Sunday, December 22, 2013

Crazy About Christmas

My heart is racing. My palms are sweating. This is way more intimidating than any public speaking assignment I've ever had. I don't think I've been this nervous since childbirth.

What am I doing? Making plans to attend my first Christmas Eve service since leaving the Churches of God. 

Whether you've been out of the COGs for a while and wonder what's the big deal, or are in the COGs and are disgusted by the previous sentence, I am pretty sure almost every reader out there is silently wondering, "Are you crazy?". 

Yes. Absolutely. Making peace with decades of COG programming and learning to see Christianity through a new lens is driving me totally mad, especially this time of year. Ironically, several friends and family members who ridiculed my decision to leave the COGs hinted that a desire to fit in during Christmas factored into my thinking. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. I don't fit in, and, frankly, I just wish December were over. This first Christmas season out of the COGs has caused me more anxiety than my family and friends will ever know. They would say it is because, deep down, I know Christmas is wrong. I would counter that it's the stress of coming face-to-face with decades of programming and cognitive dissonance about Jesus Christ in the COGs.

I've heard the first Christmas sermons and sang the first carols of my life in the last few weeks. You know what's been unbiblical about them? 


The worst I can say about my church experience so far is that I'm not a fan of all the Christmas trees, although many claim that the symbolism has its roots in Christianity, not paganism. And, to be totally Biblically accurate, they need to remove the wise men from nativity depictions and songs, since they didn't arrive on scene until much later. But I don't expect evangelicals will scrub their cherished music any more than the COGs will eliminate their teachings on the modern identity of the tribes of Israel, even though genetic research has totally debunked the theory. To each his own spurious tradition, I guess.

A funny little story about altering songs. We were singing a Christmas hymn at church the other week about the angels who sang over Bethlehem, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I already knew the melody. Turns out that UCG borrowed the tune and completely rewrote the lyrics. If you're curious and have a UCG hymnal, turn to hymn 161, "From the Realms of Unseen Glory,", then look up "Angels from the Realms of Glory" on YouTube. It's the same, note for note. I've known the COGs to change a few words from time to time, but never an entire song. I thought it was wrong to Christianize anything with potentially pagan roots! Especially anything to do with Christmas. But I digress.

Every COG article criticizing Christmas focuses heavily on the holiday's materialism and on parents who lie to their children about Santa. Well, there has been no mention of Santa at my church. I'm not saying there aren't parents there who perpetuate the myth, but the church certainly isn't propping it up. Materialism has been discouraged from the pulpit, unlike at the Feast of Tabernacles. And increased discussion of the Biblically factual account of Jesus Christ's birth has not distracted from His death. Every message leads back to the sacrifice He made for each and every one of us.

But the Bible doesn't tell us to celebrate Christ's birth, you say. Well, no one would need to tell you to celebrate if you won the lottery. Receiving the gift of eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus is much, much better than winning the lottery, and the Bible does tell us to give thanks for that (1 Corinthians 15:57). There cannot be a death of our Savior without His corresponding birth. 

And it's not like the COGs don't have extra-biblical traditions. I'll bypass discussion of the man-made practice of taking up an offering on all seven holy days (instead of three times a year as the Bible states) in favor of something a little more touchy-feely. Where is the Blessing of Little Children mentioned in the Bible? It's loosely based on the scriptural account where parents brought their children to Jesus, but Mark 10 doesn't mention a date or occasion on which children should be blessed. The COGs have established this tradition on the second Sabbath after the end of the Feast of Tabernacles (except for the those COG groups that hold their blessing during the Feast so rogue grandparents can't bring non-member grandkids). Church leaders have done nothing wrong in creating this man-made tradition. Besides, of course, the COG leaders who have used it to further divide families, an increasing by-product of life in this religious community. Their actions are shameful.

But blessing children is not a man-made worship tradition, you say. Ok, what about holding opening night church services at the Feast of Tabernacles? That's a worship tradition. As are the multiple services some COG groups hold on other annual holy days. Where is that mentioned in the Bible? Only one holy convocation is prescribed per sunset-to-sunset time period. No extra worshiping God beyond what Sinai commands, or you are in big trouble! 

I've always wondered how the Jews got a pass for creating worship traditions at Hanukkah since it's nowhere to be found in the law. COG pastors have told me Hanukkah is kosher for Christians (pun intended), yet it's not commanded anywhere in the Bible. Still, we know Jesus was at the temple during the Feast of the Dedication, another name for Hanukkah (John 10:22-23). If extra-biblical traditions are wrong, then Jesus should have been nowhere near the temple at that time. Well duh, you say. The Jews created the celebration to commemorate a miracle God performed for His people centuries earlier. 

Ahem. Was Jesus' conception and birth a miracle that would bring great joy to all people (Luke 2:10-11)? Has there been any greater miracle in the history of, well, history? And Who do you think put Him there? If that wasn't God's intervention in human affairs, then I don't know what is. 

I suspect the main reason we in the COGs rarely discuss Jesus Christ's birth, besides anti-Christmas programming, is that He does not play a very prominent role in our theology. Yes, His sacrifice made our forgiveness and salvation possible. But in COG theology, our actions going forward from that initial point of forgiveness are the means by which we maintain our salvation.  As a result, we focus on our works, and Jesus Christ becomes like a spiritual debit card we swipe when we slip up and sin. He becomes the gate code we enter to have our prayers accepted by the Father. We take him off the shelf at Passover, then more or less put Him back and leave Him there until the Feast of Trumpets. This marginalization of Jesus is alarming when you consider He Himself said He was the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6). That He is the door to salvation (John 10:9). The Vine to which we must be actively connected to grow (John 15:5-6). 

In contrast, evangelical Christians believe the Bible teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). That they are saved by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 19:30, Hebrews 10:10). That the debt of their sin - past, present and future - is cancelled at the moment God justifies them, declaring them righteous in His sight (Colossians 2:13-15). That the righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to them when they renounce any faith their own goodness and place their full faith for salvation in Jesus (Romans 4:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Good works and a transformation of the heart should increase as evidence of justification, but this is not linked to our justification, that we might boast (Ephesians 2:9). Understanding the magnitude of our debt that has been forgiven through Jesus Christ's sacrifice naturally results in placing a higher value on the praise and worship of our Savior (Luke 7:47), something the COGs neglect, I fear, to their peril. 

