Old Apostolic Church
Doctrines, Theology & Practices of the OAC
OAC Confession of Faith Explained
Let us now explore and understand the confession of faith of the Old Apostolic Church. In doing so we will share some of the many interpretations and views held by the OAC that accompany each line. The reader will need to compare the OAC approach to the confession of faith to that of the bishops from the Orthodox faith during the Council of Nicea and Constantinople. Please note that the following exegesis can only be fully appreciated if the reader has thoroughly read and understood the previous discussion of the original creed.
Let us begin.
We believe in one God,
In the very first statement one would find a range of views from various groups within the OAC regarding God. There are several versions that are sometimes two sides of the same coin. Some versions are incompatible with the others.
The humanist god: In the very first statement one would find a range of views. Some OAC profess that God is the word that proceeds from the mouth of an anointed officer. This extends to the evangelistic approach where a non-OAC member first receives the “gospel” or “word”. In this regard, the words that the non-OAC member has received is God which can then form in them a spiritual order. When a “testimony soul” (a non-OAC) person hears the “gospel” from an OAC member, then the image of God may start occurring in them. Keep in mind that because words don’t exist without humans, this particular version of God can only exist within people. For future reference, we will call this version the “humanist god”, although the OAC members that subscribe to this view would propose that the “word” which they share IS God. I refer to this version as the humanist god because this “god” is really an idea or concept. This particular version of God does not exist without people. This god which is a word that is received by the willing soul, is akin to an instruction received by a willing participant. This version of God often coincides with the “spiritual god”. This is the natural progression of decontextualising John 6:63 where the Lord Jesus says “ the words I speak to you are spirit and life”.
A spiritual god: The spiritual god is the version of God which is gnostic or knowledge based. Spiritual in the OAC context refers to that which is hidden, conceptual, symbolic, allegorical and of deeper meaning. Additionally spiritual can also mean “within”- as in “within the heart and mind of understanding”.
[It does not relate to the orthodox christian context of “spiritual” which means “of God”,“like God” and “Godly”. ]
They profess “We believe in one God”: a “spiritual” god which cannot be seen, smelled, touch or felt. Rather this is a god which is defined by concepts such as, but not limited to :wisdom and power (1Cor1:24), love (1 John 4:8), knowledge (Eph 1:17). The “spiritual” god can also be described as an “attitude” or “way of living”. The example of wind and leaves are often used as an anecdote in OAC discussions:
One cannot see the wind, yet we can see the effects of wind. We can see a tree and it leaves blowing in the wind, yet one cannot see the wind. This is the case with the spiritual god. One cannot see love or physically acquire it, although one can experience the effects of love. One cannot see wisdom unless it is revealed through a person as an experience. In this regard the “spiritual god”, again, only exists through the interactions of people or within the inner workings of the self. Therefore this “spiritual” god is usually claimed to exist within people only. However, some OAC members will extend the concept philosophically by proposing that love and wisdom always exist, but these virtues cannot manifest unless people reveal these virtues through their thoughts, words and actions. Why did we call this a “gnostic” or knowledge based god? “Gnosis” means “knowledge”. A Gnostic faith is a faith which requires the adherent to acquire a set of knowledge which is generally hidden away from plain sight and only revealed to a select few. The basis for these gnostic principals can be found in the following text verses:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…” – OAC references this verse to demonstrate that we are to come to a unity of “knowledge”. This knowledge would refer to the “spiritual understanding” promoted by the Old Apostolic Church.
“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them…” – OAC references this text to demonstrates that all scriptures are parables and that Jesus spoke things which could not be plainly understood by the uninitiated.
This is often combined with:
“And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables…”. Here the OAC view holds that the OAC alone know the mystery of the kingdom of God because they are the disciples which have acquired this “spiritual” understanding.
1 John 5:20
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” – Again the “understanding” denotes the acquisition of specific “spiritual” knowledge which can only be gained through the OAC.
All of the above, which is in no way a complete list, serves to demonstrate that some members of the OAC believe in a god which is conceptual, symbolic and based on knowledge of the “mystery” which can only be gained through “spiritual understanding” found in the OAC. Keep in mind that a large proportion of OAC officers and members would affirm that even though there may be loving and kind people in “the world”, they certainly do not have God because those people do not yet have a “spiritual understanding”. This demonstrates the concept of the “spiritual”, gnostic god which can only be received through accepting the “word” from an OAC members. This god is not a being that can exist outside of the church. On the contrary, it is really a body of knowledge which can be revealed and experienced when the church members allow these concepts to reveal through them.
A typical OAC conversation with a targeted convert will typically follow the following formula:
OAC Speaker: “What is God? Isn’t God love?”
Target Person: “Yes, that’s what the bible says I think”.
OAC Speaker: “Can love float outside in the sky or be up in space?”
Target Person: “ No, love can only be inside a person’s heart or between people”
OAC Speaker: “Exactly! So when people in “the world” speak about a god out there somewhere above moon, sun and stars, they are not being spiritually minded are they? They are looking for carnal things, not spiritual things. Remember, Romans 8:5 says we should not be carnally minded, but rather spiritually minded. Remember, John 4:24, God is Spirit and those who worship Him in Spirit and Truth.”
In this fashion, the targeted convert or testimony soul is led through a formula of logical steps to reveal the “truth to them”. Testimony souls (non-OAC members) are called so because the OAC bears testimony to them of the real Jesus Christ and forms in them a “spiritual eye”).
In the above formula discussion it is evident that single verses are used out of context to present a very logical, simple god to the testimony soul which can only be understood “spiritually”. The testimony soul does not want to be associated with being “carnal minded” or “fleshly” and so learns to reject the physical realities of the scripture. Keep in mind that this requires one to replace the original meanings of fleshly and carnal with the versions of “fleshly” and “carnal” as taught by the OAC. As this process continues the testimony soul will learn to reject anything physical relating to God or Jesus or the scriptures. This also leads to the heresy of dualism which will be discussed later.
Essentially God, which is Spirit is not related to any physical creation and attempting to connect the spiritual with the “natural” would be “naturally minded”. The argument would be made using the following verse:
1 Corinthians 2:13-16
Which things also we (OAC) speak, not in the words which man’s (non-OAC) wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth (found in the OAC); comparing spiritual(symbolic, hidden) things with spiritual(allegorical things).But the natural man(Non-OAC) receiveth not the things of the Spirit(wisdom, understanding) of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he (non-OAC) know them, because they are spiritually (allegorically, symbolically) discerned. … For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we (oac) have the mind of Christ (spiritual wisdom, spiritual understanding).
