Letters from our readers
While I appreciate your efforts to not knowingly print inaccurate information, I have to draw your attention to false information that appeared in your article "David Hulme, on the Move, Discusses Plans," on the first page of the July 31 issue.
You in fact wrote: "The Journal learned July 29 that the Swiss UCG congregation decided en masse to affiliate with the Church of God (Monrovia)."
Whoever gave you this information was not well informed or wrongly interpreted what was actually decided.
What did actually take place on July 26, during the annual general assembly of the association, is that the brethren unanimously decided to leave the fellowship of the UCG-AIA (and, I stress, with no ill feelings and wishing the UCG-AIA well).
The Swiss congregation is taking adequate time to consider its future association, but as of this date no decision has been forthcoming.
Further, I would like to stress that Mr. [David] Hulme has not been trying to pull our members away from UCG-AIA or encourage support for the COG (Monrovia), as is implied in the same article and in another article on the same page. He was quite simply invited to come and answer our questions.
Kaplans go to Canada
I got The Journal last Sabbath and am enjoying reading it. Just wondered if you knew that Mark Kaplan and family had been transferred to Montreal, Canada. I did not see him in the listing of the changes in the ministry of the UCG ["UCG Announces Cutbacks," July 31 issue]. They arrived in Canada about the middle of July.
I live in an isolated area as far as church fellowship goes. Therefore the articles contributed by the various ministers are a real delight. Keep up the good work!
Change of pace
I want to summarize my thoughts about the July 31 issue in one word: fantastic! The articles on Christ and the nature of God were thought-provoking, inspiring and interesting.
That is not to say that I agreed with everything in the articles. But it was so refreshing to be studying the subject of the nature of God and moving away from the articles on church governance, congregational splits, etc. We want more of this meat!
Thanks to essay writers
Thanks for the courage in stepping out and publishing the essays on the nature of Jesus [beginning July 31]. Yes, it definitely is an issue among God's people that simply will not go away.
May I, on behalf of many readers, give a big thank-you to the writers of the essays. Essays, especially on the weightier doctrinal issues, require a lot of research, thought, time and effort, most of which the writer receives no compensation for.
While we as readers obviously do not agree with the stand of some of the essays, we should appreciate the time and effort put into them and that in most cases the writer is sincere in his beliefs. Often it means much time away from family, job and personal pursuits to write an essay.
I don't think stating my opinion of who Jesus was should sway anyone one way or the other. I have a strong opinion, and I formed it by doing two things that I recommend to everyone:
Thank you for exposing the true nature of Jesus (the true nature as we understand it so far, that is). I don't think the mind has to stretch that far to grasp the profound significance of this different way of realizing the nature of our Savior. If anything, it should make us closer to Him, knowing how much of a struggle He had, suffering and dying for our benefit.
I believe this is the type of "new truth" most of the congregations were hoping for years ago in the WCG as they anticipated "changes" after the death of Herbert Armstrong. Unfortunately, the leadership went in the opposite direction.
Thank you, Mr. Fakhoury and Mr. Buzzard, for coming out of the closet and showing your true colors. [See the essays on the nature of Christ beginning on page 6 of the July 31 issue.]
Five years ago God arranged for Mr. [Joseph] Tkach and company to come out in the open with their long-held belief that God is a Trinity, allowing the true Church of God to separate itself from such idolatrous teaching.
Now God has arranged for those who believe that Jesus Christ is anything less than God to be identified so that His true church can be cleansed from such idolatrous teaching. The teaching that Jesus Christ is (only) a "created being" is as old as time (Satan). There are many (church) organizations who espouse this teaching, and all I am asking is that those who hold this belief join such organizations (it's the only honorable thing to do).
But, since those who believe that God is a Trinity, or that Jesus Christ is anything less than God, prefer to do their teaching from within the Churches of God, it is time for the Church of God organizations to go to battle and warn the sheep that ravenous wolves are (again) within.
There are "essential doctrines" that demand spiritual and physical unity with the Body of Christ and spiritual separation from those who do not accept them.
