C d COG News: Emphasizing News of Interest to those Once in the Worldwide Church of God
"For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you" (I Corinthians 11:19).

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Click Here for the COGwriter Home Page which has articles on various sabbatarian Churches of God (COGs) and articles supporting beliefs of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God.

12/21/06 a.m. Although Pontiff Benedict and the head of the Orthodox want further cooperation, the Washington Times reported the following:

Monastery fight hospitalizes seven monks

Washington Times UPI - Dec 20, 2006 At least seven monks were hospitalized after violent clashes with other monks at a disputed monastery in a self-governed region of Greece, police said. The fighting, which included sledgehammers, crowbars and fire extinguishers, broke out when monks loyal to the Orthodox patriarch entered the Esfigmenou monastery in Mount Athos, the BBC reported. Each side blamed the other for the provocation that sent seven monks to the hospital, many with head injuries, Catholic World News reported.  The 1,000-year-old monastery broke from the 19 other monasteries and refuses to recognize the Ecumenical of Constantinople as the head of the Orthodox faith, the BBC said.  The dissident monks are particularly opposed to the Orthodox Church's efforts to improve relations with the Roman Catholic Church.

The image in Daniel had two legs--one leg is the West (Roman Church oriented) and the other is the East (Orthodox Church oriented). Cooperation will basically continue.The late Pope John-Paul II once publicly stated that the Roman and Orthodox Churches were the two lungs of the church, which while not quite the same term as legs, suggests that they mutually are supportive, as legs are.

The latest issue of The Journal, dated 10/31/06, is finally out. It has a variety of FOT reports, mentions that a small group (CGMI) plans to produce some DVDs, has a report from someone who was associated with Legacy, and has an article about Christ's return by Frank Nelte. Here is a pdf link to the front and back pages www.thejournal.org/issues/issue115/jf103106.pdf

Frank Nelte essentially concludes his article with:

So when will Jesus Christ return?
I suspect that at this stage, in A.D. 2006, God the Father has not yet made that decision.
Apart from my confidence that it will not be before A.D. 2010, I really have no way of knowing and, I might add, no desire to try to second-guess what God the Father will decide in this regard.

I agree that the independent Frank Nelte at this stage has no way of knowing various matters (an article of possible interest may be Independent Members of the COG: HWA's Comments, Plus Questions and Answers). I, however, do believe that God probably has decided when, and it will be after 2010 A.D. based upon the fact that various biblical prophecies still need to be fulfilled.

The Journal contains a two-page ad against the use of makeup.

Another ad, makes the following claims:

Herbert Armstrong taught that the “open door” of the Philadelphia Church of Rev. 3 referred to the opening up of radio, television and printing, in order to “preach the gospel message to the world!” While that was a nice thought, and a great deal was done through him, the fact is, he was WRONG regarding his teaching about the “open door”! Just as he was WRONG about WCG being the Philadelphia church. It is almost certain HWA’s work was the second half of the Thyatira church!

The Journal often allows the advocacy of many wrong positions. HWA's WCG did represent the Philadelphia Church era. However, I would agree that some still left in WCG are part of Thyatira, but not for the same reasons that the ad writer would suggest (please see the article The Thyatira Church Era). It needs to be pointed out that the Bible clearly agrees with HWA about "the open door".

Here is some of what is in the article The Philadelphia Church Era:

The Open Door

Although all the messages to the Churches state, "I know your works", it is only to Philadelphia that Jesus says, "See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it".

What is the "open door"?

Let us look at this concept within the New Testament and let the Bible interpret itself.

Paul wrote:

Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:12).

But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak (Col 4:2-4).

Luke wrote:

Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).

Thus, the Bible is quite clear that the open door is the door to proclaim the Gospel.

Herbert Armstrong understood that the door was opened to proclaim the gospel:

Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill Matthew 24:14: 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come' (Mystery of the Ages, pp. 290-291).

It was not until the 20th Century that the technology of automated transportation and electronic media (such as radio and television) came forth to allow the Church of God (COG) to have much international impact. Herbert Armstrong began to broadcast on the radio beginning in 1933.

Herbert Armstrong's ministry was the most effective COG minister in post-Apostolic history when it came to numbers reached with Christ's Gospel of the Kingdom. This makes the work of the Philadelphia Church highly significant.

For a short time, The World Tomorrow was the number one rated religious television program in the USA--a major accomplishment for such a 'little flock'. For a while its radio broadcast was also one of the most listened to. Millions also received the Plain Truth magazine. And the "gospel of the kingdom" was "preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations" (Matthew 24:14), through various media as well as through Herbert Armstrong's personal visits to world leaders.

However, since the remainder of Matthew 24:14 is "and then the end will come", this makes it clear that this preaching of the Gospel is to occur until the end (more information on that point is discussed in the article Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?).

Notice what Herbert Armstrong taught:

Our work in the hands of Christ is NOT YET FINISHED, and He will not allow the Work to stop until it is finished. And when will that be?

... since no one can know the day or the hour of His coming, we probably shall not be able to know the exact day that this 1335 days begins. But apparently that is the time when OUR WORK SHALL END. That will be a time when the UNITED EUROPE shall appear --the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beast's" armies will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain--and possibly the same day or immediately after, on United States and Canadian cities (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.1, NO.15 NOVEMBER 20, 1979).

