Saturday, January 29, 2011

COG Worldwide Association Claims False Roots (long version)

The FAQ on the Church of God A Worldwide Association website makes this claim: “We trace our history back to the first-century Church of God.” Oh no, they most certainly do not! They do not trace back at all. Rather, they presume. I would like to look in to this and why it is dead, dead wrong.

To make this easier on people who can't stand history, I’ll split this article up into two posts - the short version, and the long version. This post is...

THE LONG VERSION:

Look for yourself:

We trace our history back to the first-century Church of God. Jesus promised that from the time He founded the Church onward through His second coming to the earth there would always be believers who understood and held to the truth.
"‘I will build My church,’ Jesus said, ‘and the gates of Hades [the grave] shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18). In other words, He promised that His Church would never die out."
The Church of God has always remained small in comparison to others, but Christ has kept His promise, His Church has survived, and it continues today.

Here is their logic and their presumption:
Jesus promised that His church would never end, and we are the “true” church, therefore, we must have always existed since the time of Jesus.

It is easy for a person within the organization to accept this. They accept without question that they are the “true” church. The fact of the matter is all Adventist organizations believe this about themselves. They cannot all be the “one true church.” Nor are they alone in this regard. There are many, many organizations who claim to be “the one true church.”
Allow me to demonstrate my claim that they believe they are the “true” church. This can be proved from the FAQ itself.

However, He also prophesied the rise of counterfeit churches throughout the ages (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Acts 20:29-30).
Secular history is not always helpful in tracing the history of the Church of God because it focuses principally upon churches that preach ‘another Jesus’ and a ‘different gospel’ (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Do you see? They have set themselves up as the “true” church by tearing other churches down as “counterfeit” and anti-Christ, most especially the Catholic Church. But if the history of the Catholic Church is so very false, then by extension so are all Protestant Churches. And if we ignore all groups and cults and what-not which are neither Catholic nor Protestant (for example the Coptics, the Orthodox church, and the Gnostics), that leaves whom? Why, them, of course!
But is this any proof, or just baseless accusation?

How do we know for sure that the COGWA is the “true” church? Two distinguishing marks are given.

GOSPEL MESSAGE

The lesser of the two marks (I say lesser because it is barely mentioned in comparison to the first mark) is the gospel that they preach.

Do not be fooled, valued reader. The gospel which Herbert Armstrong taught is a false gospel. The gospel preached to this hour by the COG splinter groups is the counterfeit.
We have a whole section in the Categories page about the gospel which Armstrongism teaches. If you would like specific suggestions, then please read “What Is the Gospel?” or “The Gospel In Detail”. Or if you just want a quick overview, look up the section on the Gospel in our FAQ page. This is a massive subject, so please excuse me if I take the easy way out and just quote a section of our FAQ.

HWA taught “Kingdom of God” means the second coming of Christ and the rule of God on Earth. The second coming is a portion of the Gospel, but not the most important portion. More important is our redemption, salvation, and glorification through the life, death, and life of Christ. The phrase “gospel of the Kingdom of God” is mostly used in Matthew. But we also see “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (MARK. 1: 1), “gospel of the grace of God” (ACT. 20: 24), “gospel of God” (ROM. 1: 1; 15: 16; II COR. 11: 7; I THS. 2: 8-9; I PET. 4: 17), “gospel of the blessed God” (I TIM. 1: 11), “gospel of His Son” (ROM. 1: 9), “gospel of Christ” (ROM. 1: 16; 15: 19, 29; I COR. 9: 12, 18; II COR. 9: 13; 10: 14; GAL. 1: 7; PHP. 1: 27; I THS. 3: 2; ), “gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II THS. 1: 8), “gospel of the glory of Christ” (II COR. 4: 4), and “gospel of peace” (ROM. 10: 15; EPH. 6: 15). Out of the 101 appearances of the word “gospel”, the phrase “gospel of the Kingdom” only appears 4 times. None of these include any indication that this phrase exclusively means the second coming. This understanding is read into the text because this is what HWA taught. For comparison, “gospel of Christ” appears over twice as often at 10 times. As a matter of fact, the oft-used phrase, “gospel of the coming Kingdom of God” appears nowhere in the Bible.

“Gospel” means “good news.” The following is the good news Paul preached. Paul recorded for us what is believed to be the oldest creed in Christianity:

(I COR. 15: 1-5) 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

(I COR. 2: 2) For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Elsewhere, Paul calls the Gospel the “message of the cross” (I COR. 1: 17-18). Why would he do that if the Gospel was only about the future Kingdom? He would not.

So, I implore you, with the utmost sincerity and gravity, do not make assumptions about the Gospel. The Gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (ROM. 1: 16). You get this wrong, and salvation itself is at stake, unless you have believed in vain. Get this wrong, and you can build nothing of value on the Foundation. Get this wrong, and you may bring upon yourself the very wrath of God Himself.

