The history of the New Apostolic Church, its formation and origins are discussed in detail in this article. Anyone who wants to understand The New Apostolic Church at its core must study its formation, its history, and its origins.
From Dr. theol. Lothar Gassmann, Excerpts from a Lecture at the Free Theological Academy Giessen.
Are there apostles again? Representatives of the New Apostolic Church, but also of other “apostolic” churches and groups (e.g. Catholic Apostolic Church, Apostleship of Judah, Apostleship of Jesus Christ, Reformed Apostolic Church Federation, Apostolic Church) hold this view and have appointed new apostles.
How did it come about? Was this done rightly and in accordance with the Word of Scripture? These are the questions that will be addressed in the following.
For reasons of space, this cannot be a comprehensive account of the New Apostolic Church, but only a sketch of its history and a limitation to the question of the understanding of the spirit and the new apostolate. A detailed scientific presentation as well as the study of other important topics related to New Apostolic doctrine and practice (e.g. the relationship between the Bible and the doctrine of the Apostles, anthropology, Christology, eschatology, and baptism, Sealing and Holy Communion for the living and the
The following remarks are based on a lecture I gave at the Free Theological Academy in Giessen in the mid-1990s (the style of speech was retained). May they help clarify and serve as a blessing for all readers.
The New Apostolic Church emerged from the Catholic Apostolic Church – at least according to its self-claim, but already here the problem begins, because the Catholic Apostolic Church does not recognize the New Apostolic Church. The development from the Catholic Apostolic Church (which still exists today) to the New Apostolic Church was complicated. There will be more talk of various splinter groups and breakaways. Anyway, since 1835 the Catholic Apostolic Church was present. In 1863, the “General Christian Apostolic Mission” emerged as a split from it. The group that emerged from this, which was initially called the “General Apostolic Mission” and became the New Apostolic Church, then bore the name “New Apostolic Congregation” from 1907 and the name “New Apostolic Church” from 1930. The Dutch branch, which is important because it preceded the German one, was called “Hersteld Apostolische Zending Gemeente”. The North American branch was named “First General Apostolic Church in Chicago, Illinois.”
The “Catholic Apostolic Communities”
In order to consider the history of the New Apostolic Church, we must first present the history of the Catholic Apostolic Church. (3) These still exists today in vanishingly small groups in various cities, but they are usually so inconspicuous that no one knows that Catholic Apostolic parishioners are really meeting there. The meeting halls and churches are often no longer recognizable as such from the outside, but they still exist, albeit in decreasing numbers. It is estimated that several thousand people still attend Catholic Apostolic services in Germany.
Revival in England, Scotland and Germany
What is the Catholic Apostolic Church? Its history began in the first half of the 19th century with the emergence of forgotten charismata (gifts of grace, spiritual gifts). In 1820/21, a clergyman of the Anglican Church issued two writings calling for prayer meetings on a particular day of the week for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thus, a kind of “charismatic renewal” was sought. The author was James Haldane Stewart (1776-1854), and his writings were probably the trigger for many of the subsequent events. Die erste Schrift trug den Titel „Hints for a general union for prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost“. Published in 1820, this typeface reached 322,000 copies in circulation in England, Scotland, and Ireland in four years.
Another of his writings, “Thoughts on the Importance of special Prayer for the general outpouring of the Holy Ghost,” first appeared in 1821 with a somewhat smaller print run of 89,000 copies in subsequent years. Many people have read these scriptures and have been prompted to prayer meetings to ask for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. These prayers were answered very soon. Already in the twenties of the nineteenth century there were “spiritual awakenings” in three main places, with the gifts of prophecy, divination, glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and healing the sick.
The first main location since 1828 was the small Roman Catholic parish Karlshuld on the Donaumoos in Bavaria / Germany. The second had been in western Scotland since 1830, among Reformed Christians, the third in London from 1831, where domestic prayer meetings took place in Anglican circles. These three roots: Karlshuld, Scotland and England based in and near London are to be considered in more detail below.
What happened first in Karlshuld? The young Roman Catholic priest Johann Lutz lived there. He had a strong experience: Overcome by his sins and close to the abyss of despair, he had tried for years with fasting, praying and watching according to the rules of the Catholic Church to find light and consolation. But it was all in vain until supernatural charismatic phenomena (speaking in tongues, prophecy) began to appear in his church. It is unlikely that the impetus for this came from England and Scotland. Lutz was probably confronted with the spiritual gifts independently of this. It is believed that there were parallels in this direction in Germany too, regardless of Stewart’s English writings.
In any case, more and more people, inspired by Lutz’s sermon, prayed for these special experiences of faith and spiritual outpouring. In 1828 words were uttered by various individuals that were interpreted as “words of prophecy”. Lutz believed that all of this came from God, not from the devil, and that this was a revival of the early Christian gifts of the Spirit. In these visions and prophecies it was announced that God’s judgment was near, that Christ would come soon, and that he would send messengers. “The Lord said: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them …'”. These words were repeated many times and left a deep impression on Lutz and various members of the congregation. Lutz first came into personal contact with English circles through the Scottish “prophet” William Caird in 1842 and was ordained an angel (bishop) of the Catholic Apostolic Church in 1859 – after his excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.
It is instructive that these new beginnings and the following in England are reported in the New Apostolic works “History of the New Apostolic Church” (p. 13 ff.) And “New Acts of the Apostles” (p. 27. 73 ff.). These new beginnings are therefore viewed by the New Apostolic Church as “precursor movements” (in contrast to the view of Catholic apostolic representatives who oppose these appropriations; see below).
The other “departures” took place in Scotland and England. The “History of the New Apostolic Church” (p. 16) says about the Scottish awakening: “It was a simple carpenter in Scotland, Jakob Grubb, through whom God spoke …” Grubb was apparently a trigger: through his laying on of hands and inspiration, others came into contact with this spirit. Jacob Grubb “Spoke of the coming of the Lord, and that he wanted to do a special job in his church beforehand” . He spoke “From a shining light that would illuminate them, from a cloud that would look like a human hand and which should grow to cover everything.” And this human hand is interpreted by the New Apostolic side as the laying on of hands by the new apostles.
Now the Campbell family lived not far from the Grubbs hut. Campbell’s father was a clergyman and had two daughters. The older daughter was called Isabell. She was venerated like a saint. People made pilgrimages to her. There were obviously special gifts and appearances there too. Isabell, however, died early of tuberculosis. The spirit and worship then passed to her sister Mary. Both girls had had the “gift of prophecy” and had visions and visions.
This phenomenon is interpreted in the “History of the New Apostolic Church” (p. 16) as a fulfillment of Joel 3: 1: “And your sons and daughters shall prophesy; and your young men shall see visions. “ – “That time had now come” , it is claimed. Now one day Mary Campbell became seriously ill too. “Pulmonary tuberculosis”, like her sister’s, was the diagnosis. And now it goes on:
“One evening she lay there without uttering a word, absorbed in silent prayer. Two friends were visiting her. Suddenly she got up and stepped on her feet. She spoke in a language that none of those present could understand … She was filled with power and strength; for on her own she could not utter these special and mysterious words. Then she lay back on her bed and was as weak as before. This happened on March 21, 1830. “ (4)
Now there was another family that lived across the Clyde River in Scotland, the MacDonald family. Two brothers and a sister lived together here: Georg, Jakob and Margaret MacDonald. The gifts of prophecy and speaking in strange tongues were revealed to them too:
“It was a Sunday; one of her sisters and a friend who came into the house for this purpose had spent the whole day in humiliation before God, fasting and prayer, with a special focus on the restoration of the spiritual gifts. In the evening they had entered the nurse’s (Mary Campbell; LG) hospital room, who was lying on a sofa; They were praying with several housemates when, in the middle of their devotion, the Holy Spirit came with tremendous power over the sick woman, who lay there in her weakness, and forced her to speak long and with superhuman strength in an unknown language to astonishment all who heard it, and for their own great edification and joy in God, for ‘he who speaks in tongues edifies himself.
… At the same time, on the other bank of the Clyde, in the small town of Port Glasgow, there lived a family called MacDonald, who were generally respected for their fear of God and piety, and they soon became similar. The two brothers James and George lived with a sick sister who was first gripped by the Spirit.
James … had returned home from work at noon when he found his sister, who was suffering, in the midst of the convulsions (convulsions and twitching of the body; LG) of that new inspiration.
The frightened and concerned family concluded that their end was near; then she turned to James in a long speech and concluded with a prayer that he would immediately be endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Immediately James said calmly, “I have it.” He went to the window and stood there quietly for a few minutes; his features took on a different shape, he stepped majestically to the sister’s bed and addressed her with the words of Psalm 20: “ Rise up and stand up! ” He repeated the words, took her hand and her stood up.
The sister had not only stood up for the moment, she was healed and the brother immediately wrote to Mary Campbell, who was apparently near death, and addressed her with the same request with the same success (i.e. a ‘distant healing’ by letter; LG). The patient received the letter in the midst of extreme weakness, but without a helping hand she got up, declared herself cured and was given back to life. Often she was now heard as an inspired in large gatherings, while the more sober MacDonalds quietly and withdrawn maintained their former way of life “. (5)
These events caused a stir as far as London. The Albury Conferences, named after the castle and seat of the English banker Henry Drummond (see below), had been in existence near London since 1826. There they had already prayed for the revival of the early Christian spiritual gifts. To study the phenomena, participants at the Albury Conferences traveled to Scotland and afterwards said: “Here are the same gifts after 1 Corinthians 12 and 14th as in the early church – glossolalia, healing of the sick and prophecies and the like. “ All of this, mind you, happened almost a century before the Pentecostal movement began.
Among those who traveled to Campbells and MacDonalds were the London attorney Cardale, whom I will refer to several times, and two doctors, Dr. Row and Dr. Thompson. They stayed in Glasgow for a month and studied the phenomena. They seemed to them to be a real spiritual work of God.
What “prophecies” were there in Karlshuld and Scotland? The following account of the events in Karlshuld in 1828 can be found:
“Two people (a man and a woman) received prophetic gifts, and the following points were excellent, which were said very often: The Lord wants to restore his Church now, as at the beginning: He would be Protestants, Catholics, etc. without this salvation and blessing Partaking of difference; he will again give apostles and prophets, as at the beginning … “, so in a letter from Lutz to the Catholic-Apostolic Professor Heinrich Thiersch in Marburg on February 3, 1852.
R. Norton reports on “prophecies” in Scotland in his book “The Restoration of Apostles And Prophets” from 1861 (p. 20 ff.): “The time is short. The time is at hand. God is getting closer. The promised morning is coming. ” And another “prophecy” read: “I remember the calling in the Spirit, ‘Send us apostles – send us apostles'”.
The “prophecies” were clearly connected with the call for apostles, after the restoration of the early church in its full form with all the offices of that time.
