Letters from our readers
Note: This file includes material not in the print version of The Journal.
Thank you for the spot about Sabbath Singles Connection on page 24 in the Jan. 31 issue. In the past such coverage of SSC has always helped stir interest.
The last two months have been slow as far as new subscribers, but we're still thankful there are two women (although no men) to date for the update issue (March-April).
For your information, there is a small correction to the article. The (U.S. subscriber) price is $10 for 12 issues. Since I normally print every other month, that covers two years, not one year as printed in The Journal. This will of course be cleared up when someone requests the SSC information and application form.
Word to the wives
I just finished reading an article in your latest Journal (Jan. 19), written by Bruce Lyon, titled "Baby Makes 19: David and His Wives."
Even though I agree with Bruce Lyon on most of what he stated, I strongly disagree with the final statement in the article: "Obviously, the administration of God's spiritual law isn't exactly the same in the Old Testament as in the New, as some have contended."
What Bruce seems to be saying is that God gave one set of laws to those of the Old Testament and another set for us today. I don't buy into that!
Let's examine the words of Christ in Matthew 5:17-19. Verse 17 says: "Think not [or 'don't even think'] that I come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
The laws Christ was referring to were the laws of the Old Testament, because the New Testament had not been written yet when He spoke those famous words. Christ was plainly telling us that the laws of the Torah would never be done away with until the heavens and the earth were done away with.
Hebrews 13:8 says: "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever."
Because Christ's own words stated that He did not come to destroy the laws of the Old Testament, that tells me that the laws that allowed for multiple marriages in King David's day are the same laws that people should live by today. If David and Abraham and Jacob and Moses were allowed many wives and concubines, then so are the men of today.
Nowhere in the New Testament, even in statements by Christ Himself, is mentioned that a man was not allowed more than one wife. The only scriptures that refer to a man having only one wife are in reference to those who seek the office of a bishop or elder in the church. All others can have as many wives as they can afford.
Maybe one of your readers can show me from the New Testament where men other than bishops, deacons and elders cannot have more than one wife. We are told to prove all things, so prove it to me.
Adultery is rampant in this country. I wonder sometimes that if a man could have more than one wife (as God allows) would adultery be a rare thing.
I saw this poem in Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book The Ten Commandments. It was sent to her anonymously. It might help people to stop and think before they gossip.
My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody's friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip. I make headlines and headaches.
Before you repeat a story ask yourself, is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary?
If not, don't repeat it!
Please renew my subscription. I wait for the paper to come each month; I sit and read it right away. I don't buy the local paper. It has no interest for me. But The Journal gets my attention.
I visited a congregation yesterday. Let us just say that it is part of an organization that formed last year and could be described as very conservative.
Our brethren are there, and I love to visit them on a regular basis. So far I like their local pastor as well.
I have also discussed some divergent views with some of them there--not divergent from God's law, God's Sabbath, His holy days or His plan of salvation as revealed in the festivals. And no one believes in God's plan to reproduce Himself through us humans more than I.
The discussions have been brotherly and, where disagreeing, dispassionate.
So I was amazed at the main message by one of the local elders yesterday.
Many of the brethren in this congregation left their previous organization last year when their then pastor in great anger told them essentially to think what you want, but otherwise put up and shut up or leave. And leave they did: more than half of that former congregation.
Yesterday the elder in this newer group denigrated those of us who visit with them but do not totally support their group. He essentially told us, along with any among their own group, that if we do not agree completely with them we should stay away voluntarily rather than be asked not to attend.
This elder went on to say that all he knew of any significance could be summed up by three books that he constantly reads: Mystery of the Ages, The Incredible Human Potential and the Bible (note the order).
He derided the idea that us laymen could know anything theologically or spiritually before God would reveal it to the ministry. He denounced the reading of other sources of information, apart from the traditionally approved, as "garbage."
If we had any divergent views from the above, then we were messed up in our thinking. Further, God would not reveal anything more to us if we did not conform to the aforementioned.
He disparaged those of us not committed to any visible organization, saying this was an absolute impediment to our spiritual development. This is even worse than not being part of his group. At least God might be able to eventually lead corporate brethren to his fellowship. (Apparently, being committed to the whole Body of Christ has no merit to this man.)
When I first visited there a while back, this same elder was one of the first I chatted with. He was his usual friendly, humble self. We had an interesting discussion. We disagreed on some fundamental issues regarding organizations.
It was a godly disagreement. Neither of us was aggressive toward the other. Neither of us offended the other. Neither of us made substantial effort to convince the other to see it our way. I appreciated his personal perspective and felt he was sincere. (Now it is plain that he felt I was a confused spiritual no-account.)
I still believe the man is sincere. I also believe he is unbalanced and extreme in a number of his views and blatantly closed-minded, as expressed in his message.
I felt uncomfortable early on in the message. After some minutes I knew he was expressing only his own opinion at times, along with conventional wisdom of past decades of extreme, steeply hierarchical, top-down thinking.
However, he included himself among the "laymen." Though this indicates some humility remains, unfortunately it also corroborates to me that he is expressing not only his own opinion, but the prevailing opinion of those way above him in the professional ministry of his organization.