(GAL. 1: 8-9) 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

And what Gospel did you receive from Paul? That Jesus Christ came as a literal, physical, fleshly man, was crucified for our sins on the cross and literally died, and was raised to life again on the third day. There is no other Gospel than this. There is no other way to salvation other than through what Christ accomplished on the cross. This is the good news! Jesus accomplished what He came to do. "Telesteo!" There would be no second coming and no hope for mankind if it weren't for this.

A LITTLE FLOCK

The first mark that they are the true church is, oddly enough, the size of the organization.

In comparison to these other churches, His description of the original group of disciples proved prophetic, for He called them a "little flock" (Luke 12:32). The Church of God has always remained small in comparison to others…
We find the origins of Sabbath-keeping in the colonies in a small group…
Although remaining relatively small, the Church of God grew in America.

But this is no proof at all. All groups are small in comparison to the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is the largest single denomination of any religion on earth. Just recently, the sum total of all Muslims on earth has surpassed this one Christian denomination.
Protestants combined are estimated to make up roughly 40% of Christianity (but there is no way to accurately measure this, since massive underground churches exist in oppressed areas of the world.) If we compare the sizes of the major Protestant denominations, they are also comparatively small. This gets increasingly true when we factor in the minor Protestant groups, like the Church of Christ or the Amish for example.
Then we have the many fringe groups, like the Mormons or the Adventists or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are also very small in comparison.

So the relative size is no proof at all. Jesus did say that He had a little flock. But what did He mean by that? He had 120 disciples; a very little flock. But did He intend that His church would be a little flock forever? The Bible doesn’t say. There were thousands of converts on the first Pentecost alone. In a single day the Church grew exponentially. So, we are only making assumptions when we claim that the church would always be little.

But notice how the Armstrongist groups have always played both ends of this. While claiming the little size is the sign, they also tout the growth and reach of their groups. Herbert Armstrong would often claim that his Worldwide Church of God grew at an annual rate of 33%.
The COGWA is no different in this:
In 1931 this Conference ordained a man whom God would eventually use to do a powerful worldwide work, Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986).
“Powerful, worldwide work,” eh? So the “true” church is a small group and a powerful, worldwide group at the same time. I call this playing both ends against the middle.

So we need a small group, but a large group. The Seventh-day Adventist church is the largest of all of the world’s Sabbatarian churches. They are small, yet large. They match the criteria. Why aren’t they the “true” church? So, I suppose we have to be very careful in our calculations on this.
Then, we have infighting between the various splinter groups that broke off of the Worldwide Church of God. Several of them claim to be the “one true church” to the exclusion of their own sister churches. The Philadelphia Church of God, for example, has made it a rule that its members cannot have anything to do with members of the other COG splinters.

And you just try to get the actual head-count in any Armstrongist splinter group. They won’t give it to you. Most of them don’t really know for sure. Some of them purposefully cook their books; counting only new members but never subtracting when members leave.
Think about it. If we calculate an annual growth of 33%, a church which starts with just one person will grow to over 1.5 million people in 50 years. The official number of members of the Worldwide Church of God never made it much past the mystical number of 144,000 people.

WikiPedia article on “Christian Denomination” has some fabulous charts to help you visualize the Christian denominations. Here is another resource on WikiPedia, “List of Christian denominations by number of members.

WE TRACE OUR HISTORY

Like I said earlier – no they don’t.
Two things. First, they are a new denomination; they haven’t traced anything. They get their information from the United Church of God from whence they sprang, and the UCG in turn got its information from the Worldwide Church of God from whence they sprang. As we documented in our article “True History of the True Church?,” Herbert Armstrong and Herman Hoeh plagiarized information from a book written by A. N. Dugger and C. O. Dodd of the Church of God (Seventh Day). So, in fact, the WCG got its information from the COG7 from which it sprang. The COGWA has done nothing but perpetuate someone else’s body of work. Second, the information couldn’t possibly be more faulty and unreliable. There is little if any truth to it. Let’s look at the COGWA’s specific claims.

Even so, we can find glimpses of the Church Jesus founded in Europe in the Middle Ages among the Waldensians and Anabaptists. The Church of God thrived for a time in England, but persecution eventually drove some believers to the American colonies in search of religious freedom.
We find the origins of Sabbath-keeping in the colonies in a small group led by Stephen Mumford in Rhode Island.

Here we see that three specific groups are mentioned: the Waldensians, the Anabaptists, and the Seventh Day Baptists [Stephen Mumford’s church.] Let’s look at them.

WALDENSIANS

It is a sad reality that almost every Christian-oriented cult with a bone to pick against the Catholics traces themselves back to the Waldensians. This is not something unique to Adventism/Armstrongism by any means. Who were they?

It depends on who you ask. Like I said, groups tend to trace themselves to the Waldensians, so you’ll get anything you want about this group, depending on who you ask. I strongly suggest that you ask them. They’re still around, you know. Wouldn’t they know best what their own history is? None the less, this is what the old Worldwide Church of God said about them:

Their 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”, p. 23

When I checked Herman Hoeh’s source material, specifically Jones’ “Church History”, I found this to be an outright lie.
Jones specifically says, on p. 80 of his book, that the Waldensians 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.

