History of the CoG, part 7, Holdeman Tunes His Piano

When I began making my way through Holdeman’s book, I indicated that I was starting with chapter one.  As I move through it I see that there are no chapter divisions, it is all one chapter, so from here on I will designate by page numbers.

As I am reading at approximately the 120 page mark and onward, I see that Mr. Holdeman is dwelling at great length on the idea that the Old Testament Jews were God’s church. It is not my intent to comment on the truth or fallacy of that statement right here, but rather to point out the problems in his methods.

We have heard that idea that if one is to tune a piano, one should always tune it to the tuning fork than to another piano.  The tuning fork has the truth.  If you tune a piano to another piano, there is the chance, in fact, the certainty, that you will be off, because the piano loses it’s true tuning.  It always has to be tuned again to the tuning fork.  This is the problem I see with much of John Holdeman’s writings.  He claims the rightness of his position because some ancient writer agrees with him.  He proves that Menno held a certain position, or that Dietrich Philip did.  He links hands with these long dead men to form what he believes is an unbreakable chain.  Dear friends, in all honesty, can you tell me where the Bible teaches such things?  I must again quote a scripture that I have used before…”For other  foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ> (1 Cor. 3:11)  Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. No other foundation is sure.

He does a lot of proving as to how they carried out excommunication and shunning. Perhaps his time could have been better spent teaching about true salvation from a scriptural standpoint, and forgiveness of sins.  He teaches more about condemnation and judgment.  He spends some time condemning usury, but what would he think of the Holdeman people today?  They refrain from collecting usury, but pay it in huge amounts so that they can operate on a grand scale.  They receive money from the Schowalter Estate that is generated from usury, so could we assume that usury is only wrong when it comes from one’s own holding? Is it good to take interest money when someone else holds the principle?  What would John Holdeman himself think of this?  There is another inconsistency here and it is that if a brother has money, he is forbidden to put it into the bank and draw interest, but he can buy property and rent it out and thereby gain. If the idea is that we give of our money and we are generous, that we do not oppress the poor, could the wealth of the brethren not be put to better use?  I don’t necessarily condemn usury, or the drawing of interest, but I am simply pointing out where Holdeman’s teachings are not being followed in this area. He also condemns other historical groups because they did not practice the laying on of hands at baptism, but forgets to mention that he was not ordained by the laying on of hands. There are many inconsistencies and gaps if one will look for them with an honest mind.  It is not the intention to simply bash John Holdeman, but rather to encourage people to learn to think critically, and to discern error, even if it means discarding the teachings of one’s parents or a dearly respected minister.  Can you walk alone?  The bible tells us we must be prepared to. If it means separating from parents and family, from loved ones, then we must be willing. It is a sad thing to do, but the joys of knowing Christ far outweigh the burdens.

On page 136 he tells us that the Baptists also claim lineage through the Waldenses and Mennonites, but he disqualifies them. He says “I would yet remark that they never could have belonged to the true and faithful Mennonites, for they would not have received them into their community, in their covetousness, avarice and usury, and worldly mindedness in building of houses and meeting houses, and such pride inpomp of dress, and many other lusts of the eye and flesh and in the pleasures of this life….” By this statement he condemns the Church of God in Christ Mennonite of today.  Today the Holdeman people are wealthy and at ease.  They build churches costing upwards of a million dollars, when something much simpler would suffice.  New homes are built on the grandest scale and clothing and furnishings are of the finest.  Much unnecessary travel takes place and a great deal of entertainment has taken the place of spirtitual meetings.  The array of activities for young people and older ones as well is staggering. Pot lucks, cookouts, games, picnics are written into the schedules sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. Once again I am not criticizing anyone’s lifestyle,per se, but  am saying that according to John Holdeman, the present day Church of  God in Christ Mennonite would be disqualified from the lineage.  After all of this he launches into his condemnation of baptism by immersion, apparently unmindful of the fact that the word baptize (baptizo) means to immerse.  I thought he had studied Greek.  He bases his chosen method of baptism on what he believes is the historical mode of other lineage groups.  Not good enough, Mr. Holdeman.  Your tune is sounding rather flat!  Go find your tuning fork!

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7 Responses to History of the CoG, part 7, Holdeman Tunes His Piano

  1. HopingForChange says:

    “By this statement he condemns the Church of God in Christ Mennonite of today. Today the Holdeman people are wealthy and at ease. They build churches costing upwards of a million dollars, when something much simpler would suffice. New homes are built on the grandest scale and clothing and furnishings are of the finest.”

    AMEN AMEN AMEN! Finally a statement that gets to the root of the problem. I see no point in blaming a man that has been dead for 100 years on the problems we are having today. That is why I have complained about seeing no viable solutions here. In turn I have been accused of being shallow and one who just sits around and complains. You can do all you want to chip away at JH but what member under 40 even knows who he is and what he stood for. Why get in such a wad about it. Throwing him out will not fix anything!

    I am, by Holdeman standards a poor man, when I speak out against affluence and drunken materialism I am branded by most as a man that is just jealous of my peers success. Not so! I have had many opportunities to amass wealth and have gladly turned them down because such things do not lead to spiritual happiness in Christ Jesus. We are comfortable and have more than our needs the way it is! Why strive to build an empire that ultimately will burn and (maybe) us with it? We should rather be striving to enter into to the perfect will of God and His plan for our lives. Several years ago I went through the hell of depression brought on by my striving to be rich. Finally my family and friends being at their wits end forced me to see a doctor. I went to just a general family doctor, not a psychiatrist. Turns out he was a Muslim. He asked me why I was there and I told him I was in an almost suicidal depression. He questioned me at length and I told him how the economy had ruined my business and how dejected and useless I felt about it. He looked strangely at me for a bit and then asked me if was a Christian. I said yes and then he gave me his cure for my depression…. Trust in YOUR God……That stunned me. He also gave me a script for my depression, but thanks be to God I only took one pill. As I pondered his advice it became so real. I knelt down and prayed to God to deliver me, really prayed, really connected, really gave everything up….. It’s personal folk’s and maybe that’s what these VOP people are trying to say. Forget John Holdeman and Menno Simons or the OTVC. It’s between us and God. That is what it takes. When I found that complete honesty with myself and God I am now able to appreciate the guidelines of the church, I appreciate the ministry and the preaching of the word. I appreciate the brotherhood and their concerns, but at the end of the day, it’s just God and me. That is my solution……..

