Letters from our Readers - Part 2
I am amazed at the hoopla that has been voiced the last several months or so in The Journal regarding military service and war. I also listened to Ron Dart's audio discussion of "revenge" and read his Journal article [in the Oct. 31, 2001, issue]. I think he did a good job of laying out some facts on civil government's responsibility and revenge, but I have to disagree with his conclusions on Christian warfare and military service and his neglect of the bottom-line issues.
I have also read the various opinions in The Journal by Jeff Booth and others who seem to lean toward military service and a Christian's part in it [see the Oct. 31 issue]. I'm not going to pretend I have perfect motives or intent on this subject, but at least this argument needs to be made.
I admit I have a long way to grow in my ability to turn a blind eye toward evil actions occurring at any given moment. I may have a lot to learn about love and turning the other cheek. I'm willing to learn it if that's what I need, but, until I do, if someone were intent on killing or raping my wife or kids, and I had any breath in me, I would, without hesitation, try to stop him and, if necessary, shoot that person dead.
Why? Justice; pity for a mind that was bent on such an activity; love for my family. If it were someone I didn't know, I'd do the same thing for the same reasons. God's command "You shall not murder" doesn't exclude the death of someone. Murder is a state of mind and heart. Killing someone doesn't mean he is a murderer at heart.
Ellis Stewart asked the question [in the Oct. 31 issue], "How in the world could you kill someone and still love him?"
God has killed lots of people over the ages. Does God have the heart of a murderer? Did God hate those He killed in the Flood?
We have a lot to learn about love and justice. Even those who didn't make it to the city of refuge in the Old Testament could be killed, legally, as God laid it out, by the one seeking the revenge. How do we juggle that fact?
We are to become like God and Christ. Christ is coming to kick some serious butt when He returns, not out of hate but out of love.
Self-revenge (after the fact) is a point to consider. However, to leap from bringing justice to evildoers to supporting national war is a tragic, blind leap. What if the twin towers were God's vengeance against America? What if the Taliban is God's rod of anger? What if the horrible events of 9-11 were the first of God's punishments of America for its sins and decadence? Are we to justify jumping from the pacifist bandwagon to the Rambo bandwagon? Will we entertain for a minute the idea that Christians should take up arms in a civil military pursuit in support of a nation that has turned its back on God?
To do good, to stand up for the fatherless and widow, to stand in the gap are all great things when they support God and His Word. However, for us as Christians to allow our anger to cloud our judgment on the issue of taking things into our own hands sets a dangerous precedent. Our kids are listening.
I admit I believe civil government, for the sake of human, carnal, worldly living, should rid the planet of every aspect of terrorism. I think it is the only logical carnal thing to do in a world without God.
If God gave the command, I'd fight too, because I would know God is with me. I feel the same anger toward terrorism as everyone else.
Civil government is allowed by God. Military might is allowed by God. Our allegiance as Christians is not to the civil government or its military, regardless of our "dual" citizenship.
I urge all of us, especially ministers and leaders, who advocate military service for Christians in America to reconsider and to think what it could mean to many of our kids. If the Taliban were at America's and my doorstep I'd have to make a decision on how to react to them. Then and only then would the issue be brought to me.
I'm looking forward to fighting in Christ's army to stop evil. Until then, man's army is just another satanic way to distract God's people with issues far greater than we can handle or even understand. Let's not make ourselves God's enemies or take upon ourselves things that are too great for us. We have a lot to learn about loving each other, let alone loving the people in the world.
Pagosa Springs, Colo.
Same old worship service
Regarding the comments regarding being a member of the military for those who classify themselves as COG members:
I served in the Philippines as a combat infantryman during World War II. Had I not been discharged 15 days before hostilities were declared, I would have participated in the Korean campaign.
I knew nothing about the WCG. I did not become a member till 1970, but I believed we should keep YHWH's commandments.
Since I understood that the Sixth forbids us to commit murder, I felt it was not against our Father's will to dispatch one's enemy in time of war. How else could one look on His own instructions to the Israelites regarding the Amalekites, as one contributor so wisely pointed out, or how could He tell the Israelites to destroy all human life? (Deuteronomy 20:16-17).
To believe that He states in one place that "killing" is a sin and in another that He instructs and gives His people the ability to kill seems to me to be casting Him in the light of being equivocal, to say the least.
