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Thursday, September 4, 2008

50 Truths - part 1

I was recently meandering about aimlessly across our good friend, the Internet, when I happened upon a serious list.  Usually I enjoy lists. Cracked.com's top 10 lists are generally entertaining.  This particular list, however was more disturbing than anything else. The list I refer to is Ronald Weinland's "50 Truths of God". This is quite a few more than Herbert Armstrong's "18 truths".

Now, there was a day when I would have probably eaten something like this up - put it on a plate and sopped it up with a biscuit. However, since my recent change of opinion I find myself in great disagreement with the list.

I intend to take up some post time in order to address some of the particularly outstanding "truths".

*ahem*

Under the section header "Truths Remaining At the End of Sardis", there are three "truths" listed: the seventh day Sabbath, the name of God's church, and First Tithe to God.

About the seventh day Sabbath: it is true that the Sabbath of the Bible is the seventh day of the week, aka Saturday.
According to The Painful Truth's article about Sunday, only the Babylonians and Jews were known to keep time according to weeks, especially 7-day weeks. The Greeks and Romans did not. The only day of the week which the Jews named as opposed to numbered was the seventh day; the Sabbath. Therefore, it is historically accurate to say that the Sabbath of the Bible is the seventh day.
Buuuuuuttttt.... this first "truth" claims the seventh day Sabbath remained in the "Sardis Era". That claim needs to be verified. (In order to understand what a Sardis Era is, read the letters to the 7 churches found in Revelation 2 & 3. According to G. G. Rupert, and later Herbert Armstrong, those churches are symbolic for periods of time, called "eras". According to Herbert Armstrong, the Church of God (Seventh Day) is the dead Sardis Era, and his own Worldwide Church of God was the Philadelphia Era. Ron Weinland, as with most xCOG splinters, believe they are Philadelphia carry-overs into the Laodicean era.)

Any simple history check will lead you to understand that the seventh day Sabbath sprang up from virtually nowhere in England around 1650. Protestant reformation was all the rage back then. A group of Baptists (including William Saller, Peter Chamberlain, Francis Bampfield, Edward and Joseph Stennett) decided to keep the Sabbath. They had a great deal of influence on one Steven Mumford, who then came to America and preached the sabbath among the Baptists in New England with whom he fellowshipped.  Mumford was no great thing in the church, he was just a guy who came to America and preached the Sabbath. In 1671, after the first church split of a Sabbatarian group in America, the Seventh Day Baptist Church was born.

**Now, I want you to keep in mind something; something important. These Seventh Day Baptists were not any different from any other Baptist church, except they had a belief in the legality of the 10 Commandments. That's it. (I make it sound small, but I admit the implications are larger than they immediately appear.)
Also, notice how they do not have the marker, the indicator of a true church, the name "Church of God". Remember, according to Armstrongism, God's church bears his name.

Skip a few years ahead to 1831 when William Miller (a Baptist) started down the road to being a false prophet. He started the Advent movement by proclaiming the return of Jesus in 1843. He had a few years to gather a following. One Seventh Day Baptist, Rachel Oaks, introduced the idea of the seventh day Sabbath to the group, and that spread. After Miller's Great Disappointment, the addition of some other characters such as Ellen G. White, and a church split, the Seventh Day Adventists were born.

**Once again, notice the church does NOT bear the name "Church of God". Thus, the Worldwide Church of God claimed the SDA churh was never God's church. No matter how you want to spin it, the group that became the SDA church was undeniably the direct ancestor of the WCG.

Notice the cherry-picking of facts. According to Armstrongism, the SDA church is NOT God's church because they don't bear the name "Church of God" (and because they don't keep the holy days). This is despite the fact that one of HWA's greatest influences, G. G. Rupert, was an SDA minister for many years (or perhaps because of it). However, on the other hand, the Seventh Day Baptists ARE God's church, despite the fact that they are farther from Armstrongism than the SDA church?

Meanwhile, a man affiliated with the Adventist group (that later became the SDA church), one Mr. Gilbert Cranmer, was not impressed with Ellen G. White. He refused to accept her as a prophetess, and left in 1858 to form his own organization. His preaching was fruitful from the 1860's to the 1880's when the Church of Christ was formed, and immediately changed its name to Church of God, and shortly thereafter Church of God (Seventh Day).
Eventually there was a church split. A. N. Dugger, a man greatly influential on Herbert Armstrong, formed his own church. Herbert Armstrong went with him. In time, they got back together with the original organization and formed the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day). This almost immediately led to three more splits.

Here is a nice history to fill in some gaps should you find yourself interested. (Take it with a grain of salt.)

Now, what does this history have to do with anything?
1) According to WCG's own criteria, the Seventh Day Baptists and the Seventh Day Adventists could not be the Sardis Era, since they were not named "Church of God". However, that is the very claim Armstrong makes - it is the second "truth". Otherwise, this would mean the "Sardis Era" started in 1884 when Gilbert Cranmer formed the "Church of God". Either way, this is clearly cherry-picking the criteria.
2) These groups did not start with a great deal of "truths" then die away from them, as the pejorative "dead era" would imply. At the first they were Seventh Day Baptists, who were Baptists being Baptists yet keeping the seventh day Sabbath. Also, William Miller did not at first keep the Sabbath, but it was introduced later. Only when we get into the 20th century will you see any buildup of so-called "truths". The COG7 was growing in "truths" while HWA was claiming they were dieing from them. At any rate, the details of the first "truth" claim "God's people have always obeyed the seventh day Sabbath." That simply isn't historically true!

As for the tithes; yes it is true the Adventists and COG7 teach tithing. They do not, however, demand tithes.  Most especially 3 tithes, 7 holy day offerings, tithe of a tithe, and free-will offerings as often as you can afford them like the WCG demanded. People are free to tithe or not; it's more of a guideline. The COG7 has no set rules to which people must adhere. Yet this doesn't even address the claim that tithes are unscriptural for the New Testament Church.
According to the law, only Levites were allowed to accept a tithe and tithes were of the garden, field, and flock only - cash income was not tithable. Unless a genuine pedigreed Levite wearing the legally commanded garb of a Levite and performing the legally commanded rituals of a Levite can be found, no one can tithe according to the law. That is Bible law! That priesthood in its entirety was replaced by the Living Christ anyhow, so even if one is located, I still will not be sending tithes to him. To do otherwise, in my view, is to deny the very High Priesthood and sovereignty of Christ Himself. I could go on and on about the tithe. Some day I might.
I conclude this third "truth" to be a tradition only and not a "truth" at all.

This effectively wipes out all three of the first "truths". In the next installment [which you can find here], I will move on to the "Truths Revealed During the Philadelphia Era".

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do people make christianity so complicated!!! Seriously its simple...i believe we should all be preparign teh earth for Christ's return and doing the work fo the great commision...thsi stuff can come later but for now the harvest is plenty but the labourers are few!!!

xHWA said...

No kidding! Why indeed!

Summary of Christianity: Love one another and bear the fruit of the Spirit.