I want you to know this - the Waldensians began as Catholics! One man who is credited with starting the Waldensian church, Peter Waldo, even went to Pope Alexander III and asked for permission to preach. Yes, they were Catholics in almost every way until they were anathematized in the Fourth Laterian Council. This made them for all practical purposes, Protestant. And they remain Protestant to this day. They have been members of the Presbyterian Church since 1895.
If the COG splinters trace themselves to the Waldensians, then they trace themselves to Protestantism and then ultimately to Catholicism, and that is inescapable fact.

ANABAPTISTS

I will not go into depth about the Anabaptists. Suffice it to say that the main groups who have come out of the Anabaptist movement are the Amish, Menonites, Brethren, and Friends movements. Do any of these groups match Armstrongism? No!

Herman Hoeh tied the Worldwide Church of God to the Anabaptists via a group called the “Peterobrussians”, which was started by a man named Peter de Bruys.

Philip Schaff, in the book “History of the Christian Church”, Vol. V: The Middle Ages A.D. 1049-1294, under section 81: “Peter de Bruys and Other Independent Leaders,” laid out the five main complaints against what Peter taught (which I paraphrase):
1) baptism of adults only, 2) church buildings and altars are useless, 3) crosses are idolatry, 4) the mass is useless, and the Eucharistic transubstantiation is not true, 5) prayers, alms, and good works for the dead are useless.

And that was really it. No Sabbath. No “correct church government.”
Once again, the Petrobrussians and related groups were Catholic reformers. Once again, if the COG splinters trace themselves to the Anabaptists, then they trace themselves to Protestantism and then ultimately to Catholicism, and that is inescapable fact.

SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS

George Benjamin Utter, in his book, “Manual of the Seventh-Day Baptists”, p. 17, says this:

In England, the controversy relative to the Sabbath commenced near the close of the sixteenth century. Nicholas Bound, D. D., of Norton, in Suffolk, published a book in 1595, in which he advanced the modern view concerning the ‘Christian Sabbath,’ that it is a perpetuation of the fourth commandment… Bound’s book was suppressed by order of Archbishop Whitgift in 1599. But its suppression was followed by the publication of numerous other works, in which every shade of opinion on the subject was expressed.

Groups of churches sprung up in various places. Mr. Utter counts eleven main groups, three of which survived into the 1800’s. It was a group in the London area that sent Steven Mumford to Rhode Island in 1664 where he preached the seventh day Sabbath to Baptists in the region.

The Newport Historical Society, in their online article “Welcome to the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House”, says this:

In the 1660s, seven members of the First Baptist Church of Newport became convinced that the Ten Commandments should be obeyed literally, and began to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. In 1671, they withdrew, formed the Seventh Day Baptist Church, and chose William Hiscox as their first pastor."

Do not forget – these are Baptists. The Baptists are Protestants. In every way they are Baptists except they have adopted the seventh day Sabbath. They had no such Armstrongist views other than the Sabbath. It was this complete compatibility that allowed Mumford to be successful among Sunday observing Baptists.
For the third time, if the COG splinters trace themselves to the Baptists, then they trace themselves to Protestantism and then ultimately to Catholicism, and that is inescapable fact.

THE TRUE HISTORY

The three groups which were mentioned in the COGWA FAQ are not ancestors of the Armstrongist splinters. If these three groups were ancestors, then they should trace their own roots in the exact same way Hoeh did. Yet they do not. They all trace their history, in three different ways, to the Roman Catholic Church.
If the COGWA claims to come from these groups, and these groups claim to come from the Catholic Church, then how could the COGWA possibly come from anywhere else?

Just like they do with the Old Covenant law, the Armstrongist groups have cherry-picked history. A little from here, a little from there, none of it contiguous - so long as the road doesn't lead to Rome!

So, where does Armstrongism really come from? Answer: the Adventist movement.

Somewhere between 1818 and 1831, a man by the name of William Miller, a Deist and Freemason turned Baptist (not Seventh Day Baptist for he was never a Sabbatarian), thought he had calculated when Christ would return (the Second Advent). Through the 1830s he preached powerfully and drew quite a following. These dupes of Mr. Miller were called "Millerites" because they followed the teachings of Mr. Miller and "Adventists" because they preached the Second Advent of Christ. In 1843-1844 his prophecies fell through. Twice! (But this pails when compared to Herbert Armstrong’s 200+ failed prophecies.)

According to Absolute Astronomy article on “Rachel Oakes Preston”, it was Ms. Preston, a member of the Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Verona, New York, who first introduced the Sabbath doctrine to Adventism. According to the Washington, New Hampshire SDA website, Ms. Preston moved her family to Washington, New Hampshire where she met a group of William Miller’s Adventists. It was between March 1843 and the autumn of 1844, immediately after the “Great Disappointment,” that Rachel’s Sabbatarian influence bore its fruit.
There is also the influence of one Millerite preacher, Joseph Bates, who learned about the Sabbath in Washington, New Hampshire. According to the Ellen G. White official estate website, Joseph Bates wrote a tract on the Sabbath in 1846 which influenced John and Ellen G. White.
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.
After years of disagreements with Ellen G. White’s prophecies, Gilbert Cranmer officially split from the Adventists in 1860 and proceeded to form what became the Church of God (Seventh Day). It was the COG7 which first awarded Herbert W Armstrong his ministerial credentials in 1931. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Armstrongism does not trace its history to the first century A.D. Their history stops at the false prophet William Miller who founded the Adventist movement in the late 1830's. And that is a fact.

