PO Box 44477
South Africa

6 January 1999

Peter Johanning
Media Secretary
New Apostolic Church International
c/o Verlag Friedrich Bischoff GmbH
Gutleutstrasse 298
D-60327 Frankfurt am Main

Fax: +49 69 2696 205

Dear Mr Johanning

I am writing in response to your Internet homepage at http://www.nak.org/. Your homepage is
prefaced with the invitation to the reader to "form [his or her] own opinion". As a former New
Apostolic I find the information presented on your homepage to be both incomplete and inaccurate.
As a result I think that it would be unfair to expect an outsider to form a proper opinion on such

I was born into the New Apostolic Church in 1969. My personal journey led me out of the Church in
1991. At that stage I was active in the Church as a Subdeacon and had performed various functions
in the choir, in work with youth and in religious instruction for children.

My letter is not motivated by any ill feeling towards you. I write to you with the sincere wish that you
will consider my letter with an open mind in order to form your own opinion on matters which I
assume are very close to your heart. I hope that you will amend your homepage accordingly. If you
decide not to do so I would appreciate it if you would nevertheless be so kind as to reply to the
points that I raise in this letter.

Three Sacraments -- Three Acts of Blessing

At no point do you indicate to the readers of your homepage that you use exclusively the King
James' Version of the Bible in English as translated in 1611. You may be unaware that since then
there have been many advances in the understanding of the original languages in which the books
of the Bible were written. New and older documents have also been discovered which have shed
light on the meaning of the text of the Bible. Some of those documents are more than a thousand
years older than the manuscripts on which the King James' Version is based and thus closer to the
originals. I would refer you here to any good guide to the Bible.

With the above in mind I want to draw your attention to 1 John 5:8 which you use as justification for
your three sacraments. We now know that this text was inserted into the Bible sometime in the
sixteenth century. It does not appear in any of the older manuscripts which have become available.
The foundation for your doctrine in this matter is thus very shaky.

I find your section on Holy Communion particularly sketchy. When I tried to understand your
doctrine on this sacrament I found contradictory statements in your literature.

In one of your documents you state that "By the power of the Holy Spirit, bread and wine effectively
become the body and blood of Christ."(1) In the same document where this claim is made you also
state that "The wafer of unleavened bread symbolises the body of Christ."(2) In Questions and
Answers Concerning the New Apostolic Faith (1995: Question and Answer 212) you also offer a
third view: "Bread and wine are not materially changed by the consecration, but in a spiritual context
they have become that to which they have been consecrated: The body and blood of Jesus."

Christianity makes a clear distinction between these positions: the first doctrine is accepted by, for
example, the Roman Catholic Church and is referred to as "transubstantiation", while the second
and third doctrines are prevalent among Protestant denominations. Clearly all three doctrines
cannot co-exist in one denomination. Either it is accepted that the bread and wine actually become
the body and blood of Christ or it is accepted that the bread and wine are symbols of the body and
blood of Christ.

You do not explain how the Holy Communion relates to your understanding of the forgiveness of
sins. In Supplementary Guide for Office Bearers of the Cape Apostle District (1988: 18) you state
that the "Holy Communion is furthermore a fountain of power to overcome one's own weaknesses
and sin." Central to the celebration of Holy Communion therefore is the forgiveness of sins or the

Your section on Holy Sealing does not appeal to any biblical texts to substantiate your claim that "the
first Christians in the early church were sealed with the Holy Spirit by the prayers and the laying on
of hands of the Apostles." In fact, there are several references in the Bible to cases where the Holy
Spirit was received without "the prayers and the laying on of hands of the Apostles".

For example, Acts 4: 31 states that "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they
were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of
God with boldness." The conversion of Cornelius is recounted in Acts 10. In Acts 10: 44 it states
that "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."
There is no reference to the laying on of hands. Furthermore, the members of the household of
Cornelius were baptised after receiving the Holy Spirit (verse 48) and not before as you insist the
order should be.

Decentralised Structures and Duties of Ministries

It would help if you would explain what you mean when you state that the Richard Fehr's position
can be "compared to the one Peter had 2,000 years ago in the circle of the Apostles." You also
make no reference to the historical background to the creation of the position of Chief Apostle in
your Church.

