|Voice of the Sabbath
We badly need newspapers like yours if we are to stay well informed on news within our various fellowships and organizations, as well as broaden our perspectives on many biblical subjects and other issues. While some of the many church in-house organs are fairly good, others leave much to be desired. We need to hear more than the familiar, to move beyond drinking milk to absorbing solid spiritual food (Hebrews 5:12- 14). THE JOURNAL should fill the void created by many of the in-house church publications that tend to represent a narrow sectarian and organizational viewpoint. It’s our fervent hope that THE JOURNAL will represent a multiplicity of views so that it can help us make more intelligent choices, provoke meaningful discussion and promote spiritual growth. We hope you never degenerate into religious mudslinging or sensationalism.
Pickering, Ont., Canada
They should have told us
I’m glad that someone [the Philadelphia Church of God] has taken the initiative to again make Mr. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages available. The thought came to mind of what legal ramifications will result, considering that the copyright to it is held by a hostile administration. I guess that question is now being answered, seeing the article on Pasadena’s reaction in the first issue [Feb. 26] of THE JOURNAL, which mentions their lawsuit against this republication. I know it’s what the author would want. Please keep us informed as to the developments on this legal challenge. I am willing to contribute to [PCG pastor general Gerald Flurry’s] defense fund.
I can’t help but think this action will necessarily cause those at Pasadena to expose their true feelings and motives with regard to the doctrines of the church, which they in their positions are required to represent.
The honest thing would have been to explain to the church exactly what they did believe up front and let us know for certain what views they held. They chose, rather, to keep it all secret from us as long as possible. It would have put at risk their hold on power and their significant salaries and perks. I would be pleased to be kept advised as to the developments on this case. [See articles on page 1.] It may have relevance to a matter that I have long considered. I have wondered if individual members could sue the WCG for restitution of tithes and contributions made by unsuspecting members under the belief that the administration in Pasadena believed and supported what we believed. At what point in time did the administrators make the decision to discontinue those doctrines from our teachings and impose other teachings? To continue to collect our contributions under the pretext of representing what we believed when, in fact, they did not is fraud. I have considered seeking counsel regarding suing for a refund if all tithes and contributions made by me to them were during the time during which they misled me as to their true beliefs and intentions.
According to their admissions on [Hank] Hanegraaff’s broadcast in January 1996, they were capitulating by meeting with him and others as early as late 1993. These meetings were not to refute anything they were saying about us, rather to gain expertise in how to put over on the church these long-intended changes. That expertise shows up in subsequent phraseology found in communications to us. I am perhaps more sensitive to that kind of thing than most, having come out of an “evangelical” group years ago that very much espouses the same stuff as does Mr. Hanegraaff. It needs to be determined exactly when they decided to represent another set of beliefs and to discontinue the doctrines long held by the Church of God. Members should be offered the option of leaving past contributions in place or receiving a refund if those contributions were solicited without the contributor’s being aware that the administration had repudiated most of our former beliefs.
I’m writing in response to an article titled “WCG Sues to Stop Mystery of the Ages” in THE JOURNAL,Vol. I, No. 1. That article quotes Dennis Leap as saying that it is well known that the PCG holds more strictly to Mr. Armstrong’s teachings than any other group.
Well, no, that is not well known. In fact, that honor belongs to Rod Meredith and the Global Church of God. It is well known that Mr. Armstrong taught that the great commission that Jesus Christ gave to the church is, first and foremost, to preach the gospel, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, to all of the world and to continue doing it until Christ returns.
Mr. Armstrong lived and breathed for that message. The PCG has, and always has had, an entirely different commission. The GCG has always had the same commitment as Mr. Armstrong to that commission. Mr. Armstrong’s restored truth No. 1 was that God’s form of government is hierarchical. The GCG teaches the same thing. From the top down means from Christ through the apostle, then through evangelists and then pastors and then teachers (elders). That means that after the apostle are evangelists, of whom Rod Meredith is the senior evangelist who has stood up for the truth. To reject that rank (Ephesians 4:11-13) is to reject hierarchical government. The PCG rejects Ephesians 4:11-13 and so rejects true hierarchical government. So, when the facts are considered, it is the Global Church of God that continues to teach the truths that Christ restored to His church through His endtime apostle, Herbert W. Armstrong.
Letter from the editor
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. It gives me great pleasure to have learned of your ministry. Indeed, it is always a blessing to find more people working for the Lord. I’m delighted that you have felt led to provide this service for the people of the Churches of God. The 10 copies of your first issue that I ordered will be distributed here and to other churches in the Caribbean. I would kindly ask if you could mention our newsletter in your “Notes and Quotes” [see page 16]. I am the editor and am 22 years old.