A god of life and energy: Most OAC members and officers subscribe to the previously mentioned versions of God, however, some members extend the concept of God to include the idea of physical life. In this regard God is still “spiritual” in that God is love, God is wisdom, but God is also life, as in the the life in each living thing. This version of God is found wherever there is life. All things living, therefore have God in them (life). This version of God is closer to the Buddhist principles of energies, universe and balance. Those who maintain this view will acknowledge that God can exist outside of the OAC because God can be seen in all living things. This is an impersonal god or energy, lacking the personage of the Christian God.
In the case of “worldly people” however, while they may be animated by this “energy” or life, God is still not revealed to them and they cannot yet properly serve God due to their lack of spiritual understanding. All people who are non-OAC are regarded as being “dead in trespasses and sins” as long as they have not received a “spiritual” understanding. This is because the OAC believes that “natural man” (non-OAC) (1 Cor 2:14) cannot please God because they cannot “spiritually discern”. Non-OAC also may be compared to “brute beasts of the field” (Jude 10) because they are not created yet in God’s image.(frightening)
A smaller group of OAC that adhere to this version of God may be very flexible in their views, professing that God (life) is in all things and all people and that all life returns to the source of life. In this regard, there is a concept of universal energy which all living things return to. This is a minority view because it negates most of the reasons why the OAC exists. Members of the Old Apostolic Church often suspend reasoning when they hold multiples views that cannot co-exist. In other instances they will bridge the gap between two opposing points with logic additions and justifications.
For example: the above OAC member would be far more laissez-faire and may claim that one cannot judge the faiths or beliefs of others. They would also propose that no one is wrong and no one is right and that all life returns back to God. Simultaneously they will preach that there is only One way to the Father and that is the Son. This will require the OAC member to reason that the Father is perhaps a literal word or instruction and that the only way to have this God-given instruction (the word) is through the Son (the OAC). The “salvation” through “Christ” (wisdom) is that OAC members can know a more “excellent way” as incorrectly quoted from 1 Cor 12:31. The OAC member will refer to the “more excellent way” being “The Old Apostolic Way of Life”. The Holy Apostle Paul is, of course, referring to the more excellent way being love.
Members who subscribe to this view of God may still not profess that God created inanimate objects such as rocks, planets or gasses because they do not exhibit life. According to this view, God is where life is. God is life. Life is God and the fullness of this Life can be accessed through the teachings of the current apostles in the OAC.
(Note in the above view that the Trinity has been distorted (Father=word=instruction, Son=OAC), along with many Christians principals which are rooted in scripture and ancient doctrine.)
Absolute God: Few and far between one will find an Old Apostolic that believes in the absolute God which created all things. This version of God is closer to the orthodox view of God in that He created all things from nothing. However, the view of the absolute God would likely be distorted by the necessity of incorporating ideas from the previous versions of God in order to remain within the Old Apostolic framework.
Some Old Apostolics may hold to all these versions of God simultaneously or interchangeably, depending on the context of the discussion and with whom the discussion is being held.
…the Almighty Father,
The Father is described in the OAC as various concepts. Let us explore:
The Father is a word: The Father is often described as “a word” (instruction) received from the officer or member. The word (instruction) that is received is then accepted by a humble and willing soul/servant in which this word then becomes a deed. This is starkly contradicts the orthodox faith. This assertion is also contrary to the author, apostle John who describes Jesus, the Son, as being the Word (Logos) in John1:1.
In this sense, groups holding to this view are not Trinitarian. The idea of the Father is conceptualised to mean an instruction which has a positive effect in the life of the member who hears and does the same.
The Father is God over all creation: The Father is sometimes described as the God over all creation (defined as the absolute God in this book.) In this instance, the Father would be God over all things, the entire universe. This is distinct from the Son who would be God in the community or church. It is also distinct from the Holy Spirit which is God in in the person. This version of the Father is structured like an umbrella which arches over all things, the Son which is God in the church, and the Holy Spirit which found in the individual. This version of the Father can be held simultaneously with the “word” version of the Father because meanings can shift depending on the context of the discussion.
The Father is the officer who sends: Often the Father is referred to as the officer (underdeacon, priest, elder etc) who assigns a task to the obedient members. In other words, when an underdeacon sends a member to visit a “testimony” home, then he is the Father, sending the Son. This is derived from John 3:16 where the Son is sent by the Father. It stands to reason to the Old Apostolic mind that, if members are being sent with a Godly task, then they themselves are the Son being sent into “the world”. For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. The Father is the underdeacon in this case.
In the pastoral/shepherdly context, the OAC elder may send the priest to visit a family in need. This would also be the “Father” sending the “Son”. Again, this reflects a heterodox view of the Trinity.
To the Old Apostolic Church’s credit, the members have full faith that the Father is almighty. When the are tasked by their over-placed shepherd, then they have complete faith that their instruction will lead to a miraculous and blessed outcome. Old Apostolics are encouraged to be humble and obedient. “Amen” is the answer of a willing servant. Questioning or objecting demonstrates “spiritual” immaturity because “if you knew the gift in me” (John 4:10) then the subservient member or officer would recognise the gift in the “man of God” that is tasking them. For an Old Apostolic, speaking to one’s assigned over-placed shepherd is equal to speaking to God face to face. If one is speaking to God face to face, how can there be any doubt in the instruction received?
Creator of the heaven and the earth and all things, visible and invisible;
There are mainly two camps in this regard.
Spiritual Only Group:
There are predominantly those who believe that God created only the “spiritual” heaven and “spiritual things”. These things are hidden understandings that are visible to the OAC member and those which are not currently visible due to a lack of experience or understanding. At no stage does this view allow consideration of a physical creation or creation of an actual heaven or sky. For this group, considering God as the creator of the physical or “natural” creation is highly frowned upon and viewed as a deficiency in “spiritual” understanding.
Spiritual and Physical Group:
The second group, a minority, affirms that God created all things. Not some things, but all things. Whether it can be observed with the eye or not, God created it.
It is of utmost importance to note that the issue of the two groups is not so simple or clear cut. This is because unrestrained allegory starts to rear its head at this point. Both “heaven” and “earth” are assigned entirely different meanings by most groups in the OAC.
Let us explore the jungle of unrestrained allegory within the scope of heaven and earth.
Heaven and Earth
When discussing the creation of heaven and earth, most OAC members will be quick to point out that it is in fact referring to the “spiritual heaven” and “spiritual earth”, often point to their cranial temples while doing so.