Next, when our Great Commission is in God's sight completed, we are to be taken--symbolically flown on the two wings of a great eagle--we shall be taken to a place of protection from the Great Tribulation (Armstrong HW. Looking...PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.3, NO.4 January 23, 1981).

Herbert Armstrong's church taught that the door would not be closed until the end:

Philadelphia has little strength to do this great work that God has given it to do. God has opened the door, and yet look how insignificant, how weak, how little strength we as a Church have to do that work...Revelation 3:7-13: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that OPENETH, and no man SHUTTETH; and SHUTTETH and no man openeth." The great door that God has opened to this work is the facility to go into all the world and preach the gospel; the door of radio, the door of the printing press, plus many other such doors. God has set before us an open door and no MAN can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety. ...The Laodicean Church is not going to he worthy to escape to a place of safety. When it is too late, they will find that the Church of Philadelphia has gone to safety. (What Is the "LAODICEAN CHURCH"? Good News Magazine, August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).

Sadly, many once in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) simply never understood what was taught about the open door.

The Journal also had ads against the deity of Christ, tithing, the law of God, and other heretical positions.

Interestingly, the final article in this issue of The Journal states:

Finance matters
BIG SANDY, Texas— According to JOURNAL publisher Dixon Cartwright, this newspaper is having trouble making ends meet.
“This has never been a money maker for my family and me,” Mr. Cartwright said, “but the cost of operations is way up and it’s been difficult for us to stay afloat.”
To augment income, the Cartwrights began a classified ad publication (now a Web site) that publishes free and paid ads for East Texans, but that enterprise is not yet a viable income producer, the publisher said.
Also, he noted, whereas in years past readers have donated funds to help pay for free subscriptions and supplement the subscription costs for non-U.S. subscribers, such donations have drastically fallen off over the last two years.

The Journal has increased its amount of ads over the past couple of years, but apparently that is not generating the income the publication is looking for.

12/20/06 a.m. The Sun reported yesterday:

Brits better off without Euro

Political Editor

December 19, 2006

THE average Brit is £2,200 a year better off than Europeans because we kept the pound. Figures show households here enjoy a far better standard of living than in Spain, France, Germany or Italy.

Our “purchasing power” per head is £2,214 higher than the average of the other four major economies.

And it is all because Britain did NOT join the euro, reports The Economist’s The World in 2007 dossier.

The findings are a vindication of The Sun’s Keep the Pound campaign.

But incredibly the nation’s leading foreign policy experts, Chatham House, last night called for Britain to JOIN the euro, SCRAP border controls and snub the UNITED STATES.

We in the COGs have long taught that Britain will eventually pull-out of the EU, so we have generally doubted that Britain would adopt the Euro.

Swedish news reported the following yesterday:

Swedes would vote against Europe

Published: 19th December 2006 10:23 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/5845/

Sweden remains a Eurosceptic country, with opposition to joining the euro hardening and support for staying in the EU overall still a minority view.

A new survey from Statistics Sweden (SCB) shows that only one in three Swedes would have voted to join the European single currency if there had been a referendum in November.

The Bible mentions that:

As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay (Daniel 2:43).

While Sweden may or may not remain in the EU, the Bible does teach that all the groups in it will not stick together that well.

It is possible that both these news stories (as well as others like it), may result in some support of the dollar, and may prevent its crash from coming as quickly as it could otherwise.

Norman Edwards of PABC reported the following:


William Swenson came to PABC at the Feast of Tabernacles this year and decided to stay. He brings a very interesting background that can be
helpful to other young people. He rebelled against his parents in his teen-age years, and "ran wild"--drinking and using drugs. Not having the money to afford these themselves, some of his friends got him into burglarizing pharmacies to get their drugs. One time he decided to take the quick way and carry a gun in to get some free drugs during business hours. Even though he never intended to hurt anybody and indeed, nobody was hurt, it resulted in an armed robbery conviction.

William still tried to fight the system for 15 more years, but then turned to God. He read his Bible numerous times, and much literature from the Church of God groups. After talking with William, I have a much greater respect for how much prisoners appreciate the free literature furnished by the Worldwide Church of God and its follow-on groups. Prisoners sometimes work hours just to buy a stamp. Booklets that cost several dollars may be out of reach. Prisoners do not have the Internet. William has helped me set up our literature room and has mailed some to prisoners and others. We hope to do more of this in the near future.

While some prisoners are angry hateful people who might subscribe to a free publication just to extract its staples to put into some homemade weapon, others are sincere people who want to set their life right with God and learn as much as they can, so they can be a useful citizen someday. That was what William did. He spent thousands of hours reading the Bible and good religious books--as well as studying health, nutrition, gardening and law. William came to some conclusions from his studies that are not taught by the Church of God groups:

1)    the examples of "community living" by the Church in Acts 2, 4 and elsewhere
2)    the need for brethren to depart from the materialism of the world and do God’s work as 2)    the apostles did (we all have trouble with this)
3)    vegetarianism (We are not planning to become a vegetarian community, but there is much sound medical evidence to show that most American’s health would be improved if they ate less meat.)

