(Ab)Using the Church Fathers

I grew up in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). While Catholic bashers like to take aim at Rome for supposedly claiming to be the one true church, their real target should have been the WCG. It claimed, like many others, that the RCC was the Whore of Babylon and that Protestant denominations amounted to slutty daughters.

Herbert Armstrongf

Herbert Armstrong

The WCG was founded by Herbert Armstrong, who contended that the True Gospel (Armstrong liked to use unnecessary capital letters, as well as SCREAMING ALL CAPS, smooth italics, and occasionally SCREAMING ITALICS.) disappeared in the first century and that when the Catholic Church emerged a few decades later, it had been taken over by Satan. That’s an over-simplified telling of a warped theology, but it’s sufficient for this post.

Because Armstrong’s theology was so very heterodox (indeed, heretical), he felt that no other Christian writer had any authority. Unless that writer happens to be stating something that somehow backs up what Armstrong said.

Armstrong died in 1986, but sects still linger that preach his theology. And they still use the same tactics.

An example I recently noticed came from COG Writer, a blog created by Bob Thiel, a deacon in one of the little off-shoots of Armstrong’s legacies. Though the Church Fathers back up very little of what this man believes, he did find one gem, which he used in a New Year’s Eve post:

Tonight, many around the world, including many who profess Christ will be celebrating New Year’s which occurs on the Roman calendar January 1st.

Did you know that not only was this day not observed by early true Christians, even the Roman Catholic supporting Tertullian condemned it in the early third century? (COG Writer)

If you get the urge to engage Mr. Thiel in a discussion, don’t bother: though he uses content management software that enables comments, he has elected not to allow them. And really, why should he? He has the truth; he is a member of the one true church (that is so small it wouldn’t even fill a moderate-size stadium); he speaks, he doesn’t listen.

Catholic.com has a short article about one of Armstrong’s most ridiculous (plagiarized) ideas.

Perhaps the greatest advantage Catholicism has over almost any Protestant denomination is the historical connection to the early church. It’s always been the strongest draw for me to the RCC.

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One thought on “(Ab)Using the Church Fathers

  1. Jared Olar says:

    It’s always been a pretty strong draw for a lot of people who ended up converting to Catholicism. I’ve told you before how important a role the Fathers played in my conversion.

    As for Mr. Thiel and his Anti-New Year’s Day comments, he probably isn’t aware that January 1 didn’t become the New Year until the Middle Ages, and that it was the influence of the Christian Christmas celebration that led Christians to move New Year’s Day from March back to January. Paganism (especially paganism of Tertullian’s day) had nothing to do with it.

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