Letters from our readers
Though the CGOM [Churches of God Outreach Ministries] is a fine organization, Mike Linacre is not "affiliated" with it ("CGOM Churches Planning Eight Feast Sites," The Journal, March 30, page 14). My Web site (mesa.spc.uchicago.edu/abcog) targets outsiders. It offers introductory material including CGOM's New Horizons magazine, Christian Educational Ministries' correspondence course and writings of informative non-Church of God theologians. Current Web readership averages 200 per day.
J. Michael Linacre
Active Bible Church of God
Just sit and take it
Dave Havir's article in the March 30 issue of The Journal ["Are You Able to Forgive a Minister?"] sparked an interesting discussion in our congregation that spilled over into E-mail. My E-mail with some friends found its way, with my permission, onto the Likeminds forum, and some of the feedback I got about its content was that I should share my thoughts with The Journal's readers. So I'd like to do so.
I'm sure Mr. Havir's intents in the article are good, but I couldn't help thinking this comes across as, "Oops, sorry. Some ministers destroyed families and individuals' lives. But surely you realize that these men should not be held accountable by the church for what they have done. We should just forgive them and move on. Forget that you stood there and took it because you were convinced that your salvation depended on it. And, if you currently have a minister like this, just sit and take it because that is the mature, Christian thing to do."
Friends and brethren, there is a difference between "forgiveness" and "avoiding consequence." Sure, these abusive men can be forgiven. But that doesn't mean you leave them in the position of power from which they inflicted the abuse in the first place.
Mr. Havir goes on to talk about evaluating deeds. I wholeheartedly agree with this approach. But, if I evaluate the deeds of a minister and find abusive behavior against another member, I, as an evaluator, do not have the authority to forgive him.
Only Jesus Christ and God the Father can forgive the sin of one person against another. I can forgive only people who have sinned against me. To say that you can forgive the sins of one brother against another is to stand in the place of God.
I'm sure this wasn't Mr. Havir's intent, but this is the message that came across.
My growing impatience with the ministry in the Church of God has little to do with anything any one minister may have done against me but what ministers have done against others. I can't help but ask where is the compassion for others in Mr. Havir's article. I am also increasingly frustrated with the apathetic attitude of those in the church towards the abuse of fellow members by the ministry.
I agree with Mr. Havir focusing on the deeds, but if some establish a pattern of behavior, such as abuse of the membership, we can fairly say that they are abusive. Jesus didn't say to the Pharisees, "You preach hypocrisy." No, He called them hypocrites.
What about members of churches with ministers who won't get it? What should they do: stay in an abusive congregation or get away? I know as Christians we are to turn the other cheek, but Christ never said hang around to be beaten. He also didn't say you couldn't avoid the slap in the first place.
I can't help but interpret by what is written that Mr. Havir is appealing to people in abusive churches to stay there and they are the mature ones for doing so. This, in my opinion, is poor advice from a minister who should know better.
I found Mr. Havir's point about Stephen troubling:
"What happens to Christians who are casualties of ministers' mistakes? If a minister deals inappropriately with you, then you still have the opportunity to be a mature Christian. You can learn from the deacon Stephen (Acts 7:54-60)."
Is Mr. Havir telling people that if they are being stoned (with evil words and physical avoidance) they should just stay in that congregation and take the abuse? Or is he saying that if we see someone being abused we should just sit by and encourage him to take it. Or, if the abused person decides not to take it anymore and simply walks away, do we condemn that person as being immature?
I wonder if Mr. Havir, as a pastor, would encourage an abused woman to stay with a husband who is abusing her because in doing so she is being a mature Christian?
After I read Mr. Havir's article, I couldn't help but feeling that it was just more of the same. Tell the people to sit down and stick it out. Let God work it out. Be the mature Christian; everyone knows a mature Christian is one who sits and allows someone to abuse him.
It may not have been Mr. Havir's intent, but he isn't just saying get over the past, which has healthy merit. Based on what is written, some Journal readers could have taken this article to mean that we are just to sit and take it now.
Mysterious Web site
I have a few questions concerning David Hulme's relationship with an organization known as Century One Foundation, Inc. On its Web site it represents that it is the benefactor of a video project called "The Message," which is ironically also known by the same name and is the identical video as the UCG-AIA TV pilot. (See www.centuryone.com/foundation.html.)
The site also publishes an article by David Hulme taken from a presentation by him in 1996 (www.centuryone.com/anti-judaism.html). The foundation also publishes materials from a number of former WCG individuals including Dr. Ernest Martin and Dr. Robert Kuhn (see the Original Bible Project on the foundation's Web page).