Heaven and Earth as conditions: Platonism and Buddhism are the main influences to this OAC view.
Heaven and earth are often described as conditions of the soul. This view is used to contrast the “fleshly minded” notion that heaven is a place other than the human experience. A soul which is in “heavenly condition” is one which is at peace.
An “earthy” condition is one where the soul is operating at a base level, not having yet attained a heavenly wisdom or understanding. This may relate to a particular situation or may relate to the soul’s general condition.
The proponent of this view would encourage the believer to ascend above “earthy” thoughts and desires and to ascend into a heavenly condition, just as Jesus allegorically ascended within Himself to a spiritual way of life. These views are not orthodox, yet they do intersect with some orthodox concepts such as theosis.
Heaven and Earth as pastoral/shepherdly concepts: Often in scripture, God appears from heaven. If God is “a word” tin the Old Apostolic understanding then it would be a logical progression to propose that heaven is where words from God are coming from.
In this regard, when an officer gives an instruction or a task, then it is coming from “heaven”. The words are then received “into the earth” which is demonstrated in Matthew 8:11-8:15 to be represented as a seed be ing accepted into good ground. This would also fulfil the Lord’s prayer that “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When a task is delegated by a higher ranking officer, the task is coming from “heaven” and the will of God “will be done” on “earth” (the receiving heart of the willing servant).
Heaven and Earth as OAC evangelistic concepts: In the evangelistic sense, heaven refers to the dwelling place of God. God is in heaven. If the OAC member has the “kingdom of God” (Luke 17:20) within them then God, “the gift of Christ” (power, wisdom, love, understanding), also resides in them, according to this view. Therefore the member who is OAC is a capsule for “heaven”, “God”, “Christ”, the “Kingdom of God”.
Heaven or the kingdom of God therefore comes “nigh unto man” when an OAC member who has received “heaven”, engages with a non-OAC member. Similarly to previous concepts, “heaven” can be planted within the earth(mind of understanding) of the non-OAC member. The specific reference for this concept, which is rather encouraging to OAC members is Isaiah 51:16:
And I have put My words in thy mouth,
and I have covered thee in the shadow of Mine hand,
that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth,
and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
For an OAC member, it is clear from the above passage that they can impart a word of God to a willing soul which will then result in “heaven” being planted in their heart. It will also establish order in their “earth” as in the Genesis 1 creation narrative. Once the “spiritual creation” has started in the “mind and heart of understanding”, then God will say to the soul “Thou art my people”. This process is to happen in the life of every testimony soul. When they are “taken up” into “heaven” they can duplicate the process with non-OAC souls they are connected to.
and in One Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is one of the most contentious, debated and discussed issues within the Old Apostolic Church.
The confession of faith affirms that there is One Lord , Jesus Christ. We will now explore the various iterations of how the OAC views and interprets this.
“One Lord Jesus Christ” as the Old Apostolic Church, the Body of Christ:
A majority of Old Apostolics will affirm that “the Lord Jesus Christ” is the Old Apostolic Church. When the scripture explains that the Church is the Body of Christ they interpret “Body” to include the Head, which is Jesus Christ. It is commonly understood by OAC that a Body isn’t without a Head. Therefore the Church which is His Body includes the Head. This means ultimately that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a collection of people who identify as Old Apostolic. This “son” which have been sent into the world is the OAC itself, to redeem and save souls. This is often times referred to as “Christ Jesus”, to indicate the difference between the gift of Jesus Christ in a person and Christ Jesus which is the church itself. However, there is no written doctrine and these points fluctuate and bend depending on the person.
When OAC members or officers visit a person or family in the capacity of the church, they will genuinely see themselves as Jesus Christ coming to save or visit. They would be quick to point that it isn’t them, but the “gift” of Christ which dwells and lives through them. However on any particular occasion the gift of Christ, the “wisdom and power” of God that resides them, is using them as vessels in the same way that Jesus of Nazareth “was used” as a vessel for the gift of Christ. (We will discuss the OAC version of Jesus of Nazareth shortly.)
One of the unintended failures of this approach is that the OAC has steadily, over time, distorted the Holy Trinity. The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity has become the OAC in this view:
Father, The Son (OAC), Holy Spirit. I point out with reservation that the teaching of the anti-christ (in place of God) is one where the Son of God is substituted or replaced with something else.
Jesus: Jesus by itself is not so much a who, but more of a “what” in OAC discussions.
What is Jesus? According to the OAC Jesus is the “spiritual gift” within the OAC member. When the testimony soul has received a “spiritual eye” to understand the scripture and when they begin to understand that Jesus is not a person but rather a “gift” then Jesus which is the “Light” (understanding) is illuminating the darkness (confusion, chaos) within the mind of the converting member. If an OAC member has received Christ, they have received the gift, the Light, the Wisdom, the understanding. This Jesus in them then inspires them to go out and preach the same in order to save souls from “fleshly” mindedness.
It is clear that this “conceptual” Jesus is starkly different to the real person of Jesus in the orthodox faith. The OAC “Jesus” is the spiritual concept of enlightenment and living according to that new “spiritual understanding”
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
The spiritual understanding is akin to salvation and is synonymous with having “received” Jesus, the Light, the “spiritual” (symbolic, hidden) understanding.
The majority of OAC will point out that the “Jesus”, should not be confused with Jesus of Nazareth, who was merely a man.
Additionally, it is important to be aware that the OAC does acknowledge that Jesus being sent, is the “saviour”. In this sense, once again, the organisation or its members are the “Jesus of today”, being sent to save souls.
Christ: Christ and Jesus Christ can be used interchangeably in most OAC districts. Some OAC members may profess a distinction between Jesus, the OAC collectively or individually, and the gift of Christ in them.
However, in most instances “Christ” refers to the “power and wisdom” of God found within the members of the OAC. The OAC as an organisation prides itself on not falling prey to the “imaginary” “misconception” that Christ was a man.
When one has Christ, the “gift” of God within them, then according to the OAC, the member becomes a “son and daughter of God”, just like Jesus “the man” became when He was baptised.
The OAC, in true Nestorian and Arianist fashion, denies the divinity of Jesus, preferring a theology where He was merely inspired by God’s Spirit and gave birth to the “Christ gift” in Him.
Unfortunately for the OAC, the organisation fails to recognise that the scripture clearly states that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Jesus the Lord because He baptises with the Holy Spirit. He Himself was born the Lord(God) in the city of David (Luke 2).
