Letters from our readers
An elder's appeal
I just wanted to thank you for your fair and accurate (with the exception of a couple of photographs) coverage of the recent events in Waco [July 31 and Aug. 29 issues].
The path we [in the new group in Waco, Texas] have chosen will not be easy, but we are moving forward and facing each challenge we encounter.
I am personally being pressured by some in the United hierarchy to resign as an elder. I have attempted to appeal but have thus far found the "process of appeal" nonexistent.
The director of ministerial services [of the United Church of God] has informed me that my case will come before the council of elders in the "November meeting." However, he has been no more specific than that. I have on more than one occasion requested that I be allowed to be present to face my accusers when my case is presented.
I have requested to remain a recognized elder until at least 90 days after the next general conference of elders as I anticipate changes in the various departments and I think there is a possibility that the situation could be reconciled.
When an organization (or government) fears a free press, it fears the truth!
Reply to Mr. Hooser
In a letter to the editor in the Sept. 25 issue, UCG pastor Don Hooser took exception to the earlier article (in the August issue) about the UCG's impending financial crisis ["Another Financial Crisis for United Church of God?," page 5]. He states that "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 ... If anyone knew all the facts, he would not think badly of the UCG."
I would urge Mr. Hooser to share those facts with The Journal and inform us all of the true state of UCG finances. Please encourage the UCG treasurer and financial staff to provide regular updates and an accurate picture of the organization's financial condition. Please urge him to publish final reports from the fiscal year that ended in March, nearly seven months ago.
As the author of the article on the sad state of UCG finances, I would like nothing better than to see a complete, accurate and open accounting of the church's financial condition to demonstrate that it is not continuing the practices that led its administrators to miss their budget by literally millions of dollars and which are now forcing employee layoffs. Time will tell which view of the organization's finances is most accurate.
Name and location withheld
There is a boo-boo in the address you gave in your interview ["Publisher, in Interview, Tells State of The Journal," Sept. 25, page 6]. My address is 3316 Alberta Dr., Gillette, Wyo. 82718. However, if folks use the address you printed [which has the post-office-box number and zip code for the Giving & Sharing office in Missouri], it will get to Earl Lewis, office manager for Giving & Sharing in Missouri.
Giving & Sharing
I saw an interview of Dixon Cartwright [in the Sept. 25 issue, page 6]. Now, why would you, the publisher, not show your face there in a picture? There are pics of a couple of the writers on The Journal Web site , but where is yours? Why hide? You yourself said in that interview that "the reader is interested in knowing who's preaching at him or who's offering his opinion. Who does this guy think he is, anyway?"
A picture says more than 1,000 words, you have certainly heard said, and there is a lot of truth in that.
More on the nature of Christ
Thanks again for your publication, especially the letters from your readers. I'm glad someone [John Wheeler in the letter titled "Who's Counting?," July 31, page 3] commented on my letter about the nature of God and Jesus Christ in a previous issue ["The Nature of God and Christ," June 27, page 5]. As Jesus said, "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
I don't claim to be a Greek scholar. Even so, I know a child comes from its father. How could there be two God beings in the same family and one "become" the other's son? Apparently it is not enough for some that God gave His only-begotten Son; it had to be a God Himself to pay for our sins. As a Father, I believe it is the greatest gift to us that the Lord God could ever make to give His very begotten Son!
As for my findings being "heresies," God will judge. I personally do not believe there were two "Lords" in existence in the beginning. I believe, just as the Scriptures say, that there was only one Lord God who created all things by the power of His Holy Spirit (not another person) and that His plan included the raising up of His very begotten Son, through whom all the rest of His family could be redeemed and enter into the Kingdom and family of God.
The problem of understanding the nature of God and where Jesus came from has been complicated because of the very poor translations of the Bible, such as the King James Version, which has numerous errors and slanted interpretations. Many of the modern translations, such as the New International Version, are even worse.