The deity of Jesus Christ is the top essential doctrine of the true Church of God. Jesus Christ is (not only) the "Son of God"; He is "God the Son." Your salvation depends on it.
The end must be near, for God is cleansing and preparing His spiritual temple, the Bride of Christ. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, my Lord and my God.
How is God one?
Thanks for beginning the new series of articles about the "nature of Jesus." Although this is not the hottest issue at this time, perhaps it should be. Many of us have been guilty of timidly accepting what was taught by those in charge without stopping to think. Some of the questions that should be dealt with are talked about in the first issue of the series [July 31], and I have high hopes that enough facts will be discussed so the brethren can understand.
We can compare the titles of the essays. Eric Snow's title "Jesus Christ the Son and God the Father Are Both God" contradicts itself. Why is Jesus called "Christ" if He is God? Wouldn't He be "God the Son" or "Jesus God"? The Bible says He is "the Christ of God"!
I am not angry with Mr. Snow. I believed the same way until a few years ago. I just think he is wrong. He admits that Paul says there is "only one God" and that God is the Father. Then he says that the Bible also says Jesus is the "only Lord," which it doesn't. God made Jesus Lord of all! Jesus does not claim to be God, but God's Son. Nowhere does He ask or command us to believe in Him as God!
I'm not saying that Jesus isn't like His Father. He is! He is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Colossians 1:15). But God is His God and our God. Paul said, "To us there is only one God, the Father."
Jesus is not our God. I know most of your readers won't accept this now, but they will eventually because it is true.
When you figure out the answers to the following questions, please let me know. I've asked them before and haven't gotten even one answer or even an attempt:
There has been a conspiracy to make Jesus a substitute for God, and it has worked. Some have even made statues and painted pictures to worship. They put Him on a cross and hang Him around their neck. We should worship Jesus as Lord, but not as God.
When I read 1 John 1:1, I see that Jesus came from "that eternal life" of the Father. When you study, remember that the Bible has been tampered with and we must "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered." Many times the use of in, by, through and on account of are used because of what the translators believed.
Remember what Jesus said: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." May God help us to do just that.
I received three handsome booklets from the United Church of God with an enclosed letter from Les McCullough, the president. I started with the "Fundamentals Beliefs," but I got only as far as the seventh line. It says that Jesus Christ has eternally existed. This makes a lie of Scripture, which clearly and repeatedly says that Christ was a creation of God. I offer a few examples:
God the Father had no beginning. He has been from eternity. It doesn't say Christ was with Him from eternity; it says Christ was with Him from the beginning. What beginning? Christ was the beginning of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14).
Had Christ been with God from all eternity, how could God be His Father? The Father creates the Son. The Son proceeds from the Father. This is the way things are.
Binitarian mystery religion?
On contacting the WCG after half-completing the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course in the early '90s, I was soon to be attending Sabbath worship with a small group. The holy days, the Kingdom of God and the non-Trinity had captured my mind, but I was soon to find that the sermons often disagreed with what I had learned through the correspondence course.
I was soon to be paddling my canoe through the main breakaways as they appeared on the scene via their respective tape ministries and correspondence.
It was a lonely progression, but after a near death in the family I was soon to be invited back to worship with my previous compatriots, the Seventh-day Adventists.
The SDAs are a compassionate people, and they spared no effort in rallying around my wife's bedside along with conducting devotions in my home when they knew that the need was there. All of this in spite of my doctrinal differences and my resignation only three years previously.
I sat in my pew as of old and spoke my part in the question-and-answer format at Sabbath school, for which the SDAs are renowned. I always spoke constructively, and I have spoken at odd times on the holy days and the paganness of the Trinity.
In my opportunities to discuss or debate the Trinity with members, pastors and presidents alike, I soon found that I did not have all of the answers that I thought were sitting in the Ambassador correspondence course.
It all centered around the nature and preexistence of Christ. When I tried to get something concrete from the several breakaway groups, I was to find similar confusion as all sorts of variables popped up, with the main bone of contention being whether Jesus was God and, if so, then how separate was He?
