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!

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


Anonymous said...

Sabbath keeping Churches of God, and not just those associated with the past 'ministry' of Herbert Armstrong, have been losing ground since 1990.

When I visited the Seventh Day Church of God of Caldwell, Idaho in 2010, a member told me that when the youth reached their majority, they all left. Attendance for the Feast of Tabernacles has been steadily dropping.

Some churches of the Church of God Seventh Day in the United States have gone from being a church with 75 or so attendees on the Sabbath, to 12 to 3 over the past decade and some the congregations have gone from churches to what they call 'missions'.

It isn't clear how the Seventh Day Adventists are doing, but for the rest of the Sabbath keepers in the United States the issue has become critical. The standing joke in the CoG7 is that Mexico should start sending missionaries to the United States instead of the other way around.

It gets worse.

Some of the Sabbatarian churches of God are imploding, just as Armstrongism has done. Some CoG7 congregations have an internal struggle for leadership going on today.

There is a further problem wherein, some looking for a social group support find what they want and move on, never to be heard from again.

And some Sabbath keeping congregations have been taken over by some coming in, taking hold on the church council and transforming the church to something else. This is not Armstrongism, either.

My suspicion seems to be right: You are correct -- the Sabbath keepers have fallen to their own brand of idolatry.

There are consequences.

M. A. Hook said...

All Seventh-day keeping organizations have a leadership problem today. They are missing the "woman behind the power-leader" that provides the balance between the male overview with planning and the female "here and now" training and nurturing that is implied by calling the church a "she." The father directs and provides, while the mother teaches and guides.

Case in point: the original founder and leader of the Seventh-Day Adventists, Ellen G. White, is still venerated by the group while Loma Armstrong, who was the mothering spirit behind Herbert Armstrong, was dismissed as part of the leadership after her death rather than acknowledged in the role that she provided until her death in 1967. By 1981, the Worldwide Church of God was so heavily in debt that it has been reliant on the support of other organizations and lenders ever since, as well as losing membership to the point of disintegration into its many splinter groups. None of the splinter groups have a female nurturer that softens the male tendency to dominate at all levels and at any cost.

I bring to your attention Victoria Osteen, the nurturer behind Joel Osteen, as an example. Lakewood Church has become what the Worldwide Church of God was in the days of Loma Armstrong. There are many preachers "doing the work", such as Michael Rood (A Rood Awakening) among a clutch of others that could be named, none of which have a female nurturer in their midst, and none of which has the potential that either the WCG or Lakewood had/has.

Can anyone contest the characterization that the church is the "bride of Christ"? And as such, performs the duties of a wife, if she is faithful to her role. Where are the women leaders and help-meets in the churches?

Remember Ambassador College? And the Bible Correspondence Course? It was common in "the old days" after Loma's death for ministers to accuse the members of "joining the church to save their own skins" when, in fact, they were seeking the education and training that their leading Spirit indicated that they required to be fruitful disciples. Sons are subjected to a thorough education: "I chose Abraham because I knew he would train his progeny..." Slaves are denied any educational opportunities in order to keep them subservient, not seeking the position of sons, which is promised to believers.

The Father wants sons and daughters, regardless of whether or not they kept the Sabbath in the past. That can easily be added later. The love of God either is, or is not, and is the determining factor.

Anonymous said...

I went to a messianic jewish church. Same thing. Everything about Saturday. Beanies and shawls. Hardly any mention of Christ. Don't go to church anymore. They are a mess. All of them. Yes, all of them. ajc