After seeing the glaring distortions of their sources in their effort to prove the cross an idol, I've become wary of all the WMSCOG's research. Let's start there and see if the WMSCOG has presented the idea with good scholarship, or if they have misused their resources again.
"The Identity of 666" is an official video of the World Mission Society Church of God which presents their teaching about the Antichrist. In it they make several statements about the history of the Catholic Church, accompanied by names of their source books. I remember in my university studies the importance of using sources to document research. At first view it looks like the WMSCOG has done scholarly work. Let's check out these sources and see if that is true. We'll take the statements in order...
[starting at minute 2:48]Ridpath's History of the World is available to read online. The reference about the end of the Heruli kingdom is on page 408. The Heruli kingdom was replaced by the Ostrogothic kingdom, see page 352. Page 394 and page 430 tell us of the end of the Vandals. And page 354 records the end of the Ostrogothic kingdom, except it was in 552-553, not 538. Whether or not these were the three kingdoms of the prophecy remains to be seen, but the WMSCOG follow their source fairly closely with the dates. (UPDATE: Though two of these three dates are correct, there are many other history facts misrepresented. See Part 3, Part 5, and Part 6 for more information, including the problem with the incorrect date.)
In A.D.493, Heruli was destroyed by the Papacy. (Ridpath, "History of the World")
In A.D. 534, Vandals was destroyed by the Papacy. (Ridpath, "History of the World")
In A.D. 538, Ostrogoths was destroyed by the Papacy. (Ridpath, "History of the World")
According to the prophecy, three kingdoms were destroyed by the Papacy.
[at minute 4:12]I cannot talk about the first statement because I have found at least 5 different books titled The History of Christianity, and so far in none of them have I found the stated fact. I'll keep looking (and update this if I find something), but good scholarship would dictate that the reference be more specific. The WMSCOG should give an author. I will address the fact itself in a future post about Sunday and the Sabbath, but for now I'm left to wonder if this reference is real or not.
In A.D. 321, the Pope abolished the Sabbath and introduced the Sunday service. (From "The History of Christianity")
Sunday service rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church. (From "The Faith of Millions")
UPDATE: I was recently able to examine the WMSCOG's "Evidence Book," and it shows a picture of a book titled "The History of Christianity (A Lion Handbook)." Since it was used as a source in the Evidence Book, we can guess that it's the same book used as a source here. The book is out of print, but I was able to borrow it from my local public library. This book does NOT tell us that "the Pope abolished the Sabbath and introduced the Sunday service." What is does say on page 29 is, "Sunday, the Christian day of worship, was observed from the very beginning of the Christian church," and on page 140, "When in 321 Constantine made the first day of the week a holiday, he called it 'the venerable day of the Sun' (Sunday)." Constantine was the Emperor, not the Pope, and the book says nothing about the Sabbath being "abolished," only that Constantine made Sunday an officially sanctioned holiday. So then, this would be another misrepresented source.
As for the second statement, The Faith of Millions is available online, and I've found the reference on page 401. It says, "They [Protestant churches] have continued the custom [of Sunday service], even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text in the Bible." Now back up to the bottom of page 399 and read through to 401 for the context. Notice on page 400, "The Church received the authority to make such a change from her Founder, Jesus Christ." The book explains the reasons for the change, and whether or not they are valid will be explored in a future post. In the meantime, does The Faith of Millions say Sunday service came purely by the authority of the Catholic Church, or by the authority of Jesus through the Church? I'll let you decide that one.
[at minute 4:17]We can look inside A History of the Early Church to AD 500 at Amazon.com. The information about the year 155 was taken from page 83. The WMSCOG did not put the statement in quotes, so we're not looking for an exact sentence, but let's see what this book says about the Pope in the year 155. It says, "In 155 Polycarp argued the question with the Pope Anicetus, but as neither could persuade the other they agreed to differ." It does not say that "the Pope took the lead," but that he agreed to let the difference in dates continue. Again we have another misleading statement.
In A.D. 155, the Pope took the lead in abolishing the Passover. (From "A History of the Early Church to A.D. 500")
In A.D. 325, the Pope abolished the Passover. (From "The Faith of Our Fathers")
The Faith of Our Fathers is another book available to read online. Yet, I cannot find in it the fact that "in A.D. 325, the Pope abolished the Passover." There is brief mention of the Council of Nicaea in 325, but no connection between that year and the Passover. Page 134 records that there was a "question regarding the proper day for celebrating Easter" which was decided by Pope St. Victor I, but that was about the year 190. Unless someone can direct us to the correct page in this reference, there is nothing apparent to connect the claimed fact with the given source.
[at minute 4:30]Harper's Book of Facts is also available to read online. I've already addressed the WMSCOG's misuse of this source for the cross, but how about the statue of the Virgin Mary? Harper's Book of Facts tells us that 431 was the first record of Mary being called the mother of God (page 688), but I cannot find a reference to statues of Mary anywhere in this book. I've tried the search feature and looking up every article that might be related, and still nothing about statues of Mary. If anyone finds it, please let me know, but as it stands, the WMSCOG's statement is yet another misrepresentation.
In A.D. 431, the Roman Catholic Church introduced the cross and the statue of the Virgin Mary. (From "Harpers' Book of Facts")
[at minute 5:04]Here is another source without an author specified. I have not yet found the correct Bible Handbook out of many different books with that title. Again I must wonder if this reference is real.
It is because the Roman Catholic Church killed more than 50 million people through the Inquisition and witch-hunts. ("Bible Handbook")
[minute 5:35 shows a picture of "Our Sunday Visitor" Apr. 18, 1915]I have not found a copy of this Our Sunday Visitor, but I have seen it referenced by others, and the WMSCOG has a photocopy of it. I'll count this a successful source.
The letters inscribed in the Pope's mitre are these Vicarius Filii Dei, which is the Latin for the Vicar the son of God.
So let's tally the score and see how the WMSCOG did with their sources this time....
Good=2 Bad=5 Maybe=1
That's not a very good score, is it? It reminds me of the "Information Control" aspect of a cult--holding back and distorting information to suit their purposes.
Sorry for such a long post today, but it's good to figure out where we're starting from.
Next time I'll start examining the claims made by the WMSCOG, and we'll see what the Bible has to say about the Antichrist.
Click here to go on to Part 2.