And now we come to a more detailed discussion of a key figure from the early days. It is the theologian Edward Irving. Who Was Edward Irving?
Born on August 4th, 1792 in Annan in the Scottish county of Dumfries, he later studied at the University of Edinburgh. At the age of 18 he became a math teacher at a school in Haddington, where he stayed until 1819. He wanted to be a missionary and was then called to Glasgow as assistant preacher by the well-known Scottish publisher Thomas Chalmers. This happened in 1819. In Glasgow, however, he could not yet penetrate, he had little success there. Finally, in 1822, he was called to London from the presbytery of the small Caledonian church in Hatton Garden in central London. That was a big step for the thirty-year-old.
Irving had a fiery preaching gift, could appeal to the intellectuals, and reveal new knowledge that he wanted to convey to the people. He soon gained popularity among the highest circles in London society. His church was mostly crowded. That is why his subsequent impeachment caused a stir. His audience included King George IV, the Dukes of York and Kent, Lord Brougham and Canning, many greats in art, science and politics. These flocked to the Caledonian chapel Sunday after Sunday. People soon couldn’t believe it anymore, and so a new church had to be built in Regent Square in 1827 especially for Irving’s congregation. The service rarely lasted less than two and a half hours.
Irving had run into problems with the church as early as 1827. He was a member of the Scottish Presbyterian Church, which advocated strict Calvinism. His Christology was heretical (a heresy), accused his church. In October 1827 a man came into his sacristy and asked him “Whether in his sermon he described the human body of the Lord as of sinful substance, whether he believed that the body of the Son of God was mortal, corrupt and perishable, like every human body?” And when he said yes, a short time later there was a paper by the same man named Cole, who publicly accused him of this heresy. Irving had to reply with the defense brochure “Christ’s holiness in the flesh”. (6)
Indeed, Irving’s christology is such that it emphasizes very strongly the humanity of Jesus, hardly divinity. He regards Christ as the representative of humanity who embodies us all. Christ is only Christ because the Spirit of God dwells in him. The baptism of the Spirit makes him who he is – and we could all attain this too. Irving’s concept of the spirit states that the spirit of God has filled the human nature of Christ and thereby enabled him to perform supernatural acts. Christ had anticipated what every person could now attain, even if not in the perfection like Christ. Irving’s Christology – I would like to note at this point – is not representative of the Christology of the Catholic Apostolic Church, nor of the New Apostolic Church nor of the Pentecostal Movement, but it is a shift in emphasis from the importance of Jesus Christ to the importance of the Holy Spirit in all of these – different in themselves – groups. (7)
When Irving was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in his homeland, in May 1828, he met the clergyman John Campbell. This John Campbell came from the aforementioned Campbell family from Gairloch in northern Scotland. John Campbell also had problems with his church and feared being removed from office, which did not happen until three years later, in 1831. He taught the view that stood against strict Calvinism with its double doctrine of predestination, namely that God loves all people so much that he gave his Son to death for all. Since Christ died for everyone, He could forgive everyone and acquit them from judgment. So there is no predestination for salvation or damnation, but God’s love is universal (universal reconciliation or universalism of salvation). Through contact with John Campbell and his family, Irving also came into contact with the supernatural phenomena that have already been described above.
Through the mediation of Irving and others, these gifts of divination, speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy came to London. At the beginning of the thirties there was prayers for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in his fullness. The person who was needed was first of all the wife of the lawyer Cardale. Mrs. Cardale prophesied and said: “The Lord is coming soon, he’s coming, he’s coming.” Looking back, we have to say: That didn’t happen back then! In this respect, these “prophecies” have proven to be not inspired by God. But Irving increasingly tolerated them in his church.
In 1830/31 three speakers in tongues appeared in London: Mrs. Cardale, who initially spoke in tongues in house meetings; Maria Caird, b. Campbell, who stayed with Irving for a while with her husband William Caird, but then returned to Scotland; and a Ms. Hall, who was the first to speak in tongues during Sunday public services at Regent Square Church. And that led to turmoil, sensationalism and arguments in the parish, in the Presbyterian Church and ultimately to Irving’s impeachment. Irving, after initial hesitation, allowed this public speaking in tongues and the interruption of the service with prophecies. An eyewitness describes what happened at that time as follows:
“I went to church … and, as usual, I was very pleased and edified by Irving’s lectures and prayers; suddenly, however, I was unexpectedly interrupted by the well-known voice of one of the sisters, who, unable to hold back any longer and shying away from ecclesiastical order, hurried into the sacristy and let the outbursts run free, while another, I heard, was driven by the same drive hurried down the aisle and out through the main church door. [So you have to realize that they are compulsive acts. It is doubtful whether the Spirit of God really compels people like that. LG] The sudden pitiful and incomprehensible sounds were heard by the whole congregation and caused extreme confusion.
The getting up, the desire to see, hear and understand something from each of the 1,500 or 2,000 people present made a noise that is easy to imagine. Mister Irving asked for attention and when order was restored he explained the incident, which he said was not new, except at this meeting where he had hesitated to introduce the matter.[In den Nebenräumen sowie bei den Abend- und Hausversammlungen gab es diese Phänomene schon vorher.] …
But since the matter had now come to light according to God’s will, he felt obliged to obey. [To obey God, as he meant. And now he spontaneously interpreted the 14th chapter of the letter to the Corinthians in this divine service, where, among other things, it is about speaking in tongues]. The sister was just returning from the sacristy to her seat and Irving, who noticed her from his desk, said to her in a friendly tone: ‘Be of good cheer, my sister, be of good cheer!’ Then he continued his sermon. “ (8)
In the evening service on the same day it was even more stormy. There was wild tumult. And then it says: “Mister Irving was almost finished with his sermon when one of the ladies spoke. The people listened relatively calmly for a few minutes. But suddenly a number of fellows in the gallery began to hiss, then one of them shouted quiet! And one this, the other that, until the congregation, except for those who were firm believers in God, was in extreme motion … Irving rose immediately and said, ‘Let us pray!’ He did this by mainly using the words: ‘O Lord, quiet the people!’ spoke again and again in a firm voice. ” From now on speaking in tongues and prophecy was allowed in morning services, which were specially arranged. Irving said he “feared the loss of life and did not want to put such a precious thing at risk again.” (9)
Now Irving came to trial for tolerating these incidents. In the indictment, the Presbyterian Church invoked its order of worship, which stated:
“As soon as the public service has started, everyone has to pay full attention to it, not to read anything except what the clergyman reads or quotes; he has even more to guard against whispering, all intercourse with others, etc. and above all inappropriate behavior which could disturb the clergy or the people or prevent himself and others from worshiping. “ (10) So there should be full concentration on the word of God, which is also to be welcomed. And when tumult arose and Irving tolerated the causes that brought it about, he had to face the consequences.
A second argument against Irving was of a more theological and fundamental nature: The Reformed Westmister denomination sticks to the fact that the revelation of God exists in the form of the Bible and is complete as such, so that no new revelations are necessary. So it says: “The whole counsel of God … is either expressly set forth in Scripture or can be inferred by right and accurate inferences from Scripture; never and nowhere is something to be added, neither through new revelations of the spirit, nor through human traditions. “ (11)
Irving countered: “If that is the work of the Spirit, who can stop it?” And he accused the church leadership of not even asking whether the Spirit of God was working, but was proceeding against him with formal reasons. He could not submit to that. “Is this the work of the Holy Spirit, the voice of Jesus in his church, who am I that I could hinder her?” he argued. (12)
The indictment of the “Trustees” (those responsible for the church building) stressed that Irving would tolerate and allow public services to be disrupted, interrupted by people who are neither preachers nor licentiates of the Church of Scotland. He was also accused of allowing women to speak in church. And finally, that he allowed these interruptions. Irving did not deny these allegations, but interpreted the incidents mentioned therein completely differently:
“Our morning duty is attended by quite a thousand people, and order is the most beautiful. I invoke the divine blessings, then we sing, I read and explain a chapter; the Spirit confirms the interpretation or gives additions and admonitions, not to interrupt but to strengthen the office. Then one of us preachers, or one of the elders or other brothers, prays, and I give short talks with pauses in between, in which the Spirit speaks through one, also through two or three words, which I then pick up, interpret, use, short , use as good as it is given to me for the edification of the community. ” (13)
So Irving had introduced a completely new form of worship which, of course, was not compatible with the traditional notion of the Scottish Presbyterian Church. Irving preached and was interrupted and then interpreted what the “inspired” persons said. The course of the sermon was thus repeatedly diverted by the “direct spiritual effect”.
Irving’s defense could not prevent his impeachment. It came to trial. In May 1832 he was banned from teaching in Regent Square Church. And then, a few days later, he rented a hall in London, in which the utopian Robert Owen had also given his lectures, with 800 seats. From now on he held his meetings there – or in the open air in the squares and streets of London.
In 1833 (after the first apostolic calls; see below) an even more serious judgment was passed on Irving, which led to his expulsion from the Scottish Presbyterian Church. The reason was his previously mentioned heresy about the human nature of Christ. At the end of the trial assembly, something spectacular happened: “The chairman was just about to announce the verdict and asked a member of the presbytery to say a prayer when suddenly a voice rang out from the side where Irving was standing: ‘Up, move away! Come on, move away! Flee away! Flee from her! You cannot pray! How can you pray How can you pray to Christ whom you deny?
You cannot pray! Away, away! Flee, flee! ‘ General confusion ensued. Since there was only one light on in the church, no one knew where the voice was coming from. Finally someone lifted the light and saw the inspired man who immediately left the church, followed by Irving, who was still shouting in the crowd: ‘Out, out! What? Do you not want to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit? Whoever obeys the voice of the Holy Spirit, go away! ‘ With this, Irving ceased to be a distant minister of the Presbyterian Church. He went back to London and joined the small ‘Apostolic Church’ on Newman Street. “ (14)
Irving then lived only a short time. In the autumn of 1834, one and a half years later, after he had previously been appointed “angel”, that is, bishop of the apostolic community, he died consumed by these struggles at the age of 42. He was buried in St Mungo’s Cathedral in Glasgow, where a painting depicting the figure of John the Baptist with the face of Edward Irving – John the Baptist who preceded and announced Christ – was shown above his grave.
Irving himself did not become an “apostle”, but was a significant forerunner and initiator of the Catholic Apostolic and New Apostolic Movement – even if these groups have mostly distanced themselves from him in the following years, as they are not identified with his sometimes extreme teachings and views wanted to. In this respect, the term “Irvingian”, which has become a swear word, is problematic for the apostolic groups and is strictly rejected by them.
Yet Irving has had undeniable influences on the apostolic movement. It should be mentioned: the rediscovery of charismatic gifts, the emphasis on the Holy Spirit, the propagation of the baptism of the Spirit, the expectation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. According to Albrecht Weber, Irving was not the “founder” of the Catholic Apostolic Congregation, but rather a “herald”, “herald” and “propagandist”. (15) The founders were other people who will be dealt with in the next section.
