History of the coG, (part 10) Following the Letter

Well Mr. Holdeman, I see that your letter stretches on for many pages.  It starts on  page 190 and goes on to page 205, at which point you insert a letter written to you by Bishop Rohrer.  There isn’t much of note contained in your letter. Much reiterating of how your life and behavior were above reproach while you dwelt among them.  Much hand wringing over how far they had fallen from the ground and truth.  Much worrying over whether or not prophecies which you had made would come true.  Much denouncing of your brethren, your leaders, much clinging to Menno and Dirk, and very little attention the the Bible. In your efforts to pattern yourself after men and reconstruct a new building on a crumbling foundation, you forgot the real truth. You boast of your ability to channel some spirit, which you firmly believe to be the Holy Spirit, but let me tell you, if a young  man in 2012 were to stand up and say the things that you said, he would be excommunicated for being possessed by a foreign spirit.  I don’t know if that terminology was used back in your day, but it perhaps has recently been coined.  It works well as a catch-all for disposing of those who disagree and threaten to depart with the candlestick.  I wonder just where it is hidden; lets say a young man would want to take it and run, where would he find it?  Did you leave instructions for the snatching away of the candlestick for some one in the future, or were you quite sure that it would never be needful again?  Is that the reason for your book?  To lay out a blueprint for division and reorganization?

Well, in any case, the letter does drag on.  You come across as being quite holy and the others as being indifferent and cold.  Consider the words of Bishop Shaum when you reproved him in the names of Menno and Dirk;  “Those men were not crucified for us.”  I can see how he made it difficult for you to go on when he spoke thus.  You wanted to keep the focus on the Anabaptist Brethren, but he wanted to bring it back to Christ.  No matter, you forged boldly on and managed to make him look like an apostate.  I can assure you that much the same thing happens today.  Your name is held up, nowadays alongside Menno and Dirk, and the name of Christ is all to seldom mentioned.  I believe you would be proud!

After publishing the correspondence between yourself and Bishop Rohrer you return to your dwelling upon the lineage.  Do you never tire of praising yourself and condemning others?  Really, John, does the fact that the Lutherans took up arms make you right?  This is a very poor way to prove your position.  I must ask again, where is the Bible?  Why the need to constantly prove yourself right, and all others wrong?  Why such a need to form a denomination and have them follow you?  I personally, myself, find fault with all of this.  There are other leaders who have arisen and gathered followers after them; Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, Jim Jones….. When a man is at the center of a movement, and too much attention is paid to him, one can expect trouble.  There is always some sort of revelation, some sort of self righteous drivel that appeals to a certain type of individual.  Often they are the disenfranchised or dissatisfied.  They long for meaning and relevance, and they are easy prey for the charismatic cult leader.  As I have said before, perhaps your small group would have died out and the memory of your name with it if it had not been for the large group of Polish immigrants who eagerly fell into your waiting hands.  The sad thing is that your church, which was built upon division, grew fat on the spoils of division.  As you went about plundering other churches and religious movements, you brought division and strife to the people.  Families were separated and hard feelings were created as you spread your doctrine of rightness and judgment.  It would have been one thing if you had gladly welcomed those who came, and not condemned those who didn’t. This is one of the sad fruits that is still seen today….the disruption of families, the wedges driven between husband and wife, parent and child, neighbor and friend.  Your church today absolutely thrives on division, absolutely feasts on excluding and judging. This is a very powerful glue which holds everything together.  It is certainly in the best interest of an individual to remain on the inside. In this manner they can continue to feel very good about themselves.  They are bolstered by hundreds, even thousands, of other like-minded members.  Quite often these people are not even sure what they believe.  They quite often cannot even quote scripture to defend a particular belief or doctrine.  This causes them very little, if any concern, for they have given all power over their lives unto the ministers.  You would approve, I’m sure.  But, you see, this can only be done if one aspect is well in place, and that is the threat of excommunication and shunning.  This strikes such fear into the heart of a member that they will do anything to avoid it.

I notice as I read your book that you were immensely grieved over the laxness in the practice of the ban.  I could almost feel bad for you, hurting like that in such a spiritual way, if I didn’t sense something quite sinister behind it.  You  seem to hate those who fall short of your standard.  You must make a division between lesser beings and yourself. How will this happen if the church is weak in practicing the ban?  Not only will the bad ones fail to be set apart, but the good ones will not be nearly so easily recognized.  What is the point of being an extremely good church member if the bad ones are not ostracized severely?  I know that you love this division.  You love an extremely strong division between good people and bad people, because this makes it all the more clear how good you are.  Do I seem to be harping on this a bit?  I’m afraid I must.  There is something about the way you loved and taught the ban that seems to cancel out love and mercy.  I do not mean that sin should be overlooked, sin is a serious matter, but man does not change another man.  Only God can do it. More often than not, God uses man to help other men by loving them, not by being judgmental and harsh with them. Maybe you could be forgiven.  Perhaps you did not foresee the lengths to which this thing would be taken.  Maybe it was a bit like Hitler in the cradle as a newborn…rather a cute harmless baby, with no hint of the monster that was to come.

