Proof Herbert Armstrong Lied About the “Lost” Church Century
By Kelly Marshall
Herbert W. Armstrong claimed in Mystery of the Ages that “The true Church of God was to be set back on track, restoring the glorious knowledge of the faith once delivered to the saints in the days of the original apostles.” (p. 139, 140) Let’s take him up on that claim. Let’s examine what this “faith once delivered” is. HWA made his followers believe that early church history was vague—”as if obscured by a thick mist.” (p. 280). He claims that the curtain begins to lift around A.D. 150, but now this “original church” is “a totally different church,” but called itself Christian. Is this really true? Or does “God’s Apostle” not want us to go snooping around and find anything that may oppose his teachings? HWA made his followers believe that historical records were tainted at worst, and scanty or non-existent at best. He assures us, “I have often called it ‘the lost century,’ because the history of that Church was lost at that time.” (p. 280) Really? Was the history of the early church, in its first century of existence, “lost,” or are there any records that are in existence today that we can examine? Yes, indeed, there are, and I guarantee that HWA was fully aware of them, and intentionally withheld this knowledge!
This article is divided up into 3 parts:
The church writings of the first century were produced by the “Apostolic Fathers.”1 This simply means that the men who produced these historical manuscripts were taught directly by an apostle. (Irenaeus is the only exception, but he was a disciple of Polycarp since boyhood, while the Apostle John was still living. Irenaeus and Justin Martyr are considered the “sub-apostolic” fathers since their writings branch from the first century and into the second century of the early church. The writings of the Apostolic and sub-apostolic fathers span from 30 A.D. to 202 A.D. Halley’s Bible Handbook, in referring to these writings, says “they are extremely valuable, as they form the connecting link between the Apostles and later Church history. Some of them were so highly regarded that, in some localities, they were temporarily regarded as Scripture.”2
When one ventures into reading the early apostolic writings, he will begin to notice several things:
- Emphasis that Jesus is the Savior and the importance of belief in Him; those who believe are saved, those who don’t are condemned (John 3:18)
- The reality and hope of the Resurrection
- The lack of any instructions about Sabbath-keeping, Holy Day observance, O.T. law-keeping, and tithing
- The condemnation of law-keeping and Judaizing
- That the commandments of God and Christ are performing works of love—helping the poor, widows, and orphans; wives showing love toward their husbands and being instructed in their marriages; ending strife and conflict in the body; staying faithful to the church; abstaining from and putting away all forms of evil
- Assembling on the first day of the week in memory of the resurrection [Note: The Jewish Christians did not immediately give up the observance of the Mosaic law. Refer to Sabbath and Sunday: Common Arguments & Misunderstandings for more info.]
- Life in immortality
- Believers, after Christ’s resurrection, were given the promise of being with Christ in the Kingdom of heaven [Note: See II Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 1:23.]
- Nothing concerning the significance of the lost Ten Tribes and identity of Israel
- Nothing about Lucifer and one-third of the angels losing their opportunity of “carrying out a tremendous creative program throughout the entire universe” and this opportunity defaulting to man because of their rebellion
[Note by ESN: Many of us were taught the exact opposite of the above. Therefore, before drawing any conclusions, please read Did Herbert Armstrong Distort Historical Church Documents? by Kelly Marshall which covers Simon Magus and the Gnostic heresy.]
Volume 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers contains the writings of Clement of Rome, Mathetes, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. We will begin by showing that these men received their teachings directly from an apostle, and we will prove that they did not stray from the “original” teachings, as HWA would like his readers to believe. We will prove that HWA is guilty of “suppressing the truth” by making his readers believe that little was said during the first century of the early church, and we will prove that this early church did not emerge around 150 A.D. as a “false” Christian church.
One must keep in mind that many of these Epistles were written while the authors were condemned to death. Knowing their lives were ending shortly, it would stand to reason that they would transmit the most important details of the gospel to their followers. (I invite the reader to read these testimonies online, in their fullness. They are very inspirational.) One will quickly discover that the central message is about Jesus—His life, death, and resurrection—and these men and women were willing to die for that testimony. Let’s begin with our first apostolic father, Clement of Rome.
Historians recorded that Clement had learned directly from Paul (A.D. 66) and Luke, and that John (A.D. 98) was still alive during the writing of Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians (A.D. 95). Clement lived between 30-100 A.D., clearly proving that the original apostles were still living during the time of Clement, since Paul was not martyred until about A.D. 67, and John’s death occurred about A.D. 98.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians is long, and I have excerpted the modern historians’ comments to show the reader that this epistle falls before HWA’s “tainted date” of 150 A.D. Therefore, we can safely assume that Clement’s writings did not contain any “error.”
(All following historical research quotes are from The Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D., EDITORS, AMERICAN REPRINT OF THE EDINBURGH EDITION, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. (Visit the webpage to confirm my research)3 All emphasis in bolding is mine.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS….
[a.d. 30-100.] Clement was probably a Gentile and a Roman. He seems to have been at Philippi with St. Paul (a.d. 57) when that first-born of the Western churches was passing through great trials of faith. There, with holy women and others, he ministered to the apostle and to the saints. As this city was a Roman colony, we need not inquire how a Roman happened to be there. He was possibly in some public service, and it is not improbable that he had visited Corinth in those days. From the apostle, and his companion, St. Luke, he had no doubt learned the use of the Septuagint, in which his knowledge of the Greek tongue soon rendered him an adept. His copy of that version, however, does not always agree with the Received Text, as the reader will perceive.
This Epistle was held in very great esteem by the early Church. The account given of it by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 16) is as follows: “There is one acknowledged Epistle of this Clement (whom he has just identified with the friend of St. Paul), great and admirable, which he wrote in the name of the Church of Rome to the Church at Corinth, sedition having then arisen in the latter Church. We are aware that this Epistle has been publicly read in very many churches both in old times, and also in our own day.” The Epistle before us thus appears to have been read in numerous churches, as being almost on a level with the canonical writings. And its place in the Alexandrian ms., immediately after the inspired books, is in harmony with the position thus assigned it in the primitive Church. There does indeed appear a great difference between it and the inspired writings in many respects, such as the fanciful use sometimes made of Old-Testament statements, the fabulous stories which are accepted by its author, and the general diffuseness and feebleness of style by which it is distinguished. But the high tone of evangelical truth which pervades it, the simple and earnest appeals which it makes to the heart and conscience, and the anxiety which its writer so constantly shows to promote the best interests of the Church of Christ, still impart an undying charm to this precious relic of later apostolic times.
We see from the historian’s description that Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians was highly esteemed by the early “primitive” Church, so we can safely believe that it was not a spurious document, nor did it contain any errors that the early church spoke out against. Now let’s see if Clement’s writings agree with HWA’s teachings since he claims to have restored “the faith once delivered to the saints in the days of the original apostles.” There are fifty-nine short chapters to Clement’s epistle, so I will only use excerpted paragraphs that apply. (I encourage you to go online and read this epistle in its entirety. You can discern for yourself the authenticity of this document, as it reads much like a Pauline Epistle, further proving that Clement continued to teach what he learned from Paul).
We find in the this Epistle of Clement the following revealing tidbits:
Chapter V.-No Less Evils Have Arisen from the Same Source in the Most Recent Times.
The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul. But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.
Clement said that Peter upon his death, went to “the place of glory” and Paul “into the holy place.” Where is this “place of glory” and “the holy place”? Their souls went to heaven to be with the Lord (which will later be confirmed in Polycarp’s epistle). This is why Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8) and we know the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven. HWA taught that once a person dies, there is no further consciousness—both the body and soul are mortal—and that believers must wait until the return of Christ to be resurrected into conscious life again. This teaching, which we have shown, was derived from the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses). HWA taught that no man, but Jesus, has ascended into heaven,4 which contradicts what the early church believed.
Look at the paragraph below concerning Enoch:
Chapter IX.-Examples of the Saints.
Wherefore, let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours, and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions. Let us stedfastly contemplate those who have perfectly ministered to His excellent glory. Let us take (for instance) Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated, and death was never known to happen to him. Noah, being found faithful, preached regeneration to the world through his ministry; and the Lord saved by him the animals, which, with one accord, entered into the ark.
