Letters from our readersWhen the going gets rough, get out This is in reply to the main article in the Sept. 30 issue, "Attendees, Church Official Report on Grand Junction." I am a former member of the Worldwide Church of God. I chose to leave that organization in the early 1990s. I left because my beliefs did not match ideas being passed down from headquarters. Why do I read of a group of people staying in the WCG with totally opposite ideas? I feel these people should leave, and, if any are causing any trouble or discord, the church has every right to disfellowship them. I feel the WCG had every right to choose the speakers at its Feast site who speak their current beliefs. You seem to zero in on the "shouting matches," yet you mention there were 25 other people butting in. How else could one be heard but to raise one's voice? Gene Forester asked, ". . . Why [do] you accept something you can't explain?" The Bible indicates we see through a glass only darkly now, so we can't really explain the whole plan of God. Does that mean we can't accept it or talk about it? I've been away from the WCG 10-plus years, yet I'm free to go and come to any conference it has, and I visit many local congregations. I always find a big welcome. In Kentucky this year I talked several times with Gerald Schnarrenberger and even had dinner with him in Dallas later in the year. He never "shouted" at me. Let's remember when we visit an organized church that we have no right to sow discord. If we disagree, let's separate ourselves and let God have the vengeance.
Pastor Clyde Thompson
Grand Prairie, TexasA kind of bondage These sure are exciting times among the Churches of God! I want to add my voice to those congratulating The Journal on its part in contributing to the growth we must go through to learn how to relate to each other as Christians. I have lived through the years of our system of bondage under the faith of one man. Don't get me wrong. I am not condemning that or what good it did in our lives. It did much good in many ways by teaching us the truth about much of God's plan and the value of all His laws in our lives. However, for us to mature as free moral agents reflecting the very nature of God, we must learn to relate to Him in a relationship of total freedom. One of the profound proofs of what God is doing with His people is found in Paul's letter to the Romans: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world can be clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." When the early church began, the people of God went through the same transition we face. Much of this is discussed in detail in Paul's letter to the Galatians. God's people had for centuries related to Him through a system of bondage through mediators: Moses, the priesthood, etc. In Galatians 3 Paul refers to this relationship as God dealing with His people as little children under a schoolmaster. This is much as our bondage (not a bad word) under the law of our parents until it is time for us to mature into adults and take charge and responsibility for our own lives. When that time comes, our parents must learn to take a completely different role in our lives or they become a harmful factor in our growth. This is not rocket science. In Galatians 1 Paul firmly establishes that his relationship with God is directly to Christ and not through men. Then in chapter 2 he states that he had something he needed to teach the folks in Jerusalem. When he went up there, he first talked to those who seemed to be of reputation lest the efforts he had gone to would be in vain. He paid deference to the system the local church had in place to be able to get his message across, apparently because he knew if he didn't his efforts might have been frustrated by them. Then he related how false brethren came in to spy out the liberty he had in his personal relationship with God and place him under their control, or in bondage. Circumcision is mentioned in the context, because it was the first thing checked to measure one's relationship with God by the tradition of the law in the Old Covenant. But Paul's objection is to their attempting to put him under their control. He tolerated it "not for the space of an hour so that the truth of the gospel might continue." This indicates that the spiritual maturity we must develop as Christians cannot be had in bondage. After saying much about this subject, Paul tells them to "stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherein you were called and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). It is important to note that many years after this confrontation Paul wrote a letter to these very people. It is the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 5 he goes into detail explaining about the concept of relating to Christ directly as high priest "after the order of Melchizedek," as Abraham related to Him directly. It is amazing that these people in Jerusalem who had been among the original converts some 30 years earlier didn't understand this! Today I hear people say that some just need to have someone dictating their faith and actions. Well, no wonder. When they have been taught that way as truth for decades, they become as immature as those folks in Jerusalem. Sadly, some in the church still don't understand these simple, yet obvious, principles. They are on the fast track to reestablishing it in some form for various reasons. They have no excuse. Acts 15 states that many are called to Christ from many cultures, customs and states of mind. Ours is a long, continuous process of growth. Christ tells us that He gives to each differently, apparently in knowledge, ability and His Spirit. He alone judges the progress or condition of each. We are never to use what we know to categorize another in God's eyes, only to treat them as Christ would. Romans 2 explains this in detail. Now that we have found freedom, the challenge is to learn to grow together in God's love with respect to His laws. But we must understand that each is at a different place in his relationship with God. There is much to argue about if that is what we want to do, but isn't that one of the "works of the flesh," bringing variance, strife and divisions? Christ promised us there would be many differences in the state, knowledge and conditions of Christians, but never a spirit of division that causes us to try to cram what we think down each other's throat. We must learn what Paul meant by relating to each other from "faith to faith" (Romans 1:17) if we are to mature as Christian brothers. I salute The Journal and the fine people who produce it in their efforts to take part in this. It is a place where all may speak, from those who are still as little children to those who are truly fine teachers--and even those who are not "apt to teach" may still have a voice. I read some things that make me shudder at times, but I still read them because there is hardly an article that doesn't contain something, no matter how small, that I can learn from. I truly think that it will still be a long time before we can look back and see what a blessing this paper was. I know that some may not like it because they think those who don't agree with them shouldn't speak. Some are also trying to implement misguided policies in their congregations. That is truly a shame. Keep up the good work, and never be discouraged.
