Eras

The Plain Truth about Church Eras
The Plain Truth about Church Eras

Armstrongists should have quit while they were ahead: They should have just quietly withdrawn all the fabricated church history and simply admitted that the Sabbath keeping churches of God from which the Radio Church of God and later, the Worldwide Church of God, sprang from Gilbert Cranmer who was the acknowledged founder of the Church of God Seventh Day. He came, with others, out of the Great Disappointment of 1844, which was part of the Advent Movement but at the time, was not based in the Sabbath — the Sabbath keeping came afterward.

But the Armstrongists wanted legitimacy and what better way to establish it than by claiming that their own founder, Herbert Armstrong, was from a direct line of ordained men, reaching back through time to the very Apostles of the Christian church in the First Century A.D.? There is no such chain and no legitimate way of establishing it using history because the facts simply won’t support an unbroken line through the centuries. At best, there seems to be pockets of target Christians in small groups with less than credible history which could be strung together in fiction fantasy fashion to create the illusion of what was needed to establish legitimacy. They were ably helped by plagiarizing a church history from Dugger and Dodd who had plagiarized it from none other than Ellen G. White, who turned out to be something of a nut case. Gilbert Cranmer was not at all impressed by her and her husband who had founded the Seventh Day Adventists and attempted to rule over all the Christian Sabbath keepers in the United States at the time:

 …elder Cranmer then wrote to Battle Creek and requested a decision as to whether they considered him a minister, and as to his right to preach among them. The result of their conclusion in the matter was that they refused him the privilege of preaching to them or for them for the reason that he did not hold the visions of Ellen G. White to be inspired. Mr. Leighton said in our presence that the visions were inspired, that they were better than the Bible because they were warm and fresh from the throne of God, and that anyone who did not accept them as inspiration absolutely would be damned. The visions were made a test of fellowship from that time.

E.G. White was inspired, but not of God.

Here is Gilbert Cranmer’s letter published in The Hope of Israel, August 10th, 1863:

About ten years ago [1853] a Seventh-day Adventist minister, by the name of [Joseph] Bates, came to our town and advocated the whole Law, the gifts of the Spirit, and many other glorious truths. The gifts belonging to the Church, I had believed in for over twenty years. Hence I felt to rejoice, supposing I had found the people I had been so long looking for. He told me that the gifts were realized among them, that they had the gift of prophecy and the gift of healing the sick. But as long as I was with them I never knew of any being healed. I have known them to try but they always failed. In this I was disappointed. I also found the spirit of prophecy, with them, was confined wholly to a woman. By this time I became suspicious that I had gotten on board the wrong ship. I then commenced to giving her visions a thorough investigation. I found they contradicted themselves, and that they contradicted the Bible. My doubts concerning the visions I made known to the brethren. At once they gave me the cold shoulder, and I was held at bay. Not knowing any people I could unite with, I remained with them for years, hoping they would get sick of the visions of E.G. White, and that we could yet walk together in unity of spirit. But instead of rejecting them, as I hoped they would, they only drew the reins the tighter. At last I made up my mind I would not belong to a church that was ruled by a woman any longer. From that time the Bible has been my creed, with Christ at the head of the Church. I started alone, with my Bible in my hand. God has blessed my labors beyond my utmost expectations. We have some eight ministers and some hundreds of members in the state of Michigan. God has manifest His power among us in a wonderful manner.

Gilbert Cranmer [founder of the Church of God (seventh day)] 

 This is a link to The Journal for the Church of God Timeline 1830 to 1940.

It should be noted that the Church of God Seventh Day, Denver Conference, does not have nor does it support the theoretical church history in an unbroken line from the time of Jesus Christ on this earth: They know very well that no claim can be made, other than Gilbert Cranmer was the founder of the Church of God Seventh Day, began the Hope of Israel which later became the Bible Advocate, which has been around for 150 years or so now. [It should also be noted that while the Armstrongist churches are splintering and dividing, the Church of God Seventh Day is growing and has more members than the largest splinter of the Armstrongist movement today.] They know where they came from. The Armstrongists, on the other hand, don’t seem to want to know that they are heretics with a proven rebellious false prophet that came out of the Church of God Seventh Day with stupid ridiculous disproved ideas as British Israelism and church history — both and either of which completely disavows and overthrows any claim to being a legitimate. For those who are supposedly seeking the truth and even claiming, “Prove us wrong and we will change”, this is supremely ironic. No claim to the truth can be made as Armstrongist leaders, founders and ministers gloss over proof of their deceptions and strive to cover up the lies, particularly so their members cannot gain a foothold on the truth, so they can continue with their salaries, bolster their egos and claim retirement when they feel the time is right.

Instead of the truth, Armstrongists have fabricated the insane notion of Church Eras, unsupported by any legitimate history, manufacturing and warping ideas out of thin air. The whole silly idea of church Eras comes from their interpretation of Revelation 2 and Revelation 3, and then mapped against dubious unsupported history of obscure groups, some of whom are known never to have kept either the Sabbath or Holydays. There are supposedly seven Eras: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodocea. As opposed to being church Eras, the fact is that these were Gentile churches in Greece on a mail route. The Apostle John apparently wrote the book of Revelation (which was to be the Revelation of Jesus Christ to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass). If we read Revelation and take it for just what it says in the first three chapters, this epistle is written to the seven churches in Asia Minor to show them what was going to happen in their lifetime (which must shortly come to pass). Immediately we have a problem here because this is a book of, shall we say, limited vision, at least in the first three chapters. Indeed, if we look at the history of each of the cities in question, we see that the predictions did indeed come to pass against these cities (more or less). Laodocea was certainly most striking with its decline and fall.

But Herbert Armstrong and Dr. Herman L. Hoeh determined to make it seem that the Radio Church of God was the one and only true church from which no one could escape if they were to attain salvation, so they “borrowed” plagiarized materials, often copied word for word, to “prove” their legitimacy and make it very uncomfortable for anyone to ever even consider leaving the fold held together by the Great False Prophet. They had a lot to lose if the membership didn’t buy it. Therefore, they libeled and slandered the Church of God Seventh Day saying it was Sardis and had a name that it lived but was dead. If there were any truth to that, we would say that the Living Church of God is Sardis, because it has a name that it is Living, but under Roderick Meredith, it is quite dead, replete with dead works. Next, Armstrong / Hoeh (who was the first to declare Herbert Armstrong an apostle), declared that the Radio Church of God was the favored Philadelphian era. This is the sweet spot of the church eras, for there is nothing bad that Revelation has to say against them except to hold fast to the good things they already have. The truth is a lot more ugly. Then there are those damned (no, we really mean it — damned!) Laodoceans who are rich and increased in goods, think they have need of nothing (seeing as how they have the Sabbath and Holydays), but are poor, blind and naked. If that doesn’t describe the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong, we just don’t know what would.

Evidence for Eras by the Eternal Church of God is a typical Armstrongist foray into the Era argument fray with statements like:

One of the main traits of true believers is keeping the Ten Commandments. This the Waldenses did, including the seventh-day Sabbath. Some have argued that these people did not keep the Sabbath, but a number of historians document their seventh day observance.

