Letters from our readers
The Journal incorrectly identified a man in a photograph in the Aug. 29 issue in the article "Waco Congregation Trying for Peaceful Separation, Wants to Avoid Messy Split." The photo near the bottom of page 16 of a bearded man was incorrectly identified as Ben Mauldin, a leader of the new Waco group.
Mr. Mauldin is indeed a leader of the group and the man who conducted the first Sabbath service, as the article correctly states. The man in the picture, however, is Robert Payne, who also attended the services of the new group.
Journal Editor - Correction
Please print a correction to my letter, which you headlined "Where Have All the Fathers Gone?," on page 4 of the Aug. 29 issue. In my last sentence it is Pentecost (not Passover) that Elder John Kiesz kept on Sivan 6.
Robert J. Romagnoli
About Feast sites '97
The Aug. 29 issue of The Journal listed different Feast sites, and, if anyone knew about not-mentioned sites, they were asked please to send mail to The Journal.
I'm attending UCG at Sundvolden, but I still will mention that WCG will have a Feast site in the Olympic city of Lillehammer, Norway. I don't know how many they expect, but as many as possible probably (maybe up to 200; we used to be 350 at the Scandinavian Feast sites eight to 12 years ago).
Another Feast site
We understand you ran a list of all Feast of Tabernacles sites that you were made aware of. We would like to submit our site if possible in your next issue.
We are holding the Feast of Tabernacles in Cicero, Ind., at the Waterfront Inn on Lake Morse. The Waterfront is at 409 W. Jackson overlooking Lake Morse. The phone number for reservations is (317) 773-5115.
For more information, interested parties may contact Bill Young at (812) 579-5921 or Allen Nicholas (317) 878-5454.
Via the Internet
Six, yea, seven
Whoops! I just read my own letter to the editor in the August number of The Journal and realized I made a boo-boo in it. I said there were six Noachide laws. Wrong. There were seven.
Technically, there were six Adamic laws. When Noah made the scene, a seventh category was added (Genesis 9:3-4).
Those who wish to study these laws in detail may want to obtain the book The Seven Laws of Noah, by Aaron Lichtenstein, Rabbi Jacob Joseph School Press, New York, 1981.
For those of you who haunt used-book stores, look up a copy of The Universal Bible. It also includes a detailed discussion of the Noachide laws.
Jewish readers may wish to check out Sanhedrin 56a in the Talmud for a discussion on how the rabbis arrived at the conclusion that these laws were in force before Moses. The Encyclopedia Judaica also contains an excellent summary article on them.
Gift subscriptions available
We're writing to thank you and the staff of The Journal for the wonderful job you are doing for the brethren of the scattered Churches of God during these difficult times.
We also wish to include a donation to help spread the tremendous importance of this publication to others who either can't afford it or are not aware of it. Enclosed you will find a check for $500, which you may wish to consider as an early Feast of Tabernacles gift to cover the following costs:
Gift subscriptions to The Journal for 25 people who either can't afford The Journal or are not aware of it. You may wish to announce in the September issue the availability of these gift subscriptions.
We wish to remain anonymous. God has blessed us greatly in so many ways in the last few years, especially in bringing us out of the WCG heresy and deception and continuing to give us more understanding of His Word. We wish to give something back to our brethren who thirst for God's truth and to those who are still confused and searching for answers.
Thank you so much for all that you and your staff are doing for God's scattered people around the world. May you and yours have a most blessed and joyful holy-day season!
Name and location withheld
Lee Lisman's reply to Don Hooser
Don Hooser's letter to the editor in the July issue of The Journal ["Apologizing for Others," page 2] displays how there are still those who don't understand lessons needing to be learned from our own church history. In his letter concerning my article ["We Need to Learn the Lessons From Our Church History," April 30], Don wrote the following:
". . . The article oversimplifies the subject of standing up for what you believe and carries it to an unbiblical extreme.
"First, I must not always quickly and self-righteously assume that I am right and the other person is wrong.
"Second, I should submit my questions and objections to those over me to see if I can't influence a change in an orderly way. The Bible emphasizes not creating divisions, confusion and anarchy unnecessarily.
"Third, I don't want to use one issue as my test issue and jump ship because I see a flaw. With this approach there would be a hopeless scattering and disintegration."
We're talking about the elimination of the Fourth Commandment here, folks, along with most of the Old Testament! We're talking about apostasy on the grandest scale since the days of Constantine.
