Letters from our readers
John Davis, 1958-2001
It was with a mixture of surprise, pleasure and sadness that we noted that the Feast reports in the Oct. 31 issue included a picture of John Davis taken at the condo we shared with him at the Feast in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Our dear friend John died less than four weeks after that picture was taken.
I had first met John by E-mail on the Likeminds Internet forum in 1996. We found we had a lot of interests in common and enjoyed swapping private E-mails. When John discovered his home in Indiana was less than three hours away from us here in Michigan, he decided to make the trip to get acquainted in person.
With the former members of the Churches of God so scattered after the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God in 1995, many of us were starved for fellowship. My husband, George, and I hit it off immediately with John, and we were all fast friends ever after.
John was easy to get to know, as all who met him on the Internet and in person found out. He was warm, caring, kind and gentle. He had never been married so had no children of his own. But he was beloved as a uncle by the children and grandchildren of family and friends.
John was also witty and full of fun and had a phenomenal memory. He could launch into a one-man rendition of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta or a Monty Python skit at the slightest provocation, playing or singing every part with the perfect accent.
He had many hobbies, including Japanese gardening, gourmet cooking, singing in the community choir and writing. Some may remember the regular column he wrote for Christian Beacon magazine called "Stone Soup."
John had been a member of the Worldwide Church of God beginning in the early 1980s and joined the United Church of God at its inception in 1995. He eventually moved on to participate in independent Church of God fellowships for the past five years.
John suffered a massive heart attack triggered by a severe case of sleep apnea and died in his sleep in the early hours of Oct. 29, 2001. He was 43.
At the funeral on Nov. 2, my husband delivered a eulogy for John on behalf of his church and Internet friends. It included excerpts from comments made on Internet forums by John's Net friends in response to the news of his death. We have posted it on the net at http://www.isitso.org/johneul.html.
Who is God's anointed?
In recent months I have tried not to let some of the foolish things I read in The Journal get under my skin, but the letter by Gary Riley in the Aug. 31 issue ("Don't Insult Mr. Armstrong," page 5) needs to be soundly rebuked for its outrageous statements.
Mr. Riley writes: "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'!"
I know some of you reading this don't see what's wrong with this quote, but what Mr. Riley just said is that, if we can't see that Herbert W. Armstrong was the Christ, we are not only blind but need to change our mental filter.
All of us should know that the title "Christ" comes from the Greek christos, which means "the anointed." Therefore to refer to another man as God's anointed is to say he is the Christ.
Mr. Armstrong used to tell people not to believe him but to believe their Bibles, so let's blow the dust off our Bibles and see who Scriptures identify as God's anointed.
Jesus asked Peter, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." To which Jesus responded, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-17).
Can anything be clearer? Jesus, and only Jesus, is the Christ, God's Anointed.
In the Old Testament we read of people like David and Moses being a type of the Christ to come, but since Jesus has actually come there has been no need for any more types. Jesus is God's Anointed!
For any other man in the Church of God, established by Jesus Himself, to call himself God's anointed is tantamount to the rebellion of Satan. For any man in the Church of God to refer to another man as God's anointed is blasphemy.
How true the words of Jesus: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5).
Do you understand what Jesus is saying here? There are two ways to look at this passage. One way to read this is that many would come in Jesus' name and claim that He (Jesus) was the Christ (God's Anointed) and deceive many. The other way is that many would come in the name of Jesus and would say "I (the one speaking) am the Christ (God's anointed)" and would deceive many.
I don't know which of these was Jesus' intent, but I think we can see that both have happened throughout the history of traditional Christianity, so why not in the very Church of God?
Jesus also said: "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' [God's anointed] or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:23-24).
In other words, if someone claims to be God's anointed, and even if he does great signs and wonders (even if he visits world leaders or publishes millions of magazines), Jesus warns that we are not to be deceived. Nor are we to put men on pedestals, for, as James writes, being a respecter of persons is a sin (James 2:1-9).
Regarding Mr. Riley's comments about the seven churches in Asia, here's something to ponder:
To the Laodiceans it is written: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:17-20).
Notice where Jesus is and isn't. He is outside knocking, asking to be let in to be with the Laodiceans. How could this be? Perhaps it's because some people who are called by His name are looking to someone else as God's anointed instead of Jesus Christ, God's true Anointed.
Brethren, if you are looking to another man as God's anointed while you think you are rich and have need of nothing, don't be so sure that you are not wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
The next time someone calls another man God's anointed, remember that in this day and age only Jesus is God's Anointed.
Brooklyn Center, Minn.
I am just stating the simple fact that Robert Thiel, in just about every issue of The Journal, finds fault with all the Church of God groups except the Living Church of God.
Dr. Thiel idolizes Herbert W. Armstrong and Rod Meredith and speaks of them as if they were the two witnesses.
Dr. Thiel needs to quit finding fault with the groups and making a mountain out of a molehill over minute things. He just makes people's temperatures rise, then blows their head gaskets, then they lose their tempers like wet hornets.
Why doesn't Dr. Thiel do something productive with his time such as conducting a prison ministry, visiting the elderly or speaking to teenagers in high schools about God's truth?
Letters, not eras
The issue of "church eras" has come up recently (Aug. 31) in The Journal. This was an issue that confused me about 15 years ago, when I was given a booklet from the Worldwide Church of God. I do not remember who the author was, but the booklet asserted that the letters to the seven churches in Asia represented seven successive church eras.
I accepted the booklet at face value, but I could not prove its accuracy. The words age, era and epoch do not exist in Revelation in the KJV. This was perplexing to me because I considered the source to be accurate. As it turns out, however, the booklet was completely erroneous.
Revelation 2 and 3 contain the text of seven letters to seven churches in Asia. They were written at the insistence of Jesus Christ, and they relate to the Lord's day, or Day of the Lord. They are specifically for the end of the age. Other than that, they are written in succession; there is no indication that they represent successive messages. In fact, the text is quite clear. Every letter has the same closing message, indicating that the letters are to be read concurrently, not consecutively. The closing message is identical for all seven churches, to wit: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 2:7; 11; 17; 29; 3:6; 13; 22).
A recent letter in The Journal stated that "'church eras' come straight from Christ's revelation." This is not an accurate statement relative to the text of the Bible, at least not from the KJV. There is not a single assertion in the Bible that the letters are eras. It would be impossible for the Philadelphia church to be kept from the global "hour of temptation" if the letter to the church of Laodicea really represents an era.
The church-era theory is a blatant denial of the text of the book of Revelation, and its effects are to make everyone in the Church of God a Laodicean. Taking the assertion of church eras to its absurd conclusion, everyone in the Church of God would have to be spewed out of Jesus' mouth. There could be no sealed saints making up the 144,000.
The Philadelphia church will be in existence at the end of the age, therefore successive church eras are impossible. Luke 21:36 is a promise that those who are accounted worthy will escape all tribulation. The Laodiceans will not escape tribulation, therefore they cannot represent a sole existing Church of God at the end of the age.
The greatest proof that the church-eras theory is impossible is the text of the Bible itself. There is not a single scripture in the Bible that indicates that the letters to the seven churches are also eras. This theory has no more proof than the rapture theory. The notion of church eras is simply not demonstrable from the text of the Bible. There is no other acceptable authority.
Michael D. Cox., M.D., J.D.
Bossier City, La.
Loose and soaring
I found the Oct. 31 issue an eye-opener, probably the most controversial Journal you have issued to date. The hawks were loose and soaring. Many advocated war as the way to take care of business.
But it is not appropriate for any of us to come under the kind of men who would be in charge of us in the military. Could you imagine a wicked, wicked man like Bill Clinton being your commander in chief?
We need to repent and turn to God's way. The United States needs to lock its front door. It needs to vigorously search out, try and execute murderers. The United States needs to respect the sovereignty of foreign nations.
As individuals, we need to make sure we do not give up our sovereignty to wicked men.
Greg A. Jandrt
Loving your Mideastern neighbor
Jeff Booth said he would not have permitted a Middle Eastern man sitting next to him on a Texas-to-Florida plane flight to pass by and visit the rest room ["Pastor Says COG Members Should Support War on Terrorism, Including Military," Oct. 31]. "He was just going to have to hold it."
Fortunately, this was a relatively short trip and the man did not get up and test Mr. Booth's resolve.
I wonder how Mr. Booth would have behaved toward this man had they been forced to endure a 14-hour nonstop flight from Melbourne, Australia, to Los Angeles. Even on his shorter Florida flight and with his bigger size, I think Mr. Booth would have been in a pickle after victimizing the "pleasant-looking" Middle Eastern man and his wife when they pressed the call button for a flight attendant to assist them past this minister on their way to the toilet.
Would Mr. Booth have created an incident, possibly causing the airline crew to quickly land the plane at the nearest airport? Who would be the terrorist then? I'm sure Mr. Booth would not have welcomed the international publicity.
Would some newspaper readers see in Mr. Booth the face of a xenophobe and wonder how even a stressed Christian minister, with visions of being another Tom Burnett, could overlook loving his neighbor as himself?
Can't say I disagree with Jeff
You really asked Jeff Booth some tough questions in your interview, Mr. Barbara Walters. However, I thought he responded well [in "Pastor Explains His Stance on Military and War," Oct. 31] and held to his opinions based on what he believes. Can't say I disagree with Jeff on this whole issue.
Confused about war?
I can identify with Eva Roe's article "Identify With Your Heavenly Citizenship" [concerning military service and war] in the Oct. 31 issue of The Journal.
Our covenant relationship with God is different from the covenant God made with Israel. The New Testament scriptures have much to say about how we are to live under the New Covenant.
I suggest if anyone is confused about what is God's will concerning joining the military to fight in the present war that he study the scriptures in John 14-17 and Matthew 5-7 while asking God if He wants him to participate in producing powerful weapons of war or become a part of an all-out war against the enemies of the U.S.A.
America: Love it or consider moving to Afghanistan
Some folks writing to The Journal do not believe Christians should take part in any war waged by the United States. As an honorably discharged veteran coming to grips with war and the Christian's responsibility, I have concluded it is shameful that there are so many American Christians who take their citizenship in this bountiful land--which is truly a gift of God--for granted.
Call me silly, but I think there is something amiss with the notion that a person can live in America as a citizen, accept the protection and blessings of this nation as a right and feel no obligation to lift one little finger to help defend and protect America and fellow Americans in time of war.
If everybody felt the way some pious pacifist Christians do, we would soon run out of rights and freedom, and, in time, the rats of the world would overrun us.
Thanks be to Yahweh God that, since this nation was founded, good people have been willing to die that we--all of us today--might be free to peaceably assemble in worship and glorify God.
Try that in your average third-world nation and see how far you get.
Where does one draw the line between active defense and motionless pacifism? Is it okay to defend yourself with deadly force against certain death at the hands of a thug? How about your town, state, nation? Does standing by and letting your neighbor die at the hands of assailants fulfill the godly command to love your neighbor?
Sorry, but loving your neighbor requires protecting him when you are able.
Suppose America revoked U.S.A. citizenship of those who would sit on the sidelines claiming to have citizenship in heaven and thereby no responsibility to America, allowing others to die that they might live?
Suppose America agreed with the pacifists and antiwar folks and cut them off from physical protection by the state: the police, armed forces, fire departments, Constitution?
Oh, you say your taxes pay for all this? Hardly.
Perhaps those who refuse to believe in their obligation to America should take their leave, cancel their citizenship and abandon all benefits as American citizens, such benefits as the Bill of Rights and equal protection under the law.
Take what you have, including your taxes, and head for Bosnia, India, the Sudan (where Christians are crucified) or Afghanistan.
If you think you're an ambassador of another place, another kingdom, and you think that that belief allows you to opt out of patriotic obligations to America and teach others to do so, think again.
Real ambassadors represent real nations or kingdoms and are not citizens of the host country; they are not "spiritual" ambassadors. Those claiming to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) who try to use this concept as an excuse not to vote or take part in the defense of host-country America are making a mistake.
It's not a question of "love it or leave it"; it's a question of (1) gratitude toward the one Yahweh God for His giving us this great land, a question of (2) an obligation to be good, involved stewards of His blessings and a question of (3) being godly neighbors.
If you do not wish to support and defend America in her need, perhaps there is a cave in Afghanistan with your name on it.
F. Paul Haney
The terrorist enemies of Israel
I found Ken Westby's comments ["COG Leaders React to Terrorist Attacks," Sept. 30] to be quite on the mark.
Few Christians realize why the God of Israel told the Israelites to "kill all of Amalek." Few seem to see that there was a reason and that we are likely facing many problems today because Israel failed to heed the advice of its God.
Exodus 17:16 (Amplified Bible) puts the reason this way: "And, he said, 'Because [theirs/Amalek] is a hand against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
Amalek, if I recall correctly, was a descendant of Esau as a result of his marriage to a daughter of Ishmael. Both Esau and Ishmael were firstborn sons, Esau of Isaac and Ishmael of Abraham. Both should have been the choice for the inheritance by virtue of their being the firstborn.
However, when Israel came out of Egypt Amalek tried to destroy the Israelites because he knew they were to inherit what he felt belonged to him via his "birthright." His anger has never ended, and God knew it would not. Thus the "destroy Amalek" command.
Again, because the Israelites failed to do so, that hatred still exists, as Ken so clearly pointed out.
There is an aspect of the words "the throne" (in Exodus 17:16) that few have considered. The throne meant not only the civil rulership of the Promised Land but the religious rulership and control. The "king sitting on his throne" was not only the head of civil affairs but of religious affairs.
Only the priesthood of Aaron was not subject to the king's wishes. Even then, some kings tried to usurp that authority in religion as well.
Few consider that Islam had its beginning not with Muhammad but with the marriage of Esau and Ishmael's daughter. Amalek's attack was as much a religious jihad, or holy war, as Osama bin Ladin's attack is today. All Muhammad did was to revive a religion that had existed for millennia. Ken also pointed this out when he showed where David had subjugated Amalek.
But is it possible to show from Scripture the relationship of the terrorist Osama bin Ladin and his jihad followers to Amalek? I believe so.
Consider the following. For the sake of space, I will not use Scriptures, but most reading this will know the teachings of Scripture I am referring to.
It is almost certain that many of the Amalekites fled the wars with the kings of Israel and that many fled when Assyria and Babylon attacked. Also, many would have been carried into captivity.
But, during the time of Samuel, King Saul went out and destroyed a settlement of Amalek and brought back the Amalekites' king to where Samuel was. That king was Agag. Samuel told Saul that he should have killed Agag, and Scripture says that Samuel "killed Amalek" himself.
Now, if you go to Esther you will find a person who had a deep hatred of the Jews and tried to get every man, woman and child of them killed. His name was Haman. He is called Haman the Agagite. In other words, Haman was almost certainly a descendant of Agag the Amalekite. Haman was a terrorist trying to kill any of Israel he could, in this case the Jews.
If you recall the location of the Persian Empire, you remember that Afghanistan is somewhat in the central part of that empire, or at least reasonably close to its governmental headquarters.
Since Esther shows that the Jews killed only a few of their enemies and are said to have killed only the "sons of Haman" (how about grandsons, wives, etc.?), then is it not likely that Osama bin Ladin is a direct descendant of Haman and that his followers are also the descendants of Amalek?
Makes sense to me, and apparently Ken Westby sees it in the same context
Also, if the Islamic religion really began with Esau and Ishmael, as I believe, then this would also explain why there are different sects within Islam. Scripture says that Esau also had two wives of the daughters of Canaan. Could this be why Islam is divided today? Consider that in the early centuries of this era the Jews existed at relative peace with Islam.
Even as late as the 1500s there were Hebrew centers of learning living side by side with Islamic followers. Why? Could it not be that the other branches of Islam were dominant and that it is not until the time the Jews returned to the Promised Land that the terrorist-Amalek branch (apparently mostly Sunnis) began to push their jihad religious teachings?
If the above is indeed fact, then what is the duty of the Churches of God in regard to such teachings? It is not wrong for our countries to wield the sword against them, but is it up to the COGs to tell them that? Is it the duty of the COGs to tell them to kill every terrorist and all of their followers?
God told Israel to do it in the past. Because they did not, we are suffering for such disobedience.
Herbert W. Armstrong claimed the church was the watchman. If I recall, the watchman warned the nation of the coming of the sword. The watchmen, the prophets, often told the armies of Israel what they should do to defeat the enemy and ensure victory.
I feel that when David lined up the men of Moab and killed every third one he was killing those who have the same mentality that we see among the terrorist "enemies of Israel."
Wisdom in small things
I am a longtime church member, self-employed, the father of two boys. Like many of my friends, I once believed:
Upon the birth of my first son, Adrian, nine years ago, I started to rethink the above. After all, events in Washington would profoundly affect his future. Should I not be concerned? Hence I write this letter.
America is a representative democracy. We elect to office people from our midst whose ideas most closely approximate our own and who thus determine the direction of our society. A wise vote will promote the happiness and well-being of our family and fellow citizens. Such a vote will counterbalance and sometimes overcome the forces of evil and ignorance moldering in our culture.
In 1860, for example, it was the wise vote that elected to office the magnificent Abraham Lincoln, whose leadership led to the extirpation of slavery. In recent times by contrast it was the foolish vote and the nonvote of indifferent citizens that twice empowered a president of quite different timber.
The church has long discouraged voting and holding of elected office. We are strangers and pilgrims on the earth or ambassadors and therefore belong to a different country. We should shun worldly politics.
This expression alone leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. For, as with sin, should we not eschew all things worldly?
But we are inconsistent. Are not Christian workers employed by worldly commerce? Do not Christian teachers teach for worldly education? If you like baseball, do you not then enjoy worldly sports?
My point is simple: It is not logical or fair to be selectively negative. A more honest reference to public office is the term public service.
I believe our role as pilgrims and ambassadors is misused to justify our withdrawal from our civic duties. These are spiritual metaphors that should not be overextended. After all, what pilgrim passing through is there who buys land?
These metaphors point to our great spiritual hope, which is the Kingdom of God. We should not attempt to use them to define for us in minute detail our disengagement from the world.
Instead of metaphors, there towers in the Bible the unequivocal principle that we love our fellowman. More specifically, "as much as lies within you, do good to all men."
Here is a criterion that compels us to civic duty. A well-informed vote that promotes well-being in our land fulfills this principle. Those who seek to do this at election time should not be hindered.
Likewise, anyone who seeks public office, has the God-given talent to be successful and has counted the cost should not be hindered, either.
Several biblical principles come into play. Such a person serves the many and not just the few. Such a person lets his light shine. Such a person makes the most of the talents God has given him.
Of course, such a person must count the cost. Public service, as with all aspects of our culture, has its pitfalls. The need for virtuous people is great.
On our present political scene, three individuals stand out in my opinion as positive role models: George and Laura Bush and John Ashcroft. Truly, not all politicians are the same.
In conclusion, I believe a Christian in public office can be a marvelous example to the world. For us as Christians who do not send our children to war yet benefit from the sacrifice of those who do, casting a wise vote at election time is but surely a small thing.
The church'll get you for that
The article by Darlene Warren in the Oct. 31 issue of Connections [the advertising section of The Journal] said it all. I agree with her article, "It's a Question of Conscience," 110 percent.
I also went through this military thing in the '70s, the CO [conscientious objector] thing in the church. The only reason I did it was to save my hide, not because of a deep belief. At 18 years old? Get real. I was scared because of the prophecies of the end time.
Darlene is also right about things we once thought were impossible to happen. The church thought it had the answer to everything.
Thank you, Darlene. I hope readers go back now and read your article.
Please don't use my name for fear of reprisal from a certain COG. I am scared because of what a certain church might do to me if it found out I wrote this. If you don't agree with this church, look out. It'll get you.
Name and location withheld
The color of the rainbow
I just received my last issue of The Journal, and now I know why I will not be renewing.
Who are these people you allow space for? How in the world do people such as Jeff Booth stand in front of a group of brethren and state it is okay to serve in the military? [see articles in the Oct. 31 issue]. Apparently Mr. Booth doesn't believe in the commandment "Thou shalt not kill."
Your September issue, on the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, was also equally disturbing because of liberal-minded ministers who issue statements of personal opinion.
The comments Mr. Booth made aren't worth the paper they are printed on. I would be ashamed to have my profile on the front of a paper such as yours. The comments he makes are outrageous.
It is interesting that Mr. Booth is too old to be drafted. Perhaps he wouldn't be preaching such heresy if he were. Another false prophet is now among God's people.
Your newspaper has done more to harm brethren than anything since the preaching by Joe Tkach and company. It has declined in its purpose. The groups and comments you report on vary as much as the color of the rainbow. The whole purpose of your newspaper is absolutely disturbing.
Do us all a favor and discontinue what you are doing. You paper is equivalent to a religious National Enquirer.
Some people are sticks in the mud
What a shame that more Church of God types aren't subscribing to this publication. The dialog, sparring, debating and speculating at least make interesting reading. What a double shame that some do not want to be challenged by even the mildest controversy.
Nelson, B.C., Canada
When will they ever cooperate?
In this scattered world of the Churches of God diaspora, it is possible, thanks to Web-page listings, to find out whether a given church has a congregation in a certain city or town.
However, one must go through a gigantic list if one is to eventually discover if there is a congregation of Church of God believers in a given city or town.
I hope that somewhere there is a master list that would inform one of the existence of Churches of God (note the plural here) of any kind in any given town. When I visit a new city I don't really care what brand of Church of God happens to be there. All I want to know is if there is any branch of the Church of God anywhere around.
When will the churches start cooperating and referring members to a sister church organization if they themselves happen not to be represented in a given community?
For example, I want to find out if any one of the numerous branches of the Church of God happens to have a congregation meeting in Kamloops, B.C. How would I go about finding out this information?
Via the Internet
If you're waiting for the COGs to acknowledge the existence of other COGs, you might not want to hold your breath. A resource you might find helpful, the new Directory of Sabbath-Observing Groups, is available for a nominal charge from the Bible Sabbath Association. Information about COGs and other Sabbath-keeping Christian groups is organized several ways in easy-to-comprehend listings. Call (307) 686-5191, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be strong; come back to the WCG
We are in a dilemma. How can we decide which of the offshoots from the WCG we should attend? When God left the Worldwide Church of God, did He go with United, Living, Global, Philadelphia, International or another group? Did God's elect get split into many parts, or did one church get them all?
Had those who left formed one united group in peace and power and prosperity, we who remained in the floundering Worldwide Church of God might have wondered about our decision to stay. But they've made it easy for us because (1) there are hundreds of splinter groups, so we would never be able to make up our mind which to go to, and (2) we've always believed God is bigger than any leadership, no matter how many doctrinal errors they may purport as truth.
We are certain Christ will soon anoint a strong leader to shepherd the WCG once again in truth. But we sure wonder where He will find him. Who will shepherd the many WCG congregations when that happens?
Most of the ministers who have stayed with the WCG have been seduced by false doctrines. Those who remained true to God's calling (though not His government) abandoned us to form their own churches.
We understand why those ministers who started splinter groups left the WCG. We understand that they felt they had to preach what God ordained them to preach. We understand they felt they could not function within the atmosphere of such apostasy. We understand their fear that the members were being led astray and it was up to the ordained ministry to keep them in the truth.
It's too bad Christ is so weak that He needed ministers to take His people out of His church and form separate groups in order to keep them safe, and it's too bad His people were so ungrounded in the truth and so lacking in the Holy Spirit that they could not withstand heresy except by leaving.
Perhaps you are unaware that there are hundreds of brethren in the WCG who have not forsaken God, who believe the same things you do, who keep the feasts and pray for the Kingdom and study to show themselves approved and will never forsake His Word nor turn from the truths the Bible teaches.
Though we are small, we are still in the Body of Christ through the WCG (even though there seem to be some in high places who would like us gone). Some faithful members have been told to stop discussing the truth with others; some have been asked not to attend.
There was only one WCG U.S. site that kept the correct full eight days of the Feast this year, and it was allowed grudgingly. We have no promise that we will be allowed to have it next year. So we fight for our beliefs and our faith with prayer and fasting.
But, oh, had you stayed in the WCG--you who have not forsaken the truth and who saw that the church leadership was teaching false doctrines--what a force the church would have had to reckon with!
If 80 percent of the congregations had sat silent in services unaccepting of the new (extremely old, actually) teachings yet respectful of the authority they were under, what a force to be reckoned with they would have been.
Yet we who are left are certainly not alone. God is with us; He has not forsaken us. We will keep the faith once delivered, and we will be stronger because of our testing.
What has happened to the splinter groups? They've split and split again until at present there are some 300 separate churches that have come out of the WCG.
Some have somewhat self-righteously snubbed those in the Worldwide Church of God, and the many splits contend with each other as to who has the most truth.
We have always believed that the church was a government from the top down. Don't those who left believe that anymore, or did they simply forget it? Are there many heads that God has ordained to be the head of His church now?
I wonder if you who have left realize that by leaving the WCG you were failing the test. Surely Christ does not want 1,000 separate churches.
He allowed the changes in the WCG for many reasons. But the biggest reason seems to be that He was testing and refining us.
You have no idea how excited we are, waiting to see what Christ will do next with this floundering church. He is in charge, don't you worry. Think about this: If God's not in charge of the Worldwide Church of God now, He wasn't in charge of it ever!
Though we can go on courageously without you, we need your help, your spiritual support. Can you imagine the effect your coming back would have now? If the Church of God got a shot in the arm of true Christians coming back, wanting the Sabbath and the holy days and the truth from the Bible, what a coup that would be. Will you at least ask God what you should do?
Let your conscience and the Holy Spirit guide you, but meanwhile watch because it looks like soon there may be a vacuum at headquarters or no headquarters at all. Then who will lead and unite the WCG in truth, Spirit and strength?
Name and location withheld
A plan for uniting
I have found a reasonable solution to the uniting of the scattered churches and brethren. It is in the form of the Intercontinental Church of God, headed by the natural successor to Herbert W. Armstrong, his son Garner Ted Armstrong.
Given that the churches have not remained united over the years, I strongly believe we need to exercise the faith to forgive all ministers, including GTA, for their sins and rally around GTA and bring all the tithes and offerings to this gifted speaker while there is still life in him.
Time is short, and the brethren sorely need his example and dedication to inspire all brethren, young and old, to rekindle their faith and zeal to do the work of God and preach the gospel.
Incidentally, this course of action will make more sense to new people because he is, after all, the son of HWA.
People of God, pray that God will open a door for the gospel to go on in power and scope through the united effort of brethren who are forgiving, understanding and willing to give a real chance to GTA to revive a work that has long been denied. I pray it will happen soon.
Just what do you mean Christian?
I have enjoyed The Journal for quite some time. Normally I do not feel it necessary to make comments about the articles and letters, but this time I am moved to speak about the article Brian Knowles wrote for the Sept. 30 issue.
The article, "The Outcome, After The Attacks of Sept. 11, Is Not in Our Hands," was supportive of our nation, president and attorney general. That was good.
When Mr. Knowles said, however (in further expressing what the terrorists have done against our nation), that our president and attorney general are Christian, I felt I had to respond to that.
These gentlemen, though they are surely sincere in their belief, miss the mark, as do most Americans, when it comes to being Christians. They may be Catholic or Baptists, but, like most well-intentioned "Christians," they are far off the proper and true worship of God. This is the problem with most Christians.
Isaiah states the case against ancient Israel and modern-day Israel: "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies."
God says the actions of this people lead to shame and embarrassment (Isaiah 1:29).
The man in the street does not realize that the actions of our "Christian" people have set us up for a great fall. Our people do not have a clear understanding of what they are doing that prompts God to say He will hide His eyes from us (verse 15). That will have to be made clear to them in the future.
I believe Mr. Knowles knows this, however. So I must in good conscience bring this to his attention. Otherwise people will not know what God has against us as a nation.
Christ had the same reaction against the Jews of His day: "They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men."
Our people will have to be told that the United States is modern-day Israel, along with the British Commonwealth nations. This nation will have to clearly hear that it is Israel.
God says the children of Israel have defiled His sanctuary and desecrated His Sabbaths, as in Ezekiel 23:38. Some will say: "What is this man talking about?" If they have no idea, then that will have to be clarified in the future.
Zac G. Challenger
John Sash and Dan White on D&R
John Sash, in "The D&R Quagmire" ["Letters," Sept. 30, page 5], says he could go on for nine pages. I'm so thankful he didn't.
First, I must commend Dan White for his courageous presentation ["We Have Lost Sight of Christ's Higher Standard for Marriage," June 30 and July 31], for courageous it was in our present cultural mind-set.
Though Mr. White left a few minor questions unanswered, divorce and remarriage are an issue that solely needed addressing.
It's strange how God our Father and Christ (in some people's minds) have become liberals so we can blend in nicely with current society. I suppose it's a lot easier to remake God in our own image than truly to become a holy people with the mind of Christ.
Mr. Sash quotes Mr. White saying that "the church was filled with wonderful families, . . . mother, father, kids sitting together peacefully," and Mr. Sash says this is propaganda.
No, it isn't. This is what I experienced in the late '60s when I raised three children in just such a beautiful environment. Obedience to God's law pays off, believe it or not.
Mr. Sash then moves on to an amazing spiritual distortion whereby, in recounting the incident of the woman at the well in John 4, he states Christ proposed to be her seventh husband.
This is pure nonsense, the result of equating the transcendental Kingdom to physical marriage as practiced by a carnal society.
The church as the bride marrying Christ is only analogy, a biblical picture that our human minds can grasp.
Mr. Sash says Christ validated the woman's marriages. That's not what my Bible says. Christ states that the one she was currently with was "no husband." His reference to her previous "five husbands" is not His validation of her multiple marriages; it's merely a statement of fact that the woman had proceeded through an accepted legal format of the day to end up with five husbands.
Christ was calling this woman out of her sordid lifestyle to true repentance. That's the point of this incident: her repentance, not endorsement of multiple marriages, which is totally inconsistent with Matthew 5:31-32.
Do man's "divorce papers" put asunder a marriage so members of the Body of Christ are free to remarry, as Mr. Sash maintains?
This is a serious matter and the reason for the church's past involvement. There is a resurrection to fiery judgment, though a growing liberal voice attempts to deny it.
The rich man in Luke 16:24 appears to be surprised to find himself in this situation and calls out for mercy. In verse 29 Abraham tells him that hearing the Word of God would have prevented him from being there.
Someone may say: But, Lord, I didn't know I was living in adultery for 35 years.
He will say: You had My Word.
Palmerston, New Zealand
Moving slowly through the mail
I have a question. Why does it take three weeks to one month from publication for us to receive our copy of The Journal? At the Feast I met someone on the first day, Oct. 2, who had received her copy before she had left for the Feast. By the time we get it the next one is published and it becomes old news. Please check into this for me. I'll pay the extra postage to get a copy quicker. It's our very favorite publication!
Jerry (and Alana) Lewis
New Castle, Del.
The Journal goes to U.S. subscribers via the U.S. Postal Service's periodicals class for newspapers and magazines. In theory, newspapers mailed this way travel through the mail just as fast as first-class letters. In reality the system rarely works that way. Some U.S. subscribers receive their copy of The Journal two days after it is mailed; others receive their copies two, four, even six weeks later, even though all copies to U.S. subscribers are mailed at the same time.
One solution is first-class postage. The Journal has available for U.S. subscribers a first-class service for $44 a year rather than the usual $22. The extra charge reflects the extra cost for postage, envelopes and handling.
First the good news
In regards to the issue I received today, there was good news and bad news. The good news is that The Journal serves a purpose. It clearly provides information on the various Churches of God. The bad news is that it reveals the contentiousness that totally envelops these churches. Is God the author of confusion and contention? If you read the Bible you know He isn't. So what logical conclusion can you draw from this? Obviously the Churches of God aren't of God; they're of man and his ego!
Made my day
To "Name and location withheld" [who wrote "Went Ahead and Made My Day," July 31, page 4]: Your letter regarding Jim Casey's letter ["Many Biblical Titles, June 30, page 4] made my day.
We need more folks who have the insight to recognize those brave few who are willing to swim upstream with the sharks. Such an honor as the "Bitter Man" award also deserves the spotlight. Are you willing to revive this noble award to the deserving few on a more public and formal basis? If so, I'm sure we can conspire to find sufficient worthy recipients.
Speaking of awards, I don't know if Dixon gives out a letter-of-the-year award, but both Mr. Casey's and yours receive my nomination. Only one small suggestion is offered to you: Such insight as was so eloquently set forth in your letter deserves recognition, not anonymity. Keep them letters coming.
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