Letters from our readers
Passover No. 1
We read with immense interest the article on pages 6 and 7 of issue No. 66 ["Early Days at Big Sandy Were a Window on Radio Church of God," The Journal, June 30].
Your call-out box on page 6 shows no one conceived of the power of the "tithe."
Also, your last paragraph leaves me unable to square up HWA [Herbert W. Armstrong] getting baptized in the 1920s (after 1926), starting The Plain Truth in February 1934 and a lapse of time of 17 years until 1951.
Maybe you got the wording misstated, but surely the original Radio Church of God Passover service was before, way before, 1951.
The first Passover spoken of in John Warren's history of the Radio/Worldwide Church of God in East Texas is the first Passover of the church in East Texas, not Mr. Armstrong's first Passover or the first Passover in the Radio Church of God.
I have been reading a friend's Journal and been pleased with the articles, controversies and information therein.
However, the July 2002 issue I have nicknamed the "squirrel" issue because it's full of nuts.
I've become accustomed to the ranting of Dean Neal, but this month there seemed to be a lot of nuts falling from the crazy tree.
The first article [a paid advertisement] that I saw while perusing the paper was by Jan Aaron Young, "Why God Is Against Makeup." I couldn't believe that anyone could write three full pages about such a mundane, nonentity subject.
The next article [another advertisement] I read was "U.S. Pantheons," also by Mr. Young.
Once again the author combines coincidence, superstition and prejudice to come to his conclusions. He takes the observed beyond the absurd. He reads "Satan" into everything he sees!
He needs to stop his witch-hunts and look around at the people of this country and realize they're good people. Yes, they may not understand all the truth of God that some of us do, but they are not evil, nor do they worship evil.
In defense of the July Journal, David Antion, James McBride, Brian Knowles, Dave Havir and Eric Snow did well in their articles. They were clear, precise and informative, as well as pertinent to life. I may be speaking for myself only, but these are the types of articles I enjoy.
Controversy is good and necessary, and some of the articles that have appeared in The Journal have been very good. However, it seems there is the fringe element that is bound and determined to strain gnats and swallow camels.
What do lesbians wear?
Mostly I disagree with Mr. Young regarding makeup and high heels [see Jan Aaron Young's advertisements in Connections in the July 30 and Aug. 30 issues of The Journal].
However, I have to give him two things.
First, he is obviously passionate about his subject to spend so much time researching it and then to pay for so much space in The Journal.
Second, he must be right about makeup and high heels being used to attract men because lesbians generally wear flats and no makeup.
Sift and sort
I am responding to Jeff Maehr's letter in the Aug. 30 issue ["Wake Up," page 4].
Jeff, I do not believe in "drifting toward false religion," period. False religion is never "good enough." It's false and should be avoided at all costs.
"Traditional Christianity" is not a euphemism for "false religion." I realize that many in the C of G Pod feel that it is, but when you get down to cases you may find otherwise.
Many of the doctrines that were "delivered" to us were not, in my opinion, sound.
Many were false, based upon flawed exegesis, sometimes faulty interpretations of history and selective proof-texting.
A doctrine is not sound because a group of people believes it to be sound. It is sound only if it can be demonstrated to be so.
Let's get something straight: I do not believe in compromising with the truth under any circumstances. I believe in following it wherever it leads.
In some cases, that's away from Armstrongian doctrines. In other cases, it's away from Protestant, Catholic or cultic doctrines.
On the other hand, Mr. Armstrong, the Catholics and the Protestants all got some things right as well. It's a matter of sifting and sorting, not of accepting the whole megillah.
After more than 40 years of searching, I cannot name a single denomination or congregation that I believe teaches "the whole counsel of God." There is no doctrinally perfect denomination or congregation.
No pastor, or even scholar, has a complete or comprehensive understanding of the totality of Scripture.
We all "know in part." We see in a murky mirror. It is only after the Lord returns that we will see clearly.
Today one must prove things doctrine by doctrine. There is no perfect package deal when it comes to doctrine. Each piece must be critically scrutinized on its own merits.
When it comes to doctrine (teaching), I will not assert what I cannot prove. In the pages of Pod literature, I see many asserted but not proved doctrines.
The Churches of God need to experience a sea change in their exegetical methodology. That, combined with prayer and open-mindedness, would lead to a far greater apprehension of what truth is and is not.
What a difference an astronomical event makes
Wow, Theda Horton, you are so right on! ["We Have Only One Way to Determine Our Appointments With God," The Journal, July 30].
I'd like to add for your consideration: What is a day? Twenty-four hours? No! It's from sundown to sundown. What difference does it make if it's 20 hours or 30 hours long?
What is a month? Twenty-nine or 30 days? No! It's from one new moon to the next. What difference does it make if it's 27 days or 37 days long?
