The Astrology Trainwreck Within the Church of God

[Updated: 25 Jan, 12:31]

Trainwreck in New York state, exact date unknown

13    You are weary from all your consultations;
let the astrologers stand up and save you,
those who gaze at the stars,
and predict what will happen to you at each new moon.
14    They are just like stubble;
the fire burns them.
They won’t save themselves from the powerful flames.
This is no warming ember or fire to sit beside.

~ Isa 47:13-14 (CEB)

I hope the past couple of weeks is not a harbinger of what 2014 will be like.  How many must jump the rails and wreck their salvation on ideas and philosophies that run counter to the Bible?  It is even more disturbing when such doctrine comes from normally reliable sources that once were trusted with ideas that were at least grounded in the Bible.

The picture that is often painted of Herbert W Armstrong is the voice crying out in the wilderness.  The comparison is to John the Baptist, crying out from a outlying area reflective of the spiritual state of confusion of Judea under Roman occupation.  I believe that is a rather apt analogy, for who knows what you may run into in a wilderness?  Some are even full of ravenous wolves.

Some would mock HWA, saying he got his ideas from other men.  The interesting thing is that God often does work through men, even when those men don’t intend it.  British Israelism was alive, albeit not doing all that well, before HWA came on the scene.  He was almost surely influenced also by JH Allen, author of Judah’s Scepter.  Some Seventh-Day Adventists kept the holy days and influenced some in the Church of God 7th Day to do the same.  How many today in God’s Church were called by God (Jn 6:44)?  And yet, were we or were we not brought in because of the teachings of a man?

The point is, we are influenced by others.  Sometimes, that influence is right and proper.  Sometimes, that influence has a lot to be desired.  Unfortunately, this tale is of the latter rather than the former.

EW Bullinger

Ethelbert William Bullinger, commentator of The Companion Bible

Many people in the various Churches of God use the The Companion Bible for study.  When I originally made the trip back to the Church, it was recommended by one website, and I have found it to be chock full of interesting study details.  In fact, that is one of its problems, for I have found that the commentary by EW Bullinger, who put the CB together, to be one of those who lose sight of the forest for the trees.  So, his observations are sometimes spot-on, but others of his observations are so wrong and even downright superstitious as to be head scratchers.

For example, he has an obvious preoccupation with numbers and patterns.  From time to time, I have quoted his explanation of numbers when the text warranted it, but there are times when he applies his understanding of numbers to given circumstances when it seems especially strange to do so.  Not only that, but I early on started cross-checking his interpretation of numbers because he sometimes gives a different explanation than some others do.

So, I take whatever he writes with a good deal of salt.  BTW, you should take everything that men write with a grain of salt, and that includes me, HWA, your minister and even yourself!  However, the exact measurements of salt may vary, so, as they say, season to taste.

One of the reasons I was up until 3 am the other morning was because I was pretty annoyed that someone was taking one of Bullinger’s stranger theories at face value, it seemed.  It saddened me, in fact, to the point that I really did not want to write anything that day at all.  However, I read, and when I say that, I mean I read a lot.  So, a little background on Dr Bullinger is in order.

Rapture Ready has an intro to some of the writings of “E. W. Bullinger” outside of the appendices to the Companion Bible, which is a short bio:

Ethelbert William Bullinger was born on December 15, 1837 in Canterbury, England. Educated at King’s College, London, he was noted broadly for three works: A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (1877); for his ground-breaking and exhaustive work on Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1898); and as the primary editor of The Companion Bible (published in 6 parts, beginning in 1909; The Archbishop of Canterbury granted him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1881 in recognition of his biblical scholarship.

My first reaction was surprise that his doctorate was honorary, given the volume of work he produced over the years.  My second was the question of why he was granted such a degree by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for I always thought he was a Methodist.  Turns out that I was close but not quite right, for he was an Anglican, according to the Wikipedia article on “E. W. Bullinger“.

But, and here is something else I did not know, he not only was a dispensationalist, he was an “ultradispensationalist“.  Not only that, but ultradispensationalism is often referred to as “Bullingerism“!  This view of the Church is so far off the beaten track that you would be hard pressed, I believe, to find anyone today who holds to such an extreme view.