I'm not trying to convince you to keep Christmas. I am only trying to show you that rehearsing a Biblically accurate account of the birth of our Savior is appropriate for Christians. Angels rejoiced on that night, and they had no skin in the game. How much more should we, the redeemed, join the angels and shepherds in praising God and giving thanks that He entered the world?

Uncomfortable with focusing on Jesus' birth in December? I totally understand. I'm not super warm and fuzzy on that point either. Still, people who are a lot smarter than me believe the date has merit. I know it's pretty close to the winter solstice, although it's not on the solstice itself. The COGs have emotionally linked solstice worship to anything that goes on in December and early in January, even though there's only one actual solstice day. If proximity to the solstice taints any gathering where family and friends share meals, fellowship and offer extra praises to God, then the COG splinters have some explaining to do about their various Winter Family Weekends. On the other hand, maybe they've read Romans 14:14 and know that nothing is inherently unclean. Yes, the verses that immediately follow it discuss food, but the ones that precede it specifically mention esteeming specific days.  

If December freaks you out, pick another time to to read about Jesus' birth and give thanks for that miracle. Or don't pick a day at all - instead, do it every day (Romans 14:5-12). Thankfully, our salvation doesn't depend on determining proper dates for Jesus' birth. It doesn't even hinge on whether Pentecost was on Sunday or Monday, or Passover is on the 14th or 15th of Nisan. Good thing, since the Jews have changed their calendar a bit since Sinai. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), not through keeping holy days on the right day, or keeping them at all.

There is no day of the year on which it is inappropriate to read the Bible, praise Jesus Christ, or give thanks for the birth that made His sacrifice possible. It is programming and false guilt, not logic, that make contemplating Christmas so nerve-wracking for me. If God has declared me to be righteous in His sight (Romans 3:21-22), whom shall I fear?  I am grateful beyond words for what Jesus did for me every day of the year, whether that day is February 21, July 18 or December 25, and there is no wrong day to express that. 

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

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nimrod's Birthday Was January 6?

Everyone who attends a Church of God splinter group knows the teaching that Christmas is nothing but a modern celebration of Nimrod's birthday. Year after year this claim is taught throughout the Churches of God, and sent out into the wide world by print, television, and Internet. But I'll bet you didn't know that the Church of God has two completely different dates for the birth of Nimrod. It's true!
Today I want to dive into this and show you, dear reader, how the Church of God undoes its own teachings. 

If you're not from an Armstrongist background, don't worry. Enjoy the read anyway! You'll see how "research" is done by those church groups who tell you Christmas is pagan. You might not have even heard of this church or these people you are reading about. Trust me in this - they were very influential back in the 1950s through 1970s. Many people adopted their ideas. There is a good chance that if you are here looking for information about Nimrod and Christmas, you got that idea from someone who was influenced by these people. It might be more relevant to you than you realize.

Some parts of this post are going to be difficult to wade through. Making sense of utter confusion is rarely easy. My apologies in advance.
"December 25th was the birthday of Nimrod."
Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, December 1957, p.7
Herbert Armstrong, who described himself under oath as, "the founder, Pastor General, and spiritual and temporal leader” of the Churches of God, and "the appointed Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ", tells us December 25th originated as the birthday of Nimrod, and that December 25th has been a focus of pagan worship for 4,000 years now.
"In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis (Egyptian name for “Queen of Heaven”) was born December 25th. Paganism celebrated this famous birthday over most of the known world for centuries before the birth of Christ."
Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, December 1956, pp.8-9
December did not exist in Nimrod's day. Neither did Rome for that matter. As for "the son of Isis was born on December 25th" we deal with that in detail in our article “On Nimrod and Christmas Trees part2”. In short – this claim is simply not true. But let's skip all that for now. Just take with you the nugget that Herbert Armstrong proclaimed December 25th was pervasive throughout the ancient world from deep antiquity.

Herbert Armstrong believed every western religion, deity, and holiday (other than his own, of course) ultimately came from Nimrod. He got this idea from the writings of one Alexander Hislop. That is what he taught, and that is what his church still believes. 
His official church historian, Herman Hoeh, as any good Armstrongist would, believed it, too.
"The Romans used to celebrate December 25 as the Saturnalia birthday of Saturn or Nimrod.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Saturnalia was never on December 25th. Saturnalia was on the 17th originally, then was moved to the 19th. We deal with that in detail in our article "The Plain Truth About December 25". Rome had no December 25 celebration at all for most of its history. Let's skip that for now, too.

More to the point, when you read that quote above, would you believe Herman Hoeh agrees with Herbert Armstrong? It would only be proper to agree with the founder of your church while writing in the church magazine he started. Herbert Armstrong claimed to be an Apostle inspired directly by God, after all. Armstrong's approval does make the claim official church doctrine. Herman Hoeh appears to be saying that December 25th was Nimrod's birthday.
But there's something important you should know:
Herman Hoeh didn't really agree with Armstrong's claims about December 25th.

You read that correctly. Herman Hoeh, master of all things ancient and esoteric, believed that Nimrod was actually born on January 6 ...and this was printed in not just one but three separate editions of the Plain Truth magazine. This makes it an official church teaching as well.

The Churches of God have two official dates for the birth of Nimrod. And if Herman Hoeh was any kind of historian at all, as Herbert Armstrong said he was, that means December 25 was the wrong one.

Just listen to how Herbert Armstrong lauds Hoeh's work:
"Studying, delving into intricate research from the vantage-point of THIS BASIC KNOWLEDGE, Mr. Hoeh has made vitally important discoveries. It is my personal opinion that he is today the most accurately informed historian in the world."
Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, Aug. 1956, p.4
The most accurately informed man in the world did base his claims from actual evidence, right? He cites sources, right? He didn't just make this up, right?

I want to go over this January 6 date with you today because this speaks volumes about the way Armstrongism specifically and others in general treat history in order to achieve the goal of demonizing mainstream Christianity. Christmas is merely a tool in this larger game.

So that we're clear -- today we are going to watch as the most accurately informed man in the world, Herman Hoeh, tries to paint both December 25 and January 6 as the birthday of Nimrod by tying them both to the winter solstice. We will then watch as he uses the errors of a calendar that didn't exist to move the solstice between January and December. By the end, we will see how Hoeh, intending to support Armstrong, completely undoes Armstrong.

Also, you should be aware that today's post is going to be confusing, detailed, and by necessity convoluted. I do apologize in advance. This post is confusing because it needs to be, not because either of us have lost our minds. We are untying a knot here. I will try to summarize often so you can stat with me even if you skip the really detailed bits.