What they don’t tell you is that “Sabbath” in some cases of the “historians document” refers to Sunday — viewed by Catholics as the Sabbath (having been changed from the Seventh Day by the Catholics because of Easter). Another thing they won’t tell you is that Peter Waldo and his followers never kept the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Holydays, but rather considered themselves good Roman Catholics who were concerned about how secular the Catholic Church had become. If they had bothered to contact the modern day Waldensians, the authors would have found that the Waldensians themselves never kept the Sabbath, in Peter Waldo’s time were Roman Catholics and became Protestants. The “documentation” presented is bogus, misleading and an outright deception — which they cover up by saying “Some have argued that these people did not keep the Sabbath” including the Waldensians themselves. Moreover, some of the 700+ Armstrongist cults even go so far that Sabbath keeping Waldensians kept the Sabbath and the Holydays centuries before Peter Waldo! This is tantamount to insisting that Scientologists were extant during Sir Isaac Newton’s time before L. Ron Hubbard because he was a scientist… or at least a mathematician.

Where did this scrap come from originally?

One only need look at Chapter 4 of The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan by Ellen G. White to determine the answer:

In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome there existed for many centuries bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly free from papal corruption. They were surrounded by heathenism and in the lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith and adhered to many of its truths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of God and observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Churches that held to this faith and practice existed in Central Africa and among the Armenians of Asia.

But of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost. In the very land where popery had fixed its seat, there its falsehood and corruption were most steadfastly resisted. For centuries the churches of Piedmont maintained their independence; but the time came at last when Rome insisted upon their submission. After ineffectual struggles against her tyranny, the leaders of these churches reluctantly acknowledged the supremacy of the power to which the whole world seemed to pay homage. There were some, however, who refused to yield to the authority of pope or prelate. They were determined to maintain their allegiance to God and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place. Those who adhered to the ancient faith now withdrew; some, forsaking their native Alps, raised the banner of truth in foreign lands; others retreated to the secluded glens and rocky fastnesses of the mountains, and there preserved their freedom to worship God.

The faith which for centuries was held and taught by the Waldensian Christians was in marked contrast to the false doctrines put forth from Rome. Their religious belief was founded upon the written word of God, the true system of Christianity. But those humble peasants, in their obscure retreats, shut away from the world, and bound to daily toil among their flocks and their vineyards, had not by themselves arrived at the truth in opposition to the dogmas and heresies of the apostate church. Theirs was not a faith newly received. Their religious belief was their inheritance from their fathers. They contended for the faith of the apostolic church,–“the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. “The church in the wilderness,” and not the proud hierarchy enthroned in the world’s great capital, was the true church of Christ, the guardian of the treasures of truth which God has committed to His people to be given to the world.

Among the leading causes that had led to the separation of the true church from Rome was the hatred of the latter toward the Bible Sabbath. As foretold by prophecy, the papal power cast down the truth to the ground. The law of God was trampled in the dust, while the traditions and customs of men were exalted. The churches that were under the rule of the papacy were early compelled to honor the Sunday as a holy day. Amid the prevailing error and superstition, many, even of the true people of God, became so bewildered that while they observed the Sabbath, they refrained from labor also on the Sunday. But this did not satisfy the papal leaders. They demanded not only that Sunday be hallowed, but that the Sabbath be profaned; and they denounced in the strongest language those who dared to show it honor. It was only by fleeing from the power of Rome that any could obey God’s law in peace.

The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon of the Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions. While, under the pressure of long-continued persecution, some compromised their faith, little by little yielding its distinctive principles, others held fast the truth. Through ages of darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome, who rejected image worship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempests of opposition they maintained their faith. Though gashed by the Savoyard spear, and scorched by the Romish fagot, they stood unflinchingly for God’s word and His honor.

There it is: Ellen G. White started the lie, Dugger and Dodd continued it and it was carried along by Herbert Armstrong.

It is a lie. The Armstrongists have known it is a lie since 1990 when I went to the library on campus at the University of Washington in Seattle and did research on John Trask (you don’t want to know — it’s too embarrassing!) and the Waldensians and sent the information to the Worldwide Church of God which they sidewise acknowledged in their magazine (we know it isn’t true, but we want to believe it anyway!). It’s been two decades and they haven’t changed their tired old deceptions. Others have done the research as well. They know. They just won’t acknowledge it because it destroys their legitimacy, leaving people no particularly good reason to believe a word they say or to stay with them to endure their insane heresies and false prophets.

Since you won’t acknowledge the truth because you believe that we will just go away and we can’t do anything to make you acknowledge the truth or take accountability, we, at the Painful Truth, have a new challenge for you which you would do well NOT to ignore. Instead of just making sure your congregants don’t bother to question you faux church history, you will have a newer, much bigger concern to address.

Now it is a case that one of your former ministers, Dennis Diehl, has called you on this and you have found it convenient to ignore him when he talks about the division between the Apostle Paul and Peter and divisions with the other Apostles, especially with John and James opposing them all and Dennis even casting aspersions on Jesus Christ more than suggesting that he was a Myth or rather Mithra. The Apostle Paul doesn’t seem to know about the virgin birth and neither does the Gospel writer Mark. Dennis seems to think that the Apostle Paul actually created Christianity from a whole cloth where it never existed before.

But what if it is worse than that?

Perhaps we should take a look at The Forged Origins of the New Testament by Tony Bushby © March 2007:

In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine united all religious factions under one composite deity, and ordered the compilation of new and old writings into a uniform collection that became the New Testament.

The information Tony Bushby provides comes straight from the Roman Catholic Church in the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is widely acknowledged that the Catholic Church preserved the New Testament. What no wants to acknowledge is that apparently the Roman Catholic Church created the New Testament. Here is a partial account of happened in the context of the Council of Nicaea:

Constantine’s intention at Nicaea was to create an entirely new god for his empire who would unite all religious factions under one deity. Presbyters were asked to debate and decide who their new god would be. Delegates argued among themselves, expressing personal motives for inclusion of particular writings that promoted the finer traits of their own special deity. Throughout the meeting, howling factions were immersed in heated debates, and the names of 53 gods were tabled for  discussion. “As yet, no God had been selected by the council, and so they balloted in order to determine that matter… For one year and five months the balloting lasted…” (God’s Book of Eskra, Prof. S. L. MacGuire’s translation, Salisbury, 1922, chapter xlviii, paragraphs 36, 41).

At the end of that time, Constantine returned to the gathering to discover that the presbyters had not agreed on a new deity but had balloted down to a shortlist of five prospects: Caesar, Krishna, Mithra, Horus and Zeus (Historia Ecclesiastica, Eusebius, c. 325). Constantine was the ruling spirit at Nicaea and he ultimately decided upon a new god for them. To involve British factions, he ruled that the name of the great Druid god, Hesus, be joined with the Eastern Saviour-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ), and thus Hesus Krishna would be the official name of the new Roman god. A vote was taken and it was with a majority show of hands (161 votes to 157) that both divinities became one God. Following longstanding heathen custom, Constantine used the official gathering and the Roman apotheosis decree to legally deify two deities as one, and did so by democratic consent. A new god was proclaimed and “officially” ratified by Constantine (Acta Concilii Nicaeni , 1618). That purely political act of deification effectively and legally placed Hesus and Krishna among the Roman gods as one individual composite. That abstraction lent Earthly existence to amalgamated doctrines for the Empire’s new religion; and because there was no letter “J” in alphabets until around the ninth century, the name subsequently evolved into “Jesus Christ”.

 Constantine instructed his representative, Eusebius to organize the compilation of new writings developed from primary aspects of religious texts: Keep the good and throw out the bad. Fifty copies were prepared. The New Testimonies would thereafter be called the “Word of Roman Savior God”. It’s always good to get your state religion straight and in order. The Roman Catholic Church knew of all of this:

The Church hierarchy knows the truth about the origin of its Epistles, for Cardinal Bembo (d. 1547), secretary to Pope Leo X (d. 1521), advised his associate, Cardinal Sadoleto, to disregard them, saying “put away these trifles, for such absurdities do not become a man of dignity; they were introduced on the scene later by a sly voice from heaven” (Cardinal Bembo: His Letters and Comments on Pope Leo X, A. L. Collins, London, 1842 reprint).

