Saturday, June 26, 2021

An Amazing Thing Happened Today


Double click to enlarge in dreamy glory!

Today was an amazing Saturday in California. After driving to Santa Barbara to spend the day at the beach, I drove on up to Avila Farms to buy some ollalaberry pies and some homemade bread. It was then that I decided to drive by the craptastic, superfantabulous, mind-boggling World Headquarters of the improperly named "continuing" Church of God located in Grover Beach. 

I walked the very sidewalk that the Chief Overseer's sacred feet have walked upon! 


The very sidewalk that the world's most amazing COG leader in the history of humankind has trod upon.

 My life is now complete!

The Roots of Armstrongism in the First Century Jerusalem Church


The Roots of Armstrongism in the First Century Jerusalem Church

By Neo

Christianity at its inception was a form of Late Second Temple Judaism. Jesus was a Jew who preached a form of Judaism to Jews. Jewish factions worshipped together in the Temple and in synagogues. The Jews in one faction of Judaism followed a man named Jesus and believed him to be the Messiah.  Only years later would the name “Christian” be applied to this faction. The times were filled with expectations of the apocalypse. Judaists, in general, were waiting for the first coming of the Messiah to overthrow the world regime. And the Jews who were followers of Jesus were waiting for the second coming of the Messiah to overthrow the world regime. Everyone seemed to understand that something revolutionary was going to happen.

Within the Jesus faction, a man named James, the brother of Jesus, became the leader of the Jesus Movement. James was a Jew and held Jewish practice in high regard. Two other men who were also leaders, Paul and Peter, did not have the same commitment to Jewish practice. Paul was concerned that these practices would develop into a wall of division between Jews and Gentiles. Peter seemed to vacillate between the Jewish pole and the Gentile pole. At one point, Paul said to Peter “I said to Cephas (Peter) before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews? (Galatians 2:14).” Peter who accompanied Jesus throughout his ministry and was very close to Jesus had set aside Jewish practice in his personal life. There was a tension between James on one side and Peter and Paul on the other with Peter functioning as a kind of liaison, purposely or by accident, between the two sides.

This tension culminated in a controversy over circumcision, the archetypical requirement in Jewish theology and practice. Circumcision represented the outward symbol of salvation as understood in Judaism. It symbolized the covenant made with Abraham. It was the indispensable sign that Yahweh was Israel’s God and Israel was Yahweh’s people. So it is easy to understand that some Jews would regard this as a necessary condition, exceeding in significance such conditions as the Sabbath or dietary restrictions, for belonging to the Jesus Movement. Within the Jerusalem Church led by James, a faction that has been called by some historians “the Circumcision Party,” came into sharp conflict with Paul. There is no definitive indication in the New Testament that James supported these people. But neither is there any indication that he tried to oppose this faction while it was incipient.   

Paul opposed the circumcision faction with Peter’s sometimes wavering support (Acts 15:8-9). (Jesus had pointed out to Peter his wavering tendency.) Paul understood the profound meaning of what the Circumcision Party was asserting. They were saying that salvation within the Jesus Movement could not be appropriated without circumcision. They stated explicitly, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” The Circumcision Party added an Old Testament requirement to the salvation that was in Jesus, a physical requirement that had now become only a cultural tradition in the teaching of Jesus. Paul was not anti-Jewish. He wrote that everyone who followed Jesus was a spiritual Jew but he did not concede to modifying soteriology as it was understood in the Jesus Movement. Paul also stated that circumcision was of the heart and had a continuing spiritual meaning for spiritual Jews – but the physical requirement was no longer a part of the theology. Of the followers of the Circumcision Party, Paul stated, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”  Paul expanded the principle beyond circumcision to include justification by the law to the exclusion of Jesus.