After all, if he also is only basically a "layman" to whom God does not reveal anything of note except it come down the pyramid, then the extreme views he expressed yesterday must, perforce, be the opinions of the real thinkers and "ordained" ministers in his church.
Considering the plain theological and historical errors in Herbert W. Armstrong's books mentioned above, along with the apparently corporate thinking expressed by this man, I have to conclude that this church organization is, in fact, reactionary--repressively conservative.
Conserving truth is laudable and right (of course). Perpetuating error and mindless groupthink is not.
Unity is a wonderful thing. But not at the expense of plain truth.
I did not say amen to the closing prayer, which thanked God for inspiring the above message.
CCG law series
The series from the Reading of the Law that was conducted this sabbath year at the Feast is now on the web at www.logon.org and www.ccg.org. The church is pleased to have been able to undertake the activity and had it all published within the one sacred year, thus completing our responsibilities to God in that regard.
The papers cover the structure of the Law and the Prophets in the following sequence:
The First Great Commandment (No. 252); Law and the First Commandment (No. 253); Law and the Second Commandment (No 254); Law and the Third Commandment (No. 255); Law and the Fourth Commandment (No. 256).
The Second Great Commandment (No. 257); Law and the Fifth Commandment (No. 258); Law and the Sixth Commandment (No. 259); Law and the Seventh Commandment (No. 260); Law and the Eighth Commandment (No. 261); Law and the Ninth Commandment (No. 262); Law and the Tenth Commandment (No. 263).
The Law papers will explain some interesting aspects of biblical law and our common law. Readers will see the basis of our structure of law and be able to draw conclusions as to how it differs from the European system of law that is underway in the European Community.
The Introduction to Philosophy of Biblical Law from the hardbound copy will be placed on the Web at a later date.
The hardbound copy, which will contain all the appendices and the revised paper "God's Calendar" (No. 156), will be available shortly after the Passover. It will be made available to our readers.
The paper on the calendar will contain some new historical information regarding the Samaritans and the calendar in use during the temple period. This will add further weight of evidence to the already-clear position regarding the correct calendar of the church. The issue of the start of the day will also be dealt with as that is an important and confusing issue with the churches and Judaism.
Translation of the Law papers is already underway in Russian and Ukrainian, and we hope to have those papers up on the Web also from Passover. We will publish hard copies for them as funds permit.
We also hope to have the Web sites for German, Latvian and Hungarian ready by Passover, and, we hope, Polish, Italian and Indonesian sites will be up with statements of belief in all sites shortly thereafter.
Those people in remote locations absolutely unable to obtain the Law papers from the Web may make a special-case request to P.O. Box 131374, St. Paul, Minn. 55113, U.S.A., or P.O. Box 369, Woden, A.C.T. 2606, Australia.
I am going to put forth a challenge to those in the organized Churches of God. Ask your minister to give a Bible study on the 34th chapter of Ezekiel, and from time to time continue to ask.
I don't believe there is a minister out there who has the courage and fortitude to give a Bible study on the 34th chapter of Ezekiel.
But, if you'll keep pressing it, you'll probably see him going out of his way to avoid you. Go ahead. Give it a try.
Deterrent to the cause
The last few months have seen an increased awareness and discussion about the tribulation, much or most of it from the Protestant circles. In fact, most of the preaching about this sin-sick world is coming from these Protestants, much more than we hear, see or read about from the COG.
It is most unfortunate that the people who believe they have been given the responsibility to preach the "good news" of the coming Kingdom are more interested in who Jesus was than who He is. We, of the COG, probably because of wrongs in the past, seem to fear the preaching of that good news because we might be said to be setting dates.
However, He who was the forerunner of such preaching did not fear speaking the truth. In fact, He did so to the point of giving His life so we, upon whom the ends of the age have come, would have the example and the Spirit, if we will stir it up, to do exactly as He did: break the news that the world is about to change.
Perhaps our reluctance is because of the booklets we printed and the preaching we did about the terrible time of Jacob's trouble, the time that would be worse than anything this world has ever seen. When one thinks about it, we did literally try to scare the hell out of people.
But it seems to have been effective. Someone heard us, for there are now more outside the borders of the COG who testify to these things than we who we said were assigned to that task.
Our rallying cry in those days was, of course, Matthew 24:14, which most of us realize now that we did not complete, nor can we, even though some say we did. I believe that, if we are waiting for men and organizations to complete that task, the Kingdom is far, far in the future.
At the same time, we cannot tell how many came to Christ through our efforts, nor how many were, by those efforts, prepared to do so in the future. From a personal standpoint, I think the preaching in those days made a lasting impression. Well remembered are the thoughts of horror over the prospect of violent death for millions in this end-time event as well as the thoughts and prayers that said, "Surely, Father, there is a better way."
However, the futility of that thinking has long since been replaced by admiration for Him who sits in the heavens, for Him who knew that man would finally have to be severely chastised before he would look beyond himself and other men for help and salvation.
The horror does remain, but understanding of what we are, as men, has dampened it.