Your sources, which I have consulted, disagree over the date of the establishment of the office of
the Chief Apostle. What they agree on is that it occurred after the death of two senior Apostles who
led the rebellion against the Catholic Apostolic Church's Apostles: Friedrich Schwarz and Friedrich
Menkhoff. Either on Pentecost 1897 or sometime in 1896, Friedrich Krebs assumed absolute
authority in what was to become the New Apostolic Church, as Chief Apostle.(3)

You do not mention that all the Chief Apostles have been German-speaking European men and you
do not explain why God has chosen this particular group to have exclusive rights to this position.
The 1967 version of Questions and Answers Concerning the New Apostolic Faith (Question and
Answer 240) states that "the Chief Apostle serves until the Lord calls him into eternity." Three Chief
Apostles have chosen to disobey this rule: Hermann Niehaus (who retired in 1930), Walter Schmidt
(who retired in 1975), and Hans Urwyler (who retired in 1988). Thus on three occasions, between
1930 and 1932, between 1975 and 1981, and between 1988 and 1994, two Chief Apostles were
alive at the same time. In addition, there were periods where there were no Chief Apostles: after
the death of Johann Bischoff (6 July 1960 till Walter Schmidt assumed office on 10 July 1960); and
after the retirement of Walter Schmidt (from 15 February 1975 till Ernst Streckeisen assumed office
on 23 February 1975).

Your belief that Peter was the first Chief Apostle is based on an interpretation of Matthew 16: 18, 19.
The Roman Catholic Church appeals to the same text to support its claim that Peter was the first
Pope. In these verses Jesus is quoted as saying to Peter: "And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will
give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be
bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Contrary to your belief, the two words in verse 18, "Peter" and "rock" are not the same in the original
Greek. In the original Greek, "Peter" is "Petros" which means "stone" and "rock" is "petra". Thus
one cannot assume that Christ is referring to Peter as the basis of His Church. He is possibly
referring to Peter's testimony in verse 16: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." But even
if this verse is a reference to the primacy of Peter in the early Church, there is no proof that he
assumed a position which was meant to be passed on to another apostle after his death. Certainly,
nothing in his words and actions after this encounter resemble that of a Chief Apostle as understood
by the New Apostolic Church.

The Peter that is revealed in the Bible does not compare to the New Apostolic view of its Chief
Apostle. He did not play a central role in the development of the Church outside Palestine and there
is no evidence that he supervised the work of the other apostles. Like all the apostles, Peter refused
adoration as is demonstrated in his encounter with Cornelius (Acts 10: 25, 26). This is in stark
contrast to the attitude of the New Apostolic Chief Apostle. As the other apostles, he preached
Christ and not himself. But above all, all indications are that Peter was equal to the other apostles.
Certainly Paul did not revere him in the way that the New Apostolic Apostles revere their Chief
Apostle. The event described in Galatians 2: 6 - 14, is a good example. Paul says unashamedly
that "... when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed"
(verse 11).

Furthermore, if Peter was in fact the leader of the apostles or the New Apostolic equivalent of a
Chief Apostle, one would have thought that he would have made a greater contribution to the New
Testament. In fact, he only contributed two letters to the New Testament. In the last 16 chapters of
Acts, Peter's name is mentioned twice and in 18 books of the New Testament his name is never
mentioned. This is in stark contrast to how the Chief Apostle dominates the contents of Our Family
and other New Apostolic literature.

The many descriptions that are used for the Chief Apostle include "shield", "living altar", "incarnation
of Christ", "representative of Christ" and "Saviour".(4) The powers that the Chief Apostle claims for
himself include the power to redeem living and dead people, and the power to make new
revelations. These descriptions and powers were never used of or claimed by any apostle in the
Bible -- including Peter.

You claim that the Apostles "provide global unity in church doctrine and in pastoral care". You fail to
mention that the New Apostolic Church has been dogged by dissension since its founding. Here I
find your omission of any history on the Church very revealing.

The enclosed document and chart illustrate the origins of the New Apostolic Church and the various
groups which split from it. You may want to bring some of this information to the attention of the
readers of your homepage. From these it should be clear that the New Apostolic Church was born
from a divisive group, was itself a splinter from that group and has continued to be haunted by splits.
There is no evidence of the "global unity" to which you refer.