I'm certain that those in the WCG home office truly appreciated how this three-step approach was used by many in their ministry, first for the Trinity doctrine and later for the so-called new understanding of the New Covenant. This approach allowed the deception in the WCG to take hold so easily that today whole WCG congregations are beginning to offer alternative Sunday worship services with nobody objecting.
Is Mr. Hooser glad these brethren didn't scatter to go with Global, CGI or some independent group?
The reason tens of thousands of brethren no longer consider the laws of God important is because, like their ministers, they first reasoned, "I must not quickly and self-righteously assume that I am right and Joseph Tkach is wrong. I don't want to create divisions, and even if I see a flaw I wouldn't want to jump ship. That would cause hopeless scattering and disintegration."
Like I said in my article, I am thankful there are many fine ministers of Jesus Christ who are just that-ministers of Jesus Christ and not ministers of the WCG or, later, Global, United or other future organizations of men-seeking to do the work of God together.
Had I myself ever been a WCG minister, I hope I would have acted like those brave men. Likewise, had I been a WCG minister and failed to act, I hope I would have apologized for my inaction.
I did express regret in the article for not confronting the church leader when I was in the ministry in the CGI. In any case, apologies are a step in the right direction in showing we are taking responsibility for past mistakes. Not repeating those mistakes shows that we really mean what we say.
When we are really learning lessons from past mistakes, we take every precaution not to repeat similar actions that led to those past mistakes. Those errors weren't just doctrinal, but were administrative issues of power and control from a central home office that felt it had the right to micromanage the field churches, all in the name of God.
The article wasn't directed at the men who took a stand and warned the brethren or confronted Mr. Tkach, but those who didn't. There were too many ministers and other brethren who deluded themselves into thinking a policy of appeasement when dealing with rank heresy was biblical.
Most never even made it to Mr. Hooser's second point of submitting "questions and objections" to the home office. Maybe they knew it would be a waste of time to do so in a pyramid form of government where there is not mutual esteeming from those at the pinnacle toward those "below."
I wrote the article "Learning Lessons From Our Own Church History" because amazingly, after having just gone through one of the biggest apostasies in church history, for the next two years virtually nothing was being written about any lessons learned. Tens of thousands of brethren have been scattered, and tens of thousands more have been totally deceived, yet nothing was being written about what went wrong, giving the brethren some assurance that it wouldn't happen again.
Some of those today in key UCG leadership positions are the same men who were instrumental in allowing the deception in the WCG, and they still don't understand what was wrong with the WCG. Believe me, I want them to. History is in the process of repeating itself, and they just don't know it.
When you look at all that has happened, you have to ask yourself how could it be that a home office could have such a grip on the lives of the ministry and the brethren? Why did we put up with that control for so long?
If we look hard, maybe we'll see that the system of governance in the churches today does not even come close to what Jesus and His apostles had in mind for the church.
I wrote about this in an article in the June 1996 In Transition, so I won't belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that God is calling His people out of Babylon (including Roman fourth-century hierarchical government).
There was a first-century structure of governance with a plurality of elders acting like brothers instead of employers. This is what God's people need to move toward and away from the pyramid central control that came in the third and fourth centuries.
The truth is that Mr. Tkach didn't destroy the WCG; the Babylon system did. And we were a part of that deception. Do we have eyes to see this? Are we learning our lesson?
In this letter I also want to thank M. Marie Metzgar for letting me know in her letter to the editor that straw isn't food for sheep ["Lose Weight: Eat Straw," July 31]. That's what happens when you get someone like myself from the suburbs trying to do a farm analogy, although in some ways trying to make the sheep eat straw in the barn contrary to the Master's wishes to graze them on the hillside might not have been far off from what Mr. Tkach was force-feeding the church in early '95. That wasn't proper food for sheep, either.
Finally, I need to make a comment on David Hulme's remarks in the July issue of The Journal about the rebuilding of the 400-year-old "sacred shrine of English theater" ["Mr. Hulme Attends Globe Opening"]. Mr. Hulme said, ". . . I felt it was rather shortsighted that people couldn't see a connection between the work of the church and that particular venture."
Call me shortsighted, then. I couldn't imagine the apostle Paul making a connection between the work of the church and reconstructing some edifice in honor of classical Greek literature. To preach the gospel or not to preach the gospel: That is the question. The answer lies in who is Lord of our lives: Jesus or a church organization using His name.
Battle Ground, Wash.
My wife and I are impressed with how many fine articles there are in the latest addition of The Journal: quite edifying.