The COG, in its present condition, because of its infighting, its indecision and differences of opinion, is the greatest deterrent to the cause of Christianity. Would any of us, as a loving, merciful and all-knowing God, thrust a newly called individual into the arena of confusion, name-calling and all the rest that we have created and portray to the world around us since the scattering?
Would He even call someone in a time when there is no one stable enough to teach?
God, by the scattering, has proved to Himself what we are. He has shown us the same if we will hear. We are not the lily-white, hand-folding cream of Christianity we thought we were. We are not much different, if at all different, from the society from which we supposed we were leaving behind by shaking that dust off our feet.
There is little evidence that we are more impressed by our little doctrinal differences than is our Lord and Master. Was it He who said: "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not"?
Those outside the realm of the COG continually proclaim that the "King is coming" while we ask, "What is His qualifying background?" Has He always been, or is He created like us?
I am forced to think that the question of His origins, as all the other minor doctrinal differences, is inconsequential and stupid when compared with the completeness of eternity. I have to wonder if we have not impressed our King with how dumb we are instead of how enlightened we believe ourselves to be.
Moreover, I am convinced that God will have a people for His name, if He finally has to raise up stones in our place. I am also convinced that the spirit we stir within us is not always the spirit of holiness and righteousness but one of envy, lust, greed and self-righteousness.
It is said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Sometimes I think we are fiddling while the time to do good flees from us. My prayer for myself, for all of us: Please, Father, help us in this hour of our greatest need.
A simple answer will do
Banking is a global business. Unimaginable sums of money are in a constant state of electronic flux, and interdependency is particularly acute when one considers the size, scope and complexity of the problems involved.
A bank (as well as any government agency, business in the private sector, etc.) is outright lying to its clients when it claims Y2K compliance if its transaction-processing systems are ready but are unable to relay information to clients, creditors, regulators, payment and settlement systems, etc., because of a breakdown in telecommunications.
Please realize this: On Jan. 1, 2000, the banking industry will prove to be only as compliant as its weakest link.
If you are interested in the Y2K compliance of your bank or credit union, I suggest that you consider submitting the following questions to the bank's president as well as its chief legal counsel:
Mr. Dart's differences
I want to respond to a Dec. 31 article, "Cincinnati Invites, Then Uninvites, Ron Dart to Speak." I have been a member of God's church for 35 years and was in the Church of God International when Mr. Dart was an evangelist there from 1985 to 1994.
As an attorney who has an undergraduate degree in journalism, I tend to read things with a critical, if not downright skeptical, eye. Mr. Dart, I am aware, is immensely popular. But I have often observed that popularity is often purchased by not taking stands on unpopular issues.
I am, by the way, not a United Church of God member, although I attended with the UCG for more than a year. Mr. Dart says that "the only published doctrinal difference [with me] is on the question of military service, and my mind is open on that."
First, I disagree that that is the only doctrinal difference he has with the UCG or most branches of the Churches of God. Second, his "mind was open on that" in 1992 when I first raised that as an issue with him and other evangelists of the CGI. He and Garner Ted Armstrong used to make a point of how much combined church doctrinal knowledge and experience they both had and how we members should respect that. In fact, my question is: On such an important question as military service, why, by now, has Mr. Dart formulated no opinion on this?
Additionally, as most long-time members know, the breaking of one Commandment (in this case the Fifth) usually involves the breaking, directly or indirectly, of others. As I pointed out to Mr. Dart then, my research at the law library yielded the results that you may or may not (usually not) get the Sabbath or holy days off. Clean and unclean meats can be another problem.
Also, the CGI never took a firm stand on jury duty (Matthew 7:1-2) or on whether members should vote. I tried to point out, too, to Mr. Dart that in many jurisdictions jury lists are drawn from the county voters' lists.
I would urge Mr. Dart, yes, challenge Mr. Dart, to have the moral courage to finally decide--yes or no--if a Christian should serve in the military and back it up with Scripture.
And whether we should vote. And whether we should serve on juries. The Scriptures tell us if we break one Commandment we break them all. I see this as no trivial matter. I faced the conscientious-objector dilemma in 1966, along with a possible five-year federal-prison sentence.
I, along with many others, couldn't keep "an open mind" on the subject. Whether you believe me right or wrong, I had to take a moral stand on the issue. Can you finally do the same thing, Mr. Dart?
Prayers that unite us
I appreciated Bill Stough's article "Church Members Relate Stories of Prayers Answered" in the Dec. 31, 1998, issue. I hope you will print more like these in time. They encourage and strengthen our faith.
I would also like to mention an article from The Church of God News that a friend recently sent me. It is titled "How Should We Pray for the Sick?" and was written by Bill Butler for the January issue. It is some of the best information I remember in my 32 years in God's church. My friend is in the United Church of God, I am in the Living Church of God, and the article was written by a member of David Hulme's group [the Church of God, an International Community].
It seems so many want to proclaim what is their understanding or new understanding of some point of doctrine or prophecy. If there were ever a time when everyone did what was right in his own eyes in the modern era of God's church, it has to be now!
I am sure it will get only worse as we approach the end of this age. I understand that prophecies will become clearer as we approach that day. Still, God's people need the things that unite and strengthen them, not the things that divide us. Don't we see enough of these in the world around us?
