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New Bible-research association clarifies goals,
purposes, targeted audience and name change

 
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New Bible-research association clarifies goals,
purposes, targeted audience and name change

by Dixon Cartwright
 

BIRMINGHAM, Mich.--Art Mokarow, an 80-year-old former Worldwide Church of God minister who in recent years retired from successful businesses and began publishing books, said the new Association for Biblical Research he and friends have started is something new and different.

It's new and different, he said, in the sense that it is not a ministry that wants to convince people that a particular set of conservative-Christian doctrines is the only path to God and Truth.

Mr. Mokarow was in this upscale Detroit suburb for the latest in his series of seminars in several American cities.

He also used the occasion to tell attendees, about 75 of them, about the Association for Biblical Research (ABR), which his friends Al and Tom Carrozzo, both of Southern California, began in October 2007.

As things have worked out, Mr. Mokarow is becoming more active in the association leadership.

With him in Michigan were two other members of the ABR's board, Lennox Abrigo of Germantown, Md., and Ron Moseley of North Little Rock, Ark.

Mr. Mokarow and Dr. Moseley spoke during the seminar on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2008, about law, grace and the Jewish roots and worldview of the New Testament.

On the evening of Aug. 21 in Mr. Mokarow's suite at the Townsend Hotel, this writer for The Journal talked with the two men about the ABR.

Name change

The last time this newspaper reported on the organization, its name was the Associates for Restored Truth. (See "Symposium Presents Mix of Views About Law, Grace," The Journal, Feb. 29, 2008.)

But Mr. Mokarow later asked his friend Al Carrozzo to change the name because the association's initials, ART, could be confused with Mokarow's first name. So the name became Associates for Biblical Research.

However, when the ABR discovered that there is already an Associates for Biblical Research residing in Pennsylvania that has been around since 1969, another minor course correction was in order.

So now the ABR is the Association for Biblical Research.

Reason for ABR

"We're just a bunch of guys who associate together," Mr. Mokarow explained. "We come from different denominations and different strengths, with different biblical strengths. We believe that, rather than concentrate on our differences, we should concentrate on what we agree on."

The ABR's purpose is to provide "biblical research" to Christian scholars and leaders of churches and other ministries to help them in their own research, writing and speaking.

Dr. Moseley, 60, a writer and teacher who has studied at Oxford, Cambridge and Hebrew University, said his own ministry, which has operated in Arkansas for 30 years, is glad to associate with the ABR.

He talked about some of the services the ABR provides.

"If someone has a topic, we're going to give them all the information on that topic available, from basic scholarship, history and the present, and let them make up their own mind what they believe," he said. "What we have is not just one view.

"We haven't found another outfit doing that, because everyone--Baptists, Methodists, everybody--seems to have an agenda."

Dr. Moseley and Mr. Mokarow invite people, especially ministers, writers and scholars, to tap into their resources, as long as they are Christians.

"As long as they believe in Jesus and have a good, strong relationship with God, we want to help them without any prejudice toward our personal opinion," Dr. Moseley said.

The Journal asked Mr. Mokarow about earlier statements of association board members Al and Tom Carrozzo. In an article based on an interview with the two men in January 2008, they spoke of their willingness to work with others, including Jews, who are not Christians. (See "Organizers of Dallas, Texas, Symposium and ART Ministries Shooting for Something New," The Journal, Feb. 29, 2008.)

"If he [Al Carrozzo] stated that, it was his own understanding," Mr. Mokarow said, "because we are interested in working with a Christian audience. However, if an Islamic guy comes to us, we're going to provide him with the same information."

"But," said Dr. Moseley, "our philosophy is basically exalting Jesus."

Board lineup

The governing board of the ABR is Al Carrozzo of Escondido, Calif., president; Tom Carrozzo of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; Mr. Mokarow; Dr. Moseley; and Lennox Abrigo of Germantown, Md.

Three other men recently resigned as board members: Tom Roberts of Weiser, Idaho; Wayne Cole of Tyler, Texas; and Pieter Barkhuizen of Pittsburg, Tenn.

Dr. Roberts and Mr. Cole reportedly had differences of opinion about the goals, purposes and/or governance of the organization. Dr. Barkhuizen is still associated with the ABR, though no longer a member of its board.

Specific dogmas

Dr. Moseley and Mr. Mokarow talked about how the ABR is different from a church.

"Most churches have some specific dogmas that they hold to that set them apart from all other denominations or Christians," Mr. Mokarow said. "We don't have that."

"Except," said Dr. Moseley, "we believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him, very strong. But everybody [every Christian ministry] is going to say that. What distinguishes us from the rest of them is we're better looking."

Dr. Moseley is known to crack a joke now and then.

"No, really," he said, "we're going to give them more information because we have the historical background that most ministers don't have. Even though we have paid dearly for it, we're making it available to them at almost no charge."

Just what does he mean?

How does the system work and just what does he mean when he says "we have paid dearly"?

"They give us a topic," explained Dr. Moseley, "we give them the information. They form their opinion--all for the least amount of time, the most information and the least amount of money."

When Dr. Moseley says "we have paid dearly" for the materials the ABR makes available, he refers to costly efforts on the part of the organizers to gather information that they impart to their clients who tap into the resources of the ABR.

For example, a group of Arkansans who happened to hear young Ron Moseley speak in the 1960s offered to pay for him to attend five institutions of higher learning of his choice.

"I said I want to go to Jerusalem and Oxford and so forth, and they sent me," Dr. Moseley said.