However, I'm disappointed in The Journal for running a supposedly news article with no byline ("Another Financial Crisis for United Church of God?"). The article is so slanted that the author obviously has his ax to grind and has chosen to do so in a public forum. It is one-sided because there is no interview with a representative of the UCG to further explain the facts and give a balanced perspective.
I recently obtained more facts, and here is my summary of the church's financial condition: There is no "crisis," and a crisis was never expected. The church's income unexpectedly went up sharply in September, so there is not even the cash-flow pinch that was expected for September. There has been no wrongdoing or irresponsibility going on, and all the factors that have contributed to a tight financial situation are quite normal and understandable.
For one thing, some of the church's financial objectives have taken longer to achieve than what was expected. Asi es la vida. That is life. To sum it up, if anyone knew all the facts, he would not think badly of the UCG. So the article casts the church in an unfairly bad light.
I'd also like to point out a mistake in the sidebar [about the split in the Waco church] in the same issue, "Two Waco Leaders Explain What Happened." Apparently there was a misunderstanding about what I said.
On page 17 in the right-hand column, the paragraph states: "That some people have said critical things about him [Don Hooser] in this situation 'makes me feel uncomfortable,' he said. 'It hurts. It's hard to feel comfortable with people who are badmouthing you.' "
What I said was essentially that "it's hard to feel comfortable with people who are badmouthing our church leaders." Especially at the time of the interview, I was aware of hardly anything critical being said about me. Even if I had been hearing critical things about me, I would not make a point that would sound petty and self-pitying. My point was that there are people who make a practice of public accusations and condemnation, yet expect complete respect and acceptance in return.
I'll also comment on Lee Lisman's article, "Do Our Church Traditions Erect Artificial Barriers?" I agree with most of Mr. Lisman's points except that he tends to portray our past experience more negatively than is fair. In particular, I disagree with his portrayal of the present need for reserved seating for ministers as being an example of them wanting the "chief seats." Sure, there were abuses and wrong attitudes in the past, but there are necessary reasons for having reserved seating, some of which Mr. Lisman mentions as if they are excuses.
For many years, wherever I have been for the Feast, the ministers' reserved seating was way at the back or way at the side, so it was some of the worst.
But there are many reasons members sometime need to find a particular minister. It is practically impossible in a large crowd if you don't know where to look. There generally is reserved seating for several groups, and it isn't because they want the "chief seats."
Visit with Saw Leh Bey
Ian Boyne's essay on centralized church organization (Aug. 29, page 13) is not accurate.
Mr. Boyne uses the church in Myanamar, formerly Burma, as proof that we need a centralized church organization to reach people like them. He does not feel local churches would reach out to the far ends of the globe.
I believe he is wrong for two reasons.
We had no radio, no TV and no Plain Truth newsstands there. The government was anti-Western. If it were not for the hard currency tourists brought in, they would not have been allowed into the country. For a long time a tourist could get only a visa for a one-week stay: long enough to spend money but not enough to "corrupt" the locals. The work had written Burma off. But God had not.
Instead of using an example of how important centralized church organization was, Mr. Boyne used an example that shows how unimportant centralized church organization was. The church there started and grew without outside help or an outside minister.
Cyrille Richard and I took a trip to Burma to see Saw Leh Bay (who is mentioned in Mr. Boyne's article). He met us at the airport and took us to his house in the delta area, where we spent a week with the brethren. This was after we had served on the Thailand project in 1980. It was great to hear them tell their own story.
Even though the work had written Burma off, God wanted people there. Somehow some Plain Truth magazines got into the country. Probably a tourist threw them away, and some people God wanted to work with picked them up. Two independent groups started being called, one in the delta area and another in the Chin Hills.
Burma is proof that we do not need a centralized church government for God to do a worldwide work. I am for helping other countries. I am just pointing out that God is not limited to what we can do.
I believe there is a lot in common between church leaders and Washington leaders. They use many of the same techniques. They like big government. They feel they know better. The talk is good, but the fruit is not.
There is a wrong spirit in centralist governments. It is a "Washington" spirit. It says:
What does God want? What is important to God? Relationships, not money! God wants us to have a good relationship with Him and our brethren. God wants the brethren to be lights, not their money.
Some people feel the only important thing is getting the message out. It does not matter if the brethren are involved.
Christ is the head of the church, not Washington. We need to downsize and remove one layer of middle management: the Washington layer. Then the membership can get on with our Father's business.