You can be sure that I will write more about the evil of the shun as it is practiced today.  The church leaders like to refer to it as “a scriptural avoidance.” This term encompasses a lot, all under the guise of being scriptural.  Very soon we shall examine exactly what the scriptures say about “avoidance.”

Hoping for truth justice mercy and love


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6 Responses to History of the coG, (part 10) Following the Letter

  1. wink says:

    I heard that John Holdeman was buried with the candlestick. That way it would never depart again.

  2. Not So Certain says:

    I recall hearing as a teen that the candlestick would never “depart” from the Holdeman church because we were in the “last times.” The church would never have to be reorganized again before Christ’s return. I remember feeling comforted and elated, knowing that I was part of the great, pure, visible, one true church of God! My highest aim was to someday be a minister who could sit “up front” and help lead the people on this path so clearly marked by “the forefathers.” How I now look back on all this with regret! The road of humility is hard and arduous, but oh the freedom and release when all that is left is Jesus! 1 Corinthians 1:30 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

    Friends, everything needs to go, even as we have heard many times over the pulpits of the Holdeman church, but with a deeper meaning yet. We are told to let everything go till all that is left is “submission to the brethren.” How false! It is true there will be a sense of relief in coming to this point, but it is not where our Lord wants us. He wants us to be in submission to Him! This means His word because He is the word! Our submission to the brethren will not save us! Oh no! Do not be decieved! We can only find true submission to one another (understand all true believers) as we each come into submission to Christ and His word alone, and what a beautiful, warm, loving, accepting, non-judgmental submission it is! All other submission is fake. It is quite likely, under the present circumstances, that when someone within the Holdeman church comes to understand this deeply and begins to openly share his heart, will sooner or later find himself excommunicated. This could be the price one has to be willing to pay to find REAL submission!

    • lotsaquestions says:

      Very amazing comments, Not So Certain. Just a comment from me on how what I have heard all my life. I have heard that the end will come when the church no longer has the ” truth”. I think in general, the ministers preach that. Where is a scripture to back that up? Or to dispute it? Also on the submission part, I have been hearing where I live, that the church ( brethren) is Christ and Christ is the Church ( brethren) and if you submit to one you submit to the other. And if you don’t submit to either, you are not submitted to God.

      • Godfather says:

        Lotsaquestions, the information you give is extremely sordid. To call the brethren and Christ one and the same is absolute idolatry. I know it is true because I have heard it myself. This is a terrible sin. To put the “church” or the brethren on the same level as Christ is terrible. I wonder if people realize that they are committing a terrible sin when they do this? The ministers who require this of people are false shepherds, or worse. This makes me sick.

  3. Godfather says:

    I’d like to comment on what you said, not so certain. Everything you say is true, and I am happy to see people standing up and telling the truth. As for a man being willing to find real submission to the point of finding himself excommunicated, I have come to realize that God will bring that struggle to you. It isn’t something you can go out and find. God will thrust you into a situation where you suddenly are faced with a choice and that choice has only one outcome. God works these things out. He will never bring these things to you as long as your heart is fixed on the brethren and on pride and arrogance. But when your sincere prayer to God is to be the most useful vessel to him that you can be, and you desire to love him with all your heart, he will call you out. It is God’s work. A man will find himself on a path that he had never dreamed of. And you’re right, it can be very hard, but it is also the only real way to live. God bless you, Hiram and not so certain for putting it out in front of us so clearly.

  4. Hiram says:

    I’m not really sure what John Holdeman meant by taking the candlestick. The only place I can find the word candlestick in the Bible where it doesn’t refer to the temple lights is in Revelation 2: 5. The church at Ephesus is being rebuked. “Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

    God himself will remove the candlestick from an assembly that has forsaken it’s first love. There is no mention of him handing it to a man to take with him as he leaves and starts over somewhere else. The candlestick business seems to me to be something John Holdeman made up to make himself look important. From what I can see, God himself will take it way when a church has left its first love. The light of God’s presence will no longer be among them. I should think that about the time a church begins to claim that Christ and the brethren are one then they have left their first love. They have had plenty of time to repent. They themselves have been lamenting about a drift for several decades. Surely this is just another way of saying that they have left their first love. Because they will not repent, but in fact try to repair the rent with old worn out cloth, I suspect God has already removed the candlestick and they are left sitting in the dark.

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