Previous to Mr. Hulme's departure from the UCG-AIA, an offer went out over the Internet to receive "unauthorized" copies of the UCG-AIA TV pilot. Coincidentally, when I did a search of "Century One Foundation" on the Internet, I had four hits, three of which were on the Web site. The fourth, however, was to a Web site for M2 Communications, which is a parent organization to Cassette Works, which distributed the "unauthorized" UCG-AIA TV pilot (a friend has a copy that came from this company) (see www.m2com.com).
I was wondering if you or your subscribers were aware of this relationship and if the UCG council of elders and general conference were aware of David Hulme's apparently active role in this foundation while he was still acting president of the UCG-AIA.
It would also be interesting to see who the founders and operations officers were for the foundation. It would also be interesting to see a financial statement, since they are a "nonprofit" organization.
Round Rock, Texas
What is Century One? Century one is a separate organization from any Church of God. It is a foundation that searches out possible media projects for development and distribution relating to biblical archaeology and history. David Hulme is in no way connected to this foundation other than by the fact that he has been asked by the directors of Century One to cooperate in a possible production of the "The Message" TV series.
The president of Century One in a telephone conversation explained that Century One had become aware of the script by Mr. Hulme recently and upon review wished to pursue the possibility of developing this script into a 13-part series. (Mr. Hulme personally owns the rights to the script.)
This production would start from scratch and would not incorporate any of the footage that has already been shot for the TV pilot owned by the UCG.
Of course, anyone else could have found this out had they called the phone number on the Web page.
Via the Internet
I read three copies of The Journal and was completely surprised by your complete openness in printing views, whether hypercritical or mainstream. At least I believe the saints are finally questioning, for the first time, what they've been taught for so many years. It's about time. Also, Gary Fakhoury's article "Grace, Law and the Covenants" [Oct. 31 and Nov. 21] was totally scriptural and so easy to understand.
Carson City, Nev.
Beacons of truth
I would like to comment on a letter you published by Alex Nicholson that implies that the Church of God International-without Garner Ted Armstrong-is on a "gradual trend towards apostasy." I resent that insinuation, and I ask the writer to either apologize or at least give us a clue as to what our phantom heresies are.
Our Armor of God programs and monthly newsletters strongly address sin, the law, repentance, forgiveness, the Sabbath and holy days, salvation and other biblical teachings. Is that apostasy? Does that mean we are "in bed with the churches of this world," as Alex put it?
I don't think so. I call it a bold move toward fulfilling our commission given by Jesus Christ, which is to make disciples and teach them "to observe all things" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Here is what preaching the gospel is not: hastily reprinting a series of month-old news clips; discussing at length the now-worse-than-ever conditions of the world; thrusting out-of-context prophesies into these headlines; and tagging the abused, standard-issue "watch ye therefore" text (Luke 21:36) at the end of it.
If that is preaching the real gospel, then preachers like John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, Pat Robertson of The 700 Club and a myriad of others are the real beacons of truth-because they're much better at it than anyone in the Church of God tradition.
If you look at our long-published statement of beliefs, you will notice that each of our listed teachings is upheld powerfully. We have worked hard to be defenders of the faith, and we are working hard to be teachers of the faith. How can we be criticized for teaching biblical truths minus unbiblical end-time speculations?
I have heard for years that Jesus continually spoke about earthquakes, famines and disease epidemics. But I just don't see it. I find them in precious few verses in three parallel accounts, and He doesn't even stress them (instead, He said not to be troubled, for the end is not yet).
Jesus did continually teach how to live everyday life, how to obey God, how to avoid sin, how to mature in one's conversion. We should "watch" and be on guard now, because He could return at any time-or we could die in our sleep tonight!
If we teach what Jesus taught, are we really hopping into bed with "churches of this world"? I believe that anything short of that is shirking our responsibility to do what Jesus commissioned His disciples to do, thereby preaching another gospel.
Darren M. Cary
Church of God International
Dr. Dorothy's article
To those who think dates don't matter ("Focus on the Meaning and Significance of Passover," by Charles V. Dorothy, March 30): Didn't God command a date? He said to do such and such on the 14th and on the 15th, didn't He? If you tell your child to be home by 5 p.m. today and he does come home but on the next day, I would think you have a problem (Ezekiel 45:21).
I just read the wonderful article in the March 30 Journal from Dr. Charles Dorothy on the subject of Passover. It is the most balanced approach I have read on the subject, and I wholeheartedly agree.
We tend to become so caught up in the picky details of what we choose to become doctrines that we miss the really important issues of Christianity.
In John 10:1, Jesus Christ said He is the door, and none can enter unless they come through Him. Any who try to climb up some other way are called thieves and robbers. It seems that trying to get all the exact dates, times, places, foods, etc., is just one example of a person trying to get there some other way.