Though the New Apostolic Church recognises the Apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church, the
reverse was not the case. In their letter to Francis Woodhouse, the leading dissidents of the
German congregations, Friedrich Menkhoff, Friedrich Krebs and Friedrich Niemeyer wrote, "... we
recognise you as an Apostle sent by Jesus. However, we also consider ourselves to be such

Of the 239 Apostles recognised by the New Apostolic Church, until 30 June 1982, including the 12 of
the Catholic Apostolic Church, the 12 Albury Apostles never accepted the New Apostolic Church and
29 New Apostolic Apostles were excommunicated or resigned under duress or simply disappeared.
Since then many more Apostles have been excommunicated. A recent case is that of Tussi Balume
who was removed from office by the Chief Apostle sometime in 1996. Balume was ordained as an
Apostle in May 1985 and had worked in Zaire.(6)

Voluntary Donations and Working in an Honorary Capacity
You claim that the "New Apostolic Church is Politically Neutral". This is not true. You support the
government of every country in which you find yourself. This inevitably means that you side against
those political groups which are not in power. For you this has often meant opposing democracy
and supporting dictatorships. Historically your relationships with the governments in South Africa,
the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and Nazi Germany best demonstrate this.

My research and personal experience have led me to the conclusion that the New Apostolic Church
bases its political conservatism on the belief that we are living in the seventh and final period of

human history. In History of the New Apostolic Church (1975: 76) you say that "As far as we can
look back into the history of mankind we find that all nations, with very few exceptions, were ruled by
emperors, kings and princes ... This ancient order was destroyed towards the end of the 18th and
during the first half of the 19th century ... The seventh and last period of the Christian household, the
Laodicean Time, had commenced." You define Laodicea as "democracy, peoples' judgement,
peoples' righteousness."

Your opposition to democracy is confirmed in a letter of 22 March 1989 from District Apostle Michael
Kraus to every New Apostolic family in the United States and Canada where he says,

"The opposite of DEMOCRACY, which brought a mass confusion in our time, is AUTOCRACY.
We looked it up in the dictionary and there the word AUTOCRACY is described as THE
DIVINE WILL. This divine will reigns in the godly undertaking in our Church, and is protected
by our Chief Apostle to the highest degree, which we support with all our life ...

"The future Kings and Priests, while they go through their learning period and are scholars
here on earth on their way of life, ONLY HAVE TO OBEY AND DO WHAT THEY ARE TOLD,

Prior to 1990 in South Africa, your members were discouraged from any political activity. This was at
the time that popular opposition to apartheid had reached an advanced stage. However at the same
time, in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), the New Apostolic youth were
encouraged to be enthusiastic members of the Communist Party's, "Free German Youth". The
leaders of the group also publicly spoke in favour of the policies of the oppressive Communist Party
Until 1991, the text of the tenth article of the New Apostolic Creed stated that "I believe that the
government is the servant of God for our benefit; he who opposes the government opposes God,
because it is decreed by Him." This was changed to read "I believe that I am obliged to obey the
worldly authorities provided no godly laws are thereby transgressed."(8)

Another example of the New Apostolic Church's disreputable political allegiance was its relationship
with Adolf Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) regime. During a period that more than six million Jews
were killed and many confessing Christians murdered or exiled by the Nazis, the New Apostolic
Church overtly supported the State.

Timothy Stunt in his entry on the New Apostolic Church in The New International Dictionary of the
Christian Church (edited by JD Douglas, 1974) states that Johann Bischoff, the Chief Apostle, sent
messages of support to Hitler and claimed that Hitler was God's special emissary. When the Nazis
were seen to be gaining power, the New Apostolic Church sought to make contact with them.
Personal correspondence was conducted with Hitler. This was as early as 1932.(9)

When Hitler came to power in March 1933, Bischoff sent a letter to the German congregations
wherein he denounced criticism of Hitler's government as "atrocity propaganda". The letter was
followed by Sunday evening services, throughout Germany, based on Ecclesiasticus 10:1-5 (from
the Apocrypha). The German translation of these verses demonstrates more powerfully than the
English the political opinions of Bischoff. Ecclesiasticus 10: 1 reads: "Ein weiser Regent ist strenge;
und wo eine verstandige Obrigkeit ist, da gehet es ordentlich zu." ["A wise regent is strict; and
where there is a sensible government there is order."] These verses were obviously contrived so as
to be made applicable to Hitler. Verse 5 speaks of "einen loblichen Kanzler" ["a praiseworthy