First calls to prophets and apostles
The London banker Henry Drummond and the London lawyer John Bate Cardale can be described as the founders of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Since the first Advent in 1826, Drummond, at the suggestion of the Anglican clergyman Lewis Way, invited 30-50 clergy and laypeople (selected in a certain way) to his country estate in Albury Park (one near Guildford, southwest of London) for a week. According to what criteria were these men invited? Not according to their denomination, but according to whether they had an eschatological expectation and wanted to deal prophetically with the Holy Scriptures in this regard. Edward Irving was among those invited.
Henry Drummond was the “prophet” who, in the wake of these conferences, proclaimed the first “apostle of the modern age”, namely John Bate Cardale. Drummond (1786-1860) was influential not only as a banker but also as a member of parliament, an aristocrat with great fortune. Even before his “apostolic” time he had done a lot for the work of the Kingdom of God, namely he had founded two mission societies. In 1818 he initiated the “Mainland Society to Combat Disbelief”. She sent missionaries to several European countries for fifteen years. Their activity is documented from 1818 to 1836.
One wanted to fight against unbelief in France and Italy, against Socinianism and Arianism in the Reformed Church, against neology and rationalism as well as against spiritualism. The second mission company that Drummond had founded was the “Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews”, which was founded around this time. This campaigned for the end-time conversion of the people of Israel to Christ.
And now, since 1826, Drummond had invited selected clergy and lay people interested in prophetic and eschatology, above all influential people from the upper class and the aristocracy. And they dealt with the following topics at the Albury Conferences:
- With the teaching of the Holy Scriptures about the times of the Gentiles that will expire according to Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25, and about the present household of God;
- with teaching about the Jews, about the fate of Israel;
- with the doctrine of the second coming (second coming) of Christ;
- with the order of the events that precede the Second Coming.
The results that the Albury Conferences produced can be summarized in six points: (16)
1. “The present Christian household (dispensation) [Epoche] will not pass over imperceptibly into the kingdom of God through an ever increasing power and expansion of the preaching of the gospel, but rather through severe judgments aimed at the destruction of the current ecclesiastical and political system, end in a similar way as the Jewish household was formerly. [One can characterize this doctrine as premillennial dispensationalism. This represents a gradation of the history of salvation in epochs, for example: epoch of the Jewish household – epoch of Christian household – epoch of the end times. This view contrasts with post-millennialism, which anticipated the coming of the empire through human achievement and advancement. But here it goes through courts; only then does the return of Christ take place – and at the very end Christ himself establishes his kingdom.]
2. “In the course of the judgments that fall on Christianity, the Jews will be returned to their land and restored as a people.” [This teaching, too, has a biblical basis. The expectation has actually been fulfilled: the State of Israel was proclaimed in 1948.]
3. “But the courts … begin with that part of the church which up until then has been the most favored and is therefore also the most responsible.” [This means the state church in England, for example.]
4. “The courts will be followed by a period of general bliss … for all of humanity, even for animals, commonly referred to as the millennium.”[Millenniarismus oder Chiliasmus] .
5. “The parousia (‘second advent’) (second coming) of Christ precedes the millennial kingdom or occurs at the beginning of it.” [Premillenniarism: Christ comes again before the millennium, before the millennium.]
6. “A great (apocalyptic) period of 1260 years, which began under Justinian’s reign, ended at the time of the French Revolution; from that time on the vials of wrath began to be poured out according to the Revelation of John; Christ will appear soon … ”[The calculation was made here. Justinian was taken as the starting point and then the French Revolution was the beginning of the end-time judgments. One expects Christ soon. New apostles, so the later view, will prepare the way for him, and Irving is seen as John the Baptist who preceded Christ and his apostles; so]
The last point is certainly the most problematic. The Albury Conference dissolved when the Catholic Apostolic Church came into being. But she was the nucleus for it. Pastor Hugh MacNeil, rector of the Albury Anglican Ward since 1822, had served as chairman. Although he intensely preached the second coming of Christ and also recommended the prayer for the restoration of the fullness of early Christian spiritual gifts, he later changed his mind and withdrew completely from the circle around Drummond when the “apostolic” teaching developed.
How did the “first modern apostle call” come about? The “charismatically awakened” had been increasingly excluded from their churches at the beginning of the thirties, including Cardale by his local chaplain MacNeil. He and Drummond could no longer go to their parishes. They withdrew.
And now the following happened: Henry Drummond was called by a “prophecy” on October 20, 1832, to be the “shepherd” of the Albury Ward, which then numbered about fifty people. It was kind of house church. But Drummond did not take up this office of shepherd because he was convinced that he was still lacking ordination, the institution of office by the laying on of hands (with transmission of the Spirit).
Now it happened, however, that on October 31, 1832, the London lawyer John Bate Cardale was addressed as an “apostle” by a “prophetic word”. (The official titles of the Catholic Apostolic Church, the New Apostolic Church and similar communities should always be thought of in quotation marks below.) Cardale had prayed that the meeting at the Drummond house would be done with the power from on high. “While he was still kneeling there, accepted in spirit, Drummond rose and addressed him with indescribable power and dignity: ‘Are you not an apostle! Why don’t you donate the Holy Spirit? ”(17) He then added some of the“ fullness of grace ”which the Lord had placed on the apostleship and other things. But that was not the final calling. They met again a week later, on November 7th, 1832, in the same apartment where it was closed, and the call was repeated.
And now, it is reported, “one of those sinister incidents occurred through which the purity of inspiration was threatened and ultimately only proved itself.” What happened? “A young doctor from London prophesied apparently harmlessly, basically not from God, until Drummond, who was attentive to the gift of discernment of spirits with penetrating sharpness, recognized the hidden work of evil (the devil) and, with the power of his mind, commanded the speaker to be silent.
But then, when Cardale had come in with pleading in the spirit for the liberation of the bound, (the prophet) Taplin stepped before him with mighty shouts: ‘So scold Satan, since you are an apostle of Christ! Cast out the evil spirits and set God’s children free! ‘ And in the further flight the prophetic speech pointed to the eternal and unchangeable grace, which through the apostolic office will banish evil from all the borders of the church and save His elect from evil, even adorn them with the treasures of heaven in the Holy Spirit, with which God wants to seal his children from now on. “(18)
The 30-year-old London attorney Cardale was called in 1832 as the first “Apostle of the Modern Age” or “End Times” – first by his friend Henry Drummond and then confirmed by the later “Pillar Prophet” Taplin. Now the story took its course. On Christmas Eve 1832 Cardale ordained the preacher William Caird (the husband of Maria Campbell; see above) as an evangelist and two days later Henry Drummond as a shepherd. This now received his longed-for ordination, and with that began the establishment of a priestly order or hierarchy. Edward Irving, incidentally, found himself in a certain humiliation in view of his superior abilities because he was not called to be an apostle but only a bishop. He died soon afterwards (see above). At the same time, however, the number of apostolic appointments increased. The following men were called to be apostles:
- September 25, 1833, Henry Drummond;
- December 18, 1833, the royal official at the Tower of London, Henry John King-Church;
- in the same month, Spencer Perceval, MP and son of a British Minister of State;
- former Anglican clergyman Nicholas Armstrong in January 1834;
- on August 13, 1834, the London attorney Francis Valentine Woodhouse (the longest-lived apostle who only died in 1901, at the age of 96).
Thus in the summer of 1834, one and a half years after Cardale’s appointment, the number “six” was reached. The goal remained the full number, the “twelve” – analogous to the circle of apostles around Jesus. So Cardale was instructed by the “Spirit” to visit the churches with the prophet Taplin, which were forming more and more, so that God could designate further apostles. And so in 1835 six other men were called to be apostles: the writer John Owen Tudor, the former Anglican pastor Henry Dalton, the Scottish nobleman and lawyer Thomas Carlyle, the noble landowner and captain Francis Sitwell, the former Scottish Presbyterian clergyman William Dow and the pharmacist and drug wholesaler Duncan Mac Kenzie. The most recently called apostle MacKenzie is considered the “Judas” in these circles because five years later he continued to recognize his apostle call, but withdrew from the exercise of office because of disputes. So these are the twelve “Apostles of the End Times” from the Catholic Apostolic Movement.
Separation of the Apostles
Another important date was July 14, 1835. After all twelve apostles were “designated”, they were “set apart” on that date. The segregation was the inauguration through the laying on of hands of all “angels” and “archangels” (bishops) who were already in service in London. These were bishops of the seven parishes in London (symbolic seven structure), which were mostly named after districts: Central Parish, Bishopsgate, Southwark, Chelsea, Islington, Paddington and Westminster. When the apostles were singled out, they retired to the castle seat of Drummond in Albury for a year to prepare for their task of infusing the world with the new doctrine of the apostles.
The “Pillar Apostle” Cardale presided over the Catholic Apostolic Assemblies as the first called, but there was none Chief Apostolate with an absolute power of government like later in the New Apostolic Church. Rather, Cardale was seen as “equal among equals”. Taplin was “the pillar of the prophets”, and there was one pillar each for the evangelists and shepherds, who were supposed to be “like among equals”.
In this year of silence they met daily to contemplate the Bible, which, however, was carried out with the help of seven prophets, ie the prophets opened up the “spirit of the scriptures” to the apostles through their inspirations, often allegorically. According to their own ideas, these twelve apostles represented the twelve tribes of “spiritual Israel”, that is, the community. God was to divide Christianity among them, all of whom were residents of the British Isles. Therefore, Christianity was divided into twelve tribes and each apostle was assigned a tribe
- Cardale received England and America as the tribe of Judah.
- Drummond received Scotland and Protestant Switzerland, the tribe of Benjamin.
- Perceval received Italy, the Manasseh tribe.
- King Church received Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium as Isaschar.
- Armstrong received Ireland, Greece and the Orient as Zebulun.
- Woodhouse received southern Germany and Austria, the Ruben tribe.
- Tudor received Poland, India and Australia as Ephraim.
- Dalton received France and the Catholic part of Switzerland: Asser.
- Carlyle received Northern Germany: Simoen.
- Sitwell received Portugal and Spain: Naphtali.
- Dow received Russia, Finland and the Baltic States: Dan.
- MacKenzie got Norway and Sweden: Gad.
Incidentally, the ecclesiastical origins of these “apostles” varied. Most of them were Anglicans. But there was also a free church (Henry John King Church), Independists, Congregationalists and Scottish Presbyterians.
Carlyle openly reports on the problems of the beginning: “Nobody knew what an apostle was, what duties and obligations were connected with this office. We had to learn everything like children, we all had to go to school and sometimes very difficult school. The question now arose of how the apostolic office should be exercised. We saw that all other offices are appointed by apostles, but the apostles only by the Lord. “(19)
So the apostles feared their ignorance. Like children, they first had to learn. At first they had not yet reached the full number, some of them still lived in their old congregations – and the apostleship meant a huge break in their lives. With the separation, a new step had now been taken. They were released from all previous obligations and released for their service.