In studying the Trinity's origin from Roman Catholic sources, there is a question in their catechism that asks "Is Jesus God?" and the answer "Yes, Jesus is God." And, of course, ditto for the Holy Spirit to complete the Trinity.
Because Jesus is God, then Mary can be genuinely called the Mother of God, and, by the way, there are overtures within the Catholic Church to have Mary installed in the Trinity and take the place of Christ.
It thus becomes apparent that if we say that Jesus is God (without the Holy Spirit), then we have a binitarian Godhead, and the mystery remains, and we can still say "Holy Mary, Mother of God."
It is my belief that it was this very mystery of the double Godhead that Herbert Armstrong had so well anchored and that was the catalyst in allowing the Bible Answer Man [radio broadcaster Hank Hanegraaff] to crack the minds of HWA's successors and thus convey the WCG onto skid row. If we continue to bandy around with this binitarian mystery, we are just sitting ducks waiting for the next salvo.
It is just a year ago since I made contact with the Christian Churches of God under the leadership of Wade Cox, who had contributed an article in The Journal that was written with a scholarly tone. I have found his exposition on the unitarian Godhead of immense value in eliminating the mystery that prevails. It feels as though my loins have been girded with another sword as we still face a cunning enemy.
Mr. Cox's display in the recent Connections [the advertising publication distributed with The Journal] shows the extent of the work that he has in train, and I recommend his papers to anyone who has time to study. Time is short.
Back in the WCG
I am a new subscriber to The Journal. The consensus seems to be, judging by the letters to the editor and other contributions, that we should look at no man but follow Jesus Christ. Yet thing seem to go wrong.
Well, I don't know. How cold and empty the church would be if we were not allowed to look at any man. It seems even unbiblical.
Besides, there seems to be some real blindness involved here. Not a single person who belongs to our tradition was called directly by God. To say something else would amount to lunacy. No, we were the fruit of what the church calls the work. The work is done by men. They write booklets, they make TV programs, they place ads in newspapers, and they talk to people who feel called by God.
Even the Word of God was written by men, and its canon was settled on by Catholic and Protestant church councils.
If we should dispense with people, what do we need the work for?
There is a lot of talk about biblical church government. I don't understand. The biblical government seems to have changed with the changing times. God placed Moses, Aaron, the judges and kings to lead His people. Where did this idea of a headless church come from? There is no headless church. There can only be a many-headed beast. Everyone seems to do what is right in his own eyes.
There's an underlying assumption that the WCG is not doing this and not doing that because it is so corrupt. But maybe the reason is that there is no one in the WCG to do this or that. We are the salt of the earth. In our Father's house there are many mansions, and some just can't stand it.
No one told them to quit doing and believing what they always had done and believed. Instead, they neglected being the light to the world and left the newcomers to sort out the mess for themselves. Sure, there is a lot of work done these days, but how could it convince anyone when the church itself is in shambles and everyone is blaming someone else?
I have learned a lot of things recently. I'm going back to the Worldwide Church of God.
Financing The Journal
We enjoy your publication and feel that it serves a useful function in the Churches of God. In these difficult times, the encouragement, enlightenment and warnings you can provide to the people of God are beneficial.
Enclosed you will find a donation to help your efforts. We have heard that you are having financial problems (please comment). If this is true or not, please publish this letter to make your readers aware that donations would be appreciated.
Get the facts
As an Ambassador College graduate and student of international affairs, I find your publication informative. Anyone who has a serious interest in Christianity needs to be informed of the present state of affairs of the churches. In this regard I find The Journal and also Servants' News helpful.
Stay with the facts (no matter how embarrassed some may be) and you will always get support. Keep your publication. Don't be afraid to publish the truth.
In shepherd's clothing
Several years ago I heard a story that amused me at the time. It went like this: A salesman traveling in a developing country needed transportation to a small town and hired a taxi to take him to his destination. When he arrived in the town, he noted that the main street was in chaos. A man was frantically trying to drive a herd of sheep down the street, but the sheep were scattering in all directions.
The visiting salesman remarked, "That shepherd sure doesn't know his business." Whereupon the driver commented: "Sir, that is not a shepherd. He is the local butcher."