As is shown in the Exegeses Parallel Bible, the correct wording for the Sixth Commandment, under the heading for Exodus 20:13, is "Thou shalt not murder." Based on this, "should one find themselves unable or unwilling, for what ever reason, to participate in armed combat let them say so honestly and not use an incorrect rendering of the inspired word as a scapegoat."
I also want to comment on the splintering of the ekklesia. (I do not use the word church because that word comes from the Greek deity Circe.)
In the November Journal alone I find one person who advocated the return of the brethren to the WCG while another who believes we should all follow Herbert Armstrong's son.
Has any thought been given to the idea that the cause for the splintering might be that the Creator is unhappy with the COG movement altogether? Please let me explain.
My background with the WCG goes back to 1963 when first I heard Mr. Armstrong speak via the radio. What he said, about keeping the Sabbath, among other things, so paralleled my own beliefs that I felt he was the one I had been waiting to hear most of my adult life.
My wife and I were baptized in 1970. I will always give credit to Mr. Armstrong for starting me on my journey in search of the truth, but in all honesty I must state that I feel he stopped along the way.
Today most of what you hear when attending most any of the "daughter" groups is but a recapitulation of what has been taught and preached since the establishment of the "mother."
Mr. Armstrong did bring much new understanding to many, but it was by far not all that the Father has for us to learn.
Most of the groups seem to be unable to get beyond the point that Mr. Armstrong stopped at. Maybe it is time they asked themselves if maybe there isn't more for them to learn.
There is a growing movement that might cast light on the path the Creator would have us take. In it you will find ex-COG members, those who have never heard of the WCG, ex-Catholics and Protestants and many of the Jewish faith who are coming to believe in Yeshua [Jesus].
Their main thing in common is a desire to return to the teachings and ways of worship that were the beginning of the Christian movement.
Anyone attending one of these gatherings for the first time will experience a different type of service. The stress is on following the pattern, as closely as possible, of the first-century ekklesia, who, as we will find, were primarily Jewish.
One should remember that the original worship services as observed by the Israelites were divinely inspired and were acknowledged as such by the writer or writers of the book of Hebrews and Romans (see Hebrews 9:1 and Romans 9:4).
We have to admit that the WCG type of service, which is still the COG standard, is lacking in inspiration, not to mention true worship. How many can honestly say they felt they were truly worshiping and honoring the Father and the Son? We have lauded ourselves through the years for keeping the holy days and the Sabbath. Maybe it is time we realize that much more is required of us.
The events of the last several months has led to much speculation as to what they portend for the future. If, as many believe, we are in the beginning of the last days, we might be wise to ask ourselves what is most important from the Father's viewpoint: to stay with a group or organization just because it is comfortable to do so or in the belief that it is the proper thing to do, or to try to find and follow the truth whatever the cost.
If enough believed it were the latter, it could turn out that their stating so could get those in charge to rethink their methods of conducting a worship service.
Jesse E. Kelley
A new prayer
America, holy is your name!
Let all those who do not worship you depart. Our commander in chief's decisions are divine. And will be enforced on all.
Daily America feeds us.
Our armed forces will destroy those who sin against us.
For we will not be tempted into believing we are evil. Hey, ours is the power and glory forever!
Via the Internet
Ever since the Garden of Eden, a voice has always said that God doesn't mean what He says or that the Word of God doesn't mean what it plainly says. One of the first instructions given in the New Testament as part of the need to embrace the gospel message was given to the soldiers in Luke 3:14: ". . . Do violence to no man . . ." Now, is that a harder or softer statement than thou shalt not murder?
My husband's and my reply is Stephen's reply to the people of his day in Acts 7:51: "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you."
Jeanne (and John) Ireland
The choice is yours
To the writer of the name-withheld letter in the Nov. 30, 2001, issue titled "Be Strong; Come Back to the WCG":
You addressed several persistent problems inside and outside of the Worldwide Church of God. As you know, we are free moral agents and accept the responsibilities for our decisions. Your dilemma is real. Since you attend the WCG and probably have for some time, you should be able to recall Herbert W. Armstrong's words when he challenged people on where to put their faith.
To paraphrase Mr. Armstrong: Look where the work is being done.
If you believe the WCG is doing the "work" by charging for The Plain Truth and preaching "heresy," as you call it, then you should stay with and support the WCG.
However, you apparently have looked around and seen the splinters from the WCG. Which of them carries on as major a work as its resources allow? Choose, then.
This is where faith comes into play. In any group you must be able to see Christ working within the organization and the people and that it is bearing fruit.
