Signs of Decay

Signs of decay in the True Church?  That seems strange to me.  In my opinion, the true church can never decay.  Jesus Christ is the head of the church and he will see no decay.  Institutions of man will decay.  We need to get this straight.  The true church cannot drift. It cannot decay.  As the Holdemans love to say, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.  Before we go further, let’s see what that really means.

Matthew 16:18  “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.   First of all let us study the verse….Thou are Peter …..(Peter Petros, a rock or a stone, a name meaning “of a soul hard and unyeilding”) and upon this rock (rock, a cliff or ledge, a solid foundation, a boulder) I will build my church (build…to found or establish, to erect up from the foundation) (church… the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth,a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly)  and the gates (the gates of hell (likened to a vast prison) 3) metaph. the access or entrance into any state) of hell (Orcus, the nether world, the realm of the dead) shall not prevail against it. (prevail, to overcome).

 Now let’s take another look at this verse.  “Thou are Peter, a man of hard and unyielding character, and upon this foundation I will build my church, my called out gathering of people, and the gates of hell, the entrance into the state of the dead, shall not prevail against it or overcome it .   How many times have you heard this verse quoted as a means of claiming that no force on earth will ever affect the church?  If someone questions the church, this verse is thrown out in robotic fashion, as though to say, “you can shut up right now because nothing you can ever say or do can harm or discredit the church.”  In other words those who dispute the church are almost made to feel as though they are the “gates of hell,” trying to bring down the church, but it aint never gonna happen, cause “nothing you can say or do will ever bring us down.”

Remember, the church is not an earthly institution, but a heavenly one. Christ is the head. Those who love him and follow him are part of a heavenly body.  It should suffice without saying that nothing on earth can ever affect it.  What Jesus was saying in this verse is that his people will continue even past death.  The institution that he founded will endure even past the grave and into eternity.  Satan will never stop it.  He didn’t come to start something that could be controlled and run by man, and by the same token, be destroyed by man.  He came to set up his church, and it is a heavenly and celestial body. It’s members are known by God.  They are part of Christ’s body.  As such, they are supernatural and cannot be touched by any force on earth, and death will not disband them.

How then, can there be such talk of decay, of falling away?  Let’s take a look at some of the things that the leaders of the Holdeman church list as signs of decay.  John Holdeman names many in his book History of the Church of God.  Groups that did not practice proper excommunication and avoidance.  Groups that failed to control who people married.  Groups that were known to build large and elaborate places of worship.  Groups that were baptizing unconverted people.  Groups that believed the wrong thing (according to his reckoning) about the Incarnation, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and feetwashing, Groups that taught the wrong thing about the Second Coming.  Today think about the things that concern the leaders as they try to remain the true church….types of clothing, types and colors of shoes, the parting of the hair, whether to one side, in the middle, or not at all…whether you surf the internet freely instead of being confined by one of their filters…what type of ringtone you have on your cellphone…whether or not people are rich… what kind of farm implements they purchase….I’m going to stop here, but you get the picture. Ben Giesbrecht lists many signs of “declension” in his book Keeping the Faith.  

I’m here to tell you my friends, these are all rubbish.  The True Church will never fail.  It cannot disappear, it cannot be held together by men. It will never move or drift.  It is within you.  (Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.)  If you find yourself away from the true church, it is you who has moved, not the church.  It is not a great ocean liner that from time to time tilts and takes on water. Jesus is not tottering at the helm trying to keep his balance, trying to hold on to a wildly spinning wheel as he looks fearfully over his shoulder at the doomed souls toppling into the sea. No my friends, an entirely false picture of the true church has been painted for you. Mass expelling will not right this ship, cracking down on the avoidance will not help, purging the church of electronic devices will have no effect.  ALL THOSE who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb are part of the church. Their names are written in the Book of Life.

2 Timothy 2:19  Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

John 10:29  My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.