The story is no longer funny but is a pitiful reminder of what is happening to God's flock. Jeremiah 23:1 reads: "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord."
Wayne Cole for council of elders
Reading Wayne Cole's article in The Journal July 31 makes us sad. He revealed the lovely, happy, unified spirit at Indianapolis in 1995 when United started, with 96 percent agreeing with the form of governance, resulting in thousands of people wanting to be part of it.
But at the next conference, just a few months later in Cincinnati, another spirit was evident among the ministers, it seems. A few ministers had crept in unawares (some British, I'm sad to say), wanting to take over United by plotting underground to hand the church over to one man at the top, thus breaking up a happy, God-loving spirit.
Do people want to go back to a system that has brought forth popes, Hitler, Stalin, millions and millions of deaths and been a cause of, in my opinion, about three fourths of the fallout from the WCG until the 1990s? Apart from governance, the WCG did a wonderful job.
No wonder Cincinnati wasn't a success with those bad motivations (although they probably didn't realize it, and we will have to try to forgive them) moving them onwards.
But all of us, ministers and laypersons, with God's help can get back to the spirit of Indianapolis in United AIA.
But how we need people like Wayne Cole inside AIA to help us do it. I had hoped he would be on the council of elders soon.
Reliance on secrecy
First off, so that you can figure out with how many grains of salt to take what I have to say, I am an NC [New Covenant] Christian bordering on agnostic. I grew up in the WCG, but I do not follow any semblance of Armstrongite teachings anymore.
Frankly, on Saturdays, I-well-do nothing, but in a secular manner. Makes all the difference in the world. I am also outspoken in general against Armstrongism and most organized religion.
Anyway, to the point:
I was looking through your Web site [www.thejournal.org], and, even though I disagree vehemently with most of the theology, etc., presented, I have to admire the way you attempt to represent all points of view somewhat fairly, even to the point of placing Mark Tabladillo's Web site (an obvious and unrepentant NC-type person) on your links page.
I believe that first and foremost people need all of the facts to make informed decisions on their own, and I think this is something you are attempting to provide within the somewhat narrow framework of the viewpoints of your writers.
It is a small step; nonetheless it is a step. The organizations and people that are abusive, in the vein of Herbert Armstrong, need to be held accountable to their members and kept in check to minimize the abuse. The WCG is a good example of what happens when this doesn't take place. A lot of those organizations rely on cultish methods, including secrecy, to hold sway over their members' beliefs-which is something that you don't seem to allow to go on for very long.
Anyway, keep up the good work. I hope that someday you and the organizations you cover can break free of the narrow worldview that Armstrongism and legalism represent and begin to see how much bigger everything is. But at the same time I recognize your right to believe as you wish without interference from the likes of me and abuse from the likes of the organizations that would take advantage of it.
I would like to comment on three specific things that I liked in the July 31 issue.
First, I enjoyed the letter from Darl Arbogast, whom I have known for some years (we were in Graduate Club [in the WCG] together). His main points about the spiritual Body of Christ, and having meals with those with whom we may have some doctrinal disagreement, are edifying and instructive.
The Lord Jesus Christ met people where they were, and there was not one human in His day who had correct or doctrinal beliefs identical to His; this was the case in every story from Matthew through John, and we are called to follow that example.
Second, the approach on page 6 to the nature-of-Jesus articles ["Journal Begins Series on Nature of Jesus"] is tactful and, I believe, refreshing and edifying. The church (all members) should be the place where people can bring in doctrinal discussion.
The comment about "behind closed doors" aptly describes the majority of WCG culture. Even today the WCG struggles for formal accountability to the church community at large. Too often members have believed that they can pay away their spiritual responsibility to decide.
Third, I appreciated C. Wayne Cole's lengthy open letter ["C. Wayne Cole Writes Open Letter Explaining Decision"], a heartfelt testimony covering many years.
Specifically, I appreciate his sharing what it felt like to be isolated from fellowship in the 1970s. Also, I agree with his perspective on "iron sharpening iron," that the spiritual community needs to be open to rebuke and criticism and that we desire leaders humble enough to hear every word and carefully consider the issues at hand. When the discussion switches from the corrective message to the messenger, something is very wrong.
