"Why I Am Not A New Apostolic". An essay by David N. Stamos.

[The following are excerpts from an essay written in the late 1980's
by a former member of the New Apostolic Church. (Remark RF)]

"... I offer my own autobiographical piece concerning my break from my
inherited church, a church I'm sure few readers will have heard of, and
fewer still actually know of, the New Apostolic Church.
Since the church is so little known to the general reading public I feel
it is incumbent upon me to provide some prefatory remarks on the nature
and constitution of this church. The New Apostolic Church is one of the
many sects that may be grouped under the general heading of Protestantism,
although New Apostolics will never acknowledge this. It is a worldwide
church, established in over a hundred countries, and is centered in Ger-
many. Its total world membership is between one and two million."

[Again, please bear in mind that this was written in the late 1980's.
Of course the membership nowadays is around 9.5 million and the church is
now centered in Africa. (Remark RF)]

"... New Apostolics are extermely millenarian. They firmly believe we live
in the end time and that Christ's glorious return is imminent. The only
thing holding back this event is that the last soul comprising the elect
144,000 firstlings has not yet been found and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
When that happens the firstlings, also known as the Bride of Christ (who,
incidentally, will be taken only from the ranks of the New Apostolics),
will be resurrected into heaven for the wedding feast while the horror
that is Armageddon will commence on earth for three years, resulting in
the death of approximately one-third the world's population. New Apostolics
not virtuous enough to have made it as firstlings will be saved the horrors
of Armageddon by being divinely transported into a safe place in a desert.
After Armageddon, during the Thousand Years of Peace, the 144,000 first-
lings will rule the world as a theocracy of kings and priests.
The firstlings, incidentally, will not all come from living New Apostolics.
Many will come from the ranks of departed New Apostolics. Indeed some souls
may become New Apostolic while in the realm of the departed. The most inter-
esting (and, now that I think about it, laughable) example is that of Abra-
ham Lincoln. During a service for the departed ones, maybe fifteen or twen-
ty years ago, a sister had a vision in which she saw Abraham Lincoln being
sealed by an apostle. The vision was quickly authenticated an it became
widely accepted throughout the church that Abraham Lincoln is now a fellow
New Apostolic."

[Well, if you ever are depressed and need a good laugh, you
know now that you can find it on this page. (Remark RF)]

"Into this church I was born. And into this church I invested the first
twenty-six years of my life. My mother's side was completely New Apostolic,
my father's side non-practicing Greek Orthodox. My father allowed my mother
to raise me and my older sister with the beliefs and practices of the church.
On Sundays my mother would take us to church in the morning and again in the
afternoon. My father would spend the day trapshooting and drinking beer."

"Though I toed the line as a youth, there was predominantly one area in
which I deviated. At the age of sixteen I got into bodybuilding, which I
have continued with much dedication up to the present day. Naturally the
church frowned upon it, but my original purpose was not to enter competition
or any self-glorification. Early as a child I had contracted chronic asthma
which persisted throughout my youth. When I was fifteen I had heard that
working out with weights was very beneficial in reducing or even eliminating
asthma. And so I shorthly afterward got into it, my original motivation re-
ceding into the background as the years went on, as I increasingly learned
of the many benefits to be derived from bodybuilding."

"... All along we were taught, for instance, that 'we are in this world but
not of this world,' that we are a different species from the rest of this
world, that only New Apostolics are children of God, the rest are children
of Satan. We were taught, moreover, to despise and devalue the things of
this world, and that the meaning of life is afterlife. Indeed we were given
a tremendously inflated and false sense of importance. Perhaps the most
laughable example of this is that we were taught that a sub-deacon, the
lowest rung on the hierarchical ladder, has a more important office than
tha Catholic pope, because the pope does not belong to the true church
and we do. It has been eight years now since I alone tore myself away
from this church. And is has been a constant fight ever since to purge
from myself the vestiges of this psycholgy, the feeling of distance from
my fellow man and the residual instinct that I am a superior creature
compared to the rest of mankind."

"But this is all with hindsight. At the time, when I was still a believing
part of the church, I was unaware of the harm that was being done to me.
I truly believed and was happy, in spite of all the sacrifices I had to
endure. Moreover I was becoming an integral part of the particular con-
gregation to which I belonged. At sixteen I was made the assistant-
organist; at eighteen the organist and assistant choir leader. I was
also made a sub-deacon at roughly the same time. Often during Wednesday
night services and Sunday afternoon services I would be called upon to
serve five minutes behind the altar."

"In looking back now, however, I can honestly say the only thing I miss is
playing the organ. I loved being organist. I loved playing services, wed-
dings, and funerals. I loved it and I loved the compliments. I especially
remember an apostle telling me once that what I did was more important
than preaching. I put everything I had into it and they adored it. Indeed
the only reason I did not pursue music as a career was because I deeply
feared that such a pursuit might destroy my love for it, and I didn't
want to lose that love. I especially loved before and after the services.
People would come in an hour early just to hear me practice Bach or
Mendelssohn or Rheinberger. And before the service I would play the most
elegant and appropriate pieces and arrangements, sometimes my own extem-
porizations. And when the service was over I would end with a flourish
piece, usually Bach. The zenith of this career was when, at the age of
twenty, I was first permitted to play an organ solo in the Christmas
concert on the massive pipe organ in the central cathedral in Kitchener.
I played Bach's most famous piece, his 'Toccata' from Toccata and Fugue
in D Minor. I'll never forget the feeling I had as I played the last
chord, having just played the piece flawlessly, and having blown every-
one's mind, including the district apostle. I'll also never forget acci-
dentally hitting the lowest note on the keyboard during the opening
prayer in a district service. And indeed I'll never forget the last time
I played the organ in church. I knew it would be my last time and I
played Bach's 'St. Anne Fugue'."