If you believe that God will redeem the WCG, you ignore the plethora of material on the Web and in print that documents without question the stranglehold the hierarchy has on the organization and its finances.
You also ignore the several years before the big breakaway and the intransigence of the WCG hierarchy and its attitudes toward those who choose to keep the Sabbath, holy days, food laws, etc.
As to your accusation that we who broke away abandoned you to form our own churches, I suggest you look at the work being done. The WCG continues to see its finances wither. Its congregations continue to abandon the Sabbath to worship on Sunday. They continue to abandon the Passover for weekly Eucharist and Communion.
Its congregations split between Sabbatarians and Sunday-keepers, with the Sabbatarians ending up with no pastor or hall to meet in.
It is the WCG who abandons the faith, and it was your choice to stay. We left to keep the faith, the doctrines and the practices we were taught, not to form our own churches but to continue the Church of God.
You do Jesus Christ and His ministry an injustice by belittling the choice of truth of those who left the WCG instead of supporting the apostates.
Yes, we are grounded in the truth, and we were not afraid to step out on faith and continue the "work" that Jesus Christ started through Herbert W. Armstrong.
Many of us are aware that there are WCG members who remain faithful to the doctrines and practices that are our common bond. I have friends who are so doing.
I haven't the temperament to sit through weekly doses of spiritual perversions and reversions to worldly churchianity, and how my friends do it I don't know. I do know that I am concerned about their playing with fire.
I do know, though, that one of these days you and they will be forced out by the hierarchy of the WCG. Then you will have a choice to make, which is the same choice you are procrastinating about.
Larry G. Hardison
Via the Internet
Here comes trouble
I thought the readers of The Journal might be interested in a book coming out in March. It has the potential of doing nothing less than destroying Darwinism.
No, it does not deal with creationism. It is A New Kind of Science, by Stephen Wolfram.
For years creationists have been having a field day blasting evolutionists. Using the laws of math, statistics and DNA, creationists have totally discredited evolutionists. Yet the high priests of evolutionism are entrenched in their ivory towers of academe.
Modern man must have a seemingly credible alternative to creationism lest he have to look at himself in something more than an amoral mirror. Thus he needs to replace Darwin and evolution with "A New Kind of Science."
As a creationist I must admit that this new kind of science has given me pause. It is powerful. Although it starts with rules, if you accept the lack of a supernatural rule giver it is a formidable alternative to the explanation of the origins of species--and rocks and planets, for that matter. It turns the math, statistics and DNA sequencing that have until now been used by creationists against us.
Mr. Wolfram is a genius. He will probably be equated with the likes of Einstein and Newton in generations to come. He and his ego are maneuvering for just such an eventuality. His new book is an incredible 992 pages full of expensive graphics. The book should sell for well over $100.
However, Mr. Wolfram is a multimillionaire who is subsidizing the cost of publication so the book can sell for $39.95.
It will create quite a stir. Be prepared. Looking at his work with objectivity can actually threaten to call one's faith into question. Perhaps all we are to have in the end is faith. All but the very elect may be deceived.
Through much confusion and soul-searching, I have begun, with God's mercy and charity, to renew my faith. In the end that which has not killed it has made it stronger. For example, I consider a paper by Raymond Kurzweil a godsend, though I doubt he ever intended it as such.
One can, I suppose, deal with this new challenge to the intellectual underpinnings of creationism by ignoring it. But by sticking our heads in the sand we become no better than the evolutionists. Is the veracity of creationism, and thus the Creator, not stronger than this new kind of science?
W. Robin Wansley
They're both right
In the Nov. 30, 2001, issue of The Journal, Bryn Hendrickson of Brooklyn Center, Minn., answers Gary Riley's letter from the Aug. 31, 2001, issue.
Who is God's anointed? Bryn says Jesus. Gary says Herbert W. Armstrong. Can both be right?
I say yes. I believe my Bible supports my belief that all who have been baptized into Christ, anyone who has God's Spirit, belongs to God and is thereby anointed by God and therefore is God's anointed. We don't have the same anointing that Jesus has, nonetheless we are anointed.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:21 that God has anointed us.
The writer of Hebrews says Jesus is anointed above His fellows (Hebrews 1:9).
I believe Christians are God's anointed, but we are anointed to different purposes and duties.
I am amazed at how people can see an issue one way or the other, left or right, high or low, but seldom straight on. Jesus said we are ordained (yes, all Christians are ordained) to bring forth fruit in John 15:16.