Clement clearly states that Enoch did not die! HWA would not accept this because it would contradict his “no man has ascended unto heaven/man does not have an immortal soul” dogma. HWA took the O.T. Scriptures concerning Lamech killing an unidentified man and tried to make his followers believe that the slain man was Enoch. Can one slay Adam and his name escape mention in the Scriptures? Can one slay King David or Moses or any man of notoriety and not have his specific name and events mentioned in Scripture? If Lamech killed Enoch, the Scriptures would have plainly stated it. If Enoch was slain by Lamech, the Scriptures would have confirmed this. There’s no way around this. Can the reader begin to see the lengths that HWA will go to bend and twist Scriptures to agree with his phony doctrines instead of believing what the Scriptures plainly say? Let’s continue with Clement’s Epistle.
HWA made his readers believe that Lucifer was the pinnacle of God’s creation, but Clement informs us that man was the most excellent of His creatures!
Chapter XXXIII.-But Let Us Not Owe Up the Practice of Good Works and Love.
God Himself is an Example to Us of Good Works. What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works. For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immoveable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word into existence. So likewise, when He had formed the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. Above all, with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him-the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: “Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them.” Having thus finished all these things, He approved them, and blessed them, and said, “Increase and multiply.” We see, then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us, without delay, accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength.
Lucifer and the angels were never given the lofty opportunity to become sons of God, and nothing is mentioned about their rebellion causing this opportunity to default to man. Several church fathers wrote about the fallen angels, but nothing is said of this “lost opportunity.” In the above text, we continue to see the exhortations to do good works, and deathly silence concerning any of the “18 restored truths” promoted by HWA.
Below, Clement outlines how one can obtain this “immense reward” of life in immortality:
Chapter XXXV.-Immense is This Reward. How Shall We Obtain It?
How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings [now]; what then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty. Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done? If our understanding be fixed by faith rewards God; if we earnestly seek the things which are pleasing and acceptable to Him; if we do the things which are in harmony with His blameless will; and if we follow the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity, along with all covetousness, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and evil-speaking, all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and ambition. For they that do such things are hateful to God; and not only they that do them, but also those that take pleasure in them that do them…
Read it in all its simplicity. Time after time, we see the exhortation toward faith and doing things that are pleasing to God and a list of evils that Christians must abstain from. We see no instruction on keeping any ordinances, or any other of HWA’s twisted doctrines. If obedience to HWA’s doctrines is a requirement one must perform in order to obtain the ultimate reward, then Clement’s writings do not reflect this. Instead, we see the beauty of simplicity of the acts of love, which are pleasing to God, and acts of evil, which we must cast away.
Following is an example of how HWA would have taken the above paragraph by Clement and perverted it:
Chapter XXXV.-Immense is This Reward. How Shall We Obtain It?
How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, [after Jesus’ return to establish The Kingdom] splendour in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings [now]; what then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty. Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done? If our understanding be fixed by faith rewards God; if we earnestly seek the things which are pleasing and acceptable to Him [keeping the COMMANDMENTS]; if we do the things which are in harmony with His blameless will [by abstaining from unclean meats and every unclean practice]; and if we follow the way of truth [by obeying HIS GOVERNMENT], casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity [no longer being part of this present, evil world], along with all covetousness, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and evil-speaking [against His Government], all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and ambition [by taking a following after oneself]. For they that do such things are hateful to God; and not only they that do them, but also those that take pleasure in them that do them [BITTER dissidents and believing what they say against God’s own Church!].
Can we see how HWA could change the meaning by simply redirecting each phrase toward himself and his doctrines?
Let’s look at the credentials of the next apostolic writer, Mathetes. (I shortened the historian’s comments to save space, but it can be read in full context online.)
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE EPISTLES OF MATHETES TO DIOGNETUS
[a.d. 130.] The anonymous author of this Epistle gives himself the title (Mathetes) “a disciple of the Apostles,” and I venture to adopt it as his name…Mathetes was possibly a catechumen of St. Paul or of one of the apostle’s associate.
The historian informs us that the author of this epistle is anonymous, so he assigns him the name Mathetes. Although we do not know the writer’s true identity, the historian has determined that the writings are authentic and not spurious.
Ancient manuscripts can be authenticated through several factors—the type of materials used to produce the document (papyrus, animal vellum, type of inks and stylus, etc.), the language, the script of the writing, the historical content, the lack of mythical embellishments and legends—to name just a few. We can see that this epistle was written around 130 A.D., twenty years before the HWA “taint date.” In this epistle, we will begin to see why HWA wanted us to believe that a “curtain descended upon the early church,” because he certainly would not have wanted his followers to see this:
Chapter IV.-The Other Observances of the Jews.
But as to their scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons, which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice, I do not think that you require to learn anything from me. For, to accept some of those things which have been formed by God for the use of men as properly formed, and to reject others as useless and redundant,-how can this be lawful? And to speak falsely of God, as if He forbade us to do what is good on the Sabbath-days,-how is not this impious? And to glory in the circumcision of the flesh as a proof of election, and as if, on account of it, they were specially beloved by God,-how is it not a subject of ridicule? And as to their observing months and days, as if waiting upon the stars and the moon, and their distributing, according to their own tendencies, the appointments of God, and the vicissitudes of the seasons, some for festivities, and others for mourning,-who would deem this a part of divine worship, and not much rather a manifestation of folly? I suppose, then, you are sufficiently convinced that the Christians properly abstain from the vanity and error common [to both Jews and Gentiles], and from the busy-body spirit and vain boasting of the Jews; but you must not hope to learn the mystery of their peculiar mode of worshipping God from any mortal.
In the above text, Mathetes is discussing the errors of Gentiles’ idol worship (contained in the previous Chapter III paragraph which can be read online) and the errors of Judaism. Mathetes declares the observance of clean and unclean meats, and Holy Day observances as “utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice.” Below, Mathetes outlines what Christians are to observe:
Chapter V.-The Manners of the Christians.
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. (2 Cor. 6:9) They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.
The defining characteristics of Christians are the fruits of love displayed through their conduct—love toward God by not conforming to the evil practices of this present world (not sacrificing their children to idols, not committing fornication, not living after the lusts of the flesh, not breaking the law of the land, etc.), and showing love toward their fellow man (sharing in all things with others; loving their children; sharing food and fellowship, obeying civil governments, return blessing for cursing, etc.). Spiritual fruits are what God wants from us. God never intended to burden people with peculiar rituals and customs! The love of Christ is our testimony—not Jewish customs. When one practices the love of Christ, people see God. When one practices Jewish customs, all people see is a convert to Judaism. (This is why people would ask WCG members, “Oh, are you Jewish?” whenever they would explain their beliefs). Notice that Christians are citizens of heaven, not citizens of the “government of God” on earth!
Notice also, that Christians understood that they would continue to live, even after being put to death. Below we see that the early church plainly understood that the soul was immortal.
Chapter VI.-The Relation of Christians to the World.
To sum up all in one word-what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [loves also] the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake.
Below, I have skipped to Chapter 10, where Mathetes continues to outline the works of faith. Notice the “heavenly promise” given to those who love Him; and those who love Him will imitate His kindness (not O.T. Laws as dictated by HWA). Also notice that those who are rich, and who seek to hold supremacy over others are not imitators of God. Does a certain, modern-day apostle come to mind? (Note: When Mathetes says “the fire that is for a moment” he is referring to martyrdom.)
Chapter X.-The Blessings that Will Flow from Faith.
