Back in the box
In a letter to the editor in the Aug. 31 issue of The Journal, John Walsh accuses me of "ranting and raving," "barking up the wrong tree," "trying to find answers to the spiritual issues of life among the theologians of this world," viewing the Fourth Commandment as a "stumbling block," "posturing" myself as a columnist in the "Church of God tradition," "writing drivel," writing a "diatribe" and "attacking the Word of God."
I'm reeling from the impact of these serious charges! (Not really.)
Mr. Walsh advises me to set aside my theology books in the realization that "all the groups who compose mainstream 'Christianity' are practicing a counterfeit religion pawned off on them by the great counterfeiter and liar, Satan."
When I recommend in my column that people "have faith in God, not in men, not in the Bible, not in science, not in society--but in God," Mr. Walsh declares that statement to be "awful stuff." He says that I should know better.
Perhaps Mr. Walsh thinks Jesus Himself should have known better when He, too, identified God as the rightful object of faith (Mark 11:22).
Mr. Walsh also advises that I should "simply start reading and obeying the simple commands found in Torah."
Here are a few commands that are found in Torah: "Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips" (Exodus 23:13).
Now, quickly, say the days of the week and name the planets. List the leading automobile lines of Ford and General Motors. Name the statue that stands in New York Harbor, etc., etc.
Here's another one: "Do not allow a sorceress to live" (Exodus 22:18).
I hope you get the point. There are 613 commandments (mitzva'ot) in Torah. How many of them are you actually keeping?
The mentality reflected in Mr. Walsh's letter is one of the major reasons I cannot join myself to a number of the Church of God fellowships that are out there.
The title of my column, whenever it appears, is "Out of the Box." That's why I write it: to help people escape the kind of primitive thinking demonstrated by Mr. Walsh. That kind of thinking is one of the reasons so little doctrinal and theological progress has been made within the Churches of God Pod in all these years.
There isn't space to do it here, but each of Mr. Walsh's charges needs to be examined critically. In earlier, more backward, times, Christians have killed other Christians for less.
I consider the people of the Churches of God to be my brethren in Christ. I write to them because I care about them. My hope is that a few can be liberated from the bondage of bad ideas.
Many of my friends have asked me over the years: "Why do you do it, Brian? You're wasting your time. They're stuck in the mud; they're living in a comfort zone from which they do not wish to be dislodged."
Mr. Walsh's letter gives credence to their counsel.
Mr. Walsh advises that if I "continue to write columns attacking the Word of God" I be dismissed as a Journal writer. I have no intention of "attacking" the Bible. If Mr. Walsh interpreted my column as doing so, I'm sorry. I'll pay closer attention to my wording in the future.
As for my "dismissal," if I reach the point where I feel there is no hope of enlightening anyone, or stimulating constructive thought within the Pod, I'll dismiss myself posthaste. I've come close to doing so many times. It wouldn't take much more.
We can identify
This is in appreciation of Brian Knowles' column that appeared in the Aug. 31 issue of The Journal ["Don't Forget to Depend on Your Father, God and Rock].
I admire the way Mr. Knowles accurately analyzes and describes some of the bad situations prevalent during the heyday of the WCG that, sadly, remain entrenched in some of the present-day church organizations.
He has the honesty to acknowledge that he was part of the leadership in that authoritarian system. He describes these situations and attitudes in terms with which many of us can identify. (I admit I went to the dictionary with "anthropomorphically").
In this column Mr. Knowles said many things that need to be said while emphasizing the fact, and reminding all of us, that our true leader and our reliable security is Jesus Christ our Messiah.
Big Sandy, Texas
Just what do you mean one God?
Mel Hershberger in his letter published in The Journal of Aug. 31 puts the case for unitarian monotheism, and I quote: ". . . The Bible is replete with scriptures that claim that God is only one Lord--not two Lords, the way I was taught. I discovered that Abraham's God was the Father, not the Son (Acts 3:13)."
I agree that the Bible is replete with apparent one-God statements (e.g., Deuteronomy 6:4 and Isaiah 44:6) and that Acts 3:13 shows God the Father is the God of Abraham (and of Isaac and of Jacob). But I disagree this means there is only one God.