It needs to be pointed out that most Christians in the NT did not engage in community living, plus Paul suggested that we not essentially drop-out of society. Jesus not only ate meat, He taught that Christians were to be the light of the world and not be hidden--that is hard to do in communal living environments--though not impossible.

I suspect that the NT examples of "community living" had a fair amount to due with persecution. Because of future persecution, there will be future community living for the Philadelphia Christians. An article of related interest may be There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra.

Norman Edwards also reported:


We hope to write articles in the future that will help others sift through the medical maze--both as individuals and in the church community environment. Unfortunately, we have not been able to resume Servants' News yet, due to other pressing responsibilities. It is still our goal, and we are still convinced that we will be able to do it eventually.

Servent's News was a publication by, and mainly for, independents that Norman Edwards put out years ago.

12/19/06 a.m. Christianity Today posted the following in its review of the latest Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto:

Apocalypto begins with a shot that brilliantly distills the essence of the movie, as the camera slowly moves in on some bright green forest plants, and a pair of feet suddenly rush past in the foreground. This is a chase movie with an environmental theme...

Despite the film's two-hour-plus running time, the characters are never particularly developed...

Gibson is more interested in the chase itself, as Jaguar Paw outruns and outsmarts the Mayans who pursue him.

But even more than that, Gibson is obsessed with the nature of violence—and, for that matter, with the violence of nature.

It will be interesting to see what Christian movie buffs in particular make of this film. When The Passion came out, there was much speculation that Gibson had become "one of us," and there were many requests for Gibson to follow it up with a movie about the Maccabean revolt, Saint Francis, or any of a number of other biblical and religious subjects. Instead, with a budget rumoured to be over $70 million—much of it amassed from The Passion's profits—Gibson has made a bloody flick about death and social decay in a pagan culture, and he hints ever so obliquely that the world has not fared any better under we Christians.

I agree that the world does not fare better under the type of Christianity that Mel Gibson advocates.

Last week, I spoke with a Roman Catholic who saw the movie. He was impressed by the prophetic fulfillment theme of the movie. I mentioned to him that I believed that the Bible taught that a variety of events will occur at the time of the end, but mentioned that his church basically took the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelations) as an allegory. And while he acknowledged that that was something he was aware of, it appeared that watching Mel Gibson's latest got him to think that if the Book of Revelation is literal, then perhaps he would need to rethink some of his views.

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

St. Augustine has perhaps more than any one else helped to free the Church from all crude fancies as regards its pleasures. He explained the millennium allegorically and applied it to the Church of Christ on earth (Van Den Biesen C. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler. Apocalypse. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

St. Augustine was for a time, as he himself testifies (De Civitate Dei, XX, 7), a pronounced champion of millenarianism; but he places the millennium after the universal resurrection and regards it in a more spiritual light (Sermo, CCLIX). When, however, he accepted the doctrine of only one universal resurrection and a final judgment immediately following, he could no longer cling to the principal tenet of early chiliasm. St. Augustine finally held to the conviction that there will be no millennium...The struggle between Christ and His saints on the one hand and the wicked world and Satan on the other, is waged in the Church on earth; so the great Doctor describes it in his work De Civitate Dei. In the same book he gives us an allegorical explanation of Chapter 20 of the Apocalypse...at all events, the kingdom of Christ, of which the Apocalypse speaks, can only be applied to the Church (De Civitate Dei, XX 5-7). This explanation of the illustrious Doctor was adopted by succeeding Western theologians, and millenarianism in its earlier shape no longer received support (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Millennium and Millenarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Since the time of Augustine, those associated with the Roman Catholic Church have done away with much of the meaning of the Book of Revelation by way of allegorizing its actual meaning. In the second century, Irenaeus, however, condemned those who would do that:

If, however, any shall endeavour to allegorize [prophecies] of this kind, they shall not be found consistent with themselves in all points, and shall be confuted by the teaching of the very expressions [in question]. For all these and other words were unquestionably spoken in reference to the resurrection of the just, which takes place after the coming of Antichrist, and the destruction of all nations under his rule; in [the times of] which [resurrection] the righteous shall reign in the earth, waxing stronger by the sight of the Lord: and through Him they shall become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father ...And in the Apocalypse John saw this new [Jerusalem] descending upon the new earth. For after the times of the kingdom, he says, "I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat upon it, from whose face the earth fled away, and the heavens; and there was no more place for them." And he sets forth, too, the things connected with the general resurrection and the judgment, mentioning "the dead, great and small."(Adversus Heres. Book V, Chapter 35, Verses 1,2 ).

Since the Roman Catholic Church declares that both the second century Irenaeus and the fifth century Augustine are important saints, which one is wrong on this matter?

It is sad that instead of taking the Bible literally, many prefer traditions of men. An article of related interest may be What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?

This morning I visited W. Dankenbring's TPM website for the first time in months. His updated statement of belief still states:

The European Union (or ten future states of Europe) is NOT the Beast of Revelation, or the power that attacks America and Great Britain!   

            My former church, led by Herbert Armstrong, taught that a union of nations in Europe led by Germany will launch a nuclear blitzkrieg against America and Britain, destroying our nations and bringing us into captivity.  Many of its off-shoot branches today still believe this teaching.  However, it is not true!   

            Rather, the soon coming “Beast power” is to be the “New World Order” which will INCLUDE the United States and Great Britain.  It will be a remake of the United Nations, soon to be strengthened, revamped, and militarized.