If you also desire [to possess] this faith, you likewise shall receive first of all the knowledge of the Father. For God has loved mankind, on whose account He made the world, to whom He rendered subject all the things that are in it, to whom He gave reason and understanding, to whom alone He imparted the privilege of looking upwards to Himself, whom He formed after His own image, to whom He sent His only-begotten Son, to whom He has promised a kingdom in heaven, and will give it to those who have loved Him. And when you have attained this knowledge, with what joy do you think you will be filled? Or, how will you love Him who has first so loved you? And if you love Him, you will be an imitator of His kindness. And do not wonder that a man may become an imitator of God. He can, if he is willing. For it is not by ruling over his neighbours, or by seeking to hold the supremacy over those that are weaker, or by being rich, and showing violence towards those that are inferior, that happiness is found; nor can any one by these things become an imitator of God. But these things do not at all constitute His majesty. On the contrary he who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbour; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, whatsoever things he has received from God, by distributing these to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive [his benefits]: he is an imitator of God. Then thou shalt see, while still on earth, that God in the heavens rules over [the universe]; then thou shall begin to speak the mysteries of God; then shalt thou both love and admire those that suffer punishment because they will not deny God; then shall thou condemn the deceit and error of the world when thou shall know what it is to live truly in heaven, when thou shalt despise that which is here esteemed to be death, when thou shalt fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who shall be condemned to the eternal fire, which shall afflict those even to the end that are committed to it. Then shalt thou admire those who for righteousness’ sake endure the fire that is but for a moment, and shalt count them happy when thou shalt know [the nature of] that fire.
Did this modern-day “apostle” have a reputation for helping the poor and needy, or did he use the widow’s mite to acquire worldly riches of fine arts, gold and silver ornaments, fine mansions and automobiles to elevate himself over others? Do not confuse philanthropy (throwing large sums of money around to world kings and their favorite charities) with helping the poor, especially those of the faith. Was HWA ever known for his kindness, or was he known for his gruff rebukes, continual threats for “falling short,” and his constant appeals for money? The apostolic fathers were willing to die for their beliefs. Did we see this rich, modern-day apostle willing to “die for the truth” during the California receivership (1979), or did he flee to Arizona, leaving his followers to fend for themselves, returning only when he knew it was safe? Wasn’t his version of “The Truth” worth fighting for (let alone, dying for)?
Let’s continue with the next apostolic father, the well-known Polycarp. The short introduction below shows that Polycarp was living during 65-155 A.D. We can see that this date not only falls well before the “taint date,” proving that anything written up to and shortly beyond the 150 A.D. date should still contain truth and not be riddled with error since Polycarp was living during this time. Of course we know that HWA previously said that Polycarp was a true disciple of Christ, thus endorsing Polycarp’s status as a “true apostle.”
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP TO THE PHILIPPIANS
[a.d. 65-100-155.] The Epistle of Polycarp is usually made a sort of preface to those of Ignatius, for reasons which will be obvious to the reader. Yet he was born later, and lived to a much later period. They seem to have been friends from the days of their common pupilage under St. John;…His pupil Irenaeus gives us one of the very few portraits of an apostolic man which are to be found in antiquity, in a few sentences which are a picture: “I could describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat and taught; his going out and coming in; the whole tenor of his life; his personal appearance; how he would speak of the conversations he had held with John and with others who had seen the Lord. How did he make mention of their words and of whatever he had heard from them respecting the Lord.”
We see in the above text, that Polycarp knew Ignatius and had been friends while under the pupilage of John. Interestingly, HWA did not acknowledge Ignatius and Irenaeus as true apostles, even though the historians verify that Ignatius was also a disciple of John, and Irenaeus a disciple of Polycarp while John was still living. This should make us suspicious, and rightfully so. What could HWA possibly be hiding? Let’s read Polycarp’s epistle and see if HWA’s teachings are in agreement with the primitive church.
Chapter I.-Praise of the Philippians.
I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because ye have followed the example of true love [as displayed by God], and have accompanied, as became you, those who were bound in chains, the fitting ornaments of saints, and which are indeed the diadems of the true elect of God and our Lord; and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days long gone by, endureth even until now, and bringeth forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] “whom God raised froth the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.” “In whom, though now ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”; into which joy many desire to enter, knowing that “by grace ye are saved, not of works,” but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.
In every authentic historical text, without exception, you will see the same theme over and over: Jesus is the Christ, He died for our sins, He was raised from the dead—believe in Him—do His will. Polycarp taught the gospel ABOUT Jesus! Polycarp instructs believers to walk in His commandments, which are immediately defined by a list of spiritual fruits that God desires, and a list of evil acts that Christians are to abstain from. Nothing is mentioned of keeping Sabbaths or Holy Days, no clean and unclean meats, no tithing, and none of the mysteries outlined in Mystery of the Ages! What is emphasized? JESUS. Not “mysteries”!
Chapter III.-Expressions or Personal Unworthiness.
These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because ye have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, “is the mother of us all.” For if any one be inwardly possessed of these graces, he hath fulfilled the command of righteousness, since he that hath love is far from all sin.
Polycarp validates Paul’s teachings and reiterates them. Polycarp goes on to let us know that he that has love is far from all sin, and one who inwardly possesses these graces has fulfilled the command of righteousness! Where are all the “truths” that HWA supposedly restored from the original apostles? If the truths espoused by HWA are proof of the original true church, then why does Polycarp not mention even one present teaching of Armstrong? Look at what Polycarp is emphasizing—LOVE toward God and Christ—not laws, not Jewish customs! We know from historical records that Polycarp observed the Passover but nowhere does he command anyone to do so as a requirement for salvation!
Chapter VIII.-Persevere in Hope and Patience.
Let us then continually persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, “who bore our sins in His own body on the cross,” “who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth,” but endured all things for us, that we might live in Him. Let us then be imitators of His patience; and if we suffer for His name’s sake, let us glorify Him. For He has set us this example in Himself, and we have believed that such is the case.
Chapter IX.-Patience Inculcated.
I exhort you all, therefore, to yield obedience to the word of righteousness, and to exercise all patience, such as ye have seen [set] before your eyes, not only in the case of the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles. [This do] in the assurance that all these have not run in vain, but in faith and righteousness, and that they are [now] in their due place in the presence of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not this present world, but Him who died for us, and for our sakes was raised again by God from the dead.
Notice once again that the gospel or “good news” is about Jesus. Polycarp informs us that Paul and the rest of the martyrs have not run in vain, but are [now] in the presence of the Lord! This is in agreement with Clement’s text that was examined earlier. The real reason HWA never informed his followers about Polycarp’s Epistle is quite clear—he never wanted them to know that Polycarp’s writings contradicted with his contrived doctrines since he already categorized Polycarp as a true disciple!
The following section shows Polycarp endorsing the Epistles of Ignatius (30-107 A.D.) which we will cover next. We see that Polycarp himself had possession of them, and enjoined them to his own Epistle. If there had been any error contained in the Epistles of Ignatius, Polycarp would have stated so. He certainly had plenty of opportunity to correct them before sending them out to the other churches. So we can safely surmise that the Epistles of Ignatius did not contain error, since Polycarp personally approved his writings:
Chapter XIII.-Concerning the Transmission of Epistles.
Both you and Ignatius wrote to me, that if any one went [from this] into Syria, he should carry your letter with him; which request I will attend to if I find a fitting opportunity, either personally, or through some other acting for me, that your desire may be fulfilled. The Epistles of Ignatius written by him to us, and all the rest [of his Epistles] which we have by us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are subjoined to this Epistle, and by them ye may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord. Any more certain information you may have obtained respecting both Ignatius himself, and those that were with him, have the goodness to make known to us.
Ignatius lived during 30-107 A.D., therefore his writings do not fall anywhere close to the 150 A.D. date. Looking at the date, we can safely assume that Ignatius’ Epistles qualify as pure, “primitive church” writings. Let’s look at what Ignatius had to say in his Epistle to the Ephesians about how one can recognize a true Christian.
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
Chapter XIV.-Exhortations to Faith and Love.
None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus which are the beginning and the end of life. For the beginning is faith, and the end is love. Now these two, being inseparably connected together, are of God, while all other things which are requisite for a holy life follow after them. No man [truly] making a profession of faith sinneth; nor does he that possesses love hate any one. The tree is made manifest by its fruit; so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognised by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession, but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end.