I would have speculated that Paul’s attitude towards the body of Old Testament litigation would be relatively mild and accepting. He was, after all, “an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.” The litigation was now no longer the pathway to salvation but a colorful collection of ethics, customs, and traditions. But there is a passage, Colossians 2:8-19, that reflects a much more intense and negative attitude on the part of Paul.  (New Revised Standard Version throughout the remainder of this paragraph.)  Paul starts in Colossians 2:8 by saying: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe . . .” He is speaking of human traditions and pagan philosophies. But later he includes the Old Testament litigation in this category.  He says first, “. . . He forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands.  He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.” This seems to be a reference to the litigation of the Old Testament.  How else could past sins be defined among the Jews? Sin is the transgression of the law. If there is any doubt about the reference he writes the following statement: “Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Only the Old Testament could contain foreshadows of Christ. Paul, by interweaving the Old Testament litigation into this passage that also refers to human traditions and pagan philosophies, places the now superseded Old Testament litigation, such as circumcision, in the same category as these worldly traditions and philosophies. 

Herman Hoeh stated years back that he had met an important person in Israel and explained to him the theology of the Worldwide Church of God.  I regret to say that I do not remember the Israeli’s name. But after hearing Hoeh’s description, the Israeli said, as I recall Hoeh’s account, “If your description is accurate, then the WCG is heir to the Jerusalem Church.” Hoeh indicated that he was gratified by that observation.  I believe the observation to be true. I would add a refinement. Armstrongism is heir, not to the Jerusalem Church proper, but to the faction of the Jerusalem Church known as the Circumcision Party.  

The Jerusalem Church seemed to fade out after the calamity of 70 AD.  Christianity expanded enormously in the Gentile sphere. The fervid conflict over circumcision is now long forgotten. But here and there, the principle behind salvific circumcision still finds traction. And those who sustain this ideology can rightfully claim ancient provenance and even invoke the name of the Jerusalem Church. But this claim to a high-born heritage must be understood in its theological context. 

Note:  It is worth mentioning that Paul and Peter were not antinomian. Christianity, correspondingly, is not antinomian.  In some quarters, that is a persistent calumny against the Christian Church. Both men believed in the law given in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul, in particular, was highly moralistic and explicit about moral rectitude in the opening chapters of Romans. Neither is the theme of this opinion piece antinomian. Those who are advocates of viewing the New Testament as just a patina on the Old Testament have a personal obligation to understand this issue if they claim to be Christian. The replacement of the Old Testament litigation does not equate to antinomianism no matter how often repeated.


When Jesus found out Bob Thiel had started another splinter group


Friday, June 25, 2021

Gerald Weston Is Not Happy About Dominant Women


Someone needs to keep those uppity women in their place!

Weston is still screeching the same mantra that Rod Meredith and other uber-conservative COG ministers preach. How dare women teach me. How dare they! How dare they have a voice. 

Greetings from Charlotte,
In this week’s video update I mentioned that Mr. Stuart Wachowicz’ Viewpoint, “Do Schools Discriminate Against Boys?” surpassed 1.6 million views. While it is not “the Gospel,” it reflects the signs of the times as mentioned in Isaiah, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:12). We are seeing our developed Western nations more and more dominated by women and this is a reflection of a trend occurring over the last few decades in our schools. We are also pleased to mention that Mr. Michael DeSimone’s whiteboard “The One Sin That Cannot Be Forgiven” has now surpassed the one million mark. Messrs. DeSimone and Wakefield are scheduled to return Thursday afternoon from the National Religious Broadcasters conference that was held in Texas this week. Responses to the Semi-Annual offer of the “Make Sense of Your World” DVD continue to come in, with just short of 26,000 coming in by mail. This does not count those coming in by phone and over the Internet. The full moon this week is a reminder that the Feast of Tabernacles is only 12 weeks away!—Gerald Weston

LCG Friday Night Smack Down: Backsliding LCG Members Ignoring its "more sure word of prophecy"


It's Friday and time for the weekly smackdown for Living Church of God members who just can never seem to do anything right. Today, they are failing to recognize the "more sure word of prophecy" that LCG claims to have. Not only that, LCG is the Watchman! This is sure to set off that other false prophet who claims he is the Watchman and has the "more sure word of propehcy" due to the fact that LCG refused to listen to him and now are ignorant of real prophecy. Given the track record of self-appointed prophets in the COG and their long history of lying to the members, whenever anyone hears a COG claim to have a "more sure word of prophecy" it is a guarantee they do not. The church has had no accurate prophet in its midst in the 80 some years of the Armstrong COG movement.