OAC will often even dismiss the concept of Jesus (the physical man), preferring the “spiritual” concept of Christ rather than the memory of a “dead person” 2 millennia ago. The OAC are entirely convinced that they are the Jesus of today.
These concepts will be expounded in later chapters.
Jesus of Nazareth:
Jesus of Nazareth receives blunt treatment in the Old Apostolic Church. Jesus of Nazareth would be described as “a man 2000 years ago who allowed the gift of Christ to be fulfilled in his life”. While He may be praised for allowing the “Christ gift” to be fulfilled in His life, he is afforded no more reverence than any living member of the OAC who also allow God’s Spirit to be fulfilled in their own life. In this view, Jesus of Nazareth can be described as the “first member” of the Old Apostolic Church. Even though Jesus may be viewed as a “very good example” of what it is to allow God’s will to be done in one’s life, some OAC treat Jesus far more harshly, describing him as “that man that died 2000 years ago”. Some OAC members would even go as far as dismissing Jesus, “the man”, as irrelevant today and that He has “nothing to do with our lives today”. The real Jesus for these OAC members would again be the Church organisation which is described as the “Jesus of today”. There is a certain sense of pride and unity in the self assured knowledge that the members have not been “deceived” as the rest of the Christian world is.
As a side note, at the turn of the century, the Old Apostolic Church officially acknowledged that “the man, Jesus” did indeed exist 2000 years ago. However, many members today still struggle with the concept, while some reject it outright as being irrelevant.
the only begotten Son of God,
The Old Apostolic Church does not place an emphasis on the word “begotten”. Begotten is merely regarded as having the same meaning as “gotten” or “born”. In essence and in simplicity, the view of only begotten is that God has only one Son, and that is the gift within the heart and mind of man and that gift is found in the members of the OAC. Therefore the OAC is regarded as the “only begotten Son”.
This has wider ramifications on the organisation because they are self-perceived to the the “only begotten Son of God”. This means that when other people and Christians are doing charitable work or even preaching Jesus, the OAC regard these as not having having access to God because
- God has only one Son (The Old Apostolic Church)
- There is only one way to the Father and that is through “the Son” (The OAC).
This statement in the confession of faith thus serves to entrench the exclusivity which the Old Apostolic Church is endowed with. This entire belief however rests on the false perception that an organisation is the Son of God.
Notice too, that the Son of God is entirely limited to a group of people. This may appear as a peculiar belief and view of Almighty God, however the Old Apostolic Church members will be quick to point out that the scripture has already addressed this concern. Many members of the Old Apostolic Church find great comfort and a sense of pride in quoting the following whenever they are questioned or criticised as being strange in their beliefs:
1 Peter 2:9 King James Version (KJV)
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
For an apostolic, it can even be taken as a complement to be called strange or peculiar, because it reinforces the belief that the OAC is a “chosen” nation above all other nations:
Deuteronomy 14:2 King James Version (KJV)
2 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
When one criticises the doctrine of the Old Apostolic Church, members are often spurred on by the idea that their ways and beliefs appear “peculiar”. They believe it is due to God’s design and that with time the confusion will be removed in the enquirer’s mind when they finally “see the light”.
The OAC is an organisation with very high ideals regarding human behaviour because at all times they perceive themselves to represent and even to be God’s Son sent to redeem souls. This notion is great as an idealistic goal, however, the practice of it, especially when based on a largely man made system, is quite destructive for the human person and their relationships. It becomes especially challenging when the ideal behaviour is out of touch with the biblical and ancient Christian understanding of Jesus Christ.
born of the Father from eternity:
This is an interesting addition to the OAC confession of faith because it directly distorts the original faith regarding the divinity of Christ. In the ancient and original Christian faith, as we explained previously, the Son of God, who is God has always existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit, being of one essence and being indivisible. The Son of God, born as Jesus, is literally God who created all things (Col 1).
However, the OAC in this instance has adjusted the confession of faith to suit its modern theology. Based on our previous discussions, the Son of God has been portrayed as a “spiritual gift” which occurs in the heart of man. In fact, in some instances, it may be accurate to describe the gift of Christ to occur only in the heart of mankind. This means that the “gift of God”, being the Son, can only be found in people, and in particular the members of the OAC. A non-OAC member would not be considered to have the “gift” of God in them because they are still a dead soul, until someone has “explained” the scripture to them as Apostle Philip explain the gospel to the eunuch in Acts. (Unfortunately the OAC have misunderstood this account in Acts as will be discussed later.)
It would therefore make sense that through this lens of the “Christ gift” within a person that we read the following verses, out of context, to mean that the “Son” is born from the Father:
John 1:13 (KJV)
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
(OAC mistakenly apply this to Jesus instead of to believers, blurring the context of this verse)
1 John 5:4-12 (KJV)
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
(For OAC, Jesus was victorious, therefore he is born of God).
1 John 3:9 (KJV)
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
(if Jesus is considered to be sinless (debated in OAC circles) then He must be born of God)
However, from a sound theological foundation, how can the Son of God be “born” of God if the Son of God has always existed? If the Son of God was born then it stands to reason that the Son of God did not exist at some stage, which means that at some stage the Father was not the Father. This would be absurd for a God who never changes (Mal 3:6). However if the Son of God is redefined as an organisation, then it would make perfect sense that the Spirit of God (Love) which is found in people, established a gathering of people who are collectively named “the Son”.
Let us do a quick OAC deduction in logic to explain how the Son of God is “born” from God:
- Jesus Christ has no sin.
- Anyone born of God does not sin.
- Therefore Jesus, the spiritual being and even the OAC, is born of God.
- Therefore Jesus, just like any of human, was born of God when He allowed the “gift of God” in Him, the Christ gift, to be fulfilled.
- Jesus may even be considered to be the “saviour” gift entirely and that the original man may have been called anything, “Piet”, “Klaas” or “Jim”. The name of that man 2000 years ago is irrelevant according to some OAC.
This is an extremely flawed understanding since it ignores the ever existence of the Son and the divinity of Jesus. To accept such a flawed logic one needs to ignore realities of the faith and scripture that are clearly evident:
- Jesus was born the Lord as a real person.
- Jesus was the Messiah and the Lord before His baptism.
- As a child He was about His Father’s business before His baptism.
- The Son of God was incarnated (became a human) and was born of a virgin, Mary.
- Jesus, yesterday, today , forever describes that Jesus has always been and will ever be, being the Son of God.
- Jesus was not infused or inspired by the Spirit. The Son of God who is the second person of the Trinity, God, became a human being.
