Sunday, 12 July 2009

A True History of the Not-So-True Church (Pt.1)

Recently someone posted this comment:

[T]he church has existed somewhere in the world continously [sic] since it's founding, and has kept the sabbath and holy days (among the other doctrines) the whole time.

Oh really? Says who?

This was the position of Dugger and Dodd (and later Herman Hoeh), taking a leaf from Ellen G. White's writings. It's a dogma maintained by any number of splinter sects today. For want of a better term, we could call it "remnant" history (as opposed to "restoration" history promoted by Mormons and some others.)

If you buy into the restoration package, you'll be convinced that the "true church" actually died out, swallowed up by Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The Reformation amounted to little more than shuffling deck chairs. Poor old God had no choice but to perform a complete "reboot" using Joseph Smith, or someone else.

More familiar to us is the remnant package, standard issue in Adventist churches. It maintains that the true church went underground, but survived despite persecution, eventually resurfacing in whichever sect you happen to belong to. Keen believers then go back to dredge the history books to see who might have been the genuine article in past ages, resulting in many a fanciful romp. Dugger and Dodd were convinced, for example, that "Saint Patrick" was a Sabbath-keeper!

Following on from this same remnant fiction the United Church of God proudly proclaims on its website: "We trace our origins to the Church that Jesus founded in the early first century. We follow the same teachings, doctrines and practices established then."

Bollocks!

Actually, we can have a pretty good idea about what did happen to the earliest Christian faith; the movement that was "headquartered" in Jerusalem, looked to James for leadership, and indeed did keep the sabbaths. In a follow-up post I'll make a radical suggestion - but one which is widely accepted by competent historians. But for the present, consider this.

The Churches of God without exception use the 66-book Protestant canon of scripture. Why? The ancient Jerusalem-based church certainly didn't. This distinguishing mark, if nothing else, should alert us to the fact that our heritage is lot more recent than the inflated age it claims; any resemblance is superficial and misleading. The Churches of God have absolutely no linear relationship to so-called "apostolic christianity."

We were'nt buying a Rolex, just a Mumbai sweat-shop rip-off.

So where did the "original" church end up? Remember how Hoeh and his imitators talked about the flight to Pella just before the destruction of Jerusalem? That's a good starting point, but what happened then? More on this in a later posting.

15 comments:

Herb's Filippino Housemaid said...

"In a follow-up post I'll make a radical suggestion - but one which is widely accepted by competent historians."

Will be looking forward to this

Robert said...

Armstrong and the splinters point to the ebionites and nazarenes as some of their early followers, but, in reality, they were Jewish sects. Armstrong and the splinters are christian sects. Nazarenes and Ebionites practice circumcision, but the Armstrong churches preach against it. The only group that is still in Jerusalem today are the Essenes that as far as they proclaim, have never died out. Today's modern Nazarenes in Messianic Judaism are "restoration" ministries.

Anonymous said...

"The Churches of God without exception use the 66-book Protestant canon of scripture. Why? The ancient Jerusalem-based church certainly didn't. "


you are correct. they used what we refer to as the old testament. that was the only scripture available at the time.

Anonymous said...

"Dugger and Dodd were convinced, for example, that "Saint Patrick" was a Sabbath-keeper!"

AHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

The stupid, it burns!

Anonymous said...

"The Churches of God have absolutely no linear relationship to so-called 'apostolic christianity.'"

Understatement of the obvious. But the "apostolic succession" churches have absolutely no linear relationship to a small sect of itinerant contemplatives from the Middle East, either.

The Catholic church (and all its subsequent splinters) believes that as long as a wannabe priest is touched/blessed by another Catholic priest, who was touched by a Catholic priest before him, all the way back to Ratzi, who was touched by a Pope who was touched by another Pope before him --- the Catholics then jump to the illogical conclusion that this was exactly how it happened pre-Constantine, too. That's "apostolic succession" in a nutshell.

Catholics (and Protestants, who stole the idea from them, and then tacked on the "we're the One True Church" spiel, although they don't get nearly as much mileage out of it as the Adventists) just hand-wave and mumble, when presented with that particular piece of cognitive dissonance.

Corky said...

The "original" Jewish movement ended up being hunted down and crucified for being "malefactors".

There is good evidence for the theory that they were nothing more than a branch of the Zealot movement.

Did they really set fire to Rome during Nero's reign? My guess is that they did. Christians have a history of burning and destroying things.

From the Gospel of Peter:

7 Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what evil they had done to themselves, began to lament and to say, Woe for our sins: the judgement hath drawn nigh, and the end of Jerusalem. And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves: for we were being sought for by them as malefactors, and as wishing to set fire to the temple. And upon all these things we fasted and sat mourning and weeping night and day until the sabbath..

Set fire to the temple? No wonder this gospel was buried with the monk who possessed it. It was never meant to be seen by anyone ever again.

There is no visible resurrection in it either - they merely assumed it, since there was no body.

Bamboo_bends said...

"when you lose your sense of awe and mystery, you've stopped learning..."

Well said!

Anonymous said...

With thanks to Dr. Bob:


The Catholic and Orthodox saint Irenaeus wrote:

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).


I think we are all aware of the passover/easter issue that came up between Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and the Bishop of Rome, and we know what Polycarp taught. Now, if HWA taught the same thing does that disqualify it as a genuine Church teaching? And since it was the Bishop of Rome that changed teachings, how can it be said that Rome continued in the faith?

Mickey said...

Thanks for this post Gavin. I appreciate the highlighting of the two views about "remnant" and "restoration".

As human beings we do have a tendancy to want a "big picture" don't we? These two view points seem to be another way of attempting to grasp that.

Look forward to your follow up:)

Anonymous said...

"With thanks to Dr. Bob:"

You honestly expect anyone to keep reading, after that kind of an intro, Anonymous 5:43?

Anonymous said...

"You honestly expect anyone to keep reading, after that kind of an intro, Anonymous 5:43?"


well, yes....unless you fear truth. the thanks to Dr. Bob bit was simply because he saved me the time it would take to look up that info. he just happened to have it posted on his blog at a good time.

cheers

Anonymous said...

"You honestly expect anyone to keep reading, after that kind of an intro, Anonymous 5:43?"


well, yes....unless you fear truth.


Thielogical Bob wouldn't know the truth if it put on a party hat and danced the macarena in front of him.

ILoveJesus! said...

For anyone who still believes in Christ, but is disillusioned with religion, I highly recommend Bob George's book, CLASSIC CHRISTIANITY. He addresses the errors found in all Christian denominations, especially that of reliance on LAW-keeping to be accepted by God. I think everyone who ever was in WCG should read it before they "throw out the baby with the bath water".

Byker Bob said...

Good recommendation, ILoveJesus.

I'd also recommend Dr. Charles Stanley's book "The Wonderful Spirit-filled Life". It's my opinion that anyone who reads the truth about the Holy Spirit will immediately see and realize that WCG or Armstrongism could not possibly be "God's True Church".

BB

Anonymous said...

Bob George is still shilling for a literalist interpretation of the text, though, ILJ. So he still misses the mark, and tries to sell the masses on his own version of religion.