The Church admits that the Epistles of Paul are forgeries, saying, “Even the genuine Epistles were greatly interpolated to lend weight to the personal views of their authors” ( Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vii, p. 645). Likewise, St Jerome (d. 420) declared that the Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the New Testament, was also “falsely written” (“The Letters of Jerome”, Library of the Fathers, Oxford Movement, 1833–45, vol. v, p. 445).

A copy of the Sinai Bible was discovered in the 19th Century and was verified to have been compiled around 380 A.D. and shows positively that most of the New Testament is a forgery:

When the New Testament in the Sinai Bible is compared with a modern-day New Testament, a staggering 14,800 editorial alterations can be identified. These amendments can be recognised by a simple comparative exercise that anybody can and should do. Serious study of Christian origins must emanate from the Sinai Bible’s version of the New Testament, not modern editions.

Of importance is the fact that the Sinaiticus carries three Gospels since rejected: the Shepherd of Hermas (written by two resurrected ghosts, Charinus and Lenthius), the Missive of Barnabas and the Odes of Solomon. Space excludes elaboration on these bizarre writings and also discussion on dilemmas associated with translation variations.

Modern Bibles are five removes in translation from early editions, and disputes rage between translators over variant interpretations of more than 5,000 ancient words. However, it is what is not written in that old Bible that embarrasses the Church, and this article discusses only a few of those omissions. One  glaring example is subtly revealed in the Encyclopaedia Biblica (Adam & Charles Black, London, 1899, vol. iii, p. 3344), where the Church divulges its knowledge about exclusions in old Bibles, saying: “The remark has long ago and often been made that, like Paul, even the earliest Gospels knew nothing of the miraculous birth of our Saviour”.  That is because there never was a virgin birth.

 The Catholic Church can’t reconcile the New Testament with any kind of certainty:

Despite a multitude of long-drawn-out self-justifications by Church apologists, there is no unanimity of Christian opinion regarding the non-existence of “resurrection” appearances in ancient Gospel accounts of the story. Not only are those narratives missing in the Sinai Bible, but they are absent in the Alexandrian Bible, the Vatican Bible, the Bezae Bible and an ancient Latin manuscript of Mark, code-named “K” by analysts. They are also lacking in the oldest Armenian version of the New Testament, in sixth-century manuscripts of the Ethiopic version and ninth-century Anglo-Saxon Bibles. However, some 12th century Gospels have the now-known resurrection verses written within asterisks—marks used by scribes to indicate spurious passages in a literary document.

The Church claims that “the resurrection is the fundamental argument for our Christian belief” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. xii, p. 792), yet no supernatural appearance of a resurrected Jesus Christ is recorded in any of the earliest Gospels of Mark available. A resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ is the sine qua non (“without which, nothing”) of Christianity (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. xii, p. 792), confirmed by words attributed to Paul: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 5:17). The resurrection verses in today’s Gospels of Mark are universally acknowledged as forgeries and the Church agrees, saying “the conclusion of Mark is admittedly not genuine … almost the entire section is a later compilation” (Encyclopaedia Biblica, vol. ii, p. 1880, vol. iii, pp. 1767, 1781; also, Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. iii, under the heading “The Evidence of its Spuriousness”; Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, pp. 274-9 under heading “Canons”). Undaunted, however, the Church accepted the forgery into its dogma and made it the basis of Christianity.

There were significant omissions in the book of Luke:

Modern-day versions of the Gospel of Luke have a staggering 10,000 more words than the same Gospel in the Sinai Bible. Six of those words say of Jesus “and was carried up into heaven”, but this narrative does not appear in any of the oldest Gospels of Luke available today (“Three Early Doctrinal Modifications of the Text of the Gospels”, F. C. Conybeare, The Hibbert Journal, London,  vol. 1, no. 1, Oct 1902, pp. 96-113). Ancient versions do not verify modern-day accounts of an ascension of Jesus Christ, and this falsification clearly indicates an intention to deceive.

Today, the Gospel of Luke is the longest of the canonical Gospels because it now includes “The Great Insertion”, an extraordinary 15th-century addition totalling around 8,500 words (Luke 9:51–18:14). The insertion of these forgeries into that Gospel bewilders modern Christian analysts, and of them the Church said: “The character of these passages makes it dangerous to draw inferences” (Catholic Encyclopedia , Pecci ed., vol. ii, p. 407).

Just as remarkable, the oldest Gospels of Luke omit all verses from 6:45 to 8:26, known in priesthood circles as “The Great Omission”, a total of 1,547 words. In today’s versions, that hole has been “plugged up” with passages plagiarised from other Gospels. Dr Tischendorf found that three paragraphs in newer versions of
the Gospel of Luke’s version of the Last Supper appeared in the 15th century, but the Church still passes its Gospels off as the unadulterated “word of God” (“Are Our Gospels Genuine or Not?”, op. cit.)

 The Roman Catholic Church covered up this mess as best it could, but also admits it doesn’t know who wrote the books:

There is something else involved in this scenario and it is recorded in the Catholic Encyclopedia. An appreciation of the clerical mindset arises when the Church itself admits that it does not know who wrote its Gospels and Epistles, confessing that all 27 New Testament writings began life anonymously:

“It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the evangelists themselves … they [the New Testament collection] are supplied with titles which, however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of those writings.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, pp. 655-6)

The Church maintains that “the titles of our Gospels were not intended to indicate authorship”, adding that “the headings … were affixed to them” (Catholic  Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. i, p. 117, vol. vi, pp. 655, 656). Therefore they are not Gospels written “according to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John”, as publicly stated. The full force of this confession reveals that there are no genuine apostolic Gospels, and that the Church’s shadowy writings today embody the very ground and pillar of Christian foundations and faith. The consequences are fatal to the pretence of Divine origin of the entire New Testament and expose Christian texts as having no special authority. For centuries, fabricated Gospels bore Church certification of authenticity now confessed to be false, and this provides evidence that Christian writings are wholly fallacious.

Jesus or Mithra:

Mithra, one of a trinity, stood on a rock, the emblem of the foundation of his religion, and was anointed with honey. After a last supper with Helios and 11 other companions, Mithra was crucified on a cross, bound in linen, placed in a rock tomb and rose on the third day or around 25 March (the full moon at the spring equinox, a time now called Easter after the Babylonian goddess Ishtar). The fiery destruction of the universe was a major doctrine of Mithraism—a time in which Mithra promised to return in person to Earth and save deserving souls. Devotees of Mithra partook in a sacred communion banquet of bread and wine, a ceremony that paralleled the Christian Eucharist and preceded it by more than four centuries.

Christianity is an adaptation of Mithraism welded with the Druidic principles of the Culdees, some Egyptian elements (the pre-Christian Book of Revelation was originally called The Mysteries of Osiris and Isis ), Greek philosophy and various aspects of Hinduism.

 Is that really true?

Heck if I know: I’m not an historian.

But then, neither are any of the Armstrongists and that includes the erstwhile Dr. Hoeh.

Who knows?

But one thing is certain: Instead of spouting off about mythical church eras, those boys in the Cult of Armstrong had very well be getting down to work to prove the authenticity of the New Testament, rather than the authenticity of church eras. Church eras are completely unsupportable, of course, even if the New Testament is true. Nevertheless, you guys have a much bigger problem to resolve when your attendees and potential prospects start asking you about the validity of the New Testament.

Since you have all indicated that you have no need for my services, you guys are on your own: I’m not going to help you.

