Letters from our readers
I read the "Crunchpit" dilemma with interest in the April 30 issue of The Journal ["Silly Scenario Points to Radical Solution to Pod's Problems," by Brian Knowles, concerning the dilemma of a prototypical prospective Church of God member-Cyrus Crunchpit-who is bewildered by the array of differing church groups and their nuances of doctrine].
What we were led to focus on in that script was a person looking for a comfortable place to attend church services. To far too many people the focus is on "attending church." The question is always "Where do you go to church?" or "What group are you with?"
The Crunchpit scenario does not paint the picture of someone who is being called, who is searching the Scriptures daily to learn of God or is in the least concerned with developing a degree of exegetical skill.
As readers, we were pulled toward a wimpy frame of mind, and we were encouraged to embrace a dream scheme of grandiose proportions. Until Christ returns, nothing of that sort or on that scale can occur-mainly because it does not need to occur.
To all the Crunchpits of the world, what we need is to get real. Take note of everyone's opinion if you must, but go to the Bible for the answer. If God is calling you, He will give you the answer.
The truth of the matter is that not every individual Church of God group needs to be huggy-kissy with everyone else. What we need to do is learn to love and respect everyone else and be less judgmental of each other.
Individually we are all the work of God's hands. We are on the potter's wheel if we are being called. Mr. Crunchpit is obviously not on the wheel yet, so let him wait until later when God lights a fire under his behind. Then he will begin to do what called people do.
He might begin to pray, he may even start reading the Bible, perhaps even open a concordance.
Who knows? He may even learn to trust God to lead him and teach him. Now, that would be something, wouldn't it?
A major factor here is that church doctrine will get you nowhere. A calling, repentance, baptism and faith, all of which are a gift from God (not self-motivated), will bring us to our resurrection and eternal life. Church doctrine and church attendance too often get in the way.
Darl E. Arbogast
Let me count the days
The essay by James McBride "Jesus Accepted the Calendar in General Use During His Day" [June 30] has inaccuracies, though I agree with its main thrust of recommended use of the Hebrew calendar.
Mr. McBride assumes that the same calendar Jesus used was employed from Moses' day to ours. However, the length of year and month have varied with calendars reformed to match the order of the heavens. Prophets of God adjusted the calendar to take into account certain catastrophes affecting the world order in their time, such as changing the year length of 360 days to our 365.25. The Chinese changed their 360-degree circle to 365.25 to match.
Many times Mr. McBride speaks of the "secular" calendar in use as a basis for God's feasts, and even says, "If our Gregorian calendar had existed, God could have placed His days on that just as successfully . . ."
But how would He do that?
False information abounds as to when a day, month and year begin. This is tantamount to saying that God can place His holy days on a false foundation and the result be sure, when it is really based on sand. The Gregorian calendar is not merely secular.
One reference source states, "The Gregorian calendar is the calendar in current use in the Western world, both as the civil and Christian ecclesiastical calendar."
Mr. McBride, emphasizing the secular aspect, does not get rid of the (false) religious part, which means this calendar must be rejected by God or us for holy-day purposes.
Says calendar writer L.E. Doggett: "The Gregorian calendar today serves as an international standard for civil use. In addition, it regulates the ceremonial cycle of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. In fact, its original purpose was ecclesiastical. Although a variety of other calendars are in use today, they are restricted to particular religions or cultures."
In other words, they are all religious calendars, either outright or by default. U.S. schools are not supposed to teach religion, yet they teach Satan's religion of evolution and promiscuous "safe" sex.
Doesn't a calendar, to be good, need to at least start days (at sunset, not midnight) and years (spring, not winter) according to the Bible?
Mr. McBride wrote: "An understanding of the secular nature of the calendar that underlies the feast days should remove a cause of unnecessary division among the people of God."
This essay falls short of that because he wants to forget about the religious nature of the "secular" calendar.
God knows your timepiece
Thank you for publishing James McBride's refreshingly different article on the calendar ["Jesus Accepted the Calendar in General Use During His Day," June 30].
