Monthly Archives: April 2009

Persecution and Endurance

By Dr. Hans Grimm

(Editor’s Note: This article was published in the WordMinistry paper edition in August 2006. It was reprinted from the The Voice of Truth International which was then edited by J.C.Choate. Please read this article in relation to the article “Continuity or Restoration?” and make your own conclusion.)

May I speak of myself as a connecting link of the Central European churches of Christ and the brethren and sisters of the English-speaking restoration movement? Hitler’s henchmen in World War II tried to complete the destruction of the Lord’s little flock. In 1933 all bishops and deacons of the churches of Christ on German soil were imprisoned in Konzentra-tion-slager. In 1939 the adult members in East Prussia followed their shepherds into the prisons and hard-labor convoys, where they perished in 1944, and in 1942 the 11 Allssatian families were deported to Poland. There they were massacred by the advancing Red tankists in January 1945. All died with the same heroism for their Lord as their ancestors did.

I was born in 1899 at Sablon-lez-Metz as a scion of one of the oldest Christian families between the Mosele and the Alps. My dear father was one of the last three bishops of the church of Christ in Strassburg, and I was immersed by my uncle in the icy waters of the Hnauer Wiher March 18,1916. Trained in Strassburg, Konisberg, and Hamburg Universities, I obtained a license in comparative history of religions. Imprisoned in 1933 by the Nazis for preaching the gospel in the face of a blasphemous government, I had to suffer almost two years in the concentration camps of Mammerstein and Lichtenburg, hunger, thirst and the uninterrupted thrashing of arms, shinbones and head, like all other political, religious or non-Aryan prisoners. Released, deaf in one ear and with crushed kidneys, I continued preaching like my ancestors in woods, hills and swamps or in hiding places in the large cities. I had to sell my special library and furniture to manage to live. When World War II began, I was commissioned as an interpreter with the army.

Back in Leipzig on Christmas, 1945, I learned of my dear father’s death, and from some survivors, the extermination of our churches in East Europe. I immediately toop up the task of rebuilding the destroyed brotherhood, and I had to work hard as a proofreader, reporter, and lecturer to earn a living not only for me, but also for the old and sick brethren and sisters in Communist-ruled, famine-stricken and ravaged East Germany. I could say with the apostle, “These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:34).
Just at the beginning of a remarkable revival of young people in Leipzig, and three months after my wedding, I was arrested October 9, 1948, by the Communists and for four years imprisoned in the ill-famed jails of Leipzig, Waldheim and Graefentonna. The pretended reasons: conspiracy against the Red government in religious circles.

Released in the fall of 1952, I joined my dear wife in Western Germany. In March 1953, the Protestant State of Kurhessen-Waldeck invited me to take over the office of president of the Evangelical Academy for Social Ethics in Kassel. I declined; I could not subscribe to the promise not to attack the teaching of the Confession of Augsburg.

But in the same month I met for the first time in my life a member of the restored churches of Christ of America. What he had to tell me was not other than the faith of my ancestors which I had taught and practiced all my life. My grandfather had had contacts with the Scottish (Haldane) Baptists and Sandemanians, yea, even with Christadelphians in Birmingham, but the American Restoration Movement had been totally unknown to us. And now the fact that the Lord had built up his church beyond the Atlantic, just in time, when his last followers in Europe dwindled, hit me like a thunderclap. The torch did not die out! God had kindled it again and put it on a lamp stand and it gives light for everybody in the house. This was the fulfillment of Christ’s promise: I am going to build my church, and the powers of death will never prevail against it.

Advertisements

Continuity or Restoration?

By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

Among us in the Churches of Christ, there are three points of view about the history of the church. These are (1) Uninterrupted continuity from the first century to the present; (2) A complete falling away or complete apostasy and a re-emergence on American soil historically related to the Stone- Campbell Movement, (3) A complete falling away or complete apostasy of people but the church existed in the seed, the word of God.

Let’s explain and analyze the three points of view.