21 Replies to “Eras”

  1. Excellent article. Something to learn here besides the corruption in the cog’s which is evident to most all. Even the members who stay for the social value. If you can call socializing in a cog a value.

  2. Yes, James, socialization… about the same socialization within the Armstrongist churches of God as in prison (Ronald Weinland should be able to tell us about how the two are related shortly).

  3. Intriguing. Aside from the refutation of church eras and apostolic succession, I’ve never heard of most of this stuff. I am familiar with the proposed Mithra/Jesus connection, however, and it is apparently dubious–at least in its most direct formulation. I’ll have to look more at this New Testament stuff from Bushby et al. Thanks, Douglas.

  4. Well after reading this aeticle I just have to leave a comment about it.

    Perhaps we should take a look at The Forged Origins of the New Testament by Tony Bushby © March 2007:

    It would be far better to look at Bart Ehrman’s Forged: Writing in the Name of God and The New Testament: An Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings as they are peer-reviewed and are written by a man who is trained to in ancient languages, the culture of the time of the NT, the primary and secondary literature for the NT and who’ views the majority of critical scholars agree with unlike the author’s above.

    The author writes “In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine united all religious factions under one composite deity, and ordered the compilation of new and old writings into a uniform collection that became the New Testament.”

    The problem with the above is that Constantine never did that. What Constantine did was brought together the church Bishops so that they could debate and settle the issue of who Jesus was and what His relationship to God was. I see the above claim does not have any footnotes or end notes to it, so we can see what source backs up the claim made from the primary sources and the relevant scholarly literature.

    The author goes on to say “Constantine’s intention at Nicaea was to create an entirely new god for his empire who would unite all religious factions under one deity. Presbyters were asked to debate and decide who their new god would be. Delegates argued among themselves, expressing personal motives for inclusion of particular writings that promoted the finer traits of their own special deity. Throughout the meeting, howling factions were immersed in heated debates, and the names of 53 gods were tabled for discussion. “As yet, no God had been selected by the council, and so they balloted in order to determine that matter… For one year and five months the balloting lasted…” (God’s Book of Eskra, Prof. S. L. MacGuire’s translation, Salisbury, 1922, chapter xlviii, paragraphs 36, 41).

    Expect no church Historian says that nor does any critical scholars who has written on the Council of Nicaea or the formation of the New Testament cannon. The reason Constantine brought together the Council was that He wanted a unified Church and the debates about who Jesus was and His relationship to God (the main issue at the council) was causing disunity. It was not organized so the Bishops could decided who their new god would be nor was there any talk about what books would be in the New Testament ( see Bart Ehrman’s Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, pp. 15-16, 23, 93)

    Now let’s look at the sources the author puts forth for His claims. Does he reference the Primary sources (i.e the Letter from Eusebius back to his church at Caesarea, the description of the council by Eusebius, letters from Constantine and the Council, the 20 cannons) or any Scholarly literature that deals with the topic.

    No.

    What the author does give for his references is the Book of Eskra, written in the 19th century by a dentist named John Ballou Newbrough who said he produced it by automatic writing and it is said to contain “new revelations” from “…the Embassadors of the angel hosts of heaven prepared and revealed unto man in the name of Jehovih”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oahspe:_A_New_Bible

    Quoting fiction from a 19th century dentist is not historical evidence for what happened at the Council of Nicaea

    More from the Author, “At the end of that time, Constantine returned to the gathering to discover that the presbyters had not agreed on a new deity but had balloted down to a shortlist of five prospects: Caesar, Krishna, Mithra, Horus and Zeus (Historia Ecclesiastica, Eusebius, c. 325).
    Now notice how the author does not give any specific citation for the claim and the reason seems to be because nothing that is said above is in Historia Ecclesiastica by Eusebius as can be check by reading Eusebius online at

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2501.htm

    So it seems that author is just making things up or else he has been told this by someone else and has not bothered to check to see if it is accurate.

    Continuing “Constantine was the ruling spirit at Nicaea and he ultimately decided upon a new god for them. To involve British factions, he ruled that the name of the great Druid god, Hesus, be joined with the Eastern Saviour-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ), and thus Hesus Krishna would be the official name of the new Roman god. A vote was taken and it was with a majority show of hands (161 votes to 157) that both divinities became one God. Following longstanding heathen custom, Constantine used the official gathering and the Roman apotheosis decree to legally deify two deities as one, and did so by democratic consent. A new god was proclaimed and “officially” ratified by Constantine (Acta Concilii Nicaeni , 1618).”

    Now not only is know what is said above in any of the primary sources (the Letter from Eusebius back to his church at Caesarea, the description of the council by Eusebius, letters from Constantine and the Council, the 20 cannons) nor any scholarly works on this topic but what the author does reference for the claim is Acta Concilii Nicaeni , 1618 which does not even exist as it is not mentioned in any works that deal with the Council of Nicaea, Constantine, development of Christology etc. In fact a google search will reveal that it only ever come up from this article. So it seems that reference is non-existent and the author is just making things up in what he says.

    For more some easy to understand and free info about what happened at Nicaea (and how people misrepresented what happened there)see

    http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/nicaea.html

    “The Church admits that the Epistles of Paul are forgeries, saying, ”Even the genuine Epistles were greatly interpolated to lend weight to the personal views of their authors” ( Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vii, p. 645). Likewise, St Jerome (d. 420) declared that the Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the New Testament, was also “falsely written” (“The Letters of Jerome”, Library of the Fathers, Oxford Movement, 1833–45, vol. v, p. 445).”

    Now it seems that author is quoting things out of context to support his ideas. The quote above comes from Catholic Encyclopedia on Ignatius of Antioch found online here

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07644a.htm

    The quote comes from the section Collections and this is what it says. “The oldest collection of the writings of St. Ignatius known to have existed was that made use of by the historian Eusebius in the first half of the fourth century, but which unfortunately is no longer extant. It was made up of the seven letters written by Ignatius whilst on his way to Rome; These letters were addressed to the Christians

    of Ephesus (Pros Ephesious);
    of Magnesia (Magnesieusin);
    of Tralles (Trallianois);
    of Rome (Pros Romaious);
    of Philadelphia (Philadelpheusin);
    of Smyrna (Smyrnaiois); and
    to Polycarp (Pros Polykarpon).

    We find these seven mentioned not only by Eusebius (Church History III.36) but also by St. Jerome (De viris illust., c. xvi). Of later collections of Ignatian letters which have been preserved, the oldest is known as the “long recension”. This collection, the author of which is unknown, dates from the latter part of the fourth century. It contains the seven genuine and six spurious letters, but even the genuine epistles were greatly interpolated to lend weight to the personal views of its author. For this reason they are incapable of bearing witness to the original form. The spurious letters in this recension are those that purport to be from Ignatius”

    So the quote is not about Paul at all but about Ignatius. It seems the author is not checking his sources very well or is knowingly lying about them.

  5. Part 2

    Continuing on “When the New Testament in the Sinai Bible is compared with a modern-day New Testament, a staggering 14,800 editorial alterations can be identified. These amendments can be recognised by a simple comparative exercise that anybody can and should do. Serious study of Christian origins must emanate from the Sinai Bible’s version of the New Testament, not modern editions.