It is refreshing to read something of substance about the spiritual matters that are so important. Thank you for publishing such a wonderful article.
Via the Internet
Victor and the gang
Yesterday, as I was reading some comments about Victor Kubik, I had him and all of us on my mind all during Passover, and I was wondering what God was thinking of us. This is what I came up with:
God gave Mr. Kubik five talents and asked him what he did with them.
Mr. Kubik replied: "Well, God, I set up a Web page on my computer [www.kubik.org], and I got help for innocent children in Chernobyl who were suffering from cancer and radiation. I collected blankets for people in Malawi so they would not freeze. I got glasses for people in Estonia so they could see. I also published a prayer page so more people would know who needed prayers and who needed help because I read Galatians 6:2, where You told us we should bear each other's burdens.
"I put encouraging spiritual articles on the Web site for people to read so they could learn and grow. But of course, God, some people were offended by my trying to help others, and they felt I had an ulterior motive behind all this.
"Some said what I was doing had not been approved so I should not be doing it.
"I am not perfect, God. I do make mistakes, because, after all, I am only human. But, while I am still working on becoming perfect like You, I was busy trying to help others and trying to live up to Your commandment that we should love our neighbor as ourselves."
And then God asked Johnny what he did with his talents. He replied: "Well, God, I still have not used my talents because I did not like it that the council of elders removed the president whom I personally liked, and I am waiting to see what happens with that before I do anything. I don't trust the council of elders. As a matter of fact, some of us don't even think we should have a COE. So I will do something just as soon as I figure out if we need a COE or if it can be trusted."
God asked Johnny if he had prayed about the decisions that were going to be made at the conference, and Johnny said, "Yes, God, I prayed about it, but it just didn't turn out the way I thought it would, so I guess You didn't hear my prayers."
Then God asked Joe what he did with his talents.
"Well, God, I still have mine because I don't like where the home office is or where it is going to be, so I am waiting to see where the office is going to be before I do anything. Then, if I like the location, I will do something.
"But until then I will get on all the church forums on the Internet and tell everyone where I think it should or should not be, and I will tell everyone that this one thinks it should be here and this one thinks it should be there. Maybe that will help everyone."
God then asked him, "Did you pray for the ministers to make the right decision about where the location should be?"
Joe replied, "Yes, God, I did pray about that, but Cincinnati? I am just not sure You heard my prayers."
God asked Jack what he did with his talents. Jack said:
"Well, God, I still have all my talents because I think there is going to be another split within your church, and I am waiting to see where your True Church is and which one You are really working with before I do anything.
"Until all these humans become perfect and make perfect decisions and get their act together, I may just stay at home and not go anywhere."
God then asked, "Did you pray and ask Me where you should be going to church?"
"Yes, I did pray about it, and I do go to church. But I am just not sure You heard my prayers, because there are things going wrong in this church too."
God asked him, are they preaching My truths and doctrines to you?
"Yes," he said, "but all these people keep making mistakes and screwing up, so, since I don't make mistakes and since I am perfect, I will just wait until everyone else gets to be perfect."
God asked Jill what she had done with her talents.
"Well, God, I still have mine, because, although I attend United, United is not really not doing a work. I send in my tithes to the home office, but we don't have a television program.
"So I am just going to wait until we get that television program going to all the world and then I will do something, because You and I know that if we don't have a television program we are not doing Your work. There is no way we can preach the gospel and do Your work without television."
God asked her if she had prayed about it. She said, "Oh, yes, I have prayed about it over and over, and I have asked You to show the home office what to do. But You must not have heard my prayers because we have only The Good News magazine, and we are still waiting on the television show."
Finally, God asked Jane about her talents. She replied: "God, I am waiting to get approval from the home office before I do anything. I also need to get permission from my minister to do anything good. I have to wait until the COE and the president and the chairman and the home office all get their act together. When they do, they will tell me what I can and cannot do, because I am not allowed to do good on my own.
"So, God, I am just waiting on someone to tell me what to do because right now there is some confusion about what Your work is and what the gospel is. When someone tells me what it is, then I will do something."
God asked her if she had read her Bible and prayed about it. She replied: "Yes, I have prayed about it, and I read the Bible every day, but I have to wait until someone approves it. I am not sure You have heard my prayers because no one has told me what to do yet."
Then God said, "Well, Victor, Johnny, Joe, Jack, Jill and Jane, let me tell you a little story about 10 virgins.
Via the Internet
Anti-Sabbath fifth columnists
In the Feb. 26 issue of The Journal, Whaid Rose, president of the Church of God (Seventh Day), stated that he was unaware of an agenda by Joseph Tkach Jr., leader of the Worldwide Church of God, to attempt to get other Sabbatarians to give up the Sabbath.