Pay Attention to Prophecy: Jesus told His disciples to stay alert and watch for the fulfillment of specific prophecies that will mark the approaching end of this age (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). He also warned, in the parable of foolish virgins, that many will be caught napping and unprepared by the surge of events that will precede His return (Matthew 25:1–13). God has given His Church “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV) so we can warn the nations of Israel and the world about the prophetic significance of world events. It is also an awesome responsibility to be commissioned as a watchman (Ezekiel 3 and 33). Satan has deceived the world and many in the Church to discount the importance of prophecy. We must never take prophecy lightly (1 Thessalonians 5:20). As we watch world events building to a prophetic crescendo, let’s make sure we continue to study Bible prophecy, build a closer relationship with God, and learn to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4).

Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail

United Church of God: "A malignant and elitist sense of superiority pervades this congregation"


Exit and Support Network has a letter up from a man who left the United Church of God. The comments in his letter about how UCG acts are common statements made by many who leave UCG. UCG tries to portray itself as the "more enlightened" Church of God but it is anything but that.

I'm Leaving United Church of God 
I’ve been a Sabbatarian pretty much all my life with a non-Armstrong church. My dad (a former WWCG member) began attending UCG a few years ago and as an adult I accompanied him for a couple years. I thought it was just my imagination, like I was being “stubborn and rebellious” to their instruction, but a few things have jumped out at me since Day 1: 
Upon meeting UCG for the first time, some of them asked me if I was baptized by immersion. The answer happens to be “Yes,” but it seemed they were assessing my spiritual maturity and deciding whether I was deemed worthy in their eyes. 
One time a deacon told a black man with long hair he couldn’t attend church unless he cut it. That bothered me a lot. 
An 83 year-old man tried to convince me that “slavery was not as bad as how the history books portray it.” Classy, huh? 
Overall, there were just weird things I tried to overlook, like a woman who introduced her adopted daughter to me as her “adopted daughter.” 
A lot of these people are very tone deaf and lack situational awareness, as if they have been stuck in a time warp for 50 years (as you wrote). Let’s not forget 
I was speaking to a Protestant co-worker recently and he just came right out and said that UCG sounds very much like a Mormon church in doctrine.1 

A malignant and elitist sense of superiority pervades this congregation, even though I’ve seen a lot of them looking out the window and daydreaming during a sermon. The only consolation most of them have is the “fellowship” after services. 
The main reason why I’m cutting ties with UCG is because they seem to believe Grace is a dirty word. It’s strange we have never sung “Amazing Grace” in church. I don’t even believe it’s in the hymnal. Secondly, UCG is absolutely obsessed with the Millennium and prophecy. It’s almost as if they’re relying on their scriptural scholarship to justify their salvation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Stephen Flurry: Satan Was So Upset Over PCG Wholesomeness That He Causes Shootings In Austin TX


We all know that the boys in Edmond Oklahoma are not engaging all cylinders when it come to making reputable sound statements. Whether it be news events or church propaganda, the words they say are some fo the craziest we have heard.

The PCG has been gloating big time over the last few days over its Irish Dancers putting on productions in various cities. This production is apparently the most wholesome production the country has ever seen and SATAN is pissed! He is so angry that the deliberately causes a shooter to shoot people to take away from the pure wholesomeness that Armstrong dancers display. Seriously dude?

Oh, and lest I forget, the Celtic Throne dance production is a WARNING to the world! It is a story of the British Israelism myth PCG pushes. This production also features a throne that has Herberts prayer rock inside it (at least the show in Edmond did).