The issue of the calendar has been whipped like a dead horse over the last several years. It seems there is an attitude out there among us "independents" that everything a corporate church ever taught us must be suspect, including the calendar we have always used to determine when to observe the annual festivals.
The result of all this scholarship is a hodgepodge of a half-dozen or more calendar contrivances that can sometimes have church members observing the same feast on four different days.
Jim's article correctly points out that there was no "sacred" calendar "inspired" by God or given to Moses by God. The Bible contains knowledge that man could not otherwise discover by himself.
God knew man would figure out the movements of the heavenly bodies and devise a calendar by the time He was ready to reveal the holy days. So He told Moses when to begin the year and what days of which months on an already existent calendar should be proclaimed as holy convocations.
If God had set aside certain blocks of time as "holy time," I think He would have made it as clear as crystal how to begin counting months and years so that we would all arrive at the correct days.
Instead, we have never-ending arguments over conjunctions, crescent moons and even full moons, barley-watching and equinoxes.
Here is another thought that Hebrew-calendar critics might not like. Since the job of proclaiming the new moons and the holy days was left to the priests of Israel, and later the Sanhedrin, and since the last major act of the Sanhedrin was Hillel's publication of the calculated calendar, then the months, years and festivals have already been proclaimed since A.D. 359.
If any calendar has any vestige of authority behind it, it is the Hebrew calendar.
In the end I don't think any calendar system we use is perfect. The Hebrew calendar needs some adjustment, too, since the movements of the heavenly bodies are not perfectly synchronized with our various calendars, and small errors accumulate over the years.
Meanwhile, until God reveals otherwise to me, I will continue to rely on the Hebrew calendar, and I will try my utmost to respect the right of those who use other alternatives to act upon their consciences in keeping God's festivals when they believe they should. I think God will look at their hearts, not their timepieces.
Friends in need
I am in a small independent group for obvious reasons and because fellowship in an independent group lets me avoid the claustrophobic aura associated with the organized churches.
In the organized churches, if for some reason you repelled the great wisdom that crept out of Ambassador College you were shunned, asked to take some time off from church or just plain disfellowshipped.
Therefore you became a devout believer or remained to partake of the social-club environment.
When the sun came up, it became clear as day out there. You can't imagine how clear. Only by getting completely away from the hierarchical incorporated social clubs and going right to the source, the Bible, did I see how ignorant I really was.
To think that I thought I had to have an ordained minister who had been ordained by another one, who was ordained by some other, to repeat what they and only they teach, outlined by a doctrinal committee!
Before the breakup more than 700 ordained ministers were in the field. How can anyone of a sound mind follow any of them when we know they came out of the same school, were taught by the same leader, using the same verbiage, supposedly directed by an apostle, out of the Bible?
When expounding the Bible, they proof-texted it; they used Scripture to prove Scripture to prove the points that needed to be used to increase their empowerment over the lay member to keep him fearfully paying.
A case in point: tithing. Reread the scriptures we heard so many times on tithing. See for yourself if they command you to tithe, much less three times.
Ministers who have split, resplit and then once more organized the one and only true church have led to our having more than 300 one and only true churches.
Friends are no longer friends because ministers told them, or intimidated them, into shunning former friends. Could ministers like these really be ministers of God?
The real answer is that you don't need a leader to manipulate your understanding. You don't need their study helps, which direct you toward their agenda. Your Bible tells you all you can possible learn in a lifetime.
Some men have helpful knowledge to pass on to you, but most like the praises and worship they get from their congregation.
Here is something to think about, the Third Commandment: Do not use the Lord your God's name in vain.
When a minister says God is leading him and you have an attitude, isn't that minister using God's name in vain?
To see how faithful or true a minister is, quit paying him and see if he gets a job-or whether he develops an attitude, accusing the people of not wanting to come under authority?
If you were anointed with the Holy Spirit, that should be the only teacher you need. Just remember that the Bible isn't a business manual or textbook. It is our personal life guide. Dig in. You will like it.
It gets worse
I'm just wondering if we're awake yet or still sleeping. Jerusalem is under siege: a sign to the house of Israel (Ezekiel 4:1-3). We will not escape, because God says this conflict will spread into all the house of Israel (Ezekiel 5:1-4).
