Friday, May 19, 2017

Rod Meredith's Race is Finished

The Living Church of God announced today that Roderick C. Meredith, 86, died late Thursday night. Meredith, LCG's presiding evangelist, was reported to have suffered from aggressive, terminal cancer.




We've known this day was coming for some time now, but it's still hard to know what to say.

Some individuals - usually members of LCG or the former Global Church of God - have consistently sung Meredith's praises. But many current and former COG-ers have difficulty finding positive things to say about the man's example.

Even Herbert Armstrong questioned Meredith's judgment when he expelled him from Church Administration in Pasadena and "exiled" him to Hawaii as a result of his draconian attitude and actions against the WCG ministry. HWA described Meredith as self-righteous, competitive, and covetous of power.

"... you were a harsh task master over the ministers. You, yourself find it difficult and perhaps impossible to TAKE what you dished out. Dozens of ministers would testify to that. You rubbed the fur the wrong way! That has been your life-style!" (Herbert Armstrong, letter to Rod Meredith dated March 14, 1980).
Former LCG evangelist Dibar Apartian has been quoted as saying that Meredith had not changed in the 40 years Apartian had known him. Apartian is said to have made his statement shortly before his death in 2010. From the Leona McNair libel judgment against Meredith (case spanning from the early 1980s until WCG's eventual payout in 1992) to Patrick and Elizabeth Scarborough's defamation case against LCG last year, it's hard to argue otherwise. Even without considering Meredith's departure from the Global Church of God. Or the Terry Ratzmann incident and fallout. Or the scores of members disfellowshipped. I could go on, but this hardly feels like the time to beat a dead horse.

In times like these, it's probably best to set our personal feelings aside and turn to the scriptures.

The Bible tells us that those who are sealed for salvation have received the Holy Spirit.

(Ephesians 1:13-14) "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." 

Those who have the Spirit are belong to God. And those who don't, well...

(Romans 8:9) But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

What is the evidence that one is in the flesh?

(Galatians 5:19-21) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 


 And, in contrast, what is the evidence that one has the Holy Spirit?

(Galatians 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

These are sobering thoughts to ponder.

(Matthew 7:15-20) Beware of false prophets, come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruit you will know them. 

                                                    
                                       
                                                   



God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and neither are we. We can't know Rod Meredith's heart, especially not what might have transpired as he contemplated his life during his final days. We pray that he eventually came to accept the grace he so frequently mocked.

Meredith, a sincere believer in the Armstrongist brand of Christianity, was a natural product of his theology and his environment. He believed that running this race would lead him to salvation. Do you? If so, you can stop reading and move on. But if not - if you have doubts about Meredith's eternal destiny, if you fear for his future - maybe it's time for you take a good, hard look at the path on which you are running.

(Hebrews 13:7) Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith.

We offer our sincere condolences to the Meredith family, and offer prayers for their peace and comfort. We also offer our ears to anyone who needs to talk.


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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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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Were We Really This Bad?

Today we have a rare treat - a guest post from one of our readers!

This guest post comes to us from Ray, the Child Survivor. Sometimes CS stops by for a comment. Today he's stopping by for a whole guest post about his views on the Sabbath.

It's good to get things off of your chest. Helps the healing process. And it helps us, too. (Definitely helps me to not have to write anything this week.)

We yield the floor to you, Child Survivor....



I spent most of my childhood in a Sabbath-keeping cult, Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, the granddaughter cult of the Seventh Day Adventist church. My family left the WCG when I was 13, but was briefly introduced to the Church of God Seventh Day, and the SDA
religion in the 3 years following. Since then I came to faith in Jesus alone, and since 2009 have been engaged in conversation with current members of these movements (especially Adventists) through email and social media and have had quite the education on where these people stand on scripture and other subjects. This post will focus on what I have discovered with their arguments on "law" and the "Sabbath". My findings are fascinating and as follows:

1 John 3:23, John 6:35-40, Ephesians 2:8 & 9, John 5:18 and ANY references to us not being under law seem to have been stricken from all their copies of the Bible. If you quote such verses to these people, they can't seem to even SEE them!

EVERY SINGLE TIME in scripture the word "Commandments" ALWAYS refers to the 10 given to Moses on Mount Sinai, except in Ephesians 2:15, THERE the word means something else.

And when they say "keep the commandments", they really mean "keep the Sabbath".
They will give endless scriptures (mostly Old Testament) for keeping the Sabbath, but when asked how to properly keep the Sabbath, they suddenly don't have time, hurl insults, or go silent.

The law of the Sabbath is bound for all eternity, but laws regarding HOW to keep the Sabbath are either "ceremonial" or "magnified." Any laws that fall under these classifications are always laws they just don't want to keep, like no kindling fires on the Sabbath or staying in your dwellings.

Regarding the other commandments, "thou shalt not kill" is ignored beyond the threshold of Adventist hospitals. (Elective abortions) "thou shalt not commit adultery" does not apply to Armstrongist evangelists. (marital affairs was the norm) "Thou shalt not steal" does not apply if done for the sake of "the church" (coercing people to triple tithe or shoving the offering plate at people more than once per service) simply to feed the wealth and power of the church and it's leaders.

Regarding the Sabbath, the fact that Jesus and Paul were in Jewish gatherings on the Sabbath AUTOMATICALLY means they were keeping the entire day sacred, yet they refuse to grant this same criteria to any Catholics or Protestants who are in and out of church or mass before sunset on Saturday afternoons. Usually they don't answer the question
if you ask them if the same applies here.

Sabbath law regarding "no paid work" on the Sabbath does not apply to pastors.

They claim that they do not believe that we are saved by keeping the law, but if we are truly saved, we will keep the law, thus keeping the law is how we STAY saved...but only THEIR version of the law. Most laws in the Old Testament are discarded.

Many Proof-texts from the New Testament used for Sabbath keeping for Gentile Christians don't even mention the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is always calculated by using the ROMAN CATHOLIC CALENDAR which uses the names of pagan deities in the months and days of the week.

Sabbath law of "sunset to sunset" doesn't apply to parts of the planet that will go without sunrise or sunset for months at a time. (like Barrow, Alaska) But a consensus is never reached on how to resolve the dilemma.

"Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath" NEVER, EVER means that Jesus is more important than the Sabbath!

The Sabbath is God's greatest gift to humanity. Sorry Jesus, you're not number 1 with these folks.

Congregating in the name of Jesus, singing His praises, hearing the Word preached, and encouraging other Christians AUTOMATICALLY becomes SUN WORSHIP because you are doing it on the first day of the calendar week. Yet congregating on Sunday becomes okay with Armstrongist when a holy day falls on Sunday. And with Adventists, midweek services NEVER mean that they are worshiping the god associated with that day of the week, such as Wednesday.

With Armstrongists, it was always an absolute sin to enter a retail store on the Sabbath, but eating in a restaurant after Sabbath services or buying take-out...was okay.

Working on the Sabbath is treated as the "unpardonable sin", yet when Sabbath keepers need the services of those who are BREAKING the Sabbath by working...like paramedics, police and fire fighters, or the utilities, suddenly they forget about the laws of working on the Sabbath and use their services.

In Adventist, Armstrongist, and other Sabbath keeping groups, the Roman Catholic church is demonized as "the Great Whore of Babylon"...never to be believed, never to be trusted. BUT, when the Catholic church makes the claim to have changed the Sabbath, they all of a sudden become THE AUTHORITY.

The Sabbath was changed by the Pope, but wait, it was changed by Constantine, yes, the pope, oh wait, Constantine, uh....no it's the Antichrist, oh wait... Any writing from early church fathers like Ignatius and Justin Martyr are virtually ignored, or these early church leaders are maligned by Adventists and demonized by Armstrongists.

The Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10 is clearly the Sabbath, even though the Sabbath is not called that ANYWHERE in scripture.

The most coveted, desired "rest" is where you attend services, eat green bean casserole, and if you're an Armstrongist, drink heavily on Saturday. The REST Jesus offers in Matthew 11:28 is not desired.(why should it be? After all, Armstrongists go out of their way to avoid even talking about Jesus).

They also seem to be reading a different Bible than the rest of Christianity. Their versions seem to say some strange things and omit others, such as.....

Their copies of the Bible seem to state that Adam, Noah, and Abraham ALL kept the Sabbath, even though the word "Sabbath" doesn't appear in scripture until the 10 commandments are given to Moses in Exodus 16.

There is no mention of any humans knowing of such a ritual prior to Exodus 16.

The main point Jesus was making to the rich young ruler was that he had to keep the Sabbath, which isn't even mentioned in the dialogue. Their versions of this story also exclude the part of Jesus telling him to sell all his possessions and follow Him and he will have treasures in heaven (something Armstrongists vehemently deny).

The main message of the 3 angels in Revelation 14 is for everyone to keep the Sabbath, even though the Sabbath is nowhere mentioned in the entire book of Revelation.
Those who are faithful who will be granted eternal life are those who keep the Sabbath, even though when Jesus talks about His separating the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25, the Sabbath is nowhere mentioned.

