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Letters from Journal Readers


Mandatory free choice

In the January 2008 Journal Dennis Diehl seems to have rejected 27 or so Two Witnesses.

If I, as a judge, had witnesses come before me with the power to call fire down on me, I would most certainly want them to be very cautious and even reluctant to do so.

Moses and Elijah are most certainly witnesses of the Law and Prophets, but they were somewhat quick to call for destruction.

As to who Jesus' witnesses are of His faith, hope and love, everyone seems to have an opinion.

Paul said Jesus' witnesses to the people came with Him from Galilee (Acts 13:31).

The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11 may be Jesus' way of reminding John and us, allegorically, that God is not reluctant to delegate authority and power with responsibility, and He commands free choice (John 10:18).

(Commanding free choice is an interesting level of legalism, isn't it?)

This raises questions. When should we allow or command that others have free choice? Should we use the power God gives us to call down fire, call names, even mock others? Apparently God commands that we make these choices freely.

I guess that is the reason we see so many groups and options in Christianity: God demands free choice.

I am inclined to prefer that the witnesses coming before me with the authority to toast me be people whom Jesus has already rebuked for wanting to call fire down on those who don't agree with them (Luke 9:54), cut the ears off people with bad attitudes (John 18:10) or resist others in making their own decisions (Matthew 16:22).

"... Piously convicted but marginally informed"? That fits me. I might be No. 28 if I had seen, heard or handled anything the rest of you hadn't.

I hope I can avoid the caustic criticism and be among the blessed who haven't seen what some have seen, yet believe (John 20:29).

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.

Informal fallacy

I would like to comment on the ad written by Jan Aaron Young titled "False Premise" in your Jan, 31, 2008, edition.

First, Mr. Young states his view of the rules of logic. As usual, he does not reference his sources. As you, a professional in journalism, know, giving credit and reference to sources is basic to allowing the reader to be truly informed and educated by the writer's arguments. I would strongly recommend that Mr. Young follow the standard rules of disclosure of sources.

Making a statement such as "Told on CBS" is not giving a reference.

Second, directly after Mr. Young states his rules of logic, he directly violates those formal logical rules by applying an informal logical fallacy. His statement in paragraph three of his ad, "So any practice based on [a] false premise is wrong," is not even related to his rules of logic, nor does it stand up to observed reality.

He has equated the word practice with conclusion. This is the informal logical fallacy I mentioned.

Based on his implied claim to be versed in logic, he must clearly understand what he is doing by this statement and is hoping that the reader will not notice the substitution.

For instance, I can state a premise that the earth is at the center of the universe (false). I can make the argument that the universe revolves around the earth (false).

From that I can conclude that the sun will come up each morning (true). From that conclusion I can determine that I will set a practice of each morning getting up and going to work.

That practice and conclusion are valid, even though the argument and premise I based them on are both clearly wrong.

We see multiple practices and actions that are valid even though the premises and conclusions they are based upon are found to be false at a later date.

I also must point out that, while Mr. Young has given us much to think on concerning the history and symbols that we in the United States use and consider harmless, he has clearly, finally, revealed his clear bias towards a historically leftist and socialist viewpoint.

I make this claim by noting his conclusions drawn under the last header, "When Is a Person a Person?"

The end conclusion, regardless of his claim to the contrary, is that abortion is acceptable and that God considers a human to be an individual and a person only after birth and taking its first breath.

This same view was becoming prevalent in the WCG soon after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. I know. I grew up in the church with, and was well acquainted with, a local elder's wife who was floating this same idea in our local church.

Mr. Young pointed to some scriptures that he considers support for his view that a pregnant woman is not carrying a human in her womb, but he forgot some. I won't make a full list here, but some are Judges 13:13, in which Manoah's wife was told that her child was to be a Nazarite from the womb, clearly indicating that God considered that Samson was fully a human before birth.

In conclusion, it's clear from the past ads Mr. Young has submitted for publication that he is leaning further and further to the political left. We can see the results of that ideological persuasion in the fruit of the 1960s counterculture and the destruction those ideals have brought to this country and to the world.