The letter's conclusion about freedom in assembly is a powerful one, and I share concerns that too often politics (or economics?) alone prevents fellowship.
Not so with this issue of The Journal.
The think system
Is thinking with one's own brain, guided by the Spirit, dangerous?
In the July 31 issue of The Journal, Howard Baker writes about thinking ["Don't Believe Everything You Think," page 3]. I do not know his mind, but his article could be understood to mean that we should leave thinking on biblical matters to others and be thankful to them who do the thinking for us. I surely hope he did not mean it that way.
He wrote about "scoffers" and "stupid" people. It seemed that he meant that those who think for themselves are such. Only those who receive instruction (from others and not directly from God?) seemed to be wise, according to his article.
Because of the way the article was subtitled and written, it seemed to me that the idea was that thinking (by oneself) was considered hateful to God and as leading to seven evil things. It seemed to say that those who think independently, and try to see what the will of God is, directly from the Bible, which is the inspired Word of God, are "grumblers" and "complainers" who "cause division."
The article also seemed to say that someone without proper training will not be able to think right but will see only "a part of the picture" and even that things that seem plain and clear are often falsehoods.
I indeed hope I am wrong in my understanding in Howard Baker's article, for it is pure Catholic doctrine all the way!
In the Catholic Church "laypeople" are not expected to study the Bible, but only listen to what others teach them: others who have been trained in the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome or some similar school.
Laypeople are said to lack the wherewithal to understand the Bible, therefore it is heretical and dangerous for them to study the Bible and/or think for themselves.
In the Catholic Church (and, yes, also in other similarly structured groups) the members are expected to just receive instruction from the "clergy," the "hierarchy" (an admittedly Catholic invention), not from the inspired Word of God. And, yes, they are expected to be thankful.
All and any who think for themselves and claim to see in the Bible that the doctrines of that church are not biblical are excommunicated and even declared anathema-in the name of unity and doctrinal purity and so on. Multiple millions were tortured and killed under and haunted by the flag of that understanding, and, yes, that very wrong thinking.
The article ended by saying, "Let us not believe everything we think." Let me say this: If I do not believe what I myself think, I have serious mental problems. Things will not get better if I, instead of following my own God-given understanding, conscientiously fearing God, start following what others think and following men and being thankful about that.
What does the Word of God say about these things? "Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a Light unto my path."
These words clearly require that we study the Bible, and studying means thinking. Further, we are clearly also told to think about these things, all by ourselves: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night."
Meditating means thinking and not repeating mantras one has been given by others.
The Bible warns about those who do not think: "The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away."
It is not enough just to sing those familiar words with others; they have a deep meaning and warning and they require thinking.
We all ought to be master students of the Bible already by this time, but most, and I say most, are not but are bottle-fed by others. And the formula is not the best, in many a case.
Paul says clearly: "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."
I am afraid that most would not be able even to say what those "principles" of the doctrine of Christ are, which are by Paul called the foundation. Why? Because people have incessantly been told to follow men and listen to the "clergy" and not to discuss doctrine with each other or even to think they can understand it by themselves.
And, yes, they were expected to read into the Bible what the one who "set doctrine in the church" declared to be the truth.
All thinking people know that it is not the "laypeople" who have caused division but the "clergy," whose members say we ought only to follow them. If people had learned to think properly, they would never have followed any heretical leader. If people had learned to think properly they would have looked to Jesus and God's inspired written Word.
People who think correctly will not cause division, but they will reject false teachers who tell them not to think by themselves, and they will avoid such-just as the Bible tells us to do.
Hey, the truth of God is not to be mediated to us by some hierarchy like in the Catholic Church; we are to meditate on it day and night, having each day studied what God is telling us in His Word, the Bible. That means thinking-with our own brains!
What's right about the WCG?
We hear, and read, a lot of WCG-bashing these days, and not all of it is undeserved. After all, the leadership of that denomination has adopted and imposed on its membership some unscriptural doctrines, including the Trinity and the observance of Easter.