They seem to see Sabbath keeping as the true mark of a disciple, even though Jesus said that it was us loving one another where the world would know we are His.
Another puzzling thing about their approach to scripture is how they pounce on New Testament passages that mention the Sabbath, but never quote entire verses or read the entire stories, such as the Sabbath-keeping Jews wanting to throw Jesus off a a cliff or starting a riot when Paul was converting the masses to Christ. They constantly quote "Sabbath was made for man"...but never finish the thought with "not man for the Sabbath" unless they are cornered.

They never quote the passage regarding the "Sabbath day's journey" in Acts 1:12 because that would destroy the attendance of the sparsely scattered memberships of the Armstrongist splinter groups or the Hebrew Roots movement where people commonly travel up to 2 hours to attend Sabbath services. They never quote Colossians 2:16 except out of context and many refuse to acknowledge that when Paul says "Sabbath" that he actually MEANS "Sabbath."

Their Bibles also seem to exclude the final chapter of John's gospel. 3 times in chapter 21 Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, when Peter answered "yes", each time Jesus said "feed my sheep" (depending on the translation). He NEVER said "keep the Sabbath"...yet that is exactly what these people are convinced the only Jesus asks His followers to do.

But the most troubling thing I find with the Sabbath keepers and their twisted views is where they stand on Jesus. If you look at the "Bible Sabbath Association" which claim to be unification of different Sabbath keeping groups and their loyalty to the 4th commandment, you see that
these groups views on the Lord Jesus Christ RANGE from Trinitarians to Arians to Unitarians. So the Sabbath is important, but Who exactly Jesus is, is a secondary issue? Seriously? Obviously they believe keeping the Sabbath is what saves and what one believes about Jesus is irrelevant.

Also regarding Jesus, when you ask about any relationship they may have with our Lord, Messiah, Son of God,..... They always, and I mean ALWAYS, immediately steer the discussion to their own righteousness by quoting "If you love Me keep my commandments," which of course they have been taught that the word commandments can ONLY mean the 10 given to Moses....which THEY keep by keeping the Sabbath. Talk about Jesus, they will talk about the Sabbath, and ultimately THEMSELVES, because legalism is nothing more than cleverly disguised SELF WORSHIP.



Well there you have it.

Lots of Sabbath-centrism going on out there in the Adventist spin-off groups like Armstrongism. Surprising, coming from Sabatarians? It's their defining characteristic, after all.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns with the planet, Child Survivor. Taking the time to write all of this and send it in is not easy. Some people might find it intimidating.

We appreciate all of our readers. Hopefully someone out there will relate and find some comfort in what you've shared.

God bless!




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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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Friday, April 14, 2017

Moses Died On Mt. Nebo

The primary, most central, most mission-critical tenet of Armstrongism is the requirement of observance of the Old Covenant law. Not all of it, just about 2%. The law must be kept because it cannot be changed, they say. Oft repeated is, "not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (MAT. 5: 18b)[NIV]. The law does not save you, they teach, but without observing the law you cannot be saved. Among the laws that Armstrongism claims must be observed are the Old Covenant holy days, including Passover.

The Armstrongist calendar year practically begins at Passover. They read about the Exodus, and clean almost every nook and cranny of leavening. But Passover is a Jewish holiday, you say? If you are talking about the Old Covenant Passover, then yes, yes it is, God bless them. And it should stay theirs. Passover is generally considered to be by far there most important calendar event. But Armstrongism says no, Gentiles are required to observe it too. Something doesn't add up about that, you wonder? Correct. It doesn't add up.

Jesus and the Apostles were Jews, who lived in the end times of the Old Covenant, of course they observed the things of the Old Covenant. But the Old Covenant ended. <- The biggest part of the equation is left out. After that point, the Apostles were abundantly clear that believing Jews could retain their national traditions but the Gentiles were not to become Jews in order to be Christians (see Acts 10, Acts 15: 18-26 and GAL. 2: 11-16). To demand we all must do what Jews did to fulfill the contract of the Old Covenant during the Old Covenant period doesn't make any sense - even if it is Jesus and the Apostles. The Gentiles weren't party to it in the first place and Old Covenant ended when Jesus died. Not to worry! To oversimplify it, Armstrong teaches that they keep the New Covenant .. just there is little difference between the Old and New Covenants. Passover was a law then and it's a law now. No changes! Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen...! The only parts of the law that have changed are the national parts that governed Israel, and the ceremonial parts. Basically all Jesus did was take away sacrifices. So the law HAS changed - IF we accept this Armstrong doctrine. The parts they require haven't changed, they assure us. Passover is one of those required parts. For example:

(EXO. 12: 43) And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner [Gentile; non-Israelite] shall eat it."

Oh. Well, maybe Exodus 12: 43-49 isn't such a good example. That says Gentiles are forbidden by law from participating in Passover, and this is repeated in Numbers 9: 14. Requiring everyone to participate would be a huge change in the unchanging law.

Let's just forget about that. Forget you saw that. Let's stick to the core, the spirit, the heart, which is that the law doesn't save you but you can't be saved without the law.

ABD agrees that the law doesn't save you, we just disagree about the continuing requirement of Old Covenant law.

THE MEANING OF MOSES MATTERS

There once was a man from Egypt named Moses. Moses was a particularly unique example among mankind. Author of the Pentateuch. Hero of the Jews. Specially chosen to act out a picture of the salvation process. Giver of the law. In fact, Moses represented the Old Covenant law. As Elijah represented all Old Covenant prophecy, Moses represented all Old Covenant law.

One day, as he led the Israelites through the desert, they came to Kadesh. It was hot, there was no water, and what should happen but Moses' sister dies. It was not the best of times. To add insult to injury, the people come to Moses and Aaron and their complaining was so bad that Moses' patience gave out. God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will gush out for all to drink. Moses didn't listen so well. In his anger, he yelled at the people and struck the rock - twice - rather than just speak to it. God had something specific He wanted Moses to do, but that just wan't in Moses' nature. For this, God would not let Moses lead the people into the Promised Land. Note that God points out Moses' lack of faith as the real reason. You can read this in Numbers 20: 1-13.

Since we know that all of these things happened as examples for us, what does it all mean?

Moses, as the law, was fiery hot with anger. When violated, there is judgment and punishment. The rock was Jesus. The water was the Holy Spirit. From this Rock waters could flow, but who was able to make them flow? The law, in his anger, strikes out. It isn't in the nature of the law to be gentle towards the weak human condition. As Paul said, the people died under the law without mercy (HEB. 10: 28). Water does flow because God is merciful, just as water flowed from Jesus side when He was struck (pierced). But it wasn't as God wished it to be. God didn't desire punishment and sacrifices and things of the law (for example, ISA. 1: 12-15). God wanted love and faith and things of the spirit and the heart (ISA 1: 16-17; MIC. 6: 8). God specifies in Numbers 20 verse 12 that it was because of a lack of faith that the law could not lead Israel into the Promised Land.

Faith is commended in the Old Testament but doesn't come from the law. So the law did its best to the people until they made it close to the Promised Land, but it could go no farther. Moses died on Mount Nebo, overlooking the Promised Land. He never stepped foot in it. The law was made for a certain people in a certain place at a certain time. The law kept the people up and until a certain point, then its purpose ended.

Because faith has little part in the law, the law can not take God's people to their Promised Land. No, the law does not save you.

Galatians 3, the whole thing (but especially 19 and 24-25), is perfect right here. I'll wait while you read it. Please, be my guest.

Welcome back!

JOSHUA TAKES OVER

Deuteronomy 34 tells us that Moses was allowed to see all the Promised Land, that he died, and that before he died he passed a special blessing onto Joshua who would lead the people into the Promised Land. That last part is incredibly important. Joshua would lead the people into the Promised Land, not Moses. What does this mean?

Joshua had the very same name as our Lord and Savior Jesus. Both were named, roughly, Yeshua. Joshua is an Anglicized version of Yeshua and Jesus was Latinized to Iesous before being Anglicized into Jesus.

Clearly and unmistakably the foreshadowing indicates that the law cannot bring God's People into the Promised Land, but Jesus Christ can ...and has. The Old Covenant with its law, having accomplished all that it could do, was no longer useful. Jesus has taken the place of the law to accomplish what it never could. The law never could because we are so weak. The law is all about us and what we can do while faith is all about God and what He can do.

One of the first instructions that God gives Joshua in Joshua 1: 7-8 is to keep the law perfectly. Jesus did this, too. It is important to specify this!

You see, the Armstrongists quote Matthew 5: 18, but they use it incorrectly. They try to say the law has not changed at all, even though it is easy to demonstrate that it most certainly has changed in order to fit Armstrongist teachings. Not just some judicial part, or some ceremonial part, but even the moral part - which we saw earlier in the law of Passover. In order to push Passover on all Gentile Christians, Armstrongism must change the law. Yet Jesus said it was not His intention that the law should change. Jesus did as Joshua was instructed - He kept the law perfectly. Even the smallest letter and stroke of the pen were all satisfied in Jesus. Nothing was altered to make it easier on Him. The spirit of the law was completely satisfied in every way throughout Jesus' life and in His death as an offering for sin. In this way, the law was completely satisfied. Justice was satisfied. Love was satisfied. Everything Jesus did brought the Old Covenant to perfect completion. You see, the point I'm driving at is that the law was not simply changed, ever, it was fulfilled. All of it. Teleo!! And then the entire Old Covenant with all of its laws and requirements was abrogated.

