own definition, he conformed to the image of the beast.
And now his “mother church,” the Worldwide Church of God, has born countless “daughter churches” of its own. They have been splintering off since the doctrinal changes of 1972. To this day they continue to split and divide as they fight amongst each other over who is the one true church.

CONCLUSION
This claim is completely hypocritical.

In closing…
Once again, this information I have laid out here is not speculation. It is a matter of historical fact. In one place Armstrong quotes an author or makes a claim, and I have checked that quote or claim, and in the vast majority of instances his information was simply not correct. Some were not just incorrect, but grossly so. In some cases he left very important facts out that change the meaning of his statements entirely.
And once again, some of the examples are so blatant, so egregious, that there is no possible way they were not deliberate, premeditated, and done with intent to deceive.
This establishes a pattern. Two different works from two different men at the same time, both resulting in the same forms of misinformation and misquotation. This only adds weight to my opinion that I have no choice but to look at every work from these two compatriots with the highest degree of skepticism.

I look at these things and I think about I Timothy 4; it puts a whole new spin on things:
(I TIM. 4: 1-5) 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith [HWA started his own faith that was contrary to all others], giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons [changing the gospel and condemning all Christendom], 2 speaking lies [misquotes, misinformation, etc] in hypocrisy [bashing the Pope while doing the same], having their own conscience seared with a hot iron [living in mansions while others went without; visiting doctors while others were forbidden to, etc], 3 forbidding to marry [anyone not of your own race, or not in the WCG], and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth [meats laws, white bread, white sugar, etc]. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Am I saying I Timothy 4 was written about HWA? Of course not. It's just something to think about.
Current members of a COG, loved by God, please take both of these posts to heart. Ask these questions to yourselves: Have I actually proved? Am I really interested in the truth? Am I only following what I follow because I just accepted it? Could it be that there are more works just as flawed as these, that have not been checked? What does the truth have to fear from fact checking? Can the things I believe stand up to some scrutiny?

May God, in the manner of the noble Berean, lead you to His truth.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

True History of the True Church??


What I am about to show you are a few examples taken from my recently completed review of a booklet by Herman Hoeh titled “True History of the True Church” 1959 edition. (My deepest thanks to my friends who helped me edit this project.) Hoeh's booklet attempts to build a lineage back through time from Herbert Armstrong to the Apostles. It cites real history books and makes real falsifiable claims on history. This is not some debatable bit of doctrinal curiosity here. This is history – supposedly the “TRUE history.” We can look at this and see without a doubt if it is true or if it is not. If what Hoeh says is not true, then it cannot possible be the "true history." I think you will be shocked by what I have found.

I would like to share these few examples with you since my overall study is far too large to post here and let you see for yourself whether or not Hoeh was being truthful. These are some of the most blatant examples, but I assure you the rest was no different.

How this works is I am going to give you a "claim", which is a quote from Hoeh's book. Then we'll review the facts behind the claim. Then I'll summarize.

CLAIM:

“But how did Nimrod – ‘Peter’ – become associated with Rome? Because it was to Rome that Nimrod fled from his persecutors. The ancient name of Rome was ‘Saturnia,’ recorded by Pliny in his Natural History, bk. III.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.15

FACTS:

In The Natural History of Pliny (the Elder), Volume I – which contains Book III – starting on p. 191, Pliny begins describing the regions of Italy. He mentions various areas and cities until, on page 202, Pliny begins describing the city of Rome. On page 203, he states that within the massive walls of Rome there were 14 districts. The metropolitan area grew, however, and eventually spilled over all bounds and engulfed several surrounding towns. On page 204, Pliny mentions that within the first district, within the bounds of the then current city of Rome, there was one town engulfed which was called Saturnia. Pliny also mentions Janiculum (formerly Antipolis) which also forms part of the then current city of Rome.

The translators write in the notations on page 204, about Antipolis:

“Said to have been so called from having been ‘opposite’ to the ancient city of Saturnia. The Janiculus or Januculum was a fortress on the opposite bank of the Tiber, and a suburb of Rome, connected with it by the Sublician bridge.”