So, the FAQ on the COGWA website is dead, dead wrong. Did they “trace their history?” If they didn’t, then why do they say they did? If they did, then they know about what I am telling you, yet they persist in claiming something that is not true.
I suspect they know good and well that their FAQ is wrong. Notice how they completely skipped over their Seventh-day Adventist history, and their roots in Millerism/Adventism. Both William Miller and Ellen G. White are considered false prophets to the very Armstrongists who came from them. Why would they skip that if it weren’t for how damaging it would be to them to admit it?

How can the “true” church come from such a background of false prophets? Would the “true” church lie about its history like this?

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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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COG Worldwide Association Claims False Roots (short version)

The FAQ on the Church of God A Worldwide Association website makes this claim: “We trace our history back to the first-century Church of God.” Oh no, they most certainly do not! They do not trace back at all. Rather, they presume. I would like to look in to this and why it is dead, dead wrong.

To make this easier on people who can't stand history, I’ll split this article up into two posts - the short version, and the long version. This post is...

THE SHORT VERSION:

This is what you'll see if you look at the first few paragraphs of their FAQ...
What is the origin of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association?

We trace our history back to the first-century Church of God. Jesus promised that from the time He founded the Church onward through His second coming to the earth there would always be believers who understood and held to the truth.

"I will build My church," Jesus said, "and the gates of Hades [the grave] shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). In other words, He promised that His Church would never die out. However, He also prophesied the rise of counterfeit churches throughout the ages (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Acts 20:29-30). In comparison to these other churches, His description of the original group of disciples proved prophetic, for He called them a "little flock" (Luke 12:32). The Church of God has always remained small in comparison to others, but Christ has kept His promise, His Church has survived, and it continues today.

Secular history is not always helpful in tracing the history of the Church of God because it focuses principally upon churches that preach "another Jesus" and a "different gospel" (2 Corinthians 11:4). Even so, we can find glimpses of the Church Jesus founded in Europe in the Middle Ages among the Waldensians and Anabaptists. The Church of God thrived for a time in England, but persecution eventually drove some believers to the American colonies in search of religious freedom.

We find the origins of Sabbath-keeping in the colonies in a small group led by Stephen Mumford in Rhode Island. Henry Clarke wrote in A History of the Sabbatarians or Seventh Day Baptists in America: "Stephen Mumford came over from England in the year 1664; and brought the opinion with him, that the whole of the Ten Commands, as they were delivered from mount Sinai, were moral and immutable: and that it was the antichristian power which thought to change times and laws, that changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week" (1811, pp. 8-9).

Although remaining relatively small, the Church of God grew in America. A group of faithful believers in the state of Oregon incorporated in 1930 as the Oregon Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day). In 1931 this Conference ordained a man whom God would eventually use to do a powerful worldwide work, Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986).


The FAQ is thoroughly wrong. They didn’t “trace” anything. They presume much.

They presume that since Jesus promised that His church would never end, and since they see themselves as the “true” church, therefore they must have always existed since the time of Jesus. Proof? None. Oh, they'll quote a book or two. But check into it and you'll see it isn't so.
They borrow their information from the Worldwide Church of God. The one who "traced the history" was Herman Hoeh. Hoeh wrote the definitive history of the WCG, entitled “True History of the True Church.” This was mostly plagiarized from the COG7 booklet, “A History of the True Religion Traced from 33 A.D. to Date”. 
Funny, I didn't see that in the FAQ.

They do not come from the Waldensians. 
The Waldensians were reformers of the Catholic Church. One man who is credited with forming the Waldensians, Peter Waldo, even asked Pope Alexander III for permission to preach. They were anathematized in the Fourth Laternian Council. If the COGWA trace themselves there, then they trace themselves to the Catholic Church.
They do not come from the Anabaptists. 
The Amish, Menonites, Brethren, and Friends movements came from the Anabaptists. These groups bear very little resemblance to the Adventists/Armstrongists. Once again, they were reformers of the Catholic Church. Once again, if the COGWA trace themselves there, then they trace themselves to the Catholic Church.
They do not come from the Seventh Day Baptist church. 
Well, not directly anyway. Their belief in the Sabbath doctrine does come from there, but not their church movement itself. The Adventist movement was never associated in any way with the Seventh Day Baptist church. They merely adopted one precept from the Seventh Day Baptist church.

According to the original idea, that the church would never die out, there has to be an unbroken line. Problem is, these groups do not trace themselves to each other. How can the COGWA trace themselves to these groups? They cannot. It isn't good enough to say, "This group separated from the Catholic Church, so we were them. And that group 500 years later, they baptized by immersion, so we were them. Oh, and that other group over there, they kept Saturday Sabbath, so we were them, too." That's not "tracing." That's "making it up as you go along." That must be why, "secular history is not always helpful."
So, where do they come from? Answer: Ellen G. White and the Adventist movement.