I am well aware that the above points are not a definitive demonstration of Jesus’ divinity, however these points will need to be ignored entirely or distorted to uphold the view that the Son of God is born at some point in time from God.
The correct terminology is in fact that the Son of God is the only-begotten of the Father, because God begets true God. In Greek the scripture does not say that the Son if “born” from the Father at all. In fact, the word “only begotten” is a poor translation of the Greek word monogenese which literally means “unique, one of a kind, like no other. John 3:16 therefore reads: For God so loved the world that He gave His monogenese (only unique, one of a kind Son), so that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.
The scripture never says that the Son of God is born, except when He, being eternal, becomes a human and is called Jesus, born from the virgin Mary. No human is ever referred to as monogonese. No human, no angel, nothing else is ever referred to as the Father’s monogenese Son.
However we, as mankind, can be born from “above” (anothen in Greek) (John 3:3) through the holy sacrament of Baptism and Chrismation (Holy Seal of the Holy Spirit with oil).
Jesus was never “born again” or “born from above” because He was already from above and for a short while became lower than the angels for our sakes (Heb 2:9). Jesus descended first from heaven in order to ascend again (Eph 4:9-10).
Ultimately, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (John 1:18)
Humans are not the only-begotten of God. Humans are created by God. Our souls, our spirit, our life are created. We have a beginning and without Christ, even an end.
Jesus on the other hand is not created. He has been with the Father from the beginning, and all things were created by Him and for Him (Col 1:16) He is the ONLY begotten Son of God, and mankind can follow Him into His relationship with the Father in the Trinity through the spirit of adoption:
Romans 8:15 (KJV)
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
This is the difference between us as mankind as Jesus the Lord:
Jesus’ literal Father is God the Father. He has no earthly father, although He does have a human mother.
Jesus is the only Son that is the only-begotten (the monogenese).
We as mankind however all have human fathers. We are invited into the family of the Trinity through the Spirit of adoption unlike the Word who is the unique One of God that has always been with the Father.
To confuse the aforementioned point is to argue then that Jesus was also adopted and was a mere man. This is contrary to the gospel and the Truth of the Christian faith. If Jesus was adopted then we are all left to save ourselves and His sacrifice was not then once for all (1 Pet 3:18,Rom 6:10) and Apostle Paul has misunderstood the faith of which He received from Christ Himself.
This is in fact the outcome of the OAC doctrine which keeps members as active as possible to earn their salvation by their works (contrary to the gospel of Christ’s victory over sin and death where salvation is not earned by works but by God’s own mercy and grace through faith).
Please note that the confession of the original Christians in the ancient Christian faith that the Lord Jesus Christ is “Begotten, not made” is deleted out of the modern OAC Confession of faith.
God out of God and Light out of Light,
In the original and orthodox Christian faith, the Son of God is not lesser God than the Father. The Son of God, Jesus, is completely and wholly God out of God, Light from Light. When light comes from light it is identical and of the same essence as the light it comes from. The ancient Christian faith maintains that the Trinity is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three Persons, one Being of the same essence, indivisible and inseparable.
Unfortunately this reality is entirely hidden from the eyes of the majority of Old Apostolic Church members.
Let us explore the the statement through an Old Apostolic Church member’s paradigm to demonstrate this.
“God out of God”
Although the scripture refers to God as love and other attributes, God is defined and even limited by the OAC as the concepts of love, understanding, wisdom and power among other things. If the member is convinced that they indeed have the “Spirit” of God, being love, understanding, wisdom and power manifested in them and through them, then they have God in His fullness within them (2 Cor 6:16) Luke 17:21 explains in King James English that the kingdom of God is “within you”. The OAC logically believe that God is in His kingdom and not beyond it. Therefore if they have the kingdom of God within them, then they also have God in them.
This same “God” or “Spirit” or “gift” or “kingdom” or “light” or “understanding” can be transferred to a willing soul who is not yet a member of the Old Apostolic Church. The testimony soul will also receive the “Spirit of God” which is of course also “a word” (misunderstanding the verse of John 1:1). Again the OAC will also quote from John 6:63 that “the words I speak are Spirit and truth”. Through this paradigm, the OAC members are not merely speaking words: the testimony and spiritual insight they deliver are “spirit” and are “life”. Since the scripture explains that God is a Spirit (John 4:24), it would also mean that their words are God which will commence a “spiritual creation” within the hearer if they are willing.
Returning now to the credal statement, it is described by many OAC that “God out of God” would refer to God in the OAC member being received into the new person through hearing the “word” and “doing the same”. God in the new person is received out of God in the words, love and gospel of the giving person. *** We will discuss later the concept of God’s spirit being spiritually male and the soul being spiritually female.
This position is further strengthened for the OAC by Apostle Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:19 where he explains that Paul “travails in birth” until Christ is formed in the Galatians. In the same way an OAC member will travail in birth until Christ is formed in enquiring testimony souls.
As always it is also important to include the other “streams” such as the “prophetic” and “shepherd” streams. The concept of “streams” is very useful for apostolics who wish to use scripture in different areas of church life. The above example of God out of God was primarily focused on the “evangelistic” stream.
However the same concept can be used slightly differently in the “Shepherd” stream which relates to fully fledged OAC members. God out of God can be viewed in the “shepherd stream” as the word (God) coming from the mouth of the priest (God in the member’s life). It can be further extended that when the member follows the “word” from their priest (God in their life) then it reveals the Truth (God is truth). It may be the same template applied to the parent (God in the child’s life) giving the word(God) to the child who will then have the Truth (God) revealed in their life. It can also be said that when “the word” has become a deed in the life of the member then the Truth is revealed, which is Christ who is the Truth… or the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth… or the Way which is synomous with the Truth…or the Way of Life which is synonymous with the Truth and the Way and Jesus Christ (John 14).
There is practically no limitation to the extent of allegory which can be applied. The better one has memorised the scripture, the easier it becomes to weave text verses together in a tapestry of “spiritual” insight.
Unfortunately from the original faith’s perspective, there is little in common between the actual message of the gospel writers and what a group 2000 years later are promoting through unrestrained allegory.
truly God of the same being as the Father’;
The OAC view of this statement would not be discussed often. However, in line with the OAC oral tradition and understanding, it would indicate that the word and Spirit which has been received by the OAC member is truly God, from God the Father. It would be used to signify that there is no difference between God in the hierarchical officers and the members, although responsibilities would differ. This statement would reinforce the understanding that what an OAC member receives in their hearts is really, truly God, from the same love and understanding as the Father who would be God or God in the person through whom testimony was given or God in the community. Essentially, once a person has received God, there is not difference in the “gift” of God in one person to another, although each one would be considered to have different levels of development of the Christ gift in their lives.
