Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts on the Wednesday Crucifixion

Was Jesus crucified on a Wednesday? Well those interested in this topic might wish to see this Answers in Genesis article about this. It goes in very well with ESN's article on this matter.

I remember how HWA boasted in his Autobiography that "opponents of God's Sabbath can invent some fifty-seven varieties of arguments to explain why they don't keep the Sabbath. But they have only one argument for observing Sunday -- the supposition of a Sunday morning resurrection."

Then he "discovers" the Wednesday Crucifixion doctrine. "It was about this time, summer, 1927, my wife and I had learned an exciting, shocking truth. The resurrection of Christ did not occur on Sunday morning!...The crucifixion was on Wednesday." (The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Chapter 19. All quotes from the Autobiography here come from this chapter.)

HWA, however, neglected to mention that he was not original with this teaching. It is amazing how often he does that. "Sabbath historian, John N. Andrews, [who was not an Armstrongite but a Seventh Day Adventist] said that the crucifixion was on Wednesday, and the resurrection on Saturday." (Ivor C. Fletcher, The Incredible History of God's True Church, Chapter 13.)

It needs to be stated here that the Seventh Day Adventist Church appears to believe in a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection. Some of them have even written articles on the web arguing that the Wednesday Crucifixion could not have happened, as may be seen here and here. Another article critiquing this belief from a Protestant perspective may be seen here.

It is intriguing that HWA made no mention about Esther in his booklet. Some of the anti-Wednesday Crucifixion articles comment that in Esther 4:16 it is written, "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish." It is clear in the next verse that Mordecai followed these instructions. "So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him." The New American Standard Bible puts it this way: "So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him." And then later in Esther 5:1 we read, "Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther...stood in the inner court of the king's house". As one writer puts it here, "these two expressions are identical and used interchangeably".

HWA never specifically addressed Esther. He does discuss this argument concerning idioms in his Autobiography. Here he pretends that this is a Greek idiom and pretends that it does not exist in Hebrew. "The usual argument employed to discredit Jesus' statement, that this was an idiomatic expression in the original Greek meaning only three parts of days, or either a day or night, did not stand up. We had the same three days and three nights duration expressed in Jonah, inspired in Hebrew which knows no such idiomatic twist -- or idiotic twist."

Notice how he makes it appears that Hebrew did not possess such an idiom. Yet he conveniently ignored the fact that this very idiom occurs in Esther 4:16 and 5:1. Therefore his statement that Hebrew possess no such idiom is shown to be yet another ill informed assertion. No wonder he was called Mr. Confusion.

Furthermore HWA then relates how he related this doctrine to a COG7 minister who had earlier healed his wife and he decided that this was not a matter worth preaching on. After that he (allegedly) lost his gift of healing. This story is carefully designed to make his followers fearful of ever getting any doctrine wrong. This is done in order to make the reader more dependent on him. "The servant of God cannot stand still. Either he advances, and grows spiritually against opposition and obstacles, or he falls by the wayside to be rejected."

In reality this story is used in order to make his followers fearful of ever doing the wrong thing. Hence when the prospective member discovers second and third tithes that one will remember this fearful story and, afraid that God will leave him should he or she reject this "new truth" revealed by "God's Apostle," will accept this great burden despite the weak basis for those practices. It is clear that HWA mainly used this story to impact us. He makes that point clear at the end of this fear inducing story. ""Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall!" How about YOU?"

Such fear inducing statements reminds me of another similar fear inducing statement made by Herman Hoeh in his booklet, A True History of the True Church, under the heading Church Grows in Truth: "Here is the KEY that proves which individuals are in God's Church. It is composed ONLY of those who are GROWING INTO TRUTH as God reveals it. The moment anyone ceases to GROW, but wants to retain only what he had five or ten years ago, FROM THAT MOMENT ON THE HOLY SPIRIT CEASES TO LIVE IN HIM."

These are merely statements made to implant fear into the reader in order to make that person more willing to submit to this cult's dictatorial rule. These statements are not parts of "the truth," but simply attempts at mind control.

When I read Exit and Support Network's article on this matter it argued that when the two men walking to Emmaus said that "and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done" (Luke 24:21) it is argued that this Scripture proves that a Wednesday crucifixion could not have occurred.
No matter how you count, whether you assume parts-of-days or 24-hour days, there is no way you can come up with a Wednesday crucifixion: If you count parts-of-days backward, the crucifixion occurred on Friday. If you count 24-hour days backward, the crucifixion would have occurred on Thursday at 5-6 p.m. I have checked the Greek on this verse, and the Greek totally supports the "third day" rendering. This verse blows a hole the size of a barn in HWA's claim and utterly destroys it.
When I read that I remembered that when I first read HWA's booklet on this subject, The Resurrection was not on Sunday, I had a momentary doubt about this doctrine when I read his discussion upon that Scripture. "These things" refer to what? Observe the previous verse, "how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him." HWA's contention that "these things" refer to the posting of the guards the day after the crucifixion is weak. I do not see that in Luke 24. He is just using what he would call "human reasoning" to justify his pet doctrine.