At least 13 German Apostles were members of the Nazi Party. On 23 April 1933, the organisation's
leaders directed the congregations to excommunicate government opponents. New Apostolic youth
and women were encouraged to join the youth and women organisations of the Nazi Party. In 1933
alone, the New Apostolic Church contributed more than 121 500 Marks to the state. Individual
congregations also engaged in joint fund-raising efforts with elements of the Nazi Party such as the
brutal SA (Storm Troops). In response to its loyalty to the Nazis the New Apostolic Church was
exempted from all property taxes and most corporate levies.

Notable Omissions

There are several matters pertaining to the New Apostolic Church which you fail to mention in your
homepage. I have already referred to some. But there are many more important ones. Three that
come to mind are your understanding of the Second Coming of Christ, your belief that you are the
only true Church, and your teaching on the Services for the Departed. I am sure that you will agree
with me that these are key doctrines of your Church and that you owe it to the readers of your
homepage to introduce them to these doctrines.

The Second Coming of Christ: The Catholic Apostolic Church (forerunner of the New
Apostolic Church) set several dates for the Second Coming: 1835, 1838, 1842, 1845, 1855, 1866
and 1877. When all of these dates passed without incident, the view was propagated that the
Second Coming would precede the death of the last Apostle. The last Apostle (Francis Woodhouse)
died in 1901. In addition Edward Irving predicted that the Second Coming would occur in 1864.(10)

After the split from the Catholic Apostolic Church, two of the new Apostles, Friedrich Schwarz and
Friedrich Krebs, believed that the Second Coming would occur in their respective lifetimes.(11)

A key failed prophecy was that of Chief Apostle Johann Bischoff that Jesus Christ would come in his
lifetime. In History of the New Apostolic Church (1975: 119) you say that "On Christmas Day 1951,
in a solemn divine service at Giessen (Germany), the Chief Apostle proclaimed the Lord had made
known to him that He will return during his lifetime to take His own unto Himself."(12)

Johann Bischoff was already 80 years old when he made this prediction. His precise words were:
"Ich bin der Letzte und nach mir kommt keiner mehr. So steht es im Ratschluss unseres Gottess ...
Und zum Zeichen sollt ihr das haben, dass der Herr zu meiner Zeit kommt, um die Seinen zu sich zu
nehmen." [I am the last {Chief Apostle} and none will come after me. This is how it stands in the
counsel of God ... This will be the sign that the Lord will come in my lifetime to take His own unto
Himself.] His message was spread throughout the various Districts and often repeated. The belief
became doctrine, as the following statement from the New Apostolic Review of, as late as, February
1960 confirmed: "Our Chief Apostle leads the people of God as their last head."

In 1960, Johann Bischoff fell ill. He showed no signs of improvement despite lengthy medical
treatment. In a desperate final bid he consulted a New Apostolic doctor.(13) However on 6 July 1960,
he died. In a letter dated 7 July 1960, signed by 27 Apostles, the death of Bischoff was announced
to the ordinary members and other office-bearers. They stated, among others: "We all, with
conviction, believed and hoped that the Lord would according to the promise given to the Chief
Apostle, take His Own unto Himself during his lifetime. This was also the unswerving faith of the
Chief Apostle, of which he testified until his very last hour on this earth. He as well as we, and all the
Administration Brothers and members faithfully united with him, never doubted in the fact that the
Lord would fulfil the promise given to him at the appointed time. We are thus confronted with the
inscrutable counsel of our God and ask ourselves: `Why has He changed His will?`"(14)

You have never adequately explained this incident.