Thank you for your service to the people of God.
In Ian Boyne's essay (Dec. 31), "Is Jesus Really God," he attempts to impress me with his comment, "Today I regularly read about 40 scholarly journals . . ." Later he says about someone else who has written in The Journal that he "lapses into . . . plain sloppy thinking." Who is this person?
P.S.: I haven't seen a scholarly journal, let alone read one.
Letter from prison
I am incarcerated in a California prison on a parole violation. Although my main reason for being here was based on a false accusation, it was the wrong choices I made in the first place that put me on parole.
Today I am seeking a living, vibrant relationship with my Father and Lord Jesus Christ in lieu of religion. Today I am using this avenue to thank someone very special to me and to use that as an appeal to brethren everywhere.
Before I start I would like to say bravo and bravo again to Ian Boyne for his awesome essay "Is Jesus Really God" [Dec. 31]. Chills ran up my spine, and my faith in what I believe was ignited into a sweet flame. All I can say is thank you to my brother Ian for keeping it simple yet letting the authority of God's Word speak to so many on this issue.
Now on to my reason for writing. Recently I obtained a copy of Mystery of the Ages, by Herbert W. Armstrong. My own story of coming to a knowledge of the truth was recorded on pages 23-30. Yet it was Mr. Armstrong's own story that I was reading that was almost exactly like mine.
Several years ago I committed a crime that led me to prison. I had nowhere to turn but to God. I had no way to go but up. I was as low as I could go. I had been to church off and on all my life: Baptist, Pentecostal, nondenominational. I even attended a Catholic and a Mormon church for a short time.
I'd made that altar call many times and had read the Bible with a deep-seated belief that "the truth must be in this book."
Yet it was when I went to prison, was sentenced to eight years and was separated from my wife and children that God really started His work. I was to embark on a journey that would change my life forever, that would change what I'd believed, the traditions I'd held so dear and that would reveal the selfish, wretched creation that I was.
God did start His work right away, and I had to repent of my sin before Him. Even though I was forgiven, I did not believe this "strange way" that my wife believed. Oh, sure, we attended the Worldwide Church of God for a year after we were married, but I didn't have a relationship with the Lord, and neither did I really believe what was taught. It didn't really matter to me anyway because the other six days a week I didn't really think about God.
After I went to prison I became steeped more and more in Protestant theology, and I was convinced that my wife was wrong. After all, how could the changes the WCG went through be bad if all the other churches believed in them? How could my wife leave and go to this new church, the UCG-AIA?
Two years into my sentence, my wife and I were constantly fighting about doctrine through letters, phone calls and visits. So that did it! I made a decision to study harder than I ever had. I sat down with a stack of mainstream Protestant literature, a stack of Church of God literature and my Bible. For the next 18 months or so I studied, prayed and studied some more. I read HWA's writings from the '30s, '40s and '50s.
By the way, this could not have been possible without the help of people from The Journal (and In Transition), Richard Nickels of Giving & Sharing and the Bible Sabbath Association, not to mention the love, tolerance and patience I received from my pastor, Jim Chapman, and Dick King.
After all this study and prayer, you'll never guess what happened (or maybe you will). I found that the stack of literature that was deemed "heretical" by mainstream Christianity (Kingdom of Cults author Walter Martin and the CRI's Hank Hannegraffe) agreed with the Word of God more than their literature.
I finally had to admit that this so-called heresy that my wife believed was true and correct.
Don't get me wrong, though. Admitting this was slow and painful, but I could not fight for very long. I still struggle with two issues: the Last Great Day teaching and British Israelism. Yet I know that eventually these will be resolved for me too. (Any literature you would like to donate to this cause is appreciated.)
I am a better man for knowing the truth because of being challenged by a wonderful woman, the love of my life, Roxanna. Officially I want to say to her: Thank you for your patience and love.
As for today, my wife and I are trying to be free of being religious and learning to have a living, vibrant, daily relationship with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As we strive for this, we covet your prayers for us. Soon I will be out of prison, and I will need prayer to finally complete parole. I appreciate the opportunity to glorify God and honor my wife by finally coming to a knowledge of God's sweet truth.
If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, remember nothing is impossible with God. Love and patience go a long way, and if you seek you shall find. Letters are encouraged.
Owed to hirelings
Let My people go!
You shall rule over them no more.
You lord it over,
You put them down,
You rob them blind.
Now it's time for you to know
I am the God
Who called them--I called them to Me;
I am their master;
I am the one who loves them.
You had your day;
Now I am having My say.
Let My people go!
They have followed you like sheep.
You led them to slaughter;
You took their fleece;
You fed on their young;
You have made them merchandise.
Let My people go!
No more shall you live in fat houses
Gloating over your silver and gold,
Drinking your fine wines,
Chewing your fatted meats.
The time has come. Now you go.
Making a list
Here are seven men who preached the Word then and now. Evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong rates No. 1 as the minister who over many years, via radio and TV and in person, has told the world about our God, His Son Jesus Christ, and God's plan for human nature.