Mr. Rose said, "I sense a genuine respect from the leadership of the WCG for the Sabbatarian community."
He is either deliberately ignorant of the facts or woefully misinformed.
In the spring of 1998 Mr. Tkach announced an eight-week jubilee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ambassador University (the school sponsored by the Worldwide Church of God). He announced that the church was being "recommissioned" and has a "new mission."
Since all the other Trinity evangelicals are going after the unchurched, the WCG expects to fulfill its perceived purpose by evangelizing all its former Sabbath-keeping brothers who remain bound to what the WCG now views as "legalism" and thereby are ignorant of God's grace.
On several occasions Mr. Tkach has stated words to the effect that he would try to convince other groups (the Church of God [Seventh Day], SDAs and WCG offshoots) that they need not observe the seventh-day Sabbath.
On Hank Hanegraaff's Bible Answer Man interview of Joe Tkach and Greg Albrecht on Nov. 18, 1997, Mr. Tkach said that the effect of his book Transformed by Truth was felt not only in the evangelical community.
"The other ripple is . . . the entire Sabbatarian community has felt some tremors from this," he said. "I think some would like to contain those tremors, and others can't. I think God is still moving and still has some work to accomplish in the Sabbatarian community."
While Whaid Rose wants to cultivate relationships with someone out to destroy his group's Sabbath-keeping, others are unaware of an equally sinister movement that permeates many other Sabbath-keeping organizations. There are anti-Sabbath believers in and among other Sabbath-keeping groups.
I am the last person to be a conspiracy buff. Over the years, however, I have been forced to admit that Satan's most clever tactic is to work on the inside. Whether we would like to admit it or not, we are engaged in spiritual guerrilla warfare.
Mr. Tkach has his counterparts in the Church of God (Seventh Day) and other groups and fellowships. The anti-Sabbath fifth columnists are sometimes much harder to detect than Mr. Tkach. May God give each of us the spiritual discernment to tell our friends from our foes.
The latest edition of The Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, 1,289 pages, came off the press in November and was acquired after I wrote my articles on church government [The Journal, Feb. 26].
The dictionary is a gold mine of information. One of the tragedies of our movement is the downplaying and even ridiculing of biblical scholarship. We have wrongly assumed that because we are the true church there is nothing we can gain from "churchianity."
Yet I maintain that serious, balanced scholarship would save the Church of God from the pernicious and specious errors that have crept in, including the error of believing that hierarchy and ministerial authority are unbiblical.
In a fascinating section, "Church Order, Government," K.N. Giles debunks some of the myths circulating in the Church of God movement on church government. Although noting that Jesus did not set our precise structures and that there is some flexibility in governance, Giles shows that our presuppositions and cultural biases have interfered with our exegesis of the texts on government.
"Far too commonly the New Testament has been and is read as if it reflects and endorses modern individualism and therefore radical Congregationalism . . . Belonging to the one worldwide Christian community brought into existence by Christ was always the primary reality as far as the earliest believers were concerned.
"Luke never suggests that particular congregations were autonomous . . . Besides locally based oversight, Luke insists that the Jerusalem leaders exercised a wider oversight. When the apostles heard of the work beginning at Antioch, they send Barnabas to take charge (Acts 11:22). When a doctrinal dispute arose over the question of whether Gentiles should keep the law, a delegation from Antioch went to Jerusalem for a decision (Acts 15:1-21), and when Paul and his missionary coworkers returned to Jerusalem at the end of their third missionary journey they reported to James and the other elders (Acts 21:18).
"Luke also sets Paul and his coworkers over the churches founded by their missionary activity. They appoint the communal elders (Acts 14:23) and return to instruct further these early believers."
Giles questions and rejects the view that the early churches were informal, charismatic groups but only later in the general epistles do we see structure and hierarchy. He quotes some texts quoted in my articles and notes that the early charismatic ministries took place under the supervision of the designated leaders.
Says Giles in his essay: "It is easy for modern Christians to conclude mistakenly that the New Testament reflects a congregational understanding of the church. The apostolic church was an association of individual believers who freely chose to assemble together; a kind of voluntary club based on faith in Christ. There is truth in this, [but] a strictly congregational understanding of the church is seriously flawed. Early Christianity always allowed for transcongregational leadership."
It's no Babylonian heresy!
F. Paul Haney expresses alarm at "Christian Judaism" within the "independent" groups ["God's Religion," page 4, March 30], then goes on to say that "Christ came to extend the Father's (and His) religion to the world."
God's religion requires that we (Deuteronomy 12:30) "take heed that you be not snared by following them [and] . . . that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise." And verse 32: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; you shall not add thereto nor diminish from it."
Mr. Armstrong was the first to introduce "Christian Judaism" to those "called-out individuals" who were attracted to the holy days of the Eternal and who wanted to live by every word of God. He taught they were feasts of the Eternal, not just Jewish.