P.S.: Mr. Boyne also says that "the United Church of God has fashioned a church structure that is miles ahead of what was in the past." United was supposed to be miles ahead and may still be, but there is a minority at the top preventing United from being what it could be. The home office was to be a service center and coordinate the free flow of ideas, but it has become a command center that acts like a choke point to anything a small minority do not agree with.
I made some comments that the pastor of the home-office congregation (Brian Orchard) did not like and he disfellowshipped me. When I asked him to point out anything I had said that was wrong, he refused. I sent an E-mail to council-of-elders chairman Bob Dick last June about this and he did not respond. Does that sound like a church that is miles ahead of other Church of God s?
For another response to Mr. Boyne's article, see "Has the Centralized Church Organization Had Its Day?," by Ron Dart, beginning on page 13.
CEM director reveals new truth
I have been observing some of the research techniques behind material being posted on the Web and decided to give them a try. The objective seems to be new truth, so here is some new stuff.
Everyone knows that the Hebrew word bar means "son" (Strong's 1247). What you may not know is that the Hebrew word bekiy (Strong's 1065) means "weeping." In Ezekiel 8:14 we read that the women in Israel were "weeping for Tammuz."
Tammuz was the Sumerian god of vegetation. The worship of Tammuz by women in Jerusalem was revealed as one of the abominations in Ezekiel (8:14-15).
According to the pagan religion, Tammuz was betrayed by his lover, Ishtar, and as a result dies each autumn. The wilting of the vegetation at that time of year is seen as a sign of his death. This caused great mourning in the ancient world and was why the women in Jerusalem wept. Weeping for Tammuz is part of an old pagan fertility cult (Holman Bible Dictionary, "Tammus.")
Bar-bekiy, then, could be Tammuz, the son of weeping, and that is connected with ancient pagan fertility practices. God's people today are regularly seen going into the temples of Bar-bekiy to eat a sacrificial meal. Thinly disguised as Bar-Beque (the Hebrew K has the same sound as the Q in barbeque, sometimes barbecue, showing the confusion from the original sounds).
Contrary to some misguided scholars, barbecue did not originate in Texas, but came from ancient Mesopotamia and was a Babylonian fertility custom. With the admonition to "come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4, KJV), we must come out of Babylon and quit frequenting the barbecue temples that sprout like weeds along roadsides in the South.
Would just like to let you know that you and your team are doing a great job. You are providing a much-needed and wonderful service to Sabbath-keepers everywhere. First scrutiny of the freshly arrived issues of The Journal made me so gratified. I know I'll enjoy reading and learning from the articles therein.
Challenge from Laodicea
There is a splinter church of WCG who believes the following:
1. That they are the only true Philadelphian church and that all the others (WCG, Global Church of God, United Church of God, etc.) are Laodicean.
2. That the other churches (or Laodiceans) will have to repent, accept these doctrines and become members of their church or else go into the great tribulation (where 50 percent will lose their eternal lives).
3. That they are the only ones going to the place of safety.
4. That their leader is a prophet and God works only through him.
5. That God sent a mighty angel to this prophet, and this mighty angel spoke to him the words of "the little book" of Revelation 10.
6. That this prophet wrote this little book, which he titled Malachi's Message, which is an indictment against the Laodicean churches.
7. That all humanity will eventually have to admit that Malachi's Message is Holy Scripture and thus part of the Bible.
8. That they are the "very elect" and that their church's commission (or work) is to persuade the Laodicean churches of all the above doctrines so that they will repent (and join the true Philadelphian church).
9. That they are of the "inner court" and that the Laodiceans are confined to the "outer court," where God is at present "measuring" and weighing these Laodiceans (refer to Revelation 11:1-2).
10. And that their prophet teaches that Mr. Tkach is the man of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: "the man of sin . . . who opposes and exalts himself above all that is God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
The above statements are fervently believed by the prophet's followers, and every effort is made to preach and propagate these beliefs to the "Laodiceans."
The following questions, however, need to be answered by the PCG, namely:
Point 4 above: Their prophet insists that they follow the Elijah (Herbert W. Armstrong) in every point, yet, unlike Mr. Armstrong, he does not have any advisers (for example, a council of elders) and rules the church with total power. Why so? (Even the "Laodiceans" have councillors.)
Point 6: The Bible speaks of only one important end-time figure, the Elijah (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:10-11). Where, then, is the mention of this all-important prophet who would write Scripture (the little book) received from an angel, who would lead the "very elect" (point 8) and who would virtually reinterpret nearly all the Old Testament prophets' writings (Daniel to Malachi) to meanings relating to saved Philadelphians and condemned Laodiceans?