Exit and Support Network has this up:

Mass Shooting in Austin, TX Due to Satan Hating PCG’s Uplifting Message?
June 22, 2021 
I had to listen to a lame sermon that SF gave on June 13 (“Science Falsely So-Called”). His droning, monotonous voice–that can almost put you to sleep–sounded like (in my opinion) he was half-drunk, except when his voice gets high, loud and screechy, which can hurt your ears, or when he’s “acting funny” to get the members to laugh. 
It should come as no surprise that SF said that he wondered if the mass shooting (at least some of it) that took place in Austin, TX early June 13 was “Satan’s reaction to a message that is so uplifting.” This message has been “changing lives” and “Satan isn’t happy about that.” Can mass shootings be blamed on Satan being angry with PCG’s uplifting message? He said he checked it out on Google maps and the shooting “happened about 12 blocks from where the performers were performing Wednesday nite in the Celtic Throne performance.” 
The Celtic Throne performance, he said, was “a message that’s about the United States and Britain in prophecy set to music” and if they (the audience) don’t have God’s Spirit “they will miss it.” It is also a “warning.” 
He also told what Satan hates–he hates God’s Royal production, he hates the Royal Family God Vision, the Royal Family Culture, and other “royal” things that I couldn’t keep up with. So much bragging and it was so boring. –[name withheld]

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

PCG: Flurry Elite Travel In Style In Corporate Jet On Backs Of Tithing Members

After PCG members were TOLD to raise money and give extra offerings to buy Gerald Flurry his own private jet so he did not have to travel sitting next to the unwashed masses on commercial jets, the PCG bought their own jet and painted it to look  just like Herbert Armstrong's. Flurry has never used the jet yet to travel to world leaders and preach his fake gospel, instead his grand kids and Lil'Stevie jet  around the world to the British campus and to Irish Dance competitions and productions.

Also see: 

Gerald Flurry Follows in HWA's Steps and Buys Gulfstream G450 Jet

PCG's Embarrassing Justification On Jet Plane Purchase

Monday, June 21, 2021

Satan Attacks God's Most Special Prophet, Hilarity Ensues

It has been another rough day for God's most important prophet in human history. Satan has attacked Bob Thiel yet again and influenced the minds of the folks at Youtube to delete one of his mind-numbingly boring and obnoxious videos.

We also made a related video, which we uploaded to YouTube yesterday, which had the following description:

Is Disney promoting abominations? According to the Bible it most certainly is. In addition to “Out” which is focused about a homosexual male and “Onward” which also condoned homosexuality, it is a big promoter of “Pride Month.” So, much so that on June 27, 2021, Disney+ intends to stream “This is Me: Pride Celebration Spectacular” hosted by “Nina West” that stage name of Andrew Levitt, who was born male but now dresses and performs as a female–contrary to scriptures like Deuteronomy 22:5. Is Disney inviting the wrath of God? Were pride, sexual immorality, and going after “strange flesh” reasons that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed? What should parents and children do? What does the Bible teach? Dr. Thiel discusses and addresses these issues with scriptures and other information.

YouTube removed this video without asking. When I signed into my YouTube account, YouTube had up the following: 
Your content was removed due to a violation of our Community Guidelines


Because it’s the first time, this is just a warning. If it happens again, your channel will get a strike and you won’t be able to do things like upload, post, or live stream for 1 week. A second strike will prevent you from publishing content for 2 weeks. Three strikes in any 90-day period will result in the permanent removal of your channel.

We want to help you stay on YouTube, so please:

Make sure you understand YouTube’s Community Guidelines and strikes basics.
Review your content with our policies in mind. If after reviewing your content you think we made a mistake, let us know–you can appeal this decision.
Understand that this strike will expire after 90 days, and that deleting the video will not remove the strike.

So, we have been censored because we dared teach what the Bible says. 

You were censored because you had up an idiotic video filled with nonsensical personal opinions of yourself, not God. God is not part of Bwana Bob's so-called ministry.

YouTube also put up the following warning for me to see:

Community Guidelines strikes


Your content was removed due to a violation of our Community Guidelines.
Because it’s the first time, your account isn’t affected. You’re only warned once and this warning will remain on your channel.

If this happens again

Your channel will get a Community Guidelines strike.
You won’t be able to do things like upload, post, or live stream for 1 week.