    Now the proper name for what the author is talking about above is Codex Sinaiticus (also known as Aleph or 01) and is called that because it was found at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mount Sinai and originally contained the both the Old and New Testament though half of the Old Testament has been lost, Most scholars would date it to have been written in 360 A.D. There are also differences between the manuscripts in Sinaiticus and later manuscripts (not modern New Testament as the modern NT is varies translations in varies Bibles using different manscripts) and some of the differences are passages not being in it (Mark not having 16:9-20 the resurrection appearances) spelling mistakes and different word order. But the differences cannot not be recognized by a simple comparative exercise that anybody can and should do because Sinaiticus and all other later manuscripts are written in Greek, so it takes a Knowledge if Greek to know the difference between the manuscripts. It seems that author does not know much about how Scholars of Christian origins and Textual Critics do their studies. To compare what the wording of the New Testament would have been scholars use the oldest Codices (which Sinaiticus is one) and the oldest Papyrus (such P46 has the oldest manuscripts of the Paul’s letters, dated to between 150-250 A.D)

    Standard works that show how Textual Criticism works

    Nestle, Eberhard; Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament

    Epp, Eldon J. and Fee, Gordon D; Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism

    Metzger, Bruce; A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament

    Ehrman,Bart an Metzger, Bruce; The Text of the New Testament: It’s Transmission, Corruption and Restoration

    Continuing with what Sinaiticus contains “Of importance is the fact that the Sinaiticus carries three Gospels since rejected: the Shepherd of Hermas (written by two resurrected ghosts, Charinus and Lenthius), the Missive of Barnabas and the Odes of Solomon. Space excludes elaboration on these bizarre writings and also discussion on dilemmas associated with translation variations.”

    I am guessing the real reason the author does not elaborate about these works is because he does not know much about them. Firstly while he gets the name of first work right , the second is actually called the Epistle of Barnabas and the Odes of Solomon is not in Sinaiticus. Secondly none of these works are Gospel’s. In the Shepherd of Hermas it is said that Hermas , a former slave, is granted five visions and is also followed by twelve mandates and ten parables. Nowhere is to said to be written by two resurrected ghosts named Charinus and Lenthius.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/shepherd.html

    Now the Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek Epistle and it could have been intended for a specific community or it could have been a general treatise and tries to show how Christians are the true covenant people (that the Jews never were) against Christians who wanted to keep the Law

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/barnabas.html

    Going on “Modern Bibles are five removes in translation from early editions, and disputes rage between translators over variant interpretations of more than 5,000 ancient words. However, it is what is not written in that old Bible that embarrasses the Church, and this article discusses only a few of those omissions. One glaring example is subtly revealed in the Encyclopaedia Biblica (Adam & Charles Black, London, 1899, vol. iii, p. 3344), where the Church divulges its knowledge about exclusions in old Bibles, saying: “The remark has long ago and often been made that, like Paul, even the earliest Gospels knew nothing of the miraculous birth of our Saviour”. That is because there never was a virgin birth.”

    I don’t know where the author is getting the idea that there is disputed between scholars about 5,000 ancient words but if I have to guess I would say he (or whoever he got his info from) is confusing 5,000 ancient words with the fact we have over 5,000 manuscripts of the books of the Greek New Testament and that there a differences between them. But the one good thing above is that the author gets someone right for a change and that the earliest Gospel (Mark) does not a virgin birth in it (like Paul) and presents an adoptionist Christology in which Jesus is adopted as God’s Son at His Baptism (like Paul who has an adoptionist Christology expect in Paul we have Jesus being adopted as God’s Son at His resurrection).

    “Despite a multitude of long-drawn-out self-justifications by Church apologists, there is no unanimity of Christian opinion regarding the non-existence of “resurrection” appearances in ancient Gospel accounts of the story. Not only are those narratives missing in the Sinai Bible, but they are absent in the Alexandrian Bible, the Vatican Bible, the Bezae Bible and an ancient Latin manuscript of Mark, code-named “K” by analysts. They are also lacking in the oldest Armenian version of the New Testament, in sixth-century manuscripts of the Ethiopic version and ninth-century Anglo-Saxon Bibles. However, some 12th century Gospels have the now-known resurrection verses written within asterisks—marks used by scribes to indicate spurious passages in a literary document.”

    Now the author in the above seems to be getting confused about the Gospel accounts in The Four Great Codices (Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Epraemi Rescriptus). In each of these Codices they have the four Gospels and like in other manuscripts you have Jesus being resurrected and appearing to his followers in Matthew, Luke and John. But in Mark chapter verses 9-20n of Chapter 16 is omitted and it ends in verse 8. So unlike latter manuscripts which have Jesus appearing to his followers we have the women coming to the tomb, finding it empty and a man in a white robe in it who tells the women that Jesus has been risen and to go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before them to Galilee and they will see him there and the women leave and don’t tell anyone because they are afraid. It is not the as the author seems to imply in the above that in the earliest manuscripts all the Gospels don’t have the resurrection appearances only that the earliest versions of Mark don’t.

    “Today, the Gospel of Luke is the longest of the canonical Gospels because it now includes “The Great Insertion”, an extraordinary 15th-century addition totalling around 8,500 words (Luke 9:51–18:14). The insertion of these forgeries into that Gospel bewilders modern Christian analysts, and of them the Church said: “The character of these passages makes it dangerous to draw inferences” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Pecci ed., vol. ii, p. 407).”

    Once again we have the author not checking his facts. Here is what is omitted in the Luke from the The Four Great uncial Codices.

    Codex Sinaiticus: Luke 9:55b-56a; 17:36
    Codex Vaticanus: Luke 17:36; 22:43-44
    Codex Alexandrinus: Luke 22:43-44
    Codex Epraemi Rescriptus: Instead of what is omitted here is what is left in the remaining Luke manuscript (parts of it and other books have been lost) 1:1–2; 2:5–42; 3:21–4:25; 6:4–36; 7:17–8:28; 12:4–19:42; 20:28–21:20; 22:19–23:25; 24:7–45.

    So there is no evidence that Luke 9:51–18:14 is an 15th century addition to the text.It also seems from the above that the author is again misquoting things as the quote is from the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on Lights and in context say this.

    “In like manner, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, towards the end of the same century, observes: “Let not our dwelling-place blaze with visible light and resound with minstrelsy, for this indeed is the custom of the Greek holy-month, but let us not honour God with these things and exalt the present season with unbecoming rites, but with purity of soul and cheerfulness of mind and with lamps which enlighten the whole body of the Church, i.e. with divine contemplations and thoughts” (Orat., v, 35). The rhetorical character of such passages makes it dangerous to draw inferences. It may well be that the writers are merely protesting against the illuminations which formed part of the ordinary religious cultus of the emperors, and wish to state forcibly the objections against a similar practice which was beginning to find favour among Christians.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Ahi5I3La6h4J:www.newadvent.org/cathen/09244b.htm+The+character+of+these+passages+makes+it+dangerous+to+draw+inferences&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

    “Mithra, one of a trinity, stood on a rock, the emblem of the foundation of his religion, and was anointed with honey. After a last supper with Helios and 11 other companions, Mithra was crucified on a cross, bound in linen, placed in a rock tomb and rose on the third day or around 25 March (the full moon at the spring equinox, a time now called Easter after the Babylonian goddess Ishtar). The fiery destruction of the universe was a major doctrine of Mithraism—a time in which Mithra promised to return in person to Earth and save deserving souls. Devotees of Mithra partook in a sacred communion banquet of bread and wine, a ceremony that paralleled the Christian Eucharist and preceded it by more than four centuries.

    Christianity is an adaptation of Mithraism welded with the Druidic principles of the Culdees, some Egyptian elements (the pre-Christian Book of Revelation was originally called The Mysteries of Osiris and Isis ), Greek philosophy and various aspects of Hinduism.”

    1 There no tradition of Mithra where is he is ever considered part of a trinity.

    2 There is also no tradition which has Mithra eat a last supper with, get crucified on a cross , bound in linen, placed in a rock tomb and rose on the third day.