I appeal to all who are anointed by God and ordained by Christ to take Paul's advice and serve one another instead of biting and consuming one another. Jesus said to His disciples in Mat 9:37: "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few."
Lets go to work for Christ!
Bro. Lee Davis
Via the Internet
It's different now
As you may recall, on Jan. 16, 1986, Herbert W. Armstrong died. In another three years a "19-year time cycle" will have elapsed. Had he lived he would be 109. Much has changed.
Big Sandy, Texas
Now, what part did Mr. Armstrong miss?
Regarding "Now, What Part Don't You Understand?" by Patrick Banks Sr. in the Dec. 31, 2001, issue: Mr. Banks says beware of the times you are living in; Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah; and Mr. Armstrong took the gospel to the world. Mr. Banks asked: What part of the world did Mr. Armstrong miss?
My response: Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah, and he did take the gospel to the world in general. However, there is one part of the world that he did miss: Eastern Europe.
What God starts
Regarding "GTA Comments on 'Breath of Life,' Abortions," Nov. 30, 2001:
If God can cause flesh, muscle and skin to come onto all the dead bones in the great-white-throne judgment and breathe into them and start their hearts again, you can bet He can do the same for those small bones that He started and that Satan cut off through abortion.
Please don't try to limit God. What He started He can finish.
Please add this to the many responders addressing the article stating Garner Ted Armstrong's opinion on when God gives life ["GTA Comments on 'Breath of Life,' Abortions," Nov. 30, 2001].
As in the past, we find the scripture "By their fruits you know them" was ignored again.
Being a couple who has experienced the sorrow of a miscarriage, we also wondered over the years how God would "find a womb" in the Millennium for a 3-month-old fetus. Isn't it, however, amazing how we can limit the Almighty?
What a miracle that Mary and Elizabeth decided not to abort their babies because, according to Ted's reasoning, they were never carrying a living individual organism in their wombs in the first place.
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be able to stand up and be counted.
Jim and Dona Noler
Mount Orab, Ohio
Leaping for joy
In the Nov. 30 issue, Garner Ted Armstrong said an infant doesn't receive a "spirit in man" from God until it takes its first breath. Hence, by that reasoning, stillborn, miscarried or aborted babies will not be resurrected.
Leviticus 17:11 tells us the life of a creature is in the blood. A fetus has the breath of life in its blood while in its mother's womb. The mother is breathing for it.
Adam was unique. He had no umbilical cord, no mother breathing for him, no life in his blood until God gave a breath to what He formed out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).
God knew and sanctified Jeremiah before He formed him in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He knew Jeremiah's spirit.
Elizabeth said her baby leaped for joy in her womb at the sound of Mary's voice (Luke 1:44). Who knows the thoughts of a human except for the human spirit within him? (1 Corinthians 2:11). An unborn baby can learn in the womb two months after conception. It could not learn if it did not have a human spirit.
While in Mary's womb, did Jesus not have a spirit?
As taught by Herbert W. Armstrong, life begins at conception.
Robert J. Romagnoli, Ph.D.
Emeritus professor of physics at California State at Northridge
It all adds up
Leviticus 27:31 and all of chapter 27 are proof that God has never commanded tithing of monetary income. You must pay 12 percent in money of the value of your increase if you want to buy back the tithe, not 10 percent.
A 12th is not a 10th. Therefore by law you cannot pay tithes in money, only 12ths.
My second bombshell in this short letter: Observance of the seven annual feasts of God brings forth sin. How can that be? The adherents of the false doctrine of the seven feasts count them by separating the Nisan 14 Passover from the Nisan 15-21 Days of Unleavened Bread.
But this separation absolutely contradicts the Scriptures, which teach three annual feasts, not seven.
There is more money in seven annual holy-day offerings than just three.
The KJV is probably the most miserable translation ever of the Bible. The NASB is a far better translation, referring to appointed times of God, which are both sabbaths and feasts. There is a distinct difference between a sabbath and a feast.
Come back to the KJV
What has happened to our loved and trusted King James Bible? It has become like a lost treasure. Most everywhere one goes these days, all are on the bandwagon supporting the New Age Bible versions.
Many books are available that expose and warn about the serpent's scribes behind the new Bible versions. Two men in the 1800s, B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort, took it upon themselves to change it. So they wrote their own revised Greek text using the corrupt copies of the Alexandrian manuscripts, which do not agree with each other, the Vaticanos and the Siniaticus.