Content removed

If you think we made a mistake, you can appeal this decision

This is Bwana Bob's response to Youtube Satan attacking him:

Here is what my appeal to YouTube states:

My video did not call for violence against any, but contained biblical warnings. Our church is nonviolent, pacifist. If YouTube does not believe in the same God those in our faith do, it should not care if we quote His word and/or apply it to modern circumstances. The Bible teaches that we are to “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1). Disagreeing on matters of morality is not hate speech. This video did not call for hatred of any group, but was intended to help parents who wish to raise their children within the bounds of biblical morality. Removing the video shows religious bias and opposition to the rights freedom of speech & religion and the free exercise thereof. Please reinstate.

No one in this entire world needs Bwana Bob telling parents how to raise their children, especially by someone so self-righteous as he is. Armstrongite cult leaders have been claiming for years that they are "crying aloud and sparing not" and all of them have nothing to show for it except bruised hurt ego's when people laugh at them. If they actually preached Jesus Christ and the works of salvation instead of hundreds of "thou shalt not's" that fill their shallow minds,  then maybe the Christian world they claim to be part of would be a better place.

Early Christianity: From Sabbath to Sunday: the Armstrongite narrative

Early Christianity: From Sabbath to Sunday

I recently penned a post for Banned by HWA that was published there under the banner “Quietly Dismissing Herbert Armstrong.” In reviewing some of the commentary which the post provoked, I was struck by how some folks have continued to accept Armstrong’s inaccurate/false narrative surrounding the early history of the Christian Church. According to the Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, the First Century Church universally observed the Sabbath. Moreover, he taught that Emperor Constantine (in cooperation with the Roman Church) changed the day of Christian worship from the Sabbath to Sunday.

The reasoning behind this narrative is almost as interesting and entertaining as the narrative itself. It goes something like this: 1) Scripture clearly records that Christ, his apostles, and the early saints continued to observe the Sabbath; 2) The existence of Constantine’s famous decree recognizing Sunday as a day of rest (and, by implication, worship) throughout the territories of the Roman Empire; and 3) The existence of several statements by Roman Catholics claiming responsibility for changing the Christian day of worship. Admittedly, this reasoning appears reasonable at first glance. However, while I wouldn’t dispute any of the three points which they have employed to generate their narrative, we would be remiss not to point out that these folks have ignored/excluded a whole lot of history to arrive at their conclusions about Sabbath to Sunday observance within the early Church.

It still seems foreign and strange to many Christians, but a consensus has developed over time among Biblical scholars that there were two forms of Christianity extant in the First Century (a Gentile and a Jewish variety). Moreover, the evidence for this, both within the New Testament and among other writings from the period, is pretty compelling. In the New Testament, the account we find there of the Jerusalem Council in the fifteenth chapter of Acts (and in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians) makes plain that there were real differences and tensions between the Jewish and Gentile branches of the Church. Likewise, other early Christian writings like the Didache and some of the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch underscore these differences.

When confronted with the evidence of the Jerusalem Council, many Armstrongites insist that the only issue at stake in those discussions was the Jewish ritual of circumcision. Scripture, however, clearly refutes such a notion. Now, in fairness, it is true that the whole controversy began with the insistence of some Jewish Christians that “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1) However, when Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to resolve the matter, we read: “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5) In other words, some of the Jewish Christians were insisting that Gentile converts to Christianity had to adopt and abide by the tenets of the Old Covenant outlined in the Torah.

After much discussion of the matter, Peter reminded the assembly that God had prompted him to share the gospel with the Gentiles. (Acts 15:7) A casual reading of this account could easily miss just how important this point was in comprehending the significance of what was happening. Unfortunately, as the first eleven chapters of the book of Acts make plain, the original twelve apostles had not fulfilled Christ’s instructions to take his message to all nations. In short, Peter and the other apostles had focused their evangelistic efforts almost exclusively on their Jewish brethren for the ten or so years following the end of Christ’s earthly ministry. Hence, it should not seem strange or incomprehensible to us that the earliest church was almost entirely Jewish in composition, nature, and ritual. As such, we can see that it was completely natural for these folks to continue to observe rituals that were familiar to them (like circumcision, the Sabbath, the Holy Days, clean and unclean meats, etc.).