The law cannot save you. The Old Covenant law isn't even asked of you. It was asked of Jesus, and He accomplished all that was asked.

When Jesus had fulfilled it all, He died on the cross and on the third day rose again as our Savior. He crossed over from death into life eternal, just as Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

The law is not changed now or removed arbitrarily now, it is completely satisfied and completely replaced. It was an all or nothing deal. Nor either is this an after thought. It was planned this way from the beginning. I hear people say, "God wouldn't change His mind, so the law remains." Ahh, but God didn't change His mind, which is precisely why the law is removed. Then when it was accomplished He sat down at the right hand of the Father. This is metaphoric language. It means His work of salvation, so many thousands of years long, was completely accomplished and now He rests from it. He does a new work now.

All analogies break down at some point. Just as Jesus is our Passover lamb, but He was not taken into a home for 4 days and physically inspected before being sacrificed, roasted, and eaten with horseradish, so Jesus did not do  absolutely everything that Joshua did. Jesus did no cross the Jordan, He did not bring a people into a physical land, He did not war with anyone, He did not grow old and die, and etc. But this was all done and recorded for our good, so that we could know that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He would do.

He leads us to enter into that Promised Land. The way we enter with Him is by participating in Him. The way we join in the promise to Him alone is by participating in Him. We become one with Him, in spirit. Where He is so we will be because we are part of Him. The church, what remains here on earth as a witness through the ages, is His spiritual body. Each of us individually, and all of us collectively. We take in that bread and wine and in this we are always reminded that we take Him in. He in us and we in Him. And so we will always be with Him.

The law doesn't save you, Jesus does. You cannot keep the law, Jesus did. The law is not asked of you. It was never asked of the Gentiles anyway. The Old Testament isn't there to tell you what laws to keep now, it is there to tell you who Jesus is. The Old Covenant is gone, the New Covenant remains.

For a fabulous bit of expansion on the fact that our own efforts at law-keeping are wholly insufficient, I recommend to you Martha's post "You Will Never Be Worthy".

CONCLUSION

In conclusion of this whole topic, Moses, who represented the Old Covenant law just as Elisha represented the prophets, was not allowed to bring Israel into the Promised Land. Moses died on Mount Nebo. The meaning for us is that the OC law cannot bring us into our rest, our Promised Land. Paul is absolutely crystal clear about this in Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans. The law was only intended to keep Israel up until Jesus' death. Whether the letter of the law was nailed to the cross or our long list of offenses was nailed to the cross, it doesn't matter. Either way the outcome is the same. The Old Covenant law has no more accusation against the Jews, and it excluded the Gentiles so it never had any hold over the Gentiles anyway. The purpose of the Old Covenant and its requirements is over. It was never meant to go any farther.

Jesus fulfilled it completely and set it aside. Jesus alone can bring us into our Promised Land. We can't do this. Moses can't do this. The way this is done is by participating with Him - just as we take the bread and the wine into us. The church on earth is His body, spiritually. We are one with Him. And so we enter into the promise and the rest in Him. He is our Promise. He is our rest. He paid for our sin and gifts us His righteousness. Our righteousness does not come from the law! It comes from grace through faith. The way we participate in Him is through grace of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit that comes by faith. Follow the Holy Spirit. From now on it is no longer us who lives, but He who lives in us. Just as Paul said.

Armstrongism has conditioned its adherents that if there is no law then there is no standard, anything goes. Not so! Notice that no one here has ever said we have no standard of conduct to live up to. We most certainly do. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, what conduct will we have? We have righteousness, but righteousness is not of the law anyway (GAL. 2: 21). Once again, if we are led by the Spirit then we are not under the law (GAL. 5: 18). So, it isn't that there is no standard, it's that the standard is not the OC law. The New Covenant standard is faith and love. Step into it!




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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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Sunday, April 9, 2017

You Will Never Be Worthy

Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 

               -1 Corinthians 11:27




Say what you will about the Churches of God, but I'll give them this - around Passover, they become very concerned with taking Christ's sacrifice seriously. I wish that Jesus, His sacrifice and what He accomplished on the cross were popular topics year-round, but focusing on this topic for six weeks is better than nothing.

The COGs use this same passage as the basis for their tradition of pre-Passover self-examination, as well as other, more questionable interpretations about the Lord's Supper. But that's not what I'm writing about today. Today, let's set aside arguments about whether these symbols are to be taken only at Passover or on a regular basis, and consider the verse itself.

Actually, I want to talk about what the verse doesn't say: that we could ever actually be worthy to drink the cup.

I know that many of you arrive at Passover completely spent and totally humbled. I've know. I've been there. But I also know that many of you spend so much time making sure that you don't take Passover in an unworthy manner that you start to believe you've done enough to become worthy to take it. I know, because I've been there, too.

Let's get one thing perfectly clear. God's grace is all that makes us worthy to take the Passover. That's it. Nothing we have done or could do ourselves can make us right with God or maintain our standing with Him.


  • We were sinners before we came to God.


(Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 


  • We only become worthy through the gift of imputed righteousness - Christ's righteousness being credited to us.


(2 Corinthians 5:21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


  • Once we are redeemed Christians, the fruit of our lives should bear it out. But we are saved for good works, not through good works.


(Ephesians 2:8-10) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 


  • But these good works are like filthy rags - literally, in the Hebrew, menstrual rags - compared to the righteousness that we receive through the blood of Christ. 


(Isaiah 64:4) But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


  • Even after accepting Christ's sacrifice, we are still sinners. It is only in Him and through Him that we have victory. If even Paul struggled, we all will.


(Romans 7:22-25) For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God - through Christ Jesus our Lord So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

It is certainly biblical to examine ourselves before taking bread and wine as symbols of our covenant with the Lord. But whether that introspection takes six weeks or six minutes, true examination can only come to one conclusion: that we are not worthy in and of ourselves, and we never will be. Once we understand and accept that, it will be impossible for us to take the bread and the wine in an unworthy manner.



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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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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part II

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part II: Holy Week Timeline

In today's post we are going to dive into Wayne Carver's timeline of events. And as always, we try to review ideas, not people. This review isn't about Wayne Carver.

Before we begin you should know that many of the conclusions I draw in this article depend on our studies into "three days and three nights" and Easter. We have many articles on this! But for this topic, we recommend you read our articles "Three Days and Three Nights" "Wednesday Crucifixion? Not Likely" and "Easter FAQ."

If you want me to get to the very heart of this Passion Week debate, the actual problem isn't with timing or words it's really with the human condition. People are imperfect and have imperfect knowledge. The human condition doesn't like loose ends, so we tend to invent things, make mountains out of mole hills, and run amok of what is really quite simple. People want everything to fit neatly into a little box, and when it doesn't - believe you me the Passion Week does not - they start getting creative.

There is much to get creative about. We have several loose ends indeed! Several balls in the air. Several pieces of the puzzle that don't exactly fit our demands. Some people think, "I am going to focus on one phrase, three days and three nights, and I will find the answer." Some people think, "I am going to focus on the dates, the 10th, 14th and 15th of Nissan, and I will find the answer." Some people think, "I am going to focus on ancient prophecies, and I will find the answer." But the answer is both more complicated than any one piece of this puzzle can answer, and, at the same time, so incredibly simple as to not require much digging at all.

I will tell you that simple answer now: Jesus demonstrated that He is who He said He is when He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.   <<<That is ALL you have to know. It's that simple. Who cares on what day or what hour things happened? Jesus is Messiah. Stop reading here!!! It's done.

Why are you still reading??? "Already have you that which you need." -Yoda.

On the other hand the more complicated approach is, well, more complicated.

You're not going to like what I'm about to say.
ALL timelines have issues. ALL of them. I am not talking "how do you get Friday to Sunday to fit within 'three days and three nights'." That question is simply a problem of trying to force ancient people to conform to modern ideas. No, the problems I refer to are with what events happened on each day of the week. No timeline fits within a nice, tidy little box.
I warned you not to keep reading, but you wouldn't listen.

Wayne Carver has set out to solve this problem.

In our last article, we saw that Carver has opted to side with Herbert Armstrong and the Wednesday Crucifixion timeline. His grand solution was to provide two quotes, one of which we cannot verify and the other doesn't seem to say what he thinks it says. This time, we will look at how Carver translates the last week of Jesus' human life, aka "Holy Week," into a timeline.
"We have developed a number of time-points, and the basic structure of the events during this week has emerged."
p.14
This might sound obvious, but we have three things to figure out:
1) When was Jesus crucified?
2) When did Jesus arrive?
3) What happened in between?

It really is more difficult than it might first appear.

WHAT HAPPENED IN BETWEEN

There are certain events of Holy Week, like the Triumphal Entry and the cleansing of the Temple, that must happen in a certain order. We know they happen in a certain order because of key phrases like "on the next day." The events will be in the same order regardless of when Jesus was crucified.

