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Letters from our readers - Issue 102
Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God
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Letters from our readers

Brian and me

Brian Knowles (reference his "Personal Theologies: All God's Chillun Have One," The Journal, Feb. 28) seems to be one of the few people who even see there is a problem. Whether he believes he has any problems, I don't know.

You people are all a bunch of scoffers. You live in a fantasy world, where truth has little to do with real, realistic or reality. You can respect only those who tell you how important you are: Only you have God's Spirit; only you are God's people; only you have the truth; only you are the true church; only you are God's true ministers; and on and on.

This esoteric truth turns the spirit of truth into a spirit of insulting each other and bickering over everything, and few see any problem.

You people cry peace, peace, but it must be on your terms; that is: Everyone else must unconditionally surrender his conscience to your ever-changing whims or gnostic reality; you are thankful because you say you are; you love others because you say you do; you have the truth because you say what you believe is the truth.

Others aren't allowed a voice in the peace process because only you decide when the discussion is closed.

Get real. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we must respect their right to be a voice in the peace process equal to ours.

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.


Mass killings

The mass killings in Wisconsin by a church member are very saddening to us [see the March issue of The Journal]. But we are not stunned or shocked as most people seem to be. After all that has happened in the church in the past 30-40 years--abuse, lying, deceiving, hypocrisy, heresy and fleecing the brethren--we are not surprised by anything that goes on in the church, even these murders.

Case in point: Most of those who are still with the WCG are breaking the Sabbaths by now worshiping on Sunday and keeping man's pagan holidays again. The Sabbath commandment is listed as one of the first four commandments that relate directly to God.

The commandment against murder is what Terry Ratzmann broke and relates to his relationship with man. Yet you don't have national and international media coverage against those in the WCG who are now breaking the Sabbath and worshiping Baal on Sunday and on pagan holidays, do you?

Terry was apparently not very close to God and allowed himself to drift away from God over time. Otherwise he would never have dreamed of doing something like this to his brethren. He allowed himself over time to reach this depressing and negative state of mind. His supply of the Holy Spirit was low. The Holy Spirit of God is supposed to be a spirit of power and a sound mind. A murderer doesn't have a sound mind.

The area of relationships between and among brethren is the one where the establishment in the church has failed miserably and has had the most problems. The church still has these same problems. Yet why can't more brethren see it for what it is?

The people in this small church group will never be the same again. Some of them may drop out and stop attending services for good and may even be prompted to start house churches in small groups of only several brethren.

Now, with these killings, these relationship problems in the church have entered a new phase, and in many respects the church establishment is to blame for these types of relationship problems, since they are the ones who have abused the brethren as far back as anyone can remember.

The establishment in the first century was the ones who condemned Jesus and then had Him put to death. It is no different today in many church groups that represent the COG establishment. Continued abuse of the brethren has occurred, as recent reports from some church groups have indicated.

COG history reflects this. That is perhaps why the authorities believe that Terry purposely targeted the minister and his family [see also the June issue of The Journal].

It's really not too hard to figure out. Many brethren in the church will probably go on shaking their heads for some time to come, not understanding why this terrible thing happened. Terry was rebelling against the establishment in the church and specifically targeted this man [the church pastor] and his family.

Jesus said that things at the end of the age would become this way, that brethren would betray one another, hate one another, even kill (murder) one another or cause the brethren to be killed (Matthew 24:9-10). Why will we not believe the words of Jesus Christ, our Passover and Savior? The breakup of the WCG--now with hundreds of offshoot groups--was the beginning of this.

The actions of many church groups toward one another and toward the brethren over the past 10-20 years especially clearly demonstrate a lack of love for one another and their desire to continue wielding power and control over the brethren--or else you're out.

We heard a sermon years ago about what it takes to have peace between and among people. The bottom line was that someone had to be willing to give up something to have peace.

We don't have peace in the church today because the establishment refuses to give up its power and control over the brethren, as well as its salaries, benefits, perks, etc. Many if not most of them, as some brethren have pointed out, have never worked in the real world that the rest of us have. They have lived and worked in an unreal, sheltered environment most of their lives.

With this said, it is so important that brethren everywhere do everything possible to reconcile with one another, regardless of what group they may be in. Have you had a spat with someone in the past? Contact him and do all you can to smooth things over.

Unfortunately, the establishment in the church has done little to reconcile with the brethren up to this point. It is our fervent prayer that this will change over time and that God the Father and Jesus Christ will bring the true Church of God to deep repentance with each passing day, one person at a time. We pray for this daily.

Rick and Eileen Beltz
Ministry of Encouragement
King, N.C.

It was the method

Mr. Armstrong was trained to write attention-grabbing advertisements for various businesses. He specialized in gaining customers and making handsome profits for his clients, and he used this skill in selling the good news to people (but of course he didn't charge them).

Now, what exactly did he do? He presented a package of goodies, doctrines and teachings that made the Bible relevant for our time. He had style, content and charisma. He had knowledge and made it attractive to have the same.

He did everything he could to paint God and His Kingdom in a positive light. He caused us to want to please God and obey Him.

He made us have faith in God.

Most important, too, since the work of God was founded on faith principles, he stressed the importance of having the correct gospel and no other. Mr. Armstrong gave us a unique place and identity in the world of Christianity.

But how many people realize that this alone was the strength and glue that bound the people of God together rather than the actual doctrines of the Bible?

Granted, we tried diligently to obey God in everything scriptural and were pretty sure we were righteous and good, but, really, all it amounted to was love for brethren and the church and its customs and traditions and practices, such as Bible studies, potlucks and social events.