View of the Church: In Divine Promises and Their Fulfilment (1983: 18) you say of your
establishment, "The most significant event of recent date in a spiritual sense was the second
outpouring of the Holy Spirit together with the restoration of the Apostle ministry and the
establishment of the Apostolic Church of the last days." In the 1967 version of Questions and
Answers Concerning the New Apostolic Faith (Question and Answer 216) you assert that you
together with the "first Apostolic Church" constitute "the only Church of Christ, its members being the
people of God." and that the New Apostolic Church is, "in the spiritual sense, the direct continuation
of the first Apostolic Church." In the 1995 version of Questions and Answers Concerning the New
Apostolic Faith (Question and Answer 167) you state that you are "the re-established salvation-work
of God."

You claim a direct continuation between yourself and the early Church. This is despite the fact that
you assert that the Christian Church died with the demise of the last biblical apostle. Therefore, in
making this claim you have to deal with a gap of nearly eighteen hundred years between the death
of the last apostle of Jesus, and the apostolic claims of twelve Englishmen (from 1832 onwards) and
the creation of the New Apostolic Church between 1897 and 1907.

You falsely assert that you are the only group with living Apostles. The Mormons (Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints) have had living Apostles since at least 1830 (before the claims of the
Catholic Apostolic Church in 1832). Various groups, which broke away from both the New Apostolic
Church and the Mormons, have living Apostles. Other groups which have living Apostles are the
Universal Pentecostal Church, the African Gospel Church and many other Pentecostal churches.

Everyone outside the fold of the New Apostolic Church is referred to as being part of "the World".
For example, in Our Family (May 1978: 119) Apostle Knobloch is quoted to have said of Christianity:
"Babel is the symbol of immorality, corruption and extreme unbelief. That is why this ancient name
of Babylon stands for today's Christendom, as we read in Revelation, chapter eighteen." This is why
you are not involved in interdenominational or ecumenical activities. Ministers who marry outside the
New Apostolic Church are immediately released from their positions. Baptism in a Christian
denomination is considered invalid and must be ratified before adoption as a guest into the New
Apostolic Church.

Not attending services is considered a "great sin". "The greatest evil ... and the greatest sin which
cannot be forgiven either in this or in the future world" is said to be the dissociation of oneself from
the New Apostolic Church. In Questions and Answers Concerning the New Apostolic Faith (1995:
Question and Answer 225) you refer to this as "the falling away from the living faith." You therefore
claim that membership of the New Apostolic Church is essential for salvation.

Why do you hide this belief from the readers of your homepage?

Services for the Departed: You do not mention that you believe that "unsaved" dead people
can receive salvation through acts performed on their behalf by living people. Three times a year,
on the first Sundays of March, July and November, in services held throughout the world New
Apostolics are baptised and "sealed" on behalf of people who died not having been New Apostolic.
These services are known as "Services for the Departed." The acts of baptism and Holy Sealing
occur in these services, usually, conducted by the Chief Apostle and, throughout the world, by the
respective District Apostles. Dead people "are directed from other congregations" to attend these

Living members of the New Apostolic Church act as mediums for "unsaved" dead, in pleading for
salvation on their behalf, in believing on their behalf and in escorting them to the Services for the
Departed. New Apostolics must live "holy" lives in the week preceding the Service for the Departed.

The weeks preceding the Services for the Departed are characterised by superstitious fervour
among New Apostolics. Claims of visions and dreams of dead people seeking salvation are made.
A lot of pressure is placed on New Apostolics, especially young members, to have "experiences" that
involve dead people. On the Saturdays, prior to the Services, meetings are held where the youth
are encouraged to recount these experiences.

Services for the Departed were the invention of Johann Bischoff. However in Our Family Vol. 42 No
1 (5 January 1996) you claim that Friedrich Schwarz first dispensed Holy Sealing for dead people in
1870 and Holy Communion for dead people in 1886. In Word of Life (November 1961: 162) you say
that "The late Chief Apostle Bischoff for many years paid special attention to the souls of those who
have entered into the eternity, who had no previous connection with the mercy-seat, so that they too
may be offered grace and salvation." In December 1949, the first Sunday in November of each year
was set aside for the service. In June 1954, Chief Apostle Bischoff, instituted services on the first
Sunday in March, July and November each year.