The testimony of the apostles
For reasons of space I cannot go into the further activities of the Catholic Apostolic Apostles. It should only be mentioned that since 1835 they have turned to spiritual and secular leaders of the earth with various appeals (“testimony”) to point out the end times, the unity and gathering of Christians to be strived for and the re-established apostolic office that is useful for this. The response from the addressees was extremely low, the reaction almost entirely negative, since no one was prepared to recognize the authority of these men as “apostles”. The following is an illustration of an excerpt from the “Testimony of the Apostles to the spiritual and secular heads of Christendom” from 1836:
“And already He (God) has set out to rebuild His sanctuary, the crumbling hut of David, His abode in Zion. From there his testimony goes to all the baptized, given by twelve men who were called by the Holy Spirit to be apostles and set apart from the places of their birth for the service of Christ in all lands. Your office will be, through the faith and persistent prayer of God’s people, to bestow on all the baptized the blessing that Jesus, the Apostle of His Church, wants to give through apostles …
This is not a new sect: it is God’s work to impart His blessings to all of Christendom, to the whole of the baptized world … All over Christianity, lawlessness: here submission to authority; outside, division and sects: here one body, united in faith, with teachers who teach the same thing with one accord. Outside, schools of the Antichrist presided over by heads chosen by the people themselves: here, one body governed by offices that are not appointed by the people, but given by God. “ (20)
Extinction of the Apostles and Crisis
In 1855 three of the first “Apostles of the Modern Age” died within a short time: Thomas Carlyle, William Dow and Duncan MacKenzie. That was a surprise for the Catholic Apostolic Church – they had initially expected the return of Christ during the lifetime of all the apostles. But now the question arose as to whether new apostles should be called to these offices, and it was already decided at that time among the Catholic Apostles not to call new apostles. The movement that did this, however, was what would later become the New Apostolic Church with its predecessor groups. How did it come about?
Heinrich Geyer and the “General Christian Apostolic Mission”
New apostolic calls
The “father” of the new – German – apostles was a so-called “prophet” from the Catholic Apostolic Movement, namely a prophet who was also at the side of Woodhouse, the last remaining Apostle of the Catholic Apostolic Church. This prophet, who was very influential, was called Heinrich Geyer. (21) Basically he is the man who gave the impetus to the emergence of the New Apostolic Congregation or Church, which was not yet called that at that time. The later New Apostolic Church is again a split from the group that Geyer founded. The historical line is: Catholic Apostolic Church, “Geyerianer” (“General Christian Apostolic Mission”), and then the New Apostolic.
How did the development go in detail? Let us first consider Heinrich Geyer’s personality.
Heinrich Geyer, born in Hardechsen near Göttingen in 1818, was a court clerk and elementary school teacher in Wollbriehausen near Ußlar. He was in contact with the Johann-Hinrich Wicherns movement (Inner Mission). In Wollbriehausen he founded the Bethesda home for neglected children. Around 1848/49 he came into contact with the Catholic Apostolic Church, i.e. at the age of 30, when he mistakenly received a letter from the former Catholic Apostolic Pastor Albert Köppen in the mail. When he joined the Catholic Apostolic Church and confessed to it and also publicly advocated it in school service, he was dismissed.
A few years later he was employed as a proofreader for the Neue Preußische Zeitung in Berlin by the director Herrmann Wagener, who belonged to the Catholic Apostolic Movement. In 1849 he became a sub-deacon, in 1850 he became a priest. Incidentally, he was ordained priest together with the later influential Apostle Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz through the English Apostle Thomas Carlyle. In 1852 he became bishop (“angel”) in the Catholic Apostolic Church. Geyer is said to have possessed the gifts of prophecy, glossolalia, and healing of the sick. He was extremely influential – not only as a journalist, but also within the Catholic Apostolic Church in the German-speaking area. As an authoritative “prophet” in the “Tribe of Northern Germany”, he called almost all priests and angels in Northern Germany between 1852 and 1862, including some in Southern Germany and Switzerland.
In 1860 there was a decisive event in Albury, at the seat of the banker Drummond, who, together with Cardale, was the founder of the Catholic Apostolic Movement. On May 30, 1860, a conference took place on the estate in Albury – and the prophet Heinrich Geyer prophesied the following: “Long for the apostles who have left your chairs! The Lord gives you two apostles on the empty chairs as a pledge that he will also occupy the remaining ones so that your shoulders will not break, namely: Charles Boehm and William Caird as apostles, because they were invented as faithful collaborators. “ (22)
Geyer called two members of the Catholic Apostolic Church as new apostles in place of those who had already died, claiming a direct alleged inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That was problematic because the other apostles had formed the opinion earlier that they did not want to call new ones. Even now the living apostles met in Albury. Woodhouse, the longest living man, has always refused to recognize newly called apostles. Woodhouse asked Geyer about his prophecy in 1860, when a total of seven apostles were still living from the first called:
“Do you think these two men are really apostles now?” Geyer replied very cautiously: “The apostles decreed that the prophets should not have a judgment on the result of their prophecies, but that the apostles have to pass judgment. I just know that this word from the Holy Spirit was what I am responsible for. I leave everything else to the apostles .. ” Woodhouse replied: “The apostles reject this and every other calling of apostles because the present apostles will suffice until the return of Christ.” (23)
This response revealed a strong expectation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The apostles had the idea that the twelve of us, at least the rest of us, will live until the Lord returns.
As a prophet, Geyer had the fundamental right to call new apostles. That was due to the prophets, for the first, Cardale, had also been prophetically called by Drummond. But now the need for new apostolic calls has been denied. The right existed, but the necessity was denied because the Lord would come again during the lifetime of the first twelve apostles of the modern age – an expectation that did not come true.
In the background there was also Revelation 4, 4, which speaks of the “24 elders before the throne of God”. It is said in the Catholic Apostolic Movement that the first apostles of the early church are twelve and the apostles of the end times are also twelve, and that adds up to these “twenty-four elders.” Therefore one can no longer call apostles.
The apostles in Albury were determined not to accept any more apostles into their circle. In the “History of the New Apostolic Church” it says from the point of view of today’s New Apostolic: “Through this short-sighted and human behavior they have proven that they were just as fallible and weak people as the first apostles of the early church, despite their high position in the kingdom Of God. ”(24) Suddenly the authority of the Catholic apostolic apostles is very much reduced because here they did not act in the interests of the later New Apostolic.
Woodhouse, for his part, said at the time about Geyer: “Some words spoken by Mr. Geyer and interpreted by him in this way were partly explained quite differently by the apostles, partly immediately rejected as spurious.” (25) So the apostles here claim the authority that Ultimately teach you to decide whether it applies or not.
Now there were further steps. The “new apostles” called by Geyer, Caird and Bohm, were rejected by the old apostles. However, in order to resolve the matter amicably and to avoid a split, they were appointed as apostle co-adjutors, as apostle helpers or deputies, who were only allowed to act on behalf of the living apostles. When their respective commissioning apostle died, their commission was also over.
But Geyer did not give up. In 1862, two years later, the pillar prophet Oliver Taplin died. Now Geyer got an even bigger influence. He was now at the height of his office.
Now he stayed with Woodhouse, Böhm and the Marburg Catholic-Apostolic Professor Thiersch in Koenigsberg, Kaliningrad, where the foundation stone for a new chapel was laid. On October 10, 1862, Geyer was in the apartment with the builder and Catholic apostolic priest Rudolf Rosochacky. Geyer reports:
“That same evening, October 10, 1862, the Spirit of the Lord was so heavy on me that I was almost physically crushed. Suddenly the Spirit of God came over me with power and called the attendant Rosochacky to the office of apostle. However, he was told not to interfere in the affairs of the previous apostles, but to wait quietly for the time when God would confirm him before a larger gathering of many witnesses by starting a new series of the number twelve. Well, this calling took place calmly at midnight, also fully and joyfully recognized by the called one. Because the public appointments were rejected, she was right for the time being; In England in the forties the apostles and some other offices were only called in private rooms. “ (26)
Geyer played a double game. Because the other appeals had been denied, he now secretly called Rosochacky at midnight in his living room.
Woodhouse was not informed of these events for several weeks. Geyer was initially able to continue to work in the communities unmolested. However, there was then an open conflict, but – as was said outwardly – not primarily because of this secret apostle calling, but because Geyer represented a doctrine that deviated from the official Catholic-Apostolic teaching. Geyer rejected the pre-rapture that was advocated by the Catholic Apostolic Congregations – that is, the view that the chosen saints or believers would be raptured before the time of tribulation. That now led to problems.
In November 1862, Geyer announced in a service in Berlin, “That the Antichrist should be revealed to the church in the seven atrocities” . And with that he questioned the pre-rapture. Geyer was asked to take this back, but he refused. He emphasized that if he were forbidden to do so, the authority of the apostles would be placed above the authority of the Bible. So he brought the biblical authority against the authority of the new apostles and wanted to recognize their authority only to the extent that “As far as they agree with the scriptures.” (27)
So there was a fundamental debate here that kept coming back to life, even in the later divisions of the New Apostolic Churches – namely the debate as to whether the Holy Scriptures (Bible), the new apostles or the new prophets should have priority with regard to authority. This debate was repeatedly decided in favor of the new apostles among the apostolic groups.
Exclusion and a new beginning
In December 1862 Geyer was suspended from his service as prophet of the Catholic Apostolic Congregations. The matter with Rosochacky had also become known in the meantime, and the later New Apostolic movement in Hamburg began in 1862. The Hamburg congregation is practically the core cell from which the New Apostolic Movement grew. In 1862 it had around 150 members and was under the direction of the bishop or angel Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz (often also written as “Schwartz”). That in turn was subordinate to the Berlin bishop or angel Carl Rothe.
In December 1862, Geyer informed Schwarz about his dismissal in a letter and now also informed Schwarz of Rosochacky’s appointment as an apostle. Schwarz then had Rosochacky and Geyer come to Hamburg and presented them to the assembled community on January 4, 1863. Schwarz resigned his bishopric under the angel Rothe and accepted Rosochacky as his apostle, to whom he now submitted. So he withdrew from his chairman in Berlin, the local bishop, and placed himself under the Apostle Rosochacky appointed by Geyer.
Schwarz asked the Hamburg community: “Whoever wants to accept this brother as an apostle, stand up!” Everyone stood up except for five members. (28)
Rosochacky now lifted Geyer’s excommunication and reinstated all officials in their offices.