CONCLUSION:

This claim is false. Hoeh distorts what Pliny said. Rome was not formerly known as Saturnia. Rather, Rome had grown to engulf Saturnia and many other small towns.

CLAIM:

“Anacletus, an elder or bishop in the apostate church at Rome, dedicated the ancient shrine of the pagan Peter (or Nimrod) to the apostle Peter around 80 A.D., according to a record in the Liber Pontificalis (I, p. 125).”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.15

FACTS:

Anacletus, aka Cletus, lived during the time of the Apostles. Some records say Anacletus was bishop of Rome in 77-88, others say 80-92. The records just aren’t entirely reliable. There are even some records that split Anacletus into two different people (Cletus and Anacletus). But we should ask ourselves, why were these records so spotty? Simple! The persecution of Christians that began with Nero was still going strong, and it was deadly to be a Christian out in the open.

I’ve searched the Liber Pontificalis for entries about Anacletus dedicating a shrine, and I have found nothing. Nothing in volume I page 125. Nothing in the entire thing. I did, however, find reference to Anacletus building a tomb in Volume I, p. 9:

“He built and adorned the sepulchral monument to Peter, forasmuch as he had been made priest by the blessed Peter, and other places of sepulcher for the burial of bishops. There he himself was likewise buried near the body of the blessed Peter…”

Vatican hill was an ancient cemetery used by both pagans and eventually Christians. It was also used as farmland. It also housed the Circus of Nero (an arena for races and gladiator fights). Given that, it is impossible that an ancient shrine could have survived from Nimrod’s day for Anacletus to rededicate.

CONCLUSION:

This claim is false. Hoeh, I suspect willfully, misquotes the Liber Pontificalis. This tomb was built by Anacletus; he did not dedicate an ancient shrine.

CLAIM:

“Anacletus claimed to be the sole successor to Peter. He insisted that Rome should be the new headquarters of all the churches.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.15

FACTS:

History is so spotty that there are several versions of his placement in the Catholic list of Popes. Hoeh gives no source for this claim. I suspect there is no source. Hoeh only invents this claim to take down Anacletus, and that solely because of his involvement with Peter’s tomb.

CONCLUSION:

This claim is manufactured. There is absolutely no record of Anacletus making this claim. Later Popes (much later) made this claim, but that is no proof at all in regards to whether or not Anacletus made this claim. The notion that the Bishop of Rome would have made a claim like that in those days is laughable and betrays a complete lack of understanding of the order of things in the early church. In fact, at that time, it was the Greek east that was dominant – not the Latin west. And all Bishops were considered of equal rank.

I would remind you that the list of Popes is an attempt to link the Catholic Pontiff to the Apostles - and that is precisely what Hoeh is doing in this booklet. This claim is meant to discredit his competition.

CLAIM:

“This church [Smyrna] claims they are spiritually Jews.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.17

FACTS:

Here is God’s word:

(REV. 2: 9) …I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

They do not at all claim to be “spiritually Jews.” The Bible neither says that, nor does it intend that as its meaning. None of the most respected Bible commentaries support Hoeh. This is a blatant rewriting of the Bible. Hoeh inserts the word “spiritual” so that in your mind you will equate this to the phrase “Spiritual Israel.”

CONCLUSION:

This claim is false. Hoeh has added to the words of the Bible in order to change “Jew” into “Gentile Christian.”

CLAIM:

[Hoeh quotes Eusebius:]

“But before this time another most virulent disorder had existed, and long afflicted the Church; I mean the difference respecting… Easter. For while one party asserted that the Jewish custom (as to time) should be adhered to, the other (did not).

Accordingly, the people being thus in every place divided in this respect… no one appeared who was capable of devising a remedy… BECAUSE THE CONTROVERSY CONTINUED EQUALLY DIVIDED BETWEEN BOTH PARTIES… Constantine appeared to be the only one on earth capable… He convoked a general council…”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.18

FACTS:

When I read this, I get the sense that Eusebius is an indifferent reporter of benign fact. I showed this quote to a neutral third party, without any commentary from me, and their conclusion was the same as mine.

Here are the actual words of Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, book III, Chapter V, in section “Of the Disagreement Respecting the Celebration of Easter”. I will underline the areas that Hoeh left out.