Let us test all doctrine in the context of the whole Bible. Mr. Hershberger is almost on the right track with Acts 3:13, for that is indeed a vital key to Bible understanding. Via Exodus 3:6 it shows that not Jesus, as we were taught, but God the Father met Moses at the burning bush!
Now comes the vital clue that has been lost since our shocking 1974 sin. Contrary to Mr. Armstrong's teaching, God the Father is not a single Father for He has a Wife, Israel! Therefore God the Father begot His Son through His own Wife and not through His Son's Wife as we were incorrectly taught.
As a result, God the Father's Wife, Israel, is in a marriage-covenant relationship for life with God the Father.
Because divorce cannot undo a marriage covenant, and currently Israel is only separated from Her Husband, God the Father's marriage covenant remains in force. Indeed it will be resumed once Israel repents and returns to her Husband, God the Father (Hosea 2:16-19; Isaiah 2:2-4).
The one-God scriptures Mr. Hershberger refers to do not pronounce on the number of Gods at all. Instead, they remind the Wife, Israel, that she has one Husband to whom she must exclusively refer.
Although Jesus is mankind's individual Savior, God the Father remains His Wife Israel's Savior--provided she lets Him be her Savior!
After Jesus agreed to surrender for the rest of eternity His former self-existent Godship to become incarnate and die as mankind's atoning Passover Lamb, there remains only one self-existent God.
So today only God the Father is the Eternal, the Self-Existent One, of Exodus 3:14 (YHWH).
Both monotheistic unitarianism and monotheistic trinitarianism reveal a shocking lack of understanding of the full enormity of our Lord Jesus' sacrifice. I refer the interested reader initially to items P1, P2 and P5 at my Internet home page (www.rightly-dividing.net).
These and other papers listed there should shed light on much of the confusion that has arisen as a result of our terrible 1974 sin, of which very few have seen the need to repent. When O when will we wake up? Let us have seminars on that rather than on a rerun of postapostolic 2nd-century monotheism (unitarian and trinitarian)!
P.O. Box 121, Belmore 2192, Australia
Reaped as firstfruits
"By now, you all ought to be teachers" (Hebrews 5:12).
I believe the Ethiopian people originated from Moses' wife, Zipporah, whose name is said to mean "Ethiopian." She had two sons named Gershon and Eliezer who therefore were of the house (tribe) of Levi. Their duties centered on the tabernacle. Like Moses, their father, they weren't priests (only Moses' brother Aaron and his sons were).
Being dark-skinned probably caused Miriam, Aaron's and Moses' sister, to be incensed and jealous of Moses' marriage to Zipporah, who wasn't an Israelite but a gentile Ethiopian.
God quickly set Miriam straight. Since Moses' sons were dark and swarthy like their mother, I believe these dark Levites probably secreted the Ark of the Covenant out of Jerusalem down to Ethiopia to preserve it from Titus and his army (c. A.D. 70). I believe that Moses' sons (today!) retain the ark in their custody; they admit they have it!
Isaiah 18:1-7 shows a prophecy showing these Ethiopians will eventually send "a present" to God at the place of worship with God's name to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. I believe the ark will be returned soon. The future, physical temple will then be built (Matthew 24:15; see also the book of Daniel).
What sparks the Jews to change their whole attitude (Zechariah 12) to accept Christ? I believe it will be the discovery of Noah's ark, due to unusual warming trends. All Israel will then be forced to finally believe!
A great day is soon to occur. The 144,000 are to be reaped as the "firstfruits" (Revelation 7, 14).
Christ, being an unblemished, pure, sinless sacrifice, didn't need to be waved before God, the Father, to be accepted. It is we, pictured as a handful (the few) of grain, who are "the first of the firstfruits," not the 144,000 firstfruits composed of all the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 44:30 with Exodus 34:26; 23:19).
We are "guests" invited to the marriage (Matthew 25:1-13; 9:15). We are a part of Christ's Body. We aren't marrying ourself; Christ is our Brother.
Remember that the word husband in the translations is wrong and should have been rendered "man." The Greek word (Strong's No. 435) should have been "man," not "husband"! Christ is to be married to Israel, not us, the "guests." We make up the righteous clothing that Israel, Christ's bride, wears. Christ is our brother, not our wife.
Two distinct entities exist in God's relationship with man: The first is Abraham and his physical lineage and the New Covenant "special" called-out saints who have God's Spirit dwelling in them, and these "few" will be the first to be resurrected (the first of the firstfruits), the wave sheaf preceding the firstfruits, the 10,000 out of each tribe of Israel (except Dan).