Read all of Ezekiel 5. God is against us, and we will be scattered (verse 16). Read chapters 6 and 7. It gets worse.
Deuteronomy 31:29: Evil will befall you in the latter days, because we do evil and provoke Him to anger.
Deuteronomy 32: This is an end-time prophecy.
In verse 21 God says He will provoke us to anger with a foolish nation. Does Iraq ring a bell?
Psalm 83: A group of people (verses 6-8) has taken craft counsel against His people and consulted against His hidden ones.
Read verse 8 again. Assur equals Assyria equals Germany.
If the end is near, what should we be doing?
Clayton C. Myers
A big red BA
I have a bad attitude, or so I was told. To be marked as having a "BA," you might have noticed, one need not be defiant. He need only fail to make a shameless display of submission before those who presume superiority over him.
The phenomenon of a bad attitude might best be described as any attitude that is not in complete, nonthinking and passive support of all philosophies, ideologies and practices of the established powers. It is relative to the perspective of the one making the judgment. If it is a crime, it is merely a thought crime, but one for which hundreds of thousands have died.
For millennia, yes men have surrendered to a neutering of their intellects and senses of self-worth. They have been rewarded with praise, promotion, wealth and long life-while grumblers who clung to some quixotic notion of human dignity have forfeited livelihood, liberty, love, limb and even life.
So why complain? In a just world dissidence would be a divisive nuisance. But, in a world of tyranny and abuse, there will be dissidence.
Were it not for malcontents with bad attitudes, there would have been no Protestant Reformation. Were it not for radicals and reactions such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Franklin-who thought it not rebellion to resist abusive governments-there would have been no American Revolution.
Were it not for a few bold curmudgeons there would have been no underground railroad and no abolition of slavery.
There is a spirit of corruption in the world that seeks out, then corrupts, the most noble institutions of men. With each generation, every person must make it his personal business to be perpetually reclaiming truths and recapturing true values.
But what about Romans 13:2, which states that "whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God"?
Paul is simply warning Christians against joining the Zealots, a political movement that sought to overthrow Roman rule by military insurrection. Since the Zealots' attempt was bloody and unsuccessful, it was best in that case to "live peaceably with all men" as much as possible. Paul does not mean to imply we should be silent in the face of abuses.
Probably every society has treated with fear and suspicion its creative thinkers. If you are one who has been marked like a philosophical Hester Pyrne with the scarlet letter BA, you need not hang your head in shame.
Peacefully accept the conditions you should not or cannot change; speak on behalf of righteousness when the predators threaten your peace; even resist nonviolently when abuses become intolerable.
And, when you are tagged for having a bad attitude, then proudly sport your BA, knowing that, though your face may never grace the likes of Mount Rushmore, you are, nevertheless, in monumental company.
David M. Cameron
Lack of zeal isn't bad
I would like to respond to Rich Traver's article on the "place of safety" (Jan. 31, page 8). I know the Travers from when we attended at Springfield, Mass.
Sorry, Rich, but your line of thinking is confused and way off the mark of scriptural meaning. First, and disturbing, was the use of the terms good Christian and bad Christian. Though I tried to adjust the meaning in my mind as I read to accommodate what I knew of the subject, I was afraid it might take a wrong turn.
It did take a turn, but not quite as expected. As the article progressed, Rich substituted the words strong and weak for good and bad. Both these diametric pairs, however, do not capture the meaning of the situation in the end-time split of Christians.
Revelation 3:14-22 tells the tale of the Laodicean era of the church. One of the first characteristics we learn of these people is that they are spiritually "lukewarm," "neither hot nor cold" (verses 15-16). Though lukewarm, these Christians, though not in a good condition, would not be what we would think of as "bad." Rather, the issue, as we find in verse 19, is a lack of zeal.
It is similar for strong and weak. There may be some we might consider weak who will be "delivered" along with the strong. No, it is not the weak whom God is leaving without protection; it is the spiritually lazy.