What is a year? Twelve or 13 months? No! It's from one vernal equinox to the next. What difference does it make if it's 10 or 20 months long?
Calendar paradigms not biblical
Much has been written in The Journal about calendar issues and when to keep the holy days. It is obviously a subject that can be and has been made complex and has thereby become divisive.
This letter is not to be for or against any of the advocated methods of determining when to keep the holy days. Rather, the purpose is to point out that there are paradigms used by many that are simply not biblical.
To be sure, if I would tell an evangelical theologian that Christmas, Easter and the Trinity are not biblical, he would confront me with scriptural evidence to the contrary.
In the same way, what I have to say about certain calendar paradigms can also be countered by scriptures that (seem to) support one or all of these points. Four paradigms are used in the calendar issue that are not biblical (at least not according to my reading of the Bible):
â¢ "The calendar in the Bible": A calendar, whether Hebrew, Gregorian or Chinese, is a chart or table that divides a year into days, weeks and months and hangs on the wall in everyone's home. There is no such table or calendar in the Bible.
â¢ "The sacred calendar": It is the Hebrew calendar that is referred to as the sacred calendar. However, for something to be sacred means to be consecrated to deity, to be holy and regarded with respect and reverence. The Hebrew calendar is none of these. It is the calendar made by the Hebrews, just like the Chinese calendar is made by the Chinese and the Gregorian calendar is made by the Romans.
Just because the Hebrew calendar was made based on certain biblical principles does not make it sacred or holy. The only sacred item that exists and that we have is the written Word of God, the Holy Bible.
â¢ "The postponements": Postponing a holy day for whatever reason, as is done in the Hebrew calendar, was devised by men for men. Postponements are not part of biblical record.
â¢ "The crescent moon": There is no crescent moon in the Bible. Biblical references are only to new moons, and new moons are just as full as full moons.
A new moon is the equivalent to 12 o'clock noon.
A crescent moon is the equivalent of sometime till or sometime after 12 noon.
If God had wanted us to determine the beginning of the month by a crescent moon, He would have said so. Tradition, no matter how old and how ingrained, does not override the Word of God.
Are there specific and correct days on which the year begins and the holy days of God are to be kept?
No doubt there are.
However, considering the personal and collective major problems that exist in the Church of God, the issue of what day on a calendar to keep the holy days has to be one of the minor problems that God will correct in His own way and time. That we keep, and how we keep, the fall holy days will be infinitely more important than on what day we keep them.
I trust all of my brethren had a blessed and inspiring holy-day season.
Women, prophecy and Junia
I appreciate the balance Linda White brings to a topic and appreciate her contribution to the topic of women's roles in the church (see "Can We Understand NT Women Apart From First-Century Culture?" in the Aug. 30 issue of The Journal).
Regarding the nature of "prophecy" Paul had in mind in 1 Corinthians, I really agree with Linda that the many boring concordance sermons and the use of rhetoric learned at a Bible college is not such prophecy.
At the same time, Paul's idea of prophecy is in no way limited to the foretelling of events. To the contrary, Paul says that prophecy is for "edification, exhortation and comfort," that it is for the hearer's "learning" and that it is to be "examined" and the good retained (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Prophecy is inspired by God. The way or ways in which that inspiration must reach the prophet's cognizance is not a question the Bible answers.
From the context of Paul's writings, we see that prophecy was a commonly exercised gift. It was neither a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence nor something only a rare handful were to experience. All were encouraged by Paul to prophesy so that the congregation would be edified. Women were not restricted from prophesying.
Regarding Junia, Linda wrote that "the Catholic fathers were evenly divided on whether Junias was a woman or a man."
I would differ here. As Peter Lampe in the Anchor Bible Dictionary writes: "Without exception, the Church Fathers in late antiquity identified Andronicus' partner in Rom. 16:7 as a woman .Â .Â . Only later medieval copyists of Rom. 16:7 could not imagine a woman being an apostle and wrote the masculine name 'Junias.'Â "
Eldon Epp notes: ".Â .Â . Early church writers were unanimous in claiming 'Junia' (or likewise feminine 'Julia') for Rom. 16:7."
A question not related to the sex of Junia is what relationship she had with the apostles: Was she one of them or merely esteemed by them?
Chrysostom, who wrote around A.D. 340, is significant to this aspect of the Junia question. Chrysostom understood the Greek en tois apostoloi to mean that Junia was "one of" the apostoloi--the Greek word often translated "apostles."
It must be noted that apostoloi refers simply to "messengers," as we see in the example of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25. The word does not denote an important or special role of the messenger; it simply indicates "one who is sent with a message" (e.g., John 13:16, "he that is sent"). The 12 were sent with a special mission.
