Saturday, 6 August 2016

History - Hamburg congregation

The Hamburg congregation (1863 – New Apostolic Church)

Some OAC members believe the OAC can trace its roots back to the Hamburg congregation in Germany. OAC members commonly believe that only an apostle can ordain another apostle. Was Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss an ordained apostle? Read and decide for yourself.

After its expulsion in writing from the Catholic Apostolic Church by “apostle” Francis Valentine Woodhouse (February 6th, 1863), the Hamburg congregation along with “prophet” Heinrich Geyer, split off to form the Allgemeine Apostolische Mission in 1863. This is commonly known as the "Hamburg Schism".

To distinguish themselves from the first “apostolic congregations” the new congregations soon began referring to themselves as “new apostolic congregations” in official correspondence.

On April 12th, 1863, a “deacon” called “priest” Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss as an “apostle” which was confirmed by “prophet” Heinrich Geyer. On May 25th, 1863, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz was also called as an “apostle”. Thus the German "apostles" started from scratch in much the same way as the Albury “apostles” did.

Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 49 (page 72):
“By whom has the foundation of Jesus Christ been laid in us?”
“Ans. By the Apostle, Thus Apostle Paul testifies to his community…(1 Cor. 3 v. 9-10)”

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 56 (page 77):
“Who ministers us with the Sacrament of the Holy Sealing?”
“Ans. God, who uses the Apostle as His servant (fellow worker)…(1 Cor. 3 v 9)”

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 57 (page 77):
“How is the Sacrament of the Holy Sealing ministered?”
“Ans. Through the laying on of the hands of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. (Refer Act 19 v. 6 and Acts 8 v. 15-17.)”

Do a “deacon” and the “prophet” Heinrich Geyer qualify as an “apostle” of Jesus Christ? Previous calls by “prophet” Heinrich Geyer were rejected.

In 1867 Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff was “sealed” by “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz and on June 14th, 1868, he was sent as an “evangelist” to Amsterdam, Holland. The community in Amsterdam grew quickly and Hermann Christoph Niehaus who would later become “chief apostle” was also in the Amsterdam community. In 1869 “evangelist” Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff was ordained as a “bishop”. On July 19th, 1872, he was called as an “apostle” by “prophet” Edzard Willem Ansingh. Shortly thereafter he was ordained as an “apostle” by “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz.

Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff

Friction existed between the “prophet” Heinrich Geyer and “apostle” Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss concerning whether “prophets” or “apostles” had higher authority.

By the time “apostle” Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss died on July 25th, 1878, open conflict broke out. Heinrich Geyer the “prophet” had already called the coal dealer Johannes F.L. Güldner as an “apostle” in a private meeting four months before “apostle” Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss' death. Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss had refused to recognize this calling and, on his deathbed, designated “elder” Wichmann as his successor.

Heinrich Geyer the “prophet” called Johannes F.L. Güldner again as an “apostle” and successor of “apostle” Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss in a service on August 4th, 1878. When Johannes F.L. Güldner was to be ordained, some members including Friedrich Krebs objected. The majority of the Hamburg congregation also protested, so “elder” Wichmann stepped up to the altar and relieved “prophet” Heinrich Geyer from his ministry. Wichmann told “prophet” Heinrich Geyer that he had to leave, so “prophet” Heinrich Geyer left the church with 300 of his followers. He was also followed by Johannes F.L. Güldner.

Heinrich Geyer founded a new congregation in Hamburg named Apostolische Mission. Did “prophet” Heinrich Geyer distinguish himself as the custodian of the “office” of Holy “prophet”? Did the “sibling” end up with the “covenant of the Ark” when he formed a new congregation? His congregation eventually wasted away after his death in 1896.

The ensuing chaos led to a flurry of “apostle” callings. Wichmann's wife, supported by her son, called him an “apostle”. A maid called her master as an “apostle”. Other people called a fourth person as an “apostle”. The result of this chaos was that a successor for “apostle” Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss was not selected at this time.

Going by a “prophecy”, the remaining Hamburg congregation gave themselves under the care of “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff in 1872 and adopted the name Allgemeine Christliche Apostolische Mission.

Then in spite of protests from the Allgemeine Christliche Apostolische Mission, “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz and “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff appointed Friedrich Krebs as counter-“apostle” to Johannes F.L. Güldner.