The ESN article argues that "HWA focused people's attention on picky, physical, irrelevant matters, and away from Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and the New Covenant." This assessment of HWA's priorities is true. When HWA (allegedly) presented his latest pet doctrine to the man who healed his wife that man also made similar comments. HWA claim that this man spoke in this manner: "There are more important things for you to think about and study into. It's best to just keep your mind on Christ....Now we are saved by GRACE, not of works. We think there are more important things in salvation than which day Christ rose on, or which day we keep."

(By the way, I find it curious how HWA chose to capitalize "grace" here as though to ridicule this man's conception of Grace. I find this ironic in light of HWA's insistence that he believed in Grace. So why is he seemingly attacking this man's conception of Grace in this manner? Is Grace to be treated lightly then? HWA always claimed he believed in Grace but in fact he was talking of a different conception of it. The fact he chose to attack this man's conception of Grace here proves that.)

I wish I knew where this doctrine came from. Some may have read articles that cite old historical writings which appear to testify to the existence of this Wednesday Crucifixion doctrine long ago. Although some people seem to have developed this doctrine it needs to be stated that only a few seems to have believed this doctrine. What about all the church fathers who testified that the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected on Sunday? As this article shows even such early figures as Justin Martyr, the authors of the Letter of Barnabas and the Didascalia believed that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday.

Why is it whenever something seems to support HWA's plagiarized teaching it "must" be true, and if any ancient writer should say that Jesus must have been resurrected on Sunday he "must" have been a part of the evil Apostacy? This is dangerously selective reasoning.

For one who believes this theory anything that seems to support HWA's plagiarized doctrine is deemed authentic, but if anyone sees anything that disagrees with HWA's conclusion it is simply dismissed as something from the Apostate church. If some ancient authority should say that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday it is simply viewed as proof that they "must" have been deceived, a part of the Apostasy. The believer in the Wednesday Crucifixion may breathlessly declare that some ancients believed it yet completely ignore all the many, many other ancient testimonies that disagree with the Wednesday Crucifixion. In fact if they believed that Christ was resurrected on Sunday that "proves" that they must have been a part of the Apostasy. This is weak and selective reasoning. Such selective reasoning has already decided on this matter and has made itself deaf to any evidence that may contradict the conclusion.


  1. An interesting Scripture in regards to the time of the entombment is in Luke 24:21, where the two men talk to Christ after the resurrection, and call this first day of the week "the third day"

    Matt.28:1-4 shows the guards to be still at the tomb when the women show up on Sunday morning. Why would they be there, if Christ was resurrected on Saturcay afternoon?
    Also, the angel is still sitting on the door that he removed. Why would he sit there for 12 hours?

    The old guard promotion of three days and three nights is related to Christ's statement in Matt.12:40-" Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"

    (1)If you want to use this Scripture to refer to the time of entombment, this does not compare well with the recording of Luke 11:30 in relation to the statement-"For as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation"

    Now the Ninevites never knew anything about Jonas being in the whale's belly, unless he told them,and even then one cannot connect Matt.12:40 with Luke 11:30

    (2)Christ was not buried in a grave. His sepulchre was above ground.

    Another interesting point is that if He was resurrected after 3 days and 3 night, then it was the beginning of the 4th 24 hour period after His death, note the statement made by Martha in John 11:39, where Jesus is about to resurrect Lazarus-"....Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said to Him, 'Lord by this time he stinks, because he has been dead four days' "
    This indicates that the women would not have made plans to anoint the body after the third day(Mk.16:1)

  2. Interesting comment in that last paragraph. Why would the ladies go to his tomb so long after his death? The could have gone on Friday. Why wait after Friday till Sunday morning? They would have to go as soon as possible before the body decays.

    Alas the believers will assume that this is divine revelation and will continue to believe all these Armstrongite beliefs until (hopefully) they one day wake up and realize that HWA was not a man of God. A very unpleasant experience.

    Alas nothing HWA said can be trusted.

  3. You must have misread the statement concerning JN Andrews. The text mentions him obliquely but in fact is saying that a 7th Day Baptist minister believed the Wednesday crucifixion. Here is the quote from the link you provided: "A.H. Lewis, Seventh Day Baptist counterpart of the Seventh Day Adventist, and Sabbath historian, John N. Andrews, said that the crucifixion was on Wednesday, and the resurrection on Saturday."