The quote above from Herman Hoeh is taken from a larger article that was run in the Plain Truth magazine in 1958, 1960, and 1962 (with heavy edits). What I would like to do here is quote for you from the version that ran in the December 1958 edition. I want to give you some of what Hoeh wrote, then I will insert some of my own commentary to point some important things out to you.

"In the western and especially the eastern parts of the Roman Empire, many sects were beginning to follow a false tradition that Jesus was born on January 6.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
According to Hoeh, the pagan Roman culture adopted January 6 from people who had been observing it long prior, millennia prior, to the birth of Jesus, and had kept it through the ages. Eventually, this tradition was adopted into the early church.
This claim has no basis in fact. It is simply untrue. But it is noteworthy.

Why is this important to point out? Because he is saying Nimrod's real birthday was January 6, and the entire world maintained that date!

Hoeh claims the entire world, for centuries and centuries, celebrated January 6th. This length of time is important to point out because just imagine how hard it would be to change the traditions after millennia of unaltered observation. <<And, frankly, that is exactly Hoeh's point. When he charges the early church with adopting January 6, this is his underlying reason why.

It is also important to point out because it contradicts Herbert Armstrong's claims that December 25 is the right day and from the beginning it was December 25th that whole world observed. Hoeh says no!

Just think of the implications of this, and how deeply it contradicts Herbert Armstrong and his church's claims on December 25th over the years. If Nimrod was not born on December 25th, and if the entire world was not celebrating December 25th from time immemorial, then the whole foundation of Armstrongism's claims about Christmas washes away.
“Even the church at Rome for nearly two centuries OBSERVED THIS FALSE DATE FOR CHRIST'S BIRTH ON JANUARY 6. This festival was called Epiphany. (Bingham’s Antiquities, Book xx, chapter iv.)”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Notice how Hoeh says "the church at Rome". Keep this in mind for later. It will be important. We are going to see some east/west flip-flopping going on.

I want to point out one more thing. 
One of the primary complaints against observing Christmas is a claim the early church didn't celebrate Jesus' birth. What do we see here?
Hoeh says, "nearly two centuries." We know from many publications that Constantine the Great is blamed for adopting December 25. If Constantine made the switch in the early 300s, what is 300 AD minus two centuries? 100 AD. But this means the early church was celebrating Jesus' birth. Armstrong taught that no one did that. No one at all. “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church,” he would say. But here comes Hoeh, showing that it was among the festivals of the early church.
They can't both be right!

Let's continue.
“The celebration of January 6 was anciently introduced in Babylon as the birthday of Nimrod at the time when the winter solstice occurred on that date-before 1900 B.C. (See page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur.)”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
To seal the deal, Hoeh now un-does everything Herbert Armstrong claimed about Nimrod's birthday. Hoeh makes it absolutely clear that Nimrod was not born on or near December 25th. Clearly, no one anciently would have celebrated it on that day. December 25 was not celebrated from the beginning.

Wait a second here.
Did you notice Hoeh said, "introduced to Babylon"? You should know that in the grand scheme of Nimrod conspiracies, it was the Babylonians, specifically Babylonian queen Semiramis, who started the whole Nimrod worship in the first place. Mesopotamia was Nimrod's home. How can it be introduced to the people who invented it? If it was introduced, then the actual event happened much earlier than 2000BC, which means even January 6 is not the right date. The literal correct date was something else still!
It takes a lot of nerve to try to convince us January 6 is the right date while admitting it's not.

Consider the implications and contradictions in what we are seeing here! December 25 is wrong, January 6 is wrong too, and Semiramis apparently did not start these traditions. Yet, there it all is, in print, written by the official church historian and published thrice in the Plain Truth magazine for the entire world to read. 

We are about to get into some confusing territory. I'll try to guide you through it gently.
Hoeh is trying to demonize both January 6 and December 25. You might be wondering how December 25 fits in if it's the wrong date. Look:
“The introduction of the birthday of Nimrod among the Romans occurred when the winter solstice on their religious calendar occurred on December 25! That occurred about 300 B.C., shortly after Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire and introduced the Mystery Cult of Babylon into the West.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Hoeh is saying that in ~2000 BC, the winter solstice was January 6. That wasn't really Nimrod's time, but let's skip that for now. Hoeh says that over the next ~1,700 years the date of the solstice slowly crept back. Hoeh says by 300 BC the solstice was on December 25, and that is when Rome first found out about this wonderful day.

Do you see the slight of hand here? Nimrod was born on January 6 (sort of). As the story goes, that day just so happened to be the winter solstice. Now the focus is no longer the calendar date but wherever the solstice may be. When the tradition of Nimrod came to Rome around 300 BC, the solstice had moved to December 25. And there we have it. Two birds with one stone.

All of this leaves me with a few questions.
If the Romans adopted December 25 because that is the date the solstice landed on when they were first introduced to Nimrod worship, why did they also adopt January 6?
Hoeh just got done saying that everyone in the world was observing January 6th. But that had to include the Romans. Here we see the Romans, and the Greeks too by the way, never heard of it.
Did they always keep it, never hear of it, or adopt two days in 300 BC? It can't be all three.
How can Rome and Greece know the solstice was the important event, not the date, in the first place? Who told them that? When they were introduced, did the Babylonian cultists give them an information packet? So, the Greeks, somehow magically endowed with knowledge that Nimrod = solstice, understood they had to correct the date, but opted also to keep the original date? Opa!
If the solstice is important, why note the calendar date at all? Why not just observe whatever day happens to be the solstice that year? But they did observe a date. That's what Hoeh's objective is - to accuse dates. But then why note dates only twice (Dec 25 and Jan 6)? Why did no one on earth care when the solstice was on January 5th, or 4th, or 3rd, or 2nd, or 1st? Why did no one care when the solstice crept past December 25 onto the 24th, 23rd, 22nd, and finally the 21st where it is today?

Doesn't this all mean that, since the tradition came to America when the solstice was on the 21st of December, there should be a 21st holiday along with the 25th and 6th? Feels like America is being robbed here.