I have previous written a 5 part series about “The Lie of Dispensationalism“.  Dispensationalism more or less states that God has quit working with Israel and now deals only with the Church.  Many back away from that more extreme view with a series of “ages”, “eras” or “dispensations” in which God changes the way He deals with humanity, including the Church and Israel, but the extreme ultradispensationist does not.  It actually gets even more extreme than that!  The Wikipedia article I linked to says:

Ultradispensationalists distinguish themselves with their belief that today’s Church is exclusively revealed in Paul’s later writings, in the so-called Prison Epistles. The Prison Epistles contain Paul’s presentation of “the mystery … Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:3-6). This mystery is identified as the Church, a mystery then unrevealed when he wrote his Acts-period epistles.

Pretty much, they teach that the dispensation dealing with the nation of Israel closes at the end of the Book of Acts, and Paul’s writings were distinctive from the rest and were to be used as a guide for the Church, or “spiritual Israel”.  You’ve heard of “red letter Christians” who look at only the red letters of the Bible as a guide for Christians?  Well, here we see the equivalent thing being done with the epistles of Paul!  This is pretty much the opposite tact of the modern “Nazarenes” who reject Paul as an antinomian heretic.

All these groups forget one important thing, though:

15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

2Pe 3:15-17

There are other errors that Bullinger pushed, however.  One notable one was that he believed in Archbishop James Ussher’s timeline, which was probably the original young earth creation model, although the CB annotation on Genesis 1:2 (“was = became“) indicates Bullinger most likely wasn’t one.  Of course, 2000 AD has come and gone, and so that timeline has proven to be false.

However, there are more troubling things that these.

Appendix 12: “The Stars Also”

Bullinger opens the twelth appendix of the CB with:

In the first mention of the heavenly bodies, the purpose of the Creator is clearly stated. Genesis 1:14-19 reveals the fact that they were created, not only “to divide the day from the night, and to give light upon the earth”; but, they were set “for SIGNS, and for SEASONS, and for days and years”.

We’ve all heard this before, so so far, so good.  If he had stopped there, all would be OK.  However, he does not, and it is obvious that he is getting off into the weeds quite quickly:

They are “for SIGNS”.

Hebrew ‘oth, from ‘athah, to come. Signs, therefore, of something or some One to come. Those who understand them are enlightened by them. Those who do not may well be “dismayed” (Jeremiah 10:2).

The stars are numbered and named. There are twelve signs of the Zodiac, called “the stars” Genesis 37:9 (eleven of which bowed down to Joseph’s, the twelfth). The word Zodiac means the degrees or steps, which mark the stages of the sun’s path through the heavens, corresponding with the twelve months.

This is Scripture twisting at its best!  Let’s look at the passage in Jeremiah:

10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

~ Jer 10:1-5

I included quite a bit here, just to ensure the context is clear.  Otherwise, the meaning just might get lost.  It should be clear that the key part of this passage is, “Learn not the way of the heathen“.  Examples are then given of being dismayed at the heavens and creating an idol from a tree.  Why would these be lumped together, lest the subject is worship of them?

So, the reasoning is that the heathen, that is the pagan nations surrounding Israel, are dismayed at the heavens, but Christians should not be dismayed at the heavens because they understand them from studying them?  Really?  And, the heathen do not study them?  Is that why astrology is so prevalent in a wide variety of societies throughout the world?

How about this tack?  Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I admit that the cutting down of a tree and decking it with silver and gold sounds an awful lot like a Christmas tree, but, I reason to you, it’s actually OK because I don’t worship trees.  Does that actually sound like a reasonable argument?  After all, that is the type of argument the world uses!

No, the cutting down of a tree and decorating it, whether or not it really looks like a Christmas tree, is wrong!  The gazing up at the sky to determine the future, even to supposedly see the plan of God in the sky, is wrong!

“To be dismayed” comes from Strong’s H2865, chathath, and it means “to be shattered, be dismayed, be broken, be abolished, be afraid“.

If you look for “dismayed” in a concordance, you often see “fear not, neither be dismayed” in several places.  In particular, God told this to Joshua (Jos 1:9).  There really is only one thing to fear, and that is God!