I have gone through goodness knows how many sources trying to find what the majority of scholars say about the timeline of events during Holy Week. According to the vast majority, there are seven major events that happened over seven days:

Day 1) Arrival in Bethany
Day 2) Triumphal Entry
Day 3) Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
Day 4) Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
Day 5) Judas’ betrayal
Day 6) Prepare Last Supper
Day 7) Crucifixion on Passover

Those are the events in order. Notice that I haven't put a specific day or a date to them. I didn't write "Friday" nor did I write "14th of Nissan." Obviously, most scholars agree that Jesus died on Friday, so they have put days and dates on their lists. I am avoiding that for the moment. For now, they just are what they are.

Carver, on the other hand, does not list seven events; he only lists six:

Day 1) Arrival in Bethany
Day 2) Triumphal Entry
Day 3) Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
Day 4) Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
Day 5) Prepare Last Supper
Day 6) Crucifixion on Passover

Notice that Day 5 (usually called "Silent Wednesday") has changed quite a bit from the list above.

Which is proper?

From a reading of the events in the Gospels, it really does seem like we should have events on seven different days. However, John 12: 1 says, "Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead." So there may very well be only six days.

The key is Silent Wednesday. How did they come up with that? Well, if you look at Matthew 26: 2 it says, "Passover is two days away." But in verse 17 it says, "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread." (And by that, clearly it means the day of Passover.) It really does go from two days before Passover to the day of Passover without anything but Judas' betrayal being mentioned in between. You can see the same thing in Mark 14: 1-12, and to a lesser degree Luke 22: 1-12.

Carver completely discounts this. In fact, he never deals with the betrayal in verses 14-16 at all. That's not the approach we would recommend.

WHEN DID JESUS ARRIVE

After raising Lazarus, Jesus leaves Bethany for Ephraim (JON. 11: 54-57). It appears that Jesus circled from Ephraim/Galilee over to Jericho. From Jericho He heads out with the crowds towards Jerusalem where He meets Bartimeus (Mark 10 ) and Zaccheus (LUK. 19). Josephus says it was about 150 stadia (about 8 stadia to the mile) or 17-19 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem. There is also a 3,300 foot rise in elevation from Jericho to Jerusalem. Exhausting! There were bandits and Roman outposts to guard against bandits. Even so, this was one of the most popular roadways in the region. And the town of Bethany was on the way.

Carver puts the arrival on the 9th of Nissan and the crucifixion on the 14th. He assigns the arrival on the 9th to a Friday, the Triumphal Entry to Saturday, and the crucifixion to Wednesday. Does that work? Let's work backwards and you'll see this for yourself. We'll compare the Holy Week with a Wednesday crucifixion against the seven-day timeline and then the six-day timeline.

According to 7 days:
  1) Wednesday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Tuesday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Monday - 12th - Judas’ betrayal
  4) Sunday - 11th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  5) Saturday - 10th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  6) Friday - 9th - Triumphal Entry
  7) Thursday - 8th - Arrival in Bethany
Oops!

According to the seven-day timeline of events with a Wednesday crucifixion, the Triumphal Entry must be on Friday. Also, the temple cleansing is on Saturday. No way would there be buying and selling on the Sabbath. So this absolutely fails.

According to 6 days:
  1) Wednesday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Tuesday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Monday - 12th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  4) Sunday - 11th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  5) Saturday - 10th - Triumphal Entry
  6) Friday - 9th - Arrival in Bethany
Oops!

That is how Carver lays things out in his booklet. But now he puts Jesus riding an animal on the Sabbath with people plucking and carrying palm fronds. Neither of those would be allowable.

Is this a killer? Considering the Wednesday crucifixion is pre-killed before we even got to this point, I'd say it is but gravy upon a dead goose.

I said earlier that every scenario has its issues. Then what are the issues with the Friday crucifixion scenario, you ask? Let's see for ourselves. We'll do the seven-day, six-day thing again.

According to 7 days:
  1) Friday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Thursday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Wednesday - 12th - Judas’ betrayal
  4) Tuesday - 11th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  5) Monday - 10th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  6) Sunday - 9th - Triumphal Entry
  7) Saturday - 8th - Arrival in Bethany
Oops!

Everything looked great right up to the very end. The problem we run into above are that Jesus arrives in Bethany on Saturday. That's not good. Is there no hope? Whereas Carver's timeline has no hope, here there is a little.

Jesus clearly arrived in the evening. We can know this because He arrives and they have a dinner. But now we have to answer what has He been doing all Sabbath day long? Was He travelling? Certainly not on the Sabbath.You should know that this caravan Jesus was travelling with would have set up camp outside of town. Jesus might have stayed with them through the Sabbath and went to visit His friends at sundown. That is a possibility! But nothing actually says this. So, it's speculation at best. Hope, yes, but not possible to pin down. Then again, that He was traveling all day is also speculation. It doesn't say one way or the other. It just says, "...Jesus came to Bethany." He could have been in the area for some time. The caravan He was with would not have traveled long on the Sabbath. Just because He arrived in Bethany in the evening doesn't mean He was travelling all day.

According to 6 days:
  1) Friday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Thursday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Wednesday - 12th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  4) Tuesday - 11th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  5) Monday - 10th - Triumphal Entry
  6) Sunday - 9th - Arrival in Bethany

It's actually very good. The Triumphal Entry is on the 10th. No one is violating Sabbaths. Nothing is wrong here. Except for two things: that the tradition of Palm Sunday is now Palm Monday (which isn't so huge a deal), and that it still suffers from the weakness of leaving out Silent Wednesday.

We have four scenarios. All have issues. The two with a Wednesday crucifixion have major Sabbath violations. There is no apparent way to reconcile a Wednesday crucifixion timeline. The Friday crucifixion on a seven-day Holy Week also might have a major Sabbath violation. There is a simple solution to it, but the solution is difficult to prove. Of all of the scenarios, the Friday crucifixion with a 6-day Holy Week is technically the best. However, most scholars disagree with a six-day Holy Week, and they do that based on study of the text of the Bible. Not only that, but the events of Holy Week have been kept since the earliest days. In ancient times Christians would reenact these things annually. (Somehow, I don't think that matters to most of ABD's readers). Then there's the matter they all suffer from - whether or not the Pharisees ate their Seder meal a day later than Jesus.

THE TENTH OF NISSAN

There is one other tidbit that a reader wanted us to contend with. The Passover lamb was supposed to have been chosen on he 10th - and the event that best matches this is the Triumphal Entry.

I need to point out that as reasonable as it may seem to conclude that the Triumphal Entry absolutely had to be on Nissan 10 because of Exodus 12: 4-6, there is no compelling reason why this absolutely must be so. Jesus doesn't have to fulfill every last aspect of the lamb. For example, He isn't a yearling and He wasn't brought into a home to be inspected for physical defect. The lamb was just a symbol of the reality of Jesus. Jesus need not conform to every last aspect of the symbol. If Israel must obtain a lamb to sacrifice, then by necessity there needs to be a selection of said sacrifice. The annual selection date was the 10th of Nissan. Jesus was truly selected before the foundation of the earth, one time. There is nothing outside of our imperfect minds which create issues and attempt to solve them which says that Jesus had to be selected on the 10th. Nothing. So, is it proper to insist that this must happen? No.

A selection on the 10th has not been emphasized in the traditions of the past two thousand years (not that Armstrongists would care about that point). A selection on the 10th has not been emphasized by the Bible commentaries I read through. A selection on the 10th does not seem to be emphasized in the Gospels or elsewhere in the New Testament. It seems that in the grand scheme, only a very few care about the 10th. It seems to me that this minority cares about the 10th because they want to make every detail fit together. But there is no compelling reason why this particular detail needs to fit and there is nothing that says the Triumphal Entry is how it fits.

The Triumphal Entry is not all that good a fit for the lamb selection anyway.  Matthew 21: 4 tells us the Triumphal Entry is the fulfillment of something, but not necessarily Exodus 12.

(ZEC. 9: 9) Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He wasn't necessarily selected by Israel as a lamb at this event, He was hailed as a king. Everything that happened was in line with welcoming a king. The palm fronds, the shouting "hosanna". We see from Matthew 21: 15 that they kept it up throughout the day. They wanted the conquering Messiah. They had no idea what they had, what they needed, was the suffering Messiah.

But, since it might be interesting to have the Triumphal Entry on the 10th, we are not afraid to ask if it can be done. Note that we said "might be interesting" not "is somehow mandatory."

Having eliminated the Wednesday crucifixion from so many angles that there seems to be no point in continuing to talk about it, I will simply pass it by. Carver's scenarios are fatally flawed and simply do not work. So, of the two Friday crucifixion scenarios, the six-day version has the Triumphal Entry on the 10th while the seven-day version does not.
Or doesn't it?

GALILEAN CALENDAR

We should hear of a little thing called the Galilean Calendar.

It is a strange fact of time and circumstance that Galilee to the north and Judea to the south were two very distinct regions, separated by the Samaritans. They had the same nation with two different rulers. They spoke the same language in two different dialects. They had the same religion in two different forms - the Galileans were much more Helenistic. And they even had two different methods of reckoning days.