"In September 1977 I began undergraduate studies at York University in
Toronto. Because I was late with a correspondence math course to complete
my grade 13, i was late in applying and then registering at York. When I
finally did register, most of the courses I wanted were filled up. So
my advisor suggested I take a literary course on the classical world.
He said, "You're Greek; you might like it.' I hemmed and hawed a bit.
I wasn't interested in the subject and didn't like a lot of reading.
Nevertheless I gave in and took the course. And I loved it! The first
philosopher we took was Plato, reading his Apology. I immediately
fell in love with psychology and Plato and was very active in the semi-
nars. And, interestingly, I naturally tried to harmonize Platonic teach-
ings with my church's teachings. I saw no inherent contradictions."

"It was in one of these subsequent philosophy courses that I came across
a book that was to spark a profound change in my life. One of the required
texts was Walter Kaufmann's Critique of Religion and Philosophy. While
reading this book I came across a passage wherein Kaufmann mentions Albert
Schweitzer's thesis that in the Gospels Jesus predicts that the end-time
including his glorious Return will occur before the end of the generation
around him. And when I read that I was stunned! It totally contradicted
one of my church's most central teachings. Indeed I had never heard or
read anything like it before. And yet I couldn't dismiss it offhand. Its
connection with Albert Schweitzer made this difficult, since I had already
grown to tremendously respect the man for his work on Bach and for his
humanitarian work."

"It was not after I had finished my B.A., however, during a long stint
of unemplyment, that I began my research into the matter. For the first
time in my life I actually read the New Testament. Hitherto, as with most
Christians, I had relied on what was taught in church. And I couldn't have
been more shocked! Not only did Kaufmann's book prove correct, not only
did Schweitzer's thesis seem clearly vindicated, but I discovered so many
more problems connected with the New Testament, not only internal contra-
dictions but also majot external ones, contradictions between what my
church had always taught me and what was taught in the Bible. And here my
church was teaching as it always had, not only that the Bible is God's
true and holy Word, but also that only the New Apostolic Church is truly
based on the Bible!"

"Why I waited six months before I quit the church was a matter of timing.
For one thing I wanted to give God, if He existed, a chance to get me off
the wrong track, even to push Him into giving me a miracle. Second, I wan-
ted to wait until my mother had her holidays; I knew that my apostasy would
be very traumatic for her.
My final church service was Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1983. I knew it would
be my last. I had planned it that way.
Also, two days previously, on Friday, I had mailed out eight copies of a
letter I wrote to the clergy. In this three-page, tightly knit letter I out-
lined all the problems I had with church teaching and why I was leaving. I
cited many Bible contradictions. I pointed out the major discrepancy concer-
ning the Second Coming of Christ. I pointed out Jesus' teachings on money
and material possessions and how these contradicted most New Apostolics,
especially our leader for North America, District Apostle Michael Kraus, a
millionaire many times over, the founder and president of Kraus Carpet Mills.
These I pointed out and many more. And I challenged them, since they suppo-
sedly had a monopoly on truth, being official bearers of the Holy Spirit,
to answer my questions. And I told them that if they could answer my ques-
tions to my satisfaction, in writing, then I would return to the fold, and
if not, then they would never see me again.
These eight letters I mailed to a good cross-section of the clergy, all of
whom knew me, some very well. The list included Michael Kraus, the top man
in North America, two apostles, one bishop, one evangelist, two priests,
and a fellow sub-deacon who was my best friend.
Of these eight letters I received only three replies, one from an apostle,
one from a priest, and one from the sub-deacon, my best friend. Each of
these letters ignored my arguments and only tried to make me feel foolish
and stupid. 'Woe to those on the wrong side of the fence,' wrote one. To
the first two I replied that this was not good enough, that I wanted ans-
wers to my questions, and in writing. The third letter was followed up by
a personal visit, in which we stayed up all night discussing these issues,
but to no avail. Filled with the Holy Spirit, my friend, with tears in his
eyes, in the end could not answer my questions. Finally, to my two replies
to the apostle and the priest, only one replied, the apostle. He said he
could see that they've lost me to the world's philosophies but that their
door would be always open to me (until the end-time, of course)."

[The essay by Mr. Stamos is published in:
Babinski, Edward T. - Leaving the fold: testimonies of former fundamentalists.
ISBN 0-87975-907-0
Published 1995 by Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197

This book contains some thirty essays by persons who managed to throw
off their fundamentalist beliefs and wrestled themselves FREE.
Mr. Stamos' essay takes 10 pages (337-347) in this book. (Remark RF)]

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