While I'll make the assumption that Mr. Young wants to believe his ideas reflect God's mind-set, I'm afraid he has allowed himself to become deceived in the same manner that he contends the founding fathers of this country were. The only difference is that he has allowed Satan to influence his mind through the rantings of people like Michael Moore.

Bill Hawkins
Bethlehem, Ind.

Margaret and Chris

This world recently lost a saint.

On July 25, 2007, Margaret Waterman died in Sutherland Hospital, Sydney, after a protracted illness. She is survived by her husband, Chris, three sons and seven grandchildren.

Margaret Shannon was born of Irish ancestry in 1944 in Abermain, a mining town near Cessnock, New South Wales, the eldest of four children.

Her childhood was not easy, having to help her grandparents raise the other children after their mother quit the family. Later the burden of care for her aging grandparents ruled out tertiary studies.

Margaret's character shone through when her mother returned: She forgave and forgot.

Her adult life had its full share of trials, including two miscarriages and divorce. In generous compensation, her sons, grandchildren and second husband were a source of joy and fulfillment.

When Margaret met Chris they made an incongruous couple, petite 5-foot Margaret and 6-foot Christopher, but they hit it off immediately and married in October 1990.

Their love for each other was tender, profound and complete, a fine example of the biblical concept of "one flesh," and together they enjoyed six wonderful years, undeterred by her severe migraines over four of those years.

Margaret's devotion to Chris was surpassed only by her devotion to God. Her daily routine began at 4 or 5 every morning with an hour's Bible study.

She missed a Sabbath meeting only twice in 12 years, took copious notes and reread the notes frequently.

She was one of the first in her congregation to become disturbed by the doctrinal changes within the WCG and in 1993 bluntly announced to her husband and friends: "I'm leaving. You can stay if you want."

Chris followed shortly after, and they, with others, led a basically independent and undiminished spiritual life.

Prior to her illness she and Chris handled distribution of The Journal in Australia.

Margaret was a Christian who lived her faith under the banner of "service." She was always ready to help with jobs and tasks of all descriptions: moving house, cleaning, caring for animals. She did it all with love and enthusiasm.

She especially enjoyed helping the elderly and never missed a function for them: dance, fancy-dress party or pit crew for a senior wheelchair entrant in the annual City-to-Surf Race.

In music she loved country-and-western and Elvis's spirituals.

In spite of her difficult life, she had an almost childlike zest for living. Every day was a new adventure, every experience provided something useful to learn, every new acquaintance was a potential friend.

Her charming naivete endeared her to everyone who met her. She gave and gave and expected nothing in return and probably came as close as any mortal can to demonstrating true agape.

This world has another saint, one who is still with us.

In 1997 Margaret was diagnosed with Pick's disease, a relatively rare progressive dementia that starts in middle life. It usually lasts from two to 10 years and at the end leaves the sufferer in a profound vegetative state before death. The disease has no known cause or cure.

Reluctant to place her in an institution, and supported by a carer's pension, Chris took on the full-time job of caring for Margaret at home.

From his experience working in a hospital, no nursing home, no respite care, no hospital could do an adequate job.

For the last few years of her life he spent 10 hours and more a day on the job. He attended to everything: housework, bathing, dressing, grooming, hygiene, feeding.

Any meal took no less than two hours to complete, and the rest of the day was usually consumed in her general care.

Chris could slip out for no more than half an hour or so, except when the in-home carer took over for three hours each week.

Helped by friends, he spent many hours searching for treatments and techniques to help with Margaret's condition, and they feel certain that her life was improved as a result.

It is not an easy thing to live with and watch the steady mental eclipse of anyone, much less someone you love dearly.

A struggle is over. The Watermans' example goes before them. A glorious resurrection is ahead. Chris and Margaret will live and love again.

Walter Steensby
Canberra, Australia

Fulfillment of Daniel 11:40

The Sabbath of March 1, 2008, is four sun cycles from Daniel 11:40's initial fulfillment in 1896.

That day marks exactly four sun cycles (4 x 28 x 365.25 days) from the Battle of Adua in 1896, when Ethiopia completely defeated Italian forces, which Herbert W. Armstrong was the first to understand was the fulfillment of the first clause of Daniel 11:40, which defined that the end time had started.

Geoff Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa

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