Mr. Armstrong did not do very much to teach love for other Christians outside our fellowships.

Of course, we were the only true church, but now we like to think we know better. Yet we carry that same mind-set forward with us.

The same with our beliefs. Our former beliefs held powerful sway over our emotions. We professed to be wise, yet we were fools. It wasn't true biblical doctrines that did the good; it was charisma; it was style; it was content--all wrapped around one man's vision of the world tomorrow. And it all died when the founder of our church died in 1986.

It wasn't the doctrines. It was the method. And that's why we are in trouble.

We did not know it at the time--neither do many of us get it yet--but the method held us together, not the Bible. So, when the changes came gradually upon us after 1986, we were being seduced in our belief structure. It was subtly undermined.

Where are the faith-building leader, church booklets and magazines today? The hearts of believers wait to be stirred up by someone or something.

This won't come cheap. God's Holy Spirit alone can produce this fruit and result, if people simply will wake up and get it.

For proof of this, remember Mr. Armstrong.

Paul Christophy
London, England

That'll work

Let's see if we have this straight.

Jesus said, "My Father works and I work" (John 5:17).

COGers say: "Poor God. He's tired, and He's resting. We'll do His work for Him."

The Father says, "But that's a couple thousand COGers trying to save six billion people. That's like spitting in the ocean."

Jesus: "Right. Oh! What to do? What to do?"

The Father says: "I know what We'll do. Instead of letting the COGers think they are doing the work, We'll arrange it that they are Our work" (Ephesians 2:20).

Jesus: "That'll work."

Paul and Micki Herrmann
Metairie, La.

The Psalms, Gerald, Dean and Darlene are all we need

To read the letters and articles in your excellent paper makes me bemused. The silly New Testament KJV, NKJV, RSV et al. are based on anti-Semitic manuscripts and translators. The stories are fantasy in the extreme, especially: stables, child, stench, "Magi," animals, jumping off pinnacle of temple (does not have one!), stones to bread, doves descending, etc. Dumb--s!

No two manuscripts agree with one another, so why use an anti-Jew book? It does not even get right Messiah's name.

Hebrew-roots groups are not Trinitarian.

I recommend YNCA in Missouri, Dean Wheelock in Wisconsin, Dave Kenders and Hatikvah.

I cannot tolerate the weak UCG Baptist Jesus love message or the LCG's empty magazine.

The Trumpet [of the Philadelphia Church of God] is the best for me. I like news, not NT nonsense. Only Gerald Flurry speaks out against social and political evils.

The idiotic One God Seminars, also known as talkfests [see full coverage of this year's seminars beginning on page 6], are a waste of time. Has Anthony Buzzard interviewed Yahweh? Mr. Buzzard needs to buzz off and cease speculation. How can a so-called human "know God"? When has Elohim revealed Him (Her) self? Has an interview taken place? It is guesswork by dumb--s businessmen. Mr. Buzzard knows no more than you or I about YHWH. The NT only obfuscates the issue. Talk about dumb--s.

Don Billingsley has the same old story line we've read for 50 years.

Raymond McNair seems caught in a time warp too.

The legacy Dean Wilson leaves us is negligible.

I do not care for Jan Aaron Young's symbols. The U.S.A. has a huge Muslim invasion to worry about, plus treacherous Democrats. Symbols are irrelevant compared to this.

As for Ken Plummer, who knows? Time will tell. I doubt it.

Bring back Dean Neal from Carson City. Good Bonanza show!

Darlene Warren puts things into perspective and is my favorite.

As for prayer requests, you need a column for "prayers answered."

I urge all to use Hebrew scriptures only. The Psalms are really all one needs. The New Testament can be interpreted 100,000 different ways.

I hope you remain extant for decades.

Joy "Tita" Chang
Highton, Australia

Don't you agree?

Well, how do you do?
It's nice to meet you.
But before we go further
I've a question or two.

You see, in Scripture,
I think it's decreed,
"Two can't walk together
Unless they're agreed."

Will you think as I think,
And walk as I walk?
Will you eat what I eat
And talk as I talk?

In color and style
Will you wear what I wear,
Without sideburns or beard
Nor long or short hair?

If I change what I think
At the drop of a hat,
Will you also switch
And stop believing like that?

Don't think new thoughts,
Just follow the norm?
It's safer, you know.
Just relax and conform.

I can tell I have shocked you
By the look on your face.
Well, I guess it's good-bye;
I have to draw the line someplace.

Karl A. Hampton
Bigfork, Mont.

Bad happens

I would like to respond to Dave Havir's article ["Bad Things Do Happen to Good People"] and letter in the March 31 issue.

He is 100 percent correct in all points: No one is immune to trials; even Christ suffered.

In his letter (page 2 of the March issue) he debunked the protection theory. Mr. Havir said: "Those who promise you protection by being associated with them give you a worthless prophecy (Jeremiah 23:16). They speak a vision of their own heart."

May I add Deuteronomy 18:20 to that too?

For years I was in one of the groups Mr. Havir mentioned. They did teach that they only are Philadelphians and that all others are Laodicean. They also taught that they only will go to "the place of safety" and no others!

The leader of that group while I was in it even wrote a booklet claiming to be "That Prophet" to come (Deuteronomy 18:18; Acts 3:19-23).

I always thought these scriptures referred to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Him only.

Thank you so much, Mr. Havir, for your letter and article. Please keep them coming.

Mickey Ashcraft
Red Springs, Texas

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