In the late 1830’s, William Miller thought he had calculated when Christ would return (the Second Advent). In 1843 his prophecies fell through. According to record, it was one member of the Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Verona, New York, by the name of Rachel Oakes Preston, that introduced the Sabbath doctrine to Adventism. She moved her family to Washington, New Hampshire where she met a group of William Miller’s Adventists. It was between March 1843 and the autumn of 1844, immediately after the “Great Disappointment,” that Rachel’s Sabbatarian influence bore its fruit. John and Ellen G. White accepted the Sabbath in 1946. After years of disagreements with Ellen G. White’s prophecies, Gilbert Cranmer officially split from the Adventists in 1860 and proceeded to form what became the Church of God (Seventh Day). It was this group which first awarded Herbert W Armstrong his ministerial credentials in 1931. And the rest, as they say, is history.

They do not trace their history to the first century A.D. Their history stops at the false prophet William Miller who founded the Adventist movement in the late 1830's. And that is a fact.

So, the FAQ on the COGWA website is dead, dead wrong. Did they “trace their history?” If they didn’t, then why do they say they did? If they did, then they know about what I am telling you, yet they persist in claiming something that is not true.
I suspect they know good and well that their FAQ is wrong. Notice how they completely skipped over their Seventh-day Adventist history, and their roots in Millerism. Both William Miller and Ellen G. White are considered false prophets. Why would they skip that if it weren’t for how damaging it would be to them to admit it?

How can the “true” church come from such a background of false prophets? Would the “true” church lie about its history like this?



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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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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Valentines Day the Lupercalia?

Back in 2010 we found that the Adventist/Armstrongist teachings on Christmas are in error and the teachings on Easter couldn’t possibly be more wrong. While I was doing the recent series on Christmas, I began to wonder about other holidays. If we were taught so incorrectly on Easter and Christmas, what about the other holidays? Could I find one more where the church teachings were incorrect? You know, just to prove that this isn’t some fluke. So, Valentine’s Day sounded like a good choice.

A close friend of mine mentioned the word "Lerpercalia", and that’s what jarred my long-dormant synapses. Now I remember! 
During my time in the old Worldwide Church of God, we were told that Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) came from the Lupercalia (Feb. 15). The game was afoot. I checked in to it and I have found something that I thought was incredibly interesting.
So, whadda ya say? Care to find out if this is true?

Here is the
actual cave of the Lupercal, rediscovered recently, and brought to us by Bad Archaeology. Read the whole description; I'll quote the bits relevant to this study:
From literary sources, we know the Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15. Priests, known as Luperci, would sacrifice two male goats and a dog, and two young patrician youths would be smeared with the blood, after which it would be wiped off with wool dipped in milk. Leather thongs would be cut from the skins of the sacrifices, and the priests would run around the Palatine, striking everybody they came upon. Girls who were struck were thought to become extra fertile. The ceremony lasted until the end of the 5th century, when it was outlawed by Pope Gelasius.
Does sacrificing two goats and a dog, smearing a priest with the blood, cleaning him off with wool and milk, making sandals and running around the town slapping people sound like Valentine's Day to you?
I have read article after article that claims unequivocally that since young men would pair off with young women in Rome, then Valentine’s Day is certainly a pagan co-opt. I’m sorry, but these pairings were determined by lottery, lasted a year, and often resulted in marriage. Not what I would expect from a Valentine. 
Oh, wait. What's this? "The ceremony ... was outlawed by Pope Gelasius"?? Now, isn't that interesting!

Pope Gelasius I sent a letter to Senator Andromechus, mocking him for wanting to legalize the pagan celebration. This letter was spared being lost to history, and was recorded for us in Dr. Andreas Thiel’s book “Epistolae Romanorum pontificum genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt A.S. Hilaro usque ad.” Did you get all that? Say that five times, fast. Have fun finding that fat little pumpkin in English, though. So to give us a better idea of what this letter contained, I will quote from Thomas Hodgkin’s book Italy and Her Invaders” Volume 3, pages 443-445 instead:
Happily, however, we may now turn from this monotonous controversy to behold the Pope trampling out the dying, but not quite dead, embers of Paganism. There was still a party at Rome, with the Senator Andromechus at their head, who wished to keep up the old heathen orgies of the Lupercalia, that strange rite made memorable by Mark Antony’s share in it, on the day when, after running naked through the Forum, he knelt down and offered the diadem to Caesar. This custom had not been suppressed along with the other heathen observances, and now Andromachus and his party wished to perpetuate it. They pleaded that none of the earlier Popes had objected to the rite. It used to be thought that the touch of the Lupercalian’s thong [sandal] falling on the shoulders of the Roman matrons brought with it a peculiar good fortune [fertility]. It could, at any rate, do no harm to keep alive so ancient a custom. Gelasius replied, with bitter scorn, that though earlier pontiffs might not have been strong enough to suppress the heathen observance, he was, and would exercise his power. If Andromachus and his party really believed the Lupercalis to be a religious act, let them take the shame of it on themselves, themselves rush about like naked madmen through the streets, and not, as was now the custom, put off the shame of it on others, their inferiors in rank. The observance of the Lupercalia had not brought luck to Rome in past times, had not saved her from the sword of Aleric or the ships of Gaiseric. Nay, even in later days, the terrible scenes which marked the strife between Anthemius and Ricimer had not been averted by this silly and licentious rite. He could not lay down the law for pagans, but to Christians he spoke in a voice to which they must hearken. No baptized person, no Christian, should dare to take part in the impious orgy: if he did, he should be without hesitation cut off from the communion of the faithful.
We know not the result, but it cannot be doubted that such a mandate, coming from such lips, was sufficient to destroy the Lupercalian festival.
So - the Roman Empire officially outlawed the Lupercalia. The pagans still keeping it were outlaws. Senator Andromechus was begging for it to be legal again - and was denied by Pope Gelasius. The Catholic Church threatened excommunication for anyone taking part in it. They destroyed it. They did not absorb it. And anyone out there who says they did has only a broken leg to stand on.