From Germany, “apostle” Friedrich Krebs soon began to make an end to the autonomous work methods of the HAZK-“apostles” in the work- or tribal areas allotted to them. In his quest for the “Unity of the apostles” he abolished the callings by mouth of the “prophets” and declared the office of “prophet” redundant, for “apostle” Friedrich Krebs would from then on appoint the most important ministers himself. Later the Australian “apostle” Heinrich Friedrich Niemeyer reacted to this with the mocking remark, that thus “apostle” Friedrich Krebs “was surrounded by his own court of yes-men”. Since he deemed himself equal to the Christ, “apostle” Friedrich Krebs believed his words were more important than the Bible. He believed that he spoke the “living words for these times”. Friedrich Krebs' supporter and later “chief-apostle” Hermann Christoph Niehaus did call the Bible “withered hay and stinking stagnant well water” while the opponents of “apostle” Friedrich Krebs in turn were denounced as “bible riders”. This quote has been attributed to a church periodical which was published in November 1896. The date indicates that it was in Wächterstimmen aus Zion, no. 11 of 1896. Friedrich Krebs was the first who assumed the ministry of a “chief apostle” and his successor was Hermann Christoph Niehaus.

When “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff died in May 1895, “apostle” Friedrich Krebs appointed Hermann Christoph Niehaus as his successor. Half a year later, on December 6th, 1895, “apostle” Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz also died. Because the people in the Netherlands hardly knew what was happening in Germany, they accepted “apostle” Friedrich Krebs as caretaker “apostle” until a successor could be called in a “calling” service. Hermann Christoph Niehaus, who could speak Dutch reasonably well, tried to win the Dutch ministers to the “New Light”, as “apostle” Friedrich Krebs' teachings were mockingly called. When in the Netherlands people began to fear that “apostle” Friedrich Krebs himself would indeed appoint a new subservient “apostle”, the ministers of the main congregation of Amsterdam demanded that the “calling” service be held according to the prescribed rules. This happened on January 17th, 1897, conducted by “apostle” Friedrich Krebs and “apostle” Hermann Christoph Niehaus. Here the Amsterdam “deacon” Martin van Bemmel was called as “apostle” for the Netherlands by means of an overwhelming number of “prophecies” and “visions”. He was accepted on the spot by all and inducted into the “apostolate”. When “apostle” Martin van Bemmel did not wish to acknowledge “apostle” Friedrich Krebs' chief authority, he was informed a month later without authorization by “apostle” Friedrich Krebs that he was deposed from the office of “apostle”.

In 1902 “elder” Julius Fischer came into conflict with “chief apostle” Friedrich Krebs regarding the future second coming of Jesus Christ. According to “elder” Julius Fischer, Jesus Christ had already returned in the re-established “apostle” office and according to him, there was no future second coming. As a result of his views, “chief apostle” Friedrich Krebs removed “elder” Julius Fischer from office. Julius Fischer and his followers formed their own church named Apostelamt Juda. Julius Fischer was ordained as the first “apostle” of his church on May 2nd, 1902.

In 1933 this church was seen as a socialist group and their beliefs on prophecy were considered illegal. As a result they were banned in Nazi Germany. In 1947 they regrouped as Apostelamt Jesu Christi.

In August 1906, “chief apostle” Hermann Christoph Niehaus renamed the Neuapostolische Gemeinde (New Apostolic Congregation) as Neuapostolische Kirche (New Apostolic Church) and created a public corporation for it. In 1908 he issued the Allgemeinen Hausregeln (General House Rules).

The New Apostolic Church was considered by most members of the Catholic Apostolic Church as an illegitimate offspring ever since the schism of 1863.

  • Friedrich Krebs was “chief apostle” from 1895 to 1905.
  • Hermann Christoph Niehaus was “chief apostle” from 1905 to 1930.

Friedrich Krebs
Hermann Christoph Niehaus

The liturgy of the New Apostolic Church was originally consistent with the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church, which contained strong elements of the Roman Catholic and Anglican rite. This lasted until 1885, when emphasis of the divine services shifted towards the liturgy of the word under the influence of Dutch Calvinism. In the same way as Protestantism and Catholicism, the Second Coming of Christ is at the forefront of the New Apostolic doctrine. This is in stark contrast to what the OAC believe today.

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 27 (pages 62-63):
“Has Christ already come, or do we still expect him?” (Sic)
“Ans. (a) Because the world expects that Christ will come on a natural cloud, they still look forward to his coming. From Matt. 16 v. 28, it is however clear, that Christ must already have come…”
“Ans. (b) From 2 Tim. 4 v. 7-8 it is clear that Christ must already have come during Apostle Paul’s life on earth…”
“Ans. (c) For us Christ has come, and we see Him, because it is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit and is our life…”

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 31 (page 65):
“On which clouds will Christ appear?”
“Ans. We must not confuse these clouds with natural clouds... It is the cloud of witnesses… It is the same cloud under which the flock of God was led out of Egypt…”

A tree is known by its fruit and false prophets are known by their false prophecies.

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