Letters from our Readers - Part 2
(READ PART 1)
Sabbath rest clearer in Serbian
This is my response to the observation of Jim Perry ("Think Again," Dec. 31, 2000, page 5) that it doesn't matter on what day was the resurrectionbecause there is no commanded day of worship in the Bible. Here is my response:
The Bible does command that we are to worship God by making a holy convocation on the day of rest: Sabbath. The book of Hebrews confirms that this dayof rest is what God's people of the New Covenant are to practice: "For if Joshua had given them [ancient Israel] rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remainstherefore a rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:8-9).
The word rest in verse 9 is the Greek word sabbatismos, which literally means keeping the Sabbath. Let me quote from the much-clearer Serbian NewTestament, the translation of Dr. Emilijan Carnic: "For if Joshua brought them to rest, God would not have spoken after those days about another day [of rest]. That means thatSabbath-resting remains for the people of God."
Think again before you write
It has been years since I've read anything that's moved me enough to respond to something I've read in The Journal, but I felt I must respond to theletter written in the Dec. 31 issue by Jim Perry ["Think Again," page 5].
It's Mr. Perry's right to remain in the WCG for whatever reasons he deems of necessity. But I ask that he consider his arguments carefully beforepresenting them in an arena of ideas that are about 98 percent opposed (others writing in response to his letter, about the "law and prophets," may be a lot more acidic than I).
I read and reread Matthew 17 and still can't figure for the life of me what Mr. Perry is talking about when he says "the law and the prophetsdisappeared and only Christ was left." If he is attempting to refer to verses 3-5, then I wish he would stay with the written text and not add his interpretation of what he thinks Elijahand Moses represent (ostensibly the law and the prophets).
Although the point of reference in the four Gospels for Christ's resurrection is "early on the first day of the week," any quick study of historicaldata both in and beyond the pages of the bible shows the resurrection actually took place before the first day of the week. Remember, the Jews of the apostolic era observed days beginningat sundown and ending at sundown.
This, then, could have occurred anytime late "Saturday" evening.
Mr. Perry writes that "Sunday was a day of gathering throughout the New Testament." Where and how many places? The few examples where I read itoccurring had no significant doctrinal bearing whatsoever.
Finally, and this is not to convince Mr. Perry of the Sabbath and other laws Christ clearly affirmed: One does have to look at the sum total of whatChrist said in Matthew 5:17-20. Christ did indeed fulfill the commission of the law: He came to expound upon, make clearer, if you will, the purpose and practical application of the law ina Christian's everyday life.
Christ was beginning the process, long ago spoken of by the patriarchs of the ancient scriptures, of "writing My laws in their hearts and theirminds." That is why he continued the passage by saying, "Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot nor tittle shall pass from the law."
Last I heard, that referred to Revelation 21:1: a time yet to occur.
When on the stake when Christ spoke of "it being finished," He simply spoke of an ending to His earthly ministry, not of any disruption in the keepingof God's eternal law.
As He reminds the reader throughout the four Gospels, His "time had not yet come." He was saying that at this point, yes, His time had indeed come.His purpose for coming in the flesh, laid out even before the foundations of the earth, was--in a word--complete.
Many passages in the apostolic writings (New Testament) validate a continual observance of the Sabbath and other holy days: Matthew 24:20; Acts 16:13;20:16; and Hebrews 4:3-6; just to name a few.
None of this is to change Mr. Perry's mind. He obviously has his convictions deeply ensconced. As a subscriber to and casual reader of The Journal, Ireiterate my earlier request: Writers need to put more thought and analysis behind their convictions.
Interpreters for the deaf
Please print information about any interpreters for the deaf for the Feast of Tabernacles. I am tired of reading about ministers giving announcementsabout sermon audiotapes, etc., only for people who can hear. They leave out provisions for the deaf. We need transcripts to be included with the tapes.
Toronto, Ont., Canada
The Intercontinental Church of God is one organization that makes provisions for the deaf in at least some of its Sabbath and feast services. Forinformation write the ICG or the Garner Ted Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 1117, Tyler, Texas 75710, U.S.A., or call (903) 561-7070.
Vote for Eric
It seems that the Dec. 31 issue was the blastEric Snow issue with no fewer than four letters and one article denouncing his earlier article [inthe Nov. 30 issue] about not voting.
I would like to defend Eric's position with a couple of points that none of the writers critical of Eric mentioned.
Consider Daniel 4:17, 25, 32: ". . . The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will" and "sets up over it thebasest of men."
The Almighty places various kinds of people in rulership over the nations and really doesn't need our help. When our forefathers asked for a king,Yahweh gave them what they asked for (and probably what they deserved).