The next point of confusion has to do with the word delivered. As a quick study of Daniel 12:1 shows, the sense of delivered is a movement from trouble to safety. In fact, the word is translated in the Authorized Version 47 times as "escape" and five as "save." These cannot be confused as meaning "being delivered," or "escaping," into greater trouble, persecution or trial. One is not saved into adversity.
I think Rich has forgotten why God "spues out" this group. The end-time tribulation is the final period of judgment upon the house of God. The judgment is to determine who among the called really want what God has offered them yet have not made their choice clear to God as yet. When time is short, the heat must be turned up to encourage people to make that determination before the end.
We all go through fiery trials to determine our zeal. However, what may normally take many years must happen much more quickly in the end time.
Also remember that Jesus presented the "place of safety" as protection and reward to those who kept His patience (Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:10). It is the "worthy" who "escape" the trials that will come upon the world. Keeping the patience of God is not a sign of weakness in the troublesome time leading up to the end. It is a sign of strength.
Sorry, Rich. But don't lose hope. Study to show thyself approved.
A safe place
I certainly don't believe that Petra is the place of safety. Norvel Pyle once said in a Bible study here in Big Sandy a long time before the WCG split that "the place of safety may be right where you're at." I've come to believe that more and more in recent years and just in the past six months have had Psalm 91 come to be very meaningful to me.
We need to take the Bible at its word. We don't understand it all, but God will help us to understand what He wants us to, when He wants it, if we want Him to. I believe in angels, both visible and invisible. I think I've run across about three I'm pretty sure of. (I know of a few others who think they have encountered some also.)
Herbert W. Armstrong evidently did, too, have an experience with an invisible angel. (He told about it in his autobiography, Vol. 1, page 335.)
The angels I think I've seen looked a lot like people I knew, but it was an impossibility that they were the people I knew. I received no message from them. They just were helpful: two women and another time one man.
My husband was with me when we saw the man.
I think we need to get our nose in the Bible, as a couple of men have said in the past year or so, and try not to elevate ourselves but pray for God's guidance so we can help others, not lead them astray.
If people need to see a doctor, I'd advise them to pray for guidance for the doctor and staff. Every little pain and discomfort doesn't necessarily mean imminent death. Think of Job and others and what they went through.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it, as a country-music song once said.
Big Sandy, Texas
'God' is a title
In regards to comments by Dr. Don Ward as reported in The Journal April 30 ["Elder Talks of 'Satan's Greatest Deception,'"] about "Messianic" and "unitarian" views being disruptive, deceptive and dangerous to the brethren, I offer the following:
There seems to be a fear in the minds of some ministers of having anyone confront them with questions they cannot or will not answer.
It seems to me that Dr. Ward and some other church leaders expect their members to completely rely on them for doctrinal beliefs, without any questions of a controversial nature. They seem to think that, because they were ordained to be a minister, they have special access to God that we cannot have.
I get the feeling they have more important papers to read than those of a lowly member who has gone off to think for himself.
I appreciate the recent letters in The Journal on this subject. There is no need to be a secret "unitarian" anymore. The truth has set us free. The apostle Paul was a unitarian, if you mean that he believed there is but one God and that He is the Father (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
Jesus is also a unitarian because He says the Father is "the only true God" (John 17:3), and so are all the New Testament writers.
When the Bible was translated, a conspiracy was afoot that was designed to replace God the Father with Jesus as God and to confuse Christians. It worked. But we are being set free because of the availability of knowledge through computers and Bible helps and because God has removed our reliance on church leaders to do our thinking for us.
I do not deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. He is the very Son of God Almighty, with His past eternity in His Father. He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. His Spiritual mother is "Jerusalem above."
Concerning the Bible verses that refer to Jesus as "God," consider the language transition from Hebrew to Greek and English. Angels and men are also called "god," meaning "mighty ones."
But the apostle Paul said there is "no other God but one." Then he clarified his statement by writing that many are called "god," but for us there is one God, the Father (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). "God" is not a family name but a title.
This matter needs to be settled in the Churches of God because, as Paul said, not everyone has this knowledge. The main question that needs to be answered, as put forth by Robert Schmid in his letter to The Journal ["Take John 1 Literally," June 30, page 2], is whether the Son of God came from God Almighty Himself (from within Himself) through procreation, with Jesus being literally born of God, or from without, through a second "God Being."
