New Apostolic Church – Who do you actually trust? Can the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church be trusted, are they competent and reliable? We clarify this and other questions in the following article.
When we have to make decisions in our everyday life, we often need advice because we don’t know our way around everything that life has to offer. It is important to us that the advisor is competent and credible. We have to make sure that we are well-advised, otherwise wrong decisions could have serious consequences. We, therefore, inquire whether the advisor has the necessary qualifications if they are honest and if they have had success in helping others.
Should this be different about questions of faith? No, not at all, because there is much more at stake here! It’s on a different level of importance to say buying a new car or getting legal advice. Faith is about the question of the eternal future. It is about what happens to you when you cross the threshold to the afterlife or when Jesus Christ comes again. It is about salvation or eternal separation from God. We see, it is even more crucial in this matter whom we have as counselors, whom we trust, and whom we follow.
Can the apostles of the New Apostolic Church be competent, credible counselors? This is the question we need to answer. I remind you again that it is not about something irrelevant, but about your and my eternal future. Then shouldn’t we answer this question? If the answer is positive, then we can know that the apostles of the New Apostolic Church are indeed apostles of Jesus Christ and the best human counselors we can get. But if the answer is negative, then we can be happy to have recognized this, because we no longer need to be misled.
The question “New Apostolic Church – Who do you trust?“ is not only justified but also urgently needs to be answered.
Could we trust someone who misinforms us, who consciously or unconsciously doesn’t tell the truth, or who keeps important facts from us? According to the teaching of the New Apostolic apostles, the forgiveness of sins can only occur through the apostolic ministry. The acquittal of a living apostle or a priestly office commissioned by him is necessary for this. Forgiveness of sins and thus salvation is only available in the New Apostolic Church and it is always referred to John. 20:23, where it says: “If you (The Apostles/Disciples) forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from <any,> it is withheld.“ – John 20:23 (ESV)
We should never take a Bible passage out of its biblical context. We also know from the Holy Scriptures that only God can forgive sins: “What is this (Jesus) talking about? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone?“ – Mk 2:7 (ESV) “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.“ – Eph 4:32 (ESV)
We also learn that sins are forgiven by believing in Jesus Christ: “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.“ – Acts 10:43 (ESV) “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.“ – John 8:24 (ESV)
Other passages in the text provide additional evidence of this: James 5:15 (ESV); Romans 6:3-4 (ESV); Rome 3:25 (ESV); Acts 13: 38-39 (ESV); Acts 26:18 (ESV); … So if only God can forgive sins and these are forgiven through faith in the Lord, John 20:23 must be meant differently from the teaching of the New Apostolic Church. There are many interpretations of this difficult passage. I will mention only one because it fits best in the biblical context: The promised power and authority given is related to the preaching of the gospel. The gospel proclaims the conditions under which sins are forgiven. It also proclaims when and why these conditions are not met. In this case, the guilt of sin remains. Jesus speaks to the disciples as a group (the verbs are in the plural).
Although man has no power to forgive sins, he can still grant forgiveness based on what God has done in Christ. Every disciple of the Lord can do this, he does not need to have an office. One could object that according to John 20:23 only the apostles had this commission. But this would not be a legitimate objection, because from Luke 24:33 (ESV) we learn, Jesus gave this commission not only to the 11 disciples but to all the believers present in the room. Scripture does not differentiate between disciples and apostles here: “And they (The Emmaus disciples) rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together”. From the text of the following verses in Luke 24, it is clear that it is about the same incident as in John chapter 20.
We see, according to biblical testimony, the forgiveness of sins occurs through faith in Jesus Christ. Reconciliation with God and the resulting justification take place through the recourse to Jesus’ act of reconciliation on the cross of Golgotha: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.“ – Rom 5:8-11 (ESV)
According to the New Apostolic witness, however, reconciliation occurs through: “ a living faith in the grace offered by the apostles of Jesus in the word of forgiveness and in the graces of the sacraments …” (1) What a difference! According to the biblical testimony of the New Testament apostle forgiveness occurs through faith in Jesus and reconciliation through Jesus’ act of reconciliation on the cross. According to the New Apostolic witness, people must believe in the grace offered by the apostles of Jesus and avail themselves of the sacraments, which are called acts of grace! As a result, one is not dependent on God, but on people, on the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church.