So a true Christian is recognized by faith and love toward Christ Jesus and will stay faithful to that belief to the end [of his life]. Nothing here about Old Testament laws, or any of HWA’s doctrines which he insists the original, primitive church observed and that he supposedly “restored.” Now fasten your seatbelts because the following texts are going to blow you away. Earlier, we observed that HWA did not mention the writings of Ignatius even though Polycarp endorsed them, and now we are going to see that HWA is clearly in the business of “suppressing the truth.” In his Epistle to the Magnesians, Ignatius defines the false doctrines that Christians of the early church were to avoid:
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians
Chapter VIII.-Caution Against False Doctrines.
Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace. For the divinest prophets lived according to Christ Jesus. On this account also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word, not proceeding forth from silence, and who in all things pleased Him that sent Him.
Be not deceived with strange doctrines, “nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies,” and things in which the Jews make their boast. “Old things are passed away: behold, all things have become new.” For if we still live according to the Jewish law, and the circumcision of the flesh, we deny that we have received grace. For the divinest prophets lived according to Jesus Christ. On this account also they were persecuted, being inspired by grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there is one God, the Almighty, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word, not spoken, but essential. For He is not the voice of an articulate utterance, but a substance begotten by divine power, who has in all things pleased Him that sent Him.
Chapter IX.-Let Us Live with Christ.
If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death-whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master-how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead.
Chapter X.-Beware of Judaizing.
Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. For whosoever is called by any other name besides this, is not of God. Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be ye changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be ye salted in Him, lest any one among you should be corrupted, since by your savour ye shall be convicted. It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus, and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, that so every tongue which believeth might be gathered together to God.
Chapter XI.-I Write These Things to Warn You.
These things [I address to you], my beloved, not that I know any of you to be in such a state; but, as less than any of you, I desire to guard you beforehand, that ye fall not upon the hooks of vain doctrine, but that ye attain to full assurance in regard to the birth, and passion, and resurrection which took place in the time of the government of Pontius Pilate, being truly and certainly accomplished by Jesus Christ, who is our hope, from which may no one of you ever be turned aside.
Can it be said any more plain than this? I hope the reader is beginning to understand the magnitude of deception that Herbert Armstrong was willing to stoop to. HWA knew, without a doubt, that these writings existed, but outright manipulated the reader into believing that early church records did not exist or were corrupt. Since HWA mentioned Polycarp and Eusebius in his writings, there is no doubt that he knew these other records existed but conveniently omitted them because they did not corroborate any of his “restored” doctrines! We must continue to question why God would commission a man that would engage in intentional deception. If HWA was willing to deceive readers about church history, would he also be willing to deceive his readers about his divine calling and commission?
Let’s look at Ignatius’ warnings to the Philadelphians.
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians
Chapter VI.-Do Not Accept Judaism.
But if any one preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him. For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men. Flee therefore the wicked devices and snares of the prince of this world, lest at any time being conquered by his artifices, ye grow weak in your love. But be ye all joined together with an undivided heart. And I thank my God that I have a good conscience in respect to you, and that no one has it in his power to boast, either privately or publicly, that I have burdened any one either in much or in little. And I wish for all among whom I have spoken, that they may not possess that for a testimony against them.
May the reader heed the warning of this early true apostle! Ignatius was willing to die for the testimony of Jesus. The documented martyrdom can be read fully online, but I have excerpted two chapters that apply to our current discussion.
Below we see Ignatius anticipating his destiny in heaven, secured through martyrdom:
The Martyrdom of Ignatius
Chapter IV.-Ignatius Writes to the Churches.
And these things he thus spake, and thus testified, extending his love to Christ so far as one who was about to secure heaven through his good confession, and the earnestness of those who joined their prayers to his in regard to his [approaching] conflict; and to give a recompense to the Churches, who came to meet him through their rulers, sending letters of thanksgiving to them, which dropped spiritual grace, along with prayer and exhortation. Wherefore, seeing all men so kindly affected towards him, and fearing lest the love of the brotherhood should hinder his zeal towards the Lord, while a fair door of suffering martyrdom was opened to him, he wrote to the Church of the Romans the Epistle which is here subjoined.
After his death, some of those in the Church testified that they saw Ignatius in a vision. Notice the reference to the Father, Christ Jesus (Son) and the Holy Spirit, one of the earliest references to the Trinity [i. e., the Father is fully God, the Son is fully God and the Holy Spirit is fully God –each are distinct yet are one God]. (Polycarp, while burning at the stake, also praised the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.)
Chapter VII.-Ignatius Appears in a Vision After His Death.
Now these things took place on the thirteenth day before the Kalends of January, that is, on the twentieth of December, Sura and Senecio being then the consuls of the Romans for the second time. Having ourselves been eye-witnesses of these things, and having spent the whole night in tears within the house, and having entreated the Lord, with bended knees and much prayer, that He would give us weak men full assurance respecting the things which were done, it came to pass, on our falling into a brief slumber, that some of us saw the blessed Ignatius suddenly standing by us and embracing us, while others beheld him again praying for us, and others still saw him dropping with sweat, as if he had just come from his great labour, and standing by the Lord. When, therefore, we had with great joy witnessed these things, and had compared our several visions together, we sang praise to God, the giver of all good things, and expressed our sense of the happiness of the holy [martyr]; and now we have made known to you both the day and the time [when these things happened], that, assembling ourselves together according to the time of his martyrdom, we may have fellowship with the champion and noble martyr of Christ, who trode under foot the devil, and perfected the course which, out of love to Christ, he had desired, in Christ Jesus our Lord; by whom, and with whom, be glory and power to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, for evermore! Amen.
Our next author is Barnabas, whose definite identity has been debated by historians. Regardless, the content is orthodox, and considered genuine. Polycarp, Ignatius, and Papias were fellow contemporaries during this period. His Epistle was written between A.D. 90 and 120.Notice that this epistle was “accepted by the primitive faithful.” (All emphasis in bolding is mine.)
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
[a.d. 100] The writer of this Epistle is supposed to have been an Alexandrian Jew of the times of Trajan and Hadrian. He was a layman; but possibly he bore the name of “Barnabas,” and so has been confounded with his holy and apostolic name-sire. It is more probable that the Epistle, being anonymous, was attributed to St. Barnabas, by those who supposed that apostle to be the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews,5 and who discovered similarities in the plan and purpose of the two works…
The Maccabaean spirit of the Jews never burned more furiously than after the destruction of Jerusalem, and while it was kindling the conflagration that broke out under Barchochebas, and blazed so terribly in the insurrection against Hadrian. It is not credible that the Jewish Christians at Alexandria and elsewhere were able to emancipate themselves from their national spirit; and accordingly the old Judaizing, which St. Paul had anathematized and confuted, would assert itself again. If such was the occasion of this Epistle, as I venture to suppose, a higher character must be ascribed to it than could otherwise be claimed. This accounts, also, for the degree of favour with which it was accepted by the primitive faithful.
The Epistle of Barnabas is filled with intricate details of the old and new covenants, all which point to Christ. I have listed the titles of each chapter below [Note: Be aware that Barnabas did not give these titles], as I am sure you will find them highly interesting. You can read this complete epistle online. (Go to: http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html)
The Epistle of Barnabas
- After the Salutation, the Writer Declares that He Would Communicate to His Brethren Something of that Which He Had Himself Received
- The Jewish Sacrifices are Now Abolished
- The Fasts of the Jews are Not True Fasts, Nor Acceptable to God
- Antichrist is at Hand: Let Us Therefore Avoid Jewish Errors
- The New Covenant, Founded on the Sufferings of Christ, Tends to Our Salvation, But to the Jew’s Destruction
- The Sufferings of Christ, and the New Covenant, Were Announced by the Prophets
- Fasting, and the Goat Sent Away, Were Types of Christ
- The Red Heifer a Type of Christ
- The Spiritual Meaning of Circumcision
- Spiritual Significance of the Precepts of Moses Respecting Different Kinds of Food
- Baptism and the Cross Prefigured in the Old Testament
- The Cross of Christ Frequently Announced in the Old Testament
- Christians, and Not Jews, the Heirs of the Covenant [UPDATE: Barnabas didn’t say this. See Hebrew 8:8-10. Listen to: Why The Church Isn’t Under The New Covenant by Gregg Jackson. The New Covenant is explicitly for Israel and Judah.]