And now the Berlin angel or Bishop Rothe traveled to Hamburg. They wanted to deny him access to the meeting house, since his authority for the Hamburg community had ended. But he went in anyway and declared all services and callings null and void. What Rothe said about the events in Hamburg is revealing:
“You shall recognize them by their fruit! What is the fruit of these new apostles and prophets? Through them, the flesh obtained what it desired. They gave each other dignity and flattered the community with great things. Although they hypocritically pretend not to part with the previous orders of the Lord, they have actually divorced, and even revolted against them. This new apostleship and prophethood has appeared under the cover of secrecy, lies and cunning. What will its end be? The Lord will judge them. “ (29)
This is what Rothe says about the origin of this forerunner movement of the New Apostolic. We should also consider the discussions that took place back then.
Now, however, there was another blow for Schwarz and Geyer: Rosochacky swung around. The first-called apostle after the office holders Caird and Böhm, who had been proposed by Geyer and dropped again, resigned from his apostle office – influenced by his wife and the office holders in Königsberg. After he returned there, they talked him out of his calling through Geyer and told him to continue to submit to the authority of the English apostles. What happened secretly was not right and he was a victim of diabolical seduction skills.
In a letter dated January 17, 1863, he informed Schwarz of his revocation in the Hamburg community. He wrote:
“When the congregation in Hamburg heard the news that another apostle was called, their first act was outrage against the order given to them by God. Impossible was this work by the Holy Spirit. … Who gave the church the right to recognize me as an apostle and to proclaim me as such? If my calling had been divine, there could have been no contradiction with the other apostles, for an apostle of Jesus Christ cannot help throw out and depose the other apostles of the Lord. Geyer was excommunicated (i.e. excluded), not only from the congregation in Berlin, but also from the Church of Christ, and as such was deprived of all authority and ability to pronounce both a singling out and the calling of a congregation. The Holy Spirit did not guide him in his condition. ” (30)
After this declaration of revocation, Rosochacky was again accepted into the Catholic Apostolic Congregation, on April 5, 1863, just one month later, and soon afterwards ordained a bishop or angel.
Now Geyer, Schwarz and Hamburg were in a difficult position. At first they sought to join the Berlin community again, but the official proceedings against Geyer and Schwarz had already been initiated. After Geyer, Schwarz was also excommunicated. Woodhouse initially unofficially excommunicated Geyer and Schwarz in the sacristy of the Berlin congregation and then officially in a letter dated February 6, 1863, addressed to the Hamburg congregation, which now also means the formal separation and – one can say – the birth of the New Apostolic direction Has. This exclusion letter officially sealed the separation.
Now the Hamburg community went its own way under Schwarz and Geyer. In Geyer’s absence, the Hamburg priest Carl Wilhelm Preuss was prophetically appointed an apostle by a deacon. Geyer, however, had great problems afterwards with this particular Prussian, whom he had not even appointed himself. So there was tension in the new group from the beginning, so that Geyer could even say:
“… I couldn’t undo things that happened. It happened in the way of disorder, just as Ruben climbed his father Jacob’s Bette, so I could not kill such an illegitimate child either (sic!). We now had to bear our fate until this brother Preuss died on July 25, 1878. I am silent about all the suffering that happened to us during that time. “ (31)
One notices the human-all-too-human aspect of these “apostolic calls” very clearly. An “illegitimate child” that one would like to “kill” – this is how Geyer expresses himself about the first apostle who was called in his absence! He then had to grudgingly acknowledge it.
Preuss, a journeyman carpenter from Matzdorf, who had been ordained a priest of the Catholic-Apostolic Congregations in Berlin in 1854, was now appointed as apostle for Northern Germany and Scandinavia, the tribe of Ephraim. As an apostle he stood in the shadow of Geyer. What was the name of this independent Hamburg congregation? It was initially called the “General Apostolic Congregation” and soon afterwards, in the sixties of the last century, “General Christian Apostolic Mission”. Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz later traveled to Amsterdam in Holland. There he did missionary work and founded the “Apostolische Zendings Gemeemte” (“Apostolic Missions Congregation”).
On October 30, 1864, Geyer made further apostles to complete the number six. The coal broker Peter Wilhelm Louis Stechmann became an apostle for Hungary, the locksmith Johann Christoph Leonhard Hohl became an apostle for Hesse, the basket maker, teacher and police guard Heinrich Ferdinand Hoppe an apostle for the USA, the shoemaker and porcelain dealer Johann August Ludwig Bösecke an apostle for Silesia. .
On the second day of Pentecost in 1863, Schwarz himself was called to be an apostle, not only through Heinrich Geyer, but through “Many prophetic children of God” from the congregation, as it says in a New Apostolic script (32). And why is it emphasized in this publication that Black was not only called by Geyer? Because Geyer later separated from the New Apostolic development. So it is important for today’s New Apostolic to emphasize that not only Geyer but also others called Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz, who is seen as the first leading representative of the New Apostolic movement.
Incidentally, there were tensions between Geyer and the apostle Prussia, who was appointed independently from him, for four reasons and later also a split. We have to deal with that now.
- As a prophet, Geyer repeatedly had problems with the apostles and their authority. He wanted to place his prophetic authority, his direct inspirations above the apostolic authority or at least regard it as equivalent, in any case not to submit to it, since he felt himself to be the one who had initiated the new series of apostles (outside the Catholic Apostolic Church).
- He was not yet as hostile to the church and as separatist as the later New Apostolics. His opponents accused him of having an ecumenical, even downright church-friendly attitude.
- He refused the rapture.
- He taught that all Christians are firstfruits and therefore sealing was not necessary.
How did the split come about between Geyer on the one hand and Schwarz and the later influential apostle and first chief apostle Fritz Krebs on the other?
On March 31, 1878, in the absence and without knowledge of the terminally ill Apostle Preuss, Geyer called his successor in a service, namely the coal merchant Johann Friedrich Güldner as apostle for Northern Germany and Scandinavia. Shortly afterwards Preuss died.
But now a strong opposition group had formed against Geyer and the Apostle Güldner whom he had appointed. These differences were openly resolved in a so-called church service on August 4, 1878, where there were tumultuous events. A strong congregation group contradicted the appointment of Güldner as an apostle by Geyer. This opposition group was led by the shepherd Eduard Wichmann, whom Preuss had appointed as his successor on his deathbed. The right hand of Wichmann was the later most influential man of the New Apostolic Movement, Fritz Krebs. The result was that Wichmann Geyer declared deposed. Thereupon Geyer left the hall, albeit with most of the community, and there was a separation.
The New Apostolic Congregation emerged from the remaining Hamburg congregation that remained (it was initially called the “General Apostolic Mission”). The greater part of the community, however, had split up beforehand. Geyer then founded his own congregation again, which kept the name “General Christian Apostolic Mission”. It is revealing that Güldner, the apostle called by Geyer, but also Wichmann, are not listed in the New Apostolic Church’s list of apostles. The group led by Geyer and Güldner was able to hold up for a few decades (namely until Geyer’s death in 1896) and even record growth, but then continued to decline. Today it is extinct.
What is important now is the fact that Geyer and his followers occupy an intermediate position historically, namely with his “General Christian Apostolic Mission” between the Catholic Apostolic Church and the New Apostolic Church.
Now let us hear a few quotations from the point of view of today’s New Apostolic Church on these processes. In the biography of Fritz Krebs it says that Apostle Preuss, just 51 years old, had lost his wife shortly before and that this depressed him very much; he also suffered from stomach cancer. Then it is executed:
“Apostle Preuss was concerned for good reason. Heinrich Geyer, the prophet, had embarked on a path in recent years that led him on from the work of God. This man, to whom the good Lord had entrusted such a valuable gift, had become increasingly arrogant and believed that he could do many things differently and better than his apostle. He considered Louis Preuss’ tolerance for weakness, his humility and modesty for inadequate assertiveness, and his devout simplicity as a sign of poor understanding. Heinrich Geyer finally came to the view that as a prophet he had to stand above such an apostle, since he alone was given the power to appoint offices – an opinion that unfortunately was shared by several prophets before and after him.
The apostle will certainly have tried again and again to dissuade Heinrich Geyer from this dangerous path. But the gap between them widened and Geyer began to intrigue against his apostle. So he looked for like-minded people who saw his prophetic gift as the most important office within the community … Before his death, Apostle Preuss had once again tried everything to maintain the unity of the Hamburg congregation (but he did not succeed). On his death-bed he called the elder Wichmann to give him the leadership of the congregation if he should no longer be himself. “ (33)
In the following, Fritz Krebs, who is practically the most influential man of the early days, is already glorified:
“However, here and there it smoldered further under the surface, because it had been shown that besides JF Güldner also other men of the community felt called to be apostles out of their own power. But Apostles Menkhoff and Fritz Krebs, who worked particularly closely together in the following year, kept a watchful eye on everything and were able to counter such efforts in good time … As long as these two servants of God watched over those entrusted to them, no strange fire would burn at the Lord’s altar. “ (34)
Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz and the “Hersteld Apostolische Zending Gemeente”
Now we have to turn to Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz and Wilhelm Menkhoff again. Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz was born in Sardschau near Danzig in 1815 and learned the tailoring trade there. At first he was under the influence of the neo-Pietist revival movement and wanted to go to Berlin to become a missionary there. In the mid-1940s he came into contact with the Catholic Apostolic Movement. In 1850 he became a priest and finally an angel in Hamburg. In 1863 he began his missionary work in Amsterdam (Holland) in the sense of the “General Christian Apostolic Mission”.
There, through his sermon, the Reformed preacher Menkhoff had been won over to the New Apostolic faith, who also acted in Holland from Germany, as a member of the mission association of the village of Quelle near Bielefeld, also a pietistic missionary company.
Menkhoff brought an important change into the Apostolic Mission Congregation of Schwarz. He came from the Reformed tradition, and under his influence the rich liturgical customs of the Catholic Apostolic Church within the split-off group were abolished. If you attend a New Apostolic meeting today, you will no longer notice any catholic elements, such as incense, robes and pre-formulated prayers, as were customary among the Catholic Apostolics. Now the simple, reformed appearance has been adopted with simple black suits – and the free formulation of prayers and the like from Pietism.
Calvinist sobriety now returned to these churches, at least outwardly. However, that didn’t happen overnight. Schwarz, to whom the sealing of children and the dispensation of the sacraments for the deceased can be traced back, for a long time did not want to adopt this sober Calvinist external character, but instead wanted to adhere to the Catholic-apostolic cult, but finally he was convinced by Menkhoff that this is superfluous. 1885 finally were in Hamburg and Berlin “The church robes are taken off on the same day. At the end of the eighties, all traces of the (Catholic) Old Apostles were blurred “, as stated in the” New Acts of the Apostles “ (P. 183) is called.
It was now Menkhoff who carried the New Apostolic Movement back from Holland to Germany. It is so that the largest part of Hamburg had separated, but that Black was still in Holland and Menkhoff was won over by him. And this now carried the New Apostolic Movement back to Germany. Apparently the mission association that sent him did not know that. Initially, Menkhoff had even become director of the Queller Missionsverein, this pietistic company, although inwardly he was already apostolic. Soon after this calling, however, he began to proclaim his new attitude publicly.
