21 Years Ago: The “Christmas Eve Sermon”

So, I installed a video player for the purposes of this post. If there are any issues, please let me know. If none are reported, I will probably purchase the pro version, as I am inclined to support good software as I come across this.

Warning: This video is almost 3 hours long.

I wanted to be able to display the infamous “Christmas Eve Sermon” by Joe Tkach, Sr. In reality, it was recorded on Christmas Eve 1994 and played in all the congregations 7 January 1995. I liberally stole this from ESN, as I feel it is important to keep a historical record of key events, and having multiple copies around the web is important in this endeavor.

According to Friends of the Sabbath (and other websites), it was a repeat of the sermon he gave in Atlanta on 17 December 1994. Many were hoping after years of listening to Earl Williams’ sermons on grace and contradicting traditional Church of God teaching, many were hoping Tkach was coming to “straighten out” Williams. To say they were disappointed is, of course, an understatement. Shock would be a better adjective.

Friends of the Sabbath also has a directory of a few of Williams’ sermons.

You might also be interested in knowing a few bits of trivial:

  1. As AR 58 points out (you can find the link yourself):
    “Some have speculated that Tkach’s “Russian Christmas Present” (as the sermon is often referred to because it was broadcast on January 7, the traditional date of Russian Christmas)”. From what I understand, Tkach’s ancestry is Russian, BTW.
  2. The Friends of the Sabbath point out that “The astute reader will notice that from the day the senior Tkach publicly repudiated the belief system expounded by Armstrong until he died was exactly 40 weeks, indeed almost to the very hour, given allowance for the time zones.” I would normally consider such a thing as coincidence, but we are talking about the human head of God’s Church. I don’t know about you, but it gives me pause.
  3. The Friends of the Sabbath also point out “This same sermon was repeated at the Church’s college in Big Sandy, Texas on December 24, 1994 (see below). Coincidently, it was given on the two dates that also mark the beginning and end of the ancient pagan religious festival of Saturnalia. The editors cannot help but be struck by this, for these dates make a very improbable coincidence especially combined with the coincidence of the exact timing of Tkach’s death. Indeed, these events are so improbable as to appear to be pure random chance, except for the utmost seriousness of their spiritual implications.” Again, I have to agree with this assessment.

You would think these “coincidences” alone would wake some people up to what really happened, but it actually should not be surprising. After all, ancient Israel saw ten plagues and miracles in the desert, but they still had trouble believing. Christ performed many miracles, including raising people from the dead, but the Pharisees still sought to put Him to death.

Truly, none of us can ever possibly be awake without God’s spirit. Whether Tkach ever had that spirit or not is not for me or you to say, but it certainly places him on dangerous ground regardless. We should be watchful and careful to not fall into the same traps and deceptions.

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