The committee that gave us the KJV in 1611 had those manuscripts but refused to use them, knowing they rely heavily on those corrupt manuscripts. The few mistakes in the KJV are minor compared to the thousands of deceptive, changed, twisted, omitted verses and chapters in the new versions.
Pauline Y. Dobbs
Funny little airplanes
If you had the job of building an airplane, you would be careful to follow detailed instructions because someone could get killed or never get to his destination.
But, for most other mundane jobs we have to do, not having to consider life-or-death requirements, we can wing it a little. This is what happens to us when we let too much slide by because we do not see the danger.
The Bible is our life-and-death instruction manual. It deals with our spiritual eternal lives so we can fly.
But, if all of the differing Christian denominations, groups or cults were to put together a simple model airplane of biblical knowledge based on personal opinions and interpretations with the idea that we can agree to disagree, we would see this airplane with the wings on backwards and another with the tail where the nose belongs, etc., etc.
Then this airplane of biblical knowledge would be dangerous, leading many astray.
This is happening because so many refuse to read the instructions the way they are written.
Hence we will be a lot of funny little airplanes that cannot fly.
The Father's inspired instructions are that we enter into eternal life so we can fly (2 Peter 1:19).
Via the Internet
New Testament tithing
What is the scriptural evidence for New Testament tithing? One aspect, probably the most astonishing, is what is not in the Scriptures.
Did the Jews, Pharisees, priests and scribes accuse Paul and the other apostles of taking tithes and teaching statutes or judgments about tithing contrary to the Scriptures?
If they had been teaching this, they would have been able to level a greater accusation than that about circumcision and other such things that Paul and the other apostles were doing.
They (the Jews, Pharisees, priests and scribes) wanted to get Paul so desperately that they even brought false charges against him.
Paul's accusers would no doubt have brought him before the Sanhedrin if he were teaching that the tithes should go to the apostles. Only the Levites could accept the tithes. The Levites then had to give a 10th of the tithes they received to the priests.
The apostles couldn't receive tithes because they were not Levites serving at the temple. Most were Jewish. Jesus Himself was Jewish and couldn't accept tithes or He would have sinned.
Some use 1 Corinthians 9:7-14 to claim that Paul had the right to take tithes. That is not what Paul was talking about.
In Matthew 10:8-9 Christ told the apostles what to do and how they would be provided for.
Essentially, Christ told them to take only the clothes on their backs.
The people they were to go to would provide whatever they needed.
Did this take faith? Paul had the right to be provided for, because he was their minister. But, as Paul stated in other scriptures, he coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. He worked night and day so he would not be a burden to anyone (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
Other scriptures state that he did not eat anyone's bread free of charge; he worked with his own hands to provide for himself and even for those who were with him.
The people of God are a generous, giving people. Would they be happy to give and provide for the true ministers who were teaching the true words of Christ?
Surly God would put it into the minds of the brethren to do this.
My wife and I have been members of the Body of Christ for more than 30 years: 25 years in the WCG, two in United and four in Christian Biblical. Now we stay home and read and study our Bible.
By doing this we are sure we will not hear false doctrine. We may not have the complete understanding that we would like to have, but at least it is not what a man is teaching. It is what we are in the process of learning on our own.
Much of what we have learned is available from the Internet. Ambassador Report is on the Net in its entirety. There are many documents there on tithing that were presented to the WCG's doctrinal committee in the '70s.
It was refused then, as it will no doubt be refused now.
God warned us. He says put your trust not in man. But we trusted man over and over again.
God also says there is none righteous, no, not one. But we think that, just because a man has a Bible and he can teach some things from it, he must be righteous. We should know by now this may not be true.
Gene and Shirley Brown
Knowing from experience
I have just read Janet Treadway's article "Here Are 12 Things Cancer Cannot Do" [Nov. 30, 2001].
I would like to say amen to what she has said. Unfortunately I am all too familiar with the disease. It has consecutively deprived me of my mother, stepmother and father and has tried to take my wife for the last eight years. I also have done, and am still doing, "virtual bedside" over the Internet and telephone with those battling this scourge.
I especially appreciate Mrs. Treadway's point about staying close to God and letting your feelings be known to Him. Rita and I have truly appreciated the prayers and support of our brothers and sisters in God's church as well as the support from our immediate family and our friends at work. This truly does make a difference.
Janet's approach to this challenge was well presented.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God