Here are the other six ministers: Dr. David Antion, Herbert W. Armstrong, Ben Chapman, Ronald L. Dart, David Jon Hill, Albert J. Portune.
And now a special award for a minister who has grown in grace and knowledge, a young minister from New Mexico, Phill Dunagan, who is a role model for all who desire to serve. How sweet it is! Amen and adios.
I read with interest the article in Issue 21 of The Journal [Oct. 30, 1998] about the Greenville, S.C., WCG congregation. The article mentioned a possible "silent majority" in the WCG that is in agreement with Pasadena church headquarters about the essentials of Christianity but may differ on other issues; for example, worship traditions like the Sabbath and annual festivals.
I would like to let your readers know about a new quarterly magazine, Grace and Knowledge, whose purpose in part is to support that "silent majority." In particular, it carries articles affirming the value of the annual festivals. Those interested in a sample copy can write to me at 307 N. Elm St., Oxford, Ohio 45056, or send E-mail to email@example.com.
E-mail from Belgrade
What I have dreamt about has come true. I am finally on E-mail, thus I am able to effectively communicate with you and many others. I am glad that this has been achieved, although much financial sacrifice and pain went into it.
Thanks for another fine exposure of the Christology issue. I would reply to Ian Boyne [who wrote "Is Jesus Really God?: A Response to Gary Fakhoury," Dec. 31, 1998] as follows:
Ian Boyne claims that "sophisticated liberal scholars and those not sufficiently acquainted with the best scholarship" finish up by being unitarians (i.e., biblical unitarians).
This is a very partially true observation. Do you think that the systematic theologian at Fuller (a rather conservative institution) is unsophisticated or liberal? He makes two important points I would urge every reader of The Journal to take to heart: (1) To be called Son of God in the Bible means that you are not God; (2) to read John 1:1 as though it said "In the beginning was the Son" is patently wrong.
These have been two of the strong points of unitarianism of the biblical type. John Robinson [not the Church of God elder] and James Dunn (who finds no Trinity in Paul) have a high regard for the text of Scripture when they do their exegesis.
As to knowing the scholarly literature, I think that many of us who are not Trinitarians and who work at theology as a job are not necessarily inadequate when it comes to knowing the field of professional literature. John Milton and Sir Isaac Newton were neither liberal nor lacking in knowledge of the field. Joseph Priestley and many others likewise.
Ian's methodological error is to try to support a nonunitarian point of view by mounting the evidence (among other matters) of certain verses that may or may not call Jesus God.
I am sure readers know that excellent orthodox Trinitarians disagree about such verses as 1 John 5. Henry Alford, both conservative and sophisticated for his day, thought it highly improbable that John called Jesus God in 1 John 5:20.
But weakest of all is Ian's plea from the word echad. For an expert in mass communications, as Ian is, it is surprising that he does not detect the language trick being played by Trinitarians when they claim that echad means "compound unity." The argument goes that, if God were unique, then yachid ("unique") would be the word to describe Him.
Here is the fallacy. The Hebrew word for "one" (echad) is sometimes properly rendered "one single" or even "unique." So the absence of yachid (which in the Bible anyway carries a special sense of "beloved") proves nothing at all. God is said to the "the only one," echad. God is said to be "the one besides whom there is no one." He is the sole member of His class. These expressions cannot be distinguished from the idea of uniqueness.
So it is a specious argument to say that yachid would have to appear in the text to make God one single person. Uniqueness is predicated of the one God without the use of yachid.
As for echad ("one"): Hundreds of times echad means "a single one," not two or more. Adam and Eve were one flesh. The word one there modifies flesh, so that they were "one flesh" not "two fleshes"! But one is still the numerical one.
God is one Lord in the shema, and thus one person. It is neither sophisticated nor scholarly to argue for a plurality in God from the word one. What would you think of someone who argued that one really means "three" in the phrase "one tripod"?
What I find amazing is that Ian has not observed the central importance of Psalm 110:1. This psalm is so massively significant for New Testament Christology that it is cited or alluded to 23 times. This is a clear record for any verse cited from the Old Testament in the New Testament. The authority and the meaning of Psalm 110:1 hovers over every section of the New Testament. It is a universally binding statement giving us the relationship between the one God and the Lord Messiah. This provides just the answer we are all seeking.
Yahweh in this psalm is not the same person as the Messiah, obviously, and moreover He is not the same God--or God family. The Lord of David, whom he addresses as "my lord," is Adoni, and this is blatantly not a title of divinity. Adoni in all of its 195 occurrences distinguishes man (occasionally angel) from the one God.
Adonai is the divine title (all 449 times), and this is never used of address to the Messiah. This should settle the issue.
That same truth is found also in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, where Paul has not abandoned the creed of Israel, just as Jesus had affirmed it (Mark 12:28). Paul says that "there is one God, the Father." If that will not convince the reader, what can? The one God is there defined as the Father, just as in Malachi 2:10 the one God is the Father of Israel.
In Paul's creed, Jesus is the "one Lord Messiah." Now, that Lord is the Lord Messiah, not the Lord God. Jesus is the Adoni of Psalm 110:1, in Paul's words "Jesus Christ, my lord." When the power of Psalm 110:1 is recognized, all doubts are dispelled. The unitarianism of the Old Testament has not been abandoned by the New Testament.
