History of the CoG part 6 Holdeman’s Folly

As we continue to read through Holdeman’s book we are at times rather bored by his dwelling on and on about the lineage, his details of which group broke from which group and the silly lineup of reasons for doing this.  What about the scripture that admonishes us to  “avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (Titus 3:9)  There is no profit in this type of discussion. We are admonished to avoid it.  It is nothing more than one man trying to lift himself up above others.  This appeals mightily to the flesh, hence his loyal and faithful followers many generations down the road.  The feeling of being right, in fact more right than anyone else, is a potent drug.  It can mask a multitude of sins.  It can distract from many other more disturbing shortcomings.

Consider this portion on page 114;  “Whether the fornication and idolatry charged against the Churches of Asia was literal or not, it is certain that the church at Corinth suffered a literal fornicator in the church without excommunicating him, as also other abominable sins, for some time.  I do not believe that the Old Mennonites suffered any fornicator in the church knowingly, without excommunication, for the same length of time as the Corinthians did.  But though they should have done so, it would have in itself been no ground to condemn them as not being the true Church of God, if they would have been willing to amend the matter.”

Notice by what a slender thread the true lineage hangs. Examine it closely.  Holdeman guesses, assumes, believes, purports or whatever else you might want to call it that in all of its existence, the Old Mennonite Church did not make an error that would have disqualified it from being a conduit of the true lineage.  How does he know?  Just because no report of it ever came to his ears?  Because he wants to believe what he wants to believe?  I am not saying that the Old Mennonite Church harbored fornicators.  I don’t care if they did or not.  To maintain their place in the line-up, Holdeman must fabricate a pure and holy history for them. He does make an allowance that this discrepancy might have occurred, but then he slaps a bandage over it by saying, well, even if it did happen, this still does not disqualify them of their place in the lineage.

Brothers and Sisters!  Do you not see the foolishness of this?  This has nothing to do with true salvation, with truth justice mercy and love!  This has to do with vain striving.

On page 116 he goes on….”This church (one that he rejects and puts down) censures me exceedingly, that I did not unite with them, when I separated from the Old Mennonites. If it had been properly organized, and had been founded upon the true foundation, such would have been my highest duty, because God approves of but one organized visible church.”  Take a minute to ponder on the arrogance of that statement.  Who on earth was this man?  Does anyone ever really stop to think?

“I cordially believe that if it had been the true organized church of God that God would have led me there (for I was willing to go anywhere, and suffer anything for the truth of God) but God led me to the contrary, as shall be shown hereafter.”

This logic persists in the Holdeman realm today. If the Holdeman church is right, God will lead all true seeking Christians to it.  One man can divine the truth of God’s mind and thereby preach whatever he chooses based on what he believes God has told him. We are not denying that God leads men to preach the truth, but we do suggest that a man who wishes to have power and to amass followers might very well interpret the mind of God in whichever way best suits his purposes.   A few sentences further on he lays out two reasons that the above mentioned church, which he declined to unite with (no doubt because they didn’t give him a position of importance) fail the test of being the one true church. The second reason he gives is that they refused instruction.  Then by that very judgment let the Church of God in Christ Mennonite stand or fall today. Do they accept instruction? Ask the man who has suggested an idea to them that they were not keen on receiving.  Did he remain in favor, or was perhaps an allegation cooked up against him?  When Holdeman came to this church and offered to correct them, they declined his instruction and he went on his way, refusing to grant them a place in the lineage, because they would not hear from him.  Subsequently, in defiance of the scripture that says a man must be ordained by laying on of hands, he went on to organize his own rogue body which exists in a very bizarre form to this day.  People wake up…open your eyes!!

Later on we will discuss the scriptures that involve the laying on of hands. John Holdeman neatly sidestepped this requirement.  His followers have no problem with it.

Prayers for your understanding,

Brother Hiram

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21 Responses to History of the CoG part 6 Holdeman’s Folly

  1. lotsaquestions says:

    Am i reading right?On page 116 does Holdeman say that all who baptise and were baptised outside the church have baptised out of the Coveneant of God? And then he talks about baptising without being baptised himself? What gave JH the right to baptise anyone? He never was baptised into this church?? Was he too proud to be baptised? Am I reading his riddles right?

  2. He was baptized in the Old Mennonite church but he was never ordained. But yes, he does say if you are baptized outside of his church you are baptized outside of the covenant of God. Yes I know…amazing….

    • lotsaquestions says:

      So, he discredits himself. He wasnt baptised in his church. He says the The Old Mennonite church didnt “cut” it anymore and he left it. So,what if I decide to think The Old Mennonite Church was rotten? Then I use his theory and say he was baptised out of the covenant of God.