The significance of Chrysostom's comment is that it reveals how a Greek speaker of that time would have understood the Greek preposition en. James Denny notes this importance in The Expositor's Greek Testament's "Romans" commentary:
"The phrase episÃªmoi en tois apostoloi .Â .Â . might mean well known to the apostolic circle, or distinguished as Apostles. The latter sense is that in which it is taken by 'all patristic commentators' (Sanday and Headlam), whose instinct for what words meant in a case of this kind must have been surer than that of a modern reader."
Most modern scholars--such as Barrett, Cranfield, Epp, Fitzmyer, Lampe, Lietzmann, Michel, Rengstorf, Schlier, Schnackenburg, and the BAGD lexicon--also understand en tois apostoloi to mean that Junia is "outstanding among the apostles."
New Testament scholar Douglas Moo explains that the Greek would "more naturally" be translated to show that Junia was one of the apostoloi: "With a plural object, en often means 'among'; and, if Paul had wanted to say that Andronicus and Junia were esteemed 'by' the apostles, we would have expected him to use a simple dative or [h]upo with the genitive. The word episÃªmoi ('splendid,' 'prominent,' outstanding' . . .) also favors this rendering."
Two years ago, and again a few months ago, I wrote in The Journal that the Greek text more naturally reads that Junia was one of the apostoloi. Yet I felt that the woman Junia was not "one of" the apostoloi because we don't find the words and deeds of Junia and Andronicus recorded in the New Testament, as we would expect to find of "famous" apostles.
However, understanding the meaning of the word apostoloi ("messenger") explains how Junia could be a famous or noted apostoloi without having her deeds or words recorded. She was of note among certain apostoloi such as Epaphroditus but did not have the same kind of special role as the 12 or Paul.
For a most thorough recent survey of the Junia question, see E.J. Epp's 65-page article "Text-Critical, Exegetical, and Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Junia/Junias Variation in Romans 16,7" in New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis, edited by A. Denaux, 2002, pp. 227-91.
Your life's masterpiece
In memory of Gerald D. Waterhouse (deceased Sept. 4, 2002), written by the first person Mr. Waterhouse employed in the Johannesburg office of the Radio Church of God, April 18, 1963:
Your priceless painting hangs in God's Temple eternally,
More costly than a Van Gogh, Turner, or Picasso,
So much more exquisite than diamonds or gold filigree:
Your life's masterpiece, "The Wonderful World Tomorrow."
At its center stands the King of kings, and Lord of lords,
Jesus Christ gloriously reigning Earth from Zion,
Lion of Judah--holding the Father's Word and Sword,
With the immortal saints--He rules with a rod of iron.
There's Christ's advisers, Abraham, Israel and Isaac;
There's Elijah over Education, Moses heads Law;
All nations worldwide have been healed of ev'ryone sick;
There's no more disease, no famine, pollution, no more war.
There's King David and the Apostles ruling Israel;
There's Daniel and Paul governing over all others;
Mothers, there's Job building Jerusalem to perfect scale;
At last, all the nations are peaceful, loving brothers.
There's Joseph directing the world's healthy economy;
For ev'ry problem, Christ provides the perfect solution.
There's global Restitution--there's resurrected you and me,
The whole Earth worshiping God with heartfelt adoration.
You painted with the intensity of Jeremiah,
Your brush strokes bristled with Ezekiel's warning,
But the adorning colors of the vision of Isaiah
Were the prominent hues of your Millennium's dawning.
You were the Kingdom of God's Ambassador worldwide.
You were the envoy of God's faithful end-time Apostle.
A loss to all, the Government of God you solidified;
Your contribution to the Church of God was colossal.
Some months ago an article ran in the United Church of God newspaper about a UCG elder who was a superintendent in the California public schools. This short clip gushed about what a great job this man had done over the years for the big government school system.
In California schools today, all children from kindergarten through seniors, by law, must be taught to "appreciate" all sexual orientations.
Public-school teachers must pick out children with the potential to be intolerant of homosexuality and separate them for mental retraining.
Any school sports teams that object to having homosexuals in the locker rooms can be barred from participating in interscholastic sports competition.
That raises an interesting question. How will this UCG elder go about teaching his students to tolerate sodomy? What will he do with the students who are selected for mandatory homosexual retraining? How will he handle the complaints of young male athletes who don't want to undress in front of their fellow athletes who are homosexuals?
All Christian teachers and parents who support the public schools face the same dilemma, whether in California or Kansas. As goes California, so goes the nation.
Really, there are only two types of schools: Satan's schools, which try to keep Christ out, and Christian schools, which try to keep Satan out. Which do you support?
Maybe the Bible is the witness
Though I agree with much of Shirley Conley's letter in the March 25 issue ["Preaching to a Dictatorship," page 4], it is difficult to understand how she can declare that Herbert W. Armstrong completed the witness to the world or, for that matter, that any man could do so.