“But before this time another most virulent disorder had existed, and long afflicted the Church; I mean the difference respecting the salutary feast of Easter. For while one party asserted that the Jewish custom should be adhered to, the other affirmed that the exact recurrence of the period should be observed, without following the authority of those who were in error, and strangers to gospel grace [Jews].

Accordingly, the people being thus in every place divided in respect of this, and the sacred observances of religion confounded for a long period (insomuch that the diversity of judgment in regard to the time for celebrating one and the same feast caused the greatest disagreement between those who kept it, some afflicting themselves with fastings and austerities, while others devoted their time to festive relaxation), no one appeared who was capable of devising a remedy for the evil, because the controversy continued equally balanced between both parties. To God alone, the Almighty, was the healing of these differences an easy task; and Constantine appeared to be the only one on earth capable of being his minister for this good end. For as soon as he was made acquainted with the facts which I have described, and perceived that his letter to the Alexandrian Christians had failed to produce its due effect, he at once aroused the energies of his mind, and declared that he must prosecute to the utmost this war also against the secret adversary who was disturbing the peace of the Church.

Not only did Hoeh leave out all that I have here underlined, he added two sections in parentheses, and a third section at the end.

CONCLUSION:

What Hoeh does here is strategically rewrite Eusebius in order to cause it to say precisely the opposite of what it does say. Hoeh would leave us to understand that the static dating of Easter was disturbing the church. Hoeh removed or rewrote all of the references to how his own position is considered to be “evil” and “disturbing” in Eusebius’ sight.

CLAIM:

“Not even the persecutions of pagan Rome matched the terrible slaughter of Constantine’s ‘Christian’ Rome. From the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) to about the death of Constantine, the persecution raged for 10 long years as prophesied (see Rev. 2: 10, where a prophetic ‘day’ represents a ‘year’ in fulfillment – Numbers 14: 34).”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.18

FACTS:

Once again we see Hoeh’s claims are factually erroneous. The Great Persecution under Diocletian was the worst Roman persecution by far – even worse than that of Nero. Galarius and Constantine ended that.

In 311 AD, Galerius issued an Edict of Toleration, ending the persecution of Christians. Constantine restored confiscated property to Christians in the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. There was now religious freedom in Rome. He outlawed crucifixion in favor of hanging, he restored property to Christians, he freed Christian slaves, he allowed the Christian bishops to decide their own policy (he then enforced their policy in an effort to maintain peace and unity), and many other such benevolent things.

CONCLUSION:

This claim is shockingly false. Hoeh would paint Constantine as a horrible butcher. And why? He does this for no other reason than to invent a history favorable to his flawed presuppositions.

CLAIM:

“The names given to these people of God by their enemies were ‘Athyngani’ – meaning ‘those who understood prophecy’ – and ‘Paulicians’ – the followers of the apostle Paul.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p.20

FACTS:

"Athyngani" means “untouchable.” S├índor Avraham, in his online study titled Myths, Hypotheses and Facts Concerning the Origins of Peoples, under section heading The True Origin of Roma and Sinti, says this:

“The Athinganoi were given such name in connection with their ritual purity laws, that regarded impure any contact with other people...”

Vasile Burtea's "The Roma in the Synchrony and the Diachrony of the Contact Population" [say that 5 times fast], under section 1.2 "The Motives and Passages of Migration" claims the phrase "Athinganoi" comes from the Greek and means, roughly, "untouchable."

Johann Lorenz Mosheim agrees, in his book "Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Volume II" chapter V. This author and book are quoted by Hoeh in his booklet.

As for the Paulicians, they got their name from Paul of Samasota, Bishop of Smyrna (200-275 AD). Not the Apostle Paul.

CONCLUSION:

This claim is demonstrably false. After all of the reading Hoeh did - especially reading Mosheim - I find it impossible to believe that he didn't full well know this.

CLAIM:

“They [the Henricians] were charged by the Catholic Church with remaining faithful to the whole law of God and of observing the Sabbath (Ecclesiastical History, by Peter Allix, pp. 168-169).