We desperately need to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). We need ministers who are not intimidated by any corporation and will speak the truth without fear of losing their jobs. I know this is hard, and no one wants to say anything unpopular or different from what past leaders have taught. I have been disappointed in the response I have received from my leaders in the faith in considering and replying to my questions or even acknowledging they have received my papers.
Brethren, Satan has confused the world, including biblical scholars and, yes, sometimes me. In light of this, each one of us should study and compare all the scriptures on each subject and not just stick our heads in the sand and rely on "experts," as we have been guilty of in the past. I don't mean that we don't need teachers; we do. But we must understand it for ourselves.
Would someone please explain to me how one could become another's very begotten son and not come from his father?
Some say there are two Yahwehs who each make up the one "uniplural" God and that one became the other's son. I say there is only one Yahweh, God the Father, and that Jesus is His begotten Son and the Christ and our Lord.
What does the Bible say? "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by [or through] whom are all things, and we by him" (1 Corinthians 8:6).
I hope there will be articles addressing this very important topic in future issues of The Journal. I am not pretending to have all the answers. This is a challenge to all the trained ministers of the Church of God. I know what I know, but I know how long it took for God to get it through my thick skull. I know we must be patient and understanding and careful not to offend. Still, I want all us as brethren to know the truth.
Duane F. Giles
Thank you for your ministry in sharing the gospel and providing a forum for spiritual discussion in The Journal. I appreciate your willingness to circulate sometimes contradictory opinions and interpretations while providing a spiritual link to former and current members of the Worldwide Church of God.
I appreciate the article on the state of The Journal [Sept. 28, page 6] in which the publisher, Dixon Cartwright, provides what amounts to an accountability and mission statement for the publication. The value of independent Christian publishing cannot be overstated and even in the evangelical world is considered a norm. The intention to provide fair reporting on news items as well as variety in the spiritual discussions is a noble goal.
Ron Dart's article on centralized church government [page 13] brings up the excellent question of what the commission is. It is obviously true that many evangelical groups have been multiple times more successful in soliciting commitments to the Lord.
In considering evangelism, several basic questions arise: (1) What is the message? (2) Who does the speaking? And (3) who is the audience? Many churches make choices along the way and decide not to do the entire gospel effort, basically because of a lack of resources. The WCG traditionally had a higher vision of reaching the entire world, and many of us believed that was possible; the focus then was on the audience, the whole world, and there we were comfortable to wonder about the possibilities.
By contrast, we were less likely to discuss or wonder about the possibilities on what is the message and who does the speaking. We viewed these two roles as solely the responsibility of the apostle, and perhaps both of these areas were assumed to be set in stone by God himself. Those who believe this logic would need to authoritatively name a new apostle for this post-HWA era.
An alternate approach involves asking about what individual(s) and/or organization(s) have the gospel responsibility and what message(s) related to the gospel need to be preached. Along this line, I personally interpret the great commission to be an individual responsibility and command given to every Christian.
Finally, on Robert Thiel's article on Sunday preaching [page 31]: I agree with the conclusions that no command can be given to either require Sunday worship, and neither can a command be issued to definitively prohibit Saturday worship.
However, concerning the all-holy-time-is-no-holy-time argument: God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this Spirit, being holy, is far more important than any time being made holy.
God chose to make physical things holy in the Old Testament to demonstrate His ability to do so, as well as provide Israel with physical reminders of His love. Once we become Christians, God makes us holy by His indwelling presence, and then where two or more believers are there will the Lord join the gathering.
Should we choose to study the Bible outside our regular worship, God promises to be with us in spirit. For more on the Sabbath, see www.quango.net/Tabladillo/wcgweb2.html.
Mark Tabladillo, Ph.D.
The good name of Clyde Walters
Clyde Hamilton Walters Jr., formerly of Pasadena and lately of Pomona, Calif., began sleeping with his fathers Sept. 10 and was confirmed to have done so Sept. 17 at age 54. Born Sept. 12, 1943, in Covington, Ky., Clyde graduated from Ambassador College in the early 1970s and worked in the operations section of data processing for the church and college until he was laid off in 1973.