      • These are questions that more people should be having. Maybe they are but they are afraid to ask them. This is the point I have been trying to make, and apparently you have picked up on it. His foundation is not only shaky, it is rotten. We can see that when someone builds on a bad foundation that as the structure goes up, it has many problems. Holdeman built a perfect foundation for the type of thing that has evolved….one that is built on pride, fear, control. The fact that he brought the poor Russian immigrants into his organization lent it an aspect that has helped it to develop into what it has become. He brought families in, a group of people who had much in common but who were completely disenfranchised. They were brand new immigrants in a strange land. They were spiritually bankrupt and yet they had a love for God. The church that he built out of these people allowed them to retain their ethnic and cultural ways and helped them to feel at home in a strange country. He gave them a feeling of importance when they had absolutely no relevance. They were destitute and pretty much without resources. The fact that they evolved into such a powerful structure has been presumed to be because they had the only truth on the face of the earth. There are many more factors involved. This is not to say that God was not with them. These people sincerely wanted to serve him and there is nothing wrong with remaining separate from the world. However, eventually being separate from the world can become the main reason for existing. The main reason for existing is to follow Christ, and to do it out of a heart of love for Him. Being separate from the world should flow naturally out of that. It should never be enforced by other men, written into bylaws, or be something that can bring punishment on a person. A true love for Christ and serving him joyfully produces an entirely different kind of Christian than the ones seen in the Holdeman church today. They are held together by family and culture. This is mistaken as God’s favor on them. They are overwhelmingly wealthy. They are self sufficient, having need of almost nothing. Here is in interesting quote by Oswald Chambers…”Do you continue to go with Jesus? THe way lies through Gethsemane, through the city gate, outside the camp; the way lies alone, the way lies until there is no trace of a fooostep left, only the voice, “Follow me…”If you are feeling dissatisfied within the Holdeman church, the first thing I would advise you to do is to seek a closer walk with God. Study the Bible. Lose yourself in prayer. God wants to know you better. Ask him to show you what he wants from you. I believe I can promise you that there will be those present in your life who will support you and show you the way.

  3. Missvirginia says:

    Why would John Holdeman have brought out fornication as the cause for a dead branch in our lineage at that specific point in time?

    • Miss Virginia, you make an interesting point, one that occurred to me as I was writing. It isn’t a secret that John Holdeman was a fornicator and that in fact his wife was expecting a child when they were married. It seems likely that his guilt over this indiscretion was what drove a good deal of his dogmatism and insistence on being right while everyone else was wrong. It interesting that he became such a strong proponent of excommunication for sexual sins. This seems to indicate a high level of guilt and self condemnation, instead of mercy. I am not saying that he should have tolerated sexual sin without any consequences, but rather pointing out that he seemed particularly offended by others who committed the same sin that had fallen into. I believe this guilt and shame over his own past led him to focus at length on fornicaton. His point here, I believe, is that a flawless carrying out of the practice of excommunication was necessary in order for a church to remain in the lineage. Once again we point out that the very things that he laid down as legal for the lineage should surely be followed today. He was greatly offended by displays of wealth, fancy church buildings and homes, and claimed that proper practice in these areas proved succession of the lineage. By that very measurement today, the Church of God in Christ Mennonite fails.

  4. Missvirginia says:

    Is there actually anything anywhere that proves John Holdeman did that? In my whole life I’ve never heard any of our people say it.

  5. You mean was he a fornicator? I’m afraid so. There is historical record of it.

    • By the above comments I do not mean to say that anyone who has a problem in the past is unqualified to be a minister or a teacher. I am however, pointing out that much of Holdeman’s dogmatism and legalism would appear to stem from guilt and shame over the indiscretions in his past. It is often the case that someone who has a particular sin in their past turns out to be the most judgmental of others who commit the same sins. When a person receives true forgiveness and experiences the blessing of God’s grace, he is more likely to have mercy and to be one who is looking for ways to forgive and accept rather than to condemn and judge. Holdeman is so very legalistic and condemning of all who do not see things his way. He spends many pages writing about how wrong they are and how right he is. He might be more impressive if he spent more time dwelling on forgiveness, salvation, love and purity, rather than digging through the bones of history to find dead men that he is sure agree with him. All of his like-minded brethren are dead, you see. Not a one of them remained alive to confirm or deny the positions he assigns to them. In going through his writings and explaining the problems we see, we are explaining the roots of legalism. Holdeman based his entire church on legalism. Proving that he is right. There is nothing of God’s grace in this. The church that he founded continues this tradition to this day. They base themselves on the foundation of John Holdeman. That is not to say that they don’t love and teach the Bible. But when the teachings of a man are revered to the extent that his are, it obscures the truth and mixes it with the deluded musings of a man.