He ended up earning doctor's degrees from Oxford University in England, Princeton University in the United States and the Hebrew University in Israel. He studied in Israel a total of 12 years.

"I came back and started the American Institute of Holy Land Studies, a part of American Institute for Advanced Biblical studies. I have been lecturing on the things we learned in Jerusalem that we didn't learn in seminary."

What were some of the things he learned in Jerusalem that seminarians don't hear about?

"Everything," he said. "Just about everything I know I got from studying after attending seminary."

As was obvious in Dr. Moseley's address the next day to the attendees of Mr. Mokarow's seminar, he specializes in what some in the Churches of God would call the Hebrew roots of the New Testament.

He's not a sacred-names user. At least this writer did not hear him saying Yeshua and Yahweh in casual conversation. But he speaks of many passages in the Bible that are misunderstood because modern readers don't understand the Jewishness--or Israelitishness--of the writers and characters of the New Testament.

A principal asset of the ABR is Dr. Moseley and his school. The information ABR clients have access to includes the extensive information source that is Dr. Moseley's school and Dr. Moseley himself.

History with WCG

Mr. Mokarow has a history with the Worldwide Church of God, and quite a few in the Sunday, Aug. 22, audience in Michigan fondly remember Mr. Mokarow from his days of starting congregations in the Detroit area for the Radio/Worldwide Church of God.

He became an RCG member in the early 1950s and then held down two main responsibilities as an employee of the Pasadena-based church, residing in the Detroit area and then in Southern California.

"One was superintendent of the Great Lakes region," he said. "Then, secondly, I was director of ministerial training worldwide" in Pasadena.

Mr. Mokarow worked for the church until 1979, then went into business for himself--and succeeded at the latter beyond his wildest dreams.

"I started a marketing-consulting company and ran that for maybe eight years," he said. "Then I thought I was going to retire."

He decided to kick back and take it easy in South Texas, near Conroe, north of Houston.

"But then I ended up building two companies. One was to do with credit cards, and the other one was making software for banks for credit cards. Now we're in the software business until this day. I oversee the operation as chairman."

His business partner is his son Kevin, who lives in Dallas.

Mr. Mokarow has written several books, including God's Story, The Great Apostasy, The Sacred Tithe, Satan's Image and Faith With Works, explaining his understanding of Scripture, including law and grace.

They are all available for free by contacting him at one of his addresses listed at the end of this article.

Meet Dr. Moseley

Dr. Moseley, who does not have a WCG background, has pastored full time since 1967 and has been a Sabbatarian Christian since 1991. He pastors Sherwood Bible Church in a suburb of North Little Rock.

His three doctorates include a Ph.D. in Second Temple history from Louisiana Baptist University, a D.Phil. in religion and society from Oxford Graduate School and a D.Lit. in research from Oxford.

Thanks to his perfectly normal--for Arkansas--accent and personality, "you ought to see what a knot I put in their tails at Oxford," he said. "They almost had a heart attack."

Princeton was an experience quite different from Oxford, he said. At Princeton "they were so liberal that Jesus couldn't have got in."

Brass tacks

Dr. Moseley is a fun guy, but he can get down to business. A reflection of his serious, scholarly side is one of his books, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church, available from Ebed Publications. A chapter from the volume is posted at www.tinyurl.com/4vgo8u.

Here are a few sound bites from Yeshua:

  • The first 15 bishops of the original church at Jerusalem were Jewish.

  • Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina by the Romans, and Jews were forbidden to enter the city for 100 years. During the dramatic events of the time, many Jewish Christians fled to the mountains of Pella, in present-day Jordan, in obedience to Christ's instruction in Matthew 24:16.

  • For its first 100 years the church remained much a part of 1st-century Judaism, and its leaders stayed involved in many Jewish affairs. There was no immediate split from the synagogue, as evidenced by Jesus' warning that some synagogues would punish His followers for preaching a different brand of Judaism (Matthew 10:17).

  • The structure of the synagogues carried over into the early church. A president, deacons, preceptor (song leader) and teachers are all found in the synagogue and the early church.

  • The principal leader of a synagogue was the nasi, or president. In the Christian congregations the leaders were still called presidents (rather than pastors) as late as A.D. 150 by such non-Jewish writers as Justin Martyr.

  • Men known as gabbay tzedikah cared for the poor and distributed alms and were expected to be scholars of the Scriptures. The modern term deacon may have come from the similarly pronounced tzedikah.

  • A function in the ancient synagogue was the shaliach, or announcer. From this position we get the term apostle, meaning one who is sent forth to announce the gospel, a role equivalent to modern missionaries.

  • All of the first Christians were Jews by birth or conversion, and apparently there were no gentile members for at least the first 10 years. This conclusion is implied by texts that include Acts 10, where, about 10 years after His ascension, Jesus had to instruct Peter three times to set foot inside the house of a gentile.

  • The Way, used in Acts 24:14, 22, was a messianic term from texts such as Isaiah 40:2, which refers to preparing "the way of the Lord."

  • There is no evidence that the term Christian was used extensively as a self-designation by the early church, since it is used only three times in the New Testament and only once by a believer (see Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).

  • The early church was those who believed in justification by faith as well as those who stressed traditions that involved legalism. Most Jewish believers continued to keep the Sabbath and various other laws that differentiated them from non-Jews as an identification code, but they did not require them for their non-Jewish converts.

Making contact

Write the ABR at 9775 Pozos Ln., Conroe, Texas 77303, U.S.A. Write Mr. Mokarow at art@mokarow.com.

 


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