I want to reiterate the really important point in all of this.
Hoeh is saying that only in Alexander the Great's day did the winter solstice land on December 25. I cannot overstate the implications. Bluntly, it means Herbert Armstrong was wrong when he said, "In Egypt, it was always believed that [Nimrod] was born December 25th." It was not always believed. It could not be.  Every single thing Herbert Armstrong, or Alexander Hislop, or anyone else besides, ever wrote stating anything like this is now false.
If we listen to Hoeh, Armstrong's claim is invalidated. But if we believe Armstrong, Hoeh's claim is invalidated. They cannot both be true. Who should we choose?

Hoeh got greedy and it burned him. Or did it burn Armstrong? Oh what a tangled web we weave!

In this section, we've seen how Hoeh claimed Nimrod was born on the winter solstice. He said in extreme antiquity, the solstice fell on January 6. He said when the tradition came to Alexander the Great in 300 BC, the solstice had moved to December 25. Now let's ask another big question - exactly how was the solstice moving to begin with?


It is a crude fact of history that the solstice was most likely not on December 25th in 300 BC. In order to understand this, I need to bore you with a little history about the Roman calendar. I will try to make this as painless as I can. Please, don't skip past this, though. It's important to know for later on.
OK! Ok. If you don't want to read through the really boring stuff, I will mark it so you can skip it, then we will pretend like you read it.

From around its founding in 700 BC, Rome used a lunar calendar. Their calendar was originally only 304 days long and had ten months, with a huge month-less winter gap. There were no months in winter at all. December was in autumn. It was the tenth month. Hence the name December. The first month was March, the last month was December, and there were no months called January and February. January and February didn't exist yet. You read that right; For the first couple centuries, the winter solstice was in no month whatsoever.

The calendar was so confusing that in the 500's BC they added two brand new months: January at the start of the year and February at the end of the year. You read that right; before 500 BC, February was the last month. From about 500 BC to about 450 BC, the winter solstice should have been in February. 

Due to a superstition against even numbers, they only allowed 355 days in their year, so their calendar was still horribly inaccurate. It would lose more than 10 days every single year! Every once in a while they would add an extra month to try and correct the year.

Around 450 BC or so, February was moved from the end of the year to the place where we know it now, between January and March. December was the last month again, and now, for the very first time, it generally fell in winter. Any claim of a solstice in December prior to 450 BC was nigh impossible. Accidental, maybe. Regular, never!

What this means is that only after 450 BC did the winter solstice have any real chance of falling in December. Keep that nugget in mind. We'll come back to it shortly.
But this still doesn't mean the solstice always fell on December 25th in those days. It was not the same December we know today. It was in the winter, sure, but it was not the same.

Their calendar was often months out of sync. Dates could fall on opposite side of the year from where they should be. The Roman officials who were in charge of the calendar would often purposely manipulate it for political ends. Intercalary months, named Mercedonius, were tossed in practically without warning. Almost nothing was reliably on a given date.
What this all means is: there is almost no way for Herman Hoeh (or anyone else) to know for certain what date the solstice fell on in the Roman calendar in 300AD.

In 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the calendar and set it up with 365¼ days and leap years. He also added two days to December. December used to only have 29 days; now it has 31. He also set it up so that the solstice was on December 25th. That's right. It was Julius Caesar who set the solstice to December 25th.
This is the calendar system that we know as the Julian calendar.

To reiterate:
Only after 46 BC did December have 31 days. Only after 46 BC was the solstice more or less reliably on December 25th. Only after 46 BC did anyone have a year that was 365¼ days long.

Except, the year isn't exactly 365¼ days long, so the Julian calendar was wrong by 11 minutes a year, or roughly a day every 130 years. The solstice was only reliably on December 25th for a little more than one century. By the second century AD, December 25 was no longer the date of the solstice.

I told you this would be confusing and I am truly sorry for that, but it's important information. You still with me? Hoeh claimed the solstice fell on days it didn't -- days that it couldn't.

In this section, we've seen how Rome was founded in the 700s BC. At first, they had a lunar calendar with ten months. It had no winter months at all. We've seen January and February were added in the 500s, but December stayed in the Fall. We've how, in 450 December was moved to its current position, but the calendar was a mess. And we've seen how Julius Caesar revamped the calendar in 46 BC, making it solar and setting it to 365¼ days long.
I told you all of that so you could know for certain that Hoeh's claims are built on wrong information. He attacks holidays as we see them today. He failed to adjust his claims for how things worked anciently. When we think it through, everything falls to pieces. Not just everything Hoeh said, but everything Armstrong said, too. It's all wrong. All of it.

And it's about to get even worse! I haven't yet explained why the solstice was moving.

“Alexander wanted to found one world and one religion - AND THE ONE RELIGION TO WHICH ALL COULD TRACE BACK THEIR ORIGIN WAS THE BABYLONIAN MYSTERY CULT! It claimed to be a universal or catholic form of religion in which all peoples could find unity! According to the religious calendar maintained by the priests of the mystery cults, each year averaged 365 1/4 days.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
This claim is utterly false. This claim is inexcusably false. Every one of those claims are wrong except that Alexander wanted to conquer the world. Ignore that for now. Focus please at the calendar problem.

Hoeh says Alexander had a 365 1/4 day calendar in 300 BC. What did we just learn in the previous, incredibly boring section? Julius Caesar created the Roman 365 1/4 day calendar in 46 BC. Hoeh is crediting the calendar of Julius Caesar (ca. 46 BC) to Alexander the Great (ca. 300 BC). Two and a half centuries backwards in time! In fact, Hoeh is crediting the calendar of Julius Caesar to the Nimrod (ca. 2000 BC)!

I am about to explain in detail how he did that. If that seems disinteresting to you, please keep this fact with you: Hoeh takes the error of the Julian calendar, projects that error backwards in time before it even existed, and uses it to explain Alexander the Great introducing Nimrod's birthday on December 25 and the Babylonians introducing Nimrod's birthday on January 6.

Alexander died some 223 years before Caesar was even born! Hoeh knew good and well the Romans, let alone the Greeks, did not have a calendar with 365¼ days in 300 BC. No one did! Alexander the Great, being Macedonian, appears to have used the Macedonian calendar.

So why mention Alexander at all? He read something in a book that piqued his interest (we'll see that later). Now he needs Alexander to help him move the solstice. It all has to do with math ...wrong math.

The foundational claim in this entire article is that in about 2000 BC the solstice was on January 6, and that's Nimrod's birthday. But he can't undercut Herbert Armstrong. So, Hoeh needs to get the solstice from January 6th to December 25th. It has to move to December 25th. Hoeh must demonize both Epiphany and Christmas or he betrays his ideology. So Hoeh did a little math.