The Bible is strangely silent about this momentously important end-time prophet. One wonders why?
Points 5, 6 and 7: Could the prophet and his followers please explain that, if a mighty angel delivered Malachi's message as new Scripture, then how come this angel made so many mistakes that the Scripture (the ostensible little book) had to be revised several times?
Why would God, if He wanted the little book written, not have delivered it to the Elijah to publish (who was prophesied by Christ Himself to restore all things; Matthew 17:11), but rather to an obscure, self-proclaimed prophet? Revelation 22:18-19 also pronounces a curse on anybody adding to the book.
Could the prophet please explain Mr. Armstrong's words in his book The Wonderful World Tomorrow, page 67, where he refers to "the prophets (of which there are none in God's church today)-since the Bible for our time is complete."
Point 10: Mr. Armstrong always explained 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 as referring to the false prophet. The PCG's prophetic explanation implies that (a) Mr. Armstrong was wrong and (b) the temple that Mr. Tkach sits in is the Worldwide Church of God, therefore not a physical temple in Jerusalem. The "Laodicean churches" still believe Mr. Armstrong. Why not the PCG, which markets itself as following the Elijah in all things?
Point 9: Mr. Armstrong stated that the temple at Jerusalem would be trampled underfoot by the gentiles for three and one-half years (Revelation 11:1-2). The PCG says the Laodiceans, not the gentiles, are in the "outer court." Again, a huge deviation, because the PCG implies a spiritual temple and invents Laodiceans where there aren't any (as they also invent Laodiceans throughout the Old Testament).
We (the "Laodiceans") wait in anticipation for the physical temple to be rebuilt at Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15-16; Mark. 13:14; Luke 21:20-21) according to Scripture (untainted by misguided "Philadelphian" prophetic misinterpretation). The PCG denies this, spiritualizing it away.
In conclusion, we realize that virtually nobody from the PCG will read this letter, because it is forbidden for them to read any Laodicean literature, which they are told is lukewarm, misguided and contaminated. Neither are they allowed to fellowship with "Laodiceans."
Many sincere brethren have been drawn to the PCG by the marketing strategy claiming that they follow Mr. Armstrong in all things. We, as ex-members of the PCG who were initially taken in by this strategy and who have subsequently researched their doctrines, left the PCG and joined the UCG and Global (both labeled Laodicean churches by the PCG), wish to exhort brethren to "examine the Scriptures, whether these things (points 1 to 10) are so (Acts. 17:11).
We would like to exhort all the so-called Laodiceans to pray for these PCG brethren that God will open their eyes to the "truth once delivered." We exhort them not to be so easily misled by prophets and messages of "angels," who have a "form of godliness" but go on to deceive many.
P.S. We challenge the PCG to enter into dialogue with us via the pages of The Journal. They can start by answering our questions!
Barry Strijdom and Michael Mostert
Time to subscribe
I have been following the progress of some of the news items on your Web site, but apparently you are distributing much more detailed information in your written version.
Wanted to thank you for presenting the recent article on the Trinity by Gary Fakhoury [July 31], which was extremely well written and interesting. (It certainly had some information I hadn't come across before.)
We are (obviously) former members of the WCG, now members in the Philadelphia Church of God, but find that it's quite interesting to see what is happening with all the different groups, ministers and other people we were familiar with.
Around here it can be like old home week; you tend to run into people you know as you shop, etc. The usual first question is to find out "where are you now?" The whole thing is a little odd, but within the past several months we've run into United members, Global members, at least one family that attends three different groups (?) and people still in Worldwide.
The Internet has also turned into quite a forum for all these happenings. As Spock would say, fascinating.
At any rate, I would appreciate receiving The Journal.
Bruce D. Fenicle
I am computer illiterate to a big extent, but I did just find the Web site [www.thejournal.org] and read Dave Havir's excellent column explaining that "people confuse two types of judging: discernment and condemnation" [Aug. 29 issue, page 3]. Dave Havir, as usual, does an excellent job of making his points in as few words as possible.
Excellent Web site. Enough to whet one's appetite for more!
Beware of the fish
You [Jamie Cartwright] wrote a fine recollection of events at camp ["Here's a Camper's-Eye View of the Camp of Champions," Aug. 29]. Sorry about the piranhas. It sounds like you had as much fun as us. Hope to see you soon.