- The Lord Hath Given Us the Testament Which Moses Received and Broke6
- The False and the True Sabbath
- The Spiritual Temple of God
- Conclusion of the First Part of the Epistle
- Second Part of the Epistle. The Two Ways
- The Way of Light
- The Way of Darkness
Let’s take a quick look at what day Barnabas said the early church worshipped on:
Chapter XV.-The False and the True Sabbath.
…Further, He says to them, “Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure.” Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this, ] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.
Yes, indeed—Sunday. Can you detect the harmony these church fathers had amongst themselves? The only person out of step with the primitive church is HWA. Below, Barnabas gives a detailed description of the Way of Darkness.
Chapter XX.-The Way of Darkness.
But the way of darkness is crooked, and full of cursing; for it is the way of eternal death with punishment, in which way are the things that destroy the soul, viz., idolatry, over-confidence, the arrogance of power, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, adultery, murder, rapine (forcible seizure of another’s property), haughtiness, transgression, deceit, malice, self-sufficiency, poisoning, magic, avarice, want of the fear of God. [In this way, too, ] are those who persecute the good, those who hate truth, those who love falsehood, those who know not the reward of righteousness, those who cleave not to that which is good, those who attend not with just judgment to the widow and orphan, those who watch not to the fear of God, [but incline] to wickedness, from whom meekness and patience are far off; persons who love vanity, follow after a reward, pity not the needy, labour not in aid of him who is overcome with toil; who are prone to evil-speaking, who know not Him that made them, who are murderers of children, destroyers of the workmanship of God; who turn away him that is in want, who oppress the afflicted, who are advocates of the rich, who are unjust judges of the poor, and who are in every respect transgressors.
Notice what is missing from this list? Where are “Sabbath-breaking, refusing to tithe and give offerings, rejecting the holy convocations, eating unclean meats, etc.”? HWA emphasized rebellion against (HWA’s version of) God’s laws and His government as epitome of evil, yet we don’t see it listed here as one of the works of darkness.
Next we will examine a short fragment of Papias and the historical remarks concerning him.
Introductory Note to the Fragments of Papias
[a.d. 70-155] …Papias has the credit of association with Polycarp, in the friendship of St. John himself, and of “others who had seen the Lord.” He is said to have been bishop of Hierapolis, in Phrygia, and to have died about the same time that Polycarp suffered; but even this is questioned. So little do we know of one whose lost books, could they be recovered, might reverse the received judgment, and establish his claim to the disputed tribute which makes him, like Apollos, “an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures.”
The following is the original Introductory Notice:
The principal information in regard to Papias is given in the extracts made among the fragments from the works of Irenaeus and Eusebius. He was bishop of the Church in Hierapolis, a city of Phrygia, in the first half of the second century. Later writers affirm that he suffered martyrdom about a.d. 163; some saying that Rome, others that Pergamus, was the scene of his death. He was a hearer of the Apostle John, and was on terms of intimate intercourse with many who had known the Lord and His apostles. From these he gatherered the floating traditions in regard to the sayings of our Lord, and wove them into a production divided into five books. This work does not seem to have been confined to an exposition of the sayings of Christ, but to have contained much historical information.
Notice that the Apostle John was still living during the time of Papias, and that Papias associated with Polycarp and others who had seen the Lord. Notice also that Papias was martyred in A.D. 163 (others say it was A.D. 155), proving that even up to and beyond the 150 A.D. date set by HWA, there were those who knew and were intimate with many who personally knew Jesus and His apostles. Papias’ writings were corroborated by Eusebius and Irenaeus. Unfortunately only small fragments have been recovered. But even in small fragments, much can be said. Below, observe where this church father said “those who are deemed worthy” have an abode:
Fragments of Papias
As the presbyters say, then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour will be seen, according as they shall be worthy who see Him.
That’s right—heaven! And all who go there shall see Jesus. In the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, HWA made stabbing remarks about Christians going to heaven, playing harp music, and staring into the face of the Savior for all eternity. We need to pause and ask why, if the church fathers desired to be in heaven with the Savior, does this modern day, self-appointed “end-time Apostle” openly deny heaven as the abode of the saved? Why would he feel repulsed in seeing Jesus for all eternity? Shouldn’t this tell us something? Once again, we see that HWA’s teachings do not conform one iota to the early New Testament church doctrines. So who is teaching “another gospel” here?
Our next writer whom we will examine is Justin Martyr. Justin was living during the time of Polycarp, Ignatius, Papias, Mathetes, and Irenaeus. He, along with Irenaeus, was a prolific writer and considered one of the earliest “apologists.” An apologist is one who writes in logical defense of the faith. Since Justin studied philosophy and was a disciple of Socrates and Plato, HWA made his members believe that Justin introduced pagan teachings into Christianity. Not so! Because of his clear understanding of pagan philosophy, Justin could thoroughly refute their beliefs—not agree with them and infuse them into Christianity! Nor did he introduce their immortal soul teachings into Christianity, as HWA wanted us to believe. Justin and Irenaeus are known as the next, successive generation, or sub-apostolic, fathers. Their writings span into the second century of church history.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN MARTYR
[a.d. 110-165] Justin was a Gentile, but born in Samaria, near Jacob’s well. He must have been well educated: he had traveled extensively, and he seems to have been a person enjoying at least a competence. After trying all other systems, his elevated tastes and refined perceptions made him a disciple of Socrates and Plato. So he climbed towards Christ. As he himself narrates the story of his conversion, it need not be anticipated here. What Plato was feeling after, he found in Jesus of Nazareth. The conversion of such a man marks a new era in the gospel history. The subapostolic age begins with the first Christian author, the founder of theological literature. It introduced to mankind, as the mother of true philosophy, the despised teaching of those Galileans to whom their Master had said, “Ye are the light of the world.”
We will examine short portions of Justin’s manuscripts. Notice how Justin’s writings continue to agree with the church fathers that we previously covered. The same theme is repeated: Jesus is the Savior who rose from the dead; believers are to help the poor, the widows and orphans. Notice carefully in the text below that tithing was not commanded. HWA taught his followers that the early church kept the Sabbath. Here, Justin plainly states on what day of the week Christians meet:
The First Apology of Justin
Chapter LXVII.-Weekly Worship of the Christians.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
Once again, we see Sunday as the day set aside for worship. Polycarp, Ignatius, Papias, Mathetes, and Irenaeus were all still living during this time and could have pronounced Justin a heretic, but did not. Notice also that Justin records that Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday.7 He states that Jesus appeared to His apostles and disciples and taught them these things! Apparently, HWA’s Wednesday Crucifixion/Saturday Resurrection was not taught by the early church, therefore HWA’s claim of “restoring original truths” is clearly bogus! Justin also informs us that believers who were financially well off and were willing, could decide on their own how much to give, which was directly distributed to the needy. No commandment here to tithe (let alone pay three tithes), nor was the money sent off to a big, “headquarters” church in some distant land to upkeep a high-maintenance temple, exotic landscaping, and entertaining royalty. HWA clearly added—not “restored”—this particular doctrine! (The only thing HWA “restored” was his dwindling bank account).
The following is a Dialogue between Justin and a Jew named Trypho. Justin is the most lenient of the early church fathers. In the following discussion, he brings up some very interesting points. Trypho admits that one cannot observe all the Mosaic institutions, but was willing to admit that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Job and all the rest—who never observed these ordinances—are saved!
Dialogue of Justin
Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew
Chapter XLVI.-Trypho Asks Whether a Man Who Keeps the Law Even Now Will Be Saved. Justin Proves that It Contributes Nothing to Righteousness.
“But if some, even now, wish to live in the observance of the institutions given by Moses, and yet believe in this Jesus who was crucified, recognizing Him to be the Christ of God, and that it is given to Him to be absolute Judge of all, and that His is the everlasting kingdom, can they also be saved?” he inquired of me.