Gilford T. Monrose
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Here is something to think about: When the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord comes at the first resurrection, how will we give account to God? God will not judge how we keep holy days or what calendar we use to keep the Passover. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. The law of God presents us with God’s desire that all people live together in peace without conflict: united, not divided; in compassion without covetousness; loving rather than hating.
Esther M. Lyon
Questioning the feasts
The postponement issues overlook a basic assumption everybody seems to be making. Are the feasts of the Lord commanded for the children of Israel really binding on the Church of God, as HWA used to teach? Private study shows that the nation of Israel was to observe these feasts subject to two conditions: occupation of the Promised Land and reaping its harvests (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:39; Deuteronomy 16:13). Modern churches and religious organizations do not meet these conditions, yet they promote their own versions of these feasts. How come? Wasn’t this what the Jews were doing in the New Testament? (John 5:1; 6:4; 7:2; 11:55; with Isaiah 1:14). Inquiring LRCOG minds want to know! If you elect not to use this letter, I understand the hornet’s nest it could stir up. On the other hand, if our doctrines are true, they ought to be scripturally defensible.
The oracles and the church
Jesus gave us the final say about this issue [the calendar] in Matthew 16:16-19. Again He, Jesus, taught Paul all things (Galatians 1:10-12). Even the false brethren (dissenters) admitted the authority of Paul (Galatians 2:4-9). All things written by Paul are the instruction of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37). The oracles that God committed to the Jews after the flesh are now committed to the church (Romans 2:28- 3:4; Matthew 16:16-19). God our Father and Creator never left decisions of this kind to the uneducated lay people such as myself, but from the beginning (Exodus 18; Deuteronomy 1:15-17) leaders were placed over the congregation. Today, if the Eternal has chosen through Jesus Christ the leaders He wants over His people, the leaders are responsible, and their decisions will be backed up in heaven, or the leaders will be replaced. Were the days, months, times and years not things being celebrated on a pagan calendar? Did Paul not teach the holy days, Sabbaths and the keeping of the “new moons”? (Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16).
Moses was given instructions by the Eternal in person pertaining to the sacred calendar. These instructions were kept through the time of the first coming of Jesus. There was no indication that Jesus was in any way dissatisfied. Therefore the instructions of Jesus to Peter and Paul should lay to rest all of the palaver about this.
Night to observe
Although I generally agreed with Wade Cox’s comments concerning the postponements [“Wade Cox Says Heavenly Signs Show Months (Gen. 1:14),” Feb. 26], he made a statement that needs clarification. He said, “The Passover embraces two days, the Lord’s Supper of Nisan 14 and the Night to Be Much Observed, which is the Passover meal of Exodus 12.” How does Mr. Cox square Mark 14:12 with this statement? If the lambs were being sacrificed as Jesus was giving instructions to prepare a place to eat the Passover, then the Passover meal described in Matthew 26:17-20, Mark 14:14-18 and Luke 22:11-16 was the same as the Passover meal of Exodus 12. But how can that be? The Exodus 12 Passover was eaten on the 15th, and the 15th is a holy day. Jesus wasn’t on the cross on the holy day! Would Mr. Cox say the lambs were slain over a two-day period? If so, those lambs slain on the first day would be slain on the 13th—very unbiblical, in my opinion.
Matt J. Bryant
As time goes by
I was happy to see someone, finally, really bring the “calendar issue” up front to the brethren. There has been a lot of talk the past year, but with a certain amount of subduing. Years ago I tried to understand Dr. Hoeh’s explanation (in defense) of the Hebrew calendar, but couldn’t. A year ago I started studying into the calendar, and I could understand a calendar that was based on scriptural guidelines. Even though I am a female with no scientific or technical leanings, nevertheless I could understand Mr. [James] Russell’s booklet Postponements: Another Mystery of the Ages.
Mr. Cartwright, when you made the comment (page 5), “Thus Mr. Russell’s method requires complex calculations to come up with,” are you sure you didn’t mean the Hebrew calendar? There are no complex calculations to come up with. The calculations for the new moons are all done for us astronomically! All we need to do is go to the library or buy a Farmer’s Almanac; even some of our calendars that businesses give out have the “new moons” marked. Knowing the new moons or beginning of the month, we can follow the counting directions from the Bible, adding a 13th month (in the spring) only when needed to keep the Passover, etc., in season. Like I said before, even I can understand it.
The statement Mrs. Neely cites in the article “Outlook on Postponements Affects Festival Observances” (Feb. 26) refers to the computations required by astronomers, scientists or the Farmer’s Almanac people to calculate the new moons, not to Mr. Russell’s method, which makes use of those complex calculations. The reason for the statement is that those calculations were probably beyond the abilities of ancient observers, a point Mr. Russell acknowledges.