We cannot blame him for copying the form of worship of the Protestant churches that were around, since he was evidently not led to ask God what form of worship should we follow. Instead, by thoughtlessness on the subject, the entire body of believers followed the "nations" around us and incorporated the Protestant form of worship.
Why should anyone find fault with the fact that some of us are finally giving God the credit for giving the religion of the Father to the Jewish people, and we are finally finding this divine form of religion that is centered on God and His Word?
By the way, the Bride of Christ will make herself ready, but the original invited guests will not want to witness the glorious event that they missed (and did not value being part of the bride), so God will beat the bushes and bring in many to witness the wedding. These "guests" will not be part of the Bride. They are the guests. Will you be a guest or part of the Bride?
If you want to be part of the Bride, you must understand the religion of the Father. Blow the dust off your Bible and dig in. It's a fascinating journey.
I thank God for Melvin Rhodes' article "Why Are We Scattering?" [March 30], since it seems to me to be a reasonable response to Paul's charge: "Proclaim the word of God . . . Convict men of their errors, reprove them, appeal to them, showing the utmost patience and exercising care in your teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2).
Also, on page 16 of the March 30 issue, third column, "Computer Expert" section, last sentence, second paragraph: Didn't you mean to write: ". . . The software's author is a Sabbath-keeper" instead of, as you have it, "The author's software is a Sabbath-keeper?"
The new organization
We need to begin working toward reconciliation now. It is going to take time. We may not have a lot of time. I believe God expects this of His people. Often it is poor leadership that has precipitated the need for this, and that continues to hinder it.
I know many people in the new organization (the Church of God). Many are sincere, zealous for God's work. So are many in our organization, the UCG-AIA.
I am sure there are many such brethren in other organizations as well: the GCG, CGI and CGOM, for examples. Also those in no organization at this time. (Can anyone blame them, considering the mess they see and the mistakes of the past and present?)
Just three years ago several thousands of us also suddenly left an organization when we felt certain that we could no longer work with the leadership thereof. These events also occurred before and around Passover season in 1995.
Those who have not abandoned God's laws and ways have not gone back into Egypt.
Ministers, as well as the rest of us, need to be careful how we label our brethren who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. All such are also God's church (Romans 8:9, 14; Revelation 12:17). And let's refrain from labeling ourselves as Philadelphians vs. the "others," who, in our limited logic and judgment, must therefore be Laodicean at best. We may not be as rich and increased with spiritual goods as we think (Revelation 3:17, KJV).
The Bible gives at least one clear New Testament example of a disagreement that led to a parting between servants of God: Acts 15:35-39. At least at that time they felt they could not work together.
Do we see Satan mentioned in this example? Do we see one ostracizing the other and claiming the other is now under the leadership of Satan?
We should not jump to conclusions as did Christ's disciples in Mark 9:38-39 and Luke 9:49-50.
Should we foolishly burn all bridges between brethren and all but insure there will be no collaboration in the future?
Again, our legitimacy is with God and Christ by the Holy Spirit. We in the UCG-AIA publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of the Ukrainian brethren (by name, not just as some amorphous people out there somewhere), yet they have not joined our organization. We may think we are serving God when not acknowledging other organizations; we may instead be very self-serving.
Paul obviously did not agree with Barnabas's choice to utilize Mark in the work. Obviously he felt he was wrong in his action. And I doubt he felt Mark was right in going along with Barnabas. I'm sure Paul felt Barnabas's actions were most unfortunate.
Who proved to have made a sounder decision? See Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:10-11; Philemon 1:23-24. Was Paul rebuked for his lack of judgment in this disagreement?
If only in small but continual ways, we must begin the process of reconciliation. Barring clear apostasy or immorality, we need no ministerial authority to do this. If our leaders won't, we still can. It is a healing process. That is a great part of the Passover message (1 Peter 2:24).
El Cerrito, Calif.
Remembering Duane Cooper
I would appreciate it very much if you could print this information about my son in The Journal. I know many of your readers knew him. Duane died Nov. 27. There was a memorial service on March 29 in Pasadena. Old college friends were there to pay respects to Duane and his family. I reside at 1681 Monterey Rd., Apt. 015-I, Leisure World, Seal Beach, Calif. 90740, and would enjoy hearing from any of his friends.
Lyle Duane Cooper was born Sept. 1, 1937, in Decatur, Ill., to Kenneth and Phyllis Cooper. Duane loved music from an early age; his dream was to become a professional musician, composer and conductor. He took lessons on the sax when he was in fourth grade.
At Decatur High School, he played in a 60-piece orchestra, holding the position of first chair.