We know the Galilean days were sunrise to sunrise, were not based on lunar observation, and started earlier than the Judean days. We know the Judean days were sundown to sundown, were based on lunar observation, and were later than the Galilean days. It would appear that the Galileans did honor a 6PM start to the weekly Sabbath. Not so unusual, since this is very much like what Sabbatarians do the world over.

Let's see what adjusting for the Galilean calendar does to Holy Week with respect to the 10th. In the seven-day Holy Week, the Triumphal Entry now falls on the 10th. In the six-day Holy week, the arrival now falls on the 10th. Isn't that interesting! (Still not mandatory.)

As a side note, having the 14th on two different calendars might also explain why the Last Supper appears to be on the evening before the Pharisees seder. There are other ways to explain this, of course. But this is one possible explanation. We aren't going to get into the other explanations because they are out of the scope of this post.

What's the catch? Proof. As it stands, there is no way to prove Jesus and the Apostles were operating according to the Galilean calendar. Yes, the chances are good. Yes, it explains some things. However, at this time, it is just speculation.

CONCLUSION

We start this study where most people do - with "three days and three nights." The people who get caught up into studies by people like Wayne Carver tend to be the people who take the phrase literally. Taking this phrase literally is the only reason to even consider a Wednesday crucifixion. That is why, in all of our responses to readers on Holy Week events, we start by emphasizing "three days and three nights." This is without question the heart and soul of this entire discussion. We strongly disagree with taking this phrase literally. We find no reason, either in the Bible or out, to agree that the phrase must be or even should be literal. Therefore, we reject it. That is where we started this study and we have found nothing but more reasons to remain this way.

The Wednesday crucifixion, aside from depending on a literal "three days and three nights" also depends upon a gross mistranslation of the Greek word sabbaton. Armstrong and Carver both tell us that it means a weekly Sabbath and a holy day Sabbath. That is absolutely not what it means. One cannot simply find a plural word then invent an explanation for it. We know the explanation. It is an idiomatic expression that refers to the entire week.

The Wednesday crucifixion also cannot fit into the words of Cleopas on the road to Emmaus (LUK. 24: 19-21). Cleopas said Sunday was third day from the crucifixion. Sunday would be the fifth day from Wednesday. Only a Friday crucifixion fits here.

The Wednesday crucifixion also forces other events of Holy Week to fall on the weekly Sabbath before the crucifixion. It forces a Sabbath violation not just upon Jesus, who was known for violating the Sabbath regulations, but also upon the Judean populace, who were highly unlikely to do such things.

Carver's particular timeline also depends on there being only six events in Holy Week. The vast majority of scholars disagree. Carver omits Silent Wednesday altogether. Is this a deal killer? Perhaps not. But it is fuel on top of the fire we already mentioned.

Carver's main defense relies on a quote we cannot verify, and an interlinear that truly does not appear to agree with him when we look beyond the surface.

We started this study specifically to investigate any relationship between the Triumphal Entry and the 10th of Nissan. With the use of the Galilean Calendar, we can see how the Triumphal Entry can be on the 10th in a traditional seven-day Holy Week with a Friday crucifixion. The problem is, we don't see any reason why we should care about the Triumphal Entry being on the 10th. What the Bible is clear about is that the Triumphal Entry was a fulfillment of prophecy. What the Bible is not clear about is that Jesus had to fulfill every last portion of a literal Passover lamb. For example, Jesus was never roasted and eaten in a Seder after sundown. At some point, every analogy must break down.

In the end of this study, we conclude that Carver has not convincingly argued his timeline to our satisfaction.

And what we said in the beginning we say to you again now -
Jesus demonstrated that He is who He said He is when He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.   <<<That is ALL you have to know. It's that simple.


As a bonus, here are some fine resources that might help you get a better grasp on events:
https://bible.org/article/chronology-synopsis-passion-week
http://www.jesus.org/death-and-resurrection/holy-week-and-passion/a-time-line-of-the-passion-week.html


Click here to go to Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part I: Saturday Resurrection








Jesus dies on Passover as the Passover Lamb. He is dead throughout the feast of Matza, the first day of Unleavened Bread - the bread of wanderers - the day Israel left Egypt. He is raised on the day of Firstfruits (before sunrise as the wave sheaf was being raised?), as the first born from the dead. 14th, 15th, 16th.





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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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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part I

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part I: Saturday Resurrection

A few months back one of our readers introduced us to the claims of a person by the name of Wayne Carver, from Carver's booklet “Crucifixion Chronology.” Wayne Carver was an associate in the early days of the Christian Jew Foundation, and a proponent of a Wednesday crucifixion. I don't know who the Christian Jew Foundation is or what else they teach. I don't really care to dig into it at this point. But I do want to address some of the claims Carver makes in this particular publication. And I think I might just do this in more than one post.

Before we begin you should know that many of the conclusions I draw in this article depend on our studies into "three days and three nights" and Easter. We have many articles on this! But for today's post, we recommend you read our articles "Three Days and Three Nights" "Wednesday Crucifixion? Not Likely" and "Easter FAQ."

I have Wayne Carver's booklet in pdf form which gives me better access to style and page numbers, but I can't seem to find a good original copy like this online to link you to. So I am going to link you to an html reproduction that I found skulking around the depths of the website of the Grace Bible Baptist Church of Denham Springs, Louisiana: http://gracebbc.dyndns.org:81/CrucifixionWeek.html

I am having a terrible time finding when “Crucifixion Chronology” was originally written. It would appear that this booklet is a collection of radio sermons, and it would appear this it first came out in the 1950’s. It also would appear from the close similarity in style and the content that Mr. Carver and associates were influenced either directly or indirectly by the Worldwide Church of God.

I tell you, when I first saw this pdf, I thought I was reading a publication of the Worldwide Church of God. It's that similar. Right down to the font! It's so similar to Armstrongist material that I went back and forth about the point of reviewing it at all. We've already done this song and dance. But since it seems to be yet another thing that is of interest to our readers, I suppose I will give it the patented As Bereans Did twice over.

Join me?

THREE MAIN POINTS

Wayne Carver’s conclusions rest on these simple main points:
  • Jesus rose from the grave late on Saturday. (A classic tenet of Armstrongism.)
  • Three days and three nights is literally 72 hours, or the Bible is wrong. (A classic tenet of Armstrongism.)
  • A particular interpretation of the timeline of events preceding the crucifixion. (Not necessarily the same as Armstrongism.)
If I had to pick a single cornerstone point, one point to rule them all, it would be that "three days and three nights" is literal. On this all depends.

Not to belabor the point, but we have articles on all of these things already. Please see our article "Three Days and Three Nights" for starters. Clearly, we disagree with each of the above main points. Carver makes some unique claims on these points that we have not yet seen from Armstrongism, hence this review.

Today, I just want to address the first point - the Saturday resurrection.

REDEFINE-THE-GREEK GAME

In yet another similarity to Armstrongism, Carver participates in the time-honored tradition of redefining Greek words.

In Armstrongism, in order to get the Bible to say something that it doesn't say, you simply take out your Strong's Concordance, look up a word, completely ignore how a concordance is supposed to be used, and choose another word more to your liking. The Bible can be quite cleverly rewritten this way. I understand that Wayne Hendrix of the CGI was particularly well known for this. Except that this is not how a Concordance is supposed to be used!

A concordance gives you all possible definitions and translations of a word no matter where in the Bible that word appears. Those other definitions and translations are not meant to just be chosen at will. Language isn't a free-for-all. Language has rules. It has parts of speech, nuances of grammar, history, idioms, and sentence formation that indicate which one or maybe two are the only correct translation options. The concordance does tell you which is correct for that particular place. Some people just don't know what they're doing and proceed to use it incorrectly regardless. I was guilty of it myself! For years I went on using the concordance incorrectly, picking and choosing and changing as I went along. No one ever bothered to tell me I was doing it wrong. None of my other Armstrongist friends apparently knew the right way to use it either. We just did as everyone else was doing. Then I read the instructions at the front of the book. Oops!

You see, as an unavoidable result of taking "three days and three nights" to be literal, you must also have a Saturday resurrection and therefore a Wednesday crucifixion. Why are those necessary? Because Jesus was put in the tomb before sundown, so He has to come out of that tomb before sundown 72 hours later and the only choice for that is Saturday night. So if Saturday night therefore Wednesday night. Problem is, the Greek does not support a Saturday resurrection. Uh oh! Therefore some deep reconstructive surgery needs to be done on the translation of the Gospels. Carver is about to give it his own peculiar attempt at redefining the Greek. Let's observe.

MYSTERY SCHOLAR

On page 13 of his booklet, Carver quotes one Dr. H.A. Griesemer, allegedly a Greek scholar. Here is the quote:
"The word 'dawn' is very misleading. We speak of the dawn as the opening of the day, the light that comes with the rising of the sun. We always associate the dawn with sunlight, but the Greek word here is 'epiphoskousa,' which means the shining of the sun or the moon. You will observe that the passover feast always occurred at the time of the full moon. Just as the sun was setting, the moon would be rising."
Unfortunately, Carver only quotes but does not cite. I was unable to find this Dr. Griesemer or his original quote. Maybe he did exist. Maybe he is quoted correctly. We don’t know. But we wouldn’t put much stock in a quote we cannot verify that runs contrary to the vast majority of respected scholars that we can verify. So let’s dive into this ourselves and see if we can make some sense of it.