A. Uninterrupted Continuity

Muslims, the INC-1914, and the Church of Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) believe in the complete apostasy of the church that the Lord Jesus established in the first century. Muslims believe that God sent Muhammad as the last prophet in the 6th century. The INC-1914 preachers, on the other hand, believe in the apostasy of the first century church hence the re-emergence of the Iglesia ni Cristo in 1914 with Mr. Felix Manalo as God’s last messenger. Mormons also believe that the Church of Christ in the first century fell away so there’s a need for a new prophet – Joseph Smith.

Filipino apologists of Churches of Christ generally take the uninterrupted continuity of the church that Christ built but are hard pressed to produce historical records. One time this writer in a gospel meeting open forum was challenged to produce historical records or documents to prove the uninterrupted flow of Churches of Christ believers. Or show documents when Eusebio Tanicala was baptized, when my baptizer was baptized, and so on back to one of the apostles of the New Testament. In turning the table on the INC-1914 preacher, I countered, “Mr. RZ, I want you to produce historical records or birth certificates that you descended from Adam and Eve or else I will proclaim that you descended from monkeys.” The poor interrogator stopped asking questions.

Passages that we use to support this “uninterrupted continuity” are Daniel 2:44; Daniel 4:3; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26: Daniel 7:14: Luke 1:33; Matthew 16:18; Romans 11:2-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Tim. 4:4; Hebrew 12:28; Revelation 12:4-6.

In submitting the above passages we understand that God would preserve a portion or a remnant of the faithful in all ages. If God promised to preserve and if He didn’t preserve the remnant, then God is a liar. But God cannot lie says Titus 1:2. Because God promised to preserve a remnant, we have to accept that item by faith. To demand a historical and evidentiary document is to show disbelief in the promise of God.

B. Complete Apostasy and Re-emergence on American Soil

Many American members of the Churches of Christ are inclined to this concept of apostasy and re-emergence of the Church via the American Restoration Movement. This group is confused because while they believe in complete apostasy yet it points to some historical markers in Massachusetts that some Puritan groups had congregations in the 1600s called “Church of Christ” who they also claim to be part of the Churches of Christ. But these congregations in the 1600s in the English colonies antedated the arrival of Alexander Campbell in September 1809 in New York. Tom Mapalo submitted to our blog a short article (from the Iloco magazine Bagnos of the 1970s) a historical document regarding this Massachusetts Puritan Church of Christ). This writer was the one who put that in the Iloco magazine which was a cover picture/caption of the magazine Firm Foundation. Dino A. Roldan has also submitted historical documents in our blog that prove that there were other groups outside the movement that sprang up from the preaching of Barton W. Stone as well as from the work of Thomas & Alexander Campbell. You could also check up the biography of Alexander Campbell and you’ll find that when he visited Scotland after moving to America in 1809, there were Churches of the same persuasion as he had. Which means that Alexander’s movement in America was not a “re-emergence of the church” from apostasy. They planted the seed in their hearts. They believed, obeyed, and practiced commandments and ordinances that Christ gave in the New Testament. These Americans became members of local congregations as were obedient people in Europe were members of local congregations of the universal church. Many continental Europeans continued on faithfully. Many people in Great Britain stayed close to the NT teachings so they were considered members of the universal church of Christ.

Some American church members believe in the story of Dr. Hans Grimm. (See the article under another title.) Dr. Hans Grimm who came from Central Europe says that his clan were members of a group that are nearly identical in beliefs and practices with those in the American Restoration Movement.

In view of the above observations the “re-emergence/restoration” view of some American brethren is not consistent. It should therefore be dropped.

C. The Church Exists in the Seed, the Word of God

Several American tract writers state that the church continues to exist as long as the seed, the word of God exists. They say that even if all disciples died as long as the seed, the gospel, the Bible does not disappear, the church is said to be existing. That when the seed, the gospel is preached in any century in any locality it produces the same church or disciples as was produced in the first century.