Those who have gone out on their own or who support the non-Philadelphian portions of the COG sadly misunderstand various critical aspects of Bible prophecy (though most do not make the mistake that WD did above--his position is actually relatively close the that of the Seventh-day Adventists).

History shows that versions of the Roman Empire best fit the prophecies in the Books of Daniel and Revelation; while prophecies in Isaiah, Lamentations, and the 83rd Psalm show Assyrian (German) involvement (the German Charlemagne established what was called "The Holy Roman Empire). An article of possible interest may be Europa and the Beast of Revelation.

12/18/06 a.m. In its latest ministudy, CGOM-UK states:

...the first Christians - both Jew and Gentile - followed the example of Jesus in observing these days. As an example, the (Gentile) Corinthian church are recorded as observing the Days of Unleavened Bread (I Corinthians 5) - a seven-day spring festival. Numerous Christians around the world observe them to this day 

...the festivals appointed by God  - they are 'the feasts of the LORD', not of Moses (Leviticus 23:2) - are in part an outline of the divine plan for mankind. Included in that plan is the thousand-year reign of Jesus. It will be a time of superabundance and is fittingly represented by feasting on earth's products during the festivals (Amos 9:13-15)

 ...feasting, of course, is not the essence of God's festivals. Said Jesus: 'But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such does the Father seek to be his worshippers' (John 4:23). The focus of God's festivals for Christians is their historical, present and prophetic significance. It's a time when the people of God gather primarily for fellowship, celebration and Bible instruction yet at the same time enjoying and sharing God's material blessings in a restrained manner at the times of the year He, not man, has appointed

 ...yet for most believers these seven Biblical festivals have been replaced by a series of ersatz festivals - unknown  except as observances by their pagan neighbours - by Jesus and his apostles, and by the early church. They engulfed the apostate church a couple of centuries after the death of the apostles, but have roots in ancient pre-Christian  practices 

...these non-Biblical festivals, especially Christmas, have become an excuse for over-indulgence with merely a nod (if that) towards either their non-Biblical origin or their real significance - or to what the Scriptures teach us. How much more satisfying to '...follow the Lamb wherever he goes' - no matter what the world thinks or celebrates.

It is not just that Christmas is pagan, Christmas was not even observed by the Roman Catholics until the fourth century as even early leaders with connection to it condemned the winter celebrations that eventually became incorporated into what is now known as Christmas-New Years. This is documented in the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

On other matters, from time to time, someone will bring up the subject of makeup.

In mid-October, I once again decided to address the subject. I did it by looking into history, studying some Hebrew, and involving others (specifically John Wheeler, and to a much lessor degree, Aaron Dean). Anyway, I updated that article again yesterday. And those who are interested may wish to read the updated version Makeup and the Philadelphia Era of the COG.

Also on other matters, the AW site posted the following:

According to a posting on the JLF board, 86 Tkach congregations have disappeared since 1999. Eighty six. Two have been formed in that time. Net loss: 84...

But 86... that's congregations, brethren! Disbanded, gone, kaput! In seven years. And that's just in the USA!

Presuming the above is accurate, it is no surprise. As I have repeatedly posted, it has long been my opinion that WCG's goal was to sell the property, take even stronger anti-COG doctrinal stands, secure the pay and retirement benefits for a few, and then be less concerned about numbers affiliated with them. And sadly, WCG's leadership has fulfilled my opinions in all of those areas.

12/17/06 a.m. LCG reported the following news item:

A Gathering of Kings. Last week in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah gave the opening address at the 27th annual summit meeting of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Speaking to Arab heads of state from six Gulf nations, Abdullah said, “Our Arab region is besieged by a number of dangers, as if it was a powder keg waiting for a spark to explode.” The King said the Palestinian people were being oppressed by “a hostile and ugly occupation” by Israel, while the international community watched the “bloody tragedy like a spectator.” Abdullah said the region’s most dangerous trend is that in Iraq and Palestine, “a brother is still killing his brother... In Lebanon, we see dark clouds threatening the unity of the homeland, which risks sliding again into... conflict among the sons of the same country.” The king called for GCC states to “stand as one” in the face of the Arab world’s problems. The Gulf States are fearful of a U.S.-Iranian confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program. During their meeting, GCC leaders discussed moves toward economic integration and the establishment of a single currency and common market, to be set up in stages starting in 2007 and to be fully operational by 2010 (Agence France Press, December 9, 2006). This proposed oil-state union, in the hands of the King of the South, would be a powerful sword to hold at the economic throat of Western Europe (Daniel 11:40). A common currency could help unite these nations, which already have a common language and religion—what will remain is for a leader or leading nation to take charge in this ever-emerging world power.

Is There a Future King of the South? LCG teaches that there is.

UCG posted the following from its last COE meeting:

...the task force made five recommendations.

1. Disband the Media and Education Committees. The functions of both of these committees are now under the direction of the administration.

After discussion, the Council unanimously passed a resolution to dissolve both of these committees.

2. Restructure the Doctrine Committee. The task force concluded that the work of the Doctrine Committee has changed over the years and that steps should be taken to formally revise its responsibilities.