Ray the Tiger
Great articles in The Journal. Thanks for all your time and effort. Appreciate being able to keep up with all the happenings around. With the substantive issues we are all facing, it's GGGRRRRREAT.
Ray and Pam Kurr
Focus not on a day
I would like to respond to a common misconception many who have left the WCG seem to have. I see this error expressed by a number of people in your publication.
They state that the WCG no longer believes it is necessary to keep the law of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. We keep the law as magnified and made honorable by Jesus (Isaiah 42:21).
Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount that we have to go way beyond the Ten Commandments. Matthew 5:21-22: You shall not kill nor have a hateful attitude toward another. (Some of those who claim to be defenders of the law should pay close attention to this important magnification.) Matthew 5:27-28: Don't even lust after a woman.
Paul went on to teach Christians in Romans 13:9-10 to avoid killing, stealing, lying and coveting and that we should love neighbor as self. "Love works no ill to neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Paul said that he was under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21), and so are we. Even the Fourth Commandment was magnified. The New Testament teaches us that the focus is taken off a day and placed on Christians who are to be holy all week.
Let me conclude by stating that I have greater freedom and responsibility under the New Covenant than I ever had under the Old. I love and strive to live within the parameters of God's law.
Pastor, Worldwide Church of God
Believe your eyes
It is encouraging to see the large number of articles in The Journal written by people who are investigating the timing of the months and the exact dates for the annual religious festivals ordained in the Bible. There is a need for this worthy objective to be reached sooner and not later: Witness the five methods used to determine the Feast of Tabernacles in 1997 (The Journal, July 31, page 18) and that there is little agreement out there in the Churches of God on this issue!
However, a word of warning: Many people are using data obtained from nautical almanacs, which have been purposely developed to help sea and air travelers navigate their way around the world when they should be using information that can only be gained from direct observation of astronomical events. That is, people are relying on secondary sources of information contained in almanacs when they should be going to the primary source of information, which is always the direct observation of the heavenly bodies (especially the sun, moon and stars).
Nautical almanacs are used for navigational purposes only. The first became available in 1766, and the information in them is updated from time to time. Thus they are secondary timekeepers only.
Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office is not Her Majesty's Calendar Office and certainly not Her Majesty's Religious Observation Office. She goes to church on Sunday, anyway! The seafarer needs reliable almanac information for navigational purposes so as not to sail around with the Gulf Stream or some tidal movement and become lost. Every sailor knows that the ship is carried with the water's movement, even though a compass bearing is maintained. An accurate method of checking position is required, and radio beacons are also used, because they require less calculation.
The almanac (or the astronomical) new moon is essentially at the closest conjunction so that angles can be worked out as the moon progressed through its cycle and is point 0.0 or 29.5 in the moon cycle. Half a day (as in 29.5 days) does not exist on a calendar, otherwise we would start a day alternatively at noon or midnight (Gregorian) or dawn and sunset (biblical). Nor is there a quarter of a day on a calendar for a 365.25-day year, which would mean starting and finishing times that would be quite bizarre; e.g., 6 p.m., 12 p.m., 6 a.m., noon! The mind boggles with confusion! Is this the basis for a "six-hour day"? Well, maybe not!
In biblical times a day was a day; even Joshua's longest day was still a day, and the observation of the first crescent new moon decided which day started the month. As the first visible crescent is what can be seen, that is when it has to be. There were no charts or almanacs at Sinai or for some considerable number of centuries afterwards. Considering the necessary calculations to correlate the almanac's new moon to a longitudinal reading, it becomes usable only to navigators.
Only through the eyes of a trigonometer can you actually "see" the astronomical new moon.
(It is a point-called the conjunction-at which an imaginary line joining the center of the earth and the sun passes cleanly through the center of the moon! This is not what's calculated by the almanac office for the surface of the earth. This has to be then worked out anew by the navigator. This time given in the almanac has to be recalculated to correlate with a point on the surface of the earth. One cannot arbitrarily add a number of hours to move it from one point to another. Using this method, as most proponents of the astronomical new moon do, gives an incorrect result!)
We see the astronomical new moon written on the calendars and tide charts, etc., as new moon at 2215 (a time), but you'll never be actually able to see it with your own eyes!
So let's get sensible and observe what can be seen.
The Pimpernel Project
Spelling with style
As I was reading page 9 of the July 31 issue, I ran across an error in thinking and grammar in the article "How Did You Come Into the Church?," by Bernie Monsalvo.
In it he wrote:
"Notice that we all came into the Church of God and at some point we all had to leave the 'church,' with lowercase c. The Church of God is, of course, the scattered believers who have been given God's spirit . . ."
