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The passing of Samuele Bacchiocchi

What a tragedy. Such a colorful personality. Such a speaker. Such a popular man. He will be missed by all who were touched by his persona and research, for he was known by millions around the world and must rank among the top Adventist scholars of all time. [See an article about Dr. Bacchiocchi beginning on page 1.]

I still recall picking up his book From Sabbath to Sunday in 1977 or 1978 from an Adventist bookstore and was so impressed that I just had to buy it. It has since been one of my all-time favorite books.

(You can see From Sabbath to Sunday free online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/2189399/From-Sabbath-to-Sunday.)

The last book Dr. Bacchiocchi wrote was Popular Beliefs: Are they Biblical? I picked up a copy at the local Adventist bookstore for only AUD$13.95 just a few weeks ago.

Over the years I read and enjoyed many more well-researched books by him and especially his research into the feast days and why they should be kept by Christians (including Adventists), resulting in two books.

These have been well received by thousands and I am sure will help many to understand the days. He undertook this research when the founder of the Friends of the Sabbath in the U.S.A., John Merritt, challenged him to look into the subject. The seeds from this research and books are taking root and spreading.

Also, I am sure hundreds are grateful for the help he provided to Church of God elders and members who were under attack by the apostates who took over their church and who threw them out.

I think he and I corresponded earlier a couple of times, but it was only in the early or mid-1990s that we were in contact via E-mail, and I recall asking him to visit Australia for a conference I had initiated that he agreed to attend and be the keynote speaker.

This became Australia's first Sabbatarian conference -- the Friends of the Sabbath -- held in 1995. Hundreds of attendees from more than 10 groups attended in Sydney.

The following year three smaller seminars were held, in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. That was the first time I met him personally, and I enjoyed his company on several occasions.

He also attended the conference in Brisbane in late 2006. That was the last time I spoke with Sam (he preferred to be called Sam rather than Dr. Bacchiocchi), although we did exchange some E-mails since that time.

I felt rather despondent after reading about his death but know that Sam will be resurrected in accordance with God's timetable for all us.

Craig White
Sydney, Australia

Dr. Bacchiocchi remembered

I remember well our first meeting in Baltimore, Md. I think it was the spring or summer of 1975 and I had invited him to speak to a group I'd assembled in Harrisburg, Pa.

I'd read of his groundbreaking book From Sabbath to Sunday, gave him a call and invited him to give a presentation. He graciously accepted. I put an ad in the paper and invited all the people I knew.

We had a good crowd, and he was full of his subject, having just completed his work at the prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. His newly published book was his dissertation, for which Pope Paul VI awarded him a gold medal.

The medal was big and heavy, and he was quite proud of it. It was the first and last gold medal I ever handled.

We sold many of his books that day and had a most enjoyable time of fellowship during his visit. Sam was a gracious man, with that Old World politeness and humility you don't often encounter.

Over dinner I suggested he turn his considerable scholarly intellect into investigating the question of the biblical festivals of Israel being replaced by pagan festivals in traditional Christianity.

I postulated that he would find a similar change for similar reasons as what he discovered in the Sabbath-Sunday question.

He listened politely but didn't agree. His scholarly plate was full of other projects, and he was a busy professor at Andrews University in Michigan.

I was pleasantly surprised when years later he did investigate the festivals-of-Israel question and produced two fine books promoting their value and meanings. Of course I tweaked him on that turnaround and we shared some laughs.

On another occasion on the phone he mentioned that on the table behind his desk he had a big stack of my article "The Mysterious Seven-Day Cycle." He kept reproducing it, regularly giving out a copy to each student in each of his classes. I was flattered.

Over the years I had many occasions to invite Sam to speak to various church groups. On each occasion he would invite JoAn and me to visit him in Michigan and enjoy a real Italian dinner prepared by his dear wife. I regret we never took him up on his generous invitation. We love Italian food.

Samuele Bacchiocchi (1938-2008) was a rare blend of scholar, preacher, promoter, salesman and untiring entrepreneur. But he is best remembered by me for his Christian passion and wholehearted defense of the Sabbath. His work remains and continues to proclaim the gift of God's Sabbath day.

"Well done, Sam!" was likely God's response as Sam's life came to an end. I say amen!

Kenneth Westby
Seattle, Wash.