Please note that the statement in the original Christian faith which says “through Whom all things were made” has been deleted from the modern OAC confession of faith in spite of this being a direct quote from Colossians 1:16.
who for us as man and for our salvation, descended from heaven
and became flesh,
For the OAC there was a man, or better described, a person, who for our salvation descended from heaven where the words of God was made flesh. When a testimony soul (enquirer) is first introduced to the OAC then a human or many humans from the OAC interact with them. These people are truly human, but in them the gift of God resides. The OAC members “descend” from “heaven” and the “cloud of witnesses” which is the collective membership of the church to “descend” to the “earth” (earthly mind) of the enquiring person. This saving action is when the word of God becomes a deed(flesh) in the OAC members life. The hope would be that the enquiring person would be willing to accept these “words of salvation” which will allow a “spiritual seed” to be sown in their hearts. In time, the “Christ-child” would be born in their lives and they will, through working their salvation, ascend into heaven as is taught in ascension service. Each member is encouraged to ascend to their heavenly calling through obedience, love, commitment and participation in activities.
The same person who slowly becomes more “spiritual” will begin to participate more fully in church activities. With time they may also testify others into the same way of life which would be the process of descending in order to help a soul to likewise ascend. In this regard, every OAC member is encouraged to be the Jesus in someone else’s life.
truly God and truly man,
A majority of OAC members would describe their priest, known as a shepherd or overplaced, as being “truly man”. In the shepherd stream, the OAC priest is just a man. He may be an accountant, a gardener, a mechanic by day, but in the capacity of priest he is truly God in the life of the member who has a spiritual eye and who has humbled themselves to receive God’s blessing. (OAC officers are not paid in their church calling and so need to sustain themselves with “worldly” income of which they are encouraged to tithe 10 percent to the organisation. (In many communities it would be the officers who provide the major source of tithes in order to set the example for lay members. It is not uncommon for officers such as underdeacons, priests, elders and fourfold officers to visibly and noticeably offers tithes at the start of an OAC church service to “inspire” members to do the same, leading them by example.)
While a person may be in contact with an OAC member, viewing them just as a man or a woman, in time the OAC aims to reveal to the person that the OAC member is actually the gift of God which has “come nigh unto them”.
If the person is already an OAC member, but lacks “spiritual understanding” then it would be the aim of the OAC for the member to slowly realise that their human shepherd is “truly God” for them.
Dozens of stories circulate regarding the topic of truly God, truly man. The structure of the story usually matches the following template:
- Story begins with an oblivious person interacting with an OAC officer or member
- The unsuspecting person doubts, ridicules or disrespects the OAC officer or member
- The OAC member or officer, being “Christ”, would usually treat them with care and respect regardless (*a good thing*)
- The OAC officer or member gives them a warning or prophesies something about their future
- The person suffers or gains as the OAC member or officer foretold
- The person realises that it wasn’t simply a human that they were interacting with but truly God within the OAC member or officer
- The moral of the story is that, similar to Hebrews 13:2, people who are not OAC have often interacted with OAC members, “not realising” that the OAC member is actually the presence of God to them in their lives.
- For incumbent members, the moral of the story is that every OAC member should renew their respect of their “shepherd” who is the “man of God” in their life and deserving of full faith, obedience and trust, because the man who has been placed before them is God in their life. Similarly they need to respect the power of the “gift” in them which has the power to change the lives of others.
The OAC does believe the statement “truly God, truly man”, but unfortunately not in the context which the writers of the Confession of Faith or the apostles or the first Christians believed or intended. As previously discussed, Jesus, the Messiah who had existed from the beginning is considered to be a relic of the past, at best leading the way for the Jesus of today being the OAC.
conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary;
While a right believing (orthodox) Christian and an Old Apostolic Church member will both agree with this statement, each of them would ascribe significantly different meanings to it.
As previously discussed, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is the third person in the Holy Trinity and is God. The Holy Spirit is described in Genesis as God’s Spirit who moved upon the waters. The New Testament describes that the Holy Spirit can be grieved and is also referred to as He (not an it).
What is the Holy Spirit according to the Old Apostolic Church’s doctrine? The Holy Spirit is often described in the following several manners:
- Holy Spirit is an attitude: “I can have a holy or Godly attitude just as I may have a negative or bad attitude”. An attitude can also be described as an approach. Therefore the Holy Spirit is a Godly approach. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit is involved it may simply signify a Holy or Godly approach, attitude or Spirit. In this context, the “Christ child” or “Christ gift” would have been born from a Holy or Godly approach.
- The Holy Spirit is also referred to as the Spirit of care, love and selflessness described in Luke 4:18:Luke 4:18 King James Version (KJV) : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Therefore it is the internal drive within the OAC member, which is also the Christ gift, which is also God, which can be the Spirit of love and care.
The Holy Spirit is however, rarely referred to as a person. The hymnology in the OAC often describes the Holy Spirit as a Person in the Trinity, however, it is largely ignored. For the average OAC member, the word “person” is often misunderstood to be a human person. Therefore it would not make sense to imply that the Holy Spirit is a human person. However the Holy Spirit can reside in a human person, being an attitude or spiritual drive or “God” which is love or care or even the gift of God which may manifest as the gifts of the Spirit such as the gift of prophecy (dreams, visions, verbal prophecies). Often the OAC members will replace the Holy Spirit with the fruits of the Spirit being, love, kindness, long suffering, meekness, temperance (Gal 5:19).
- The Holy Spirit is often referred to in the OAC as the Holy teaching or doctrine. John 6:63 explains that the words that come from Jesus “are Spirit and Life.” Therefore, if the Apostle or an OAC officer is preaching or teaching, then they are giving the Holy Spirit (Holy words) to the members. These Holy words or teachings will then “anoint” the receiving party as per Luke 4:18 to preach to the captives, restore sight to the blind etc. In this way the Holy Spirit is reduced to simply being holy words or teachings inspired by “God” in the heart of the officer or member who is sharing the words of Jesus, words which are Spirit according to John 6:63.