Clyde was an Army veteran, the Kojak of the Pasadena Fedco membership store and a letter carrier for over 20 years for the Pasadena post office. He was vice president of Branch 2200 of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
He is survived by his mother, Eliza Walters, Latonia, Ky.; his brother, Gregory Walters of Independence, Ky.; and his sister, Georgia Whalen of Dry Ridge, Ky.
A memorial service was held by more than 100 of his coworkers Sept. 25 to celebrate his life and accomplishments and to share their memories of the man they knew and loved.
His friends and colleagues remembered Clyde for his marvelous sense of humor and his lack of hair, which was a result of a dare that he didn't have the nerve to shave his head. He won and earned the nickname of Kojak among his buddies at Fedco.
They remembered his passion for books and love of reading; intense capacity for learning; ability for finding the positive in any negative circumstances; and outstanding leadership.
They recalled him as the driving force of the Postal Service's local employee-involvement program. They spoke of his honesty, integrity and generosity. He was recalled as someone who got things done, who made the day a little brighter. He was praised as someone who deeply cared for his coworkers and people in general and for being heavily involved in annual USPS food drives. He was lauded, consistently, from everyone who spoke because of his steadfast standard of never saying a derogatory word about anyone.
If success is measured by the good works a person is remembered for, then Clyde Waters was a gigantic success, a giant of a man in word, deed and character; a man, friends and coworkers freely admit, whose shoes will be monumentally difficult to fill. Yet they promised to continue the projects he was involved in for the workers of the USPS and the smooth delivery of the mail.
Clyde's body was flown to Covington, Ky., where a final service was conducted for family and friends Sept. 29. Interment followed at Floral Hills cemetery in Taylor Mill, Ky.
Clyde often sang "The Green, Green Grass of Home" as he went about his tasks. "Yes, they'll all come to meet me . . . as they lay me 'neath the green, green grass of home." These words for Clyde have become a reality.
Four of us, with a desire to truly understand how to qualify to be in God's Kingdom, agreed to study individually using only the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We meet together twice weekly to compare notes.
The following is our understanding of the Old and New Covenants.
If you will open your Bible to the table of contents, you will find listed "The Old Testament" of 39 books, named with the page location. The next heading is "The New Testament," with 27 books or writings, named with the page location. There is a definite separation of the Old and New Testaments. Where in history did this separation take place?
When we look at the recorded word of Christ, we are told in Luke 16:16: "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone presseth into it."
When did Jesus Christ come preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God? "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel' " (Mark 1:14-15).
Christ is the mediator of the New Testament. "But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).
"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives" (Hebrews 9:15-17).
Christ confirmed the New Covenant with His blood. "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). (Also read Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26).
Moses is the mediator of the Old Covenant. He confirmed it with the blood of animals. "Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you'" (Hebrews 9:18-21).
Animal blood did not take away sin, but was a reminder of sin. "But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Hebrews 10:3-4).
Christ's blood does take away sin. "He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).
The annual sabbaths or holy days were all given in the Old Testament Book of the Law by Moses. Christ kept the feast days because He was born under the law and was subject to all the laws of the Old Covenant. "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).
The Passover was a yearly memorial (Exodus 12:14) of the coming out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:1-2). Israel was instructed by Moses in Exodus when to keep it, how to keep it, why to keep it and for how long.
The New Testament also gives us a yearly memorial (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). When to keep it: at the time of Passover. How to keep it: by eating bread representing Christ's body and drinking wine representing His blood. Why to keep it: as a memorial of Christ's death. For how long: until Christ comes.
Apart from that commanded observance, we can find no instruction in the New Testament regarding the keeping or observing of the annual Old Testament holy days. The Law and the Prophets were until John.
However, the weekly Sabbath is different, because it was blessed and sanctified by God at creation (Genesis 2:3), and it was given to Israel in the wilderness before the Israelites received the first covenant at Mount Sinai (Exodus 16:23). The Sabbath was included in the first covenant with the phrase "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."