Finally got the February issue yesterday. It’s great! I thought In Transition was simply going to transfer our remaining subscription funds over to you, so there was a little confusion here. In any case, we definitely want to keep the free-press concept alive and well, so here’s our check for a two-year subscription. I’m not sure if this is considered a “new” or “renewal” subscription, but, seeing as the label says “Issues rem 0,” I’d guess a new subscription. Mr. and Mrs. Jon Beadles Park City, Kan. We’re sorry for the confusion, but subscriptions to In Transition do not transfer to THE JOURNAL; they are two separate publications with two separate mailing lists. Any questions about In Transition subscriptions should be directed to P.O. Box 450, Monroe, Ind. 46772. THE JOURNAL’S address is P.O. Box 1020, Big Sandy, Texas 75755.
Readers who like to travel might be interested in an educational tour of Europe being planned this summer under the auspices of EF Educational Tours. Trip leaders are two professors of English, Dr. Joy-Ellis McLemore and I (Dr. Dan Smith), both of Ambassador University. The tours are designed for students, but energetic adults are encouraged to apply as well. The 10-day tour will depart on May 27 for Amsterdam and will include a walking tour, a visit to Anne Frank’s house and a canal cruise before moving on to Cologne and the Rhineland. The trip includes a guided tour of Brussels, two days’ sightseeing in Paris and a Channel crossing by ferry and concludes with a walking tour of London. Options include an add-on two-day extension trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, by night train. Student price for the trip is about $1,550 (ages 13-25), adults $1,750, which includes round-trip airfare, double-occupancy hotel, two meals a day, travel between cities and a bilingual tour director. For information phone me at (903) 636-2135 or E-mail danny_smith@ ambassador.edu.
Big Sandy, Texas
The power of gospelizing
I received the farewell issue of In Transition and the announcement of THE JOURNAL with mixed emotions. Best wishes for your new endeavor. By coincidence, the day after In Transition arrived The Dallas Morning News contained an article describing the “people power” movement in Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania. These Eastern European nations replaced communist regimes with democracies, then retreated from their newly won freedoms by installing totalitarian governments. Now grassroots movements in each of these countries seek to elect more-egalitarian leadership. This parallels recent events in the UCG. When the WCG’s “benevolent dictatorship” (to quote IT publisher John Robinson) turned less benevolent, many left promising never to place themselves under the control of one man again. Then a mistrust of unaccustomed freedom resulted in a movement toward a more-hierarchical structure. Now some of the general conference of elders [of the UCG] and the laity are reminding the leadership of the vision endorsed at Indianapolis [at the UCG’s founding conference in May 1995].
On another matter, Ellis Stewart [in an article in the same issue of In Transition] says he dislikes the term “local evangelism” because it “sounds too Protestant.” Over the years I have heard several WCG ministers apologize for using John 3:16 in a sermon for the same reason. One of these ministers, now a WCG regional pastor, defended his use of this scripture by saying, “Well, it is in the Bible.” If you look at the Greek, you will find that “preaching the gospel” translates a single Greek word, Strong’s No. 2097. This word is a combination of two other words and means “to good-news-proclaim.” The word gospel by itself (that is, outside the phrase “preaching the gospel”) is word No. 2098. And evangelist is No. 2099. It would be closer to the flavor of the Greek to translate word No. 2097 as “gospel-proclaiming” or “gospelizing” rather than “preaching the gospel.” Or, if you prefer the English word that is derived straight from the Greek, the best translation is “evangelizing.” So I maintain that “evangelizing” is really more biblical than “preaching the gospel.” Unfortunately, the King James translators chose to translate one Greek word with three English words. However, I believe that the core issue is the rejection of any “local preaching of the gospel” or “preaching the gospel locally” or whatever phrase you prefer.
There are some who seem to translate Mark 16:15 as “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature except your neighbors.” But, if these people feel less threatened by “preach the gospel” than by “evangelize,” then let’s use that. But let’s not unnecessarily confuse or offend outsiders by using nonstandard language when talking with them. Christ never intended the laity to hide their lights under a bushel. Perhaps we have taken the “salt of the earth” analogy too literally. It sometimes seems that we have intentionally sought maximum dispersion of our members: one person here, a family 50 miles away. Christianity thrives in groups, hence the command not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Not only is local evangelism inexpensive, but possibly it is the most cost-effective way to preach the gospel. In the long run it would expand the financial base for supporting global evangelism. Alas, we have seldom considered the long run. Perhaps the move to Cincinnati [see page 1] will help the UCG break the old mind-set.
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