In other words, is Jesus really God's Son, or is that concept just an allegory, and did He already exist as a person? We cannot have it both ways.
The purpose of the Gospel of John is to show that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31). This is the testimony that God gave (1 John 5:10-13). Luke says Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit of the Most High God (Luke 2:21).
You can call us unitarians and Messianics and heretics and look down on us as troublemakers, but our questions won't go away. You cannot give answers you do not have. We, therefore, turn back to the Bible for our answer.
To those of you with a different opinion, I understand how you feel, but I hope we can communicate and fellowship in brotherly love, with patience for each other.
Before you try to exclude "unitarians" from your fellowship, remember that according to the Bible we are to confess Jesus as our Lord and Christ and as the very Son of God. I do not find a scripture that says we must confess that Jesus is God or has preexisted as any other being. Please do not require this in your statements of beliefs. It may be that God wants us to forgive each other until we all come into unity.
Duane F. Giles
I am writing in regards to the April 30 article "Elder Talks of 'Satan's Greatest Deception,'" by Dixon Cartwright.
The subject of the nature of God is a doctrine that desperately needs more attention. I plan on subscribing to The Journal, hoping to follow this topic and to see if the people in the various Churches of God are moved to use the God-given Holy Spirit to discern truth, rather than having total dependence on the ministry.
The role of the ministers can be so rewarding when they guide us in studies, when they are ready to give answer and when they are not placed in Christ's role as mediator. But it is shameful how often questions are ignored.
Via the Internet
I read with interest the article by Mac Overton concerning the book by Mike Feazell concerning the Worldwide Church of God ["Zondervan Reworks Book Cover After Flap Over Flames," June 30].
I think a better title of the book would be "Destruction of the Worldwide Church of God: The Remarkable Journey From the Truth and Light to Deception and Darkness."
These fellows disagree with just about everything Mr. Armstrong taught, but Inotice that they really agree with one aspect of his teaching: the hierarchical form of church government.
A wide range of what people think about Mr. Armstrong includes everything from idolizing him to rejecting everything that was ever connected to him.
1 Corinthians 3 shows just where all men fit into God's plan. Paul said some were of Paul, and others said they were of Apollos. Some today say they are of Mr. Armstrong and others of this or that person.
Paul says what is Paul and what is Apollos or any other man, for that matter? Paul says the only one who amounts to anything is Christ, the Son of the living God, for there is no other foundation to build on.
Cat got your tongue, COGs?
Brian Knowles' piece on environmental Marxism ["Environmental Marxism Is Still Marxism," June 30] was right on the mark. I don't recall any of the mainstream COGs ever addressing this timely subject that is in our face daily.
The radical environment movement has been infiltrating government schools for decades. Day in and day out all we hear about is global warming and how we in the United States are the most guilty of perpetuating this life-threatening phenomenon.
Few people think to question the veracity of these reports. If anything, many of the COGs may have embraced these reports of impending environmental global catastrophes because they fit in with their "end-time agenda." But, like Mr. Knowles points out, environmental Marxism is still Marxism.
The utter brilliance behind such a deceitful message is the same deceitful conniving that the pundits use when they do something "for the children" or for civil rights. After all, who can dare criticize any civil-rights movement, or who can be against the children, and who in the world wants dirty air and water?
So maybe we as a church or a people just sort of go along to get along because we really should be "for" the environment.
Frankly, I think it's outrageous that the COGs have not spoken up against this and other issues that have been co-opting our schools, children, jobs and virtually every aspect of our lives. Is it just too political to speak up about these issues?
To be sure, the environmental movement is political, but almost everything is politicized in one way or another. Must the churches be silent on all things political? Aren't we as a people supposed to be watching what's taking place around the world and in our community, and in so doing wouldn't it behoove us to speak out about them when we see the errors and deceit and harm that is being done?
How many of you have been noticing what's going on in Klamath Falls, Ore.? The farmers are fighting for their very existence against big government for water. The water is there, but there may not be enough for both the farmers and the sucker fish.
