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Don't hold your breath

Most professing Christians believe that the debt that must be paid for their sins will be to burn in hell's fire for all eternity.

Many others (including COG people) believe that the sin debt will be paid when sinners are raised from the dead and thrown into hell to burn until there is nothing but ashes.

All Christians believe that Jesus died for us and paid the penalty for our sins in our stead. Therefore Jesus is presently either burning in hell's fire or He has been burned to ashes.

Of course, this cannot be the case because we all know Jesus was raised from the dead after He was in the grave for three days. (If this is not true and you don't believe this, then you have no salvation; 1 Corinthians 15:13-14).

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see something atrociously wrong with the above common ideas about hell's fire.

Surely there must be someone somewhere in the Christian world who has the correct understanding of the subject and is willing to share it with all of us.

Don't hold your breath. You might die and go to--huh?

Paul and Micki Herrmann
Metairie, La.


Only an inside job

[Regarding three letters in the June-July 2007 issue of The Journal that commented, favorably and unfavorably, on Jan Aaron Young's recent series of articles in the Connections section of The Journal]:

Top leaders tried to deceive the people. Speaking of 9-11 events (but also those that happened in "God's church," the WCG, after HWA died), most aspects of official theory defy logic or simple physics.

Inquiring minds can check out Internet articles, books and videos about 9-11. See the amazing Pentagon lawn without jet debris at

View the WTC7 collapse like controlled demolition at sites such as this one:

Critics claim they saw the planes, yet no plane hit WTC7. But it still fell in several hours! The two highest towers were made to withstand plane crashes. Only an inside job could collapse two such resistant towers by hijacked planes in one day!

Jan Young
Yuma, Ariz.

Talk the talk, walk the line

In the June-July 2007 Issue of The Journal, Robert Thiel wrote: "The Eastern Orthodox, like many in the Churches of God, agree that 'the final goal' for every Christian is 'to become God.' The Roman Catholic teaching in this area is less than clear."

I want to thank Dr. Thiel for admitting up front that becoming Gods is exactly what the Armstrong movement is all about and that that is the Armstrong movement's acknowledged endgame: the final goal of becoming Gods as God is God.

(Others in his camp, not quite as forthright as Dr. Thiel, simply refuse to acknowledge this Armstrong reality: a reality, however, that the late Herbert Armstrong himself and others of his party openly published many times as being foundational to Armstrongism.)

For a number of years I have beaten the drum exposing this heretical binitarian (bitheist) goal, and I suspect that many of my readers have thought it just too astounding that any intellectual Christian today might seriously believe such polytheistic mythological claptrap.

But there it is! I have been vindicated! It is awfully good to hear an intellectual such as Dr. Thiel, hailing from the binitarian (bitheist) side of Christianity, supporting my ongoing line of reasoning. Thank you, Bob.

And, Bob, while many others in your camp have ducked the issue time and time again, you, to your credit, have faced the issue squarely and have honestly stated your position and your goal. That is praiseworthy and brave.

It is no wonder that so many in the Armstrong movement cling to the polytheistic multiple-God Armstrong system, as illogical as it is. For a human to become the recipient of such awesome power as only God (Yahweh) has, and to become Gods even as he is a God, is heady and exciting stuff.

Now, I invite anyone who does not agree with Dr. Thiel about becoming Gods (even as God is a God) as being your ultimate endgame to join the growing movement in worshiping Yahweh, the only true God (John 17:3), and denounce the foolish polytheistic Armstrong concept of Jesus being a preexistent God of any sort. My Web site is Check it out. After all, it is your future that's on the line, isn't it?

F. Paul Haney
Kensington, Conn.

Time to move on?

It's sad that some people react to Ken Westby's seminars with cries of heresy [see "Of the Hunting of Heresy There Is No End," by Brian Knowles, The Journal, June-July 2007].

If the ACD invites us to think about our binitarian assumptions, why is that a problem? Either they can make a convincing case or they can't. Ken does us all a service by questioning our comfortable assumptions.

A greater concern about this debate is that while we're busy "counting the bits" we may well be ignoring the really substantive issues. Talking about God is a tough call at the best of times, and we're limited by inadequate language.