January 6 is how many days from December 25? If you count it out, chances are you'll count 12 days. The 12 days of Christmas! Except the ancient Romans counted inclusively, which includes both the start day and the end day, so ancient Romans would have counted 13 days. Hoeh needs to move the solstice 13 days. How?
Hoeh borrows the error of the 365¼-day Julian calendar created in 46 BC and moves is backwards in time to Nimrod's day. 

Now we're going to get into some very boring math stuff. Look, this isn't my idea! Now that you know the main point, that Hoeh was using a calendar that didn't exist, I suppose you know enough. Skip this next part if you want.

<Boring math info starts here.>

What error? This one:
The Julian calendar loses one day roughly every 130 years because the solar year is not exactly 365¼ days long (it's about 11 minutes and 14 seconds shy of that). Hoeh says it loses a day every 133, but let's not squabble over the minutiae. I will use his numbers to recreate what he did.

We need to multiply 133 years by the number of days Hoeh wants the calendar to move. If we take 133 years and multiply that by 13 (the number of days Hoeh needs to move the calendar) we get 1,729 years. It would take 1,729 years to move the solstice the 13 days from January 6 to December 25. Just round that off to 1,700 because we are only talking rough numbers anyway. Now, if the solstice was on January 6 in 2000 BC, 1,700 years later, in 300 AD, it should be on December 25th.
Mission accomplished!

It was this bad math, not any hard historical truth, that causes Hoeh to claim the solstice was on December 25th in 300 BC, in Alexander the Great's day. He admits as much!
“This made the year a fraction too long. It caused the winter solstice to drop back over the centuries about the rate of one day in about 133 years. In Rome the winter solstice - “Christmas” - had gradually dropped back to December 25, beginning 300 years before Christ.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
It was math that got him to 300 BC; but it was bad math!
It was bad math because the 365¼-day calendar didn't exist in Nimrod's time. It didn't exist in Alexander's time either. It first existed in Julius Caesar's time - 46 BC. You cannot use the error of this calendar in years before the calendar ever existed! This is a blatant anachronism! It's wholly improper.

But not only that, Hoeh counted 13 days from January 6 to December 25. This is also wrong!

Remember how I told you, in 46 BC Julius Caesar added two days to December? In 300 BC, if you count back 13 days from January 6, you aren't getting to December 25. December only had 29 days at that point in time, not 31 days. In 300 BC, December 25 was only 11 days from January 6. Hoeh's math is off by two whole days. Alexander would have introduced the world to Nimrod's birthday on December 23, not 25. Nobody cares about December 23. Two days off, at 133 years per day, means his math is off by 266 years! That's 266 years too many. This fact removes Alexander the Great from the equation. Whoops!

Two hundred and sixty six years before 300 AD gets us where? In the mid-500's BC. Remember when I asked you to remember in the 500's BC they put February at the end of the year before January? In the mid-500's BC, the solstice wasn't in a month named December at all, it should have been in a month named February! This removes December from the equation. Nimrod's birthday is February 25? Nobody cares about February 25. Nimrod's birthday is National Chocolate Covered Nut Day. Whoops!

Now, let's factor in that February has even less days than December. At that time, it is believed February only had 28 days regularly and as few as 23 days in leap years. That means Hoeh was at least 3 days off. Nimrod's birthday was February 24th? Well, maybe. IF it wasn't a leap year! Whoops!

Truth be told, the real number by which Hoeh's math was off is incalculable.

Now, let's go back even farther. Back, back in time to when January was first added to the Roman calendar. All the way back to ... 500 BC again. Do you see how you cannot count backwards 1,700 years from 300 BC and get to 500 BC? Before 500 BC, there was no January, so Nimrod's birthday absolutely, positively could not have been on the solstice in January in 2000 BC. Didn't we see just three paragraphs ago that Hoeh's math error puts him in February in 500 BC, not January?

Do you see now how messed up this is?

<Boring math info ends here.>

In this section, we saw how Hoeh takes the error of the Julian calendar (losing a year every 130 years or so), projects that error backwards in time before the calendar even existed, and uses it to explain Alexander the Great introducing Nimrod's birthday on December 25 and the Babylonians introducing Nimrod's birthday on January 6. We saw how Hoeh got the math wrong because he didn't know how the Roman calendar changed over the centuries. We saw how his equation puts him on a date in February, not December 25th. And we saw how January simply is not an option.

If Hoeh was the great historian he was held to be, then he knew this without a doubt. Did the most accurately informed man in the world get so very wrong because he didn't know, or because he was deliberately passing on false information? You decide! But the fact remains -- this is official COG doctrine, written by the church historian, published in the flagship church magazine three times!!

“The early Babylonian date of January 6 as the birthday of the pagan savior Nimrod was first applied to Jesus by the apostatizing Eastern Christians.”
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6
Keep that sentence in mind as we read this next part. January 6 is the Greek Orthodoxy's fault.
“But this date for the birth of Christ was not universally accepted. In 245 A.D., Origen, like numerous other Catholic leaders, still repudiated the idea of observing any day as Christ’s birthday. The traditional date of January 6 therefore did not gain a very strong foothold in the western parts of the Roman Empire because certain heretical sects were also following the same tradition."
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1958, p.6-17
At first, Hoeh said that the West kept the January 6 tradition alive. Remember when he said this, "Even the church at Rome for nearly two centuries OBSERVED THIS FALSE DATE"?
Now Hoeh says the East kept the January 6 tradition alive, and it didn't really catch on in the West. Remember when he said, "In the western and especially the eastern parts of the Roman Empire"?

Let's go back to the timeline once again to see something odd.

We have Alexander the Great receiving Nimrod's birthday on December 25th from the Babylonians, starting a one world religion, and teaching that December 25 date to all his empire. It even catches on as far away as Rome.
But his own Greek people ignore December to keep January 6 instead??

But wait just a minute. Isn't the Catholic Church supposed to be the very same church Nimrod started in Babylon? Or was it the very same church Alexander started in Babylon? Oh never mind! Hoeh believed the Babylonian church is the Catholic Church. It's not true but that's what Hoeh believed! He got that from Armstrong who got it from Hislop. But the January 6 date the Catholics had been keeping for centuries didn't catch on with their own selves??

The western Catholics pick up the date the Greek Orthodox should have had, and the Greek Orthodox pick up the date the western Catholics should have had.