And I replied, “Let us consider that also together, whether one may now observe all the Mosaic institutions.”
And he answered, “No. For we know that, as you said, it is not possible either anywhere to sacrifice the lamb of the passover, or to offer the goats ordered for the fast; or, in short, [to present] all the other offerings.”
And I said, “Tell [me] then yourself, I pray, some things which can be observed; for you will be persuaded that, though a man does not keep or has not performed the eternal decrees, he may assuredly be saved.”
Then he replied, “To keep the Sabbath, to be circumcised, to observe months, and to be washed if you touch anything prohibited by Moses, or after sexual intercourse.”
And I said, “Do you think that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, and Job, and all the rest before or after them equally righteous, also Sarah the wife of Abraham, Rebekah the wife of Isaac, Rachel the wife of Jacob, and Leah, and all the rest of them, until the mother of Moses the faithful servant, who observed none of these [statutes], will be saved?”
And Trypho answered, “Were not Abraham and his descendants circumcised?”
And I said, “I know that Abraham and his descendants were circumcised. The reason why circumcision was given to them I stated at length in what has gone before; and if what has been said does not convince you, let us again search into the matter. But you are aware that, up to Moses, no one in fact who was righteous observed any of these rites at all of which we are talking, or received one commandment to observe, except that of circumcision, which began from Abraham.” And he replied, “We know it, and admit that they are saved.”
And he replied, “We know it, and admit that they are saved.”
The dialogue continues with Justin explaining the reason why God imposed the ordinances in the first place—because of the hardness of the people’s hearts—and adds that observance of them contributes nothing to righteousness.
Then I returned answer, “You perceive that God by Moses laid all such ordinances upon you on account of the hardness of your people’s hearts, in order that, by the large number of them, you might keep God continually, and in every action, before your eyes, and never begin to act unjustly or impiously. For He enjoined you to place around you [a fringe] of purple dye, in order that you might not forget God; and He commanded you to wear a phylactery, certain characters, which indeed we consider holy, being engraved on very thin parchment; and by these means stirring you up to retain a constant remembrance of God: at the same time, however, convincing you, that in your hearts you have not even a faint remembrance of God’s worship. Yet not even so were you dissuaded from idolatry: for in the times of Elijah, when [God] recounted the number of those who had not bowed the knee to Baal, He said the number was seven thousand; and in Isaiah He rebukes you for having sacrificed your children to idols. But we, because we refuse to sacrifice to those to whom we were of old accustomed to sacrifice, undergo extreme penalties, and rejoice in death, believing that God will raise us up by His Christ, and will make us incorruptible, and undisturbed, and immortal; and we know that the ordinances imposed by reason of the hardness of your people’s hearts, contribute nothing to the performance of righteousness and of piety.”
If ever there was a moment in church history for a church father to agree with HWA, it would have been here—and clearly it wasn’t! Justin could have said, “Yes, we observe all the laws and ordinances as God commanded, and we submit to His government on earth, but we are saved because we confess Christ as Messiah while keeping His Law and Commandments for salvation, whereas you Jews just keep the Law and Commandments but don’t acknowledge Christ.” But he simply doesn’t. And he does not even mention, let alone expound upon, any doctrine espoused by Armstrong. If HWA insists that his doctrines are the “only true doctrines” by which salvation can be gained, and those doctrines were the exact same ones the early church lived by, then we should see at least one HWA doctrine mentioned, and we simply don’t. The silence is deafening.
In the next chapter, Justin rebukes Trypho for trying to tell him that one must observe the Law in order to be saved. He gives a stern warning against anyone who tries to persuade others to keep the Law as a requirement for salvation.
Chapter XLVII.-Justin Communicates with Christians Who Observe the Law. Not a Few Catholics8 Do Otherwise.
And Trypho again inquired, “But if some one, knowing that this is so, after he recognises that this man is Christ, and has believed in and obeys Him, wishes, however, to observe these [institutions], will he be saved? ”
I said, “In my opinion, Trypho, such an one will be saved, if he does not strive in every way to persuade other men, I mean those Gentiles who have been circumcised from error by Christ, to observe the same things as himself, telling them that they will not be saved unless they do so. This you did yourself at the commencement of the discourse, when you declared that I would not be saved unless I observe these institutions.”
Does a particular, modern-day apostle “strive in every way to persuade other men (Gentiles in particular) to observe the same things as himself, telling them that they will not be saved unless they do so“? Justin clearly states that a man will be saved if he does not persuade others to do this (Judaism). Not only is HWA in diametric opposition to Justin, he arrogantly berates the traditional churches that are in agreement with Justin! Once again, HWA “restores” nothing.
Justin, being the most lenient of the early church fathers, makes it clear that one must believe in Christ to be saved, but he does make a special exception:
Then he replied, “Why then have you said, `In my opinion, such an one will be saved, ‘unless there are some who affirm that such will not be saved? “
“There are such people, Trypho,” I answered; “and these do not venture to have any intercourse with or to extend hospitality to such persons; but I do not agree with them. But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren. But if, Trypho,” I continued, “some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them. But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved. And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have repented not before death, shall by no means be saved. Further, I hold that those of the seed of Abraham who live according to the law, and do not believe in this Christ before death, shall likewise not be saved, and especially those who have anathematized and do anathematize this very Christ in the synagogues, and everything by which they might obtain salvation and escape the vengeance of fire. For the goodness and the loving-kindness of God, and His boundless riches, hold righteous and sinless the man who, as Ezekiel tells, repents of sins; and reckons sinful, unrighteous, and impious the man who fails away from piety and righteousness to unrighteousness and ungodliness. Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘In whatsoever things I shall take you, in these I shall judge you.'”
Justin makes an unflattering comment toward those who want to continue observing the Law, even though they come to the knowledge and belief in Christ as the Savior.
He reiterates why the Law was given in the first place—not because they impart any virtue (as HWA made his followers believe)—it was given because of the hardness of their hearts! But for those who were weak-minded, and wished to continue keeping the Law, Justin makes it clear that that person must not compel others to do so. Justin understood and was sensitive to Trypho and his Jewish heritage. He understood that traditions and ceremonies were part of Trypho’s upbringing and culture. Therefore, he permitted him to continue celebrating and observing the Jewish customs as long as he did not insist others (especially Gentiles) perform these ordinances in order to obtain salvation. Justin is very clear on this matter, and HWA knew this and cleverly covered his bases. First, HWA conned his readers into believing that early church history was “lost”—that there are little to no records in existence that agree with his modern day teachings. Of course one will never find any writings that are in agreement with HWA because they never existed in the first place, and HWA knew this. He used the “nonexistence” of these writings as “proof” that history was lost! But just in case somebody would actually take the time to investigate his claims, he covers his tracks by making his readers believe that the well of church history was poisoned early on. He knew if one would stumble upon these writings, one would immediately see the contradictions. So if one believes that HWA was God’s apostle, teaching all truth, and has transferred his allegiance to HWA, then one will believe HWA’s version of church history. This is why it was very important for HWA to construct the whole belief system that he was God’s apostle right from the start of Mystery of the Ages. Once a person believes this, he will believe anything that issues forth from HWA’s mouth.
You see, HWA made his readers believe that he had thoroughly investigated these matters because he could drop an unfamiliar name here and there, and quote some obscure event in church history that most people were completely unfamiliar with. We readily believed him because he appeared to be knowledgeable and know something that we didn’t know (a typical sales tactic). But when we get down to the nuts and bolts of the matter—the nitty, gritty details—we honestly don’t see them in Mystery of the Ages. Look at all the early church history we have covered thus far (and this is only a small portion!). If HWA were forthright and thorough, he would have given his readers this same information. He didn’t because he knew it would prove him a liar. If he were telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then he would not have been afraid of what these records had to say and he would have used them liberally.
The following record contains the details of the martyrdom of Justin, along with Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus, at the hands of Rusticus, the Roman prefect.
The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs
Justin, Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus, Who Suffered at Rome. [Translated by the Rev. M. Dods, M.a.]
Chapter I.-Examination of Justin by the Prefect.