Texarkana, TexasNot really Lucifer Thanks for publishing my letter ["Sift and Sort"] in the Sept. 30 Journal. Good response to Gerald Flurry's flurry [see "PCG Booklet Writer Can't Find 'Satan' in The Journal," Sept. 30 issue]. I have written several articles about Satan for Ken Westby's Web site [www.godward.org]. One of them shows that "Lucifer" in the Bible is not Satan, nor is he actually "Lucifer"! But Satan is real, and he does real things to us. One article is called "The Three Faces of Satan" (or the devil, I forget which). It shows the three roles the adversary plays in the world: tempting, accusing, destroying--in that order. A generally excellent book on Satan is God at War, by Gregory A. Boyd. It has a few errors in it, but overall it seems to be on target. It shows that God and Satan are at war with each other, and that God's people take casualties. It offers a new insight into why there's so much evil in the world. I also appreciated David Roe's well-thought-out letter to the editor about women apostles, etc. ["Women, Prophecy and Junia," Sept. 30, page 2]. At least he drew on good sources like Douglas Moo.
Monrovia, Calif.Double dating Regarding "One Calendar Solution Is so Simple, Why Didn't We Think of It?" [Aug. 30 issue]: Applying Mary Moon's (as far as I can judge, consistent but completely arbitrary) calendar rules, I wish to point out the fact that for a church member in Honolulu the Feast of Trumpets should have been kept from the evening of Oct. 5 to the evening of Oct. 6, and, for a member in Wellington, New Zealand, the feast should be kept from the evening of Oct. 6 to the evening of Oct. 7. But only one date, Oct. 7, was given. If local time is to be used, which may be the case, all feast days should occur on two Gregorian-calendar dates. For instance, when the events of 9-11 were happening in America, it was during 9-12 in New Zealand. However, this year the people of New Zealand finished commemorating the anniversary of 9-11 before Americans had even begun to do so.
Gloucester, England.Did Thomas swear? I have heard from those who teach the "unitarian one-God doctrine" that the inspired words of the disciple Thomas--"The Lord is my God" (John 20:28)--are a surprised reflex action on seeing the risen Jesus Christ. Other teachers of this doctrine just ignore this part of the inspired text of God's Holy Word. I submit for your prayerful consideration and proving that the words of the disciple Thomas, "The Lord is my God," are fulfilled prophecy. Zechariah 11:12 prophesied, "And I said unto them, if ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver." This prophecy was fulfilled when Judas for 30 pieces of silver betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:15). In Zechariah 11:13 was prophesied, "And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord." This prophecy was fulfilled when the money given to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus was cast into the temple, then used to buy a potter's field (Matthew 27:3-9). In Zechariah 12:10 it was prophesied, ". . . And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophesy by being a firstborn Son who was pierced (Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 2:12; John 19:34). In Zechariah 13:7 it is prophesied, "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." This was fulfilled at the time of the arrest of Jesus when every disciple forsook Him (Matthew 26:31, 54-56; Mark 14:27, 48-50). Again in Zechariah 13:6 it was prophesied: "And one shall say unto him, what are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus showed Thomas His hands (John 20:24-27). In Zechariah 14 we have the prophecies about the day of the Lord, but in the concluding verse in Zechariah 13 it is prophesied, ". . . And they shall say, The Lord is my God." This prophesy was fulfilled by the apostle Thomas in John 20:27. "Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." It is my belief the words of Thomas are nothing less than God faithfully fulfilling what He had prophesied long before by the hand of His servant in Zechariah. Try reading Zechariah 11-14 and the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last days before His death. Consider also that the explanation that the words of Thomas were a mere reflex reduces them to the level of modern-day swearing. This would also mean that Thomas broke the Third and First Commandments of God, something I think the risen Jesus Christ would have called him on. Consider also that Jesus at times affirmed or questioned how people addressed Him. For example, to His disciples He said, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am" (John 13:13). "Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, what seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?" (John 1:37; see also verse 49). Pilate asked if Jesus were a king, and Jesus said, "You say rightly." The Jews asked if He were the Son of God, to which He responded: Yes. Yet, when someone called Him good, Jesus corrected him. Jesus also questioned them when they called Him Lord, yet did not obey Him. In Act 12:21, when men glorified Herod as God and Herod did not stop them, he was struck with worms and died. In Acts 14:10-18 Paul and Barnabas stopped people from treating them like gods. So, When Thomas addressed Jesus as "my God," if Jesus were not God that mistake would have been addressed right away. Yet it was not, because Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and King of Kings, is God!