Ian Boyne misses the point in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. Because he does not observe that Jesus is the Lord Messiah (Adoni) he thinks that calling Jesus Lord means he is the one God. The fallacy is to confuse the two distinct meanings of lord in Psalm 110:1.
The agency principal comes into play throughout the Bible. Jesus is not and never was an angel. The angel of the Lord, however, is Yahweh; that is to say, he is treated as Yahweh's person, being His representative. This, as Caird at Oxford said, has enormously important significance for New Testament Christology.
Jewish literature shows Uriel being called God. This does not mean he was God Himself.
The whole matter should be carefully studied in Judges 6 and 13. The unitary monotheism of the Bible (John 17:3, 5:44; Mark 12:28) is the only hope for a rallying point for today's chaotic Christianity, including the WCG and its offshoots. A whole new approach is needed, and this will entail a certain distancing, in order to draw fresh breath, from the rather amateur and stifling theological methods of Herbert Armstrong (the book of Galatians calls for special attention from WCGers and exes).
But, of course, the gospel of the Kingdom as the Messianic Kingdom to come on the earth at the future return of Jesus should not be abandoned under any circumstances.
Evangelicalism is not the answer, but a mere jumping from frying pan into fire (I don't mean hellfire).
We sailed our yacht Ramblin' Rose halfway around the world from '84 to '88. You may remember seeing articles about our voyage in The Worldwide News at the time or seeing us on the Feast film teaching the YOU campers sailing in New Zealand.
In '94 we bought a new (bigger) yacht, Kanani, and sailed it all the way around the world. Returning to California in '97, we stopped at church areas all over the world and made many good friends in many countries. We just want to tell everyone we are home safe and residing in Long Beach, Calif.
Sister in need
I got an E-mail message from Thaw Thi Ko (Karen member in Thailand) that I thought I should tell you about. Mrs. Hla Htoo is the mother of three daughters and sons-in-law in the Church of God in Thailand. She recently had to go to the hospital with three clogged arteries in her heart and had no money for an operation or to pay for hospital fees. She is 62. Gloria and I were able to wire some funds to Thailand to help because of the generous donations for the Karen Fund sent to us by God's people. She is still waiting for the operation and is afraid. The brethren are asked by the Karen families to pray for a successful operation and recovery.
Where are we?
A sermon-length audio version of my thesis, Seven Signs Showing Where We Are in Prophecy Now, can be downloaded from: http://members.xoom.com/hwa_elijah,
More on Elijah
In a letter to the editor in the Jan. 31 issue of The Journal, Dave Machanick comments on Elijah the prophet and states that "we need to appeal to God to intervene speedily and send Elijah to bring our hearts back together."
I don't believe it would do any good to send this appeal to a God who is perfect, doesn't need our opinions and won't deviate from His plan by one jot or one tittle. His plan is set in stone (Acts 15:18), and, since God is perfect, why should we think that we can change His mind? It's our thoughts and ways that need changing.
He knows what He is doing, what He is allowing, and all is going according to His true plan of salvation (Psalm 74:12). That includes all of the scattering that continues to occur (John 10:12).
But, lest I get off track here, I want to return to this Elijah. It is my opinion that it is utterly useless to look for any "Elijah to come." Why do I say this? Let's hear it right from Jesus Christ because He can't lie, and, besides, "our thoughts and ways" don't cut it. Please look at Matthew 17 (the day of Christ's transfiguration):
"While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
Immediately after Jesus Christ repeated some information from the Old Testament, He said (verse 12):
"But I say unto you, that Elias is come already . . ."
In other words, don't be looking for Elijah! He already came, "and they knew him not."
The disciples really didn't recognize him. It appears from the context that John may have already been dead at this time. That should be sufficient. The Father desires that we listen to His Son, for He earlier in this chapter said, "Hear ye Him." Christ spoke our Father's words.
Next the light comes on for the disciples. This was more than 1,900 years ago! Verse 13: "Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
If the disciples could understand this 1,900 years ago, why do we have such a problem with it? We may just need to use more of the Bible, let it explain itself, then have God's faith in us so we know that it says what it means and means what it says.
Get used to it
This is a letter I wrote a while back and sent to numerous Congregations of Yahweh. I decided to send it to you after receiving the last Journal. In reading it, especially the letters, I sensed a hopelessness. So many people are dependent on organizations: to do things for them, to do the job of the watchman, to make their decisions for them, to research for them, to teach them, etc.
I don't think that is exactly what our Creator had in mind. Each of us has been given a mind. We need to use it. There is something for each of us to do, and no one else can do it for us.
I know some people will object to the names in this letter and my beliefs regarding them. But I hope they can put that aside and get the message of the letter, which is an open letter to the people of Yahweh:
Are you awake and listening? Do you hear Yahweh's voice calling to you? How do you see the future? Do you see it just going on, day to day, till Yahshua returns? Do you see yourself in "a place of safety" so that you go through the time of tribulation totally unscathed? Why should you think that when you see what the people of the first century went through? If you think they had it easy, just read Hebrews 11:33-40.