“Gospel in the Stars”

The Christian Research Institute actually has a really good article on the subject of “The ‘Gospel in the Stars’ Theory“.  It calls out Frances Rolleston as having formulated the theory and Dr Bullinger for giving it credibilty and popularity.  I’m not going to repeat all of their points, so I suggest giving it a read, but especially if you are being accosted with this “Gospel in the Stars” nonsense.

I’m only going to hone in on two particular points that are applicable in the situation I’ve caught wind of.

No Biblical Evidence

The most important is that there is no biblical evidence to support looking to the stars to try to decipher the plan of God.  It just does not exist.

What the Bible does say is:

  • That the heavenly bodies are signs, that is, they are “a distinguishing mark” (H226).  They mark off what?  The division between night and day, to mark “seasons”, to mark days and years (Ge 1:14, 18).
  • They were put into place to provide light (vv 15, 16).
  • They declare the glory of God (Ps 19:1-6).  There is no excuse to not believe in God after viewing the sky!

As I said before, Psalm 19 is often referred to as the “Psalm of Two Books”, because the beginning portion talks about the proof of God’s existence and creative power by His creation, and in particular the heavens.  The second part talks about His written word, that is, the Law, testimony, statutes and judgments (cf Ge 26:5).

People particularly take Psalm 19 out of context in order to force it to fit this theory.  Therefore, let’s look at the beginning portion of it:

19 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

~ Ps 19:1-6

V 1 tells you the intent.  All of God’s creation, after all, are for His glory and pleasure.  The vastness and greatness of it all attest to the greatness of the Creator.

Supposedly, v 3 refers to the global reach of the stars to tell their story, which, again supposedly, tells the plan of God.  Yet, there is absolutely no evidence in Scripture of this or even of any agreement of what that plan is.  In fact, most who promote this idea don’t even know the real plan of God!

In fact, if you think about it, some of the constellations were concocted from a northern hemisphere point of view.  So, what of the southern hemisphere?  If there is a story to be told, don’t they in the southern hemisphere deserve to know the story as well?

Speaking of Constellations

However, there is even a more physical reason to shake your head at this theory.  This should be one that everyone can understand: There is not a uniform set of constellations throughout the world.

Wikipedia says of “Astrology“:

Astrology consists of several systems of divination based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world.

I bolded the “several systems” above because it is relevant to the point.

Indeed, research into this has been somewhat interesting, as it ties into the various calendar systems.  Astrology might have started with either Babylon or Egypt, although there is no reason to believe that there wasn’t a lot of back and forth, even as cultures have an ebb and flow of cultural items today.  In either event, the Chaldeans were the ones to make it an entire system using charts and plotting planetary courses in the night skies, whereas Egypt’s was much more primitive (they eventually took the Babylonian constellation system and adapted it for themselves).

The Chinese calendar and zodiac are particularly interesting because one is very similar to familiar systems and the other is so completely different.  The Chinese begin their days at midnight.  The official calendar, the Han calendar, has undergone various changes through the centuries, not unlike other calendar systems.  However, it is a lunar solar calendar.  It is the one used to select dates for weddings, funerals and other semi-religious events.  It begins in winter, however.

We should be familiar with another lunar-solar calendar that also has 12 months in a normal year.  Originally, it seems, the Chinese added a 13th or even 14th month arbitrarily in order to reduce calendar drift.  Eventually, it became more formalized, and Wikipedia says of the “Chinese calendar” in the section “Ancient Chinese calendar“:

It was realized in the early age of the Chinese Calendar, that 19 solar years have 235 months. So, as 235=12*19+7, there are 7 intercalary months in 19 years.

Again, we should all be aware of a calendar system that has 19 year time cycles.  Was there a cross-pollination of calendars between the Babylonians and the Chinese at some point?  While there are differences, there are some remarkable similarities as well.

Well, that may be the case, but then why are their astrological constellations so different?  The Zodiac we have today is pretty much straight out of Babylon, but it passed through Greco-Roman hands (as well as some Hellenized Egyptian influence) along the way.