Never say never

In his advertisement in the Aug. 31, 2008, issue of The Journal, page 18, Ken Westby answered the question "When are you going to drop your One God crusade?" with "Never."

I would like to offer Mr. Westby some friendly advice, and that is never say never.

In fact, if I would be a betting man, I would bet Mr. Westby any amount that the time will come when he will kneel before the Lord Jesus Christ and exclaim: "My Lord and my God!"

The only question is when will he do so. Biblical wisdom recommends to do it now. Most people will do so eventually. A "never" answer will be fatal.

Robert Schmid
Westminster, Calif.

The human Jesus

Friends who meet weekly with us mentioned that there are some stirrings of interest in the one-God issue among some who have been connected with Ron Dart.

I was associated with the Herbert Armstrong movement for some 14 years and taught at Ambassador College in the U.S.A. and Britain. We left in 1972 when some of the problems were becoming public.

Just briefly I wanted to share some of the conclusions we later reached about the notion that God is a family or "two Gods in the God family."

I am a linguist by trade (that guarantees no infallibility!) and spent the rest of my career teaching the biblical languages and New Testament in a Bible college. I think it ought to be said that there are some fundamental language mistakes in the Armstrong system:

  • Elohim, the Hebrew word for God, is never a collective noun like family. This is simply a lexical fact.

  • No verse in either testament, where we find the word or words for God (about 11,000 occurrences), ever means a biune God or a God family. God is the regular word (1,317 times in the NT) for the Father of Jesus, who is called "the only one who is truly God" in John 17:3.

  • Jesus affirmed the Jewish unitarian creed beginning in Mark 12:29, agreeing with a Jew who certainly did not think that God was a family of two. The creed of Jesus ought to be our creed if we believe in following Jesus. Jesus did not believe in a God family if by that we mean more than one who is the eternal God.

  • God is said to be immortal in the Bible, and so the Son of God, who died (Paul refers to the death of God's Son), cannot be God. God cannot die, by definition, and Jesus, the Son of God, died.

  • It is impossible not to contradict Mark 12:29 if one says, "The Father is Yahweh and the Son is Yahweh." That makes two Yahwehs.

    God is described by singular personal pronouns thousands and thousands of times, and we all know that a singular personal pronoun signifies a single Person or person. God is a single divine Person. His name is Yahweh, and He has a Son who cannot also be Yahweh, since there is only "one Yahweh" (Deuteronomy 6:4, cited by Jesus in Mark 12:29).

  • Psalm 110:1 defines the relationship of the one Yahweh to his Son, the Messiah. Jesus loved this verse and quoted it to silence His opponents.

    The Messiah is here designated adoni, "my lord." That title, adoni, is the nondeity title in all of its 195 occurrences (Strong's will not show you this distinction, unfortunately, but ask anyone who knows Hebrew, or read any Hebrew lexicon).

  • Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, Son of God. On that rock the church is founded. Two who are God makes two Gods, and we should avoid this "bitheism." The Messiah cannot by definition be God, since he is "the anointed of God." God cannot be a priest either.

The investigation of how many God is is an interesting study, and we encourage all readers of The Journal to do the Berean exercise on this question.

Jesus was a Jew and recited the unitarian creed of Israel. We would be wise to follow Jesus and His teachings for our safety. Our literature on this subject (a subject, that has been around for thousands of years) is at our site, www.restorationfellowship.org.

See also the documentary The Human Jesus at www.jesusishuman.com.

Anthony Buzzard
Fayetteville, Ga.

A stroll around campus

I got this from a friend in United. It is from John Elliott of Yuma, Ariz.

"Merrie and I took the opportunity to stroll through the Ambassador College campus while visiting Pasadena last week. The entire campus was void of people as it was enclosed by a tall chain-link fence in anticipation of the Rose Parade.

"However, the fence was open for the driveway at Manor Del Mar, thus providing us entrance.

"Having been born and raised there while my father, Jack Elliott, worked for the college, it was interesting to relive a 'lifetime' of memories there, including the spot where Merrie and I first met and another where we later married.

"The point of my message is to share a surprise with you. The campus has not changed. It is almost exactly the same in every detail as the last time you strolled on it.

"I was very surprised after reading all the news of its sale and planned development. I took ... low-resolution photos using my cell phone (view them at tinyurl.com/7aex3e).

