Letters from our Readers - Part 1
(READ PART 2)
More Sabbath-keepers located
While at the Feast in Wisconsin Dells, we had some friends (Dan and Paula and their three children) over to our house for dinner one evening. Sometimeduring the conversation that evening, Dan said he had met an individual at the Feast who told him about a group of Sabbath- and holy-day-keepers that has around 50,000 members.
Two days later Dan introduced me to Jerry, and I asked him to tell me about this group. He explained that a friend of his in Sacramento told him abouta group he met with on the Friday night after Trumpets. Apparently, he said, they are part of a group of mainly African Americans with around 50,000 members (he didn't say whether that wasjust the United States or the world).
According to Jerry's friend, the group started in 1918 when the wife of an individual began to keep the Sabbath after some friends told her sheshould. This individual set out to prove her wrong and delved into a six-month study in which he proved her right. The individuals at this Friday-night get-together were all recent (two tothree years) members, and none of them knew anything about Herbert W. Armstrong or the Worldwide Church of God.
He didn't know much more than that. So, somewhat incredulous, I asked if he could get any more information that might permit me to find out more aboutthese individuals. I was intrigued.
I called Jerry this past Sunday and left a message. He called back on Monday and told me how I could find out more about this group. I have, and hereare some of the things I've discovered:
The group does exist. Its members call themselves the House of God. Some of their congregations also refer to themselves as Hebrew Pentecostals,relating their spiritual roots to Abraham, the Old Testament and the New Testament (Pentecost: Holy Spirit given).
I don't know the number of people in the group, but they have congregations across the United States, in Canada, Jamaica and Africa.
Their basic beliefs include: the seventh-day Sabbath (sunset to sunset); the holy days as outlined in Leviticus 23; clean and unclean meats asdelineated in Leviticus 11; the keeping of God's Commandments (Exodus 20); the resurrection; God is not a Trinity; tithing and offerings; foot-washing and communion at the same service;divine healing; the second coming of Jesus; the 1,000 years (the new heaven and earth); Jesus is God; election by God.
Needless to say, I was amazed to discover all this. My wife and I plan on meeting with one of their congregations soon. I talked with two of theirmembers last night via the Internet, and neither of them knew of HWA, the WCG or the United Church of God. They were interested in the fact that I was a seventh-day observer.
Perhaps God is working in mysterious ways of which we have not even dreamed. If indeed, as it appears, God has raised up and established a work inthis country that we haven't known about, what does that mean for us and our concepts of where God is working? I will let you know more as I learn more after I have actually met with someof these individuals. This is not a hoax.
Darryl A. Pifer
Via the Internet
Preaching on Sunday
The article on page 31 of the Sept. 25 issue by Robert Thiel ["Is Proclaiming the Gospel on Sunday All Right Too?"] was super. For those of us who donot have access to Web sites, could you consider printing more of his papers. I'm with United, but what Mr. Thiel [who is a member of the Global Church of God] says regarding Joe Tkach'sunscriptural musings allows us to give an answer to our WCG friends, if asked.
Edmonton, Alta., Canada
A common line often heard from former WCG members who favor the hierarchical government is, "I didn't leave WCG because of government but because ofdoctrine."
I would ask of such people, "Then why didn't you stay in and change the doctrines?"
To which they would have to reply, "We couldn't."
My parting comment would be, "So don't tell me that you didn't leave because of government."
The same rationale applies to those who claim that the problem was not the governmental structure but the personnel who occupied the top positionsafter Mr. Armstrong's death.
As a very early member of the Church of God International in Australia and an ex-CGI elder, I would like to correct the impression Ben Chapman gave inthe Sept. 25 issue ("Longtime Elder Ready for Australia," page 1), that CGI assets were somehow wrongly transferred to the new Independent Church of God Australia.