The Council had already taken this step by passing a resolution on December 11, which changed the process for the review of study papers on doctrine and prophecy (see the Council Report for the December 11, 2006, meeting).

3. Due to the wide range of its responsibilities, the task force recommends that the Ethics, Roles and Rules Committee be divided into two committees.
4. For similar reasons, the task force recommends that the Strategic Planning and Finance committee also be divided into two committees.
5. The task force urged the Council to clearly define the role of the newly designated Strategic Planning Committee, in order to more effectively provide strategic leadership for the Church.

The Council agreed with Mr. Dick's suggestion that time be set aside during the February-March 2007 meeting to consider recommendations 3, 4 and 5.

UCG has had a variety of committees and task forces, and sometimes seems to have a lot of meetings to discuss meetings.

UCG's COE also announced:

Anchor Resolution

Based on discussions in executive session in a previous meeting, Mr. Kilough presented a resolution to end the Church's relationship with Anchor magazine and its related Web site. The resolution also stated the Church's intent to create and publish a new electronic magazine and related Web site to fit the master plan dealing with all areas of specialized education. The Council passed the resolution unanimously.

Anchor is a publication basically from a UCG minister to assist those who no longer wish to be homosexual. This morning, I noticed that Anchor's current issue is listed as Fall 2005 at its website, with the lead article from UCG's Melvin Rhodes.

12/16/06 a.m. Zenit reported:

Eastern Catholics Key for Christian Unity, Says Pope

Receives Patriarch of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts

Zenit - Dec 15, 2006 

VATICAN CITY - The Eastern Catholic Churches have the task to promote Christian unity, especially with the Orthodox, said Benedict XVI when receiving in audience the patriarch of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts...

The Coptic Church was founded by the martyr Mark between A.D. 40 and 60 in Alexandria.

By Mark?

Those interested in the truth may wish to read the following:

The Orthodox Church of Alexandria claims that Mark was an apostle and that he passed on the succession to a pius one named Anianus (or sometimes spelled Anianos). Essentially, these claims are based upon records from the fourth century writer Eusebius, which, however, history reveals contains several flaws...

It needs to be understood Eusebius only states that he heard that Mark was in Alexandria (this differs from many other accounts from Eusebius where he claims to rely on written records). The Coptic Catholic Church of Alexandria also holds a position similar to the Orthodox, "The Coptic Church was founded by the martyr Mark between A.D. 40 and 60 in Alexandria" (Eastern Catholics Key for Christian Unity, Says Pope. Zenit - Dec 15, 2006).

However, Eusebius does not claim that Mark was actually there for any specific time period. Actually, since Mark is mentioned many times in the New Testament, the dates and events in the Bible that mention Mark, demonstrate that Mark could not have been the Bishop of Alexandria at that time ( as he was in, or traveling to, many other places).

Around 43-44 A.D., Mark is mentioned in first Acts 12:12, when he is praying in Jerusalem. Herod is noted as dying in Acts 12:20-23, which was in 44 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1813). Sometime after Herod's death, notice:

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark (Acts 12:25).

Notice that Mark was in Jerusalem and then went with Paul and Barnabas. Also notice what certain scholars believe:

In A.D. 46, Mark spent time with Paul and Barnabas in the Antioch Church before his accompanied them as a helper on their first missionary journey (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1636).

Mark apparently went with Paul and Barnabas from around 47-49 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1813).

But Paul was not pleased with Mark and did not want him to accompany him on the next trip:

Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus (Acts 15:37-39).

Notice that Paul considered Mark unfaithful, and notice that Mark then went to Cyprus (not Alexandria)--and this was around 50-53 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1813).

Later Paul apparently liked Mark:

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him) (Colossians 4:10).

This occurred around 60 A.D. and Mark is believed to have been with Paul in Rome then (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 2008).

Later Paul declared that Mark was useful:

Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). .

And this occurred around 67 A.D. (Nelson Study Bible, New Kings James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 2052).

It should be noted that the Bible never mentions that Mark was ever in Alexandria, nor ever gives any indication that he somehow was a "bishop" over any area.

Instead, the biblical account contradicts the position of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria that Mark was its bishop from 42-62 A.D. as Mark was in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Cyprus and other areas during this time. Plus, according to various historians, he was still alive in 67 A.D.

The Catholics and Orthodox could have know the truth on this matter if they looked into the Bible over tradition, or if they simply would read the article on Apostolic Succession.

12/15/06 a.m. WCG has finally gotten around to completing its "study paper" on Women in Church Leadership. In the final chapter, J. Tkach wrote a preface that stated:

Over the past nearly three years, our doctrinal team has been studying this issue cautiously, with prayer, with a desire to understand what the Bible teaches us to do...In this final paper, the team summarizes what we have found, and then tackles some questions about how we will apply these findings in the church today.

WCG can claim that this was truly a biblical based study, but having seen various reports involving Tammy Tkach over the years, WCG reached the conclusion that I suspect they had when they "began their study":

When Paul wrote 1 Tim. 2:12, he again wrote that women should be quiet; he did not permit them to teach or to have authority over men...Paul clearly permitted women to speak edifying messages in the Corinthian church; his prohibition here should be seen not as revoking that permission, but as a policy needed for the situation that Timothy faced.3 We believe it is not a universal rule that must govern all churches for all time. It was, just as Paul stated, a policy, not a permanent restriction based on gender.