In the time of the lawless partisans of idolatry, wicked decrees were passed against the godly Christians in town and country, to force them to offer libations to vain idols; and accordingly the holy men, having been apprehended, were brought before the prefect of Rome, Rusticus by name. And when they had been brought before his judgment-seat, said to Justin, “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings.” Justin said, “To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation.” Rusticus the prefect said, “What kind of doctrines do you profess?” Justin said, “I have endeavoured to learn all doctrines; but I have acquiesced at last in the true doctrines, those namely of the Christians, even though they do not please those who hold false opinions.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Are those the doctrines that please you, you utterly wretched man? “Justin said, “Yes, since I adhere to them with right dogma.” Rusticus the prefect said, “What is the dogma?” Justin said, “That according to which we worship the God of the Christians, whom we reckon to be one from the beginning, the maker and fashioner of the whole creation, visible and invisible; and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had also been preached beforehand by the prophets as about to be present with the race of men, the herald of salvation and teacher of good disciples. And I, being a man, think that what I can say is insignificant in comparison with His boundless divinity, acknowledging a Certain prophetic power, since it was prophesied concerning Him of whom now I say that He is the Son of God. For I know that of old the prophets foretold His appearance among men.”
Justin’s testimony is about Jesus—that He is the Son of God who came as the prophets foretold—the herald of salvation and teacher of good disciples. Nothing here about any Armstrong-contrived “mysteries” or anything resembling the “restored truths.” In Chapter 2 and 3 of this examination, Rusticus continues to interrogate Justin and the others concerning the location of their meetings, and asks if they are Christians. All of them openly confess their identity and belief in Christ.
Chapter II.-Examination of Justin Continued.
Chapter III.-Examination of Chariton and Others.
Rusticus the prefect said, “Where do you assemble? “Justin said, “Where each one chooses and can: for do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so; because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Tell me where you assemble, or into what place do you collect your followers? “Justin said, “I live above one Martinus, at the Timiotinian Bath; and during the whole time (and I am now living in Rome for the second time) I am unaware of any other meeting than his. And if any one wished to come to me, I communicated to him the doctrines of truth.” Rusticus said, “Are you not, then, a Christian? “Justin said, “Yes, I am a Christian.”
Then said the prefect Rusticus to Chariton, “Tell me further, Chariton, are you also a Christian? “Chariton said, “I am a Christian by the command of God.” Rusticus the prefect asked the woman Charito, “What say you, Charito? “Charito said, “I am a Christian by the grace of God.” Rusticus said to Euelpistus, “And what are you? “Euelpistus, a servant of Caesar, answered, “I too am a Christian, having been freed by Christ; and by the grace of Christ I partake of the same hope.” Rusticus the prefect said to Hierax, “And you, are you a Christian? “Hierax said, “Yes, I am a Christian, for I revere and worship the same God.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Did Justin make you Christians? “Hierax said, “I was a Christian, and will be a Christian.” And Paeon stood up and said, “I too am a Christian.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Who taught you? “Paeon said, “From our parents we received this good confession.” Euelpistus said, “I willingly heard the words of Justin. But from my parents also I learned to be a Christian.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Where are your parents? “Euelpistus said, “In Cappadocia.” Rusticus says to Hierax, “Where are your parents? “And he answered, and said, “Christ is our true father, and faith in Him is our mother; and my earthly parents died; and I, when I was driven from Iconium in Phrygia, came here.” Rusticus the prefect said to Liberianus, “And what say you? Are you a Christian, and unwilling to worship [the gods]? “Liberianus said, “I too am a Christian, for I worship and reverence the only true God.”
Notice the bold, unashamed confession of Christ by these believers. Nothing about “I’m a member of the True Church” or “I obey God’s Government” or “We are qualifying for the Kingdom” or anything along those lines is mentioned. Nothing is mentioned here concerning the Sabbath or other ordinances. If any of these requirements were important to their salvation, they would have confessed it since they, too, would be in the process of “qualifying.”
Carefully notice the questions asked by the prefect, Rusticus, in the following paragraph, and the answer given by Justin.
Chapter IV.-Rusticus Threatens the Christians with Death.
The prefect says to Justin, “Hearken, you who are called learned, and think that you know true doctrines; if you are scourged and beheaded, do you believe you will ascend into heaven? “Justin said, “I hope that, if I endure these things, I shall have His gifts. For I know that, to all who have thus lived, there abides the divine favour until the completion of the whole world.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Do you suppose, then, that you will ascend into heaven to receive some recompense? “Justin said, “I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Let us, then, now come to the matter in hand, and which presses. Having come together, offer sacrifice with one accord to the gods.” Justin said, “No right-thinking person falls away from piety to impiety.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Unless ye obey, ye shall be mercilessly punished.” Justin said, “Through prayer we can be saved on account of our Lord Jesus Christ, even when we have been punished, because this shall become to us salvation and confidence at the more fearful and universal judgment-seat of our Lord and Saviour.” Thus also said the other martyrs: “Do what you will, for we are Christians, and do not sacrifice to idols.”
Chapter V.-Sentence Pronounced and Executed.
Rusticus the prefect pronounced sentence, saying, “Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to yield to the command of the emperor be scourged, and led away to suffer the punishment of decapitation, according to the laws.” The holy martyrs having glorified God, and having gone forth to the accustomed place, were beheaded, and perfected their testimony in the confession of the Saviour. And some of the faithful having secretly removed their bodies, laid them in a suitable place, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ having wrought along with them, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Can anything be any plainer than this? These believers died for the testimony for the confession of the Savior—not the testimony of eclectic Judaism, or any other “mystery” that one can be privy to, but cannot be saved by! Justin and the others, with total confidence and complete conviction, knew they would ascend to heaven upon their deaths and receive their reward. All of these testimonies are in harmony with each other.
So the reader must continue to ask himself who he is going to believe—men who were taught directly by the original apostles, or a man (Herbert Armstrong) who arrives 1900 years later, whom we have seen, so far, incapable of telling the complete truth about anything?
The final writer we will examine is Irenaeus, the bishop of Gaul. We have already covered his legitimacy as a disciple of Polycarp. He was an extensive writer, and is known for his extensive apology entitled, “Irenaeus Against Heresies.”
Allow me to digress for our final piece of church history, which I’m sure the reader will find very interesting. In the future chapters of Mystery of the Ages, HWA will claim unbroken succession from the original apostolic church. He traces the roots of his church through a sect called the Ebionites. Let’s examine what Eusebius had to say concerning the Ebionites and see whether they support the teachings of HWA restored church, or whether there are any contradictions:
The Church History of Eusebius, Book III
Chapter XXVII. The Heresy of the Ebionites.
- The evil demon, however, being unable to tear certain others from their their allegiance to the Christ of God, yet found them susceptible in a different direction, and so brought them over to his own purposes. The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ.
- For they considered him a plain and common man, who was justified only because of his superior virtue, and who was the fruit of the intercourse of a man with Mary. In their opinion the observance of the ceremonial law was altogether necessary, on the ground that they could not be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a corresponding life.
- There were others, however, besides them, that were of the same name, but avoided the strange and absurd beliefs of the former, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, inasmuch as they also refused to acknowledge that he pre-existed, being God, Word, and Wisdom, they turned aside into the impiety of the former, especially when they, like them, endeavored to observe strictly the bodily worship of the law.
- These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the law; and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest.
- The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated the Lord’s days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Saviour.
- Wherefore, in consequence of such a course they received the name of Ebionites, which signified the poverty of their understanding. For this is the name by which a poor man is called among the Hebrews.
Now let’s go over each of these points. One branch of the Ebionites believed that Jesus was a mere man and not born of a virgin, the other branch believed he was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. Let’s say we give HWA the benefit of a doubt, and we’ll let him trace his church roots through the latter group.
Both branches of Ebionites did not believe in the pre-existence of the Word, which completely contradicts what HWA taught!