On the Saturday prior to Service for the Departed, the Chief Apostle asks Jesus to open the prisons
where dead people are held captive. There is an interesting history to this practice which abounds
with contradictions and logical inconsistencies. Apostle Cecil van der Merwe is quoted in the
Minutes of a Rectors' Meeting for his area on 7 May 1990 to have said the following:

"On 4 November 1956 in Wiesbaden, Chief Apostle Bischoff for the first time opened
the realms in a special prayer: `In the name of Jesus the risen one I first of all open
the doors in yonder realms` ... From then on such a prayer was used by the chief
apostles to open the realms. Chief Apostle Urwyler decided to use this prayer on the
Saturday prior to the service for the departed ... On 3 March 1990 Chief Apostle Fehr,
in this continued development, clarified the difference between the key power to the
Kingdom of God (incumbent on the Chief Apostle) and the keys to all the realms (in
the hands of Jesus alone). On this occasion he prayed as follows: `... I pray thee,
Lord Jesus, to make use of Thy keys and to open the realms of all the souls which
shall be freed and led to the altar ... Now I have the commission of Jesus, my sender,
who gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven to the Chief Apostle to make use of
these keys. I hereby open up the doors to the House and Work of our God here and
in eternity ...`

Jesus alone - not the chief apostle - has the keys of hell and death ... Therefore it is
JESUS who opens the realms (prisons) in yonder world for the souls who are waiting
to be redeemed, and it is He who leads them to the place of help established on earth
in the chief apostle and apostle ministry. By virtue of his ministry the Chief Apostle
opens the door to the kingdom of God."

In the extract above Cecil van der Merwe contradicts himself by first claiming that Chief Apostle
Johann Bischoff could "open the doors in yonder realms" and then that "it is JESUS who opens the
realms (prisons) in yonder world". The claim that the Chief Apostle "opens the realms (prisons) in
yonder world" is also supported in Word of Life Vol. 1 No 19 (1 October 1960: 151) where it is said
that, "In those services which are set aside for the departed, the Chief Apostle, by virtue of his
authority which he received from the Lord, opens all the realms of the beyond, so that the souls who
found faith there, may come to the throne of grace."

It would be helpful if you would not only mention your belief in the Services for the Departed in your
homepage but would also clarify who has the "keys". Jesus or the Chief Apostle?

In Supplementary Guide for Office-Bearers of the Cape Apostle District (1991: 9) you say that "In
most cases when a person dies, the soul enters a realm in accordance with the Spirit served while in
the body here on earth." The dead person is thus believed to carry on as he or she did while on
earth. Furthermore, in Word of Life Vol. 1 No 19 (1 October 1960: 151) you state that "... In the
beyond, our Brothers and Sisters, are as active as we are on earth. They can freely move in all
realms, all the doors must be opened unto them because they come with the power of the Risen
One, who won victory over hell and death." The New Apostolic Church thus believes that dead New
Apostolics bring testimony of their faith to dead people who are not New Apostolic.

With regard to the "realms" where dead people are meant to exist, there is not much clarity either.
One would think that there must be several realms to accommodate the "servants" of any one of the
"Spirits" that the New Apostolic Church would care to identify. There is no biblical substantiation for
any of this.

Both the New Apostolic Church and the Mormons base this doctrine on an interpretation of 1
Corinthians 15: 29. This is a verse in the Bible which states: "Else what shall they do which are
baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptised for the dead?" This is
a text which is not easily explained. But surely one should not build a doctrine on one verse; one
should base it on a complete reading of the entire Bible.

Church history, what we know of the early Church, and other passages in the Bible do not support
the Mormon or New Apostolic practices pertaining to dead people. Certainly the parable of the Rich
Man and Lazarus, insofar as it provides insight into Jesus' views on the condition of the dead, is
instructive. The parable teaches us that everyone has one chance on earth; that there is no contact
between those who found salvation and those who did not (there is no movement between
"realms"), and that it is not possible for the dead to appear to the living.