Notice that WCG is trying to justify overlooking the scriptures by teaching that what Paul wrote was only a temporary policy. WCG also claims:

We will add here a further comment on 1 Tim. 3:2—“The overseer must be…the husband of but one wife.” There are a number of questions about this verse, but we will focus on one: Does this mean that elders must be husbands, and therefore male? No.

Once again, WCG is stating that the Bible does not mean what it says. WCG continues with statements such as:

Since we do not want to forbid something that the Bible does not forbid, we will no longer forbid women from being ordained as elders and appointed as pastors. We want churches to be led by the best personnel available, without making unnecessary restrictions on who that might be...

In short, our denominational position is that women may be ordained as elders and appointed as pastors.

In short, WCG is going along with the trend of the more "politically correct" Protestant churches. The final chapter from WCG is available at http://www.wcg.org/Women11.pdf

Those interested in relying more on the Bible than being politically correct may wish to read the article Women and the New Testament Church.

On other matters, the BBC reported the following yesterday:

Landmark Catholic-Orthodox talks
BBC - Dec 14, 2006 

The head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, has met the Pope in Rome as part of efforts to bring their two churches together.

It was the first official meeting at the Vatican between Greece's most senior cleric and the leader of the world's Roman Catholics.  Their talks focused on attempts to end the Great Schism that dates from 1054.  They also appealed for an end to religious violence, and pledged to defend Christianity in Europe...

The Vatican is also trying to set up a meeting between Pope Benedict and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.  It is clear that the Pope wishes to bring the different Christian denominations closer together.  That is not an easy process, but Archbishop Christodoulos appears to share his views.  He has described the division of Christians as a "scandal". http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6179743.stm

Both the Orthodox and Roman Catholics claim an Apostolic Succession that they cannot prove. They also share a variety of common doctrines not held by the Early Christian Church.

12/14/06 p.m. The History of Early Christianity page, contains the following quote:

Was the Headquarters of the True Church To Remain in the Same City?

While as this page mentioned above, there are several churches that claim direct descent from places such as Alexandria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Jerusalem , and Rome , the real question is: Was the headquarters of the true church to remain in the same city?

Let us look at what Jesus taught on this matter:

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:22-23).

Jesus, of course, has not yet returned. Whatever Christians there have been in the area of Palestine have been chased through all the cities in that geographic region since Jesus stated this (the Crusades helped insure this). Thus Jesus must be referring to more cities than just those in the area of Palestine (such as those Jacob was alluding to in Genesis 49:1-27). Jesus, thus, seems to be prophesying that it would not be possible that the headquarters of the true church could permanently remain in any one city for hundreds or nearly two thousand years. These statements from Jesus would suggest that only a church whose headquarters moved relatively often could possibly be the true church.

Perhaps I should mention here, that most who are in COGs that once had origins in WCG believe that the physical descendants of Israel are not limited to those people who live in the nation now called Israel or just to people commonly referred to as Jews. Before Jacob died, he made various comments about his sons (Genesis 49:1-27) and two grandsons (Genesis 48). Notice the following verse:

And Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days (Genesis 49:1).

This was a prophecy that God inspired to be recorded in the Bible. We in the COGs believe that the descendants of Israel traveled to many places, and while the following list may need some adjustment, it basically reflects where many of us have been taught those descendants went (even though some of each are scattered throughout many lands):

    1. Reuben - France
    2. Judah - Israel
    3. Simeon - Scattered throughout (Genesis 49:5)
    4. Levi - Scattered throughout (Genesis 49:5)
    5. Issachar - Finland
    6. Zebulun - Netherlands
    7. Gad - Switzerland
    8. Dan - Denmark, Ireland
    9. Asher - Belgium, Luxembourg
    10. Naptali - Sweden
    11. Benjamin - Norway, Iceland
    12. Ephraim - Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
    13. Manasseh - USA

These are the countries that contain the physical cities of Israel that we believe that Jesus was referring to in Matthew 10:22-23. They probably are also where the 144,000 from Revelation will be chosen from (except Dan, which is missing from the list in Revelation 7:4-8; interestingly, the Catholic Church tends to believe that the antichrist will be from the tribe of Dan).

Based upon what Herbert Armstrong's writings seem to teach ("the TIME of the sealing of this 144,000 is yet in the future--it is after the Great Tribulation and the heavenly SIGNS, and just before the plagues of God's Judgments", plus see previous news page), this suggests to me that HWA believed that the 144,000 appear to come as the result of seeds being planted from current gospel preaching efforts, them seeing the tribulation, plus the efforts of the two witnesses.

Perhaps I should mention that we in the COGs do NOT believe that salvation is limited to those who are physical descendants of Israel. Revelation 7:9 shows "a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb"(I, for example, have a predominantly physical Gentile background). Nor do we teach any type of "white supremacy". But we do recognize that God made many promises to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which we believe that He either has fulfilled or will fulfill.

