Letters from our Readers - Part 1
Like a horse and carriage
I was touched by the article about Debbie Witt and Frank Cykowski getting married ["Answered Prayer Leads to Couple's Love and Marriage," Dec. 31, 2001]. I almost cried. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Big Sandy, Texas
I am subscribing to The Journal for the very first time. I guess I got tired of borrowing it from friends.
Thank you for sending us The Journal for the whole of the year 2001. It has helped us tremendously by giving much-needed information from the various Churches of God.
The Journal plays a significant role in exposing self-styled church leaders and many myths. These have caused much harm to the Body of Christ. With the information age upon us, we need a neutral forum in which people can exchange ideas in love without the restrictions of man-made organizations (organizations do have their place).
Something I have noticed while reading The Journal is that certain leaders, when they are forming new organizations, are very open to The Journal, giving interviews and their viewpoints openly. But, after forming their groups and getting a grip on a following and being assured of a regular income, they start criticizing The Journal as being detrimental to their flocks! They do not want anything to do with it. I have witnessed the cycle over and over again.
On the other hand, there are those leaders who have shown a good example. They have remained open, have helped the brethren the world over to remain true to the faith. These are the shining jewels, plus the beloved brethren (labeled laymen by men) who do not give themselves to idols but to Christ.
We will continue reading The Journal. It's a door that God has seen fit to open to help His children make informed decisions based on a bit more data that you provide.
Stephen Karuga Kariuki
The Journal's gone commercial
Having just received the Dec. 31, 2001, issue of The Journal this past week, I decided to glance through it. It was a large issue containing 36 pages. To my utter amazement I discovered that 20 of those 36 pages were part of the advertising section. In other words, the amount of advertising has now exceeded the actual main section of The Journal. This issue is 55.5 percent advertising and 44.5 percent articles, news and letters.
I would rather pay $22 per year without the advertising to get a wholesome and inspiring publication than what has become the norm.
It is amazing how much has happened to this publication in just five years since The Journal came upon the scene to replace In Transition. It is sad that The Journal seems to have lost its direction and original intent.
It is informative and does have some interesting articles from time to time, but it seems that it no longer serves what we thought was its original intent, to help bring the people of God together and to keep them inspired, encouraged and informed about some of the things happening in the Church of God.
Instead, it is the whipping boy for so many brethren who are more than ready to offer their argumentative and divisive opinions about a host of subjects, even if what they say can't be proven from the Bible.
One of the favorite things gracing the few pages left of this humble publication is the tendency of more and more brethren to sound credible by offering the words and traditions of men, dead or alive, instead of the words of God and Jesus Christ.
So many brethren are more than willing to follow men and their organizations to the death, if necessary. The Journal seems to think that it must offer newspaper space to the likes of supposed church people even if they are adulterers, plagiarists, deceivers, liars and power-hungry boys playing church who live a life of perks while fleecing the brethren.
In conclusion, let this represent an appeal to the editor, staff and contributors of The Journal to return to the faith once delivered and get back to the heart of the matter of why God called us in the first place: to learn a way of life that has a future by giving, helping, sharing and encouraging one another as the day of Christ approaches.
Mr. Beltz states the reason he thinks The Journal began: "to help bring the people of God together and to keep them inspired, encouraged and informed about some of the things happening in the Church of God."
However, this is not an accurate statement of the purpose the founders of The Journal had in mind. True, The Journal publishes inspiring, encouraging and informative articles and commentary from time to time, but the original reason for this publication was to report news of the Churches of God (even if it was not inspiring and encouraging) and to make available a forum that would take the shape of letters, editorials and essays.
The first issue of The Journal, in February 1997, reported extensively on the calendar controversy in the Churches of God. That news was perhaps not all that inspirational and encouraging, but it was informative.
The purpose of The Journal has not changed in its five years.
Concerning advertising, The Journal has stated many times how much it appreciates its advertisers, who help keep this newspaper going. The paper still has a way to go before it reaches the goal of many newspapers: 70 percent ads. Although with this issue the advertisements amount to 57.6 percent of the total column inches of content, the number of nonadvertising pages in recent issues of The Journal equals or exceeds the pages in many issues of this newspaper before it began accepting paid advertising.