"Here are the only real changes we saw: Egrets are painted gloss white; tiny signs over the Auditorium doors read both 'Ambassador Auditorium' and 'Harvest Rock Church'; sign on the Student Center states 'Maranatha Student Center and Administration'; the track is now a football field.

"Inside the unchanged Auditorium foyer, an Xmas tree obscures the words 'Dedicated to the Great God.' The bronze letters have been removed.

"Yet from a side angle you can still clearly read the original words. I assume that the marble underneath them stayed very shiny, which makes them still very readable from the side, especially when shadowed by an Xmas tree.

"It was ominous that they relegated 'The Great God' to obscurity behind a pagan tree. Kind of like the statue of Xerxes in the temple?

"Otherwise the campus is all curiously the same. In fact, 'too much the same' since it looks like we left it and haven't used it since.

"Looking through windows, it appears that the Administration Building is vacant, empty and dust-filled. So are most other buildings ...

"Ambassador Hall still has the inscription 'The Word of God is the Foundation of Knowledge.' The exterior-wall tiles of the Science Hall classrooms are falling off. Inside the Library entrance is a model of the planned campus development, again gathering dust.

"Terrace Villa is empty, except for what appears to be a couple of campus-development workers' desks.

"Exterior cracking is evident at Terrace Villa and Ambassador Hall. The Television Studio looks abandoned, and its exterior begs for maintenance. (That building is on the historical register because Lee Harvey Oswald bought his rifle from it via mail order when it was the Pasadena Gun Shop.)

"Anyway, I wanted to share this with you in case you, like me, had thought something had changed on the old AC campus. It remains as a testament to the work God once did there. Even the monolith on the corner of Green Street and St. John Avenue retains our church's former name ...

"This message may be shared."

Wayne Stephens
Eustis, Fla.

Dang Yankees

The article about Robbie Tuel in the May 2008 Journal was excellent. Darlene Warren is a good writer, and, frankly, Dix, you should give her a raise.

One thing that was not mentioned in the article, however, is that Robbie is a lineal descendent of Emma Samson, "the Sunbonnet Heroine of the Confederacy."

During the War of Northern Aggression (1861-1865) Emma jumped behind Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest on his horse and guided Gen. Forrest's calvary to a ford of a river, which let them get ahead of a troop of Yankee invaders and defeat and capture them.

A monument to her sits on the lawn of the Upshur County courthouse in Gilmer, and another at Little Mound Cemetery at Little Mound Baptist Church, 15 miles from where I am sitting in Gilmer right now.

Robbie's mother, Gwen Tuel, still attends church services at Little Mound.

After the War of Northern Aggression -- or Second War for Independence, if you prefer -- Emma Samson and her family moved from Alabama to East Texas. She married and left descendants, and her last name was Johnson at the time of her death.

Her descendant Gwen Tuel has a limited-edition print on her wall depicting Emma guiding Gen. Forrest and his troops to the river ford and the subsequent defeat of the invaders.

Mac Overton
Gilmer, Texas

What a train can do

I enjoyed Dennis Diehl's article in The Journal about the train whistle ["A Train's Long, Lonely Whistle Can Bring Comfort and Pain," July 31, 2008 issue].

I'm one of those engineers who blows that whistle as I pass through Greenville running Amtrak's Crescent between New York and New Orleans.

As a boy I grew up wanting to blow that whistle, and the good Lord saw fit to award me that position. Yet I have had to witness the effects of what a locomotive can do to a human being.

Yet, as gut-wrenching at the time as it can be, knowing God's ultimate plan for us puny humans gives me peace of mind to deal with it and not ruin my career.

I'm glad Christ went to be with the Father so the Comforter would come. It makes a difference when you have it, versus not and living in this sick world, when you're running a train up and down the road.

I'm a member of Crossroads Church of God 7th Day in Statesville, N.C. I attended the Feast of Tabernacles this past year with Ron Dart's CEM group in Panama City, Fla., and have done so for the past three years with them. We would be glad to have you drop by one Sabbath in Statesville if you get a chance.

Again, good article, and I'll think of ya next time I pass through Greenville.

Barry Whitlow
Kings Mountain, N.C.

Graphically monstrous

Reg Killingley's shallow PC exhortation to get out and vote reveals an all too common, astounding lack of perception of the bestial nature of government as the end time draws on.