Or have you ever considered that you might be persecuted, even to the point of dying for Yahweh? There is a time of tribulation coming. For ideas on what it will be like, read Matthew 24:21-24; Jeremiah 30:2-9; Ezekiel 5-7; and the book of Joel.
Can you imagine yourself enduring these things or the things that the first-century followers of Yahshua endured? How well do you endure present day-to-day situations. Do you lose it when someone cuts you off in traffic, mixes up your meal orders, the car breaks down, etc.? Do you have a problem when deprived of some luxury?
What about when the electricity is off for a while? How about a week or more? Are there things that you just can't live without? If so, what makes you think you can handle real tribulation?
Think back over what you've heard or read about the concentration camps of World War II. Could you endure something like that--or worse--and remain faithful to Yahweh? It may be time for some soul-searching.
The Scriptures tell us that many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). You say you have been called. You've been baptized and you have truth. How can you be certain you've been chosen? How willing are you to listen to Him and follow Him, no matter where you are led or how uncomfortable you get?
Revelation 17:14 gives a description of those with Yahshua: called and chosen and faithful. He does the first two, but the third one is up to you.
How about it? What are you doing to ensure this? You can't just sit still and do nothing. You are to make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). Paul says in Philippians 2:12 that each person is to work out his own salvation. That implies effort. Energy must be expended over and above just coming to services, sitting through the sermon and going about your own business. You will go before the judgment seat--alone. Each of you will give an accounting of everything: all you have done, said and even thought.
So what am I so worked up over? Is there a need for you to be overly concerned? You've heard these points and these scriptures before. As long as you "stay in the church," keep the Sabbath, attend the Feast, etc., isn't that enough? Isn't that being faithful?
Note Matthew 24:9, the last part. It says "you shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake."
John 15:18-21 says: "If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me."
And John 16:2-3: "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time comes, that whosoever kills you will think that he does Elohim service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me."
Think about this. You looked at the names of the Father and the Son. You studied them and you accepted them, didn't you? Or are you just following along with a group of people? Do your friends from other organizations react to you differently? Why? Yahshua said you will be hated: so much so that people will kill you or at least turn you over to someone who will. That is a promise! He is not a false prophet.
Now what? Is that too much? You can't face that? Do you think it is time to back off and rethink things? Maybe change to another group or organization that isn't so strict or hard or legalistic?
Many sermons of warning have been given over the years. Haven't you taken them to heart? The speakers have told you to study it. To prove it. To understand it. Have you? If not, why not? What's your excuse? Remember, you will be standing alone and giving that excuse to your Creator. At that time no one else can help you. No one else will have coattails for you to hold onto. In Ezekiel 14 He tells us that, in the end, not even Noah, Daniel or Job can save anyone else.
Such thoughts are sobering. Tribulation is coming. But you've already heard the warnings. It's too late for you to turn back.
Luke 9:62 says: "And Yahshua said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of Elohim."
Hebrews 10:38: "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
Earlier, in Hebrews 6:4-6, we find: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the set-apart spirit, And have tasted the good word of Elohim, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of Elohim afresh, and put him to an open shame."
So where can you go? What can you do? Where is your place of protection? It isn't in a cave somewhere, hidden from the world and the evil to come. It isn't in any place you can set aside, stocked with food, water and weapons. It is only in Him. You have to get as absolutely close to Him as you can so that nothing can offend you, so that nothing can come between you and your Savior.
You must focus on Him. Don't take your eyes off Him or off the final goal of eternal life. Don't do as Peter did in Matthew 14:22-23 when he took his attention away from Yahshua and doubted. Don't look back at Babylon. You can't keep one foot in the world if you want to inherit everything with Yahshua. You must be set apart.
Read Revelation 14:1-5. Meditate on this and picture yourself here with your elder brother. Don't worry unduly about what you may have to endure to get here; just set your goal and don't let anything remove you from it.
Only you can choose. Yahweh is calling you out. He wants you to choose Him and to choose life, as He stated in Deuteronomy 30:19-20: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: That you may love Yahweh your Elohim, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh sware unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."
The Church of God Emmanuel is composed of a small number of families that decided we would rather be independent in our church government instead of blindly following a national or world leader. We follow all of the basic precepts of the earlier WCG and the CGI, as well as many other groups. We meet each Sabbath at 10 a.m. to noon in Seymour, Mo., at the Senior Citizens Center, on the west side of the square.
We recently have met with a group of independent churches (sponsored by the Church of God Outreach Ministries) in Little Rock, Ark., and were warmly received. We plan to meet with them again in March at Wagoner, Okla., for a conference. We met pastors and ministers from several other independent churches, and our resolve is greatly strengthened to continue in our effort to preach the gospel to all the world.
Make up your mind
I read with great interest David Havir's article "Should Saints Perpetuate the Class System?' [Jan. 31]. Mr. Havir brings out what I have believed and taught for several years. There is, however, another major factor as to why this condition yet prevails and will continue to prevail.
Unfortunately, many adults are still far more comfortable in transferring their personal responsibilities to others. Although this phenomenon is by no means limited to the realm of religion, it is a major reason for "classes" in the Church of God.