    The majority of people who think that Christianity is an adaptation of of Mithraism are pseudo-scholars and Jesus Mythers who have little or no training in ancient languages, the culture of the time of the NT, the primary and secondary literature for the NT and can’t submit their works to reputable peer-review Journals.

    Douglas wrote “Is that really true?
    Heck if I know: I’m not an historian.”

    No, the majority of what is said in the article is not true and the author seems to make up claims, quote old and outdated Catholic Encyclopedia’s (and when he does this he takes what is said out of context and sometimes the article is about something completely different then what the author is talking about) a work of fiction from a 19th century dentist that is supposed to contain relations from God, works that don’t exist and ignores the primary literature and the Scholarly literature on this topic. This man seems to be to Christian Origins studies what a creationist is to real science: a man who has no idea what he is talking about nor is trained in the relevant fields claiming things that have no support to them and what he does quoted he misrepresents and takes out of contexts. People should spend their time reading works by real scholars who are trained to talk about this subject and whose views make up the scholarly consensus

  6. I did a Google search using the words “Hesus Krishna”, and there are numerous sites containing the basic core of what Douglas has presented to us here.

    I confess to being skeptical on several levels. First, where did this information “suddenly” come from? In all of the years I’ve been aware of the Nicean Council, many things both true and false have been stated about what supposedly happened at this event, but I’m not aware of this “Hesus Krishna” ever having been mentioned. Something so powerful and incendiary, you would have expected to have been broadcast from 100 Watt Marshalls perched on every treetop.

    Here at Painful Truth in our own eclectic collection of information, I believe that in the past the “best” we’ve been able to come up with on this topic has been the story of Apollonius of Tyanna, and the theory that the life of Jesus Christ was a composite partially based on Apollonius. That theory pales into insignificance when compared to the massive conspiracy theory behind “Hesus Krishna”. It’s perfectly obvious that WCG conditioned us to be susceptible to conspiracy theories, and in some cases I believe that conditioning persists in post-WCG life.

    When you ponder the enormity and complexity of such a conspiracy, many, many questions come to mind. Here are a few of them:

    How did so many cultures around the world begin a new way of reckoning time starting from the year zero? What do we do with the things which appear to be well established in secular history, such as the various Roman emperors torturing and martyring the followers of Jesus Christ long before the Nicean Council? If in fact, the Catholics had fabricated Jesus from wholecloth, so much history would need to have been backwritten. The New Testament, although perhaps the most prominent collection purporting to be from the first century is not the only set of documents which would have required forging. All of the writings of the early church fathers would have to have been forged as well! Irenaeus, Origen, John Chrysostom, Polycarp, Athanasius, Eusebius, Ignatius, Polycrates and their numerous other colleagues all had distinct personalities and were from diverse backgrounds. Their thinking and writing styles would need to have been carefully concocted and forged. In many cases individual writings are indicative of a higher level of education and intellect than that of the early apostles, most of whom were blue collar tradesmen. And, why would these first, second, and third century leaders so preoccupied with dealing with various heresies? Why are there so many surviving manuscripts from that period, with more being discovered even in our own era? Why does this transcend cultures, so that there are versions of the New Testament in Syriac, Ethiopic, and other languages? In some cases even the canon differs from Christian culture to Christian culture, with the Syriac and Ethiopic not having certain books from the Orthodox canon commonly used today in the Western world, although the common books are amazingly similar, and often amplify one another?

    If Jesus was a created myth, what about the heresies, such as Gnosticism which grew from first century Christianity and came into its own during the second century? How about those “outtakes” from the New Testament Canon, such as the Gnostic gospels and other “lost” books? If you were attempting to create a bogus religious system, what would be the purpose of bogus gospels and epistles outside of the official bogus collection? Whether we consider these additional books to be valueless, or as providing additional insights, doesn’t their mere existence give its own testimony to some degree? And, why does even the Koran, written about a millennium later, reference Jesus, although His Muslim name is Isa, and he is revered not as Savior but as a prophet? Remember the Muslim world was considered to be very advanced during the Dark Ages, as they were not under the restrictions of the Roman empire.

    When was the term “Catholic” (meaning universal) first applied to Christians? Late second or third century? What about early doctrinal disputes amongst Christians which predated the Nicean Council, such as the Quatro Decimen Controversy, to say nothing of early controvesy regarding the sabbath? Can we count on the “fact” that the Romans actually did destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD? Did Nero burn Rome and blame the followers of Jesus Christ, or was Hesus Krishna backwritten into this as well? It occurs to me that in order to believe the Hesus Krishna conspiracy theory, you have to reject all available historic records from the first three and a half centuries, not just the New Testament.

    In creating a fake set of documents and then canonizing them, the Romans would need to have been intimately familiar with Jewish geneologies, so that the lineage of Christ could seem authentic. They would also need to have detailed understanding of the laws of the Torah, and the Pharisaic nuances which are evident throught the NT. We must remember that the Romans considered both Jews and Christians alike to be atheists, simply because they did not worship either the emperor or the Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses.

    The factors I’ve enumerated above just begin to scratch the surface. I seriously doubt whether the Soviet Union would have been capable of orchestating such a conspiracy at the height of the cold war, and we know that even the secrets they did suppress have come out into the open, having remained secret only for a few decades!

    Constantine did his work in stages. he officially outlawed the persecution, torture, and martyrdom of Christians. He is said to have converted to Christianity after seeing a cross in the clouds in the midst of a military battle of which he became the victor. We know that in his efforts to make Christianity inclusive, and to sell it to the pagans, he incorporated familiar elements of paganism into his new state religion. I believe that rather than manufacturing Jesus, he may have invoked the familiar names of Hesus and Krishna as a technique to familiarize and sell the concept of Jesus to Roman pagans. But, there is simply too much history and too strong logic countering the idea that Constantine invented Jesus. Anyone who has gone to the effort of studying available historical documents from the first few centuries would tell you the same thing. I don’t believe it’s time to use my New Testament as toilet tissue just yet!

    BB

  7. Do I personally believe Tony Bushby?

    What is important here is that I disproved the Eras nonsense and then went to put the Armstrongists on the defensive because they never even acknowledge anything that shows them to be wrong, let alone answer the challenge.

    Dennis Luker, Barney… oops, I mean, Jim Franks, Roderick Meredith, Bobby Thiel (assuredly, someone with a PhD should be able to answer the challenge coherently, instead of carrying on a bromance with Karl zu Guttenberg), Davey Pack, John Rittenbaugh, Gerald Flurry, Mark Armstrong, Ronald Weinland (he’ll lots of time to write a book in prison defending the New Testament) and a whole host of names (700 of them) who are “defenders of the faith”, many of whom are “The End Time Apostle” should have the wisdom and faith as well as the Divine Intervention to answer any and all charges coherently, logically, with absolute proof convincingly.

    Should is the operative word. We all know here they are clueless sycophant hirelings who have a prewritten script from which they do not know how to deviate, unless it is in the sociopath way of self-aggrandizement and profit.

    I would be extremely unhappy if good folks like Byker Bob solved this little problem for them: Hey, it’s their problem, not yours.

    At the end I indicated that I COULD give them help if I chose to. I do not choose to. Anyway, it’s their job.

    And if they are thinking to themselves that they can just ignore this rhino in the bathroom, let the Armstrongist leaders know that they’ve already lost thousands of people to atheism and agnosticism because they can’t answer these questions which have a legitimate base.

    Tony Bushby advocates British Israelism? That’s just nuts if he really does. Say, you know, the Armstrongists should attack his work on the grounds that he can’t be true since he advocates British Israelism which has been thoroughly disproved to be absolutely ridiculous. If the Bible is a Fraud then who cares about 10 lost tribes of Israel, six of which are actively mentioned in the New Testament? Right. The New Testament is a forgery which has no substance. I’m not certain either Bushby or the Armstrongists can work their way out of that one.