Even if he did do it, which I don't believe, a whole generation has been born and come of age since his death in January 1986.
I asked a local elder his thoughts on this subject, using this question: Do you think the witness has even been given to America? His reply was that he wondered if it had even been given to the church as yet.
He may have a valid point.
On the other hand, since it is written in Mark that it will be published (Mark 13:10, KJV), is it not possible that the Bible itself is the witness?
More Bibles have been printed and distributed around the world than any other book, and we of the WCG did not do it, at least not much of it.
The gospel message is in it; the words of Jesus Christ are in it; the promise of the Kingdom is in it. And it is God's Word, not the word of man.
In the long run it does not matter whether Shirley Conley or anyone else is right or wrong. It is God who is right. All things will be done His way. It is only for us to believe Him, as did Abram, and wait upon the Lord.
Christ said, "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! . . . Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
These words come from verses many of us have heard in sermons to show that we ought to be out there doing a work.
Yet, almost notably, suggestions and enthusiasm are often lackluster in suggesting what we can be doing to carry out this admonition by Christ.
My wife, Cathy, and I have been "in the church," as we say, for 12 years. Since Pentecost of 1999, when we were thrust out of a small congregation in Downers Grove that my wife and I pioneered, we are now totally independent (although we can appreciate being interdependent, as Dave Havir pointed out in a recent article), and we see things in a different light.
For one, the scripture I mentioned makes me wonder as I see roomfuls of knowledge being sat on every Sabbath as to how all these people can be there. Why are they not out there doing? (I understand the concept of meeting, but I hope you get my point.)
Nearly from the beginning we wanted to do something and immediately got involved in whatever we could. We realized early that this is scriptural, that the church is supposed to be a vehicle to produce laborers, not a self-feeding entity that tries to hold down others from doing a work that continues to this day.
There are plenty of articles arguing about tithes, calendars and everything in between that appear in papers like The Journal. I cannot imagine Christ returning to those who argue such points of whether Christ is a racist, calendars, divorce and remarriage, makeup, etc.
My wife and I operate a Web site (www.cornerstone1.org) that many of you do not know about because it is not geared toward the church.
We do not charge for anything. We spend much time and effort and money, yet, as I write this letter, I am angry that our work is dying and continually has to be cut back for lack of funds.
I have been thinking about writing an open letter for a while, and feel I must write what I write.
Our three and one-half years of work has produced only about $200 from the outside and usually resistance from those inside the church.
We have heard comments such as: Why do you put so much effort into it? We have met unbelievable resistance from members of organized groups.
So much money is wasted on ministerial salaries while my wife (who does our mailings while contending with severe crippling rheumatoid arthritis and complications) and I cannot afford a stamp to mail one additional piece of literature.
I have said what I felt needs to be said and fully expect flaming arrows in response to what I have told you.
Visit your health-food provider
People who write to request prayers for their health problems could ask health-food stores what their customers use for the same health problems that the people requesting the prayers have.
Maybe the health-food stores have some products that would help the people requesting prayers for their health problems.
Jesus Christ said sick people should go to a physician. Maybe a naturopathic physician could help.
Ten commandments for wives
The 10 basic laws of God can also be applied to marriage. Remember that a wife is to obey her husband in everything (that is lawful), even as to Christ Himself (Ephesians 5:22-24).
Now, apply these laws to marriage:
1. Have no other "head" than your husband.
2. Put no other man (or woman) ahead of your husband, either physically or in thought.
3. Do not frivolously make jest, as if it is of no value, of your husband's name.
4. Keep the Sabbath, reviewing and knowing your husband's headship over you and your responsibility.
5. Honor and respect your husband's parents.
6. Don't murder (hate) your husband by disobeying him, deserting him or divorcing him.
7. Don't commit adultery against him.
8. Don't steal from him (breaking up his family).
9. Don't lie to him.
10. Don't covet other men, nor others' possessions.
Pride goeth before a fan
Your publication well demonstrates the babble of confusion that has befallen the Church of God. So much quibbling! So much pride! It's exactly what Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 1:10-14.
Yes, Satan has done his work well. I believe the book of Revelation refers to our time as the Laodicean era. But pride will run its course until things hit the fan, you know.
Thank you so much for sending my renewal. I sure do enjoy reading through the paper. So many interesting, good articles in The Journal, always something new to read about and learn.
Card of thanks
I enjoy receiving your newspaper very much. The Journal is going places!
I've received encouragement and blessings because of your publication beyond measure.
May God bless us all--every one!
The August 2002 issue of The Journal includes many photos and several other graphics, besides the Connections advertising section. Don't forget to subscribe to the print version of The Journal to read all the news and features previewed here.
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