Why? They are the few who will have qualified to rule with Christ at His return! Why are they so different from all others God calls?
Because they don't follow any man, but only Christ and His and our Father.
Carson City, Nev.
The church is spirit
There is not one physical church that is the true church or Body of Christ. All have failed and will fail. But the spiritual church of Jesus Christ will remain forever.
I realize we are all scattered at the present time. The time is soon coming when Jesus Christ will be here on this earth as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. If we remain faithful to Christ and His Word, we will be together in the Kingdom of God.
Have church leaders gone bad? Here's some advice from the Word of God. Stop listening (Proverbs 19:27). Avoid them (Romans 16:17-18). Do not partner with them (Ephesians 5:6-7, 11). Yoke not; come out (2 Corinthians 67:14-17). Withdraw yourself (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Turn away (2 Timothy 3:5). Reprove them (Ephesians 5:11).
Clayton C. Myers
I read with sadness and misgivings "Did God Treat New Orleans Like Sodom?," by Dave Havir, Aug. 31 issue.
Yes, Dave visited with a lady and helped with some cleanup [after Hurricane Katrina]. Well done.
However, this matter needs a little more input than Dave's comment that "it was way too easy for me to make generalized statements about the city."
Regarding Dave's further comment, "I do not believe that God sees great value in people making condescending pronouncements against New Orleans":
Condescending! Really? Such a statement is self-righteous.
I enclose a news release from a police and military newsletter, Aid & Abet. The newsletter notes that "just days before the abominable 'Southern Decadence' annual homosexual celebration, attracting 125,000-plus people to the French Quarter section of New Orleans, an act of God destroys the city . . . Hurricane Katrina has put an end to this annual celebration of abominable sin. This year this public celebration of sin was to be from Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, through Monday, Sept. 5, 2005."
Of course, God wants us to consider the sins in our own lives, as Dave pertinently points out. What else does He want?
Believe it or not, every true saint has Isaiah 58:1 sitting squarely on his shoulders. To quote again from Aid & Abet newsletter: "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God."
I believe this is our personal responsibility rather than Dave's cop-out when he said that "God doesn't need us to dwell on the debauchery of New Orleans."
Just what is each true saint tolerating in his city limits? Remember that silence is acquiescence. The tidal waves of vileness we see all around us are purely the result of "good" people doing nothing.
What does Ezekiel 9:4 tell us? "Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof."
How many feel this way?
Yes, of course New Orleans is only typical of every major (and minor) Israelite city. We are literally living in Sodom. We have God's truth. The time is approaching when we as Lot will be confronted with the issue of whom we truly serve.
Dunedin, New Zealand
Can it be just coincidence that the worst disaster in American history, Hurricane Katrina, struck just two days after the WCG's last Sabbath service in the Gladewater–Big Sandy area, which was so important to the church?
One of the main reasons God evicted the ancient Israelites from the land was abandoning His holy Sabbath. Many more modern-day Israelites will be evicted from their lands for the same reason.
A number of people in different parts of the world have asked me for a copy of my book, America's Greatest Prophet: The Endtime Elijah--Herbert W. Armstrong. The core of the book is now available for free at www.freewebs.com/usa-in-prophecy/.
Cape Town, South Africa
Recently a Jewish acquaintance told me what he sees as the main problem he has with Christians: "replacement theology."
I had never heard the term before, so I didn't respond. Later I asked a Protestant friend what it meant.
He explained that it is the belief of most Christians that the Jews have been rejected and that the Jews have been totally replaced in God's program by Christianity.
That seemed simple enough to me, but then he went on to explain that, though they have been temporarily blinded (Roman 10-12), "when the fullness of the gentiles be come in" the Jews themselves will again play the major role.
He said that Paul calls the present church "the body" of Christ, and God calls future converted Israel "the bride" of Christ.
He said that the end-time prophetic layout of the book of Revelation is completely Jewish in symbol and character.
My question to The Journal's family of theologians is this:
Is it possible that the Churches of God are mixing two successive programs ("dispensations") together (claiming to be both "the body" and "the bride")?
If that is the case, it would be like asking a waitress for scrambled eggs sunny-side up.
Karl A. Hampton