For example, in the Church of God tradition there is a lingering "anthropomorphism," the bizarre idea (taught by Herbert Armstrong) that God is a lot like us only bigger and composed of "spirit" (whatever that might mean).

The unitarian-binitarian debate doesn't address that.

Christians have conceptualized God variously as a trinity, a binity and a unity. Each position can be justified from Scripture if you're creative enough, even the near polytheism of the "God family."

But does it really matter whether there is one unitarian Sky Father, or a Sky Father who has a son distinct from "himself" who spent time gaining "overseas experience" on planet earth before taking up the family business?

Either way we usually end up with a caricature based on our own beliefs about authority (e.g., God as a human king complete with fawning courtiers and royal baubles, writ large and supersized).

The circle closes on itself when church leaders then justify their hierarchical status by analogy with God's alleged desire for sycophantic followers.

Some outstanding contemporary theologians have gone well beyond the unitarian-trinitarian debate to probe what our God talk really means.

It is also interesting that so many of the references in Anthony Buzzard's and Charles Hunting's book (The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound) date from the 19th century.

Maybe it's time to move on.

Gavin Rumney
Auckland, New Zealand

The Journal gets it exactly wrong

Saw this in The Journal [see "ACD Founder Promotes 'One God' Concept in N.Y.," June-July 2007 issue]:

"Mr. Rude noted that some verses in Paul's writings are not as easy to explain and 'actually do seem to say that Christ created the cosmos.'

"The verses include 1 Corinthians 8:6 ('by whom are all things'), Ephesians 3:9 ('who created all things by Jesus Christ'), Colossians 1:16 ('for by him were all things created') and Hebrews 1:2 ('by whom also he made the worlds').

"Mr. Rude cited literal translations from the Greek to argue that the problems are with the popular translations, especially the prepositions, and must be understood in light of the context of the passages and of Scripture as a whole."

Actually, I was arguing the opposite: that the problem is not with the translations but rather with their interpretation.

Everyone thinks that these verses refer to the physical creation. I was arguing that they refer to the association of Christ at God's right hand in the spiritual creation of the last two millennia.

One would have to teach a course on this--cover it piece by piece--impossible to absorb all at once (especially coming from my ineptitude).

There's a need to spend time on the ancient Midrashic and Talmudic interpretation of Genesis where "Adam was created in the place of his atonement" at the beginning of the 5th day, then put in the Garden, where God brings forth the creatures for Adam to name on the 5th and 6th days, thus picturing the 5th and 6th millennia.

Folks've got to see that just about everything we think we know about Genesis 1-2 is alien to the rest of Scripture, Old and New Testament.

It takes time to wade through the various passages where the New Testament authors understood Genesis this way (that it's not directly describing the creation of the physical cosmos!); i.e., Adam is Messiah, the Garden ("paradise" in the Septuagint) refers to heaven, where Messiah sits at the right hand of the Father, the creatures that Adam names represent principalities and powers, etc., etc.

People will naturally wonder whether I'm spiritualizing Genesis away. I'm not. It all happened literally but in type some 6,000 years ago.

But it was local--in the Middle East. It's not talking about a young earth; there's no gap theory necessary. It's not Hugh Ross's nor Gerald Schroeder's big bang.

It's all quite simple really. It's just that we all believe so many different things that it takes years to wade through everything and finally get to the original Hebrew way of thought.

So I blew it. Probably nobody had any idea what I was saying (at the time maybe even I didn't). My fault entirely!

But you know what? I profited. It was great meeting everybody--stimulating, to say the least. And quite a few copies of my papers are out there filed away. [Download the paper as a Word file at]

Someday somewhere somebody might try to read one of those copies and then point out where I was wrong.

Seriously, though, no criticism from me. I know the talk and paper were indecipherable. But it was fun.

Noel Rude
Pendleton, Ore.

Confusing salvation

Brian Knowles' letter to the editor in the June-July 2007 issue of The Journal [titled "I'll Bite"] was almost dumfounding to me.

It seems to be part of the message of a rising chorus of belief regarding God's laws, one that is dangerous and untrue.

Brian and others are confusing salvation with sanctification. We are not saved by keeping God's laws, but we are sanctified by doing so, and one cannot be saved without sanctification. You know. Becoming like Christ.