It is the same today. Believe it or not, the United States asked (voted) for and deserved Bill Clinton.
Notice especially the last phrase of verse 17. If you voted, would you deliberately vote for the "basest of men" (for example, Mr. Clinton)? If not,you might find yourself fighting against Yahweh (Acts 5:39). He has reasons we may not always understand for putting in office the ones He does. One reason may be to show us how rotten wehave become.
Another reason for not voting is that we don't know the hearts of men. We know only what we hear in the campaigns. Even though George W. Bush maysound more righteous in his beliefs than Al Gore sounds in his, we don't know all that goes on behind the scenes. Both candidates could well be pawns of the Illuminati (followers of Satan)and the New World Order.
But, if voting eases your conscience and makes you feel you have done some good, then have at it. I don't think it's a sin to vote, justfutile.
Just remember that, no matter who gets elected, when things go wrong I can always say: "Don't blame me; I didn't vote for him."
East Ridge, Tenn.
Regarding the article by Dianne McDonnell, "Bible Gives Examples of Women Ministers" [Dec. 31, 2000]:
I believe women are just as intelligent and talented as men are. There are differences in the way men and women think; anyone can look at polls thatshow this. God shows us that as far as salvation is concerned there is no difference.
But seldom have I seen such obvious Scripture-twisting as in this article. The explanation of the Samaritan woman at the well is certainlyout-of-the-box thinking.
As far as I am aware, the entire Bible gives no example of a woman being ordained. God used women all through history; they did not have to bepriests. Even when they were used as leaders or prophetesses, we find no example of formal ordination.
The vast majority of us men are also not ordained, and many who are have thrown away their faith for now or maybe forever. So what advantage isordination if you mishandle your faith?
Trying to force the meaning of servant in the case of Phoebe to mean ordained minister is ludicrous. I would not be surprised that most Christian workthat really matters is done by unordained people. I will wait and see what God says about that. From what I have seen over the years, those who cannot serve without a badge don't generallyserve, period.
Just because one is considered of note or famous or important among the apostles does not mean he was an apostle.
It is clear that the first ordained deacons, who were set over physical responsibilities, also preached. No one in or out of the church is stoppinganyone from renting a hall and giving a talk about salvation and Jesus Christ. You don't need to be ordained to do that.
I have repeatedly heard in the church that half or more of all who came into the church came because of the example of some unordained member. Mostministers kept deceiving people when it became obvious to many that headquarters had gotten off the track, so spare me from the ordained and let me associate with the converted, even thoughsome of them are ordained too!
Part of the reason I get The Journal is to be aware of enemies of the truth.
Konrad Drumm Jr.
Via the Internet
Not even one
Thank you for printing in the Sept. 30 issue of The Journal the account of Pastor Jeff Booth's January 1980 exit interview with the late Herbert W.Armstrong.
In spite of having tested many ministers since 1992, I have been unable to find even one who worships God in spirit and truth (John 4:23).
It seems Pastor Booth's account of his exit interview with HWA was candid and factual. Since even that wisest of all God's mortal servants, KingSolomon, was flawed, we should not be surprised to find flaws in God's end-time servant, Herbert Armstrong.
In my 1999 paper "The Plain Truth About Laodicea!" I demonstrate that Herbert Armstrong had led, from 1934, God's seventh and final church era,Laodicea, but that he had gone astray after the death of his only lawful wife, Mrs. Loma Armstrong, and that as a result the Church of God at Laodicea was spewed from the Lord Jesus' mouthin 1979.
The plain evidence of this is the ongoing schisms and ministerial power struggles.
It is distressing that not even one minister has sought to turn the fallen Churches of God from HWA's great sin of May 1974 and lead them into sincererepentance.
Today the man-led Church of God is no more, but the gates of hell will not prevail against the true Church of God. This can only be the few God haschosen from the many He called originally (Matthew 22:14).
These few are those who found that strait gate and narrow way that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). These few are they who are the "unity in truth" amongthemselves, with God the Father and with His Son Jesus in accordance with Jesus's prayer of John 17:17-23.
Alas, only a few of the many called to HWA's Radio Church of God and WCG will be chosen. Where are they? Are you sure there is even one in yourchurch?
Remember, Lord Jesus warned that in this age we would be miserable, wretched, blind, naked (1974!) and in need of eye salve and that we must respondto His knock on our door (Revelation 3:14-22).
As I read the account of his exit interview, I gained hope that in Pastor Booth I had at last found a minister who would worship God in spirit andtruth. However, I was disappointed when I read his wish that "the brethren would focus on their commonalities rather than their differences."