Each weekend while in high school he played professionally in a dance band at the St. Nickolaus Hotel. In his senior year he met a world-class trumpeter, Raphael Mendez, who inspired him.
Duane entered Ambassador College in Pasadena in 1956 and graduated in 1963. He played the saxophone in the orchestra from 1958 to 1960. Later a dance band was formed, directed by Dennis Pebworth. Duane played in that band and became the director, playing at college and church functions include Spokesman Club.
Duane began studying Spanish in high school and continued in college. Later he taught Spanish for many years at AC. He and Dennis Pebworth introduced a method of teaching languages, enabling Duane to teach later at Berlitz in Pasadena.
He did simultaneous translation for the Spanish-speaking members of the Worldwide Church of God for many years. He worked closely for many years with Maria Sandoval. He worked closely with Dennis in publishing La Pura Verdad. He and Dennis were accepted at Occidental College to work on their master's degrees.
In 1960 Duane went to Mexico with Dr. Charles Dorothy to attend the university there, studying six subjects.
In 1961 Duane married Hazel Thurman. They had three children: Michelle Renee Dvorak of San Antonio, Texas; Kimberly Cherie Nolting of Stillwater, Okla.; and Shawn David, who died in 1988. Duane and Hazel were divorced; she died in 1995.
Besides his mother and daughters, Duane leaves a grandson, Shawn David Dvorak; a granddaughter, Amanda Danielle Wall; and a beloved companion of many years, Nancy Williams.
Adios, my son. Vaya con Dios.
Phyllis (Cooper) Surlage
Seal Beach, Calif.
Copies of historical articles
I have written and called The Bible Advocate [published by the Church of God (Seventh Day)] requesting copies of two articles out of the archives. One was an article in the April 23, 1865, issue, which contained a quote from The Harbinger expressing sorrow at the death of President Lincoln, thanking God that Mr. Lincoln had made laws to deliver Christians from participating in war.
The other article was from the April 1917 Bible Advocate when Andrew Dugger, with a Missouri congressman, had a personal interview with President Woodrow Wilson to obtain an exemption for the Church of God from combat service. I have had no reply, and it has been over a month.
I did receive a letter from editor Calvin Burrell when I asked if The Bible Advocate would consider reprinting articles from the early 1900s. His reply was they used to do that, but not too many people were interested in it.
Two weeks ago I wrote another letter to Mr. Burrell, asking him if he could help me get a copy of the articles mentioned above and if the old Bible Advocates were on microfilm or if there were any plans to store them on microfilm. I have not yet received an answer.
It is a shame that church history is going to be lost.
I also talked with Richard C. Nickels [of Gillette, Wyo., president of the Bible Sabbath Association] by telephone. I read his paper "History of the Seventh Day Church of God," which is where I got my information, and wanted a copy of the original article. I had asked Mr. Nickels for a copy; however, he told me that when he went to The Bible Advocate's headquarters in 1971 when it was in Stanberry, Mo., he wasn't allowed to make Xerox copies. He had to copy everything by hand.
That was over 20 years ago. I cannot figure out why they don't want anybody to have copies of old articles from the archives of The Bible Advocate.
Maybe you might know somebody who could help. It would be greatly appreciated.
I enjoy and benefit greatly from reading this newspaper. It fills in the missing pieces from local news in our churches. Oftentimes you are more likely to get answers in The Journal on news affecting your church than you are likely to get from your own church information systems. Funny, isn't it?
Pickering, Ont., Canada
By favor are we saved
Some years ago I purchased a Bible. It is a King James, published by Thomas Nelson, copyright 1972. It has a small concordance. On page 69 (of the concordance) the word grace is or can be "favor," a simple word. Understandable.
Strong's renders this word grace, chen, as "favour, grace(ious), pleasant, precious (well-)favoured" in 37 places in the Old Testament.
Reference No. 2580, Ezra 9:8, the Hebrew word techinnah is rendered "entreaty: favour, grace, supplication."
In the New Testament the Greek word charis is rendered "acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thanks(-s, -worthy)."
In Luke 2:52 "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature [age], and in favour with God and man." The word favour used here is the same Greek word charis.
What is the point? Grace (the word) has taken on or has been given a definition not found in Strong's. Grace has been defined as unmerited or undeserved pardon. This is not a Bible definition.
Read Esther 2:17. She did not need undeserved pardon. Jesus in Luke 2:52 would not need to grow in "grace" or increase in "grace" with God and man.
More to the point: The word grace is misused or misunderstood by most of the people who are quoted in The Journal. In the Dec. 18 edition, you interviewed Whaid Rose of the Church of God (Seventh Day). He uses the terminology "grace-oriented," referring to the CG7 and his goal for the CG7.