These verses should be a comfort to us.  No man can take the love of the Father from us. NO MAN can remove us from fellowship with Him.  There is no doubt that God gave oversight to his church to men who would administer fairly and lovingly.  But he also has much to say about cruel shepherds who do not take care of the flock.  If you feel yourself coerced, bullied or terrified at the hands of the ministers, rest assured, my friend, you are in the hands of a cruel shepherd.

Back to signs of decay:  The signs of decay listed by John Holdeman can all pretty much be seen in the Church of God in Christ Mennonite today.  Large fancy homes, wealth and ease, elaborate places of worship, misuse of excommunication and avoidance, leaders who are proud and lifted up, baptizing of unconverted individuals, laxness in child rearing, an incorrect view of the Incarnation, an incorrect understanding of the end times…Listen, do you really think that God wipes his people out for minor misunderstandings? Not that some of these things are minor, and yet, seen in a certain light, these things could cause one to stumble.  WHAT IF your salvation hangs by such a thin thread?  What if the church must depend on men to keep it safe.  That cannot be done.  There are no men in this world who can safely steer this ship.  If in fact the signs of decay in previous eras of the church are a true sign of the true church, then one MUST conclude that the Holdeman Church is no longer the true church.  They can teach the true church all they want.  They can beat down on the members with a great big stick, scaring them and bringing them into alignment with the latest directive.  They can withhold communion from them, put them on repentance, take away their internet, but it will make no difference. Men who do this are dealing with unregenerate hearts.  They are encouraging legalism and blocking an understanding of the grace of God and a genuine understanding of what it means to be converted.  These men, the ones who batter the people, must answer to God for assuming leadership of His Church in such a way.  All of this is not to say that God did not delegate authority, and that he does not need men to administer his church on earth.  But I am pointing out the wrong way to do it.  The right way is miles in the other direction.  I have seen the right way. I have seen men who lead in love, who will suffer for their people, sacrifice for their people, preach the Word in humility, and set an example of longsuffering and kindness.  Lest I seem too critical, just let it be known that I long to see a church that operates in love.  I long to see leaders who will lay down their lives for the sheep rather than bully them and abuse them. FEAR is one thing that should never be seen in the true church. When you have had enough you will speak out.  When you can no longer take it, you will rise up.  I sit and I wait for that day.

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27 Responses to Signs of Decay

  1. HopingforChange says:

    If you are longing for a kind leadership and loving shepherds who lead the flock in love you should come to my congregation.We are having communion this morning after 2 weeks of revival meetings. We have had 5 council meetings in which everyone got up and cleared their way. There was not one member that was bullied or put on repentance or expelled. Not one single condition brought up by the staff.We have around 180 members and most if not all are going to communion.Our staff left heartfelt sincere testimonies of their failings and regrets and begged us to visit with them when we feel they are wrong and stated how much they need the layity.Never once was the drift mentioned and there are no stipulations tied to communion besides what the Holy Spirit has revealed to each one of us.I am inspired and encouraged and hope that all of you can experience this also. As my handle implies I have been praying for a change in the church that steers us to a Holy Spirit led life and not one dictated by the church and rules. That is what I see happening here.Have a blessed day.

    • lotsaquestions says:

      What would happen if you went to church this morning with short sleeves. brown shoes and carried a red Bible?

    • Hiram says:

      Hoping for Change..This sounds too good to be true. How many people have been excommunicated from your congregation in the last several years? How many families have been shattered? How many young people have fallen away and are living in sin? How many of these situations were healed in the “revivals?” How many years had it been since you had communion? What would have happened if you had asked a a question? Just a few questions for you.

    • wink says:

      What would happen if your preacher knew you were reading Brother Hiram?

  2. James says:

    That sounds pretty good, hoping for change. I’ve seen congregations who sang the same song you’re singing now, but a year or two later they were back in the same pickle. Preachers on the hot seat, no communion, people being called in for visits. I warned one person who told me how great the revivals had been that they couldn’t depend on it lasting. Sure enough, it didn’t take long and things were back to the same old problems. But who knows, maybe it’ll work for you.