- The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit in this regard acts as an authenticating experience. If an OAC member listens to the word , which then becomes a deed in the life of the OAC member, then it would reveal as a truth (Holy Spirit) in the life of the member. This is also the completion of the Holy Trinity in the life of the member:
- The word (the Father) that is given from the mouth of the shepherd
- The word is then converted into a deed (the Son) in the life of the member
- The positive or Godly result (Holy Spirit) which reveals the truth of God’s power in the member’s life
Having discussed the OAC’s views on the Holy Spirit, we would need to next consider how the OAC views Mary in order to fully explain what the OAC understand by their Confession of Faith saying “conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary”.
Mary is rarely, if ever, discussed as an actual physical person in the OAC. For the OAC members and officers, Mary is an allegory to be substituted with the following meanings:
- Mary is the soul that can give birth to the child of Christ (Gal 4:19). The reasoning follows that if Apostle Paul says that he travails in birth till Christ is formed in the lives of the Galatians, then then the Galatians represent Mary, individually and as a community.
- Mary is the community which gives birth to new OAC members. Each new member that is taken up has the newborn Christ-child within them which must then be fed and reared spiritually to reach the “full stature in Christ” (Eph 4:13)
- According to the OAC Mary in the “story” of the bible is a virgin which represent the pure and willing soul of the member, untouched by “man”. In other words, if the soul or testimony person is prepared to reject all other “worldly wisdom and teachings” then the soul would be pure, being available only to the word of God. Each OAC member is encouraged to be pure like the concept of Mary in order to house the gift of Christ within their hearts and minds of understanding.
Now, let us consider the statement in totality according to OAC doctrine:
Christ, the gift, the newly acquired spiritual life, within a soul is conceived by the words/teaching and attitude and spirit which are received from an Old Apostolic Church member or officer and given to a willing soul who is prepared to “give birth” to the child of Christ (a spiritual concept) within their lives. This child of Christ within the life of the member will then need to be fed and nurtured through attending OAC activities during the week such as choir, testimony, bread-break(teaching discussion) as well as participating in tithing and extra activities such as youth events, picnics and plays. As this Christ “gift” within the life of the OAC member grows into adulthood, it will lead them to testify others into the same process and even sacrifice their own lives (time, effort) to bring others to the “Light”.
From a communal perspective, the community, through love, obedience and warmth, allows a comforting gestational environment for a new soul to be comfortable and transform their lives from being “worldly” into being a spiritual person. The community (Mary) has now conceived by the Holy Spirit (teaching, truth) given to the new soul. The ultimate outcome is that a new soul has converted to the Old Apostolic Church’s paradigm which is the process of Christ being born out of the community (Mary).
It is to be noted that a majority of Old Apostolic Church members scoff at the “absurd” notion that an actual virgin could give birth. It would be treated as common knowledge that the world has been misled and that only those with a spiritual understanding (the OAC) can perceive the true meaning behind the virgin birth.
The OAC however are not familiar with Isaiah 7:11 which is a prophetic promise that God will produce a virgin birth as a sign to be given to Israel.
Asking an OAC member or officer will produce variations of the following answers:
- The virgin birth is not to be understood literally. It is a spiritual story to happen in our lives.
- A virgin birth is not possible. A man is required to conceive a child.
- Joseph is the father of Jesus, it says so in John 6:42
- If you are naturally minded then you wouldn’t understand this story.
- God is Spirit and has nothing to do with a physical birth.
The same OAC members would claim that God is almighty, however they would be quick to counter their statement that virgin births, blind men restored to sight and lame men walking are not possible except in the allegorical, spiritual sense.
Without knowing it, the OAC member applies a human limitation to what God is capable of. While it may seem obviously ridiculous to a believing Christian, one must bear in mind that the OAC member believes in a conceptual idea of God which most OAC members would agree only reside within the hearts and minds of the Old Apostolic Church members. Therefore, the natural creation, the universe and physical births do not involve their own version of God which is the correct understanding of God according to their views. The logic is simple: God is Spirit (John 4:24), therefore we must not think of natural(physical) things when contemplating a Spiritual God. This is also applied to Jesus: If the Father is Spirit, then the Son must also be Spirit and cannot be physical.
The rabbit hole is burrowed deeply into the foundation of the OAC and logical but fallacious arguments uphold Arianist, Docetist, Nestorian, Gnostic and Dualist views, among others, propagated by the Church’s ever evolving oral teachings and reasoning.
who suffered, was crucified,
“Beloved,” the OAC priest says on a Sunday morning from the pulpit, “we know that the true crucifixion is when our fleshly lusts and desires are nailed to the cross. It is our “old man” which must be crucified.”
In the Old Apostolic Church, the passion, the suffering and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ is unknowingly trivialised. There are multiple anecdotes and explanations of the crucifixion and its “true” meaning for those that have an OAC “spiritual understanding”, none of them centering around the actual crucifixion of the Lord by which “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:10)
The closest discussion to the real suffering of the actual Messiah, the real Jesus, would be when the crucifixion is used as the example of “that man” 2000 years ago who was prepared to die for God’s will. His “spirit” or attitude or attributes or characteristics have been resurrected in a community of people known as the Old Apostolic Church today. He, the Christ, is regarded as merely setting the example of what should be happening in the lives of spiritual believers today: sacrifice of one’s own will and desire, giving up one’s time, crucifying the old man, loving thy neighbour, speaking words of wisdom and being driven by love which is God. The original Jesus in this instance is relegated to the category of “very good person” who allowed God’s will to be fulfilled in his life.
Unwittingly, the OAC have fallen into the faith of the Pharisees and returned to the law. In jest, if the unrepentant sinner on the cross with the Lord exclaims to an OAC member “save yourself”, they would reply “I am”. Without knowing it, the OAC have excluded their members from salvation by mercy and grace, instead working for that salvation by activities, obedience and righteous deeds. Unfortunately they have no understanding of Isaiah’s words “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is 64:6) and echoing Paul’s words, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Rom 3:20).