The same leaders have also embraced an evangelical doctrinal package that includes a significant number of teachings that would not be recognized by the original apostles were they to arise in our day.
(Much of Catholic theology was developed in opposition to the Jewish influence in the early church, and much of Protestant theology was created as a reaction to Catholic theology. In addition, Protestants perpetuated some erroneous ideas brought over from the Roman church: the doctrine of original sin being a case in point.)
The WCG leadership also insists on maintaining an authoritarian form of church government that effectively gives the top man autocratic control over funds, doctrine and all significant political power in the organization.
At the same time, we have to give WCG leaders credit where it's due. The September 1998 issue of The Worldwide News contained encouraging news of the creation of an Office of Racial Reconciliation Ministries. This move-in some form-is much needed and long overdue.
We must also credit the WCG leadership with abandoning the US&BC doctrine, which was the source of at least some of the racism that tainted the old WCG. That doctrine was, and is, exegetically flawed, and it often represents an eisogetical approach to the historical record. (An explanation of why it was withdrawn can be found on the WCG's Web page.)
The WCG also deserves credit for placing greater emphasis on Christ and less on a cult of human personality (though there may still be too much of this).
That it has recognized the fuller role women can play in the church also represents a major advance.
Making tithing voluntary instead of compulsory is a courageous, and honest, step ahead. Regular open financial disclosure in the pages of The Worldwide News is a refreshing change from the old days of clandestine slush funds and lack of spending accountability by top personnel.
The idea that the church should have a "missionary" outreach is also a vital step ahead. Today's missionary is really the equivalent of the New Testament apostle.
One final point: The increased emphasis on worship in the Spirit of God is a major advance for Worldwide. In the long run this alone may make more difference than anything in moving the WCG ahead or, better yet, back to the "faith once for all delivered." All of the Churches of God desperately need to witness the manifest power of the Holy Spirit in worship, through prayer, in preaching the Gospel, in healing and in deliverance from every form of bondage.
As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
God has not changed. We have. The power of God is as available to the church as much as it ever was. We just have to get positioned to receive and manifest it. It sounds like the WCG has made a good start in this direction.
The tithes that blind?
This letter is written in reply to Bob Schultz's letter in the July 31 issue of The Journal, which he stated was for my edification.
Bob wrote: "It is important that we point out some facts to Sue of which she seems unaware," and "Clearly she misses the major point that no elders in CCG [Christian Churches of God] were ever ministers in the WCG or any of its (HWA's) organization."
I never said or never meant to say all the ministers in the various churches that call themselves Churches of God were ordained ministers who left the WCG. The main point was that all these "churches" that are so quick to put the name of God in their title are bickering, fighting and asking for tithes from the people of God.
The CCG does teach tithing; at least that is what I read in its statement of beliefs. It teaches that "it is the responsibility of every Christian to support the activities of the Church. The principle is derived from the tithe as offered to God through the priesthood and the Levites from the occupation of Israel (Deut. 12:9-14)."
In other words, people should give their money to the CCG to do "the work," implying that the person reading and who doesn't respond by contributing is robbing God and keeping His work from being done on this earth!
Balderdash. God doesn't need or want our money. He wants our love toward Him from all our hearts, mind, strength and being, or I have misunderstood the first and greatest commandment.
That CCG ministers do not receive a salary is commendable, but what are you all bragging about? (You keep saying "we," so I assume you are not just talking for yourself but speaking on behalf of the CCG.) When you have done all that is commanded you, are you still an unprofitable servant?
Those who have been misled over the years by leaders teaching that they were robbing God and by those leaders misapplying the Scriptures and claiming that they are the Levitical priesthood have not been compensated either, although Peter said we are all the royal priesthood.
Many, many men have given their time to serve the church. Many, many women have given of their time to serve the church. They all did it expecting no monetary reward. They did it to serve God. You cannot serve god and mammon.
This has certainly been borne out by ministers forsaking the flock to be certain their money source did not dry up. It is also true of ministers who have switched doctrines to others not based on the Bible but on the teachings of "other tested Christians" so that their money source doesn't dry up.