The Babylonian and Egyptian astronomy which formed the basis for the Greek’s was based upon heliacal observations, comparing the position of sunrises and sunsets against the stars which appeared before and afterwards. This naturally led to the development of the zodiac: the twelve or thirteen constellations through which the sun appeared to move over the course of the solar year. Against this, ancient Chinese skywatchers focused their attention on the pole star Polaris and divided the stars according to their position relative to it: the Three Enclosures (??, San Yuán) immediately around the North Celestial Pole whose stars could be seen year-round and Twenty-Eight Mansions (????, Èrshíba Xiù) dividing the zodiacal band according to the movement of the moon over a lunar month. These lunar mansions are very similar (although not identical) to the Indian Nakshatra and debate continues over which system developed first or whether they developed similarly in isolation.

~ Wikipedia, “Chinese constellations

Seriously, you just cannot get any different!

Most Asian nations follow the Chinese form of astrology, but just to complicate matters even more, not all nations follow the Chinese calendar.  Thailand, like much of Asia, uses some form of Gregorian calendar in order to trade and communicate with the rest of the world for official use.  The Thai official calendar, however, does use Buddhist years, so there must be an adjustment in that area, but the rest of the calendar looks the same.  However, for religious ceremonies and such, they use a lunar calendar.  In fact, their traditional calendar has been fixed to the solar calendar and the Thai New Year takes place on 13 April, usually long after the Chinese New Year.

It is important in that the Chinese form of astrology doesn’t go so much by months, like western horoscopes do, as it does by year.  That is why you have the “year of the tiger” or the “year of the rat”.  This makes it particularly interesting when you consider how many Chinese live and work in Thailand.  Ironing out which zodiac sign rules can be very different if you are born in January – April.

Now, let me ask you a question: Should you or I depend upon such inconsistent methods of interpreting the sky in order to determine God’s plan?  I think you know the answer.

If there was to be an established answer to how to interpret the patterns of the stars and interpret any meaning from them, then we would have been given clear instructions for doing so!  Jesus never gave an answer to any question saying that such-and-such star or such-and-such constellation shows it to be true.  That’s because every case of astrology listed in the Bible is clearly condemned!

Looking to the sky for answers is no better than trying to read tea leaves, another practice that gives power to the creation rather than the Creator.  However, God said that creation was for His glory, not for its own glory.

What About “Blood Moons”?

A lot of this is sparked by the upcoming “blood moons” that are due in 2014:

“And I will show wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of Jehovah.”  Joel 2:30 -31

“The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious Day of the Lord.” Acts 2:20

The Jewish Talmud (book of tradition / Interpretation) says; “When the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel. If its face is as red as blood, (it is a sign that) the sword is coming to the world.” Therefore: Lunar Eclipse = bad omen for the Jewish people and Israel; Blood Moon = sword coming; Solar Eclipse = bad omen for the world.

Four, blood moons on Jewish Feast days within two years in Israel is very rare and has only occurred seven times since the time of Yeshua (Jesus). There are now four blood moons scheduled to appear in 2014/2015 and then there will NOT be any for the next 100 years.

Every time a blood moon pattern has appeared on Jewish feast days a big event affects the nation of Israel. The event affecting Israel begins just before the actual years of the blood moons. To understand what will happen in the 2014 – 2015 “blood moons” you must understand the pattern of blood moons in the past.

~ Pray 4 Zion, “The Coming Blood Moons

The above is not the source I was given originally, but it is much the same.

While reading stuff like this, I cannot help but think about stories I’ve heard about pygmies who threw spears at the moon during an eclipse because they feared it would stay there and blot out the sun forever.  It is so much superstitious nonsense.

There will with a certainty come a time of heavenly signs, for sure, but when they occur and why they occur are very important to keep in mind.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

~ Mt 24:29-31

So, when will these heavenly signs take place?  After the tribulation and before the first resurrection!  However, we can narrow it down a bit further.

31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.

Joel 2:31

So, it will be before the “Day of the LORD” prophesied about in so many prophecies.  We also know heavenly signs are associated with the 6th seal of Revelation, which seems to herald in the Day of the LORD:

12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Rev 6:12-17

The 5th seal was the martyrdom of the saints, and Christ giving them reassurance to hang in there just a little while longer.  So, that point is still the Tribulation.  However, the 6th seal is after the Tribulation, and therefore is the beginning of the Great Tribulation, just before the Day of the LORD.  It all fits the prophecies.