But wait! It's going to flip-flop again.
Here's a quote from this article in its edited form run in the Plain Truth 1962:
"The celebration of January 6 was anciently introduced in Babylon as the birthday of Nimrod before 2000 B.C, when the winter solstice-the shortest day of the year-occurred on that date. (See page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur.) But the winter solstice did not continue to fall on January 6 because the pagan calendar was not accurate. When the birthday of Nimrod was first celebrated in Rome, the winter solstice had dropped back to December 25. But the Babylonian priests in Rome continued to celebrate January 6."
Herman Hoeh, Plain Truth magazine, December 1962, p.29 [emphasis mine]
We are back again to Rome keeping January 6!

Rome has January 6 originally, but it never caught on, until it did. Greece has December originally, but they forgot all about it, until they didn't.

Confused? So am I. Because it's all false!!
This is what you get when you start with a conclusion and try to force evidence for it, rather than start with history to see what it actually says before you make up your mind.


Perhaps most importantly of all - how can Hoeh make any of these claims when there is no historical evidence for any of them?! No evidence for Nimrod's birth. No evidence of Semiramis starting a religion. No evidence of Alexander attempting to establish a world religion. No evidence Alexander had the Greeks abandon their own religion and traditions for that of the Babylonians. No evidence of January 6 ever being solstice related at any point. No evidence of an extremely ancient Catholic Church. No evidence for any of it. It's all made up! How can it be true when it's fake?

      Hoeh made it all up!

"But xHWA," you might exclaim, "Hoeh specifically mentioned page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur. How can it all be made up when he cites sources?" Let's take a look and see.

Hoeh cites A. Allan McArthur's book "The Evolution of the Christian Year". I wanted to read it for myself. Hoeh doesn't mention which version he read from, so I just picked the 1953 version. Seems reasonable. In it, I found the snippet that started it all.

On page 35, McArthur is reviewing another book by another author, Dom Bernard Botte, who quotes yet another author, Eduard Norden. Here is the part I believe Hoeh was referring to:
"He [Botte] goes on to cite the monograph of E. Norden, Die Geburt Des Kindes (Leipzig and Berlin, 1924), in which both Christmas and Epiphany are explained as being based on festivals of the solstice, in spite of the apparent incongruity of dates. According to the calendar of Amenemhet I of Thebes the winter solstice in 1996 B.C. was 6th January, but, because of the defectiveness of the calendar, it was 25th December when Alexandria was founded in 331 B.C."
--A. Allan McArthur, "The Evolution of the Christian Year", 1953, p.35
There you have it, folks! The snippet that started this whole mess. Isn't that interesting? Hoeh seems to have lifted the idea of misusing the errors of calendars before they exist from the German scholar Eduard Norden. I am shocked Hoeh actually found a source that seems to support him.
Abusing his source material is something you will see from Hoeh all the time. Just because he cites a source doesn't mean anything. Hoeh would misquote his sources regularly. He counted on his readers never having access to the academic books to check his work. But to find him accurately quoting a source, dear reader, is a true gem.
Let's destroy it! 😀

The German scholar, Norden, refers to an Egyptian calendar. Let's just grant for sake of argument this calendar exists and gives the solstice date in 1996 BC. So what? It was an Egyptian calendar, not the Roman. Rome won't exist for another thousand years. There was no Roman calendar. Amenemhet didn't say, "the solstice was on January 6." Amenemhet used Egyptian calendars. Amenemhet would have said the solstice was in some Egyptian month you've probably never heard of, then someone else had to calculate that out into the Roman calendar. Converting the Egyptian to Roman is where everything falls apart. The quote moves the date by appealing to calendar errors. Calendar errors where? Egypt or Rome or both? We know they both had errors. Calendar errors are precisely why you cannot match the two calendar systems up. They don't align well. They have different errors and different corrections, some of them quite random. The farther back you go, the worse it gets. The claim that "solstice in 1996 B.C. was 6th January" requires quite a bit of back dating on bad calendars, and therefore is far-fetched speculation and not a fact at all.

Even if you did do calculations to prove January 6 was the solstice in 1996 BC, you still have not proved anyone at that time was aware of it being on January 6, given that there was no Rome, let alone January, to be aware of. 
And you still have not tied Epiphany to a solstice celebration through a chain of evidence. It is ridiculous to say, "2,000 years ago, the solstice happened on this date, therefore everything on this date, in every civilization everywhere, forever and ever, forward and backward in time, is a solstice celebration." That is precisely what is happening here. What they don't have is a clear line of evidence down through time to tie the solstice in 1996 BC to Epiphany in 100 AD. It just assumes they are tied because some German scholar knows about an ancient Egyptian calendar. That is the sum total of the evidence. We need a whole lot more than that to go on!
Pardon us if we do not accept, "It is because I say it is because I really, really want it to be."

Use a star chart to figure out when the solstice was in 1996 BC all you want. It won't help you. All you can match it to is our Gregorian calendar. That does no good. (The answer will be December 21, because the calendar only loses a day every 7,700 years or so.) Try to do your own math and match that in the Julian calendar by counting backwards from 46 BC. You may find the solstice in 2000 BC was January 9. That still doesn't help you because it's anachronistic and, frankly, it's committing the same error as Hoeh.

To Hoeh, this is all about those people in those places at those times honoring January 6 and December 25, specifically, as Nimrod's birthday ...according to calendars that did not exist at that time. Hoeh's claims are built on how things work today. He attacks holidays as we see them today. He failed to adjust his claims for how things worked anciently.

We've reviewed what the citation from Eduard Norden says, now notice what it doesn't say.

It doesn't mention Nimrod. It doesn't claim Nimrod's birthday. It doesn't say 2000 BC, it says 1996 BC. Nimrod should have been long dead by either of those years. Some people say Nimrod was the Scorpion King. That makes him dead over 1,000 years by this point. Some say Nimrod was Sargon of Akkad, in which case he would have been dead around 300 years. Others say Nimrod was really Hammurabi, in which case he wouldn't have been born yet. And Semiramis, she lived in the 800s BC. If you don't know when Nimrod lived, you don't know anything. 
That date was only chosen at all because some German author said the solstice fell on some days. Nothing besides. Everything else is read into it.
It doesn't say Alexander the Great founded a religion or started a holiday, it says he founded a city. It doesn't say Alexander did anything at all on December 25. It says the solstice was on December 25 in 331 BC. But how does it conclude that? It doesn't say how. It just asserts. It starts with dates it can't prove then appeals to an error in the calendar system that didn't exist at the time. Errors are precisely why you can't match the Roman and Greek and Egyptian calendars very well.
Norden doesn't even say what calendar he was referring to. January 6 and December 25 on what calendar, the Julian or the Gregorian? We don't know! Easy to assume Julian because of the solstice moving, but why would a German in the 1800s use the Julian calendar?