Yes, epiphosko can indicate dusk. We don’t have a problem with that. No Bible scholar that we have read does. In fact, either way it still doesn’t support Carver! Notice that “just as the sun was setting, the moon would be rising” denotes the Sabbath has concluded. (We disagree that the sun sets and the moon rises always at the same time, but that's for another discussion.) Sunset or sunrise, the Sabbath has ended. Dr. Griesemer, just like Matthew before him, indicates a time when the Sabbath has ended but before the sun has come up Sunday morning.

Epiphosko isn’t the only word in that verse, however. The first Greek word in Matthew 28: 1 is “opseh”. Strong’s tells us this about opseh:
οψε (opseh) - From the same as G3694 (through the idea of backwardness); (adverbially) late in the day; by extension after the close of the day: - (at) even, in the end.
Regardless of epiphosko, opseh indicates the day is over.

Let's take a look at the sentence in Greek:
οψε (opseh)  δε (deh)  σαββατων (sabbaton) τη (ho) επιφωσκουση (epiphosko)
You see, opso comes right before sabbaton, and epiphosko comes after sabbaton in this sentence. The preeminent Dr. Griesemer no doubt knew all about this.

Opso indicates that something has ended. What has ended? The noun that comes after it: sabbaton. "Opseh deh sabbaton" declares the Sabbath ended. Only then do we get to "ho epiphosko", which has to do with the dawn/dusk issue. So regardless of Carver's arguing that epiphosko should mean dusk or not, it doesn't change the fact that the Sabbath has ended. Either way, it's still Sunday. It’s too late to appeal to "dusk" in order to put these events back on the Sabbath day.

For this very reason, almost every scholar translates this verse as “after the Sabbath...”

To be completely forthcoming, it wasn’t just the Sabbath that had ended, but the entire week. An odd distinction? Allow me to explain.

Sabbaton in this verse is plural, both times, and therefore it is a known idiom. The Literal Version renders it this way: "But late in the sabbaths, at the dawning into the first of the sabbaths." See how sabbaton is plural both times. This rendition makes little sense read this way, but once we understand that this is an idiom it becomes clear. The idiomatic expression really refers to the entire week, because the week was book-ended by two Sabbaths. Just like I can refer to my entire car when I say "wheels." We dealt with this in our article “The Two Sabbaths of Matthew 28.” We mentioned that we like the Modern King James Version translates this verse, “But late in the week, at the dawning into the first day of the week.” The MKJV gives you a good feel for what the Greek really means. I would object that the first part should not be “late in the week” because the Greek and the context both indicate the week had ended. Regardless, the MKJV gets the point that “sabbaton” is being used idiomatically and really refers to the entire week rather than just the Sabbath day.

This point may seem like we are getting off topic, but it becomes critical when people like Herbert Armstrong play redefine-the-Greek in a desperate attempt to misuse the plural sabbaton. Armstrong wants to make us think there were two separate "Sabbaths" in that week one a weekly Sabbath and one an annual Holy Day. Carver is going to play this same card much later, towards the very end of his booklet. This is simply not supported by a proper translation. This is another heavy blow to the Wednesday-Saturday timeline.

Therefore, we take exception with Carver’s redefinition of this word, ignoring the rest of the circumstances in front of him, in an attempt to force the resurrection backwards in time to satisfy his predetermined theory. How many, many times have we seen this through the years from the pulpits of Armstrongism where they abuse the proper use of Strong’s Concordance in order to rewrite the Bible?? Take our word here, it happens almost weekly. But in this case it is mandatory to play this redefine-the-Greek word game in order to get a Sabbath resurrection. It's an indispensable point to the whole theory.

CONFIRMATION BIAS?

Carver leaves Dr. H.A. Griesemer, Greek scholar, behind now. He moves to Dr. George R. Berry, primary author of the book "The New Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament" 1897 version. We were actually able to find a fabulous online copy of this one!

This book, originally published under a different title in 1877, is based on the Textus Receptus, specifically because the Textus Receptus was used to create the King James Version.

On page 101, Dr. Berry and crew come to Matthew 28: 1. Here is how they render it:
"Now late on sabbath, as it was getting dusk toward [the] first [day] of [the] week"
As fine as it is to cite a scholar (I highly recommend it) it is also necessary to make sure you aren’t just picking and choosing certain scholars in order to confirm your bias. One way to avoid this is to survey many respected scholars. When we do this, what do we see? The consensus from the vast majority of respected scholars and Bible translations across disciplines is that Jesus rose very early on Sunday.

For example, here is how my personal favorite Greek Interlinnear, the one on Scripture For All, renders it:
[Literally]
    "evening yet of-sabbaths to-the on-lighting into one of-sabbaths"
[Transliterated]
    "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first [day] of the week"
Or, for another example, here is how the interlinnear on BibleHub renders it:
"after moreover sabbath it being dawn toward [the] first [day] of [the] week"
Let's do one more for good measure. This from the Jewish New Testament with comments from David Stern (bolding mine):
1. After Shabbat, as the next day was dawning, Miryam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave.
After Shabbat, toward dawn on Sunday, literally, "And late of the Shabbatot, at the drawing on toward [number] one of the Shabbatot [ = weeks]." Jewish days begin at sundown, so that "the first day of the week" includes Saturday night, Motza 'ei-Shabbat ("the going out of Shabbat"); see Ac 20:7&N, 1С 16:2&N. But here the reference is definitely to Sunday morning.
Some Bible versions do render it just as Dr. Berry does - as "late on the Sabbath." Yet, almost to the last, they all agree that the Sabbath had ended. It's just an odd turn of phrase is all.

Some people discount this use of multiple scholars entirely, preferring to believe a conspiracy theory that all scholars who disagree with them are just writing what they want to write in order to perpetuate a giant lie in service to the evil Pope. Granted, we are all flawed. But what would excuse Dr. Berry from this same thing? His only reprieve is that he appears to be saying what a very few people want to hear. "He's saying what we want to hear. He must be right!"

Or is Dr. Berry really saying this? Because included with their rendition of the Greek is the King James translation, which says this: "XXVIII. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week..."

Dr. Berry chose to translate from the Textus Receptus specifically because the team, being Protestant scholars of the 1800's, held the KJV in very high regard. The KJV isn't in their book for no reason. They aren't there to disagree with it, but to make it more accessible.

So, does Dr. Berry and his New Interlinnear Literal Translation perpetuate Carver's Saturday resurrection, which flies in the face of almost every other translator and translation, or is Berry simply rendering a few words in a slightly different way but still completely in agreement with the KJV which they themselves provide? He never said that he disagrees with the KJV, so chances are he believes the Sabbath to have been over regardless of how he chose to translate the Greek word opseh. Wayne Caraver is just being opportunistic and (mis-)quoting half of what Berry wrote.

When one sets out to justify their predetermined conclusion, one tends not to follow evidence to its full conclusion like this.

PARALLEL VERSES

What do we do now? Who can answer these deep questions for us? From whence shall our help come??

From what Carver would have us believe, one word in one verse from Matthew alone is our sole source of information on this topic. From what Carver would have us believe, Matthew is clear that Jesus rose on Saturday before sundown.

I think now would be a good time to remind you, dear reader, that Matthew 28: 1 is not the only verse that discusses the timing of the resurrection. In fact, all of the Gospels say something about this very period of time, and all of them agree.

(MAT. 28: 1) Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn...
(MAR. 16: 1) Now when the Sabbath was past...
(MAR. 16: 2) Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week...
(LUK. 24: 1) Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning...
(JOH. 20: 1) Now the first day of the week...

Where Matthew may be twisted into ambiguity, the others - especially Luke - may not.

We are in fact dealing with an early Sunday resurrection whether Armstrong ... I mean, Carver ... prefers that or not.

Carver reminds us that all of those verses I just mentioned above are not really speaking about the resurrection, but the time when Mary Magdelene and friends left for the tomb. OK, we agree. But you know what? That point includes Matthew 28: 1!! Carver just tried to relocate the time when the ladies went to the tomb. So, really, none of the Gospels are interested in the exact time when Jesus was resurrected. They are only interested in the fact that He was resurrected. So, why was Carver even mentioning it in the first place if it isn't even directly speaking of the resurrection??

Which leads me to my next point.

I DONNO, I WASN'T THERE

Think about something with me for a minute.

According to mainstream Christianity, Jesus stakes His entire identity and ministry on the fact that He died, was entombed and was resurrected. According to Armstrongism and people like Wayne Carver, Jesus stakes His entire identity and ministry on the fact that He was entombed and was resurrected in exactly 72 hours. Quite a distinction!