When a noun is capitalized, it is specific in nature. When it is not, it is general in nature. A good example that many may be familiar with is the word catholic. Lowercase means "universal," whereas uppercase is speaking of a specific organization.
Lowercase church is general in nature and refers to the ekklesia as a whole. Uppercase Church is specific in nature and refers to specific organizations-e.g., WCG, PCG, GCG and CGI-which generally tend to be incorporated.
I have never left the "church," with a lowercase c. However, I have left more than one "Church" and intend not to do it anymore.
Locust Grove, Okla.
Countdown to New World Order
WGC, CGI, GCG, Church of God OM, UCG, Church of God : Will it ever end?
Yes, as a matter of fact, when the bitter harvest of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse becomes historical reality a few years hence!
The Armstrong school of theology has long held we are on the verge of "the end," with a great tribulation immediately pending. In point of fact (as of July 12, 1997) not a single verse or chapter of the book of Revelation has been fulfilled!
Although it has long been recognized that a direct parallel exists between the Olivet discourse and Revelation's seven seals, few have taken seriously the Messiah's precise warnings concerning a specific series of historical events.
Indeed, to do so would destroy the very premise of preaching a so-called "gospel," presently accepted as the norm among the Christian community.
Can you envision a widespread Christian-based political movement focused upon the false hope of a second Messianic advent in the year 2000? Can you imagine many present-day government authorities of this world actually conspiring to use religion to manipulate the masses toward a long-coveted "New World Order"? (Behold, the First Horseman!)
Can you perceive the geopolitical consequences of such a conspiracy when certain long-established political authorities see their power base threatened? (Behold, the Second Horseman, with war and rumors of war!)
Can you foresee the economic turmoil created by widespread war as normal (Western-based) world commerce is disrupted, resulting in severe food shortages, rationing and famine? (Behold, the Third Horseman!)
And let us not overlook the grim reaper, who will follow in the wake of his fellows as he harvests the fruits of their labors over a fourth (Christian) part of the earth!
Indeed, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are a tightly knit cause-and-effect sequence of events, which the Messiah formerly paraphrased as "the beginning of sorrows."
Even so, He informed his (true) disciples not to be troubled, "for the end is not yet!"
As you might expect in the wake of the Four Horsemen, a widespread backlash of worldwide persecution will immediately ensue against anyone even remotely connected with the Messiah's name. Thus He warned: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake," even as the fifth seal of Revelation becomes historical reality.
In effect, the coming great persecution will serve to separate the few true servants of the Lord from the multitude of "teachers" and "prophets" who falsely lay claim to that commission: "And then shall many be offended, and betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love [natural affection] of many shall wax cold."
A promised divine intervention will then end the great persecution, even as celestial signs of the sixth seal herald the coming Day of the Lord. Thus it is written: "But he that shall endure unto the end [of these persecutions], the same shall be saved."
The reader should note the coming gospel dispensation is not even mentioned in the Olivet discourse until events of the first six seals have become reality. Only after these events have come to pass will historical circumstances become conducive to a worldwide gospel dispensation. Indeed, only after the Lord of Hosts has literally shaken this earth to its very foundations will mankind agree to an international covenant (the Jerusalem Accord), thereby allowing Daniel's 70th week of prophetic years to begin a final countdown.
The responsibility of that testimony will fall on the shoulders of a very elect body of men (144,000 strong) called "The Temple Work" (over whom the Messiah is Headstone), for it is predestined that coming testimony must go forth from Jerusalem unto all the earth in every language and dialect for precisely 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:1-14).
Thus it is written concerning Zerubbabel (whose continuing descendant seed are depicted by two family olive trees in prophecy): "Speak to Zerubbabel, [civil] governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the Heavens and the Earth. And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and I will overthrow the chariots, and those who ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
"In that day, saith the LORD of Hosts, I will take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of Hosts."
Moreover, Isaiah 13:6-16 makes it quite clear that Haggai 2:20-23 refers to the sixth seal of Revelation and a (then pending) Day of the Lord. Thus it is written concerning Zerubbabel and a completion of the coming spiritual Temple Work (Zechariah 4:9):
"The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands [descendant seed] shall also finish it, and [then] thou shalt know the LORD of Hosts hath sent me unto you."
The "very elect" of the coming temple work and prophetic Scripture are characterized as spiritual virgins, having had no previous intercourse or affiliation with the present-day religions of earth (Revelation 14:4).