Later, near the end, he quotes Hank Hannegraff as saying that "by grace alone are we saved." Nowhere in the Bible (my Nelson KJV) does it say that "by grace alone are we saved."
The word charis should be translated "favor" (or "favour," in Strong's) throughout the Bible to give understandable meaning to or for the English-speaking world.
On the last day of February I drove up to London to attend a service. Afterwards there was a socialspeech session, one of a series planned in the southeast of England. It was a typical Spokesman Club meeting, only with a longer time for fellowship and an excellent buffet meal.
However, there were two topics sessions; I was asked to give one of them.
The first session was given: a traditional one with current-affairs topics such as "How would you deal with Saddam Hussein?" The local church elder then gave his evaluation of the session, giving comments about each topic given.
I gave the second topics session. To avoid any repetition of them in anyway and to be different, I chose a theme for my topics of "unity." The following is a word-for-word copy of the six topics I gave. About 40 brethren, from as far away as Gloucester, stayed behind for the speech session.
I received a good response to these questions, with a few excellent comments. But I suppose on the last topic I made the mistake of answering it myself since I had run out of time and could fit in only one response before finishing.
The local elder stood up and evaluated the session. He said:
"The whole thing was offensive" and "not supporting anyone," and I had hijacked the meeting and had my own agenda.
He closed the meeting and said it would be stopped for 10 minutes and he would not speak or comment further on any of the individual topics.
The next time he spoke to me was when I was driving out of the car park when he said through my open window, "No hard feelings!"
I replied, "No problem."
Well, I never thought there was a problem.
Thanks to the letter by Rod Koozmin in a previous edition of The Journal ["Doing Something," page 2, Feb. 26], I have received several requests for more information about this effort of Freedom Biblical Information Center. We publish and distribute a catalog of Bible studies, sermon tapes and literature from ministries across the United States. We list ministries that have free information that would be helpful to new searchers and avoid controversial topics.
Several folks, like Rod, have adopted the Freedom catalog as an outreach. Rod mentioned the cards that can be distributed; I also have posters for bulletin boards and samples of ads I put in newspapers.
The cost of the catalog is reasonable: It's free! Our only desire is to help people find the help they need to study the Bible.
If anyone wants more information on how he can use this catalog for his outreach, please write me for additional details at P.O. Box 1806, West Chester, Ohio 45071, or email@example.com.
West Chester, Ohio
Incident in Louisville
I think the general conference of elders and the council of elders [of the United Church of God] need to publicly apologize to Dixon Cartwright and Bill Stough [see "Two Journal Writers Removed," March 30]. If this was an open session, then no one should have been asked to leave, and it makes us wonder what kind of witnessing this was to the public. The UCG-AIA has many problems, and this kind of behavior does not help matters. Since we were told in the beginning that everything would be open, with no hidden agendas, I believe the UCG-AIA has failed miserably. I hope and pray that things will change, but with this type of mind-set will it happen?
Big Sandy, Texas
Are there any others in the Church of God alarmed and ashamed about the occurrence in Louisville? I expected some cries of outrage, together with apologies from many of the delegates. Instead, it seems to be almost a nonevent. Have we become so lethargic that such a disgraceful episode arouses no concern? So this episode does not just pass unnoticed, my open letter follows:
I am writing as a long-time member of God's church, having been called into the truth in 1964.
It was both shocking and disheartening to learn that two reporters were ejected from the UCG general council of elders' meeting in Louisville March 8 [The Journal, March 30].
Obviously something was feared from having reporters present at this meeting. (As a significant contrast, it appears the reporter of the Acts 15 meeting was present for the entire meeting.)
A person has to wonder what was everyone so afraid of. Why is the general conference evidently living in such fear of truth being reported? What is it hiding?
It seems to this writer that, as members of the church, we should be championing truth instead of suppressing and impeding truth, as was done in Louisville.
In these trying times of a church organization having enough problems keeping itself united, why was there such a determination to divide the church into two factions: one suppressing truth and one supporting it?
Having attended many, many secular business meetings over the past 45 years, I am unable to recall even one meeting in which there was anything said or done that had to be hidden. It then seems that, if secular meetings have nothing to hide, shouldn't it be important to a church organization that it set even higher standards of conducting completely open and above-board meetings?
Furthermore, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a major part of our calling one of setting a proper example? If so, what type of example was this? If the Church of God can't be honest and open, then indeed where should we look for honesty and openness?
This writer feels compelled to stand up for love of truth and to say if you are living in the light there should be nothing to fear from truth.
Clyde F. Spencer
A way to inspire
I was saddened by the report that at the recent UCG conference Dixon Cartwright and Bill Stough were forced to leave.