That one point - an exactly 72-hour entombment - is so very important, so critical, that if Jesus doesn't hit the target then He is a liar. Perhaps you don't believe me that this point is so critical. Let's see a quote from Carver form the Introduction:
"There are two vital issues at stake: the trustworthiness of the Bible and the Deity of Jesus Christ. If the Lord only spent 36 hours in the grave--from Friday at 6 PM until Sunday at 6 AM--then the Bible is not correct and the Lord Jesus is a false prophet. And if this is true, then we are foolish to believe the Bible and to follow Christ. We would be just as well off becoming Buddhists, Muslims or atheists."
-quoted from the Forward
If Jesus wasn't in the tomb 72 hours exactly, the Bible is fake and there is no God. That is how serious this point is to some. Not us, because we feel we have proven "three days and three nights" is not literal at all. And that is why I started by saying this point is Carver's cornerstone claim.

But we have a huge problem here!
          No one witnessed it, and no one recorded it.

The ladies who first went to see Jesus got to the tomb Sunday morning around sunrise. Mary Magdelene who was the first human being to see Jesus alive again did not see Him until what could potentially be 10 hours after the most critical event in all of the entire Bible -- IF that event happened on Saturday before sunrise. If we are to believe that Jesus staked the universe on an exact 72-hour interment, why on earth would there be such an oversight as to have no disciples there to witness it?? The guards witnessed it, right? No. You see, Jesus had to be in the tomb exactly 72-hours. It's not from death to resurrection, no. From the time He went in to the time He came out it had to be exactly 72 hours (and, yes, Carver does recognize this distinction.) The guards only saw some angels rolling a stone and they passed out cold. They never actually saw Jesus leave that tomb. As it turns out, no one witnessed it! And when was that stone rolled away? Matthew 28: 2-4 doesn't say!

If exact timing were so critical, so utterly key to all that exists, why didn't any of the Gospel writers seem to care? No one spent time talking about how Jesus perfectly fulfilled this utmost of utmost prophecies. No one explained how, precisely at 72-hours, Jesus walked out of that tomb. The guards, who didn't witness it, were paid off to keep their mouths shut. Normally they would have been killed. They were good witnesses to the resurrection event, but not very good witnesses to the timing. In the end, no one talks about this 72-hours. All we have is one phrase among 20, in one place, that says "three days and three nights" (MAT. 12: 40) and that's both the beginning and the end of that matter entirely.

No one saw it. No one talked about it.

If it was so crisp and clean, why was Carver less than precise about it? Turns out even Carver can't tell you when the 72-hours ended. Here is what he says:
"Certainly the stone would not have been rolled away from the tomb before our Lord arose from the dead. ... So it seems reasonable that the second earthquake would have occurred at the moment of our Lord's resurrection. Therefore, Matthew supplies the definite witness to our Lord's resurrection at sunset on Saturday afternoon, 72 hours after His burial."
I have issues with this. First, who ties in the stone rolling with timing specifics of Jesus' resurrection? Not the Bible. The Bible does not say, "Jesus awoke and that's when the stone was rolled." Do we somehow believe that this stone was rolled away for Jesus' benefit? As if to say He couldn't leave that tomb with that stone in the way? He walked through walls! He didn't need that stone moved. That stone was moved for our benefit. Jesus could have been resurrected before, during, or after the stone rolling. It doesn't say. Second, who says that stone was rolled away at exactly 72-hours? Not the Bible. The Bible does not say that this happened at 72-hours or at sundown or any other time. Just says it happened. Third, the fact of the resurrection seems far more important than the exact timing. Matthew does supply witness to the resurrection. I agree with Carver that the resurrection, the stone rolling, and the earthquake are all tied together. I assert that the guards were witness at the resurrection. I am not saying Carver is explicitly wrong in that, nor am I changing my tune from earlier. Let me make this as blunt as I can - Carver and I are looking at the same event but from everything I read I see that the very fact of the resurrection is critical, not specifics of timing down to the hour.

It's almost as if some modern people have latched on to the phrase "three days and three nights," improperly made it literal, and then have blown the whole thing completely out of proportion.  o_O

But prepare yourselves to be utterly amazed, dear and honored reader. You are about to see a true miracle. Are you sitting down?

EVERY DAY IS THE RIGHT DAY

But, does Carver prefer a Saturday resurrection or not? You would think that after all of this effort to move the resurrection to Saturday we would be clear on that point. Turns out it isn't so clear after all.

In one of the most self-serving statements of the entire booklet, Carver hedges his bets. We see on page 14:
"According to Jewish reckoning, the setting of the sun marked the end of the day, but that point in time was also a part fo that day. However, sunset also marked the beginning of the next day. So Christ also was resurrected on the first day of the week."
Wait. What?
Jesus was resurrected before sundown and after sundown, on Saturday and on Sunday???
Apparently so. On the next page, Carver says this:
"The evidence that our Lord was resurrected at sunset on Saturday is overwhelming. Only this exact point in time permits our Lord's resurrection to literally fulfill the prophecy for three seemingly incompatible situations: (1) resurrection after 'three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,' (2) resurrection 'on the third day,' and (3) resurrection on the first day of the week - 'the morrow after the sabbath.'"
So, Jesus was resurrected on Saturday and on Sunday. That is indeed something new.

Carver has set out to have his cake and eat it too. Cannot reconcile the clear wording of the scriptures and other historical accounts with your insistence on taking "three days and three nights" as being literal? No problem. Make Jesus resurrect and come out of the tomb on two days rather than one day. Jesus was apparently resurrected on 28% of the days of the week.

I thought I had heard it all until now. If you don't try to think about how things must fit into reality, anything is possible.

Some problems we have with this include:

  • Carver points out that Jesus had to be "in the heart of the earth" for 72-hours (MAT. 12: 40). The count must start at the time when Jesus was put into the tomb. We don't start it when He died, but when He was buried. This was before sunset on Wednesday. Was He also then buried on two days of the week as well??
  • On the opposite side of this, Carver gets sloppy. He seems to finish the exactly 72 hours count when the stone was rolled away. But, how do you start at Jesus being put in the tomb but not finish when Jesus left the tomb?
  • From here, Carver goes on to act as if Jesus was resurrected on Saturday. He says Good Friday is impossible because Jesus was resurrected on Saturday. But.. he just got done telling us that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday. Which is it?? If I wanted to split hairs, I could say that sundown on Saturday does not make it Sunday. The Hebrew first day of the week started at sundown Saturday evening, but Sunday doesn't start until midnight. But I really don't want to argue this point. My head is spinning plenty already as it is without that added on.

So, what, then? He died on only one day of the week, was resurrected on two days of the week, 72-hours exactly is super important, and 72-hours exactly isn't really all that important after all because no one witnessed it and no one talks about it.  For everything there is a season ...or two.

CONCLUSION

This is about the high and the low of Carver's defense of his Saturday, or is it Sunday, resurrection. This seems like a good place to stop.

We have seen how Carver appears to have been influenced by Armstrongism for the genesis of his claims. We have seen how Carver appeals to a mystery Greek scholar that didn't really do much to help him. We have seen how Carver singles out one particular interlinear which, seriously, doesn't appear to be saying what Carver concludes. We've seen how the rest of the Gospel evidence makes Carver's premise unworkable to begin with. We've seen Carver try to cover every possibility by claiming Jesus was resurrected on 2 of the 7 days of the week. We've seen how Carver starts the 72-hour count at the burial, but is completely vague about the end of the 72-hours, tying it in with the rolling away of the stone. And we've seen how his claim of a perfect 72-hour entombment doesn't make a whole lot of sense because nobody can tell us if it worked out or not.

Do you get the sense that Carver didn't come to his conclusions from the Bible, rather he came to his conclusions and is now trying to get the Bible to come with him? I sure get that sense.

I am not swayed to side with Carver thus far. We've been though this for years now, since Carver's claims are pretty much Armstrong's claims. Carver's appeal is different, but we had hoped Carver would give us some more evidence than just this. (Perhaps if we can find twenty more authors who say the exact same thing in different words, then it will be true.)

Carver does give more evidence on other points. Obviously we haven't reviewed the entire book yet. We'll see that in another installment.


See you next time for Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part II: Holy Week Timeline


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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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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Superstitions, Be Gone!

As Bereans Did (ABD) is a blog about the flaws of Armstrongism. “Armstrongism” is shorthand for all of the churches that splintered off from the WorldWide Church of God, whose founder was Herbert W Armstrong. It’s easier to say “Armstrongism” than spell out a litany of various splinter groups and try to explain the whole situation every single time. We deal mainly in doctrine and that leads us necessarily into issues of their epicly flawed interpretations of history which they use to support their doctrine. Our readers are generally people who have had some contact with the doctrines or the flawed history of Armstrongism, or groups who share such things along with Armstrongism. Over the years ABD has had many questions come in either in comments or by email. As you can imagine, these questions tend to run along common themes. Some of our most common questions have to do with the grossly misrepresented history surrounding Christmas and Easter. We get those a lot. I want to talk about something that I see in these questions. A common thread runs throughout. I am going to call this “superstition.”

Superstition? Like throwing salt over your shoulder to avoid bad luck? Sort of. I mean superstition as in – some object or practice is more powerful than God.