  3. HopingforChange says:

    None expelled for 2 years or more.Can’t remember the last time we recessed,wife says about 10 years ago because we ran close to thanksgiving.Havent expelled any youth for quite some time.In fact the only excommunication we have had here for quite some time is a brother that confessed fornication and drug use.No shattered families.Believe me I do ask questions.I am very vocal and love a good scrap. Just think this whole thing works when the leaders take the rightful place. They don’t even panel the youth here anymore. Just have a special youth meeting where all the youth attend and can share hearts And yes…..We are a “Holdeman” church. I probably would get repramended for reading this site but so far it hasn’t swayed me. In fact I think 90% of what Hiram writes here is sanctimonious drivel.

    • James says:

      Maybe you’d be better off spending your time reading the Messenger than Brother Hiram. Why would such a satisfied Holdeman read sanctimonious drivel? The Messenger might be real food for your soul

    • Hiram says:

      Hopingforchange, I am sorry you see my writing as sanctimonious drivel. I try to remain very factual. I always leave the door open for correction or debate if someone disagrees with me. I use scripture very liberally, and not just quoting it randomly, but in context and with a thorough examination of the meaning. To refer to the liberal use of scripture as drivel seems trivial on your part. I have been working my way through some very difficult doctrinal issues, and to be honest with you, it is very exhausting and taxing. To refer to my hard work as sanctimonious drivel is a little mean, don’t you think? But it’s ok. You are welcome to read and comment at any time. I don’t require conformity, dissent is allowed and I want you to think for yourself. I love debate!

    • One Who Was There says:

      HopingforChange, yes I am indeed looking for “a kind leadership and loving shepherds who lead the flock in love” after the battering & bludgeoning I took in the congregation that I got punted from. Where is your utopian congregation?

  4. watching and waiting says:

    Hoping for change- Your final sentence in the above post sadly negates any of your comments.Religous blinders are a dangerous thing. Keep asking questions and searching. We desperately need a change or the church as we know it will disintegrate.

  5. DAD says:

    When faced with the decision to stay or leave, I had to reach the conclusion that if one part of the H doctrine can be disproved biblically then all of its OTVC claims have to be false. Either it is the “one true visible church” or it isn’t. If any part of doctrine can be proven to be false then the claim of supremacy to God has to be false as well. It becomes nothing more than any other church group although with a self deceiving claim. Many of its pet doctrines can be easily proven false when compared with scripture. That was the decision maker for me.

    • Hiram says:

      What part/s of the one true church doctrine did you disprove….

      • DAD says:

        Starting out when I was 18 or 19 and asking a simple question: are musical instruments prohibited in Bible. Answer: No. Going to the more complex. Is there anything that indicates that in the year 2012 the descendents of John Holdeman have the keys to the one true church. Answer: No Pretty much everything in between is suspect when placed next to Bible.

  6. holdemanzombie says:

    HopingforChange said “In fact I think 90% of what Hiram writes here is sanctimonious drivel.”

    I’m confused and I can’t take you seriously because of the contradictions:.

    Your ‘handle’ is “HopingforChange”. Then you arrogantly proclaim YOUR congregation as the place we should all know and admire. So, why do you hope for change? Sounds like a wonderful place to me, a place the rest of us should move to.

    Then you demean Bro Hiram’s writings (90%, that leaves 10% valuable substance) and yet, you not only READ, you have the desire to post.

    Everyone has the freedom to belief what they choose and live accordingly. If you don’t find Bro Hiram’s writings to be beneficial, please return to your church publications. The Holdeman church conviction on the internet is ‘business use’. What part of Bro Hiram’s writings is necessary for your small business?

    My final question: “WHAT CHANGE ARE YOU HOPING FOR??????” .