My husband served the brethren in the areas we lived as a deacon without any compensation for the time he volunteered and the money he spent to serve the church. Isn't that what we are all called to do? Does he brag that he has done something for God? No! He did it willingly and unto God.
Many wives went to work to help support their families because of a three-tithe system that left them without enough to pay the bills. Fearing that they were robbing God if they didn't send in all of the tithe as computed according to the reasoning of some man, they left their families at home and went to work to serve God. I'm glad to hear you know of other women who are also willing to work to serve God's purpose in their lives. Does God owe them something?
"We have worked tirelessly for years in spite of obstruction from the ministry and members of the WCG system who slandered and disfellowshipped, or otherwise forced out, most of us in the first place for objecting to the heresy in the WCG of the last five years."
That's great, but, again, what have you done for God that God owes you anything? To perpetuate the purported "work of God" that must be done at any expense (the expense of the tithes of the people of God, not on their increase but on their sometimes poverty-level income) is to further a misconception that has crept into the "Churches of God" over the years.
The work that God is doing, the only one I can find in my Bible, is the converting and changing of the people He calls to conform to His Son by their believing in Him and on His Son. Rather than justifying the particular method of tithing your church may teach, why don't you look into whether the Levites still exist as a body to serve at the tabernacle, which (earthly) tabernacle no longer stands.
"We travel great distances to fellowship and learn together because we genuinely love one another, as anyone who has attended one of our feasts and studies will know. We are concerned about what is said and believed because peace comes from working together in agreement under the direction of Jesus Christ. We try with all our might to fulfill the commission Christ gave to the church."
Really, Bob, isn't this true of all the people of God who are attending the many Churches of God? The feasts have always been the highlight of the year for many, many people, even in the RCG and WCG under HWA-not because of the organization but because God is present there.
His Spirit is in the people, not in the organization, and there is no one church that is obeying Him completely and totally. Many may come close, and some few are beginning to question old tithing beliefs from the past, but few can or will give up their claims to be Levites, whose only purpose was to do the work at the tabernacle under the supervision of the Aaronic priesthood-which priesthood has been replaced by Jesus Christ, who is an everlasting High Priest. And we (all the people in the Body of Christ) are the royal priesthood, doing our best to obey Him as He leads and directs.
Some of us have come to the point of realizing that God and Christ don't want robotlike obedience to Their commandments, but a response of love to Them for the propitiation offered through the blood of Christ for all of our sins. While we see works as evidence of our faith in Christ, we do not see works as our way to salvation, which is only through faith in Christ.
The living-room Churches of God may not have all the truths, but they are searching their Bibles and speaking often to one another about what they find there. They don't owe allegiance to any one man's interpretation of Scriptures.
They have the testimony of Jesus Christ and of His apostles to hold in their laps and study and digest as never before. They have gone from the milk of the word to the meat. They are at last getting down to what God really wants in their lives and allowing God to direct their learning through Scriptures as His Spirit leads them to study and to discuss.
Anyone in Northern California who believes that Christ is our only teacher and that His Spirit will lead His people into all truth and who would like to meet together as equals to discuss the Word of God can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you currently have an LRCOG in this area, we would like to hear from you.
Report from Belgrade
Thank you for the news of the COG (Monrovia), which was handled in a fair and relatively unbiased manner [two articles beginning on page 1, July 31 issue]. I know that your staff won't believe it, but David Hulme went around the world only upon invitation received from others. It would never have occurred to him to come to Belgrade if I hadn't had the courage to give him a collect phone call in California.
Speaking of the fruits, let me just tell you that a person whom I never met and is of another cultural and ethnic background and does not travel to Eastern Europe at all is almost constantly mentioning Belgrade and telling how ministers must care for us and so on. That is strange and amazing, but it is finally happening in the Church of God.
Also, the caricature in July issue [the cartoon on page 3, by Jim Robbins] is awesome. Man, where do you people get such an inspiration? Yet I can never forget that Laodicean newsstand [the cartoon on page 3 of the Dec. 18, 1997, issue]. That was truly amazing. I hope that God reveals to all of us where to go and what to do in the future.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God