The Australian CGI was always financially separate and independent of America, and the CGI brethren there voted to leave the CGI by more than 90percent when Garner Ted Armstrong did not stand down. They did not follow their minister, Alan Kendall, who with his family had faithfully staffed the CGI office in his home for many yearsfrom the early days of the CGI in Australia, always without pay.
The assets mentioned (office equipment, for the most part) were accumulated entirely from the contributions of the Australian brethren, and, still inAlan's home, continue to be used to carry forward God's work in Australia under the new name.
The Independent Church of God in Australia, like the other independent churches linked together in Churches of God Outreach Ministries, believe in thebrotherhood of all the Church of God and was pleased to advertise the CGI's recent meetings and assist with venue problems on Mr. Chapman's recent visit.
Minister, N.W. Church of God
Churches of God U.K.
John Warren update
John Warren of Big Sandy was injured in a freak accident six months ago that left him paralyzed in both legs ["Texan Injured in Freak Accident," May30].
John has had some feeling return in both of his legs and a little movement in his right leg and toes, and the past month he has also been able to turnhimself over in bed every two hours without help.
He, with his wife, Darlene, returned to Texas Rehabilitation and Research Center in Houston Nov. 10 for advanced therapy. John said the therapistsarevery pleased with his progress. His therapy includes leg braces and instruction in walking with a walker.
The Warrens are encouraged with his improvement. John said they had received hundreds of messages of encouragement, and they want to thank everyonefor the many kindnesses and continued prayers as God continues to heal him.
The Warrens' address is Rt. 3, Box 523, Big Sandy, Texas 75755.
Big Sandy, Texas
The people who hate and kill "Christians" don't care if the people who say they believe in Jesus Christ go to church on Saturday or Sunday. Rememberthe old saying: If they get me today, they will get you tomorrow.
Researchers are saying that there are many more Christians being martyred, beaten, put in prison and suffering many other persecutions now, in thelatter part of the 20th century, than there were in the first century.
It is depressing to see so many churches here in America and other countries silent on this subject. We should all raise our voices on thismatter.
The Bible teaches that these things would happen before the return of Christ. All of us who believe in Jesus should yield ourselves into God's handsas these adversities continue. Hard times are coming before the return of Christ. For many Christians, they are already here.
Now, as you read this letter, people who believe in Christ Jesus are being made into slaves, jailed, martyred and made to suffer many otherpersecutions.
L. Jeff Christmas
We just received the Sept. 25 issue of The Journal. We do appreciate the many fine articles in each issue. However, my wife and I shared a mixture ofjoy and disappointment with the editing done to the two articles we coauthored relative to Frank Nelte's visit to Massachusetts. We won't take the time to write much about the positive sideof the editing, and it was good. But we would like to comment about a few aspects relative to accuracy.
First, in the article titled "Frank Nelte Gives Sermon on Coming to Grips With Fear" (page 18), a portion of our original manuscript to you statedsimply: "Mr. Nelte examined Revelation 21:7-8. Being fearful may appear at first glance to be minor compared to the other problem areas listed. The problem is that the fearful still thinklike Satan, still have the mind of Satan, and have not overcome Satan."
You edited this portion by inserting the actual verses for Revelation 21:7-8 and used the New King James Version (NKJV), whose wording, in thisparticular verse, is similar to the corrupted translation given in the New International Version (NIV). For example, these two versions use the word cowardly, while the more-accuratetranslation (in our opinion) of the Authorized King James Bible uses the word fearful.
Mr. Nelte's sermon was about "fears" and not "cowards." We rarely use the NKJV because of the text corruptions contained within it. You wouldn't haveknown about our bias on this. Perhaps we should have cited the verse from the KJV in our original manuscript.
Second, regarding our commentary-style article titled "Touring Elder Says He's Happy to Discuss, Even Disagree" (page 18), one paragraph said: "He wasalso called on to clarify certain issues of the festival calendar." Our original manuscript simply said: "Frank was asked to clarify calendar issues." There was no mention of the wordfestival.