This explanation is, however, not persuasive. First, we define “church” as called out PEOPLE from the darkness of sin into the kingdom of Christ. So church is people. The seed, the Bible, is NOT church. Your Bible is not a church. An evangelistic sermon is not a church. The thousands of Bibles printed by the Philippine Bible Society stored in bodegas displayed in many bookstores are not thousand churches of Christ.

When we talk about the continuous existence of mango trees in the Philippines, we talk about TREES with roots, trunks, branches, twigs and leaves. Any Pinoy who insists that mango trees never stopped growing in the Philippines since it was first brought in and then argues regarding the presence of seeds as the same as the existence of mango trees is not a believable agriculture historian. A mango seed is NOT a mango tree.

I hope that this article is of help to our young preachers and church leaders.

Bacteria: Friend or Foe

Most of us probably have negative thoughts when we think about bacteria. We know that diseases are caused by bacteria, and we have been told since childhood that we need to wash our hands to avoid illness. Most of us know that from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries a fourth of all women giving birth in hospitals died of puerperal fever which was an infection spread by unhygienic nurses and doctors. What we may not know is that there was strong social opposition to hand washing during that time. In 1843 Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. campaigned for basic sanitation in hospitals, but was opposed by most of the medical establishment. Dr. Charles Meigs who was a famous American obstetrician responded that “Doctors are gentlemen, and gentlemen’s hands are clean.”

Read more…

Question on Amos 5:23

By Eusebio Tanicala

Last April 10, I gave a lecture to a large crowd in Baguio City during the “Panagkakadua” (Fellowship) of Northern Luzon congregations. I insisted that Amos 5:21-24 does not prohibit the use of instrumental music in worship. I also told the brethren that Jack P. Lewis, a member of the Churches of Christ, and a well known scholar in the Old Testament, says that Amos 5 proves nothing about the use or non-use of instrumental music in worship.

During the open forum, a slip of paper was given to me with this question: “If Amos 5:23 is not a prohibition on the use of instruments of music, what does “I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments mean?” The tone of the question was “is it not a prohibition?” I answered the question during the forum.

To my brethren and especially members of the PBC alumni association, please open your Bible to Amos 5:23. Please open your eyes and your mind. What is the first part of v. 23? It says, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs.” If v. 23 prohibits the use of stringed instruments, should not singing also be prohibited? But why do you sing in your worship time? Why do you sing in your birthday celebrations? Why do you sing during funeral services? Why apply prohibition on the second part of the verse but not in the first part of the verse. Come on, be true to yourself.

I repeat, Amos 5:21-23 is not talking about prohibition. I told the Baguio audience that the non-acceptance of the items enumerated is the employment of a figure of speech called “litotes” which means “relative negation.” This is the explanation of 1 Corinthians 1:17. Apostle Paul said that “he was not sent to baptize but to preach the gospel.” The Apostle Paul did not consider the non-essentiality of the act of baptism. He didn’t eliminate the command to baptize. He employed “litotes” which directs one to put to the side or reduce something and put to the center or magnify another which is more important.

In the case of the Corinthians, the converts were boasting and magnifying the names of the people who baptized them. As if their salvation were attached to the merits and popularity of the baptizers. So Apostle Paul “relatively negated” or put aside or reduced the importance of the baptizers so that he could put to the center or magnify the gospel of Christ (death, burial, resurrection) as the important thing in salvation. Which is why in another section of his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul said, “I determine to know nothing except the cross of Christ.”

Please read Isaiah chapter 1 and Matthew chapter 23. The prophet Isaiah employed relative negation. So did our Lord Jesus.

The Israelites of Amos’ day were not accepted in their observance of their religious activities that were commanded through Moses because the people of Israel did not practice justice and righteousness (v.24). If justice and righteousness were practiced, then their religious duties could have been acceptable. Tithing the mint and anise and cumin could have been accepted among the Jews if the Jews practiced justice and mercy and faith. Wherefore Christ said, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (v. 23). Christ demands a balanced or a complete observance of all His commandments and all of our Christian duties.