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p. 22

FACTS:

Hoeh quotes the book “Ecclesiastical History” by Peter Allix. This turns out to be “Remarks Upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Albigenses”.

That’s Albigenses - not the Petrobrussians, Henricians, or Arnoldists.

The omission of the full title of this work seems utterly deceptive to me since Hoeh uses this quote in direct reference to Henry of Lausanne (founder of the Henricians) and Arnold of Brescia (founder of the Arnoldists) .. but the book is about the Albigenses. Peter de Bruys (founder of the Petrobrussians) and Henry of Lausanne (Henricians) are only mentioned in the book in regards to proving the Albigenses predated them.

To put it plainly, he is citing a book about one group and trying to apply it to other groups.

Hoeh only paraphrases, so there is no specific quote to confirm or deny. What I can do, however, is tell you that the word “sabbath” never appears in the work, and the “law of God” certainly does not refer to the laws of the Old Covenant (which is precisely what Hoeh understands this phrase to mean).

CONCLUSION:

I have found nothing in this book at all, or any other besides, to justify Hoeh’s paraphrase. All of these men were Catholic reformers, outraged by the excesses of the clergy. Peter de Bruys even sought the Pope's permission to preach.

CLAIM:

“Their [the Waldenses] enemies admitted that these people proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God, that they baptized repentant believers and obeyed the whole law of God.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p. 23

FACTS:

William Jones, in his book "History of the Christian Church", specifically says, on p. 80 of his book, that they did not tithe. In fact, Jones relates this to us on p. 82:

“An impartial review of the doctrinal sentiments maintained by the Waldenses; the discipline, order, and worship of their churches, as well as their general deportment and manner of life, not to mention their determined and uniform opposition to the church of Rome, affords abundant evidence of the similarity of their views and practices to those held by Luther, Calvin, and the other illustrious characters, whose labours, in the sixteenth century, contributed so eminently to effect the glorious Reformation.” [emphasis mine]

Note: This is a book Hoeh quotes often. Andrew Dugger and C. O. Dodd in their earlier work "A History of the True Religion Traced from 33 AD to Date" quote from it 33 times. They all refer to it as "Jones' Church History."

CONCLUSION:

Hoeh is obviously not impartial. His claims are false.

The Waldensian church still exists today. They are part of the Presbyterian church. Ask them what their history is.

CLAIM:

“Through the preaching of Lollard and other helpers, hundreds were repenting. Thousands were learning for the first time that baptism means immersion – that the world’s religious holidays came from paganism and that Sunday was not the Sabbath.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, P. 23

FACTS:

Hoeh goes into some specific claims, but backs them up with nothing.

He mentions the Lollards. What do we know about them?

The Lollards were followers of John Wycliffe, another early Protestant. They rejected the excesses of the clergy. Once again we have a group who opposed tithing – they wanted the clergy to live off their own labor. Wycliffe only wanted to reform the Catholic Church.

CONCLUSION:

This claim is false. John Wycliffe was a Catholic reformer; certainly not an Armstrongist.

CLAIM:

“Several faithful congregations did not become members of the [Seventh-day Baptist] Conference because they would not submit to the new Protestant doctrines being introduced (see p. 246 of Belcher’s Religious Denominations).”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, pp. 23-24

FACTS:

The book Hoeh references is The Religious Denominations in the United States: Their History, Doctrine, Government and Statistics with a Preliminary Sketch of Judaism, Paganism, and Mohammedanism by Joseph Belcher. Upon turning to page 246, as referenced, I found that Mr. Belcher was not at all speaking of the Seventh Day Baptists. He was speaking about a subsection of Baptists that he calls “Six Principle Baptists.” Mr. Belcher even lists these 6 principles, and contrasts them with the Associated Baptists and the Freewill Baptists, so it is obvious that he is not speaking of the Seventh-day Baptist church.

CONCLUSION:

Hoeh infers Belcher was speaking about the Seventh-day Baptists; he was not saying that at all. Hoeh infers that Belcher was saying certain independent seventh day Sabbath observing groups were refusing to join the Seventh-day Baptist General Conference; he was not saying that at all. Hoeh infers that Belcher was saying the issue was over the introduction of pagan heresies (ie. Protestant doctrines); he was not saying that at all. Hoeh infers the refusal was more specifically over the Sabbath, or naming, or some such issue; it was not. Hoeh didn’t get a single detail correct except that there was one group who refused to join another.