    • Well, hopingforchange, I do appreciate a hearty amen! Glad we found something we can agree on. I can see that you think we are wasting our breath De-Holdemanizing the people, but stop to think about what you just said….You said the people under 40 don’t even really know anything about him,…well maybe they don’t know what he wrote in his book, but they are living the residual effects of his teaching. They blindly go along with things they don’t believe in, never study to find the truth, and all the while dead father Holdeman is holding the reins, still steering them where he will. It is important for us to write about Holdeman. The whole picture is in a crooked frame. Please bear with us as we continue to make our way through his book, it will become even more interesting. lotsaquestions suggested that we peek into the mirror of truth, but we politely begged to be spared that ordeal for now. Just let us finish the Holdeman book. In the meantime we will intersperse our posts with many other interesting things. Please tell all your friends to come read. Tell them to comment. We love open and honest dialogue. No doubt we can all learn from each other. I’m glad to hear that you found relief from the pain of depression. I too have found that in a time of deep spiritual and personal turmoil it was a man who did not profess Christianity, but some other world religion, who taught me the most. He taught me about forgiveness and being non judgmental. It was he who showed me that I was narrow minded and cruel. He opened my eyes to my own selfishness. God works in mysterious ways. Bless you friend, may God continue to show you the way.


  2. holdemanzombie says:

    But what kind of solution is that? It’s all good and fine until the preachers call you in because they find an “independent spirit” in you. Then what? Will that “it’s just God and me” stand up to the scrutiny of the entire local staff? Are you willing to leave all to follow “just God”? I agree it’s personal, and that’s what they PREACH, but they sure don’t practice it. It happened to me. In order to remain in the church I had to repent of that independent spirit and declare that I am willing to submit to the light of the brethren. The allowance for independent thinking is so minute in the church that it’s very hard to find. It’s about as small as being able to buy a different print of fabric than sister #2. Where are the men who will stand even when it means standing alone? THAT is when it gets personal. Until then, you can say all the words, but it isn’t true until you have been tested and proven. I pray that my husband will become willing, soon.

  3. Holdemanzombie, your comments trouble me. The very idea that you were beaten over the head with the big Holdeman stick for an “independent spirit” is most disturbing. I agree with you that all is well and a man can live quite happily until some strange and unforeseen problem arises. Once a person has been earmarked, it is almost impossible to get off the hook. One can be backed into a corner and that is when the choices have to be made.

    I think the diagnosis of “an independent spirit” simply means that you are not very easy to control You might have a certain degree of intellect which frightens people, and makes them wonder what you are thinking. There is an old story about a certain political leader. He was asked by another person in his government what his secret was for keeping control. The leader was carrying a sword with him as they walked through a field of ripened grain. In answer to the question, he made a sweep across the top of the heads of grain with the edge of his sword, and turned to his friend. “Never let any one head stand up above the others” he said. Keep everyone at the same level.” This seems to work well in a controlled society. But what does a controlled society have to do with vibrant and fruitful Christian life? It is quite likely that by doing away with the ones who have the capacity for independent thinking that the ministers have destroyed the most vital and promising branches on the tree. Change can be fruitful. Differences of opinion can be energizing. The same old rhetoric bores people to death and lulls them into a stupor. The predictable cycle of Holdeman revivals and preacher visits creates a certain stress and turmoil, and giving into the ministers and accepting their “light” brings a relief and comfort that is believed to be true peace. It is simply the great joy at being off the hook. Please join in more of our conversations, Holdemanzombie.

  4. Godfather says:

    This is a simple but graphic illustration of why people get so mad when you tell them the truth or ask a question that they don’t like. This guy might use a bad word or two, but not too bad. Grownups should be able to handle it. What he says here is that you can say stuff all day long that is off the wall, like, I heard that John Holdeman was a polygamist who beat his wives and molested his children, and the person you are telling will just laugh and say, “That’s crazy and you now it.” hahaha You can say “I heard that one of the Holdeman ministers has been arrested and charged with a sex crime.” And you will get an entirely different reaction. Just sayin. You will be accused of being bitter and offended, you will be accused of being vindictive, you will be shunned harder than ever at the next family reunion. That’s because the first comment is not true and the second one is. Have you ever noticed how angry some of your family members get when you ask a perfectly reasonable question or challenge a pet doctrine. Instantly they turn hostile and defensive. This is a good sign you have hit on the truth. Try this with a Holdeman family member. Tell them that you have heard something that is going on in their church that is completely ridiculous, and you will see them laugh. Tell them you heard something that is really going on but that they don’t want to talk about and you will see how mad they get. This is an easy way to tell the truth from the lies.

  5. Godfather, that is a funny video and so true. I have noticed that church members will complain endlessly amongst themselves about the things that bother them, but let an expelled person try to question the same things and the hostility goes sky high. This is a useful tool that everyone should use when taking the truth/deception test with a Holdeman. Find out what it is that really makes them angry, and you have found the truth.

  6. truth says:

    one can tell by simply reading the comments that most of you are of ex holdemans and are bitter and or trying to convince yourselves that the way you took was right just open your eyes to your own foolishness

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