The environmental Marxists are saying that the sucker fish is more important. Is this an issue that is too political for you? What if you were one of those farmers who needed the water? How would you feel about those poor sucker fish? Or would it still be too political for you to become involved?
The environmental Marxists are winning this battle, and it's just plain wrong if we, individually or as a group, sit back and do nothing.
Thank you, Brian Knowles, for the article and thank you, Dixon, for running it.
In need of a truck
I'm writing this on behalf of Mountain Mission Ministries, an outreach of our church, Inez Church of God, Inez, Ky.
The purpose of the mission is to receive donations in the form of money, clothes, home furnishings, furniture and appliances to give to those who need and cannot afford and sell to those who can afford-slightly-and use the money to repair homes and give to the needy.
The mission has been in operation since October 2000. It has found it needs a furniture truck. It can buy used furniture at auctions cheap, and people offer to give furniture, but the mission has no funds to buy a truck with.
The mission is willing to accept donations of money to purchase a truck with or accept a truck as a donation. If you or your body would find it within your heart to help this ministry, I'm sure God would reward you.
You may call our pastor, Lewis Porter, at (606) 298-3483 or the director of the mission, Bill Goodwin, at (606) 398-3287, or write Pastor Lewis Porter, P.O. Box 2167, Inez, Ky. 41224, U.S.A. You may E-mail Pastor Porter at email@example.com.
If your body does not find it within its reach to donate something of monetary value, we would appreciate your prayers.
Richard M. Young
Don't insult Mr. Armstrong
I wish to address the May 31, 2001, article "Church-Era Filter Blurs Brethren's Vision" [by Journal columnist Dave Havir].
The statement that "one of the most damaging mental filters among the Churches of God has been the church-eras concept" itself secularizes "church eras" and employs a mental filter to present the article and argument more in psychological and human terms than biblical ones, as the title demands. But those called by God are never deemed "intelligent" in biblical revelation or knowledge and certainly are not considered so by worldly standards. God chose "the foolish things of the world" (1 Corinthians 1:27).
Under the subheading "On a Pedestal," the writer stated that "Pastor General Herbert Armstrong was a popelike figure (in effect, the vicar of Christ or God's anointed) . . ."
To call Mr. Armstrong "popelike" insults his position as God's apostle by casually comparing Mr. Armstrong to the pope; this description equates Mr. Armstrong to a self-appointed, false apostle of a false religion.
Anyone who cannot see Mr. Armstrong was God's anointed and served Him and us to the best of his ability without thinking of himself is not only blind to reality but also must change his "mental filter"!
Under the subheading "The Second Problem," the author states that many people use church-era "theories" as "an excuse to treat other people badly."
Evaluating others as Sardis and Laodicea is a problem? The fact that some are classified within various church eras is not a "theory" or a "private interpretation"; it comes straight from Revelation-Christ's revelation-in God's inspired Word!
Before moving on, it should be noted that the [secondary] headline [over the continued part of Mr. Havir's column], "A Reliance on Doctrine of Church Eras Can Lead to Church Errors," is tantamount to saying that "relying on the Bible will lead one to error" because the "church eras" come straight from Christ's revelation. Intended or not, that is at best a serious oversight and at the worst slandering Christ.
"Church eras" cannot be casually discarded in order to interpret the Bible to one's liking or to make one feel more comfortable; those God calls are not "intelligent" by the biblical definition and must rely on all of God's Word and His guidance through the Holy Spirit to properly interpret the Bible and to grow spiritually.
I have just read Dan White's essay on marriage that was published in the June 30 issue of The Journal ["We Have Lost Sight of Christ's Higher Standard for Marriage"].
I agree with him that the doctrinal change regarding divorce and remarriage that was made by the Worldwide Church of God in 1974 has caused many problems and much confusion for everyone. But I disagree with his basic logic.
As he presents it, there are only two options: Either the doctrine taught before 1974 can be correct or the doctrine taught after 1974 can be correct, with no other possibilities.