      When a group organizes, they automatically install men as the head of the church instead of Christ. Organization destroys spirituality. When you build walls, you destroy spirituality. You gain some things, and it may look good, but the losses are eventually visible. With organization, things can get done. Committees and boards can function, good works can be performed, money can be received and allocated. When you organize, you build walls. God will not be contained inside walls. You can include some and exclude others, and then Christ is no longer head of the church. Holdemans love of dwelling on ancient writings and church leaders is very disturbing. The church is not descended through man, but only through Christ. He is available to all people at all times by all means. It is a hard thing to come to understand this after generations of misunderstanding.

  6. lotsaquestions says:

    The Mirror of Truth is laced with I, I, I! It’s all about I. Go look!

  7. Missvirginia says:

    I asked my husband if he had ever heard about John Holdeman’s past. He has heard that story and said it’s highly unlikely that it could be true because it would have been addressed a long time ago, and if I question this, I’ll lose my peace. I want to know where it is recorded. This is making me feel uneasy. I’m reluctant to ask more about it from the sisters, because it could give the impression that I’m questioning our faith, and I don’t know if I am.

    • Godfather says:

      Please don’t ask the sisters. They probably don’t know about it, and they will be upset to hear you are questioning. The information is in a published source. If anyone has a copy of Clarence Hiebert’s book “The Holdeman People,” please supply the information, with page number. I wish I could provide the information. It would make me happy to do so.

      • Let me reiterate, a sin in the past does not mean that God cannot use a man. No one is making the accusation that he was not fit to minister because he made a mistake in his youth. However, for the sake of historical fact, let’s let it be known. As has been said before, perhaps guilt over his sins of his youth made him a bit judgmental. The book that Godfather mentioned is out of print and can only be obtained for a pretty high price. Lots of older people own it.

      • lotsaquestions says:

        I heard this from a sister years ago already.

  8. holdemanzombie says:

    Missvirginia, DO NOT ask your Sunday School class if this is true!! It is SO TRUE they will have a horrified look on their face and you will instantly have the feeling that you uttered a four letter word in Sunday School, of all places!! (Trust me, I was ignorant and stupid enough to do it.) It didn’t go over at all. The older ones knew it was true and wouldn’t admit it, the younger ones were SURE it could not be true. Pointless. Unless you want a visit from the staff! That will get their attention faster than you can drive home from church! And, then you drag your dear hubby into it, and he doesn’t want a wife that’s insubmissive and speaks like that in Sunday School! I recommend reading and discovering those deep dark secrets all on your own. Never ask questions until you are prepared for a full paneling and your name tarnished with “questioning”. Only study and read until you have found the truth, Even then, keep it close and be very careful with whom you share it. Never ever share your concerns for the church with someone who will turn on you. It’s all for your own good, you know, but it hurts really bad when they do that. It might even be your husband who turns on you. I’ve heard of that. Sad, but true.

    • It’s sad to hear that some men will side with the church and turn against the wife. Even if the wife is in error, he should always most lovingly defend her and protect her. If he will help her in the right way it will strengthen rather than damage the marriage, as well as her faith.

    • lotsaquestions says:

      I agree with you holdemanzombie. I am finding things out on my own for now. This site is really helpful also. But I am getting less afraid of what man can do unto me. Alot of what’s on here I have been aware of for sometime, but to see it put into words is enlightening. To actually hear that there are others that sense the same things I do is amazing. And really there are so many more that know it too, but just too afraid to let their mind admit it.

  9. holdemanzombie says:

    Quote: “He was married to Elizabeth Ritter by the Justice of the Peace Henry Selman on November 18, 1852 and five months later, April 1, 1853, she gave birth to their first child, a daughter Lavina. Undoubtedly this premarital relationship and the necessity to marry were the source of his despair in early 1853….”

  10. justwonderin says:

    It has been said but I don’t have the proof. That a man who knew John Holdeman personally told the JH declared that in 100 years “the church” would lose the Holy Spirit and not even know it. That person was not a member.

  11. Hiram says:

    Let’s see, just when did we pass that one hundred year mark? I believe we’re down a road a peice from it already aren’t we? And they dont even know what has happened. Whether Holdeman prophesied it or not I can’t say, but I do believe they have lost the Holy Spirit. He will not stay behind walls that men have built for him. How ludicrous to think that you could build a high enough wall, make enough rules, to keep God in. Shame on you ministers, those who build the walls and make the rules. What you have actually done is to keep God out, not in.

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