  7. Mrs. Jantz says:

    Hoping for change, your initial comment makes no sense. You say you had meetings for two weeks. Why would it take 2 whole weeks of church every night to figure out that no one needed to be bullied, harassed, or excommunicated? Think about this…in the utopia you would have us believe you live in, at the ‘self examination’ meetings, there would be no one sitting in front facing the congregation with pen and little black book in hand. If God’s one true church has any concern for the rest of the 6 billion people and their salvation, why then, when it comes time to get serious about the condition of souls, do they conduct the proceedings behind the closed doors of a ‘members meeting’? Secrecy, verses the good news of salvation, Jesus Christ came to earth, lived and died, so all humanity could be saved….Really? “The good news that shall be for all people”,does not add up with ‘the one true church’ or anything that defines it.
    I would encourage the holdeman members who are reading Brother Hiram’s message to share it with your holdeman friends.I stumbled onto this recently, and have seldom seen so much truth all in one place. There is no question as to whether the holdeman church as a whole is falling apart. The question is, will the people find their way to an independent happy life when it does?

  8. HopingForChange says:

    Well I guess I owe an explaination here….. I was a bit hard on poor ole Hiram….. I just think he gets a bit too melodramatic.I also wonder if he is hoping that his blog he will start a reformation and he can “come out” as a 21st century Johnny Holdeman. I read this blog because it is interesting and sometimes entertaining. Some of the change I am hoping for is that the COGICM would stop canonizing John Holdeman and rather live according to the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit.I don’t have many answers but I think a tabloid such as this turns off the large majority of the people who read it. I have shared the link with many friends and their reactions range from amused to horrified that I would even look at such blasphemy. Haven’t found one yet that takes it serious. Maybe there needs to be two blogs. One for the abuse issue and one that addresses the decay and other problems within the church. Don’t hate me for what I post! It only indicates that you also have a serious lack of understanding. Written IMHO

    • lotsaquestions says:

      Every member and non-member I have shared this site with says it is true and relevant to the issues in the COGICM!! Not abit tabloid like, all candid, plain hard facts. Like Mrs Jantz says seldom do you see a site with so much truth. Holdeman’s are so narrow minded they can’t “get” it. Then the ones that can “get” it will continue to love this site.

      • lotsaquestions, your comments are more in line with the reaction that I get from the people who communicate with me. I don’t know why our friend hopingforchange is so negative! But as I’ve said, to each his own! It’s possible he is resisting the enlightening of his mind and tries very hard to stop the process!

  9. I can put your mind at rest about one thing, hopingforchange, I will never come out, and I am no John Holdeman. I have no aspirations to lead a new movement, I here to inform and educate. The dreams you have for change within the church will not happen. It is founded upon it’s own claim of exclusivity, and cannot exist outside of that. Remove these grandiose claims and you no longer have this church. Fail to remove these claims and you will not EVER “return” to living according to the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit. These things are mutually exclusive. There are those who may try for a time but the claims of the church will always intervene, and if push comes to shove, guess which one will win?

    Furthermore….

    Definition of BLASPHEMY
    1
    a : the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God
    b : the act of claiming the attributes of deity
    2
    : irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable

    To accuse me so loosely of blasphemy causes you to loose credibility yourself. I have never shown irreverence for God, unless you are equating John Holdeman and the One True Church Teaching with God. I remain very scriptural and sound in my teaching, if you can find one thing I have written which is incorrect according to scriptures, we can debate it. I do not claim perfection, I ask for debate and comment. You do yourself a disservice when you make these accusations but fail to back them up with actual examples. I also do not see how you can call me a tabloid. I have published two rather sensational stories of severe abuse which occurred within the church, which apparently embarrass you. This is not the main focus of my blog. My main focus is teaching and commentary. It requires a good deal of work and thought and dedication to my conviction that the Holdeman people are a needy people, in desperate need of stimulation for their minds. I thank you for spreading word of the blog. I know your friends pretend disinterest or horror, but the readership continues to increase. I can look at the stats page and tell you on any given day which article that I have written has been read 100 times in a week. For now I am satisfied with that. It rises steadily, as do the emails that come to me voicing concerns, sharing information, and asking questions. Please continue to amuse yourself at my expense. I am greatly flattered. Please continue to read and comment, it takes all kinds, you know!