Here is the essence of what I thought was incredibly interesting about this study.
Gelasius I was Pope from 492 to 496 AD. That is well past the time when the Armstrongist groups claim the Catholic Church had compromised with paganism. It was 110+ years after Emperor Theodosius I "the Great" declared Christianity the official religion of Rome and basically outlawed paganism. But here is Gelasius I, Bishop in Rome, telling the Roman Senate that had the Popes before him been influential enough they would have ended pagan practices themselves. As it turns out, Gelasius I was the first to be powerful enough to do such a thing. Did he compromise and absorb paganism? No. He fought against it; exactly like his predecessors did for 4 centuries.
Interesting, no? 
Now, allow your mind to wander a while and contemplate the many implications of this.

It is no secret that the Catholic Church institutes feasts for individual Saints on most days throughout the year, and all Saints on November 1st. It is believed that Valentine is the name of more than just one martyr. Perhaps there is only one St. Valentine, but more likely there could be as many as three. In the Catholic tradition, should this name not have a feast? Of course it should. Well, in 496 AD, this same Pope Gelasius who crushed Lupercalia also chose February 14th (not 15th) as the feast of the saint(s) named Valentine.

So, if I propose that this wasn’t another case of absorbing paganism, then one would ask - how did they get the pagan symbolism then?

Answer:
Geoffrey Chaucer.

According to the Virtual Museum, Chaucer is “
the Architecht of Valantine's Day". According to their article, Chaucer:
brought together the imagery of blooming spring and the tradition that birds choose their mates in spring to describe the courtship of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. In The Parliament of Fowles Chaucer also chose Saint Valentine as a patron for that marriage, which is the first mention of Saint Valentine in a love poem. Also in the poem are other symbols of love which came to be associated with Saint Valentine's Day: Cupid and Venus. Chaucer thus began a tradition of composing love poetry on Saint Valentine's Day.

Once I was able to track this little factoid down, I began finding it confirmed in several other places.
For instance, Jack B Oruch in his book “St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February” p. 534, says:
Although many critics speak of these two works as belonging to a “Valentine tradition,” and some even discuss ways in which Chaucer makes innovations in the “Valentine convention,” no evidence has been discovered of such a tradition, either literary or in social customs, before Chaucer.
So, Chaucer really was the first to come up with this stuff.

For another perspective, read “Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine” by Henry Ansgar Kelly. Or read the Infoplease.com, in their article “Valentine’s Day History”. I obviously don’t agree with everything in that article, but there is some good info there.

So, a lot of people say the Catholic Church co-opted Valentine’s Day from Lupercalia. Are they right? Here’s what I think happened --

In 392-393 AD, Emperor Theodosius I of Rome made the pagan rites and sacrifices illegal throughout the empire. This didn't utterly stamp out the practices, however. In 492-496 AD, Pope Gelasisus I effectively ended the practice of Lupercalia in Rome. He didn't absorb it. He didn't co-opt it. He instituted Valentine’s Day as a feast day for the saint(s) by that name. This feast had nothing at all to do with the practices of Lupercalia. It was nothing like we know it today, either. For one thousand years this day has been solely about the Saints’ feast. Along comes the English poet, Chauser, and now, for the first time, Valentine’s Day has romantic overtones and some pagan symbolism (Cupid, etc). That caught on, and here we are. From what I’m seeing, the Armstrongists are simply not in the right on this one.

There are a lot of ministers within Armstrongism who teach that history cannot be trusted. They claim all of the records were changed by the Catholics. They accuse the Catholics – without evidence, mind you - of being deceitful. They say it is a massive conspiracy by Satan to bury “the truth.” How does one prove this? If the entire historical record is so uselessly unreliable, how does anyone prove anything from history? It can’t be done!
And their solution to this dilemma is… to make up history. Yes, they turn right around and do the very thing they accuse the Catholics of doing! They make up another history, a history favorable to them, a history fabricated from nothing but ideology and imagination. Meanwhile they can neither prove the Catholics wrong nor themselves right.