God is free and sovereign and we know that God does not depend on people. How else could Jesus have said to the thief on the cross? “Today you will be with me in paradise“ ? This did not come under the acquittal of an apostle, he was probably not even baptized, and certainly not sealed! He recognized Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and believed in Him and was thus saved!
Would we trust someone who says this today if it would no longer be valid tomorrow? Unfortunately, this is exactly what we are experiencing in politics today. Plans are made today that will be invalid tomorrow. Actually, one cannot afford this already in the secular realm, because it suffers from a lack of credibility. The social, economic, and ecological systems are also affected. If this is harmful in the secular realm, how much more harmful is it to us when it comes to the soul?
God is unchangeable, he does not change, he always remains the same. At no point in the New Testament is it clear that doctrine has changed in the course of the activity of the New Testament apostles. Why not? Quite simply, it is the teaching of Jesus Christ and Christ is God and God does not change. Chief Apostle Urwyler knew this too, in 1986 he wrote the following in teaching on cohabitation, homosexuality, etc.
“The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is unchangeable.”He was right, the teaching of the New Testament apostles is indeed unchangeable. For this reason, it is impossible that fundamental areas of teaching could change or even contradict one another. Even in 1908, according to the teaching of the New Apostolic Church, a person becomes part of the body of Jesus by being baptized. Baptism is also the bath of being born again. The 1908 Creed (2) states in article 6: “ I believe that through Holy Baptism man receives the purchase mark of the Lamb and that it is the bath of regeneration, whereby man is incorporated as a member of the body of Christ”.
From 1971 at the latest, baptism is only a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit and a part of being born again. Now with the sealing man a member of the body of Christ! In the 1971 Confession (3), Article 6 states: “ I believe that holy baptism with water is part of being born again and that through it the person being baptized becomes eligible to receive the Holy Spirit … “. And further in Article 8: “I believe that those baptized with water must receive … the Holy Spirit through an apostle, whereby they are incorporated as members of the body of Christ.” In 1908 baptism is the bath of being born again, in 1971 it is only part it. In 1908, through baptism, man becomes a member of the body of Christ; in 1971, through the Dispensing of the Holy Spirit (Sealing).
If it were about the clothing of the parishioners or the wearing of a beard or other external things, changes would be quite conceivable, in fact very likely and also necessary. But this is about the foundations of faith! From the New Apostolic point of view, this is about facts that decide about salvation!
Could God expect another act, another sacrament in man to be incorporated into his community in the body of Christ in 1908 than he did in 1971? Can something in 1908 be a true doctrine of Jesus and the apostles but then it is no longer valid and taught completely differently in 1971. This is not possible!
There have also been proven recent changes in teaching which have been made public in writing. For example, teaching about the power of keys, loosening, and connecting power, or the position of the Chief Apostle in relation to the head of the Church of Jesus Christ!
How am I to trust those who taught something different yesterday than today, how am I to know that tomorrow what was taught today will not once again be invalid? The fact that the New Apostolic doctrine of the faith is about human wisdom and teaching is, among other things proven by their drastic change. Within a few decades. But on what shall faith rest? On human wisdom? No, on God’s eternal, fully valid, unchangeable Word, the Bible!
Unfortunately, I have to address another point. Can we trust someone who deliberately changes documents without clearly pointing out the changes? I am aware that this is a serious allegation. Therefore, I will have to prove this clearly. In 1932 the Apostles College of the New Apostolic Congregations published a document that contained the ‘Testimony of the Apostles to the Spiritual and Secular Leaders of Christianity – Established in 1836’ as its content. It is true that the Apostles College admits in the preface that “ the most valuable parts of this >>Testimony of the apostles<<“ (4) thus gives an indication that parts are missing, but leaves completely open to what extent and in which places the original text was shortened. I have both texts before me, the original text and the one published by the New Apostolic Church.