I'm enclosing my renewal and money order. I wasn't going to renew until Iread this [Dec. 31, 2001] issue, with Ken Westby's magnificent coming-out article and excellent coverage by Herb Solinsky on the "sacred names" basics.
I believe your focus on the "nature of God" recently is of extreme importance to all Christians. Our society is enthralled by Hellenistic influences. This deliberate misunderstanding of a Greek philosophical abstraction in our religious, political and social mores will be our destruction.
If you were curious as to what content in The Journal led me to consider cancelling, just turn to page 15 of the December issue and read the "Holding Fast" ad: "Mr. Armstrong was our father in Christ."
"Call no man father," Jesus said. That's so obvious I should not have to quote it. However, the ads are entertaining and a great source of humor.
This is why your newspaper is so valuable in reaching out to all Church of God believers, showing them the direction, intellectually and spiritually, they should be moving.
Dr. Charles Dorothy, a wonderful friend of our family, once told us the three questions we all have to answer in our lifetimes, and the sooner the better: Who is God? Who am I? and What direction should I be moving?
Your Journal helps us answer those vitally important, lifesaving questions. God bless your efforts.
North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Sometimes I wonder why I receive The Journal. I disagree with the majority of what appears therein.
Unbelievably there are advertisements advising the flock to hold fast to the faith once delivered by that deliverer, Elijah and apostle, HWA. It blows the mind that such stuff is in The Journal.
Then there is Garner Ted Armstrong, who essentially agrees with the abortionists' arguments that we are just a blob of tissue before birth, that we are not human until taking our first breath [see the Dec. 31, 2001, issue]. If we don't have a human spirit or chance at resurrection before birth, to apparently end the life of a growing fetus would not break the law "Thou shalt not kill." You are just a nothing before birth in GTA's eyes. In my eyes a living, developing human exists, both before and after birth.
Then there are the many liberal-Protestant-theology-article contributors to your newspaper. I'm referring to the theology that goes something like this: Do what you want; ignore that law stuff; Christ has got you covered.
The sacrificial system should make it clear that there is sacrifice for sins made in ignorance, but there is no sacrifice for presumptuous sin.
We do not deliberately sin, but if we do sin God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from our sins.
However, he who sins presumptuously reproaches the Lord. If we sin willfully after coming to the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sin.
However, I do pick up some good information from The Journal, and that is why I will continue to receive it.
Good information comes from Glen "Wolfhunter" Myers, who gave us "The Plain Truth About Tithing" [in the Connections advertising section Dec. 31]. Alan Knight wrote an excellent book on the controversy over law and grace that was serialized two years ago in The Journal.
Greg A. Jandrt
Helpful calendar article
It was a helpful article, given the facts, by Frank W. Nelte ["The Calendar Problem," an advertisement in the Connections section paid for by TruthSeekers, The Journal, Nov. 30, 2001].
Maybe Herman Hoeh will take a cue and write an article stating his current thoughts on the calendar subject. Mr. Hoeh may start taking Matthew 23:10 seriously soon, but I feel the WCG still may have him muzzled since he is on the retirement dole from them. Or is he?
Congratulations on your Dec. 31, 2001, issue. It was loaded with stimulating content, not the least of which was Robert Williams' excellent analysis of postmodernism ["Is Postmodernism All That Toxic?"].
The reason I have entitled my Journal column "Out of the Box" is that it intended to stimulate critical thinking outside of the usual patterns. (It also appears under that title on the Association for Christian Development's Web site, www.godward.org. Look under "Commentary.")
It is obvious that I succeeded in the case of Mr. Williams. Would to God that all responses were as intelligent and well researched as his own. Think how rapidly knowledge would be increased.
I also rejoice in the fact that The Journal runs articles by people who take contrary views to Churches of God orthodoxy, a.k.a. Armstrongism. As long as I've known Ken Westby, I didn't know what he believed about the "Godhead" ["ACD Founder Plans 'One-God Conference'"]. Now I know. Maybe he's right, maybe he's not. I'll have to look into it.