Helpful to Hoeh's cause as that citation appears at first, it turns out rather hollow.
That is why I say Hoeh gets almost no support at all from his citation, and that he made it all up.


Today, we have seen several contradictions in Hoeh's claims. I will list just a few:
  • How can errors of a calendar exist hundreds of years before the calendar itself exists? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a solstice on January 6, 1996 BC be important to Nimrod's birth when we don't even know who Nimrod was and all the best candidates weren't alive then? This is a contradiction.
  • How can people of one culture honor the calendar of another culture, or from the future? This is a contradiction.
  • How can dates be important when it's really the moving solstice that is important, or how can the solstice be important when it's really the dates that are important, but yet several dates are ignored and the solstice is ignored too? This is a contradiction.
  • How can Nimrod's birthday be January 6 and December 25, but not January 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and December 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 24, 23, 22, and 21? Especially December 21! This is a contradiction.
  • How can December 25 be the date of the solstice in Alexander's time when it was Julius Caesar who set December 25 as the solstice? This is a contradiction.
  • How can math be based on a 31-day month when the month in question had only 29 days in the target year? This is a contradiction.
  • How can calculations be accurate and be 266 (or more) years off? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a December solstice tradition start in a century when the solstice should have been February? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a certain date always have been kept by the whole world, but only be kept in Babylon and maybe Egypt? This is a contradiction.
  • How can a tradition be introduced to Babylon when it was supposed to be Babylon who started the tradition in the first place? This is a contradiction.
  • How can the Catholics teach the Greeks about Nimrod's birthday then receive Nimrod's birthday from the Greeks? This is a contradiction.
  • How can Alexander teach the Greeks to keep December 25th but the Greek Orthodox keep January 6? This is a contradiction.
  • How can the January 6th date be observed in Rome for 200 years into the Christian era when the date never really caught on in Rome? But it did, but it didn't, but it did. This is a contradiction.
  • How can Hoeh and Armstrong both be right when they say things that cannot both be true at the same time? This is a contradiction.
This is making my head hurt. I could do more of these but I think you get the point. Hoeh made a real mess of things.


Today we've seen many contradictions, anachronisms, and mind-bending confusion. We have seen how the Worldwide Church of God had two different, irreconcilable dates for the birthday of Nimrod. We have seen how they used completely erroneous math and fake history to conjure up a scheme to paint both Epiphany and Christmas as Nimrod's solstice birthday. This led them to make two contradictory claims that cannot both be true. As a bonus, we watched as the official church historian takes the legs right out from under the official church Apostle.
In short - in one article, Herman Hoeh managed to destroy the Church of God's teachings regarding Christmas on December 25th.

This is the plain truth?? If all of this is so true, and so plain, then why the discrepancies?

I bet you didn't know about Nimrod's January 6th birthday, did you? What I'm telling you today shouldn't be a surprise to you. It was printed in the Plain Truth magazine three times! You know, the magazines you were supposed to burn after 1972. Good thing we have the Internet!

The truth is all of this is made up!! Made up using mental acrobatics such as, We know Epiphany is pagan because in 1996 BC a pharaoh made a calendar that shows the solstice. Makes perfect sense!
No one ever celebrated Nimrod on January 6th or December 25th. Every stitch of it is made up using terrible pseudo-history and bad math.

In its greedy zeal to trash mainstream Christianity, it's financial competitor, the Worldwide Church of God simply couldn't pass up on the temptation to connect January 6 to Nimrod. It was unfortunate that Hoeh was not creative enough to invent some other explanation. If he would have said it was the birthday of, oh I don't know, Tubalcain maybe, the Armstrongists would still have eaten it up. Nimrod's birthday was already taken! The bite was too big to chew. Even so, no one seemed to mind. After all, why should they? The Church of God leadership knew the regulars wouldn't notice. And if they did notice, they would be called "demon influenced" and put out of the church.

They call it "God's truth", but it isn't true. They knew it then, and they know it now.

Are you surprised? I sure was! For more than thirty years of my life I followed Armstrongism. That is, until I gave myself permission to ask hard questions.

But this January 6 business isn't sitting well with you, is it? You've seen too much before now that supposedly proved December 25th was always the date to switch to January 6 now, haven't you? Yet, there January 6 is, in print, in the church's flagship magazine, from the most accurately informed historian in the world. It says the December 25 date is the wrong date. Don't think that the solution is simply to disregard the Plain Truth magazine's articles about January 6. This is the Plain Truth we're talking about. They wouldn't put anything untrue in the Plain Truth, would they? That date is official church teaching. You know in your heart of hearts that something is wrong with the official church teaching that Nimrod was born on January 6 and December 25, don't you? You automatically know one birthday cannot be on two different dates. Hoeh did read some history, didn't he? He cited some sources, didn't he? Herbert Armstrong read history and cited sources, too, didn't he? How can both claims be right? They are mutually exclusive. How can both January 6 -and- December 25 be the original date of Nimrod's birth? They can't!
What do you propose to do about that?

As Bereans Did has many articles showing why you should give a second look at the facts about Christmas. In my next article, I hope to demonstrate several more contradictions in the claims about Christmas printed in the Plain Truth magazine from the 1950's through the 1970's. 

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sheryl Meredith Has Passed

In case anyone hasn't heard - Sheryl Meredith, wife of Rod Meredith, passed away November 29th.

We might write in disagreement with Armstrongist doctrines, but it's not personal. Our common humanity is a tie that ought to bind all of us here on this planet. It is good to set aside our differences for a time, out of respect.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Rod Meredith and family for their loss.

Now, this from Penny:

"It is with sadness that I have learned of the passing of Sheryl Meredith.
She was the loving wife of Roderick Meredith, who calls himself the presiding evangelist
of The Living Church of God. All of us take no pleasure in the sufferings of any person
associated with Armstrogism. We pray for the Comforter to visit Mr Meredith during this
time of loss, and trust that our Almighty God will show His mercy to Mrs Meredith. May
God bring peace to the members of that group as well, as they accept her loss.
In particular, events such as this tend to stir up fears of the end being close, and we
pray that God calms their troubled hearts. Rest in God's loving, peaceful arms Mrs Meredith."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We Were Right By Default

I was having a rather interesting conversation with some friends recently, and we were recalling back to when we were active, believing Armstrongists. We were recalling what our attitudes were like, and in what way we reacted when someone wasn't in agreement with us.
I wanted to talk about that a bit today.