This misses a vital point for God's plan. There can be no compromise on truth! God's message is plain. His true church is those few, chosen from themany called originally, who are now God's "unity in truth." It seems that indeed not even one minister has understood this pivotal message that Lord Jesus brought us from His Father (John4:23; 17:17-23).
Henk W. Jens
Mr. Booth and Mr. Armstrong
For your information, here are three comments I received as a result of the article The Journal published about my interview with Mr. Armstrong ["COGPastor Remembers Exit Interview With His Employer," Sept. 30, 2000]. The first is from an American:
"Mr. Booth, I would like to be put on your mailing list. I was very much following Mr. Armstrong until I'd read your story in The Journal about yourinterview with Mr. Armstrong. I'm very much heartbroken and sad. Thank you for your honesty and story. Please send more information about you and your church."
The second is from an Australian:
"Hi, Jeff. I just read the Journal article about your departure from the WCG in the 1980s. I didn't leave until 1995 during the fracas. As I look backI wonder why I didn't see some of the things you did. You are a man of vision and courage. All the best."
The third is from another American:
"Dear Mr. Booth: A friend of ours gave us a gift subscription to The Journal. The article about your experience was in our second issue. My husbandand I work together, so on the long ride to work this morning I read this article to him while he fought through traffic.
"We were quite interested in what you had to say. So much of it sounded so very familiar to us, it was just amazing. We were baptized together in June1978 and married in October 1978 by Jim Franks and have been in the church since our youth.
"In January 1993 we left the WCG and became members of the Global Church of God because we had a hope that Rod Meredith would stand fast and yetcontinue to be a humble man in the process. It took us a few years to figure out that we had a little bit of a pipe dream.
"Finally, in 1998 at the Panama City Feast site, we had the opportunity to meet face to face with Mr. Meredith. Because we had previously sent in aletter regarding the local minister and the problems that were beginning to occur in our area, we were treated as suspect--so much so that Mr. Meredith felt he needed witnesses for ourmeeting.
"Keep in mind, now, that we were among the first members in the GCG. I had in my mind that Mr. Meredith was a caring, loving and kind individual. Ihad him up on this huge pedestal, so a big part of this is my fault.
"Our son, who was 17 then, was with us in the room and had to see how cold and calculating power can make a man. This was such a disappointment to us.I guess my greatest concern is for our son, who is now almost 20.
"You see, we didn't have a minister in our area who would stand up for us like you did. We didn't have one who cared if we lived or died. I hope andpray that the people in Amarillo know just how blessed they are.
"We attended a few Sabbaths with John Ritenbaugh's group and went to Global's Feast site last year (we weren't run off, but we were watched like ahawk!), and then this past Feast we went to Dave Havir's site a couple of days and the rest of the time to United's Feast in Panama City.
"We talked to Mr. Franks some, but, Mr. Booth, the fiery person we once knew seems to be gone.
"I know he's older, but there just seems to be some life missing there when it comes to God's truth.
"I write this in tears, and I tell myself I won't allow my emotions to get away with me anymore. I just wish there was an answer. I know we should belooking to God. Really, I don't blame God. I guess I did at first. But I have found some peace when it comes to that. Now I just hope for some direction. I don't know if I want to allowmyself or my family to be let down again.
"I know you don't know us from Adam. But your article sounded so sincere. I guess I just hope that you might be a kind ear with a little compassionfor us.
"Being alone is no fun. We do know another family that lives close by, and we meet with them on occasion. We would more regularly, however, exceptthey listen to Fred Coulter's tapes on the Sabbath, and we feel uncomfortable with his viewpoint at times.
"Well, enough about our sad tales. Sure hope you and your family keep up the fight.
"And, Mr. Booth, please show love to your membership. Don't ever let them down. They need you so badly."
Pastor, Christian Church of God
Fellowship in Akron
Norm Edwards and family of Perry, Mich. (of the Servant's News publication), visited the Akron Fellowship Jan. 20. He related how he spoke to aSunday-keeping fellowship about why he observes the Sabbath.
Following the tradition of our fellowship, those present asked questions and raised some concerns.
Afterwards 43 present shared a delightful potluck. Visitors came from the Pittsburgh area, West Virginia and a nearby Church of Godorganization.
Pam Dewey of Allegan, Mich., is scheduled to address us March 17 from 12:30 to 2:30, perhaps on the role of women in church history. A potluck isplanned for after services. All are welcome.
Later this year perhaps Alan Ruth, Jim Rector and some others will speak.
Because of our continuing frustration with the United Church of God as it increasingly creeps back towards the old school of thinking, doing businessand control, 8 to 10 percent of the heads of household here have begun to hold monthly Bible studies in homes and restaurants after UCG services. This began Dec. 25, 1998. After the Feastof '99 we separated from the UCG and formed the Akron Fellowship.