It is all too easy to let someone else draw the lines and make one's personal decisions, especially if that someone is an "expert" in a particular field. People of this mind-set are all too eager to allow someone to tell them how far they may go, what they may read, where they should live, whom they should associate with, etc.
Although teachers are absolutely necessary for the new and the babes in Christ, they are expected to grow to the point that they themselves are capable of teaching and leading others, not remain dependent on someone to make all of life's decisions for them.
Unfortunately, this is the path of least resistance because it absolves them (they think) of the ultimate responsibility of living with the result of their decision and thereby transfers the same to the "leader.'
Any true minister of Jesus Christ will be teaching God's people to grow up in Christ, accept the responsibilities of growing up and learn to teach others in God's way of life.
More about Elijah
Many have tried in the past and even now to be that "Elijah" yet to come who ushers in Christ's end-time return. Herbert W. Armstrong, along with many others, have tried to set up themselves as this Elijah.
But where they get this false commission isn't God's Word! Some take the title of Elijah for vanity's sake or to gain power over the Ekklesia. But some do, I believe, blindly, try to see if this commission properly to them.
But what do the Scriptures show?
They show that John the Baptist was of the tribe of Levi, a very priest, even as his father (Luke 1:5).
Scripture shows John didn't even perceive that he was this "Elijah." In other words, he never preached this, as so many arrogantly and blindly have done in the past and even at the present as they try to take his name to themselves (John 1:21; Matthew 17:11-13).
It shows that John's message wasn't that he was this Elijah; it was one of repentance. In other words, quit sinning!
Baptism was the sign that was used by John to show One was coming who would wash away sins (Matthew 3:11; Ephesians 5:26). How so unlike the self-proclaimed Elijahs of today!
Scripture shows just how intent and utterly fearless he was in condemning sin. Look how he spoke to the religious leaders of his day in Mark 6:18 and Luke 3:7, 19. How unlike leaders of today!
Look at how he condemned even Herod's adulterous affair--so unlike the Elijah-pretenders of today who even allow D&R in their midst (John 14:3-4).
God's Word shows this messenger will be a very priest who will be the one who, by Moses' standards, purifies the sons of Levi for the yet-to-be-built temple of God in Jerusalem (Malachi 3). This is that temple where the beast sets up his throne (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15).
It shows also that even the territorial law of tithing will then again (after about 1,930 years, since Titus destroyed that last temple) be instituted. Finally, the command for the "real" tithes to be brought to the temple will be instituted.
Woe to all the great, great majority, the self-appointed religious leaders who have wickedly stolen and taken to themselves the Levitical tithing rights for years and years!
I believe the Scriptures show even the original flesh-and-blood Elijah was also like John, a very priest, for it says that he stood before Yahweh, the God of Israel (1 Kings 17:1). He also sacrificed, as a priest, a bull (1 Kings 18:23, 36) to Yahweh.
Another point the charlatan Elijahs are proved so arrogantly unstudied in is that John didn't place himself in the place and power of Elijah (and even said he wasn't) as these phonies did and do. But Christ had to reveal who John was after the fact (Matthew 17:10-13 with, again, John 1:23). Having that godly Spirit, the same as Elijah had, was a normal thing to John. I believe this future Elijah is one called "Joshua," a high priest and one of the two witnesses, the other (Zerubbabel) a future prince/leader of Judah (Zechariah 3:8; a type; Zechariah 4:14; Revelation 11:1-13).
So I ask the Ekklesia to compare these phony Elijahs with the true Elijahs of the past (Elijah and John) and the true Elijah of the end time. Do they come from Aaronic/Levitical stock, and, as the last Elijah (a man having the same spirit of God that empowered Elijah and John), are they involved in building God's temple, selecting the Levites to service it (false Elijahs don't know these Levites and their Aaronic descendants).
Look at the endless lists of false ministers proclaiming they're the special apostle, an Elijah and even Jews but are not! By simple discernment any godly, Spirit-filled saint can easily see their true motives.
So what that they know some truths, for even the pagans, the pope and the thousands of so-called Christian leaders--even Satan himself--know certain truths! Read Matthew 7:14-24, for it describes these false ones, and verse 16 shows that those who are Spirit-filled saints will readily recognize them by their (the false leaders') fruits.
I've written these men many times (my letters fill over four separate filing drawers), yet with no response.
The elementary-school teacher decided that, since it was the holiday season, it would be a good idea to have the children learn about the various faiths. She asked each child to bring in something that would represent his or her faith.
On the appointed day, the children were excited. The teacher began by saying, "All right, children, who wants to go first?"
Bernie raised his hand and the teacher said, "Okay, Bernie, introduce yourself. Tell us your faith and what you brought to show us."
Bernie said, "My name is Bernard Schwartz, I'm Jewish, and I brought a yarmulke."
Next was Mary Katherine, who said, "My name is Mary Katherine McClellan, I'm Roman Catholic, and I brought a rosary."
Next was Betty Lou, who said, "My name is Betty Lou Jones. I'm a Church of God Sabbatarian and I brought a casserole."
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