12/14/06 a.m. This morning, it was reported:

Stone of Destiny to stay in Edinburgh Castle The Herald - Dec 14, 2006 The Stone of Destiny is to remain behind the portcullis and bank vault security of Edinburgh Castle, despite pressure from Perthshire to have it returned to its ancient resting place at Scone.MSPs at Holyrood were told yesterday that the people given responsibility by the Queen for looking after Scotland's crown jewels are not going back on the 1996 decision.The destiny of the stone is in the hands of the Commissioners for the Safekeeping of the Regalia, founded in 1818 to look after Scotland's crown jewels. The group now comprises First Minister Jack McConnell, in his role as Keeper of the Great Seal of State, the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill and the Earl of March and Wemyss, who holds Scotland's oldest office of state, that of Lord Clerk Register. On their behalf, Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson yesterday responded to the pressure to move the historic coronation stone. She said MSPs' comments in a Holyrood debate would be passed back to them, but held out little prospect of the stone being moved.Professor Christopher Smout, the Historiographer Royal in Scotland, yesterday added to the pressure from MSPs, saying that there is a case for the Stone of Destiny being displayed with other artefacts from the same era, as it predates the crown jewels by more than 500 years. He said the natural place for it would be in the Museum of Scotland, less than a mile from the castle.The origins of the stone are lost in the mists of history, though legend has it that it was Jacob's pillow, and also a travelling altar for St Columba. It was used as the coronation stone of Scottish kings from at least 847 AD, when it was at the abbey at Scone. In 1296, it was taken south by the invading forces of Edward I, and remained for 700 years under the coronation throne at Westminster Abbey.

It was returned amid much fanfare 10 years ago last month as a symbol of the Conservative government's commitment to Scottish identity. http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/76664.html

Practically all the British monarchs have be corona ted on or above that stone. Some in the COGs have speculated that Jeremiah may have been the one to have taken that stone to Ireland (or perhaps Scotland) from the Middle East originally.

In Legacy Institute's latest letter, which I received last night in the mail, Leon Sexton blasted materialism--which certainly is a major problem. He also reported that after HWA explained the way of GIVE vs. GET to Thailand's King Bhumibol 20 years ago, that the king stated:

When we have enough for ourselves, it is our duty to help others who do not have.

This is consistent with what John wrote:

But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17).

Jesus also taught against materialism in a somewhat different way as He taught,

Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you... (Matthew 6:31-33).

On other matters, Leon Sexton wrote that he intends to attend former UCG member Jim O'Brien's Winter Family Tournament when he comes back to the USA--the following week he intends to make a presentation in Big Sandy.

While many have seen problems with succession as claimed by the Roman Catholic Church, few seem to have realized that the Orthodox Church has major holes in their claims of apostolic succession. Here are some comments regarding the claimed succession through Euodius:

Euodius of Antioch. There are at least two "orthodox" churches that claim apostolic succession from Antioch.

And both the Eastern Orthodox (or Rum Orthodox) Church of Antioch (apparently also called the Antiochian Orthodox) and the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch claim that Euodius (also spelled Evodius) was the successor to the Apostle Peter (see Syriac Orthodox Resources. Chronological List of the Patriarchs of Antioch. http://sor.cua.edu/Patriarchate/PatriarchsChronList.html 03/19/06 and The Patriarchate of Antioch: Founded by Saints Peter and Paul http://www.antiochian.org/patofant 5/14/06).

Yet they have differing dates. The Syriac Church claims from Euodius led from 67-68 A.D., while the time period claimed by the Eastern Orthodox Church is earlier and longer. Specifically the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches:

Church tradition maintains that the See of Antioch was founded by Saint Peter the Apostle in A.D. 34 . Peter was either followed or joined by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas who preached there to both Gentiles and to Jews, who seem to have been numerous in the city... It was from Antioch that Paul and Barnabas departed for their great missionary journeys to the Gentile lands (Acts 13:1). The Apostles directed a truly universal ministry. After spending some seven years in Antioch, Peter left for Rome. To succeed him as bishop of Antioch he appointed Euodius, who is thus counted in early episcopal lists as the first successor to the Antiochian Throne of Peter...Saint Ignatius of Antioch for example, is revered as both a victorious martyr during the reign of Emperor Trajan (early second century) (The Patriarchate of Antioch: Founded by Saints Peter and Paul http://www.antiochian.org/patofant 5/14/06).

Although the above suggests that the Eastern Orthodox claim Euodius (spelled Eudoius below) was bishop from perhaps 41 A.D. (34 A.D. plus seven years) until whenever Ignatius took over, that is not actually what they claim as they provide the following early list:

1 45-53 The Episcopacy of St. Peter, the Apostle, in Antioch.

2 53 The Episcopacy of Eudoius in Antioch.

3 68 The Episcopacy of St. Ignatius (d. 107) in Antioch.

4 100 The Episcopacy of Heros in Antioch.

However, it should also be noted that Origen (early third century) and others do not list Euodius as coming after Peter, as they list the later Ignatius:

Origen calls Ignatius "the second bishop of Antioch after the blessed Peter". Chrysostom and Theodoret also fail to include Euodius. The chronological impossibility of this arrangement is obvious (Bauer W. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity, 2nd ed. Edited by R. Krafy and G. Krodel. Sigler Press, Mifflintown (PA), 1996, p. 116).