Some of us had visited other fellowships, but most of us felt we needed something different to fulfill our needs.
Beginning with about 10 adults, the Akron Fellowship has evolved into an interactive interdependent group of 23 people who attend quite regularly.Perhaps we had forgotten how uplifting, rewarding and fun services can be.
Some longtime members who have started attending expressed disappointment with their latest Feast experience because of the same old dry formatcompared with what they have here.
Our group permits some variety in doctrine while respecting each other. Our brethren use three different dates for Passover (each person observes onlyone date).
Two calendars are used, which means that not everyone will observe the holy days at the same time. And, yes, we do study these issues.
No one, it seems, expected us to last beyond a year or so (except those in our group), much less double in size. We want to be a home for those inneed and feed and support each other.
Counting the cost of a college
The Philadelphia Church of God's announcement of a proposed campus in the spirit of Ambassador is positive news ["PCG Plans New Campus in Spirit ofAmbassador," Aug. 31]. Finally one of the Churches of God plans to carry on the Ambassador tradition.
The Philadelphia Church of God has the advantage of drawing on the history of Ambassador and the expertise of many former Ambassador faculty and staffmembers, students and employees.
The old Radio Church of God began growing when Ambassador produced ministers for the field. Today many Churches of God have aging ministers andapparently no ministerial-training program. The Philadelphia Church of God apparently wants to address this problem.
The Journal posed the question: Will someone need to be a Philadelphia Church of God member to teach? Herbert W. Armstrong originally began Ambassadorwith a nonmember faculty. But, as students graduated, he replaced the nonmembers with members. The Philadelphia Church of God has more options than Mr. Armstrong did in 1947.
Another question The Journal posed: Will it (the proposed college) be open to other than Philadelphia Church members and children of members?Ambassador University closed because the Worldwide Church of God could no longer subsidize it. Student tuition does not cover cost of operations.
When I was a 19-year-old sophomore at Ambassador College, Kenneth Herrmann, the registrar at the time, stated that each student represented aninvestment by the church from whom it expected a return. Likewise, from a hard-nosed business perspective, the Philadelphia Church of God will invest only in students from whom itreasonably expects a return.
Its accountants and financial planners can hopefully crunch out a realistic scenario for its proposed college. Whether the commencement of theproposed school has to wait until 2002 or even 2003, "count the cost" is always the best course of action.
Big Sandy, Texas
Servant leaders in United
Concerning Brian Knowles' article in the Dec. 31 issue ["Attention All Christians: Persecution Is on the Way"]:
In the last column on page 7 Brian makes some generalizations that troubled me and others. I just wanted to give you the UCG-AIA side. I pastor theSedro Woolley, Wash., church.
United, truly, is generating programs to strengthen the belief, faith and conviction of the brethren. Ambassador Bible Center not only trains peoplein these things at our home office each year, but tapes from some of these classes go out to the membership at large.
I do not believe United has purged its intellectual classes in favor of authoritarian loyalists. At one point Mr. Knowles states that people will haveto stand up for their beliefs without the benefit of help from "headquarters."
I believe this is an error when it comes to United in general. Last spring a professor from the University of Louisiana [Howard Baker] spoke to ourgeneral conference for half a day on servant leadership [see "Church Member Says UCG Elders Must Lead as Servants," May 31, 2000]. (By the way, he is not an elder in United.)
His address went out to the entire ministry.
The ministers, in turn, played a recording of the professor's address for their congregations, promoting servant leadership both nationally andlocally.
Many of the pastors, including myself, held soul-searching open-forum-style meetings with our congregations to see how to better implement theprofessor's points.
Although we in the UCG-AIA are late bloomers in some ways, I truly do believe that these things are happening, and we are trying to practice what wepreach when it comes to servant leadership.
Brian's article was good concerning the subject it addressed, but I did feel uncomfortable with the generalizations that United could easily be lumpedinto.
Brian Knowles was a dear teacher of mine in Ambassador College. We have stayed in touch the last five years and dialogued about this positively. Icount him as a friend.
New Bible course
I finished reading The Journal this afternoon and spotted the little note in the "Notes and Quotes" section of your paper about the Biblecorrespondence course ["New Bible Course," Dec. 31, 2000]. Thank you. It was unexpected.
For your information, we have had a tremendous response to date to our offer of the course. It will be interesting to see how many more responses wepick up from your paper as well.
We will send out issue No. 2 in early February to those who have requested subscriptions (free, of course).
To subscribe, write P.O. Box 54621, Tulsa, Okla. 74155, U.S.A.
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