The practice of baptising living people on behalf of dead people originated long after the death of
the biblical apostles. Marcion at around AD 150 introduced the practice. In An Introduction to the
History of the Kingdom of God (1970) you, like mainstream Christianity, identify Marcion as a heretic.
He arrived in Rome in AD 140. As late as the fifth century, Eznik, Bishop of Bagrevand in Armenia
recorded that the Eastern branch of the Marcionite church was baptising living people in place of
others who had died.(15)

The belief in Services for the Departed implies that people have endless opportunities for salvation.
This contradicts the Bible but also your own statements in this regard. For example, in House Rules
and the Creed for Members of the New Apostolic Church (1981: 1) you state that "As humans, we
live but once on earth. During this short period we determine our fates for all eternity." The point
that is made several times in your own literature is that we determine our eternal fates in our
lifetimes on earth. In Ons Familie Vol. 13, No 6, June 1961, p101 you say that "So ver dit die
ewigheid betref, is dit onmoontlik om te vergoed vir nalatighede wanneer ons hierdie wereld reeds
verlaat het." [Insofar as the eternity is concerned, it is impossible to compensate for negligence after
we have already left this world.] More importantly, the last sentence of an earlier version of the ninth
article of the New Apostolic Creed argues against your own doctrine: "... he [Jesus] will hold the
Last Judgement when all souls who did not take part in the first resurrection shall receive their part
according to their conduct during their lifetime, be it good or evil." This article has now, conveniently
and quietly, been edited to remove the words "during their lifetime". Why then the Services for the

There are two further questions that remain to be answered. First, if Jesus is the ultimate source of
salvation, why must he lead the dead people back to the Chief Apostle for salvation? In whose
hands are the world and the fate of all humanity? Secondly, if the Chief Apostle and Jesus have the
power to make salvation available to dead people, why do they choose to demonstrate their
compassion only three times a year?


I do not claim to have insights into any greater truths than you do. All that I can offer is my personal
experience as a guide. In 1991, I started a personal voyage of discovery out of the New Apostolic
Church. Till then that had been the only spiritual home which I had known. The acknowledgement
that I had been wrong and had taught other people those same errors brought with it a wonderful
sense of freedom. The words of Jesus, "and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free" (John 8: 32) come to mind.

To accept that one has been wrong about spiritual matters is not easy in a world as confusing as
ours. But we owe it to ourselves and to those who look to us for guidance to be honest and to act
with integrity. A useful starting point for me was to read the Bible anew, to study the history of
Christianity and the New Apostolic Church, and to evaluate the New Apostolic doctrines in the light
of these. I cannot predict where this will lead you but I can assure you that if you do this sincerely it
will not leave your life unchanged.

I would encourage you to read the story of a church with a past similar to the present New Apostolic
Church. The church is the Worldwide Church of God and their story can be found on the Internet at
http://www.wcg.org/. I know that only someone with the authority of the Chief Apostle can set in
motion similar initiatives in the New Apostolic Church. But I would encourage you as a person of
influence to begin the process.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Langtry

1) Confirmation Class Lessons 7 and 8, p18
2) Confirmation Class Lessons 7 and 8, p19
3) Alfred Krempf in his article, "120 Years New Apostolic Church" in Our Family Vol. 29 No 2
(February 1983) says Pentecost 1897 and History of the New Apostolic Church (1975) states
4) You can refer to the various issues of Our Family but these specific terms are used of the
Chief Apostle in the issues of March 1979, May 1978 and June 1981.
5) Alfred Krempf, 1983, "120 Years New Apostolic Church"
6) Our Family Vol. 42 No 1 (5 May 1996)
7) Arvan Gordon, 1990, "The Church and Change in the GDR" in Religion in Communist Lands
Vol. 18 No 2
8) Our Family, 5 August 1991
9) Other authorities to which you may want to refer are The German Churches Under Hitler
(1979) by EC Helmreich and The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in
Non-conformity (1982) by Christine King.
10) Einar Molland, 1959, Christendom and FW Werner, Die Dwaling van die Apostelsekte
11) Karl-Eugen Siegel, 1994, Die Botschaft des JG Bischoff
12) Quoted in Karl-Eugen Siegel, 1994, Die Botschaft des JG Bischoff. The details of the service
in which the prophecy was made was reported in the New Apostolic publication, Unsere
Familie (Nummer 5, 1952), pages 100 - 103. As late as 2 May 1995 the current Chief
Apostle, Richard Fehr, confirmed this event and added that Bischoff's prophecy was the
result of a personal revelation to him from Jesus Christ.
13) History of the New Apostolic Church (1975: 121)
14) New Apostolic Review Vol. 2 No 15 (1 August 1960)
15) N McLean, 1915, "Marcionism"

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