Menkhoff’s transfer was like a bomb in Pietist circles. Yet it was only a small group of Pietists who joined him and became apostolic. Among them was the Niehaus family from Steinhagen, from which the second Chief Apostle later emerged. There was resistance to Menkhoff which lasted until his death in 1895.
Similarities were mentioned:
- the trinity of God,
- redeeming grace through the merit of Jesus Christ,
- the need for a new birth through water (holy baptism) and the Spirit (sealing by living apostles) as well
- the Sunday celebration of Holy Communion, furthermore
- the near coming of the Lord Jesus,
- the rapture,
- the millennial kingdom of peace,
- Judgment Day when all are resurrected and judged.
The differences were also listed. Menkhoff, Krebs and Niemeyer spoke of the “older department” and the “new department”:
“The older department teaches that after the apostolate was reestablished in 1832, there would be no further calling to apostles in the future because the men called at that time were destined to lead the congregation towards the Lord. This teaching had the effect that the later called apostles were not recognized, but were declared false [`pseudo-apostles`]; and that was the cause of that unfortunate separation. The new department, on the other hand, considers those first called men, of whom only you are still alive, to be true apostles of the Lord, but at the same time it also recognizes those who were called later …
The Lord did not ask the first apostles whether he could call Paul and Barnabas apostles, but rather he called them, and they went into the world as apostles, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, just like the first-called … Had those three (Jacobus, Peter and John) not accepted their (Paulus ‘and Barnabas’) segregation as apostles, they would have acted foolishly; But Paul and Barnabas would still have remained apostles of the Lord … “ (36)
The second difference was in the liturgical forms. “We were told that the first-called apostles in England had appeared for eight years in ordinary clothing in the services …” the New Apostolic justify their adherence to simplicity. (37)
The third difference between the “older” and “new” department was a different sealing practice: “The older one claims, as it does now, that no one under the age of 20 should be sealed. The younger one, on the other hand, teaches that even small children can be given the seal … ” The innovation that children are already sealed by the laying on of hands by the apostles and now receive the Holy Spirit immediately (“Spirit baptism”), was introduced by Schwarz. “Why do we get our children baptized with water and forbid them from being baptized with the Holy Spirit?” , it was argued. (38)
The final section was a call to reconciliation with the recognition of the new apostles: “Preach, dear brother, a conciliatory love for us, which we have hitherto looked for in vain for the sake of his work. Let this sermon of love resonate in all of your churches; Because we also love you and ask God that he would shower you with rich blessings, because we consider you an apostle sent by Jesus, but we also consider ourselves to be those who, united with you according to the will of God To do the work of the Lord to its consummation. … Your brothers and fellow apostles of Jesus Christ united in the love of Jesus: Menkhoff, Krebs and Niemeyer. “ (39)
There was never an answer. Woodhouse did not recognize the newly called apostles.
Fritz Krebs and the establishment of the Chief Apostolate
Fritz Krebs (40) is the man who introduced the Chief Apostolate. He was born in the village of Elend in the Harz Mountains in 1832 and went to school in the village of Not – names that he used again and again for puns to humorously illustrate his origins from poor circumstances. He was a railway attendant and came to the New Apostolic Doctrine through his colleague Fischer in 1865. In 1866 he became a priest. In 1879 the Apostle Menkhoff made him bishop. Soon after, in 1881, he was ordained an apostle.
Fritz Krebs pursued three goals:
- the close organizational and doctrinal union of the communities;
- the elimination of the influence of the prophets;
- the elimination of collegiality among the apostles.
He achieved these goals during his tenure as apostle and chief apostle, as he became more and more influential. We have already heard of the conflict in Hamburg in 1878. When the Apostles Menkhoff and Schwarz died in 1895, he was able to take over the leadership of the New Apostolic Movement.
However, this change did not go smoothly. Schwarz had stipulated in his will that his successor could be determined after a mourning period of 12 weeks. So what did Cancer do to expand his position of power? He extended the mourning period for Schwarz to 1 year and installed the well-meaning and devoted elder Jakob Kofmann as apostle of this district in Holland, in what was then the largest apostolic district. Kofmann tried to set the parishes in Holland on the cancer line, but only partially succeeded.
The Dutch didn’t like the fact that Krebs wanted to eliminate the prophets and that everything should be called and decided from Germany. For this purpose it says z. B. in the biography about cancer from the New Apostolic side:
“It was not uncommon for such ‘parliamentarians’ [by which are meant ‘presumptuous prophets’, as it is also called here] to make interim remarks during the services the apostle held or even to the apostle about his words after the service had ended Tried to be held accountable. Unfortunately, a large number of the parishioners were on their side. “ (41)
So in Holland there was a great uproar when Krebs took office as head of the apostles. And the majority of the members there fell away from Krebs and his followers. Many did not agree with Kofmann’s appointment as administrator for Holland. When Niehaus, who was also an apostle (who later succeeded Krebs in the chief apostle office), stayed in Amsterdam, this uproar became obvious. It was criticized that the apostles had recently been installed without a prophetic commission and that they would not accept it. Also, it was said in an article that Cancer had devalued the Bible against that “New, living apostle” . Krebs had written:
“Give them the contemporary word of God. … Don’t give them the inferior food from the old days, but the fresh green of today. Also give the sheep fresh water, not stale pump water, but living well water. “ (42)
The opponents of Cancer saw in this a contrast between the word of the new apostles and the word of the Bible, which, however, Cancer denied.
The leader of the opposition in Holland was the deacon Martinus van Bemmel from Amsterdam, who was called to be an apostle of Judah by a prophet from the Amsterdam community. So Judah should be identical with Holland. Bemmel threatened to expel anyone who wanted to strive for unity under cancer. So a great front was drawn up. The path to becoming Chief Apostle, to absolute monarchical leadership, was not so easy for Krebs, it went through many divisions; because subordination to a leadership figure is not so easy.
In the Cancer biography, these events are presented as follows from a New Apostolic point of view:
“Of course these machinations did not remain hidden from Apostle Krebs, and so he decided to take drastic measures. In an official letter dated February 28, 1897, he informed Martinus van Bemmel of his removal from the apostleship. But this man knew how to get many to his side. Most of the Amsterdam community stood by him. The apostates from then on called themselves ´Hersteld Apostolische Zendingsgemeente`, while those who remained loyal, who gathered around Regular Bishop Kofman, adopted the name ´Hersteld Apostolische Zendingsgemeente en de Eenheid der Apostelen en Nederland and Kolonien` to distinguish themselves. “ (43)
In 1898, Krebs appointed Jakob Kofman to be ancestral bishop and finally an apostle of the tribe of Judah. So there were now two apostles of the tribe of Judah, Martinus van Bemmel and Jakob Kofmann in the respective so-called churches.
The official hour of the Chief Apostolate, as it still exists today, struck Pentecost in 1897. There had also been among the Catholic Apostolic Chief Apostles, but this designation was understood to mean that each of the twelve Apostles was assigned to a tribe (the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Ephraim, etc.), i.e. distributed across the globe. But now the chief apostolate has been reinterpreted. It no longer meant: “Everyone has a tribe”, but now it meant the tree trunk on which all other branches and branches depend. Everyone must now be connected to the “stream of life of the Chief Apostle”, who is considered to be the bearer of the Holy Spirit in all his might.
“Chief Apostolate” now means that the monarchical leadership principle has been introduced. For example, Helmut Obst writes in his description of the new apostles and prophets: “The New Apostolic Community received its ‘papacy’ through Fritz Krebs.” And this “unit father”, as cancer was also called, now brought about “the breakthrough to dynamic broad growth”. (44) The spin-offs did not matter much, but now a tight organization, a hierarchy was introduced.
The sect expert Kurt Hutten writes a chapter about the new prophets and apostles: “Under the wing of the powerful office”. (45) This attracts many people to the fact that they are under the wing of a Unity Father, a seemingly powerful minister who guarantees salvation by “channeling” the Holy Spirit. Such magical ideas do not only exist in the New Apostolic Church.
The Chief Apostolate was introduced on Whitsun in 1897. Fritz Krebs opened and led the service and placed it under the biblical words: “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have any other gods besides me” (Exodus 20: 3). Only one God – and only one head in the family, in the state, in the church – that was paralleled by Cancer. And this one head is now the Chief Apostle. The sermon was given by his “right hand”, his later successor in the Chief Apostle office, Hermann Niehaus. Niehaus said:
“God wants all hearts and eyes to be focused on him, the one, true one, who does not tolerate secondary gods. Thus the people of Israel, to whom these words were first spoken, were called one unit, one body. The one visible head of this body was Moses … Christ is the head of the body, the church, in him culminates the unity of his body. But since the church is visible as one body, the head is also visible in the ministry of apostles sent, in which the unity of the church is revealed, in which Jesus represents himself. “ (46)
In this context, Niehaus cited the comparison that the man is the head of the family. If order and unity are to prevail there, the man must be the head of all. “If everyone wants to rule, the result is disorder, confusion and the ruin of family life. As in family life, it is also in church life. “ (47)
Let us now take a look at the Cancer family with six children. I quote from the Cancer biography of the New Apostolic Church:
“Friedrich Krebs faced another very personal difficulty in his own family. Neither his wife nor his six children ever became New Apostolic. “ (48)
He himself expressed himself as follows:
“Apart from the press in the natural, which I completed in my apprenticeship, I stand without wife and child, without relatives, where I thoroughly learn from this chair the sayings ‘love your neighbor and bear with patience’, which have become strange (in the world) had to. Under all this mighty hand of God I had to bow whether I wanted to or not … ” (49)
Then the biography goes on to say:
“With some holy seals he may have thought of his people at home with a sad heart and asked himself: Why don’t you, my four girls and two boys stand with their mother in front of the altar to receive the Holy Spirit through the apostle and children of God to become?” (50)
Here we find a personal tragedy in his life – albeit in sharp contradiction to the content of the Chief Apostle’s speech cited above.
What was the character of the man who founded the New Apostolic Chief Apostolate? He is widely praised and raved about by the New Apostolics, and he is judged very negatively by the critics when it comes to his person. The New Apostolic biography states: “Tall in stature, he not only possessed great physical strength, he was also a man who did not mince his words when it seemed necessary to him. His physical strength was only surpassed by his mental strength. How else would he have been able to endure and cope with all the struggles and hostility, even in his own family circle, the disappointments and setbacks and, last but not least, the many efforts associated with his office? Boldness and energy are qualities that also characterize his being. “ (51)
Similar hymns of praise can also be found in the “History of the New Apostolic Church”. There “his gifts and abilities, which far surpass all other apostles” are praised. “The overwhelming achievement of Chief Apostle Krebs made it possible to create the unity of the work. She was the cause [and now comes a lie; so] that he would be recognized by all without reservation as the visible head, as Chief Apostle. “ (52) From everyone except for the many excluded and resigned.