This policy of secrecy does not speak well for the UCG church. At our Seventh-day Adventist general-conference sessions, reporters from all the various media are welcome to attend, even the sessions where sensitive issues, like women's ordination, are discussed.
An open policy inspires confidence in its members.
Berrien Springs, Mich.
Slightly different viewpoint
Concerning the applause when the Journal writers, Dixon Cartwright and his assistant, Bill Stough, exited the room at the conference ["Two Journal Writers Removed," March 30]:
I'd like to offer some defense for the elders and wives who applauded. Hindsight is 20-20. Most of us probably wish that no one had applauded, especially now that we see how it was interpreted by some as being disrespectful and a poor example.
Probably everyone had a slightly different viewpoint and attitude about this confusing event. Sure, some attitudes may have been negative, such as to express "good riddance." But most of the audience probably had one or more of the following attitudes:
(1) An expression of relief that the standoff was ending, and ending peacefully, and that we could get on with our business; (2) a thank-you to the reporters for finally leaving; (3) a sympathetic response triggered by hearing others applauding.
With God's Spirit and human nature at work in us, often our motives are a mixture of right and wrong attitudes.
(I don't think I clapped, but I'm not totally sure. I may have joined in. If I did, I think my attitude was more the last of the three points above. I've asked God to forgive me if part of my attitude was wrong.)
As to why nonelders were in the room, I would give them the benefit of the doubt. I think many of us did not realize that after the balloting and after the break we were still in a closed meeting.
Concerning reporters, I would rather see us be very open and allow them in our meetings as much as we possibly can. However, I considered it wrong and a bad decision of the reporters to defy the direct order to leave the room. But my understanding is that Dixon was shocked and confused and may have made a different decision had he had more time to think about it.
What a shame that what took place during five minutes has such an out-of-proportion effect on our memory of the conference and the reporting of the conference. Let's pray that everyone will be forgiving and working for reconciliation, peace and teamwork.
For my friend, Dixon, I have a suggestion that I think would help him personally, the church, and everyone in the long run.
My suggestion is that he apologize to the church. Even if he considered Bob Dick's order for him to leave the room to be a mistake, two wrongs don't make a right, and many people consider his refusal to submit to authority as being much worse than Bob's mistake.
We as Christians should set the example of being submissive to authority, peacemakers, willing to take wrong, willing to turn the other cheek, etc. An apology would show that he is more concerned about the peace and welfare of the church than he is about his own hurt feelings.
Plus, an apology would help to win more respect with many people. There would be that many more people personally trying to make him feel welcome in future church conferences.
That old feeling
I want to tell you about the morning of March 9. At around 6:30 I wanted to know what had happened overnight in Louisville. Hoping to hear good news, I checked first-what else?-The Journal's site for accurate, readable and reliable information.
I was both saddened and disappointed upon reading the shameful way you [publisher Dixon Cartwright] and Bill Stough were treated ["United Conference Meets for Fourth Time; Council of Elders Chooses New President" and "Two Journal Writers Removed," March 30]. You have sacrificed your time, your reputation, your money and your sleep to keep the people of God informed. I know you expected no reward in this life for it. You were serving. After the initial reading, several things came to mind:
I thought then, Why am I surprised? If Joe Jr. did not respect the people of God, the ministers of God, the Word of God, the commandments of God, the employees of the church, what made me believe that he would respect me?
I must have been incredibly naive or stupid. In my mind, what people do matters more than what they say. Why should I now be surprised when The Journal or its publisher was not respected, either?
Are our hopes still kindled?
Or have they been doused with a bucket of cold water?
The sorry episodes of dealing with David Hulme, dealing with Steven Andrews, the resolutions in the U.K., the polarizations and the factions have produced the sorry episode with you.
We support you. We appreciate you. You and your family are great assets to the Church of God. Keep it up. You have stood in the gap.
I look forward to reading your valuable publication, where the news is not filtered, massaged, doctored or spinned out.
Bernabe F. Monsalvo
Context of openness
As a member of the United Church of God, I feel some of the comments and concerns about transparency and "being above-board" ought to be taken in context.
As evidence, I suggest comparing United with the Global Church of God.
On United's Web site you will find our church newspaper and notes from council-of-elders meetings. You will find no such thing on Global's site (for example).
In our newspaper, New Beginnings, you will find outright discussion-and defense of policy and practices, if deemed necessary-of the issues, even major issues, facing our organization.
This is available for the whole world to see: not just the eldership; not just the membership; anyone-supporter, critic or nonconcerned alike.
I am not sure such information is even available in the newspapers or newsletters of other Church of God organizations.
As a general statement: Let's always be fair when making criticisms and judgments regarding the policies and actions of church leadership.
Their duties and roles are not necessarily something to be desired in the first place. Leadership comes with a lot of "heat."
Lee Dolby, UCG
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