Still too vague? Let me elaborate. There is an idea out there, and not just within Armstrongism, which can be summed up as “once pagan always pagan.” This claim, as popular as it may be, is simply not true. It puts an object or an act completely out of God’s reach, making it superior to the infinite power of the Living God who owns it. All things are God’s after all. Just as it is silly to believe broken mirrors have power over your destiny, it is equally as silly to believe possessing a holiday decoration has power over your faith and your relationship with God and ultimately your destiny. “Once pagan always pagan” is a superstition.

Anyone who still believes what Alexander Hislop wrote about Nimrod will be taken aback with what I’ve just said. Aren’t holiday decorations pagan?? Well, that’s where the fatally flawed doctrines and history comes in. Turns out, no, most of them absolutely are not. I myself once fully believed they were. I thought I looked into the situation and had proved it for myself. Turns out all I really did was read Armstrong-approved material and accepted what that said (this is called “confirmation bias”). While still believing that holidays were pagan, we at ABD set out to see what all of the best available evidence had to say. What we found was that we were taught things that are just plain wrong, and in some cases we found that we were purposefully lied to. ABD has many articles on this!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all, at least for me, came after the research and the article writing. Even with all of the references and the evidence, people still refused to consider what was said. They still go on as if nothing ever happened. Alexander Hislop's book was dead wrong, it’s easily demonstrated, but rather than face that, people have preferred to attack the messengers. I say messengers because ABD isn’t the only group with this message. Go ask poor Ralph Woodrow how he feels. I never expected that people would want to be willfully ignorant! Behold the frightening power of superstition.

For example –- ABD has demonstrated over and over that the ancient Hebrews did not count days the way modern Americans do. We have shown that “three days and three nights” is not literal, and that this can be seen in the pages of the very Bible itself. We’ve established how ancient Hebrews counted inclusively. We have explained over and over how you can easily fit Friday-Sunday in the timeline if you view it as an ancient Hebrew would. We have shown that Cleopas and Armstrong cannot be reconciled together. We have elaborately investigated why there are not two sabbaths in Matthew 28. We have illustrated how the events prior to the crucifixion make a Wednesday crucifixion all but impossible. In every last way, a Wednesday crucifixion is contraindicated. Yet we still get comments and email about how three days and three nights is literal therefore Easter is pagan.     ????

For another example – one question that I get a lot is, “If anything has pagan connections doesn't that mean I'm worshiping pagan gods?” The answer to that is absolutely not! Let’s say there is an object that at one time in the distant past was used in pagan worship ceremonies. Doesn’t matter what that object is, for sake of argument let’s just say that it just exists. How can this object possibly have more power than God does? Even after centuries of having been used almost exclusively in the worship of Jesus Christ, people are still laboring under the error of “once pagan always pagan” and therefore we must fear and reject and condemn powerless inanimate objects for fear that these objects can overpower Jesus and strip us of our salvation.     ????

At this point, this goes beyond reason. This is emotional. No, it’s more than emotion. It’s superstition.

This behavior is no different than that of any number of superstitious pagan religions. Sticking a pin in a doll does not affect a living being. Breaking a mirror does not wreak havoc on you for the next 7 years. Putting your thumb and forefinger together and having someone else break those connections while saying “evil be gone” does nothing whatsoever besides offering momentary amusement. And nothing has the power to take you from Jesus’ hand, except you. (And some don’t even believe you can do that either.)

“Once pagan always pagan” is a superstition. But what might be even more odd than that is that the very same people who say “once pagan always pagan” is true don’t really believe it themselves. Allow me to demonstrate.

If people who preach “once pagan always pagan” understood how many things they do that have "pagan" connections, they would be unable to function. (I am putting “pagan” in quotes because these things aren’t actually pagan. They are just falsely accused of being pagan.) There is nothing that you do that does not have a "pagan" connection except actually having faith in the Living God. You name it, it has "pagan" connections. Priesthoods, ministers, elders, temples, prayer, circumcision, sabbaths, holidays, special decorations, sacrifices, incense, hymns, choruses, religious texts, sermons, ritual meals, marriage, honeymoons, wedding rings ... I could go on and on. All of these things and more have "pagan" connections. All of these can be found in pagan religions first. All of them. Yet they were all adopted in worship of God. God adopted "pagan" things into His worship??  YES! You might think I'm referring to the Catholic Church. I am not. I am referring to the Old Testament church - the ancient Jews. Many of these are things the “once pagan always pagan” crowd do regularly. Therefore I conclude that the “once pagan always pagan” people don’t even believe it themselves.

Undeterred, people will simply turn to making different excuses for their superstitions. “God never commanded me to do this or that thing,” they say. Perhaps He did or perhaps He didn’t, but either way if you avoided doing anything that isn’t directly commanded by God you would be unable to live. God never commands us to do most things. The excuse falls completely apart for what it is – a simple excuse to justify superstitions.

But it’s not just about things that aren’t commanded. People condemn things that are unambiguously allowed in the scriptures. In addition to novel holidays (EST. 9: 20-28; JON. 10: 22-23), and gift-giving (EST. 9: 22), the Bible also lists the use of statues in God’s worship (EXO. 25: 17-19), garland, bells and fruit (EXO. 28: 33-34; 39: 25-26; II COR. 3: 16), lights, flowers and ornamentation (EXO. 25: 31-37), greenery (LEV. 23: 40; NEH. 8: 13-15), and etc. All of these are used in God’s worship in the Bible, and all of these things are condemned by superstitious people. Armstrongism goes out of its way not to talk about the birth of our Savior, and even more caution is taken to avoid talking about His mother Mary, because they have whipped themselves up into such a superstitious fervor. Can you imagine being so superstitious that you would avoid great people and events in the very Bible itself?

But it’s not just those things that are ignored. Paul is ignored as well! In I Corinthians 10, Paul is clear -- we should flee from idolatry. However, he when he describes idolatry he describes people sacrificing. What does that mean? It means they were actually participating in worship practices. They didn't simply possess a thing with pagan connections, they were participating. Paul goes on to mention things with pagan connections starting in verse 25. What does he say? He says don't worry about it! The meal described had "pagan" connections. Paul said eat it. This is precisely what he went over in chapter 8 of I Corinthians. He says not to worry about things with pagan connections! If "once pagan always pagan" was true, this is the exact opposite of what Paul should have said. Yet, there he is saying it. He is trying to get us to see that there is a gulf of difference between real idolatry and imagined superstition. However not all people understand not to worry about such things because their lives had been so steeped in superstition up to that point. For those people we should be cautious not to ruin their faith with our liberty. But clearly Paul is against “once pagan always pagan.”

Do you know what this image is:


This image is the seal of righteous King Hezekiah. Anyone who knows their kings of Israel/Judea will know that Hezekiah was an imperfect man, but had a close relationship with God. He might even be able to be called the third most righteous king of Israel/Judea. Yet in his seal there is an ankh and a winged sun. If "once pagan always pagan" was such a terror as we are to believe it is, then Hezekiah was a terrible man and an idolatrous pagan worshiper of Nimrod. Yet he wasn't. This is a clear example of where "once pagan always pagan" can be shown as the utter superstition it is.

To recap:
  • People who preach “once pagan always pagan” are steeped in “paganism” and don’t believe their own rhetoric.
  • People who preach that God didn’t command them to do something regularly do things God didn’t command.
  • These same people still condemn things God clearly allows.
  • Paul is against “once pagan always pagan” but people ignore him or reinterpret him into uselessness.
  • Superstition is its own excuse!

What can it hurt avoiding things that affect our conscience? To be sure, under normal circumstances we should avoid things that affect our conscience. However, the judgmental and condemnatory attitude that usually accompanies these superstitions can have a very real and very negative affect on some people.

To those people who suffer under the anxiety of these superstitions unfairly burdened upon them, I say: you cannot accidentally worship.

Is Jesus your Savior or not? Does a shape or an object have more power than God? God is interested in actual idolatrous worship, not silly superstitions. In order to worship pagan gods you have to actually worship pagan gods -- adore them, trust them, expect help from them, replace God with them. That's what worship means. In every single instance of idolatry in the Bible, God was upset with people doing what I just described. God didn't want people to bow down to or worship idols in place of Him. It wasn't arbitrary. When Naaman the Syrian went to Elisha, he asked for God to excuse him for when he would have to go into the pagan temple and bow down with his master. Elisha told him to go in peace (II Kings 5: 17-19). Naaman is going to a pagan temple to bow down before an idol that he knew was nothing, and Elisha told him to go in peace. God knows the difference! God knows your heart!

Jesus is bigger than your flaws. He's bigger than your failures. He's greater than all of your fears. He's greater by far than any shape or object or word or tradition or superstition could ever be. Let go of your fears! Do not be afraid, just trust.

So, where do we go from here? I don’t know. Onward. This sort of superstitious nonsense will always exist so long as humans have imperfect knowledge and a fallen condition. Armstrongism will continue to pump out the same old claims that in this late day and age they have no excuse for (because they want money), and ABD will continue to call them out on it (for free), and people will continue to ignore us. It’s our lot in life. We praise the Lord our God for granting us some part in His great plan. If we can help even one person I personally feel it was all worth it.


But I would love it if all I had to say was, “SUPERSTITIONS, BE GONE!”




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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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