That monstrous system so graphically portrayed in Revelation 12 and 17: Does it just suddenly pop up from nowhere?

Of course not. Paul is abundantly clear that the "mystery of iniquity" was working in his day.

Mr. Killingley says it is "a sacred civic duty" to get out and vote.

To support what? A system in God's eyes surely no different from Sodom. Why would any true saint wish to cast a vote to support a system that is patently anti-Christ?

To believe, as Mr. Killingley does, that 1 Timothy 2:1-3 is exhorting prayer for the well-being of wicked government is again a gross distortion.

Jeremiah exhorts us twice not to pray for them (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14). The context of 1 Timothy 2:1-3 is that we, true Christians, can pursue our Kingdom calling by witnessing and growth into holiness unimpeded by wicked men (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

Maxwell McFeat
Palmerston, New Zealand

Jan Aaron and Dennis

I personally feel Jan Aaron Young's monthly ad-articles in the Connections section of The Journal to be the most consistently interesting and enthralling in all of the diverse and often excellent varieties of The Journal's articles and ads.

However, his style of "Tarzan talk" that trademarks his entire two-page pieces from start to finish is so frustrating and such a stumbling block to a smooth flow of reading that it often makes me not read or complete reading his otherwise most excellent exposés.

I want to comment also on the recent articles of Dennis Diehl. He's a witty, insightful and extraordinarily excellent writer.

His articles pack an important punch and are entertaining and exceptionally interesting amid all the other competing pieces of "good read" in The Journal and lots of other edifying publications.

P.F. Lazor
Delano, Calif.

Pied piper

I would like to remind readers of The Journal of the warning in Matthew 24:26. There are a lot of ministers who want you to follow them into a place of safety.

There is a booklet called Who Is That Prophet? The writer claims he is "that prophet" and that he is king and counselor (page 34), law giver (pages 52-46), God's chief ruler (page 66), father (pages 86-87). If you join his "church" to look at his fruits, I can tell you (from experience) it is a shocking and painful thing to do.

Another minister who wants you to follow him into the desert teaches that Jesus was crucified on the first day of Unleavened Bread. The followers of Jesus didn't know that, including His disciples (John 13:29), His mother (Luke 23:54-56) and Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:42). Even the Jews didn't know (John 19:31).

I believe the WCG was scattered so we would get our minds on God instead of our social clubs. Read Psalm 19:9.

Gerty Himes
North Cambria, Pa.

A hellish contradiction?

Which came first, Dante's Inferno or the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?

For years we were taught that the idea of purgatory and that the dead would be tormented in flames came from a poem by Dante Alighieri.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 says that the dead "know not any thing."

So why does the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) tell us that the (dead) rich man is being tormented in flames?

Why does he refer to Abraham as "father Abraham"? Some will say it is only a parable. But surely a parable is used as a teaching aid that ordinary people can easily understand.

We cannot be talking of Gehenna fire in this case because the (dead) man is conscious of burning.

The Bible seems to contradict itself here. Could it be that one of these scriptures doesn't belong in the Bible? Perhaps there is something that I have missed. Is there anyone out there who can shed some light on this?

John Veal
Inssworth, England

What do you think you believe?

Some baptized members of God's church are afraid to read or listen to information that they might consider to be different from what they already think is true.

The accepted consensus is that these brethren are not confident about what they think they believe. So they are afraid: afraid to share what they know with others or have others share anything with them (whether true or not).

As always, the important thing is not what we think but what God thinks or wants. God wants us to study (2 Timothy 2:15) in order to grow in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) so we can learn truth (John 8:32).

God does not want us to selfishly keep things to ourselves and not share with others. We won't share with each other if we are afraid.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: "For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind." So let's not be afraid but show love (which is pictured by sharing). It's God's way. Don't be afraid!

Paul J. Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Round and round

The 75th anniversary of The World Tomorrow on radio, Jan. 7, 2009, is exactly two sun cycles after the broadcast first went to Europe (that is, 2 x 28 years or [2 x 28] x 365.25 days) and exactly two sun cycles plus one 19-year moon cycle after the broadcast first officially started in 1934 (that is, [{(2 x 28) x 365.25}  + (19 x 365.25) days]).

Geoffrey Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa



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