    This also introduces a new concept to Armstrongism: Armstrongists are wicked and evil as well as stupid, filled with avarice.

    New to them, at least.

  8. This is good stuff. I enjoyed reading it. I have also pointed out the obviousl logic from statements such as Matthew 24:23 and Romans 8:7, as well as studying into rabbinical ideas. It’s easy enough to see that what we call christianity was ma nufa ctured, but since Jesus(if there was such a person) was a Jew, then the whole study of his ideas would focus on evolution of Jewish concepts, not the crap Constantine helped create. That’s why I began studying law and the ancient concepts that developed our laws(common and civil) today.

  9. Hello Douglas.

    You said “What is important here is that I disproved the Eras nonsense and then went to put the Armstrongists on the defensive because they never even acknowledge anything that shows them to be wrong, let alone answer the challenge.”

    Yes Church Eras nonsense is bullshit and you would of very likely put a lot (or most) in the Church of God groups on the defensive with the article by Tony Bushby but that would not change the fact that the article by bullshit is filled with more bullshit (as I showed in my two comments I posted but both are still in moderation for some reason) then most of HWA’s books. Instead of quoting a pseudo-scholar it would have been better to quote work(s) by actually scholars whose area of studies is New Testament and Christian origins research that shows that there a problems with a good deal of books in the New Testament and the disagreements between them.

    “Dennis Luker, Barney… oops, I mean, Jim Franks, Roderick Meredith, Bobby Thiel (assuredly, someone with a PhD should be able to answer the challenge coherently, instead of carrying on a bromance with Karl zu Guttenberg), Davey Pack, John Rittenbaugh, Gerald Flurry, Mark Armstrong, Ronald Weinland (he’ll lots of time to write a book in prison defending the New Testament) and a whole host of names (700 of them) who are “defenders of the faith”, many of whom are “The End Time Apostle” should have the wisdom and faith as well as the Divine Intervention to answer any and all charges coherently, logically, with absolute proof convincingly”

    Well technically in Historical research you don’t prove things absolutely convincingly but instead through research you determine which theory has the most probability in explaining the evidence we have. But yes if the people above are suppose to be leaders in the Church of God groups and claim to know the Bible (not to mention be Apostles and Prophets of God) then they should be able to answer questions like these and also the objections by real scholars that actually have a basis in reality.

    “Tony Bushby advocates British Israelism? That’s just nuts if he really does. Say, you know, the Armstrongists should attack his work on the grounds that he can’t be true since he advocates British Israelism which has been thoroughly disproved to be absolutely ridiculous. If the Bible is a Fraud then who cares about 10 lost tribes of Israel, six of which are actively mentioned in the New Testament? Right. The New Testament is a forgery which has no substance. I’m not certain either Bushby or the Armstrongists can work their way out of that one.”

    Yes he does advocate British Israelism as can be seen in reading the book of his I referenced (British Israelism is also in one or two other of his books as well) but that is not his main problem. As I wrote in my two posts that are still in moderation some of his problems are these.
    1 He makes claims that no Scholar whose area of research is the formation of New Testament cannon, Christian Origins, Council of Nicaea supports or does he quote from scholars who have written on these topics.

    2 To support his claims he quotes old version of the Catholic Encyclopedia’s and when he does this he takes what is said out of context and does not tell the reader that where the quote comes from does not have anything to do with his claims (such as the quote about Paul’s letter’s being forgeries actually coming from the section on Ignatius and referring to Ignatius genuine letters being interpolated).

    3 One reference he give come from Book of Eskra, written in the 19th century by a dentist named John Ballou Newbrough who said he produced it by automatic writing and it is said to contain “new revelations” from “…the Embassadors of the angel hosts of heaven prepared and revealed unto man in the name of Jehovih.

    4 Quotes from a non-existent work (Acta Concilii Nicaeni 1618)

    5 Claims that in Historia Ecclesiastica by Eusebius this is found “At the end of that time, Constantine returned to the gathering to discover that the presbyters had not agreed on a new deity but had balloted down to a shortlist of five prospects: Caesar, Krishna, Mithra, Horus and Zeus”.

    None of that is found in Historia Ecclesiastica by Eusebius as can be checked by reading the it online (as all of the it is online in english)

    These are just some of the many errors in the article.

  10. William, of course. People just make up stuff. And then they expect us to just accept it because we believe them and they seem to have some sort of credibility, particularly when they have references. It may be that they just made up the references, but still, you should believe them because they are AUTHORITIES for some reason unbenownst to people who really are (I will address this in the next article, “Brilliant”).

    New Testament Scripture says, prove all things. These days, good luck with that: As you say, it’s tough to prove that the report of the local town meeting in the local newspaper is accurate (even when you attended), let alone what happened on the grassy knoll in the 1960s, or, perish the thought, what happened in the Fourth Century (with written accounts by obviously biased sources with an axe to grind).

    This is all caveat emptor: These days, no one should take anything religious people say at face value, particularly if they are in a cult and particularly if the cult of Herbert Armstrong (one of the 700, anyway).

    Where are those Defenders of the Faith??!?? Gird up your loins, grab your sword (and other reference works) and prove yourself herewith for the glory and the honor of the Lord!!!!

    Or just go back to sleep hoping this all goes away, while mail receiving gathers the checks and deposits them in your personal bank account.

  11. I go by a very basic rule: If it makes sense, most anyone can figure it out eventually, so there’s no reason to believe it has divine origins. If it doesn’t make sense, you shouldn’t believe it anyway.

  12. I’ve observed many thinking processes amongst the people who participate in these blogs and forums over the years, and there are several patterns.

    I think there has always been a subset who trust the Greek scriptures less than they do the Hebrew ones. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but I’ve deduced from Dr. James Tabor’s writings that he has gravitated towards Judaism as a result of his studies. I believe he sees Jesus not as someone who starts a new religion, but someone with a deep appreciation for the “original”, and becomes an elucidator. The “one God” people tend to fall into this same loose category because they do not believe that Jesus was God. Basically, this takes the role of “savior” out of the equation, and in reality, I suppose these people should be using genetics to find the Levites so that animal sacrifices can be reinstituted so that their sins can be forgiven.

    There is also the Jefferson approach. Massive redacting of the incredible, leaving one with a supposedly trustworthy core. Voila! The Jefferson Bible. Some I’ve corresponded with, once they feel they’ve dispatched the New Testament, will go after the Old, which the New frequently quotes (albeit from the Septuagint), and Jesus sometimes validates (by referring to Adam, etc.) At the logical conclusion, with no Bible at all, this leaves individuals with the task of creating their own code of conduct, without the concept of sin, and without a savior. Some do well with this, while others run amuck.

    I like to go after primary source materials rather than a quote from somebody who has quoted somebody else, who had in turn quoted yet an earlier source. But, those can be difficult to find, and even then are subject to the questioning process involved in finding truth. Unless you can find the primary source, the context becomes nebulous or lost. Just what is history, and what is the primitive equivalent of historical fiction? Often a tip-off can be some sort of agenda. Tacitus, Julius Africanus, and Josephus are noted historians from the early centuries of Christianity, but their writings are all subject to further evaluation. Some have noted that Josephus seems to have been co-opted by the Romans, but the claim is also made that his references to John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James were clumsily inserted later, perhaps by some disingenuous Christians. Others claim that Josephus was a follower of Jesus himself.