They also rejected the epistles of Paul, whom they called an “apostate,” and only taught from an unidentified text called “the Gospel according to the Hebrews.” This is the second contradiction. HWA taught that the whole Bible was the inspired Word of God and dared not to label Paul as an apostate since he (HWA) claimed to be on par with Paul concerning divine revelation and calling. Even though the Ebionites kept the Jewish Law and Sabbaths, they celebrated the Resurrection on Sunday! This is the third contradiction. Now let’s summarize these contradictions: This sect, the Ebionites, from which HWA traces his modern-day “true church,” did not believe that Christ was the Word, rejected the Epistles of Paul and labeled him as an apostate, using only one text called “the Gospel according to the Hebrews” (containing questionable content and/or origin) as their authority, and did not observe the Passover but kept the Sunday Resurrection. Imagine how quickly one would be anathematized from HWA’s church if they practiced the doctrines of the Ebionites!
The truth of the matter is this: All religious cults, including HWA’s, try to establish their “sacred roots” by attempting to trace the origins of their group to the primitive church, making their followers believe in an “unbroken succession.”
From this, they attempt to gain their unquestioned authority. But major problems arise when they try to find groups throughout history that resemble their own present day teachings—they simply do not exist! There are groups that may hold a few similar doctrines, but the remaining practices are diametrically opposite and would not be tolerated in his church. If we believe his claims that there was a “small, faithful flock” throughout history that ran parallel to the Mystery Babylon Church, then we have uncovered the problems with these groups having only a few similarities to HWA’s modern-day church. The standards cannot be bent to accommodate this disparity, for if this were allowed, then HWA could easily accommodate “Mystery Babylon and her harlots” since they hold similar doctrines. They teach the pre-existence of Jesus as the Word, that Jesus was born of a virgin, the partaking of the communion symbols of bread and wine, the submission to the church hierarchy, a modern-day representative on earth, and the advent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
HWA labeled the traditional churches as “false” because they believed in a Sunday Resurrection, but he gave the Ebionites his blessings even though they, too, believed in a Sunday Resurrection! We see HWA upholding one standard to the traditional churches while holding another standard to heretical groups in order to “prove” apostolic succession. HWA knew this—had access to these one and the same historical records—but chose to misrepresent these groups, suppressing the truth of this sect’s doctrines through nondisclosure of pertinent information written in these records! This is outright deceitfulness—fruits of a man who practices falsehood (“the Way of Darkness”) instead of truth.
Now let’s review what the primitive church taught in the first century:
- That Jesus was the Christ, born of a virgin, was crucified on Friday and bodily resurrected to life on Sunday.
- They met for weekly worship on Sunday.
- They took up a collection for the poor and needy, but did not require tithing, or giving of holy day offerings.
- They taught that one must believe in Jesus to be saved, and those who don’t believe in Him are condemned.
- They believed that man has an immortal soul and believers have an eternal, heavenly reward upon death.
- Belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- They did not keep the O.T. Laws, the Sabbath, or the Holy Days, clean and unclean meats, and circumcision; they condemned Judaizing.
Now let’s look at HWA’s doctrines, 1900 years later:
- Jesus was the Christ, born of a virgin; was crucified on Wednesday and bodily resurrected to life on Saturday.
- Saturday is the required day for worship. Sunday worship is the Mark of the Beast.
- Required tithing, giving of holy day offerings and other monies to be sent to a centralized “headquarters.” Refusal to do so made one a Commandment breaker for stealing from God, jeopardizing one’s salvation.
- Taught that one must believe in the gospel of Jesus—His Kingdom message; those who don’t believe in His “end-time message” aren’t condemned to eternal punishment, but will get a second chance in the 2nd resurrection (although HWA called it their “first chance”).
- Man is a mortal soul and believers do not have a heavenly reward after death.
- Belief in the Father, the Son, but the Holy Spirit is merely the power force of God.
- Keeping the O.T. Laws, the Sabbath, or the Holy Days, clean and unclean meats, and submission to “the government” as requirements for salvation.
Comparing the above lists, one can correctly deduce that HWA did not restore any doctrines of the “original” true church, but most importantly one can see that the traditional Christian churches of today are in full agreement with the primitive church! This is exactly what HWA was hiding!
In conclusion, we have proven that early church records do indeed exist, even though HWA tried to make his readers believe otherwise. The records covered in this article span from the time that the original apostles were still living and into the second century of the church. The third century or the time leading up to the Council of Nicaea was not covered, since we are only interested in proving HWA’s claim that a “curtain descended on the early church” to be false. We have shown that these records are authentic, and are in harmony with one another, and with the mainstream church today. Most importantly, they do not reflect any of the “truths” that HWA claimed to “restore.” HWA knew this but chose to mislead his readers anyway.
HWA specifically targeted those who were weak in Scripture because he knew they would be weak in church history. HWA created an image of being knowledgeable and zealous—burning the midnight oil, ingesting endless volumes of religious materials, while God personally guided him to discern “truth” from error. He painted these respectable images in our minds—that he would stop at nothing to bring us these nuggets of truth. So when HWA said that there was a “lost century” of the early church, and that it metamorphosed into a false church, we readily believed him.
Irenaeus understood the methods of heretics, and his observations still ring true today:
- Inasmuch as certain men have set the truth aside, and bring in lying words and vain genealogies, which, as the apostle says, “minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith,” and by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive, [I have felt constrained, my dear friend, to compose the following treatise in order to expose and counteract their machinations.] These men falsify the oracles of God, and prove themselves evil interpreters of the good word of revelation. They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretence of [superior] knowledge, from Him who rounded and adorned the universe; as if, forsooth, they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein. By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions respecting the Demiurge [a false, Gnostic hierarchy]; and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth.
- Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said, in reference to this point, “A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, as it were, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver? “Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men, -because they outwardly are covered with sheep’s clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different…
May the reader understand today what the early church fathers understood in the past!
By Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
Read: More proof showing how HWA failed to quote all of the words from an 1885 book, and thereby making readers think that church history had been lost! (These are exact quotes from the book by William Fitzgerald, furnished in Kelly Marshall’s “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)”, chapter 6, beginning with the words: “Again, we must question.”) [available as PDF download]
Did Herbert Armstrong Distort Historical Church Documents? by Kelly Marshall
“Lost History of the Church” in chapter 6 of “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)” by Kelly Marshall. (This review is available as a PDF download)
1 We must not assume that the church fathers beyond Justin and Irenaeus all held true to the faith. This can plainly be seen in their writings. For example, Origen (A. D. 185-254), while he sought to defend the Scriptures against heretics, introduced many heretical teachings to his followers such as baptismal regeneration and purgatory and disbelief in the full inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures. Eusebius (A. D. 264-340) promoted Origen’s erroneous teachings. Jerome (A. D. 340-420) was deeply infected with false teachings; i. e., he believed that Mary became instrumental in helping redeem the human race. These false teachings were not what HWA harped on but were errors which consisted of the following: 1) denying the sufficiency of Christ; 2) denying the sufficiency of grace; 3) denying the sufficiency of the atonement; 4) denying the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit; 5) denying the sufficiency of the apostles; 6) denying the sufficiency of the church; 7) denying the sufficiency of the Scriptures.
2 Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), Twenty-Fourth Edition., 1965), p. 749.
3 ESN does not necessarily endorse every book or resource on this site.
4 The complete verse reads, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13) When a saint in the O.T. died he went to a place called Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom (see Luke 16:22). It was not until after Christ died and ascended into heaven and led captivity captive that He took those who were in Paradise into God’s presence in heaven. But today for the child of God it is “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” (Taken from Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee; Volume 4, p. 385)
5 “In the early church there were three traditions regarding the authorship of Hebrews: The Alexandrian tradition supported the Pauline authorship; the African tradition supported the authorship of Barnabas; Rome and the West supported the idea that it was anonymous.” (J. Vernon McGee, Volume 5, p. 619)
6 The “New Testament” Barnabas is referring to in this Epistle is not the New Covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, but the two tables of stone Moses received from God on Mt. Sinai.
7 It is interesting that the early church fathers spoke over and over about the resurrection being on the first day of the week but the three days/nights argument mattered very little.
8 The word “Catholic” as used here means “Universal,” and the early church fathers used that term.
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