The Sabbath is also included in the New Covenant. Christ came teaching the requirements of the New Covenant. One of the main requirements is keeping the Commandments (Matthew 19:17-19; Luke 18:18-20). He identifies the commandments that He was referring to as the Ten Commandments, which include the weekly Sabbath.
There are two covenants. The terms of the Old Covenant, recorded by Moses, are written in the Book of the Law. The terms of the New Covenant, given by Christ, are written in the books of the New Testament. Under which covenant are you living?
The identity of the end-time Elijah
As always, I truly enjoy reading The Journal. It is a real blessing to have the type of information you present. I don't always agree with every article, but that is healthy! An open exchange of ideas can only help God's people.
Having said that, I want to briefly examine a topic that is addressed in some detail in the Sept. 25 issue: Herbert W. Armstrong. I want to begin by saying that in my opinion Mr. Armstrong was basically a good man whom God used in many ways, but he was also a man God allowed to go his own way at times in his life. Mr. Armstrong taught us many wonderful things, but he was still a human being. Mr. Armstrong was a man who at times was led astray by his personal problems.
I do not believe Mr. Armstrong was the "end-time Elijah." The Bible clearly shows who fulfilled the prophecy recorded in Malachi 4:5.
I try not to be critical of anyone who has the courage to put his beliefs in writing before a public forum, but I have to say that the article by Geoff Neilson, "Writer Offers Seven Proofs of End-Time Elijah's Identity," was awful. No real proof was offered except a handful of scriptures used without regard to context or what the scripture actually says along with a whole bunch of personal opinion and private interpretation.
All of this was in a desperate attempt to hammer into place a few scriptures and some of the accomplishments of Mr. Armstrong into a scenario in which Mr. Armstrong turns out to be the end-time Elijah.
The heart of the "proof" is that Mr. Armstrong said he was the end-time Elijah. Then a kind of scriptural reverse engineering is done by Mr. Neilson by which the Bible is interpreted in the light of Mr. Armstrong's accomplishments. Why Mr. Neilson is so anxious to prove that Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah is not clear.
For anyone interested in seeing who really was the Elijah of Malachi, please carefully read Luke 1:11-17, Mark 9:11-13, Matthew 11:7-14 and Matthew 17:10-13. Simply believe the Bible!
Then ask yourself the following questions: Who does Jesus Christ identify as Elijah? Does Malachi 4 say that Elijah had to come immediately before the Day of the Lord? Did John the Baptist come before the Day of the Lord? (Hint: Yes, he did!) Does any verse in the New Testament say that there was to be another Elijah after John the Baptist?
Even though John early in his ministry did deny being Elijah (John 1:19-23), we have to keep in mind that John was extremely humble and unlike others was not presumptuous enough to apply a major prophecy to himself. It was after John was in prison and he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He truly were the Christ (Matthew 11:1-3) that Jesus Himself confirmed that He indeed was the Christ and that John the Baptist was the Elijah to come. I do not think John would have argued with or contradicted Jesus Christ on this matter.
What is wrong with admitting that Mr. Armstrong was a normal human being and not some important prophetic figure? What is wrong with admitting that some of Mr. Armstrong's teachings were wrong?
How does admitting these things take away from the good Mr. Armstrong did? How does admitting these things take away from our basic beliefs or our faith in Jesus Christ?
I am concerned that some of our brethren are making an idol out of Mr. Armstrong. Jesus Christ is the one who gives us understanding. Jesus Christ is the one who died for us and makes salvation possible. We must focus more on Jesus Christ and loving one another and less on such issues as asking if Mr. Armstrong were an end-time Elijah or which corporation is really his successor.
Mr. Neilson ends his article by writing, "If you are willing to receive it, Herbert W. Armstrong was the prophesied Elijah to come."
Jesus Christ says: "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew 11:13-15, NKJV).
The issue is really a choice of where we will place our trust, in the Word of God or in the traditions and interpretations of men. To me the answer is obvious.
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