    Your friend, Poor old Hiram

  10. HopingForChange says:

    Just to clarify… I don’t call it blasphemy…. one of my friends did…

    • Just FYI hfc, the post Rules for the Revolution has been viewed 77 times this week. I know this may not seem like much, but these numbers continue to climb. some posts are being read nearly 200 times in a week. I feel very satisfied with the numbers that are showing up every day. The site has had nearly 20,000 hits since August 23. This does not mean 20k unique visitors but rather 20k page loads. I think this is a very satisfying total, all things considered. Add to that the fact that you are the only naysayer whose head has popped up and I think you are very much in the minority here.
      And once again, may I say, welcome here, speak your mind and let it grow!

      your brother

  11. Hank Wiebe says:

    Bro. Hiram, I believe you are saying a lot of the right things and I hope our H brothers and sisters will find and read here. I do however, believe that reform is possible within H, if they drop their view on the OTVC, or at least not make it mandatory for membership. We are a fallen human race and God’s grace takes that into account. And I appreciate your comment that you do not claim to have everything right. If we knew everything about God and his Being, he would not be the awesome, transcendent God that he is. One day, we will have all the answers.

    BTW, I am having trouble signing in… but I am not a computer techy. Any advice ?
    Hank W.

    • Hiram says:

      Hello Hank. I appreciate your comments. There is one tricky thing though, and that is that if the Holdemans give up their OTVC teaching, they will no longer be the Holdemans. They will not reform, they will completely revamp. How do you view this? As for signing in, I think all you have to do is post your comment, and I approve it.

  12. Hank says:

    There is a difference between believing that a church correctly follows the NT pattern/teachings against believing that they ARE the OTVC. All of earlier CGCM members did not believe they were the “one true” church, and I believe it really was not promoted, at least not in Canada among my roots which were the KGs from the split in1882. Even Peter Toews, the KG bishop who lead his people into Holdeman said he had always believed they “were such a church” as Holdeman described.

    I tend to think the earlier H church as a whole was never steeped in JH’s written church view. In 1800s conference minutes you read that when they were discussing baptism, they wrote (paraphrased) “in making such an important decision on baptism they should really discuss with other churches” or to that effect. Will look for the minutes and post. There is enough other verbal info that I am aware of that brings a broader view forward at least into the 1950s. The extreme position of the OTVC, as I see it, only came forward in late 1960 into the 1970s, when the more “healthy normal tensions” (if I can put it that way) between law and grace broke down. In a plain society there will always be discussions/tensions as to what is “right”. Not saying this is biblical or ideal, but certainly the NT churches also had their issues to deal with. Clearly, CGCM needs to come to the point where they not only say that church membership does “not save individuals”, but they must be able to believe it and prove it.

  13. Hank says:

    Conference 7 1887 2. Q. Baptism. Is it according to the gospel to make such a weighty decision with several souls, without inviting the scattered children of God, as remnants of the 12 tribes of spiritual Israel and also give liberty to decide, and give them the honor to be present in a matter that also concerns them because it concerns the universal church of Christ?

    Conference of 1896 on baptism says: “We consider it wrong to take members away from a church of God. As long as such scattered children of God believe they have been baptized into a true church of God, we refer them back…”
    The above two references are from early conference minutes; available on this Vox Poplui site. One refers to the universal church (Heb. 12:22-23) where ALL who believe find comfort, and in the second quote makes reference to other “true church of God”.

    I do not want to be misunderstood. The OTVC belief has permeated the Holdemans since its inception, but to different degrees by different localities and individuals. Clearly, this belief is not based on scripture, but is the result of uncertain conjecture on John Holdeman’s part.

    To clarify my previous post, the OTVC belief was NOT part of the KG’s belief, and Peter Toews writes that he always thought they (the KG) were a church such as Holdeman described. I have also read other writings that intimate that Holdeman used deception, or did not come clean with his beliefs, when he came to preach in Manitoba among the KG. Or else, as is my experience, the OTVC belief was not an important part of H teaching.

  14. Hiram says:

    I don’t know if you are aware that the third post on this blog has a link to the early conference reports. https://truthjusticemercyandlove.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/early-conference-reports-1864-1956/

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