God's laws are the tools for sanctification. Grace is wonderful because it allows our progress toward perfection through forgiveness and growth, but many shame God and Christ by saying that we can't eventually keep the laws of God perfectly.

If Christ lives in us, and we submit to the molding of His Spirit, we are becoming perfected. To say we can't keep the law perfectly is saying that Christ can't.

If Brian is right, we can throw out the Fourth Commandment, and all the rest too, because we will never be able to keep them "perfectly."

What freedom. Now we can be free like all the rest of Christianity.

Jeff Maehr
Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Brian cosmically marks his territory

I enjoyed seeing Brian Knowles' smiling face in The Journal again [see "Of the Hunting of Heresy There Is No End," by Mr. Knowles, June-July 2007].

Apparently Brian is just like the rest of us: willing to suffer a certain amount of abuse to mark his territory in the cosmos. Once again he is trying to teach us to think outside the box.

The old AC brochure said the college taught people to think. We might get the idea from such a statement that if we know how to think there is no point to going to AC.

Over the years I have thought of the implications of that statement on many occasions. When I first read Brian's instruction years ago to think outside the box, I had no idea what he was talking about.

In his recent column he speaks of guilt by association. Weren't AC students taught doctrine by association, as evidenced by the following?

* If a person wrote a book in the Bible, he must have believed the same doctrines as everyone else who wrote in the Bible.

* If HWA was right on one point, wasn't that evidence he knew what he was talking about on other points?

* The Catholic Church couldn't be the true church because of its moral and doctrinal shortcomings. (Of course, this didn't apply to the WCG when it had such shortcomings. This seems to me to be an example of not thinking at all.)

* Jesus being seen in the synagogue or temple was evidence that He observed the Sabbath and holy days as we do, and we must follow His example. (Here again this thinking didn't apply when He was seen in the temple at the Feast of Dedication.)

I assume Mr. Knowles represented the situation with Dr. Robert Thiel faithfully, but the incident will forever leave a dark cloud over Brian's head. In spite of his denials, we may never know for sure that he is not a unitarian.

I know just how Brian feels. Back in the late '60s I was living in East Texas and an incident happened to me that left a dark cloud over my head for years. (To protect the innocent, if there were any, I won't mention names.)

One or more loving and caring brethren told the story that I was having an affair with one of the attractive "spiritual widows."

A couple of the men of the cloth confronted the two of us separately with the accusations.

Since they could show no evidence or gain a confession, the matter was shelved as another unsolved case.

I personally was flattered that I hadn't been accused of having an affair with one of the unattractive busybodies who were spreading the rumors.

But the lady involved--maybe I should say accused--didn't seem to be as flattered as I was and didn't see the humor in it.

Apparently she understood better than I that evidence or innocence is a bit irrelevant to people who think the AC way.

Those of us who left the old RCG/WCG look at each other with less respect now because of our former association. Guilt by association is up to its old tricks again.

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.

COGs inconsistent on war

I would like to thank The Journal for publishing the short article on Sgt. Ben Masek, who received the Bronze Star for his heroic actions in Iraq [see page 24 of the June-July 2007 issue]. His valor and self-sacrifice are truly inspiring.

I used to be a conscientious objector. No longer. I served two years on the 1-W program as a conscientious objector after my college years at AC during the Vietnam War. I sincerely felt that as a member of God's one and only true Church, the Worldwide Church of God, I was "an ambassador of Christ" and could not take up arms to defend my nation.

At the same time I felt that it was necessary for "uncalled people" to defend the United States.

I believed all the arguments the church put forth on conscientious objection. Still, there was an inconsistency: If it was good for others to sacrifice their lives to defend our nation and our children from Nazism and other aggressors, why shouldn't Christians aid in that defense?

In the last few years I have carefully reexamined my beliefs in the light of all of the Bible, not just the few scriptures we were given that I came later to see misconstrued the subject. I now fully embrace a righteous war as not only permissible for Christians but obligatory.

My son graduated from high school this past spring. He was one of three graduates who had volunteered for military service.

The school superintendent read their names and then choked with tears at the graduation ceremony.

In a time of war they volunteered to offer their lives to protect the rest of us.

Christ's words, "There is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends," came to my mind.