Any reasonable person would have to disagree with this whole fiasco. Baseless claims on top of baseless claims. It’s patently ridiculous. I don’t accept, “We say they are wrong, and since they’re wrong, what we want to be true must be true.” I reject that.
They have never proven that history is unreliable. Meanwhile, we’ve shown here on this blog time after time that it is Herbert Armstrong and his ministers who have routinely changed history and distorted the record. That's not just an empty claim, or my opinion. We have proven this. One way we prove this is to go to their source material – if they have any. What have we found time and time and time again? They have misquoted, distorted, omitted, and lied. They say the source material says one thing, and we show you how that simply is not the case. There is no way to blame that on the Catholics!

I believe that history is plenty reliable. So long as we go in search of what actually is true, as opposed to going in search of what we wanted to find in the first place. Also, we need to use several of the best, most authoritative sources available. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that all sources are not equal.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed our walks through the history of the holidays. I hope they have been beneficial and educational to you. This is going to be my last walk with you like this. I’ve seen enough, so far as it goes, and the truth has truly set me free.

I hope you are inspired to prove all things, just as the Bereans Did. I hope you are set free to walk with our Lord Jesus Christ unencumbered. May you be emboldened and empowered by the truth. I pray for you all to find joy and peace in this life and the next. For all of you who are still in the COG groups, loved by God and sought after, may our Lord Jesus Christ lead you into the New Covenant in His blood. Step into the New Covenant!



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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, January 24, 2011

A Pattern of Dishonest Documentation

I happened across an article on the Living Church of God website that I want to expound upon today. It's not the article in particular that I care about, rather I want to use it to point out something I see way too much of. I just get so very tired of blatant, willful adulteration of facts.
Here is the opening paragraph from the LCG article:
In an article on syncretism in the 1911 edition of the Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, it says: ‘Its (syncretism) most frequent use, however, is in connexion with the religious development of antiquity, when it denotes the tendency, especially prominent from the 2nd to the 4th centuries of the Christian era, to simplify and unify the various pagan religions … Syncretism even went so far as to blend the deities of paganism and Christianity …  The triumph of Christianity itself represented a result of syncretism, the Church being a blending of the beliefs and practices of both the new and old religions.
-Roger Meyer, “Is Religious Syncretism A Good Thing?”, www.lcg.org, 12-28-2010
Just reading that paragraph alone, what does that lead you to believe? I don’t know about you, but it leads me to believe that the Christians in the 2nd to the 4th century were unifying pagan religions into Christianity. In fact, that is the very stated thrust of the entire article. It goes on to say, “A whole host of pagan practices and symbols were absorbed into Christianity.
Funny - no mention of how paganism was literally outlawed in the Empire in the 390's AD.

We don’t deny that some pagan symbols were adopted into Christianity. It’s true! But it isn't nearly as wide-spread as the COGs would have us believe.
Sola scriptura!

What my article today is about is the way Armstrongist media outlets tend to do (or rather tend not to do) research.
Over the years I’ve seen grossly absurd examples of the butchering of source material by Armstrongists who want to turn something into a jab against their competition. It’s as if they feel no compunction whatsoever against selectively quoting a source and totally, completely changing its meaning into something entirely different.
One person butchers the facts, another quotes him, then another, then another, and before you know it you have a perfect example of the “lie told often enough.”

One day I happened across a man on the Internet who was trying to tell everyone that there was a rock carving depicting Assyrian King Shalmaneser capturing the leaders of the “lost ten tribes of Israel.” He had names and a whole back story to go with it. It seemed really, really well researched!
…Until I checked his facts.
Well, turns out the carving he showed us was the Behistun Inscription. It is not Assyrian whatsoever. It is in Iran and was carved by Darius the Mede around 500 BC. It includes an inscription written in Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian text. It has no mention of Assyria or the Israelites at all.
If WikiPedia can be believed [I know! I know.], the notion that it speaks of Israel apparently comes from a man by the name of Sir Robert Porter who originally made this claim around 1821.
So it has been known that this story is false for some time now. Did the guy I met care about the truth? No.
What was the man’s response when I told him the truth? He at first deleted my comments. When I put them back, he said this, “This had to be something God wanted to be forgotten, and then around the End of Man's rule on the Earth, all God would put into men's hearts to search, and discover our Ancient Roots.”

So God caused the rock to be changed because He wanted the truth to be hidden, but right before the Tribulation, He’s going to change it back? Well, alrighty then.

Is this man a lone nut? Nut, perhaps. Lone, no. He fell from the tree of Armstrong and didn’t roll far.
For example, read our article “True History of the True Church?”. For another example, read our article “Another True History?” Or for another example, read our article “Rome’s Challenge”. All fine examples of delusion vanquishing reality and a lie told often enough.
This pattern is just typical of how Armstrongists seem to not want to be forthcoming with the facts.

But just to drive the point home I want to ask you something. 
The LCG article mentions the Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 edition’s article on Syncretism, did you ever read it for yourself? 
I did. Here’s what I found.