Additionally, another edited paragraph stated: "Were Abel, Noah, Elijah (or the 7,000 who did not bow their knees to Baal (1 Kings 19:18)), theprophets, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, or any of the apostles credentialed? he asked."
Those last two words, "he asked," were not in our original manuscript, and Frank didn't ask that question. We don't want to put words in Frank's mouththat were never spoken by him. Those were our words. This wouldn't be good for Frank's integrity or ours.
In closing, for balance' sake, we would like to point out one area of this commentary that had a positive editing on your part.
An edited paragraph stated: "Many people in various churches have been credentialed, and, like conduits, passed on heresies to their members tomaintain their credentials and employment."
Our manuscript was limited to saying, "Within our former association, there were many who were credentialed, and like conduits, passed on heresies totheir members so as to maintain their credentials and employment."
Our comment referred only to our former association, whereas you gave it a broader perspective to include other organizations. We hadn't thought aboutit much until we read it in print, and we must conclude, considering the condition of God's scattered people all over this earth and scriptures relative to this scattering in Jeremiah 23,Ezekiel 34, etc., that you are more correct than we were. Thanks for your efforts and concern in this particular area!
John and Cynthia Gordon
Readers of ACD Newsletter may have seen Brian Knowles' article about his adventures in Christian publishing. [The ACD article was a reprint of Mr.Knowles' article in The Journal of July 31: "Why I Write for Association for Christian Development."] In that piece he recalled problems with a magazine when it became known that he hadbeen the managing editor of The Plain Truth back in the days when Herbert W. Armstrong was in charge.
Confession may or may not be good for the soul, but I'll confess regardless: I'm the guy who dropped the dime, as the street parlance goes, on BrianKnowles. Here's what happened then-and what has happened since.
In 1991, when Mr. Knowles published an article in a magazine published by a leading evangelical Christian organization, I was on that group's mailinglist and saw his piece. It mattered little to me what Mr. Knowles wrote; what was more important at the time was that "he" had been one of "them." As a good evangelical, I couldn't sit byand let one of "them" infiltrate. I had to say something.
So say something I did, and apparently it got back to Mr. Knowles without my name being attached. It made some trouble for him but helped keep thisChristian organization "pure." In retrospect, I don't believe that Josef Stalin (or Adolf Hitler) could have been more proud of my actions; ideological or religious purity were high ontheir list, too, it may be recalled.
Years passed and I thought little of Mr. Knowles and his writings. The Worldwide Church of God, whose services I attended from 1973 to 1979 and ofwhich I was a baptized member from 1975 to 1979, went along its way, honoring the memory of HWA while at first slowly beginning to change its doctrines.
After leaving the WCG after Ted Armstrong's expulsion, I wandered around a bit and in 1982 settled in as a member of an evangelical Christian church,the Salvation Army. I kept my anticult credentials current and even counseled a person whose wife had joined up with the "old" WCG, helping her to see what I believed were doctrinal errorsin that group.
Fast-forward to the 1990s, if you will, and the arrival of both the Internet and the changes in the WCG. I embraced the former and approved thelatter, while writing about it in news articles for Christianity Today magazine. I also began contacting groups such as the ACD to gain a fully orbed perspective on both the old and new WCGas well as the underlying issues.
My thinking has been-and is-challenged by the ACD and its publications. I have a great deal of respect for Ken Westby, his personal integrity andcommitment to scriptural study. I don't agree with all of the doctrines promoted by ACD publications, but I'm not willing to jump up and down and condemn. "Every man is my better," a wisethinker once wrote, "in that I learn something from him."
Recently I'd read one of Mr. Knowles' articles in The New Millennium [the journal published by the ACD] and then his latest in ACD Newsletter. Toborrow an evangelical phrase, I was "convicted" in both instances. Instead of practicing what I like to preach-that we should love others and seek the good-I had spoken ill of anotherperson who claimed the name Christian and without any real basis in fact.