It should also be remembered, though, that Gentiles had no such traditions, and that most of them were wholly unfamiliar with Jewish rituals and practices. In the account of the Jerusalem Council in the book of Acts, however, Peter points out that God had also chosen to give the Gentiles his Holy Spirit “even as he did unto us.” (Acts 15:8-9) He went on to point out that the insistence of these Jewish Christians that Gentiles adopt Jewish forms did not make sense in light of this fact. “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” he asked. (Acts 15:10) The clear implication being that Christ had fulfilled the requirements of the law on their behalf, because NONE of them (the Jews) had ever been able to do it!

In the account, James agrees with the points that Peter has made. He affirms that it was God who decided to offer salvation to the Gentiles through Christ, and he went on to remind the assembly that this had been prophesied to happen long ago. (Acts 15:13-18) As a consequence of these facts, James concluded: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:19-21) Notice that James specifically delineates only four items from the entire Torah which Gentile Christians should be required to observe and goes on to suggest that Moses already has enough adherents among the Jews!

Moreover, once again, the summary of the account makes plain that the assembly was dealing with a much more comprehensive question regarding the relationship of Gentile Christians to the requirements of the Torah than the simple matter of circumcision. The opening to the letter which the assembly sent to the Gentile Christians informing them of their decision makes this plain. We read: “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment…” (Acts 15:24) And the letter’s conclusion makes plain that the assembly has adopted James’ “sentence” regarding their obligations to the requirements of the Torah. We read: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” (Acts 15:28-29)

Hence, for the author of Acts, the rather substantial question of whether or not Gentile converts would be required to observe the tenets of the Law, was settled amicably and in short order. From Paul’s perspective, however, the question had never been completely and finally resolved – there were still plenty of Jewish Christians out there who believed that their Gentile brethren should be required to follow the same observances which they had followed all of their lives (and which they continued to follow as Christians).

This is made very clear in Paul’s letter to the saints of Galatia. Nevertheless, in comparing Paul’s perspective on what had happened at the Jerusalem Council, it is important to remember the context of Paul’s remarks. In short, Paul was extremely angry that Jewish Christians had had the audacity to contradict his teachings to the Gentiles. He opens the epistle by claiming his incredulity at the thought that any of his Galatian Christian converts would fall for this message (that they were obligated to observe the tenets of the Torah). He wrote: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Remember, Paul saw himself as the “Apostle of the Gentiles.” (Romans 11:13) Moreover, he believed that the message which he had brought to the Galatians had been given to him via a special revelation from Jesus Christ, and he made clear that he did not appreciate those Jewish Christians invading his territory and imposing their brand of Christianity on his converts! (Galatians 1:8-12) Paul then proceeded to give the Galatians a brief summary of his personal history in the Jewish faith and his interactions with the pillars of the Jewish Church after his conversion to demonstrate that those contacts had not made any significant contributions to his message. (Galatians 1:13-24) Now, of course, those folks had made significant contributions to Paul’s knowledge about Christ and his teachings (the notion that they didn’t is frankly absurd), but we must remember that when he wrote these things Paul was extremely angry with those Jewish Christians who had interfered with his work among the Galatians.

After he had vented some of his anger and frustration, Paul proceeded to give his account of what had transpired at the Jerusalem Council. He wrote that those “who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” (Galatians 2:6-10)

In this respect, the two accounts (Acts and Galatians) of what happened at the Jerusalem Council are the same: Both accounts suggest that some kind of accommodation between Jewish and Gentile Christians was reached as a consequence of that assembly – to live and let live. In other words, Paul understood that agreement to allow Jewish Christians to continue to observe the tenets of the Mosaic Law and to permit Gentile Christians to ignore them.

For Paul, however, the intrusion of those Jewish Christians among his sheep in Galatia had not only violated the understanding reached at the Jerusalem Council, it had also underscored the flawed premise of the theology of those Jewish Christians. He wrote: 

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:16-21)

Thus, as Paul’s missionary work among the Gentiles resulted in more and more conversions, we can see that tensions grew between the two branches of the Christian faith. In short, Jewish Christians must have felt the pressure of those greater numbers of Gentile Christians within the Church – that the proportion of Christians observing the tenets of the Mosaic Law continued to shrink. And we have all seen the tensions which America’s changing demographics have produced within our own population – So, it shouldn’t be hard for us to imagine similar group dynamics playing out within the early Church!