The controversy over law vs. grace in the CG7 is also a topic of great interest ["CG7 Elder Explains Why He Left the Church"]. It is almost like an echo of the earlier controversy between "Tkachian" and "Armstrongian" forces.
Sooner or later this issue will have to be resolved rather than evaded or obfuscated (as is so often the case).
When I read the many exegetical articles in which theological positions are being defended or criticized, I realize we are all a bunch of amateur theologians who are embarrassingly unqualified to do theology. Our cop-out is, of course, to claim inspiration. That way no one can challenge us--except, of course, God; and in time He will (Matthew 12:36-37).
It was also good to see in print the "sacred names" discussion and the critique of how Hebrew-roots studies have led some to draw erroneous conclusions about their implications ["Speaker Urges 'Balance' in Use of 'Sacred Names'"]. After nearly 20 years of my own studies into the Jewish background of the church and the New Covenant writings, I know how easy it is to lose one's balance.
Not long ago I read in a Messianic Jewish publication a discussion among leading rabbis about the nature of God and whether the Trinity doctrine was true or not, etc. They were as confused as we are! There was no consensus among them.
Of course, I can remember on one visit to Israel our Jewish guide explaining to us that any two Jews could produce three opinions on anything, so perhaps that explains it.
If our public discussions of doctrine, and our feeble attempts at biblical exegesis, in the pages of The Journal accomplish nothing else but to expose our profound ignorance, we shall have done ourselves a service.
I'm looking for the article by Brian Knowles on the subject of "postmodernism." Which issue did it appear in, and how can I get a printed copy of it?
Via the Internet
A Dec. 31, 2001, reference to Mr. Knowles' column on postmodernism contained a mistake in its date of publication. Robert Williams wrote "Is Postmodernism All That Toxic?," a response to Mr. Knowles' article of more than a year ago "Could Postmodernism Be Unhealthier Than Darwin?," which appeared in the Sept. 30, 2000, issue. Mr. Williams' article contained a proofreading error that dated Mr. Knowles' article a year later than it actually appeared.
The move to Utah
I just read the article about Darryl Henson et al. and the move to Utah ["Relatives Express Concern About the Move of Several Church of God Families to Utah," Dec. 31, 2001]. I am one who is upset about this because one of my dearest friends is planning to move there.
But she did not tell her husband what she told me: The group that calls itself A Congregation of God is expecting the return of Christ this year or next year--soon--around Pentecost or Passover. Why? Because of Darryl Henson's dreams, basically.
Why Utah? Because of the biblical names assigned to the various places, such as Zion National Park, where there is a rock formation called the Judgment Seat of Christ--and other such things.
Name and location withheld
God knows our hearts
I find it very hard to believe that people who are supposed to be God's people could run down, criticize and make fun of and lie about other Churches of God, and all that in the name of Christianity. I guess they think they are doing God a favor.
It reminds me of a bunch of fighting children who need to grow up.
We in A Congregation of God came out to Utah to be closer together, to be a church and to learn to get along and hopefully become more Christian [see "Relatives Express Concern About the Move of Several Church of God Families to Utah," Dec. 31, 2001].
Or isn't that what we are supposed to be doing?
We have done no harm to the other churches. We are small and quiet. But all of a sudden we are a big cult. What did they call us in Worldwide? We were just a church then, and we are just churches now. Anyway, only some, not all, of the people in A Congregation of God have moved out here.
People need to stop and think about what they are saying. Someday all the churches are going to want to go to "a place of safety," unless they are not reading their Bibles. When they do, be it here or in Jerusalem or wherever, will they want to be treated like they are treating us?
Matthew 7:2 says with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.
People need to be very careful because God is the one who knows the heart and judges us all. We are all supposed to be God's people. We need to start acting like it.
Bill and Vickie Durkee
La Verkin, Utah
For the record, The Journal's report last month about the move to Utah of several members of A Congregation of God nowhere mentioned the word cult.
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