Unfortunately, one cannot speak only of a shortening, but one has to call the New Apostolic Church’s edition a forgery. Not only have extensive passages been omitted without marking them, but texts and phrases have been inserted, thus changing the message of the original. The deception begins in the first paragraph of the text, where the original says:
“The Church of Christ is the community of all, without distinction of time or country, who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and set apart from all other people by the baptism of water and the Spirit. One body (Eph 4:4), one pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15), the dwelling place of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 6:16). It is they who explain God’s will to all people and teach His ways. It is in it that God’s word and ordinances are preserved“ (5).
Without marking this, the Apostles College removed the passage that was crossed out and simply inserted the underlined passage into the original text, again without marking it anywhere. This is just one example of the many changes in the text. This fact was also noticed and criticized by the theological press at the time. The New Apostolic reader, however, did not notice this and believed he was holding the original text from 1832 in his hand.
We learn from Scripture that all of the apostles were of Jewish descent. Paul emphasizes this especially when he has to defend himself against false apostles concerning his mission as an apostle: “Are you (the false apostles) Hebrews? Me too. Are you an Israelite? Me too. Are they Abraham’s descendants? Me too.“ – 2 Cor 11:22 (ESV)
All apostles are/were witnesses to the resurrection and ministry of Jesus. Jesus says in Acts 1:8 to his apostles: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.“ – Acts 1:8 (ESV)
Only he who has seen something can be a witness. Only those who are eyewitnesses of a particular event can report. If you haven’t seen anything, you can’t report anything, so you can’t be a witness. Have all the New Testament apostles really seen the Lord? Yes! Paul writes: “After that he was seen by more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still alive today, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.“ – 1 Cor 15:6-8 (ESV)
What was the mission of Jesus’ apostles? They were to bear witness to the resurrection and the ministry of Jesus. Therefore, the void left by Judas could not be filled by just anyone, but: “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us <one of these men must> become with us a witness to his resurrection.“ – Acts 1:21-22 (ESV)
So they were all witnesses of what happened and carried the message into the world. This testimony is still with us today in the Gospels and the letters of the Apostles. In this sense, there can be no living apostles of Jesus Christ today, because no one can claim to be an eyewitness of the ministry and resurrection. Moreover, this would also be superfluous, because the testimony is available to us in written form in the Holy Scriptures. This written testimony is actually carried to the ends of the earth today by Christian missionaries. So today the word of the Lord from Acts 1 is fulfilled. Everyone can read and examine the “Acts of Jesus“ if they want to.
Once summarized, the following picture emerges. The biblical apostles were all of Jewish descent, had all seen the Lord, were commissioned by Himself to be witnesses of his resurrection and his ministry! Can the apostles of the New Apostolic Church live up to this claim? No, and yet they call themselves Apostles of Jesus Christ! Can you trust someone who pretends to be something that he actually can’t be?
Read more about the development of the apostleship in the next section of this article. What conditions prevailed during the new calling of apostles?
Read more ...
© Lutz Jusko
(1) Fragen und Antworten über den neuapostolischen Glauben, Frage 110, Neuapostolische Kirche International, Zürich/Schweiz, 1992
(2) Glaubensbekenntnis von 1908, zitiert über Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack, Die Neuapostolische Kirche, München, 1996
(3) Fragen und Antworten über den neuapostolischen Glauben, Frage 299, J.G. Bischoff, Frankfurt a. M., 1971
(4) Das Zeugnis der Apostel an die geistlichen und weltlichen Häupter der Christenheit – Aufgestellt im Jahre 1836, Das Apostelkollegium der Neuapostolischen Gemeinden, Frankfurt (M.), 1932, S. 3
(5) Das Zeugnis der Apostel an die geistlichen und weltlichen Häupter der Christenheit – Aufgestellt im Jahre 1836, zitiert nach Manuskript-Fotokopie Oekumenischer Verlag Dr.R.-F.Edel, Lüdenscheid-Lobetal, S. 3
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