Friday, April 3, 2009

The Dark Century (50-150 AD)

In Chapter 4 of Stephen Flurry's Raising the Ruins he seeks to portray Herbert W. Armstrong as an enlightened church historian:
In Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Scholars and church historians recognize that events in the early Christian Church between a.d. 50 and 150 can only be seen in vague outline—as if obscured by a thick mist.” To support his conclusions, Mr. Armstrong relied upon the noted English scholar Samuel G. Green in his Handbook of Church History. He quoted from William Fitzgerald’s Lectures on Ecclesiastical History, William McGlothlin’s The Course of Christian History and Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church.
And so Stephen Flurry has subtly introduced to the unsuspecting reader the Dark Century (50-150 AD) doctrine. HWA quoted those persons to support his Dark Century (50-150 AD) doctrine. Is HWA's assertion that there was a Dark Century (50-150 AD) accurate? Did those cited historians believe there was such a Dark Century as HWA described?

Well, actually, those quotes of HWA's in his Mystery of the Ages were completely distorted. See this excellent article by Kelly Marshal which shows in great detail how HWA misrepresented those sources (See heading 'Lost History of the Church'). In reality none of them believed in a Dark Century from 50 AD to 150 AD.
  • "Green [1937] states that church history was obscure (but not completely lost) for only 30 years—from 70 A.D to 100 A.D."(Kelly Marshal)
  • Bishop Fitzgerald did not believe in a Lost Century, and after what HWA quoted in MOA Fitzgerald remarked that despite the Churches' lack of unified authority after the death of the Apostles they still retained doctrinal unity. That is very different from HWA's teaching of the Lost Century. Also HWA seems to have chosen that book because it was terribly obscure. Fitzgerald's book was published in 1885 and only 33 copies exist in all the libraries of the USA thus hampering any honest seeker of the truth in any attempts to verify what HWA is saying (see footnote 27).
  • In Dr. McGlothlin's book (1919) he divides early Christian history into two periods, 30-100 AD, the second 100-323 AD. He did not believe in a Lost Century. He also believed that the Churches were democratic in governance, contrary to HWA's dictatorship.
  • Schaff only believed there was obscurity from 70-100 AD. Certainly not 50-150 AD.
Kelly Marshal has shown that none of those historians believed in a Lost Century (50-150). All the details may be seen here

Also consider this, most of the New Testament was written after 50 AD. We are supposed to believe the Gospel was suppressed at that time. The very time Paul made his epic missionary journeys through Greece and into Rome, the Mother City itself, the Gospel was suppressed!

What poppycock!

So why did HWA latch onto those dates? I believe the reason why HWA latched onto those dates was because of 1953. He claimed that the first broadcast of the World Tomorrow in Europe on Radio Luxembourg that year meant 'the Gospel' was being preached 'to the world' (meaning not just 'Israel' i.e. the USA) for the first time in 1900 years. Observe what he wrote at the beginning of Chapter 6 of Mystery of the Ages: 'It is a fact to stagger the mind of the reader that the gospel of Jesus Christ was not proclaimed to the world from about A.D. 50 until the year 1953.'

Also note this from the beginning of Chapter 7
: 'It ['the Gospel of the Kingdom of God'] had not been proclaimed to the world until the first week in 1953, when for the first time in about 1,900 years--a century of time cycles--it went out on the world's most powerful radio station. Radio Luxembourg in Europe.' He said the Gospel was suppressed 1900 years--100 19-year time cycles--before 1953. More on the significance of 1953 in Armstrongite teaching may be seen in a previous post.

This, I believe, is the real reason why HWA latched onto to 50-150 AD. He used those dates to conform with his highly artificial numerical pattern based on 1953, which he himself created.

This is very similar to HWA's assertion that he was ordained 100 19-year time cycles (1900 years) after the Pentecost of Acts 2. HWA was ordained in 1931, and HWA also taught that Christ had to have been crucified in 31 AD, justifying this assertion with his Wednesday Crucifixion belief. This may be seen in Chapter 24 of HWA's Autobiography.

This doctrine is so difficult to believe that even LCG seems to have abandoned the 50-150 AD dates. Observe their 'seven church eras' booklet God's Church through the Ages. Here, while they certainly teach the fundamental idea that there was a great apostasy after the Apostles' deaths, there is no obvious reference to the 50-150 AD dates. Even they recognize that HWA's dates were nonsense.

With all these facts in mind how dare PCG tries to pretend that HWA was right in this belief. How dare they quote his misleading assertion that “Scholars and church historians recognize that events in the early Christian Church between a.d. 50 and 150 can only be seen in vague outline—as if obscured by a thick mist” when Kelly Marshal has clearly proven that none of the historians cited by this supposed Apostle and end time Elijah believed in this Lost Century. HWA misused these writings to give his ridiculous numerological pattern a false air of respectable scholarship. I dare any Armstrongite (especially any follower of 'That Prophet' Gerald Flurry) out there to prove Kelly Marshal wrong in this matter. Attacks on myself or Kelly Marshal will not count as an answer.

More on Raising the Ruins may be read here.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, RedFox.

    Those pesky 19 year time cycles rearing their ugly head again. They were at the heart of a lot of HWA's mischief.