In OAC circles it would be common to hear the words “we must work our salvation”. This is derived from a misunderstanding of Philipians 2:12 stating “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” To the OAC leadership, that verse is emphatically stating that everyday OAC members must earn their salvation by doing good deeds, attending activities, being humble, being receptive to the “word” and being active in the Body of Christ (OAC community). Again, without realising it, they have substituted the sacrifice and blood of Christ for their own sacrifices and own blood. That is why it is a common saying that the communion blood in the cup represents the sacrifice of the members. The body being the communion bread, represents a member of the Body of Christ (a member of the organisation) that should be visited by the member who is partaking of the communion. Most OAC members have heard the encouragement to imagine the face of a member that is absent in the morsel of communion bread which is being consumed. Eating and drinking that bread and wine (grape juice technically) is essentially a promise to visit a member that the shepherd has tasked to be visited. The member may require a visit because they are ill or because they have become inactive and require encouragement to start attending again. Regardless, the real sacrifice will occur when the OAC member allows the word (the instruction) to become a deed by sacrificing their time to visit a fellow member in the OAC. While this may appear contrived, it has in fact been sown together through selected verses and logical connections:
- One must eat of the flesh(meat) of Christ’s body to have life (Jn 6:54)
- What is the actual meaning of flesh/meat? Doing God’s will (Jn 4:34)
- What is God’s will? That none of the members should go lost (Jn 6:39)
Therefore eating the flesh of Christ, really, truly, “spiritually” means to ensure that brothers and sisters don’t go astray, even if it requires a sacrifice of time, travel, effort and love on the partaking member’s part.
All of the above describes how the OAC views the suffering and sacrifice of the “spiritual” Jesus within them in a shepherdly (within the community) context.
However , in the Evangelistic “stream” for the OAC, the “Christ-gift” or Christ within the OAC member also suffers and is crucified when unwilling testimony souls reject the OAC’s “spiritual” doctrine and gospel. In this allegorical understanding, Christ is knocking at the door of a person’s heart, yet, because of their “natural” thinking, they are unable to see Jesus Christ who is standing before them. The goal of testimony visitations is that at some point the “scales” will fall from the eyes just as they did from Paul’s eyes in Acts 9:18. There is some truth in an orthodox respect that Christ, the God-man, is present with and in every believer. However, in the OAC context, the scales will fall from the eyes of a new convert when they finally “understand” with a spiritual “eye” or insight that the Jesus from 2000 years ago is no longer relevant. Rather, the OAC member that is representing the OAC is the real living Jesus today because of the spiritual “gift” that abides in them. Therefore the focus moves away from what the OAC would call a “God of imagination” (the Jesus somewhere in the sky) to the real Jesus which is the Old Apostolic Church, its members, its “priests” and certainly its “apostles”, depending on the stream and context of course.
For the OAC, the suffering of Jesus Christ occurs when people reject, scorn, ridicule or critically disagree with the views put forward by the OAC member or officer because the “gift of Christ” is “in” the OAC member. Christ within the OAC suffers until the “truth” is revealed and the testimony soul exclaims “truly this was the son of God” just as the centurion stated in Matt 27:54. In this way, once the testimony soul is won over through reason, debate, care, “love-bombing”, inclusion and the exemplary behaviour from the OAC members, the new convert will reflect and see that they too “crucified Christ” unawares.
Many lives have been changed for the better due to the encouragement of high moral standards in the OAC. Testimonies given by converts passionately speak of how they had been “naturally” minded, selfish to the core and how God opened their eyes to spiritual life and purpose. While these are positive developments in the lives of converts, like a two edged sword the new members are soon convinced of a different gospel, receiving coaching and guidance to convert mainstream Christians and others to this denomination’s doctrine.
There may be positive changes in the lives of the convert due to their willingness to serve God or due to the sincerity of their repentance. While these changes cannot be demeaned, it should be noted that organisations such as the military also often provide the floundering and struggling members of society with purpose, identity, comradeship and higher moral ethic. These changes are real and are reflective of introducing order, routine, respect, hierarchy and honour into the life of the seeker. These changes are not related to the gospel or the faith. These changes can be introduced into any society regardless of race, religion or background.
Likewise, while almighty God allows and provides for all things, the change in the heart and life of the convert is largely due to exposure to a higher sense of purpose, especially when apparent in the lives of those who are testifying the convert. This may perhaps not so much be of a divine nature rather than intervention of simple order and structure which is more attractive and stable than chaos, uncertainty and self pity. A very attractive benefit to many converts is the assurance of guidance to be received at no financial cost from a willing officer who invests their time and effort, ideally, out of love and care. It is however a common phrase that serving members is the way to “work one’s own salvation”. In other words, while some member and officers serve, visit and assist their brethren and testimony families out of care and love, a very large portion of these visitations also occur out of a sense of duty in order to fulfil the opportunity of “earning” or “working for” soul salvation.
It should be mentioned that once a member has a spiritual understanding, there is less grace if they then reject the words of their shepherd or priest or overplaced officer. A rejection of “the word” received from a shepherd officer is regarded as “crucifying Christ again”. Specifically Hebrews 6:6 states
“If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
How tragic then, if a member starts to doubt, question or reject the order and doctrine of the OAC. They are considered to be openly shaming the Son of God.
In fact, this entire book may be described by some as an attack on the Son of God, that the author is crucifying Him afresh. However, again, the Son that the OAC would be referring to is not the Person of Christ, the Word, the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. They would be referring to the gift within the members of the organisation or the organisation (the OAC ) itself. Therefore this book in reality does not shame the Son of God, but should be viewed as a discussion of an organisation who uses the bible in a very peculiar and eccentric way.
Please note that the OAC confession omits that the Christ, the messiah, suffered under Pontius Pilate as a historical truth and marker.
died, descended into Hades
In the understanding of the Old Apostolic Church, the dying of Jesus, us the dying off of the old man, the old person, our old selves and our old habits and vices.
“Dying” of the saviour therefore refers to the organisation and members in particular, putting off the old conversations and sacrificing time and effort in order to preach to the dead who are in Hades.
Who are the dead? Non-apostolics. Most Old Apostolics would agree that until a person has been given a spiritual understanding, they are “dead in their trespasses and sins.” Therefore the preaching of Christ in Hades is not related at all to the event which occurred according to the orthodox and original Christian faith. The original faith demonstrates that no souls could enter the holiness of God because the plan for salvation had not yet occurred through Christ, our redeemer and Saviour. When we descended into Hades, He released all the souls of those who have been waiting for Him, overcoming death by His death.
The Old Apostolic Church’s oral doctrine makes no reference to such an event. Rather, it is oblivious to such doctrine and tradition and interprets the event as only occurring present, as long as Old Apostolics are preaching to those who are “dead in their trespasses and sins”. Again, in this understanding, the OAC itself and its collective membership are viewed as the Saviour, the Christ, sent for salvation today.
The actual Christ, the event of His descent into the region of Hades where souls awaited salvation does not feature when considering this part of the confession of faith. The OAC is therefore completely and utterly divergent in theology, belief and faith in comparison to the faith of the original Christians. Within only a few decades, the OAC has created a starkly different meaning to the original confession of faith.
TO BE CONTINUED…