I can see no possible way that this was done without complete foreknowledge and willful intent. For it to be anything besides would mean Herman Hoeh is either not the author, or he was suffering from some form of dementia.

CLAIM:

“The original Church of God brethren generally did not go along with the ‘inspired restimony’ of Ellen G. White. Finally, a meeting was held by some of the members in Battle Creek, Michigan, September 28 through October 1, 1860.”

-Herman Hoeh “True History of the True Church.” 1959, p. 24

FACTS:

Hoeh is referring to Gilbert Cranmer and his rejection of Ellen G. White. Hoeh is attempting to sever all ties with William Miller and the Seventh Day Adventists.

According to the Ellen G. White official estate website, in an article titled “Ellen G. White: A Brief Biography”, under section “Marriage of James White and Ellen Harmon”, John and Ellen White accepted the Saturday Sabbath in the latter half of 1846. According to the Seventh Day Adventist website, in an article on the history of the church, it states the name “Seventh-day Adventist” was chosen in 1860.

It was at this conference in Battle Creek, Michigan that one of William Miller’s followers, Mr. Gilbert Cranmer (an elder in Ellen G. White’s Adventist church) publically aired disagreements with Ellen G. White and her visions. Afterwards, Gilbert Cranmer took a chunk of people in Michigan with him when he left, and he formed the group that eventually became known as the Church of God (Seventh Day).

CONCLUSION:

This statement is false. Generally speaking, for several years the majority did go along with Ellen G. White. If they hadn’t, there wouldn’t be any “Seventh Day” in “Church of God (Seventh Day)”. Only a handful eventually broke away, and that was due to her odd visions and prophecies. But Armstrongism is a branch of Adventism and a descendant of Ellen G. White’s church. (Technically they still go along with her to this day.) In trying to deny this link, Hoeh inadvertently admits it. That tie is impossible to sever.

In closing…

One person can show every last verse in the Bible on a given topic, and as sure as the sun rises in the east there will be someone bound and determined to argue against it. It is the nature of people to feel so highly of their own opinions that some will never be convinced otherwise by any evidence. Mankind would kill their Savior before they re-assess their opinions and beliefs.

But this information I have laid out here is not speculation. It is a matter of historical fact. In one place Hoeh quotes an author, and I have checked that quote, and in the vast majority of instances his quote was incorrect. Some were not just incorrect, but grossly so. In some cases he left whole swaths of information out. In some cases he claimed things were said that were not.

This is not a matter of opinion. Did Hoeh misquote or did he not? It is a fact that he did! Therefore it cannot be the "true history."

The works are there, I have provided links, check for yourself. I deeply suspect, given the rare and inaccessible nature of the source material, that Hoeh and Armstrong hoped no one ever could or would double check.

Dear reader, you will have to read the full version of my study to get the full effect of Hoeh’s errors (or do a study of your own.) Several times Hoeh misquotes his sources. Several times he invents history. Several times his information is blatantly taken straight from the grossly flawed and fully debunked works of Alexander Hyslop. Several times his inventions are obviously designed to justify Herbert Armstrong and the things he has said or did. Indeed, the whole booklet was written to this end.

Some of the examples are so blatant, so egregious, that there is no possible way they were not deliberate, premeditated, and done with intent to deceive.

Taking in to account my recent review of Herbert Armstrong’s “Who is the Beast?” –where I saw much the same thing as I found here - I have no choice but to look at every work from these two compatriots with the highest degree of skepticism.

Current members of a COG, deeply sought after by God, please take this information to heart and consider the methods of the men who gave you what you now believe. Was it honest what they did? How much of what you now believe is based on the booklets and articles written by these two men? Did you do as the Bereans did and verify the information for yourself? I did not – until recently. And I am ASTOUNDED by the mistruth I found. Is that Godly fruit you’re eating, or rotten?

May God lead you to His truth. And may God have mercy on these men who have foisted such terrible lies on so many tens of thousands of people.