News bits

8 Baptisms in Olongapo City
From Olongapo City, brother Higato Tulan, Sr. reports that eight souls were taught and were immersed into the death of the Lord Jesus last April 10 during the annual Central Luzon Family Bible Encampment.

11 Baptized in Baguio City

During the April 8-10 Baguio fellowship of Northern Luzon congregations, a special class for “seekers” was conducted for friends and relatives of church members who have started studying the Bible. Encouraged by the special lessons presented to them and other lessons in the plenary sessions, eleven young people were baptized.

22 Baptized During the Metrowide Youth Camp

Brother Randy Macapagal of the Kalookan City congregation that meets at Morning Breeze Subdivision reports that twenty two young people obeyed the gospel of Christ during the April 7-11 Metrowide Youth Camp held in Nozagaray, Bulacan. Young people from congregations in the MetroManila area, Batangas and Cavite were greatly blessed by the lessons and experiences in this outdoor affair which is arranged by church leaders of the said area.

28 Attends Training in Ilocos Norte

In a text message sent in by brother Abel Mariano of Laoag City, he tells us of a preachers training held April 9-10 in Dingras, Ilocos Norte. There were twenty eight in attendance.

SOME LESSONS OLD MEN LEARN

There comes a time in the life of a person when he must concede that he is getting old. While old is not the most desirable state, it beats the alternative by a mile. In fact there are some benefits that come with advanced age. Most people have learned many valuable lessons in their lifetime and have profited thereby. The same should be true of those who preach:

* In old age, you finally recognize and admit your limitations. You can’t do everything, you cannot master every aspect of knowledge. You will not always hit a home run when you preach.

* You learn and accept that there are others who are smarter and more gifted than you. Some of them are young!

* You are more patient with the young, the immature and the ignorant.

* You are much more selective in choosing your battles. If one must do battle for the Cause of Christ, he should choose an issue worthy of the occasion.

* You learn that the church that Christ built has both a divine and a human dimension. That human aspect will never be perfect. This you must accept if you are going to serve and survive as a preacher for a congregation.

* You do not waste your time quarreling over insignificant things. Huge amounts of time, energy and resources can be consumed on conflicts about as important as the Lilliputian’ s battle over which end of the egg is best for breaking.

* You do not provide a forum to every penny-wit that wishes to challenge you. Left unnoticed, many of the church’s agitators soon vanish in the sun. Given a platform they flourish like a weed.

* You do not stop to defend yourself against the charges of small minded people who have nothing better to do than to criticize those who are doing something.

* You have learned that, generally speaking, it is better to stay and build up a flourishing church than to move frequently in hope of finding one.

* You have learned that it is impossible to please all the people all of the time. So you remind yourself that your first duty is to please God. Do that, act responsibly, be cordial towards all and accept the fact that still some will take exception to your labors.

* You have learned that exciting fads come and go in the church as in the world. Thus you are slow to embrace every new faddish approach that comes along. By the time you have given serious thought to it, it may well have run its course and been replaced by another fad.

* You come to appreciate the history of the church and the lives and labors of those who went before you. You now realize that if it had not been for them you may not have even known the gospel, or at least would have had a much more difficult field to plow.

* You have learned to appreciate the wisdom of older folks, especially those who are elders of the church. You marvel how much elders have improved since your earlier years.

* You come to treasure the value of friendship and brotherhood with fellow-Christians and especially faithful gospel preachers.

* You come to appreciate how much wisdom those old-time preachers had and enjoy going back and re-reading their biographies and sermons.

* You learn that a small congregation may have more to offer you than a large one. Among those blessing might be appreciation, genuine friendship, fellowship and loyalty

* Having devoted your life to building up the kingdom of Christ you have great resentment when you see a generation of men who have little or no respect for the church and take liberties with her worship and doctrine. They are destroying that which you have labored to build up.

-John Waddey