Others have noticed this problem as well:

Eusebius...the list he gives of the bishops of Antioch is doubtful with respect to its chronology. Compare A. HARNACK: Die Zeit des Ignatius, Leipzig, 1878. He places Ignatius as the second bishop after Peter. As nobody knew any thing about the intervening Euodius, he gradually dropped out of attention, and a new tradition formed, placing Ignatius immediately after Peter (Chrysostom, the Paschal Chronicle, Theodoret). Between these two traditions the Const. Ap. (VII. 46) tries to mediate by making Peter consecrate, first Euodius, and then Ignatius (Uhlhorn, G. "IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 2. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.1058. at http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/ignatius.php 5/14/06 ).

John Chrysostom specifically claimed:

[Ignatius] presided over the Church...But since I mentioned Peter, this is the man [who] succeeded to the office after him (As cited by Ray, Stephen K., in, Upon This Rock. St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1999, pp. 140-141).

Hence Euodius may not have filled in during either of the times that the Syriac or Greek Orthodox claim.

The first known reference to Evodius was written in the fourth century by the historian Eusebius who may have taken the three episcopal lists of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch from the "Chronography" which Julius Africanus published in 221, here is what it says:

At this time Ignatius was known as the second bishop of Antioch, Evodius having been the first. Symeon likewise was at that time the second ruler of the church of Jerusalem, the brother of our Saviour having been the first (Eusebius. Church History, Book III, Chapter 22. Translated by the Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

There are no known writings to him. Euodius is apparently mentioned in a pseudo-Ignatius writing, but that is not one that any seriously consider to be reliable.

In actuality, there is basically nothing known about Evodius. Thus, presuming he was a true Christian, it is assumed that he held to apostolic teachings. It can be stated that based upon writings from later leaders in Antioch, it would seem impossible that he held certain views, such as on idols and Easter, now held by the Eastern Orthodox Church (documentation of this is included in the article Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Churches of God). Hence, any modern claim to physical apostolic succession from Antioch by those churches is clearly negated by the adoption of doctrines that the earliest leaders in Antioch clearly opposed.

The next problem is that it is not probable that Peter could have been the Bishop of Antioch until 67 A.D., as the Syriacs claim, for at least three reasons. First, there is no indication that he was in Antioch for any length of time (though he did have a meeting there once, see Galatians 2:11, probably in the mid 40s A.D. according to The Catholic Encyclopedia). Second, if Peter became bishop simply because he once visited that town, then Euodius would have had to become bishop that far back. And thirdly, if as the Syriac Orthodox claim, Peter was the bishop of Antioch from 37 A.D. until 67 A.D., then he could not have been Bishop of Rome then (not that I am saying that Peter was a bishop of Rome).

The reality is that there is major doubt that Peter spent any significant amount of time in Antioch or Rome (it is not even certain that he ever was in Rome). Neither city has any contemporaneous proof that Peter did anything than visit (or according to the Roman claim, died in) their respective city.

Another possible problem with Antioch is that although Ignatius is listed as the bishop after Euodius, he would have had to have been exceptionally young when he became a bishop as he is claimed to have lived until 107 or to possibly 118 A.D. (the latter date is has been proposed by some modern scholars). Yet, if either of those dates are correct, then the Antiochian claim of succession is in error as it has someone named Heros as bishop beginning with 100 A.D. (Ignatius was still alive then, and apparently in Antioch until at least 107). Nor is there any contemporaneus evidence that Ignatius was a bishop prior to the second century starting with 68 A.D. Hence there appears to be several gaps in the alleged apostolic succession in Antioch.

Furthermore, inaccurate tradition-based claims to the contrary, Ignatius' writings actually support the concept that he observed and endorsed the seventh-day Sabbath, which is no longer the practice of any of the so-called "orthodox" churches (please see the article The Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath). Perhaps even more important, Ignatius apparently also held views on the godhead that differ from mainstream "Christianity", as he never referred to the Holy Spirit as God and acknowledged the Son as submissive to the Father (please see the article Binitarian View).

Now although there were may have been true Christian leaders in Antioch until possibly the beginning of the third century (please see the articles on Theophilus of Antioch died circa 182 and Serapion of Antioch died circa 211), historians realize that a major apostasy occurred in the Antioch area later in the third century, and that the Roman Catholic Bishop (along with other Italian bishops) got to select the person considered to be the 17th bishop of Antioch (see Eusebius. Church History, Book VII, Chapter 30).

Furthermore, according to Jesus, no city, including Antioch (Rome, etc.) could remain the successor to the apostles throughout history. Note what Jesus said:

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:22-23).

The above passage from Jesus would suggest that the true leadership of the church would have to move reasonably often (not just once or twice), hence any claim of apostolic succession for 1000-2000 years from the same city should be viewed as basically impossible from what Jesus taught. Furthermore, the Antiochian churches hold to doctrines that Ignatius and others condemned.

Hence, I do not consider that any of the leaders who now claim to lead the Antiochian churches could be truly faithful to the original teachings from Jesus or the apostles. Thus, any claims to physical apostolic succession were made irrelevant by doctrinal and other compromises as this particular church is definitely not the spiritual successor of the apostles.

Claims should never be taken as proof.

The Church of God has the strongest claim of early apostolic succession than any other group. Almost all scholars acknowledge that Polycarp (who kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, like we in the COGs do) was appointed by one or more of the original apostles. An article of related interest might be Apostolic Succession.

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Volume 10, issue 30 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006