He presents the argument that, since the post-1974 teaching has shown by its fruits to be flawed, then that means the pre-1974 teaching has to be correct because it is the only other option allowed into the argument.
But, if we allow ourselves to think outside of the box, a third option is that both teachings are flawed and caused much pain and confusion for many people.
I began attending services with the WCG in September 1963 at the age of 16. Over the years I saw the pain in many members' lives as they tried to live up to the church's old teachings.
I also saw and shared the confusion that resulted after 1974 as many members and ministers played musical marriages. It did not make sense to me that with either the old or new teaching it was necessary to go to the ministry to obtain a ruling as to whether someone was to be considered to be married or free to marry. Shouldn't I be able to know all by myself if I am married or not?
In 1974 I married my wife, a divorced Catholic. Before our marriage and afterward, both of us have seriously considered this subject. Both of us considered the spiritual consequences if we were wrong in our decision to marry each other.
When we agreed to marry, we married each other for life. That was our approach then, and it is the same today, 27 years later.
That same year Ted Armstrong, then of the WCG, gave a sermon that was played in all of the churches to introduce the new teaching of the WCG. The way that I remember it, there was one standard that God applied to church members, and all of the billions of other people were none of His concern. They were free to make their own rules and standards regarding marriage because He was concerned only about church members.
It is interesting that if we apply Mr. Armstrong's teaching to me, my wife and I are not really married because my wife and I are not both members of the Church of God.
On the other hand, based on Mr. White's article, my wife and I have been committing adultery for more than 27 years.
With such indifference and thoughtlessness, is there any wonder that there have been so many splits and divisions within the COG fellowships?
This is an important subject that needs to be discussed openly without preconceived conclusions. It would be good to go back to the basics and ask ourselves:
Mr. White's article was effective if his objective is to cry aloud and spare not. But, if his objective is to save a brother or sister by encouraging us to come and reason together, he has actually pushed us away and caused more division.
Via the Internet
Go and remarry no more
Kudos to Dan White for exposing the problem of divorce and remarriage ["We Have Lost Sight of Christ's Higher Standard for Marriage," June 30].
The Worldwide Church of God has conveniently fallen back onto the Old Covenant for allowing divorce for the "hardness of their hearts."
They also removed the scripture "Whatsoever God has joined together, let not man put asunder" from their new marriage ceremony.
A book, Divorce and Remarriage, by Andrew Cornes, which is out of print, addresses this whole issue.
When presented with the book at Pasadena headquarters, WCG officials' stock response was, "Is this the only sin that Jesus can't forgive?"
Remember His words to the woman, "Go, and sin no more."
Jesus upheld the two creationary instructions, the Sabbath and marriage. They go back to the beginning, as do the commandments in 1 John.
This topic, D&R, will, as John Stott states in his preface to Mr. Cornes' book, "bring about furious rethinking in the whole Christian community."
South Slocan, B.C., Canada
Who ordains whom?
Congratulations on your continued willingness to report the facts, even if certain "hierarchical organizations" don't always like your reporting.
On page 10 of your May issue you "wondered why" the United Church of God apparently insists on reordaining Ghanaian elders of the Remnant Church of God when United elders such as Melvin Rhodes and Roy Holladay were themselves not ordained by United.
Good question! Could it be because they want these lesser men, (in their eyes) to be beholden to them and reminded of who is in charge and who controls their future and tells them what they can or can not preach?
Men who are true servants of the Creator will not be intimidated by other men and will put fidelity to the Scriptures ahead of allegiance to an organization of men.
Will their effectiveness as ministers not be compromised by accepting ordination from men who may well show less of the fruits of God's Spirit? Is another man or other men laying hands on them most important, or is the real criterion of ordination and direction of the Holy Spirit not the "fruits" of their existing ministerial functions?
Should they not be accepted on the basis of their fruits as ministers judged by those who know them best, the congregations they have pastored? What makes an American minister (?) superior to one from another country?
Via the Internet
Literature different from oral teachings?
In her letter to The Journal regarding my article "Beware: Doctrinal Compromise is in the Air!" [May 31], Helen Casey states [in the June 30 letters section], "I have attended the UCG from its inception in 1995. Many of the things Mr. Thiel states about UCG teachings are totally inaccurate."