Thus, you will not find these men among the present-day roles of established Christianity, including the divided ranks of a corrupted Armstrong ministry.
However, you will find a certain corrupted high priest named Joshua who fits the present-day Armstrong profile quite accurately. Therefore, if the end-time seed of Zerubbabel is destined to fulfill a prophetic destiny 25 centuries in the making, it logically follows that Joshua's end-time seed might also have a role (Zechariah 3:1-5).
In that context a beginning end-time fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecies is scheduled to commence coincident with a conclusion of events depicted in the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse (Zechariah 1:7-11), when the Lord of Hosts will call into remembrance the former spiritual works of Zion, whose measure (of understanding) will then be taken in preparation for their conclusion; namely, spiritual Jerusalem and the temple of the coming millennial Kingdom (Zechariah 1:12-2:7).
Considering the character and base nature of the electronic media, this writer has decided to withdraw from the Internet effective this date. However, this same text has also been E-mailed to The Journal, no doubt to be suppressed and/or distorted in keeping with the nature and character of those who have been associated with the Armstrong ministries.
Joseph L. Coman
Via the Internet
Several letters have expressed a desire for the "church" to get back together again. It saddens me to see that some of them actually believe it will (in a physical sense).
First, the unity of God's true church, the Body of Christ, is of the Spirit, not of the organization. May we come to accept that Christ Jesus is the judge of all the brethren and that brotherhood crosses organizational lines.
The Body of Christ is still together and unified in the bond of His Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
What I am seeing in many of these letters is that many current and ex-WCG brethren are still caught in, and help captive to, the cult mentality. Until they are free from that, there is little hope for their future growth.
Their concept of God's church is their organization, whether it be WCG, CGI, GCG, PCG, CEM or any of the others. We must come to realize that God does have His "certain ones" in all of these groups, but all of these are not His "certain ones." In other words, the organization does not qualify you to be a "certain one."
Our teachers today are the same ones who taught the first-century church. Their teachings were preserved for us. Understanding this eliminates the crippling need for large hierarchical organizations that control what the brethren are allowed to be taught.
The called of God should be at liberty to present themselves to everyone who comes into contact with them as a disciple of Christ Jesus our Savior. They are not obligated to carry the banner of some hierarchy that would dictate to them what they should say and how they should say it.
Those who exercise this liberty are followers of Christ (Christians), not followers of an organization or cult. This is the main reason there are so many LRChurch of God and independent congregations today. Christ is their judge.
Understanding that true ordination does not come down through a hierarchy reveals that those men who were ordained through politics and cronyism are not true ministers of God. True ordination comes from the brethren recognizing the conversion and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in an individual and setting him into an office in the church. It does not come down from the top of a hierarchy.
Another interesting thing I have noticed is the "intellectual Christians" who write in putting down others. Some of these can be dangerous. A case in point is the one titled "Review of the Bacchiocchi Review," July 31, page 16.
If I recollect correctly, the gospel of John says it was the Jews who kept the Days of Unleavened Bread as a "Feast of the Passover." I know of no scriptural evidence of this ever being a custom of the apostolic church.
Was not Tertullian a student of Jerome at Alexandria? Was it not Jerome who compiled and edited the Latin Vulgate under contract from papal Rome? Was not the Vulgate that became the official text of papal Rome? Did not papal Rome hold tradition to be equal to Scripture? Did they not hold the bulls of the bishops to be equal to the writings of the apostles?
So, if you use Tertullian's writings to back a Passover custom of some early Christians, it would be those of the Alexandrian school. We are being asked here, then, to accept a custom that is a mixture of Judaism and Catholicism as Christianity.
However, during this same time, the true Sabbatarian quartodecimans who were a continuation of the apostolic church and Judean Christianity were receiving their translated texts from Antioch.
Late in the second century Lucian completed the "received text," which became the standard Bible used by Sabbath-keepers who followed the Nisan 14 Passover commandment. This text was used by the "valley dwellers of Europe, or the Vallenses, and later Waldenses. Later it was adopted by the Protestants as their Bible after the Reformation.
So we have a choice: custom or truth! Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 clearly date the Passover. Since Exodus shows how and when to kill and eat it, Jesus surely followed His own law.
Let us stick to scripture and leave the customs of Jerome and Tertullian where they rightly belong. Let us respond to one another with love and respect. There is no need to be nitpicky or derogatory. Let us edify one another in the love of Christ.
Darl E. Arbogast
Allatoona Springs LRChurch of God
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