We all seem to recall two general things, really: fear and pride.
These two words pretty well sum up what our attitudes were like before we found out how specious the teachings of Herbert Armstrong actually were.

I recall the sensation that I would get when someone would present me with anything not already within my belief system. I would feel fear and pride. Anything that didn't come to me from the pulpit, or church literature, or a trusted church member, was already wrong to begin with. We were right by default.

I was so prideful that I actually felt pity for anyone who didn't agree with me. Didn't matter what they were saying. Poor deceived souls. I was elect and they were not. I had the Holy Spirit and they had none. They would eventually learn how right I was the second resurrection, that is. No matter what the topic, they were deceived and I was not, and it was only a matter of time until that was visible to everyone.
Even if the facts were nigh entirely on their side. Even if I had no response. I trusted that Herbert Armstrong [or you can substitute your favorite church leader] was an Apostle, a prophet, and directly inspired by God. If I was caught off guard, at least such pillars of "the truth" would never be as weak as I am. Would they ever agree with what I was being presented with? No. So what reason was there for me giving anyone a fair hearing?

Our hearts were so filled with pride! I say this to my own shame.
But don't forget the fear.

See, this pridefulness was all just a defense mechanism.
I recall that sickening, sinking tinge of fear that accompanied anything new. I couldn't ever help but wonder in my heart of hearts - what if I have no answer? What if they are right? What if this is a test and I don't have the wherewithal to pass it? Then one thing leads to another, one thought to another thought, down the slippery slope to the ultimate conclusion - what if I lose my crown?

Oh my! What fear! I had invested so much. I had sacrificed so much. I left friends for this church. I separated from family. I lost jobs. I passed up careers. I tithed too much. I preached too much. Everything I did and everything I was hung in the balance. The truth HAD to be that I was right and they were wrong. It had to! The alternative was simply too much for my heart to bear. Too much is at stake; I can't be wrong. We HAD to be right by default!

What did we do?

Enter the pride response, which answers all my problems by shutting down any possibility of us being wrong. Armstrong was right by default, and so was I, and that is that.

Now, I just let my cleverness come up with some pithy response and we'll seal that deal.
Any response. No matter how unworkable, no matter how impractical, no matter how irrelevant, no matter how it contradicts other things I believed. A quote from a church leader. A proof-text. A reference to some obscure point which was proven false 100 years ago. Any response at all would do.
If there is still no response, then there is always the nuclear option -- revert to ad hominem attacks.
Call the person a deceived pagan, perhaps a Nimrod worshiper, and dehumanize them. If they do not have any value themselves, then what value can their words have? We were the called and elect. They were only ever going to be second best anyway.

You can always read about how right we are in this church literature. Send away for it; it's free. I'll be going now!

Oh, dear reader, that is how most of us were, deep down inside. I don't mean just myself and my friends, I mean the whole of Armstrongism. These are the fruits of legalism - false pride and frustrated failure. But I want to warn you about this whole mess. These mechanisms cannot simply be turned on and off like with a switch. Once your heart learns to puff itself up as a defense against fear, then you will always react that way; even towards the ones you fellowship with.

Here is a typical scenario:
I didn't keep the Sabbath well enough. Is God angry with me? I'll plead for forgiveness! I'll promise to do better! Why isn't my guilt assuaged? Did God hear me? Will God ever forgive me again? After all, was it really all that bad what I did? It's not like I'm as bad as that other person I know from church. That person is worse than me. What I did is really small compared to what this other person from church does all the time. Compared to them, I'm looking really good. I feel better now, actually. Come to think of it, I'm better than this second person I know from church. They can't control their children. And just a few weeks ago I knew more about Deuteronomy than person #3 from church. You know, I'm not so bad after all. I'm actually kinda good, all things considered. I'm no Armstrong, but I'll be there in time. God must really think I'm special.

Do you see how fear becomes pride becomes judgment? It's circular. Beware of this!
The failures you point out in people outside of your church today, to prop your ego up, will become the failures you will point out in people inside your church tomorrow, to prop your ego up. Until you are a church of one. The only person in creation who can meet your own standards; intimately frustrated because inside you know that you can't meet your own standards.
Being right by default is a snare of the Devil and it does not please God! How much less does does it please Him to lash out in fear and pride against another, for whom Jesus died, dehumanizing and demonizing them simply so we can win an argument.

The truth is that the truth can handle itself. The truth is true. It is reality. Anything else is simply not reality. If it isn't true, then it doesn't really exist. That is why Satan has no real power. He is a liar and the father of it. Though he has the power to kill our bodies temporarily, he can do us no eternal harm. His lies are simply not true. They don't actually exist. But Jesus Christ is the truth! Trust in Him, not in yourself.
We can insist we have the truth, but if we in fact are wrong, then we in fact do not have the truth and we insist a lie. It doesn't matter how desperately we want something to be true. If it isn't, then it isn't. For you and for me as well! Insisting we and we alone have God's truth, when our words are little more than empty, prideful, self-serving rejoinders, is the very definition of delusion.
I implore you to always give someone a fair hearing. Judge rightly (JON. 7: 24)! If something is true, then it is true. Let it be what it is. Stop worrying about always being right and saving your own skin, which you cannot save anyway, and let go of that illusion of control. Give it all to God and He will sort it out.

I ask you, honored reader, to give us a fair hearing. What we here at As Bereans Did have presented you with may be contrary to what you have heard. What we present may be a bit scary. What we present may make you angry with us. But we plead with you - at least hear us out. We have tested what we write, and presented you not only with our opinions but with many explanations of why we no longer believe as we once did. Should we actually be right, then you won't want to miss out. If we really can demonstrate a point, for example that British-Israelism is demonstrably false and there are better explanations for those prophecies, then you would do well to take that to heart and pray about it. If still you must go away in disagreement, then go freely in peace.

Believe me, we know what it's like; we were there once too. Once we set ourselves aside and stepped into the New Covenant in faith, all that fear melted away. Don't take our word for it; try it for yourself and see!

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