Thanks to the writings of the First Century Jewish historian, Josephus, we know that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. It would be hard to overestimate the devastating impact which those events would have had on the Jewish portion of the Church. As Jewish Christians continued to observe the tenets of the Mosaic Law and were in the habit of worshipping at the temple and in synagogues, it is highly unlikely that the conquering Romans would have made any distinction between those Christians and their Jewish brethren. In other words, Jewish Christians were scattered and persecuted by the Romans after those events in 70 CE (just like other Jews).

Hence, it is easy to see how Paul’s version of Christianity would have been in the ascendancy for the last thirty years of the First Century. In other words, by the close of that century, the vast majority of Christians were of the Gentile variety (not observing the tenets of the Mosaic Law). However, while it’s easy to imagine those circumstances, there is other evidence extant that the Gentile branch of Christianity had become the dominant variety by the close of this period. In short, there are other Christian writings from this period which support this narrative of what was happening within the Church. Unfortunately, many lay Christians are not only unfamiliar with the contents of these documents – they are completely unaware of the fact that they even exist!

There is a document known as The Didache (a Greek word for teaching or doctrine) which was probably written late in the First Century and was purported to represent the teachings of Christ’s apostles (see The Didache opens with a discussion of the way of life in juxtaposition to the way of death, and it expounds upon Christ’s teaching regarding the two great commandments (love for God and neighbor). The document also discusses the early practices of the Christian Church regarding things like baptism, fasting, prayer, and the Eucharist. Moreover, the document’s commentary about the organization of the Church (or rather the lack of discussion of a well-defined structure/hierarchy) makes plain that it came from this primitive era of Christianity. For our present purposes, however, the most important feature of The Didache is its insistence that Christians assemble on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) for fellowship and worship. In other words, the document takes it for granted that this is the proper day for Christian worship – there is no mention of the Sabbath!

Likewise, we have the writings of Ignatius of Antioch from late in the First Century and early in the Second Century to support this historical narrative about the two versions of Christianity. In his epistle to the saints of Philadelphia, Ignatius wrote: “But if anyone preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him. For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchers of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men.” (See For Ignatius, any Christians who were teaching the saints that they had to observe the Jewish law were clearly heretics.

In his epistle to the Magnesians, Ignatius wrote: “Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace.” Later in the same epistle, he wrote: “It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus, and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, that so every tongue which believeth might be gathered together to God.” (See

Writing sometime in the middle part of the Second Century, Justin Martyr also provided us with evidence of what was happening within the Church during this early period. In his First Apology, Justin Martyr wrote this about Christian worship in his time: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (See In other words, by the middle of the Second Century, it was considered standard practice for Christians to gather for fellowship and worship on Sunday!

As we have seen from both the biblical and the historical narrative, the Armstrongite narrative regarding the history of Sabbath to Sunday observance is false. The reality is that the vast majority of Christians had been observing Sunday for hundreds of years by the time that Constantine made his famous decree. In effect, the emperor was merely offering official recognition of what was already the practice of most of his Christian and pagan subjects. Likewise, the observance of Sunday by most Christians was already well-entrenched by the time that the Roman Church had acquired the power to enforce its authority over other Christians. Hence, the narrative that Constantine and/or the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for the abandonment of the Sabbath and the adoption of Sunday is shown to be a fiction pure and simple!

**Although I do not wish to convey the impression that I agree with all of the conclusions reached by these biblical scholars, I think that the works of folks like Gerd Ludemann, Bart Ehrman and James Tabor offer some interesting and helpful insights into this period of Christian history (Sorry, I'm not in the habit of name dropping, but scholars do offer some helpful insights for those of us who are truly desirous of understanding this critical period).

Lonnie Hendrix

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The New Face of The Greatest Church of God in Human History!

When this COG leader tries to impress the world, 
he always ends up looking like the south end of a northbound cow. 
Pretty much like the so-called "gospel" message he preaches.

ht to a reader here