With all due respect to Ms. Casey, I will state that the article in question primarily contained quotes from the UCG's literature and some of its leaders. I stand by the accuracy of those quotes and consider it improper at best to say much of the article is "totally inaccurate." For those who would like to read more quotes on the UCG's actual doctrinal positions, there is an article at my Web site titled "Differences Between the Living Church of God and the United Church of God" (http://members.aol.com/cogwriter/home.htm).
The plain truth is that the UCG has never officially taught that the Holy Spirit begets us at conversion, that we are born again at the resurrection, that God is a family and that it is the incredible human potential to be God-beings in the family of God. None of these are "fundamental beliefs"; they are not in the related booklet, nor have I seen them clearly stated in any of the UCG's literature.
Interestingly, one of the 27 issues the CGCF raised with the UCG according to Larry Salyer was: "Is United willing, as an organization, to preach and publish fully, strongly and clearly the doctrines they believe in?"
The answer to that provided by Larry Salyer began with: "President Les McCullough's address to the Conference was the last major topic of a day filled with much solid material to thoughtfully digest. As he asked, 'Where do we go from here?' It is possible to be so caught up in the doing that we lose sight of where we are going."
Now, how is that an answer to a straight question? It is not, and that is part of the point.
I am fully aware that many sermons and ministers have taught many of the basic truths that the UCG's literature does not. But the truth is that although the UCG admits it has many beliefs that are not in its literature, officially the UCG believes only the "Fundamental Truths" that are in its constitution. It is only those that are supposedly protected by requiring a three-fourths majority of the eldership to change.
The reason I said "supposedly" is that, even though third tithe seems to be part of a fundamental belief (UCG Constitution, 2.1.18:
"We believe in tithing as a way of honoring God with our substance and as a means of serving Him in the preaching of the gospel, the care of the Church, attending the festivals and helping the needy"), it was essentially done away with by the UCG's council of elders without that vote ("Third Tithe Policy," New Beginnings, Nov. 4, 1996, p. 4).
The UCG is welcome to teach whatever it wants to teach. Its members are welcome to believe whatever they want to believe.
However, when the UCG's members or leaders publicly contend they have not changed fundamental doctrines or that they basically teach the same doctrines that we in the Living Church of God hold, I believe it is proper to point out documented proof from the UCG's literature and leadership that this is not the case.
Robert J. Thiel
Arroyo Grande, Calif.
Congratulations to Dr. Kaplan
Congratulations to Mark Kaplan for receiving his doctorate from the University of Southern California. Mark's dissertation explains to the academic community (a notoriously hostile environment for COG ideas) why the COG community keeps the Commandments and not some of the other laws of the Old Testament.
The dissertation was written for the academic community, not our community. It is not the easy reading we are used to. I would like to publicly applaud Dr. Kaplan's witness to the academic community in a language it respects.
I doubt if any of us will learn anything surprisingly new from Mark's dissertation, but he has presented a large section of our beliefs in a refreshing, complete package. I am glad I read it.
For more information, visit http://go.to/feastfever and follow the link.
Lack of love
I have noticed something about a lot (not all) of articles in The Journal that different ones have written. In many of them I see no evidence of love. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that if we don't have love we don't have anything.
Not only do I see no love expressed, I see sarcasm and derogatory remarks like referring to some people as "ites" (as in John Doe-ites).
Knowing how important it is to have and show love to others, and seeing the lack of love in their writings, I personally have difficulty putting much credibility in anything they might have to say!
Lives of the saints
I want to thank you for the July issue of The Journal. I have friends in the Church of God movement who have dropped their subscription to the paper because they perceive it to be too negative.
I find the paper informative, informational and positive. I appreciated the article by Cindy McLendon about the Ukrainian Sabbath-keepers; the article by John Warren about Don Reed, a Sabbath-keeping air-traffic controller; and your article about Louis Williams [all in the July 31 issue].
Each article highlighted the lives of saints living in the present evil age. All three stories were inspirational.
Keep up the good work.
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