Sure, those words are right there in the encyclopedia as claimed. Not a word was changed. But Roger Meyer, the “Guest Columnist” who wrote the article for LCG, left something out – something important.
Do you see how Mr. Meyer breaks up the source quote into three sections by using ellipses (those three … dots)? Those three dots mean that something has been left out. Usually what is left out is unimportant filler info. But what I found is that there is critically important information skipped over inside those ellipses.

Let’s read what was passed over by the first set of ellipses, the part immediately after, “to simplify and unify the various pagan religions”. Here’s the part you didn’t get to see:
"During this period, as a result of the intimate knowledge of the world's religions made possible by the gathering of every known cult of importance into the religious system of the Roman Empire, belief in the identity of many deities which resembled each other, and indeed in the essential identity of all, received a special impulse. Not only were various forms of the same deity, such as, for example, Jupiter Capitolinus and Jupiter Latiaris, recognized as being really the same under different aspects, but even the gods of different nations were seen to be manifestations of a single great being. Roman Jupiter, Greek Zeus, Persian Mithras and Phrygian Attis were one. The Great Mother, Isis, Ceres, Demeter, Ops, Rhea, Tellus, were the same great mother deity under different masks (see Great Mother Of The Gods). Venus and Cupid, Aphrodite and Adonis, the Great Mother and Attis, Astarte and Baal, Demeter and Dionysus, Isis and Serapis, were essentially the same pair."

Well, isn’t that interesting! The quoted selection made me think the Catholics were being syncretistic, when it was the pagans of the Roman Empire who were being syncretistic.

Think about it. The second century is the 100’s AD, and the fourth century is the 300’s AD. What was happening for the majority of that time? Why, the Christians were being slaughtered for refusing to blend their faith with paganism in even the slightest way. Do you suppose it was the Encyclopedia Britanica that forgot about that? Hardly. Does what this LCG article claims make any sense, then? No. It does not.
These people are historically illiterate! Yet they claim this is God's truth.

What about the next set of elipses? The ones right after "Syncretism even went so far as to blend the deities of paganism and Christianity." This is an even better example than the last! Let’s read:
"Christ was compared with Attis and Mithras, Isis with the Virgin Mary, & Isis, perhaps more than any other deity, came to be regarded as the great maternal goddess of the universe whose essence was worshiped under many different names."
Was this the Christians doing this? No. This was the pagans! 
The pagan syncretists were merging their many gods into one, therefore they claimed Jesus is Attis and Mithra and etc. But you wouldn’t have known that by reading the high-quality, “truthful” work posted on the LCG website.

Now we go to the last section of the source quote; the part that says this, "The triumph of Christianity itself represented a result of syncretism, the Church being a blending of the beliefs and practices of both the new and old religions.
That happens to be the last sentence in the encyclopedia article. Do you know what comes immediately before it? This:
Syncretic, being a movement toward monotheism, was the converse of the tendency, so prominent in the early history of Rome, to increase the number of deities by worshiping the same god under special aspects according to special activities. In the hands of the Neoplatonists it was instrumental in retarding somewhat the fall of paganism for the time, but in the end contributed to the success of Christianity by familiarizing men with the belief in one supreme deity.
What this says is, before the Roman pagans started merging their gods, they had at first split and multiplied their gods. The syncretists therefore helped Christ to conquer paganism by preparing the Roman mind for monotheism. The Church triumphed with the help of syncretism.

Then this one last half-sentence comes, “the Church being a blending of the beliefs and practices of both the new and old religions.” 
And this is the only part of the entire article that even begins to suggest that Christianity absorbed paganism. One part of one sentence.

Is it just me, or do you find the way the LCG massaged the facts to be deceitful too?

But there’s more! 


Do you suppose the author of that article knew that when the Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 edition was written, it was a generally accepted thing that Christianity absorbed paganism, but that is not generally accepted anymore? Did you know that?

This idea that Christianity absorbed paganism came mainly from a group of German religious historians called the “History of Religion School.” Here's a quote from Ronald Nash's book "The Gospel and the Greeks" page 1:
"During the period of time running roughly from 1890 to 1940, scholars often alleged that primitive Christianity had been heavily influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan mystery religions, or other movements in the Helenistic world [by this he means the entire Roman Empire]. ... Today most Bible scholars regard the question as a dead issue."
A dead issue.
But that doesn’t stop the Armstrongists from promoting it as “God’s truth” and condemning the remainder of Christendom with it.

Have you ever wondered why an organization in 2010 is using the 1911 version of an encyclopedia as his primary reference? Now you know why. Because it's more likely to say what they want. 
 Do you think they’ve read anything recent? I believe they will read about anything, so long as it says (or can be made to say) what they want it to say. Well, maybe not "read" so much as "selectively read and deceptively misquote." You've seen what they did to the encyclopedia. So check those sources! 

This kind of manipulation happens far too often! And it makes me sick because people out there base their eternal lives on this stuff, and then they condemn people using articles like this as "proof." I find this to be completely unacceptable.
I suggest you read stop reading the articles on the LCG website and pick up a copy of Mr. Nash’s book. Read it for yourself. It’s quite interesting! 

In closing, I would like to ask you one simple question: would the "one true church" really lie to people like this?  


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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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