The judgment of the critic Kurt Hutten sounds different:
“He was organizational and managerial, but he was also domineering and violent. He and his followers did not like Geyer’s church-friendly attitude. Cancer would have loved to burn all black coats at the stake. ” And in connection with the Hamburg conflict described above, it says: “Geyer was accused (by Krebs and his followers) of preaching the community back to the regional church. Persecuted by a flood of abuse, he and his followers left the ‘desecrated place’, never to return to it. “ (53) Cancer was striving for power tenaciously and actually achieved his goals, in partnership with the small farmer Hermann Niehaus, his successor.
By the way, Hutten emphasizes that the New Apostolic Community was not actually born in 1863. The split under Geyer was not yet the New Apostolic Church, but the New Apostolic split emerged from it as the next stage. Actually, only with the Chief Apostolate arose what is understood today as the “New Apostolic Church” – then, “When Krebs had enforced his conception and broke with their opponents. To the exclusion of all other offices, the apostles were now assigned the exclusive power of mediation of salvation: ‘The living apostles are the gates to the kingdom of God’. “ (54) Krebs assumed the official title of “Chief Apostle” since 1896. In 1905, the year he died, he finally abolished the office of prophet.
In the obituary for cancer by his successor in office Niehaus, something of the glorification of humanity that is bestowed on the Chief Apostle becomes clear: “It is not so easy to get near the apostle sent by God; because he is not my colleague, not even my playmate, not even my brother – but my lord and master! I was always ashamed when I read in his letters to myself, where he calls himself ‘my brother’ and humbles himself to a miserable person … Weeping and pleading, Father Cancer stood before his God for us humans, and a hot blood stream of Christ poured out of his mouth … It was no longer a person who spoke, it could only be Christ, as Father Cancer also said at the Lord’s Supper: This is my flesh, because I have overcome the world, although I am still alive. “ (55)
Hermann Niehaus and the “New Apostolic Congregation”
Hermann Niehaus (65), Chief Apostle from 1905, was born as a small farmer’s son in Steinhagen near Bielefeld in 1848 and grew up in pietistic circles. According to his own statement, he had once experienced a “conversion” under Menkhoff’s announcement. However, he was then brought over to the New Apostolic camp together with Menkhoff.
At the age of nineteen he belonged to the small group of those who joined the New Apostolic Church under Menkhoff’s preaching. In 1868 the entire Niehaus family was sealed. Hermann Niehaus was called to evangelist in 1869, and to bishop in 1872, but at that time he did not accept this appointment because there was no work for him. There were still too few New Apostolics in this area for a bishop to be necessary. It was not until 1894 that he accepted the call to be bishop through cancer. In 1896 he became an apostle of the Bielefeld district and finally, after the death of Krebs in 1905, the second chief apostle – an office that he held until 1930. He died in 1932.
Under Niehaus’ leadership, there were more divisions than ever before. When he took office, he had already emphasized that the Rottengemeinschaften were at his “Thick fist and iron forehead will be shattered” . (57)
Niehaus undertook a new division of the Apostle districts, forced a generation change among the officials and moved the management to Steinhagen, his place of residence. Under his Chief Apostolate, this community increased by several thousand members every year. In 1907 the term “New Apostolic Congregation” was generally introduced. Before this name was only used in Saxony.
It was also Niehaus who arranged for the publication of a textbook in 1916 with the title “Questions and Answers about the New Apostolic Faith”. This has become a standard work that has been revised several times to this day. There is comparatively little literature by the New Apostolic, in contrast to the Catholic Apostolic. This textbook with over 200 questions and answers, a kind of catechism of the New Apostolic Church, is all the more important.
During the First World War there was a spectacular false prophecy by Niehaus. The office of the prophet had already been transferred to the office of apostle at that time. Niehaus was an ardent nationalist in World War I, like most Germans of that time. As such, he swore loyalty to God and the emperor. And in his visions and dreams the victory of Germany and the fall of England were “undoubtedly revealed” to him. As is well known, this did not happen. That is why, among other things, many disappointed people left after the war.
In 1917, an innovation was initiated in the war situation: three drops of wine were sprinkled on communion wafers and sent to the soldiers in the field, since wine was scarce and difficult to transport. Although the war situation no longer exists, this is still practiced today in New Apostolic assemblies. The Lord’s Supper is basically only served under one form (bread), but the second form (wine) is at least hinted at in the form of three drops that have already been added to the host in the factory. However, this does not correspond to the goblet word “drink from it all!”.
Niehaus died – as already mentioned – on August 23, 1932, but he had to resign from the office of chief apostle two and a half years earlier. What was the reason for this?
For the last two and a half years he has been mentally deranged. It probably began when he celebrated his 25th anniversary as Chief Apostle on a large scale on January 25, 1930. I will first quote the description of the events as Helmut Obst reproduces them:
“At the peak of his success, in the midst of the self-portrayal of his high sense of mission, he was hit by a hard blow. He suffered an accident. The representation that Niehaus portrayed Christ in a spiritual theater play on the occasion of his 25th Chief Apostle anniversary and fell from a staircase is called false by the New Apostolic. “ (58)
Hutten also points out the uncertain research situation:
“There are contradicting representations about the end of Hermann Niehaus. According to the one, which comes from reliable sources, a stage play was performed in 1930 at the celebration of his 25th anniversary as Chief Apostle. There was a staircase on the stage, which should represent the connection between heaven and earth. Niehaus participated by playing the role of Christ and showing off his second coming. The accident occurred, probably as a result of a misstep. Niehaus suffered serious injuries and was therefore unable to continue his office and died in 1932. Hermann Niehaus Junior denied this representation in an affidavit dated May 7, 1968. His father never took part in a stage play, instead the 82-year-old fell on the stairs of his house on January 25, 1930. “ (59)
So we are faced with different information. However, it cannot be ruled out that the first version is correct, because Niehaus’ high sense of mission is also attested in New Apostolic literature:
“When he moved out of his relative, the widow N., he said to her as he parted: ‘You did not take me out of your house, but the Lord Jesus. Now your house will be left desolate. ‘”And“ these words should come true in the course of time, ”says a New Apostolic biography about Niehaus entitled“ The greatest among them ”. (60)
Songs from the New Apostolic hymn book from 1912 also make this clear. In song 509 it says in verse 1: “Yes, nowhere on earth do I feel so free from complaints as on the breast of Father Cancer, that was my heaven on earth.” And in verse 3: “None of us gets lost if we cling to the hand of his son Niehaus today. Heaven on earth will continue to bloom for us on this breast. “ (61)
These stanzas were later replaced by others. The personal names have been omitted. But during the Chief Apostle’s lifetime and immediately after their death, they were given superhuman admiration.
Johann Gottfried Bischoff and the return of Christ
Johann Gottfried Bischoff served as a for 30 years Chief Apostle , from 1930 to 1960. He was born in 1871 in Unter-Mossau in the Odenwald. His professions were shoemaker, sergeant and cigar dealer. In 1897 he had visited the New Apostolic Congregation in Mainz and was soon sealed. In 1903 he was bishop, in 1905 an apostle helper and in 1906 district apostle in Frankfurt / Main. Frankfurt was then also his seat until his death. In 1920 he became Chief Apostle Helper. In 1924 he was designated as his successor by Niehaus. In 1930, while the spiritually deranged and overturned Niehaus was still alive, he took over the leadership of the Chief Apostle. Even under his Chief Apostolate the New Apostolic Movement experienced a great expansion.
Bishop officiated during the Third Reich. And here it is noticeable that the New Apostolic Church – as it has called itself since 1930 – got through this entire period of dictatorship and the later GDR without major problems. Even today one hardly notices anything of the New Apostolic in public life. This is a group or sect that has really managed to practice its idea of salvation inwardly, in secret, withdrawn.
Bischoff, however, went beyond this measure by contacting the NSDAP, becoming a member of it and agreeing with it that members of the New Apostolic Church would only be accepted after the NSDAP had submitted a declaration of no objection to these persons. In addition, the New Apostolic magazine “Wächterstimme aus Zion” was “Aryanized” in 1934 by deleting the words “from Zion” from the title. And so you got through the brown dictatorship without major conflicts. In 1941, however, the New Apostolic magazines were discontinued anyway, but because of the war situation (lack of paper) and not because there were ideological conflicts with the National Socialist regime. (62)
After the war, Bischoff linked the question of the timing of the second coming of Christ with his personal existence. In his early days he still refused to calculate return dates. He had stated in the “Guardian Voice from Zion” of May 1, 1932:
“Now, however, we do not want to fall into the mistake of many spirits practicing worship in worrying about when this time will be. Although the Lord Jesus said, according to Acts 1: 7, ‘It is your own not to know the time or hour which the Father has reserved for his power’, yet many try in their presumptuousness to determine the day and hour of Christ’s return. Everyone who has dealt with it has so far had to experience a shameful disappointment. The main thing for the children of God is not to know when the Lord is coming, but much more valuable is that we belong to Christ when he comes and that we are among those who are allowed to hear the great voice: Come on! “ (63)
One can fully agree with this attitude of the early bishop from a biblical-theological point of view. In his later years, however, it turned 180 degrees. Indeed – triggered by so-called visions and dreams of church members and ministers as well as by personal experiences – the view of the imminent return of Jesus Christ was increasingly strengthened in him.
His impending change of mind was already apparent in an article from 1939. And then this view increased more and more. In 1947 he said in Dinslaken: “I’m not telling you too much when I mention that we have various brothers and sisters, even ministers, who have already received the Lord’s promise that they will no longer die, but will be changed.” (64) At that time, he still applied the fulfillment to various officials.
But in 1950 he began to focus on his own person in view of the return of Christ. In this regard, the church service on Christmas 1951 in Gießen became widely known because it expressed its point of view there. And since Bischoff was already 80 years old at the time, this immediate expectation was particularly explosive, because he said that this expectation should not be extended to decades or even centuries, i.e. not postponed to the “never-a-day”. “That is not God’s purpose. … We do not know the day and hour when the Lord is coming, ”he emphasized here too. But in his subsequent remarks he blatantly ignored this biblical warning. Bischoff said in Giessen:
“But I am personally convinced that the preparation of the royal priesthood will take place in the time in which I am still present, and that the work of the Kingdom of God in the Lord’s vineyard will come to an end with me, so that the end of the day comes when wages are paid. The sign of this is that the Lord appears in my time and completes his work. … For me it is certain that, as stated, the time for the preparation of the royal priesthood will be completed under my hand and that the work of the Kingdom of God in the Lord’s vineyards will also come to an end with my end … Abraham was the first to God Gave revelations. He was the first gate through which the Lord gave the blessing. I stand as the gate of midnight … Whether someone believes it or not changes the fact absolutely nothing. “ (65)
And further: “I’m the last one, nobody comes after me. So it is in the counsel of our God, so it is determined, and so the Lord will confirm it. And as a sign you should have this that the Lord comes in my time to take his own. “ (66)
This was repeated by Bischoff in almost every speech thereafter – over the years. In doing so, he put considerable pressure on his followers. So he said three years later (he was already 83 years old!) On September 12, 1954, at a church service in Stuttgart: “I am aware that if I were to die – which will not be the case – then God’s work would be destroyed. … If I actually went home, which will not happen, then the work of redemption would be done. “ (67)
But not all New Apostolics recognized this message. The Düsseldorf apostle Peter Kuhlen became the spokesman for the opposition. This was originally unanimously determined by the Apostles College in 1948 to become Bischoff’s successor after his death. But after it was said that Bischoff would have no more successor because he would not die before the Lord came, Kuhlen resigned from his office. This resignation and the subsequent disputes caused a great uprising in the Ruhr area, especially in Düsseldorf and the surrounding area.