So, when is all of this going to occur?  Not in 2014!  If the Tribulation of physical and spiritual Israel must first occur, and if it lasts 3-1/2 years, there is no time for all of this to occur!  Even if the Tribulation period itself is not 3-1/2 years, there is not yet a Beast power, there is no peace deal with Israel, and there are no armies surrounding Jerusalem.

Now, do I believe that God uses various events to get people’s attention?  Sure!  I believe 9/11 was allowed to succeed precisely because America needed a wake-up call.  The heavenly events just prior to Jesus’ return will be a wake-up call for the entire world.

However, blood moons, as they are called, are not, IMO, such a wake-up call.  How many people will even be aware of the unusual frequency of them?  More to the point, how many will even realize they are occurring on “Jewish” holy days?

Not only that, but the events leading up to Christ’s return will be so unusual, so dramatic that they will know that it is “the wrath of the lamb”, as per Revelation 6.  However, they will prefer the mountains to fall upon them rather than repent!

No, I do not believe the blood moons and the “moon became as blood” are the same at all!  Not only that, but there must also be accompanying signs of the sun being blotted out, stars falling from heaven, and, if that isn’t dramatic enough heaven opening like “a scroll when it is rolled together”!

What would cause that?  The sun and moon are easy enough, for with all of the warfare going on, there probably will be so much smoke and debris in the sky that nothing will seem normal.  However, stars falling out of the sky, i.e., meteors, and the sky being rolled back must be related to the coming the angelic hosts!  Notice how they want to hide from “the face of him that sitteth on the throne”!  I believe they will see literal evidence of a coming invasion, and these accompanying signs are a direct result of meteors in space being knocked around by an invasion force!

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Mt 24:27-28

Christ will appear in the sky!  As vultures gather and fill up the sky, so will the heavenly host at Christ’s return.

I’m not the only one to point out that the most possible cause of the sun and moon (and stars, BTW) being blotted out is either pollution and/or a supernatural event. Notice the following short video which goes far more in-depth than time allowed for me to cover just this one aspect of the astrological madness that some are engaging in, to include the impossibility of both a lunar and solar eclipse occuring at the same time (thanks to Norbert for pointing this out):

Like many horoscopes, notice how many of these interpretations of past blood moons are pretty loosey-goosey. Not only are the interpretations themselves not up to snuff, but even the dates they present are often off by a year or even more!

Common sense should dictate, and I failed to point this out in the last version of this post, that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar-solar calendar, and it dictates when the holy days occur. Therefore, it is actually not uncommon at all for lunar eclipses to occur on them!

We should not be dismayed, in fear or in awe of heavenly events!  We should know better because we will have a framework for when these events will occur!

“When the Planets Align”

I cannot end this without mentioning something that has bothered me for some time now.  It is not worthy of an entire article, and this is the first time I believe that this subject has actually come up here.

Americans have a saying, “When the planets all align”, or sometimes it goes, “When the stars align”.  This is usually done quite tongue-in-cheek and is a pseudo-astrological reference.  It is somewhat tongue-in-cheek because planetary alignments of some sort are not that uncommon.  In 1982 was a pretty big alignment, and there was another in 2000, which for some doomsdayers made the supposed turn of the century even more scary.

Of course, not everyone takes this as being tongue-in-cheek, else there wouldn’t be dire emails about this sort of thing, books written about them or hoax busting blog posts being made about them.  By using such phraseology, you could be giving the appearance of buying into the madness and may inadvertently lead someone astray.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

1Th 5:22

Seems pretty clear to me!

Don’t Ingest Crap

Proponents of the “Gospel In the Sky” will tell you that they are not worshiping the heavenly bodies.  As I already stated, however, those who put up Christmas trees aren’t worshiping trees, either.  One came out and said, “Scoffers might say that we should not get involved in what they might call astrology,” and he’s quite right!  It is astrology, for it is looking to the sky to predict various outcomes!  If it quacks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, it is a duck!

Astrology is one part of the occult, which means “knowledge of the hidden”.  It is an attempt to know the future by divination, and it’s origins are about as pagan as it gets.  It ascribes powers to the heavenly bodies, and in some cases were even deemed representations of various false gods.

Well, I will end with another saying for you: If it is brown, sticky and stinky, don’t treat it like a candy bar.



  1. Here’s a youtube criticism about the blood moon theory as it applies to 2014-2015, which is done in a rather plain talk manner: