Letters from our readers
Note of thanks
As our family prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in November, we were thinking of the many blessings that we did have this past year. We want you to know that the love, kindness and support being shown to our family after our daughter Alisa Repp's fatal plane crash is one of our greatest blessings.
We appreciate your prayers, cards, letters and thoughts on our behalf. A witness of God's Spirit has been evidenced in your brotherly love and concern. We have been overwhelmed by the way you have shared our grief, sometimes in spite of not knowing us personally. It confirms that every one of us can have the greatest confidence in the work God is doing in our lives, individually and as a church.
A special thank-you to those who did know Alisa and have shared their stories and sentiments about her. Hearing and reading them over again has been especially comforting and inspiring. It is a little bit like having just a few more moments of time with her once more.
God has been so good and merciful to us, even in the depths of despair. We are thankful for your godly love and friendship.
We now pray, as never before, that God will bless every one of you as you, too, journey through the ups and downs, the trials and pains of this physical life until the day we are able to finally meet in God's coming Kingdom.
Rod, Mary, Rick, Kevin and Nathan Repp
P.O. Box 417, Endicott, Wash. 99125, U.S.A.
'Notes & Quotes' correction
In "Notes and Quotes" Nov. 30, The Journal said I had about 5,000 news articles on my Web site (http://ezekielwatchman.tripod.com/ezekielwatchman/.)
This was an inadvertent error. The reports should have said that from 1994 to 1998 I felt that God wanted to use my knack for digging out news articles from all over the world, so I sent pertinent ones, via fax, to Philadelphia Church of God headquarters.
I estimated that I had faxed a total of roughly 5,000 articles over that period and had even sent a few hundred later on to Jim Mortensen in Texas. What seemed like a cooling off or noninterest in these timely news articles came later in both cases for whatever reason.
I now feel that God wants the same work done via the Internet since it's a free outlet for those who are interested in end-time events. A friend has diligently informed many brethren by E-mailing them about the site for their own perusal.
Dana Point, Calif.
Prejudice and Noah's perfection
Human beings are inveterate comparers. They compare themselves among themselves all the time and, in so doing, are not wise.
The emotions such comparisons produce are almost invariably negative ones. Either you feel inferior to others and end up feeling sorry for yourself and, perhaps, lashing out in anger to make yourself feel better or you feel superior to others and end up filled with pride. Both paths are as wide as they are foolish.
So we come to Genesis 6:9 and the "historical" understanding in the church of the meaning of the reference to Noah's being "perfect in his generations," as reflected in the opinions of Herbert Armstrong.
Mr. Armstrong was a product of his time and of the attitudes, prejudices and suppositions of his day. He didn't necessarily accept all of them, as we know.
On the other hand, he didn't necessarily reject all of them, either. The views on race in the United States of the first half of the 20th century are well known. Even barely a generation ago, judging a person by the content of his character rather than by the color of his skin was still but a dream.
Racism was not defeated all at once. Racism has not been vanquished even now. Segregation and apartheid may officially be gone, but the human heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked is still here. How better to defend one's prejudices than by finding biblical support for them?
This is the context for the "historical" view of the meaning of Genesis 6:9 ("Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.")
One ardently wishes that this benighted view had taken its rightful place in the dustbin of tendentious and unsustainable arguments. It is unbiblical. I am also tempted to call it antediluvian (in the figurative sense, of course). It is also dishonest, absurd and illogical.
This explanation, inspired by Bullinger's Companion Bible, that Genesis 6:9 meant that Noah was racially "pure" has long been measured and found wanting.
Years ago I did a study on the meaning of perfect (Hebrew tamim). I concluded that in the context of Genesis 6:9 it clearly and simply means "upright" or "blameless." It has nothing to do with race.
Yet in an egregious example of dishonest exegesis Bullinger argues that tamim refers to bodily and physical--not moral--perfection, blatantly disregarding the use of tamim to mean moral perfection in Genesis 17:1; Deuteronomy 18:13; 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30 and 19:7; Proverbs 11:5; and elsewhere.
The view of Genesis 6:9 as referring to a perfect pedigree is also untenable because of its sheer absurdity and illogic. If God had indeed considered miscegenation to be so evil that He had destroyed all human life except Noah's family, how on earth could He justify perpetuating this very same supposed evil by allowing Ham and Japheth to marry wives of different races?
And wouldn't it just have been simpler to make people all of the same skin color? (Quick test of your racism quotient: If God were to pick just one color, what color would that be? We know what the church's historical position would be, but would that be God's position?)
The inconsistency and ridiculousness of this position were further evidenced by the church's response to mixed-race couples who came to the church. Unlike individuals who had been divorced and remarried (before 1974), mixed-race couples were not required to separate if they wished to attend services or be baptized.
If miscegenation were a sin, then clearly the church must have been condoning sin when it allowed them to be baptized without separating. One cannot have it both ways.
As I said at the beginning, the argument based on a faulty exegesis of Genesis 6:9 provided stultifying support for views that were merely reflections of the environment Mr. Armstrong and others grew up in (in particular, one leading proponent of such views who was raised in rural Arkansas in the 1940s).
This is not to condemn but to explain. God allowed those times of ignorance (as He did earlier times; consider the racism of people such as Abraham Lincoln who viewed African-Americans as inferior to whites and advocated segregation by supporting the repatriation of freed slaves to Africa, a view prevalent even among Northern whites in his day). But we cannot continue to use the excuse of ignorance.
The reality, of course, is that God made just one race: the human race. He has "made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
Ethnic, racial, social and gender differences no longer divide human beings who have put on Christ. Such are now one in Christ Jesus. The prejudices and racism of their past should lie buried in their baptism.
Prejudice and racism have harmed way too many people for way too long. It is way past time to bury the misguided and misapplied interpretation of Genesis 6:9. Such views rightly belong in the dustbin of history.
Big Sandy, Texas
The great democratic bait
I appreciate all who participate in The Journal with input from many points of view through letters to the editor.
I don't mean to be critical of Ryan Stough's editorial, "Is There Hope for Sabbatarian Christians?" [Nov. 30, page 3], only his fondness for a "democratic church."
We as Americans have been so saturated by democracy that we believe it to be a God-sent government.
In reality, America was originated as a republic, not a democracy. If Ryan would study this subject, he would find that most of the churches--not just Churches of God--are democratic in the sense that they are governed from the top down by whoever happens to be (by hook or by crook) elected in the capacity of president and his supporting henchmen.
American didn't become a democracy until the 1930s and '40s. But then Americans really took the bait.
A republic, on the other hand, is governed from the bottom up. The villages, town, cities, counties and states under their own governing bodies, each controlled its own facilities, and the federal government controlled only what it was given.
That included the amount of taxes it could take and spend only as mandated by the taxpayer.
A democracy can tax to no end, then distribute the moneys to the places that give the federal government the most control.
Consider church headquarters. As members, we voted with our feet. We either followed or departed. Those who stayed elected to give that church leadership power over them.
Then, by exacting tithes (three or more) and offerings sent to headquarters to be distributed at the governing officials' will, they increased their power by paying salaries to ministers. These organizations increased their following (by exacting more money) like taxed citizens.
Here is something that should be the first and foremost subject taught in the first few grades of all schools, public and private:
"A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of Government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse out of the Public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public with the result that Democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a Dictatorship."
(This was written by Professor Alexander Fraser Tytler while our 13 original states were still colonies under Great Britain. Professor Tytler was writing of the decline and fall of the Athenian Republic more than 2,000 years before.)
We as a small Bible-study meeting group also would like the company of more brethren and are thankful that Ryan Stough pointed out one more democratic group so we can be more watchful of more democratic groups.
The spirit in baby
In the Nov. 30 issue of The Journal [page 40], Garner Ted Armstrong expressed his belief that it is "likely that an infant doesn't receive a 'spirit in man' from God until it takes its first breath immediately after birth."
In other words, according to Mr. Armstrong, the little fetus is only a blob of human tissue during the nine months of gestation, not a separate human being until birth.
If so, Jesus was only a blob of human tissue (in limbo) between His conception by God and His birth.
Or was He God-Man from His conception?
I believe the correct answer to this question is very important to our understanding.
Don't drop that baby
Regarding "GTA Comments on Breath of Life, Abortions," Nov. 30 issue:
Garner Ted Armstrong's comments trouble me because of their implications. He seems to think that God sends a "spirit of man" into an infant as it draws its first breath. That would seem to keep abortions from being murder, because a "person" does not yet exist.
So, if the doctor drops the baby before it breathes, then it will not be resurrected!
The Bible does reveal there is a spirit in man and that it comes from God (Job 32:8; Ecclesiastes 12:7). When God the Father created man, He breathed into him the "breath of life." Adam had more than just lungs with which to breathe. He had a human spirit.
God made woman from man. She was taken from Adam's flesh and bone and also was given a human spirit. It is not revealed whether her spirit came from Adam or was added by God.
When Adam and Eve conceived a child, it inherited their genes and characteristics when it was being formed in the womb, not after it first breathed.
In other words, the human spirit is passed on from the parents to the child and does not need to be added after birth at the first breath.
For a leader, who has the ability to influence what lots of others think, to imply that he knows when a person comes into existence enough to be worthy of the resurrection and to do so without full knowledge makes him partly responsible for the outcome.
I imagine a lot of people will think that what Mr. Armstrong says is true, because they respect him and believe he has more knowledge than most people about biblical matters. His belief about this subject may make some people feel better about having abortions.
But it is simply not true. Take, for instance, the birth of Jesus Christ. His Father was Almighty God (the Lord, Yahweh, the Eternal), and His conception was in the womb of His mother, Mary. His "human spirit" came from both God (the Father's eternal life) and Mary (her human flesh and spirit) joining together to become the baby Jesus.
He obviously had His human spirit before He breathed.
God knows all our members (spirit of man included) before our birth (Psalm 139:16). A parent's spirit goes to the child. John the Baptist had the Holy Spirit while still unborn (Luke 1:15). For him to have God's Spirit, he had to have a human spirit.
Exactly who will be in the resurrection is not for us to know, but it is certainly not limited in the Scriptures to those who have breathed. It will be all who have lived, "both small and great."
A premature baby has lived, even though it may not have breathed. Jesus said it would be "all that are in the graves" (John 5:28).
The "grave" is not just a physical location of the body, but wherever God keeps them. They will "hear His voice."
An unborn baby can hear his mother's voice and respond. John the Baptist herd the voice of Mary and "leaped for joy" (Luke 1:44).
It is my opinion (which is just as good as anyone's when correct) that, if an unborn baby can hear and have joy, it has a human spirit and will be in the resurrection.
One man, by giving his opinion, may influence people to commit murder, thinking they won't meet the person in the resurrection and face their deed. What people who had abortions need to do is repent before God and ask for forgiveness.
If you have another opinion, why not write and tell us why?
Duane F. Giles
The Nov. 30 issue's short article about Garner Ted Armstrong's views on when a human receives the spirit in man deserves attention.
Some in the WCG past have believed, thinking that their beliefs were based on Mr. Armstrong senior's analysis of Scripture, that unborn babies would not be resurrected. Apparently this was entirely based on the phrasing of Genesis 2:7: "God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living being."
This has been interpreted to mean that the point at which God gives a human a spirit (that part of the human that He saves to resurrect) is when he takes his first actual breath.
This interpretation of Genesis 2 is a good example of the overly literal and simplistic way of reading Scripture we lovers of Scripture sometimes employ.
Think about it. Adam had no umbilical cord; he had to get his first oxygen some way, so God breathed into his lungs once He had finished constructing him. He was not alive till that point because he had no oxygen in his bloodstream.
But an unborn baby, any doctor or biologist will tell you, is alive, and, yes, even receiving information in its brain--because it is receiving oxygen from its mother through its umbilical cord.
There is something so typically human about this thoughtless willingness to consign millions, perhaps billions, of tiny humans to an eternal grave. Why is it, if there is a question one way or the other about the unborn, that we do not lean toward saying "Of course God will resurrect them" instead of saying, on such flimsy scriptural evidence, "Of course He won't"?
This is not primarily an intellectual problem. We humans do essentially the same thing when we shun, or just forget, the weak, the ill, the disabled, the retarded.
Garner Ted's father, Herbert W. Armstrong, late in life gave a sermon that, if my memory serves me correctly, was titled "The Value of Human Life" and was inspired by his observation of a group of retarded children in one of the programs Ambassador College associated with in the Middle East in the 1980s.
The sermon was apparently a rethink of some statements he had made about the spirit in man. He was not particularly clear, but what was clear by the end of his sermon was that seeing those "unfinished" children had been a new experience for him, had gotten him to thinking about the unborn and that he did not think that the unborn didn't have the spirit in man. I remember his saying toward the end of the sermon that "otherwise abortion would not be a sin."
I cannot help but remember a true story that was told to us in Ambassador when the question of the spirit in man came up. On rare occasions in a pregnancy, air can enter the womb before the baby is born. In this case it happened very late in term. It caused some consternation for the parents because the baby had taken air into its lungs and could be heard crying!
The parents called a doctor because they couldn't get to sleep. Now, if that baby were to die before it was born, would it be resurrected or not?
The conclusion by the instructor was not definite. Neither was it definite about cases such as when a baby dies only days before its due date--when it is as good as complete.
How could God let such a baby lose a chance for eternal life while a preemie born months before its due date lives and does have that chance?
And, as GTA mentioned in the article, does God need a womb to put a resurrected fetus into? I hope no one takes that question seriously. It is downright silliness to consider that that could be a problem. He completed Adam, didn't He? If He could finish Adam as an adult, surely He could resurrect unborn humans as adults or as children of any age.
Perhaps He has in mind creating some family units with members of different ages. He has enough power and love and intelligence to handle the situation. Why should we attempt to limit Him?
Who's to blame?
Compliments to Wayne Cole for his candor and ability to write about something from the past ["Events in WCG in Early '70s Led to Changes in D&R Doctrine," Aug. 31]. As he said, it was from his notes and his memory as he saw it. Overall it was an admirable accomplishment.
I will never forget the night my church pastor (names and locations are not important) called me, from Pasadena, to tell me the news. At the time, I was his only deacon (no local elder), and he couldn't wait until his arrival back home. What he said to me was quite different from what Wayne Cole said in the seventh paragraph from the end of his essay and in the last full paragraph at the bottom of the fourth column on page 10, wherein Mr. Cole shifts the blame to the brethren.
My pastor told me and announced to our congregation at his arrival back home that anyone could get a divorce for any reason, even in the church, and remarry anyone else without any church or ministerial judgment. He--knowing I had been married to a girl who had been married before I was--said I could divorce my second wife (in the church) and go back to my first wife (out of the church).
It upset my wife thoroughly, filling her with much insecurity.
Ours was not by a long shot the only church that heard that same information. That message was repeated in one form or another all over the country and worldwide.
To C. Wayne Cole I say nice try, but you can't shift the blame of that one onto the brethren. Ministers everywhere were approving remarriage, as we heard one horror story after another, even among the ministry and Ambassador graduates as they also played musical mates. Example goes a long way.
In the seventh paragraph from the end of the essay Mr. Cole refers to "the decisions the church made in 1974." The church is the ekklesia, the body of believers, the called-out ones, and not one of them (lay members) was involved in the decisions of May 1974, except in the sense that the ministry is also a part of the ekklesia.
Nice try again, and Mr. Cole is not alone in this attempt to shift the blame. The hierarchical (meaning the priests rule) ministry of the then Worldwide Church of God is alone, all by themselves, responsible for the abuses that occurred because of the misinformation that was disseminated (see James 3:1-2). If you remember, no one without ministerial credentials was allowed behind the podium or to establish any doctrinal point.
Maybe when Mr. Cole was falsely blamed (as he says) for having a part in the "receivership" episode of the late 1970s it was to help him understand what it felt like. We are all called to be saviors to one degree or another, to die if necessary for one another (John 15:13).
The Ambassador ministers took to themselves dominion and authority, then shifted the blame to the brethren. How loud does Jesus Christ have to shout that it shall not be so among you? (Matthew 20:25-26).
Now would be a good time to do a thorough study of the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing Jesus hates.
I do not harbor any resentment or ill feelings toward Mr. Cole. I really do love all the brethren whom God is working with. If the ministry really wants to build a bridge to help the brethren get over it, then take responsibility for the hurts and wounds you inflicted on them. You might be surprised how much it would add to your credibility.
David R. Kenders
God as God is God
Regarding the idea that Christians, upon entering the Kingdom, will become God as God is God:
As far as I can determine, no scriptural evidence exists for such an idea, nor does it make sense or logic to anyone who understands the true relationship of God to man and his future.
I have no doubt God has great things in store for us, tremendous and wonderful responsibilities, as His plan for the universe unfolds. But it will always be, indeed must be, under His direction.
Even the Christ, the Son, the firstborn of many brethren, is subject to the Father, and it is not clear what His role will be as He hands the Kingdom over to the Father at the end of things.
Every human is indeed precious in God's sight, else He would have wiped us out with a thought long ago when, in fact, He allowed and offered His Son, who was willing to brave the possibility of losing His own eternal existence for the likes of us. Can anyone think we can be greater than that?
The only way we will even approach the divinity of God is that we can have eternal life and that not of ourselves. It must be given, granted by the One who has had it for all eternity.
It would be foolish indeed to think that we can ever achieve the status of the Creator God but just as foolish to believe that He, this same great God, cannot raise us to any level He chooses and make us anything He chooses, according to His plan and supreme will.
I, for one, leave that in His very capable hands. The glory is His always.
A vote against errant leadership
I do not understand what the problem is in the church with holding a public office ["United Elder's Duties Suspended Because of Political-Office Quest," Oct. 31, page 1].
What about David becoming a king, the highest public office? What about Proverbs 31, which discusses that fabled virtuous woman's husband as being someone who sits in the gate and judges people, another public office?
One of the biggest problems in the church is that there are no leaders. Why should the ones who can lead be told that, no, you can't?
I think Romans 13 speaks to those in public office. Chapter 12 talks about people who have gifts and how to use them for good. Chapter 13 talks about being subject to the higher powers, rulers who are not a terror to good works but to evil ones. In chapter 14 Paul goes on to advise that we should not be criticizing one another, because God is the ultimate judge.
I agree with Helmut Rudajs that we may vote ["Wisdom in Small Things," Nov. 30, page 4]. Didn't God allow people to express their opinions in such a way? Many times the vote was by acclamation. Remember what Joshua said? Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
When you were called, you had a choice to follow God or keep going the way you were, and God allowed you to have that choice.
If the government wants to raise my taxes, I will be right there to vote no. Face it, folks, most of the stuff on a voting ballot is incomprehensible. It is not simply a matter of voting for this man or that woman but whether the county commission has the right to do this or that (something you have no idea about).
Comparing Mr. Bush to Mr. Clinton, we sure can't say all politicians are the same, can we?
Kindly don't print my name or location if you publish this because, as the anonymous writer of the letter after Mr. Rudajs's said, the church will get you if you disagree with it.
Name and location withheld
Help needed for youth project
With the recent national tragedy, it is more apparent that we as a church body become more accessible to ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many families have been left without parents, siblings and relatives. Many people have many questions, and we as a church should be there to minister to the needs.
We, as young people and aspiring ministers, are developing a network of support and desire your participation. The Project 2002: Catch the Vision Conference is designed with this mind.
We are playing host to a conference for the first time for our youth and young adults scheduled for July 2002. When I say "we" I mean a group of young adults within the Churches of God (Seventh Day) that are historically affiliated with the Jerusalem work.
Since many of these churches are now independent, the young adults have decided to organize this campaign to sponsor a conference for the young people by the young people and about the young people.
There are delegates from Mexico, Africa and 17 Caribbean islands interested in attending, and we would like to assist them. You can be a sponsor for a suggested donation of $275.
Here is what your ministry will get:
Even if you can't contribute monetarily, we would still appreciate your partnership in this project. We request that at least 50 or more copies of your publication be available for our delegates who attend the conference. We are expecting 200 to 500 people to attend.
Your response is imperative, since our team has to start working on these items.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203 E. 37th St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11203, U.S.A., with any question or concern you may have. See also www.cog7day.org/news.
May God continue to help us as we strive to conduct our first conference in 2002. God bless you.
Gilford T. Monrose
Team Project 2002 leader
Calling a spade a name
This is for everyone who thinks that "name-calling" is somehow sinful or wrongful to do as a Christian: I suggest that you do a little study on your own of some of the names that Jesus Christ Himself used to address those He disagreed with during His ministry on earth.
It may come as a surprise to most of you in religious politically correct circles out there, but a person's language or his name-calling directed toward others is not a gauge to determine whether he loves God or loves others or is a Christian or how much of the Holy Spirit he has dwelling inside of him.
Let's look at some of the words and names that Jesus (and John the Baptist) used toward others in the New Testament.
He (Jesus) called a woman and her whole race "dogs" in Matthew 15:26. He also called people snakes, liars, hypocrites, evil, wicked, satanic, adulterers, adulteresses, swine, unclean, foxes, fools, blind guides, a generation of vipers, pretenders, false prophets, false teachers, false Christians, workers of iniquities, wolves in sheep's clothing, etc., etc., etc.
Would any of you PC Christians like to accuse the Savior of the world of name-calling?
If the Savior of the world and all of His apostles can call people names without sinning, then who among you can say that it is a sin or wrong for a Christian to do the same today?
As I now see it, if Jesus Christ and His apostles can call people names in their ministries 2,000 years ago, then those same words and terms can be used by all the followers of Jesus Christ today.
The first time Jesus Christ would call another race of people "dogs" (as He did in Matthew 15:26) is when the religious PC circles and the lawyers of this country would get together and want the man crucified all over again for saying such a thing, would they not?
Here are some applicable scriptures:
1 Timothy 5:20: "Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
Verse 21: "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality."
As you can read here, rebuking those who sin is commanded of all of us.
Webster's defines rebuke as sharp criticism. Webster's defines criticize as finding fault with, judging critically, blaming.
As you can see, the word rebuke does not require a person to be polite or well mannered. Jesus Christ (and His apostles) rebuked people constantly during His ministry. By doing so, they called people many names.
When you point fingers at those who choose to rebuke someone because of their sins, you are pointing fingers at Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and the apostle Paul.
Not only did Paul say to rebuke the ones who sin among us (through name-calling, if needed), but he also tells us not to hang around with those who continue to sin (1 Corinthians 5:11). Do you PCers think the words of Paul were merely suggestions to you or what?
Glen "Wolfhunter" Myers
You know what assuming does
Tim Kelley asks if Hanukkah is a Christian celebration [The Journal, Nov. 30, page 3] and claims that John 10:22-23 shows that Christ kept it. But these verses relate only the cold facts that He was present at the temple at that time.
A person cannot be convicted of a murder unless he can be placed at the scene of the crime and the murder weapon was found in his hand. Jesus is not recorded doing anything to observe the holiday. We cannot assume He kept it.
What was the spirit of the event? He almost got stoned to death! That was the holiday spirit.
It is claimed Christ is represented by the shammash, or servant candle. Yet this has as much to do with the real Christ as Christmas. We cannot put Christ in Hanukkah or Christmas.
They are both called the Feast of Lights and celebrate the winter-solstice season. Each appropriated a more-recent event on which to focus the festivities. Jews still debate whether the miracle of the lamp actually took place.
Although both holidays celebrate light and Jesus claimed He was the true light (John 9:5), He did not mention this at the time of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah celebrates with the lighting of another candle on successive days. So does the Advent of Christmas on successive Sundays, which features a "Christ candle." Other versions of the Feast of Lights, such as Kwanza, also use lighting of a different candle each night.
Other reasons Hanukkah is just another version of Christmas, or Saturnalia: They both fall on the 25th of the month (Kislev and December) and gift-giving.
Children, for Hanukkah, spin four-leaved tops while German Christians would spin three-leaved tops--with a letter on each leaf. Germans borrowed the custom from Greeks and Romans.
Jews sing "Hanukkah carols," as they call them, which are merely popular Christmas songs using the same music, only with changed lyrics to match features of Hanukkah.
The attacks a satanic red herring?
My sympathies go to all Americans after the dreadful onslaught on them. The vicious, unmerciful, murderous aerial attack on America on Sept. 11 bears the mark of the prince of the power of the air.
The reason for the coordinated precision of the onslaught is most likely that it was like a movie directed by the devil. This landmark event shows he can get the attention of the world better than can any human. At the least the terrorists were acting according to satanic principles.
Since Satan is the originator of lies and devilishly subtle, the following question is worth considering: What was Satan's hidden agenda in attacking America?
Neither Satan nor the terrorists could have attacked unless God had allowed it.
Since prophecy predicts that the descendants of the end time's two leading nations of the lost tribes of Israel--Britain and America--will be attacked from a different source, a resurrected Roman Empire in Europe, the questions must be asked:
The attacks on latter-day greater Israel will not come from thousands of hijacked planes flown into buildings. Israel's cities will face sudden destruction and be desolated in a more-horrendous fashion.
When Satan tried to wreck the Worldwide Church of God in 1979, he first sent the state-appointed receiver as a decoy. At the same time, he had someone oppose the receiver to gain credibility, which led to his becoming the leader and most able to wreck the church. Satan may have an ulterior motive in this attack and be using it to set something else up.
Satan's attack on America has made Americans doubly patriotic. In this climate it will seem unpatriotic for any true-church leader to proclaim that God withdrew His protection because of America's sins. That may be one of Satan's hidden agendas, especially if the two witnesses are themselves close to being revealed. It may be one of the reasons genuine church members become hated by many, which Christ predicted.
Satan has gone for America's jugular vein, just as he did with the church. He is not finished. We would be wise to pray for understanding from God to see through his deceptions.
Geoffrey R. Neilson
Fish Hoek, South Africa
Episcopalians in veils and turbans
Just in case some of you out there find yourselves sucked in by the phony-baloney propaganda proffered by those bending over backwards to kiss up to Islam, check out these two antidotes.
In the article "Pray for Victory This Sunday" by Joseph Farah (Oct. 5, worldnetdaily.com), Mr. Farah tells of the miraculous victory God gave to Christian Europe over Islamic invaders on Oct. 7, 1571.
To view the entire article, visit www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24799.
A second article, "Islam According to Oprah: Is Oprah Winfrey a Threat to National Security?" by Rod Dreher (columnist for The New York Post, Oct. 8) exposes a "grossly imbalanced and extremely dishonest" course on Islam given by Oprah Winfrey. According to Mr. Dreher: "If you were to take Oprah's show as your guide to Islam, you would think Muslims were basically Episcopalians in veils and turbans."
To view the entire article, visit www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-dreher100801.shtml.
Big Sandy, Texas
I just read the interview you had with Ellis Stewart [Oct. 31, beginning on page 1], and I have to say I'm impressed with your series of questions.
As can be seen by Mr. Stewart's answers, the old WCG way of thinking about military service is full of holes. You cannot on one hand support a government-sponsored militaristic effort and on the other say that it's sin to fight battles for your country. If you support the military effort, you are a part of it.
Ecclesiastes 3:3 does show that there is a proper time to kill, but it is certainly not limited to justifiable executions. A closer look at the Hebrew words indicates that the "time to kill" of Ecclesiastes is probably not talking about executions. The Hebrew word in Ecclesiastes 3:3 is harag (which could include murder), but the Hebrew word for execution is muwth (see Exodus 21:14-15).
God oftentimes sent the armies of Israel to destroy evil nations, even though He said He would thrust out nations before them and be their shield (Deuteronomy 33:24-39). David was a "man after God's own heart," yet he was quite a warrior.
Did Yeshua indeed "magnify the law," making it more binding on Christians than on those who came before. God said you could not add to the law (Deuteronomy 4:2), so did Yeshua break His Father's command and expand it, making things impermissible for Christians that were previously permissible and even commanded for the Israelites who came before?
This sounds like the "fences" that the leaders of the Jews put in place in order to prevent someone from breaking the law, fences that Yeshua Himself said were not necessary.
In the millennial setting, God promised the Israelites if they would "walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments (Leviticus 26:3)," Israel would still have to put down its enemies "by the sword" (Leviticus 26:7). This may have been Peter's reasoning when he took the sword to cut off the ear of the high priest's servant.
We've got to remember that Peter, along with the rest of the disciples, expected Yeshua to restore the kingdom to Israel (one of the roles of the Messiah). The problem was not Peter's desire to take up the sword; the problem was the timing (John 18:36: "Then would my servants fight").
Were the first-century believers pacifists? It would be hard to draw that conclusion, since there is no record of wars being fought in the New Testament that would involve the early believers.
But we do have the record of Cornelius, who at the time he served as a commander in the Roman army was considered a "just man and one that feared God" (Acts 10:22). This put him on the same level as Joseph, the stepfather of Yeshua (Matthew 1:19).
Apparently God did not have any problem with Cornelius's military service. We don't see any indication that he was instructed to get out of the military. According to current Church of God teaching, Cornelius would be considered "unjust" and a sinner because of his military service.
I'm glad Mr. Stewart is not condemning others who don't hold to his view. I think it would be a good idea for the Churches of God to look into this matter again but this time be willing to go outside their own organization to glean understanding. It's hard to come up with an unbiased understanding when the scholars all went to the same seminary.
As I've said before, I appreciate your ministry of bringing us a variety of views on various biblical topics. We can only grow when we look at these things from differing points of view.
I noticed in the Oct. 31 issue much discussion about service in the military and the war on terrorism. I'd like to point out a few things that those advocating military service didn't.
The consensus of those commenting in The Journal seems to be that we are such "good" people and they, bin Laden, etc., are such "evil" people. Perhaps we should read the Old Testament prophets and see how God looks at Israel's conduct just before the time of Jacob's trouble.
Here are a few facts as I understand them.