    Jesus appears to conform to OT prophecy, yet failed to meet Jewish expectations, which is why they largely passed on him. They expected a powerful zealot and conqueror to release them from oppression, not a suffering philosopher who did miracles. For the same reasons, they would probably have rejected Mithra or Zoroaster, individuals whose lives have more in common with the Jesus of the New Testament as opposed to the Jesus of popular Jewish expectations.

    I’ve come to my own conclusions, and I’m not necessarily saying that they are correct, truth, or the only view. But, I do find a code of conduct in the NT which has improved my own life, and my relationships with others. I’m one of those who did run amuck for years, as my code of conduct tended towards anarchy. I was an intimidator, and a mass retaliator. A lot of this stemmed from the anger which I had remaining from my WCG childhood, from the lies and disappointment of 1975, intrusive authoritarianism, and other elements of Armstrongism. I probably even had PTSD for decades over all of this. A spiritual experience is by nature highly personalized. If it were not, it would be meaningless. I believe that those who would formulize it all are doing more harm than good. Armstrongism is an extreme religion, with horrid elements which actually stifle any type of spiritual enlightenment or experience. It’s like self-flagellation, or climbing up miles of rock steps on your knees. I commend Douglas for his attempts to shake Armstrongites up, but unfortunately, I think most people who leave will have to experience extreme bad at the hands of those whom they trust before their attention can be refocussed.

    BB

  13. People will believe what they believe. Godel’s theorem tells us that in the most formal search for truth, you will end with an infinity of un decideable propositions. Can’t get there from here. If God is equivalent to truth, therefore, you will end with the same splintering and speciating of ideas. Bilically, you have scriptures co nsistent with this, such as 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, Isaiah 55:8, Romans 8:7, Ephesians 2:8-10, and Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 24:23.

    If Romans 8:7 is true, then the search for God must end up in the same infinite splintering as Godel’s theorem predicts for the search for truth. Since this is true mathematically, there is no reason to assume we would not end up with the same conclusions Biblically. This tells us there is no algorithm or decision procedure by which we may get from “here” to “God” in any provable way, which leaves us with the conclusin that if there is a God, then “He” is doing the “deciding”. That is precisely the conclusion we get from reading the book of Romans, chapters 8 and 9. In fact, Paul seems to go to great lengths to point this out repeatedly, not only from Romans 8 and 9, but from Ephesians 1. “Works” do not earn salvation, and while James says he shows faith by works, he does not say he shows salvation by works, a nd the “works” he lists for a pure, un defiled religion, is quite logically stated in James 1:27. This does not require a divine authority, any more than the statements about love in the three books of John. It boils down to logic and reason. Neither religion nor go vernment can provide our solutions for us. It’s about what we do as individuals each and every day, no proofs, no guarantees, no special dispensations, nothing but everyday acts of decency toward others, giving the very best we can. Would you still strive to do what is right if there is no proof of God? If I were God, that would be the question I would pose by the very nature of existence.

  14. Hello Douglas.

    Can I ask what other little nit-picks do you have?

    At least newer versions of the Catholic Encyclopaedia get entries updated so they would contain more relevant information, but it is still a poor substitute for peer-reviewed works by scholars who have written on these topics which is what should be given as references (and quoted in context).

  15. William, in theory at least, the older the source the closer it should be to the actual historical reality, but it doesn’t work that way.

    When I was in the Catholic Parochial High School, I spent many happy hours (as a baptized Lutheran with exposure to Herbert Armstrong’s Radio Church of God, watching people bow down before graven images) studying the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    One such excursion found the account of Galileo, who was persecuted for his heresy that the earth was not the center of the universe. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, the authors recounted that the Roman Catholic Church apologized for their error… 400 years after the fact (better late than never? I don’t think so).

    So sometimes the historical record captured right at the moment and preserved for posterity is the platinum standard and successive revisions contaminate the written record. On the other hand, sometimes, through the evolution of time, particularly with the development of scientific discovery, there is a more perfect record in more recent investigations.

    It’s a mixed bag.

    And for all the effort we put forth, a lot of our history beyond the last 200 years or so is sort of like quantum physics: A sort of distillation of statistical probabilities that resolve into what we think is reasonable to observe as a fuzzy cloud of information.

    It is also possible that we will never have what even comes close to approximating the truth. If we were to rely on Armstrongists, there would always be the lost 10 tribes (which there aren’t) and British Israelism would stand as proven (which it never can — especially with what we know about linguistics, archeology, history, failed prophecy based on it, the Scriptural record itself and DNA).

    Yet people just make stuff up and unless you can nip it in the bud at the source, sometimes it just goes on expanding like the universe: Armstrongism is one such phenomenon and Scientology is another (and in some ways they rather look like each other in terms of process).

  16. William, you will find that WordPress has this predilection that you can get by with a single Internet link, but include several, and you will be automatically be relegated to moderation.

    It’s nothing personal.

    And… (sigh) sometimes it takes awhile to getting around to approving the moderated comments.

    Good effort on your part though.

    I am annoyed though that you would take on the topic and render an answer, since I wanted to position Armstrongists into the uncomfortable position of having questions they could not answer when their membership came knocking at their door. Just where is “Does God Exist”, “The Proof of the Bible” (Old Testament only, as it turns out and a sloppy job at that), “Seven Poofs (yes, Poofs!) God Exists”, and “The Proof of the Legitimacy of the New Testament in Spite of Supposed Evidence to the Contrary”. Where are they?

    Instead, we get “Evidence of Eras”.

    What crap.

  17. The main flaw, yet the most necessary “proof”, was that there actually existed me n who DID represent God, and that it could be traced somehow to the present day. This, however, will not stand up to New testament analysis, let alone statements by historians.

    Since Bart Ehrman was referenced, Ehrman also points out that if you wa nt to understa nd paul’s concept of the gospel, look at the book of Romans. Most scholars agree on this point.However, even o ne of Ehrman’s skills can make obviously logical mistakes. For example, In his book “Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene”, he writes:

    “In Acts, ‘Paul’ indicates that God overlooks the error of the pagans in committi ng idolatry, since after all, they are ignorant of his existence and don’t know any better. In Ro mans, Paul says just the opposite: God does not forgive the pagans but pours out his wrath on them, because they know full well that he is the only God and they reject this innate knowledge in order to worship idols”.

    This in fact is a terrible misinterpretation of Romans 1. It is easily shown that Paul was never referri ng to pagans in that context, but most simply refer to Romans 1:20 and assume it means all people. However, one only needs to look at the preceeding verse, 19, to realize this is flawed:
    “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: For GOD HATH SHEWED IT TO THEM”.

    Therefore, whomever Paul was referring to in this passage, it had to be shown. So, to whom was he referring? One only has to look to Deuteronomy 4:35: “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God”. This referred to ancient Israel, not the pagans. Ehrman simply assumed the general idea was true. A further co ntradiction can be shown in verse 17: ” the just shall live by faith”. If it is innate and obviously revealed to all, there is no need for faith , but Paul has carefully pointed out that this truth had to be shown, and in reference to Deuteronomy, we know to whom it was shown. Their main flaw, as shown by Paul, was the same flaw codemn ed by jesus of the Pharisees. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became as fools”. It then begins to explain how they changed the image of God to the image created by an, their laws, their rules, and became idolaters by insisting that men can create rules that represent God. That was HWA’s main flaw, trying to prove what Jesus codemned the Pharisees for trying to prove, that men can represent God by their own understanding. Homosexuality among pagans is not condemned, because, as we see from Paul, this was allowed by God since Israel rejected knowledge given to them. But in Romans 2:1, we see that even THAT is not to be condemned by men. Ehrman unfortunately assumes a great deal, even with his knowledge of ancient Greek.

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