In 1954, Kuhlen publicly opposed Bischoff’s plan, who wanted to make the sealing and acceptance into the New Apostolic Church dependent on the recognition of the “message”, as Bischoff’s self-statements were called at the time. Kuhlen and two other apostles, Siegfried Dehmel and Ernst Dunkmann, demanded that the acceptance or rejection of this “message” should be made a matter of one’s own free choice and not that admission into the congregation should be made dependent on it. So it should be individually decidable. This request was rejected.
In the New Apostolic biography of the Bischoff successor Walter Schmidt, the following is stated about Kuhlen and the other “deviants”:
“But the brothers and sisters in his district, who until 1955 saw Peter Kuhlen as their apostle, who certainly loved him, believed and trusted him, could not have foreseen at that time that he would no longer be the faithful successor to his predecessor. Of course, Chief Apostle Bischoff was aware of these efforts. Almost all of the apostles – with the exceptions mentioned above – stood loyal to him and did not fail to give warnings. But the Chief Apostle only said: ‘This is an ulcer that we have to let out.’ … It hurts very, very much. “ (68)
And the “ulcer” was “blown out”. In 1954, the conditions in a number of communities in the Düsseldorf district had become so bad that after the internal separation, the external one was also carried out. New heads, district offices and bishops were needed for the Düsseldorf district, but it took time for them to mature. About 25,000 New Apostolics resigned! This was the largest split that had ever occurred. However, all the assets of the congregations remained with the New Apostolic Church. Those who left had to build new buildings for themselves, even though they had previously financed everything with their donations. It always works like this when there is a split. The property remains under the leadership of the Chief Apostle.
Finally, in 1960, Bischoff died at the age of 89. And even in the month before his death, District Apostle Walter Schmidt said: “But the promise remains: ‘The Lord comes in your lifetime.'” And Bischoff replied: “Yes, that is certain!” (69)
Walter Schmidt became his successor. And he wrote in a letter after Bischoff’s death:
“Neither he, nor we, and all brothers and sisters loyal to him, have never doubted that the Lord would fulfill the promise given to him in due course. We therefore stand before the unfathomable counsel of our God and wonder why he has changed his will. The Chief Apostle … cannot have been wrong because he always made the word of the Lord the guideline for his actions. “ (70)
So it was up to God and not the Chief Apostle that this “message” turned out to be an error. So the facts were twisted.
And what did Schmidt offer? “We are silent and go our way.” (71) Discussions were banned. Surprisingly, not so many left after this disappointment, because most of those who did not agree with the “message” of the bishop had already left the New Apostolic Church before his death. The others were obviously ready to follow the path with Bischoff to the bitter end.
After the memorial service for Bischoff, an apostle meeting was quickly arranged in which Schmidt was elected Chief Apostle, since Bischoff had not appointed a successor.
Schmidt based his introductory sermon on the words 2 Peter 3, 3-6, in which the mockers are spoken of, who say: “Where is the promise of his coming?” Schmidt emphasized: “We too now have an hour over which the Lord has put the veil of mourning.” For this hour of mourning he even claimed the call of Jesus on the cross: “My god, my god, why did you leave me?”
In his comparison of the deceased Chief Apostle with Jesus Christ, Schmidt approached blasphemy when he said: “The Chief Apostle was the caller until his Gethsemane night. We have now come to a Gethsemane night that the Chief Apostle also had to go through. He preceded us and the question may be asked: ‘Why didn’t he take us with him?’ … We are reminded of Abraham. When he was at the height of his faith, the Lord came to him and said, ‘Sacrifice your son!’ In other words that meant: (And now comes an allegory 🙂 Sacrifice the promise made to you! ‘” (72)
The twisting of facts reached its climax when Schmidt exclaimed:
“The Chief Apostle who has gone home led us to the highest level of faith in a wonderful way, through what the Lord had promised him. That was our faith until the moment when he, the Chief Apostle, closed his eyes. I’m a witness because I was with him on Tuesday. When we said goodbye, he was mentally and emotionally very fresh. I said goodbye to him with the words: ‘Dear Chief Apostle, the promise remains, the Lord will come in your lifetime.’ Then he looked at me again for the last time, and his eyes shone: ‘Yes, that is certain.’ The apostles and I are not ashamed that we have faithfully carried this promise out into all the earth. “ (73)
The further development of the New Apostolic Church
Walter Schmidt served as Chief Apostle from 1960 to 1975. He died in 1981 at the age of 89. His successors in the Chief Apostle ministry were: Ernst Fahrtisen (1975-1978), Hans Urwyler (1978-1988), Richard Fehr (since 1988). The last three are Swiss. Among them, the story ran in a quieter course, even if there were repeated opposition, resignations and divisions (e.g. in 1988 by the apostle HG Rockenfelder, who tried in vain to reintroduce the prophetic-charismatic element of the early days; he founded the “Apostolic Congregation”) . But all in all, the New Apostolic Church experienced further growth and expansion to most of the world’s countries after Bischoff’s death. In Germany it has a larger number of members (approx. 400,000) than all traditional free churches combined.
Questions from the history of the New Apostolic Church
The history of the New Apostolic Church and its “predecessor churches” is a history of gifts and spiritual awakenings, of office and authority, but also of struggles and rivalries, of false prophecy and divisions. When viewed in context, a number of questions arise, such as: B .:
- Was the spirit of God really at work during the new beginnings and spectacular apparitions in the 19th century – or was it a false, demonic spirit?
- How are the predictions to be classified in this context – from the Albury circle to JG Bischoff – which almost all of them did not come true? – Read Deuteronomy 18:22!
- Which of the mentioned and non-mentioned groups, which are all in conflict with one another, represented or represents the “true Apostolic Church”: the Catholic Apostolic Church, the General Christian Apostolic Mission, the New Apostolic Church, one of the many apostolic splinter groups – or none of these all?
- Is the Holy Spirit really bound to an office such as that of the Chief Apostle? – Read Joh. 3.8!
More important than any of these questions, however, is the following fundamental question:
- Has the Bible really proclaimed the appearance of new apostles for our time – or is this a misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures, combined with human wishful thinking and striving for power?
1) On the subject of “baptism for the dead” and “acts of the dead” in general, the same applies that was stated in this series in the volume “Mormons”: Here the danger of spiritualism lurks (cf. Deuteronomy 18: 9 ff.)
2) “Similar in type and scope to my already published work: Jehovah’s Witnesses. History, teaching, assessment, Hänssler-Verlag: Neuhausen-Stuttgart 1996; 2nd edition Holzgerlingen 2000; 344 pages.”
3) “Cf. on the following from a Catholic-apostolic point of view: Albrecht 1892; Carlyle 1850; Drummond 1908; Edel 1971; Rothe 1872; Thiersch 1980; Woodhouse 1863 and 1901; and above all Roßteuscher 1886. From a New Apostolic point of view: history; historical Review; 100 years; Menkhoff 1869; New Acts of the Apostles; Salus 1913. Critical: Dallimore 1983; Obst 1990; Schröter 1996; Strachan 1988; Weber 1977. “
4) History, p. 17.
5) cit. after: Ev. Church newspaper, Berlin 1864, Sp. 283.
6) Cf. Ev. Church newspaper, Berlin 1864, No. 24, title page.
7) “Cf. more on this: Dallimore 1983; Strachan 1988. “
8) cit. after: Ev. Church newspaper, 1864, Sp. 285 f.
9) Ibid., Col. 286.
10) cit. after: Ev. Church newspaper, 1864, No. 25, title page.
13) cit. after: New Acts of the Apostles, p. 84.
14) Ev. Church newspaper, 1864, Sp. 291.
15) Weber 1977, p. XVI.
16) cit. according to: Weber 1977, p. 10.
17) Roßteuscher 1886, p. 346.
18) Ibid., P. 346 f.
19) cit. based on: Weber 1977, p. 26.
20) cit. according to: Roßteuscher 1886, supplement, p. 82. 87.
21) See above all on the following: Schröter 1996.
22) New Acts of the Apostles, p. 166.
23) Ibid., P. 167.
24) History, older edition, p. 51.
25) Woodhouse 1863, p. 11.
26) Schröter 1996, p. 161 f.
27) See ibid., P. 162 ff.
28) See ibid., P. 165.
29) cit. after: Obst 1990, p. 55.
30) 100 years, p. 346.
31) Schröter 1996, p. 174 f.
32) Friedrich Krebs, p. 31.
33) Fritz Krebs, p. 47 f.
34) Ibid., P. 49.
35) Printed in: New Acts of the Apostles, p. 184 ff.
36) Ibid., P. 185.
37) Ibid., P. 186.
39) Ibid., P. 186 f.
40) For the following, see especially his biography.
41) Fritz Krebs, p. 78. 80.
42) Ibid., P. 83.
43) Ibid., P. 86.
44) Obst 1990, p. 69.
45) Hutten 1997, p. 432.
46) Fritz Krebs, p. 94 f.
47) Hermann Niehaus, p. 60.
48) Fritz Krebs, p. 32.
51) Ibid., P: 25.
53) History, older version, p. 63.
53) Hutten 1968, p. 634.
54) Ibid., P. 635.
55) Ibid., P. 637 f.
56) See above all his biography on the following.
57) Handtmann 1907, p. 26 f.
58) Obst 1990, p. 78.
59) Hutten 1968, p. 638.
60) The Greatest, 1928, p. 59.
61) cit. according to: Hutten 1997, p. 476 f.
62) “Cf. on the behavior of the New Apostolic Church and its leadership in the Third Reich: König / Marschall 1994; Obst 1996, p. 50 ff. “
63) cit. after: Obst 1990, p. 81.
64) cit. according to: Obst, ibid.
65) Quoted from: Obst, ibid., P. 82.
68) Walter Schmidt, p. 64.
69) “See historical review, 1975, p. 14; see below.”
70) cit. after: Obst 1990, p. 85.
72) Walter Schmidt, p. 70 ff.
73) Ibid., P. 73.