Are you aware that we tricked Saddam Hussein into taking Kuwait by our ambassador telling him it would be okay, then turned on him? Do you know that U.S.-sponsored UN sanctions and almost-daily bombings of Iraq since 1991 have taken out vital dams and infrastructures have resulted in what UNICEF estimates at 250,000 to 500,000 Iraqi deaths, mostly innocent children?
See the books Challenge to Genocide: Let Iraq Live, written in part by former attorney general Ramsey Clark, and Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War.
Do you know that the removal of the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban has been the subject of international diplomatic discussions for months? It was reported that India raised the discussion during the Group of Eight summit in Genoa in July. In June the Indian press reported that "India and Iran will facilitate U.S. and Russian plans for 'limited military action' if our tough economic sanctions don't bend the Afghanistan fundamentalist regime."
We need a puppet government in Afghanistan so we can control the oil and gas pipelines we plan to build through that country.
I could mention much more, but maybe this will help explain why those people hate us. I doubt if we would have any "terrorist" problem from the Arab and Islamic worlds if we had treated them justly by treating others the way we would like to be treated.
Based on what has been presented here, maybe we are just being treated as we have been treating them. We trained Osama bin Laden to kill for us, so, if we feel that is a good way to live, we ought to be willing to live with the results.
As far as evil terrorists are concerned, we are surely a lot better at it than bin Laden has been so far. We kill thousands of Iraqis every month, about 4,000. They have gotten only about 5,000 of us. Or aren't Iraqi children as innocent as our people wearing business suits?
Consider, if you become a part of the military, that this is the kind of conduct you will be supporting. You will be fighting for those who will get rich off your efforts.
Dennis W. Schaefer
The Antichrist revealed
In light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, I decided to check out the Koran in the local public library. I discovered that Muslims consider the Koran to be continuing revelation building on the Old and New Testaments.
The Koran depicts the Jews as wrongdoers (citing the golden calf, failure to believe God and enter the Holy Land, killing the prophets, etc.).
The Koran also makes it clear that Christians are liars and deceivers for teaching that an ordinary man and prophet is the Son of God and that He was crucified.
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, says he (Muhammad) is the chief cornerstone. Muhammad is that prophet like Moses whom we must hear. Muhammad is the stone that the builders rejected. He says he is the comforter whom Jesus prophesied would lead us into all truth. Muhammad claims all of Jesus' prophesies of the Holy Spirit that would lead us to all truth are references to himself.
Without belief and obedience to Muhammad, it is impossible to reach paradise; rather, hellfire awaits.
Muhammad claims he can intercede with God for man's benefit in the "day of resurrection."
I looked into the Koran to see what it said about jihad (holy war). What I found instead was an impostor, an Antichrist, moving in where he did not belong.
Salmon Rushdie wrote a book about the Koran titled The Satanic Verses. Mr. Rushdie was correct. The Koran is the satanic verses.
Greg A. Jandrt
Is God's method of establishing His holy days so simple that we have trouble accepting it?
The oracles of God, His utterances on this subject, are given in Genesis 1:14: "And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs [signals], and for seasons [appointments], and for days, and years."
Signs or signals are things that can be seen. The sun disappearing over the horizon signals a new day.
The first sighting of the new moon at the beginning of a new day signals a new month.
The direct rays of the sun crossing the equator from south to north (the spring equinox) signals the beginning of a new year.
The only other oracle needed is in Exodus 12:2: "This month [new moon] shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you."
Here we find that the first new moon of the year must fall after the spring equinox. How could we have a "first month of the year" if part of it is in the old year?
With this we have all that we need so we can follow God in this matter (just like following the cloud in the desert).
Nowhere does God say we should trust men to make secret calculations for us or agonize over whether the barley will be ready for harvest two weeks down the line.
We simply watch for the signals He appointed for the purpose and follow them to His holy days.
Recipe for health
A few weeks ago I was painting a church member's home, and the man's wife asked me how old I was.
I told her I had just passed my 82nd birthday (on Oct. 12), and she was amazed.
She said how do you do it, and I told her this was my formula:
You have to make sure you eat right, make sure you drink right, and make sure you obey God.
If anyone would like to hear what has helped me to reach this age and still be able to work, I will gladly pass on this information to you.
Write me at 300 Hillcrest Cir., Apt. 3, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A. Please include a self-addressed envelope.
Big Sandy, Texas
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