I'm beginning, however dimly, to see a central point of what an old WCG preacher, Reg Platt, once preached on more than 20 years ago. For two hours hepaced back and forth on the platform and told us that love was the most important thing. Love was what mattered, not the other stuff that we often got caught up about. Love, friends,love.
When you love, you don't have much time for judging. When you love, you investigate all sides of a story before jumping down someone's throat andespecially before condemning that person before others. When you love, you seek the greater good, not the lesser evils.
I'm not there yet, God knows; I'm not perfect in love by a long shot. But I believe such perfection is possible, and I want to imagine that for othersas well. Whatever our church home, however we believe, we can and should be able to accept the differences of others so that we may individually grow and share and learn.
My story may or may not be illustrative and helpful to others. I hope it is. I know, however, that my experience of playing spiritual cop will have animpact on my future dealings with others, especially those with whom I disagree.
Mark A. Kellner
Editor in chief, PC Portables
Columnist, The Washington Times
Marina del Rey, Calif.
Keep your place
I love your Web site [www.thejournal.org]! I have to admit I've never surfed until this very minute. It is great, and I have put a bookmark on it so Ican check it often. The links are great! You are doing a real service to mankind!
The human race
Wouldn't it be disrespectful toward God (and uneducated) to use Deuteronomy 32:8 to defend the concept of not "interracially marrying" because theLord "separated . . . inheritances," since the passage is in the context of a song (Deuteronomy 31:30) and in poetry, thus not providing the prerequisite requirements to applyingproper exegesis in hermeneutics to establish a specific doctrine?
Also, do you think that "Noah was unblemished in his lineage" is a reliable verse in defending the doctrine of "whites only marrying whites," "blackswith blacks," etc.? Albeit, since even the prophesied Messiah was a descendant of a dark-skinned harlot (see Joshua 6:25; Matthew 1:5) and of a dark-skinned Moabite (Ruth 4:18-21), doesn'tthis prove the concept of "humans marrying humans," since we're all the descendants of Adam and Eve?
(Mr.) Angel R. Oyola
Via the Internet
In response to Ralph Levy, "Reviewer Says Dr. Albert's 'Difficult Scriptures' Flawed," Aug. 29: The law of love did apply to the food laws, Sabbathand festivals. They were social barriers lovingly established by God to protect His people from their neighbors' customs because God's Spirit was not then available.
Christ destroyed the Christian gentile-Jew barrier on the cross, then in Acts 15 He set up other food and personal-conduct laws to protect Christianhealth, marriages and fellowship, also out of love.
The Sabbath is a way of life that cannot be valued instantaneously. The blessings of "a day of rest" can be learned only by experience, so the HolySpirit out of love did not require it of the gentiles. We who know the blessings of the Sabbath, holy days and revised health laws and related modern investigative technology praise God forthem, not by command but by God's Spirit. Christ clearly reaffirmed the Ten Commandments in Matthew 22:37-40 and John 13:34.
The missing 40,000
It occurs to me that some of the people who need The Journal the most don't get it and may never even have heard of it. I'm referring to thosebrethren who have attended nowhere since the breakup: the dispossessed 40,000.
Many are still very interested in religion and hopeful that something will arise that can help them, but they aren't really aware of what'sdeveloping. Some receive publications from organized Churches of God, but information is lacking and one-sided.
It could make a great deal of difference to such a person to receive a gift subscription to The Journal from a friend who used to attend church withhim or her. I know this from actual experience. The only way to reach this "forgotten" person is one on one.
We all know people like this, so let's personally help them. I feel we need to send a gift subscription because this group is down and is not likelyto be willing to subscribe initially but after a few issues many feel a sense of revitalization. We ought not to forget Matthew 25:31-46.
We also ought to pray for The Journal: its survival, its success, that it reach people.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God