When I asked my son why he volunteered he simply replied, "It's the right thing to do."

The United States and Western civilization face a very real threat from Islamic extremists. It is an ideological war, and it is a physical war as well.

Throughout the Bible a righteous war is viewed as good, a holy crusade, by God, Israel, Jesus and His saints. John the Baptist never told the soldiers not to war. He only told them not to intimidate or extort and to be content with their pay.

Paul said in Romans 13 a primary purpose of civil government is to bring punishment upon wrongdoers, and Paul used the sword as the symbol. Paul lauded good government. Are not aggressive enemies who seek to enslave us wrongdoers?

Every drop of our boys' and girls' blood is priceless. For that reason only a righteous defensive war to protect our homes, constitutional freedoms and future generations can demand that sacrifice. The aim of the Islamic extremists is nothing less than the downfall of the West.

I strongly advocate war on Islam, both ideological and physical. That's not to say I advocate our being in Iraq. Our troops in Iraq are not so much fighting a war as they are trying to police a country's own civil war, as well as trying to socially reengineer that country.

Whether Iraq is worth that ultimate sacrifice of our boys and girls is a matter of great national debate. It, as well as conscientious objection, should also be a matter of debate in the Churches of God.

John Sash
Eldon, Mo.

Earthquake report from Lima

This is from a good friend and Ambassador University grad in Peru who works for the United Church of God:

"Thank God I have been able to contact most of the brethren and they are well. I have not been able to reach Nancy Díaz and Alicia Munarriz, who were in the area most affected by the earthquake.

"Here [in Lima] we are still feeling the aftershocks. A couple of minutes ago I felt the latest one. It has been a very long night, with several movements, and the experts are saying that it will continue for a week due to the intensity of the movement.

"I am writing to you from my parents' home because I live in the far south of Lima and the electricity and phone service have not yet been reestablished.

"Thank you very much for your prayers, especially on behalf of the people we have not yet been able to contact."

Reginald Killingley
Big Sandy, Texas

That's Mr. Husband to you

Here are more items for the WCG Museum [see "The Time Is Still Right for a COG Museum," by Trey Cartwright, The Journal, May 31, 2007, page 7]:

* Spokesman Club manual with drawings by Basil Wolverton.

* Prophetic chart showing the five methods of determining that the Second Coming would occur in 1975.

* Music scores for "When Israel Out of Egypt Went" and "God's Army."

* Photo of the largest IBM computer (at that time) on the West Coast on the Ambassador campus. It kept track of all info re church members, with three levels of security (contributions, personal information, etc.).

* Ruler for sideburn length.

* Big Sandy schedule for not milking dairy cows on the Sabbath (with resultant mastitis).

* Photo of Stanley Rader being baptized in a Tokyo hotel bathtub.

* Video of Stanley Rader on the Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) show.

* Video of GTA on Hee Haw (a TV show) singing his own composition, "Where Oh Where in the Hall of Fame Do You Find the Workingman's Name?"

* Booklet Does God Heal Today?, equating pharmaceuticals with witchcraft.

* Article forbidding birthday observance (citing Herod's and Pharaoh's birthdays, Job's children, etc.).

* Photo of HWA's children's playground in Jerusalem.

* Instruction to wives that, since Sarah called Abraham "lord," they should address their husbands as "mister."

* GTA's red vest (copied by many men in the church).

* List of Spokesman Club tongue twisters; e.g., "Timothy Tattertoot took taut twine to tie ten twigs to two tall trees."

* Pictures of Steuben crystal.

* Walkie-talkie as used by security personnel outside of meeting halls in the '50s.

* Sample of a paddle used to train up a child (often referred to as a board of education), discontinued after authorities were made aware.

* Photo of emergency roll-down steel door to protectively seal off HWA's private office.

* Record of third-tithe funds used to pay for jet fuel.

* Bonds of Satan.

Karl Gunderath
Kalispell, Mont.

Trey's very own page

I think you should give Trey a whole page. [See the preceding letter.] I love his attitude.

Joseph Nasta
Hudson, Fla.

Where are we now?

For a fresh assessment of where we are in prophecy based on Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings and ministry, go to, then click on "New Endtime Timeline."

Geoffrey R. Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa


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