Milwaukee, Wis.Never give up To Jesse Kelley, who referred to me as being "free" and "unfettered" in my ongoing trial [see "Too Appealing," Aug. 30 issue, page 2, in which Mr. Kelley advises two disfellowshipped members of the United Church of God they should not bother appealing the church's disfellowshipping of them]: I say nay, sir, but I remain in my bonds, cast upon me by the wicked one, through the agency of the UCG councils. To quit my appeal is to quit the pursuit of justification, for which reason the Lord did die. As Paul did not, so will I not. My bonds, which are in Christ (Philippines 4:13), and in which I grieve for the church, I thank you for remembering (Colossians 4:18; Hebrews 13:3).
Stoney Creek, Ont., CanadaUnderstanding a Web site and J It was good to have staff members from The Journal visit and fellowship with us during the Feast of Tabernacles celebration in September and to read about the other Feast celebrations reported on in the paper [see "The Brethren Have Kept the Feast 75 Years Since the Armstrongs' Observance in 1927," The Journal, Sept. 30]. We really enjoyed your visit. I would like to offer a few clarifications regarding the segment dealing with the Congregation of YHWH, which noted that there were some disagreements about the calendar. Indeed there were. There were three persons who are members of Congregation of YHWH congregations in Texas who strongly objected to my acting as host for a Feast celebration in September. They communicated their dissent to me via E-mail, saying in effect that I should not announce the September celebration on a Congregation of YHWH Web site and strongly implied that I was causing division in our group. Nothing of the sort actually happened in our local congregation. But, to play it safe, I tendered an offer to our elder, Kenyon Gandy, several times to depart the Congregation of YHWH Panama City so as not to cause him any trouble. He flatly refused my offer to leave, saying there would be no excommunication of me or the others who believed the calendar was a month earlier than the leaders and majority of members of the several congregations had determined. To appease the few from other congregations who objected to the use of our local (and autonomous) congregation's Web site and to our use of the name "Congregation of YHWH," I removed the link to the page with the September-celebration information, and I personally wrote the wording regarding the change that was quoted in the September edition of The Journal. I did this in a spirit of reconciliation with them. I wanted to put more distance between their congregations in Texas and our local gathering of believers so as to reduce any confusion in the matter. No further objection was made by those members to me since I made the changes to our Web site, so I must assume they were satisfied. There were absolutely no objections from any members of the local Congregation of YHWH in Panama City, Fla., to the holding of an earlier Feast celebration. Nothing was done in secret. Some of the "early" calendar keepers made known their belief in the early calendar and the intent to keep same to the whole congregation and did this beginning as early as Passover (early reckoning). Several members of both the Panama City and the Navarre-Milton (Fla.) congregation kept the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) celebration in accordance with the early reckoning, and there was no objection whatsoever. Kenyon Gandy, our local elder, along with most members of our local congregation (including those holding to the October Feast dates), did in fact come out and keep two weekly Sabbaths with us at the September Feast celebration. Brother Gandy delivered sermons on both of those weekly Sabbath days. We all had a great time and enjoyed great fellowship in peace and harmony. Likewise I visited the Congregation of YHWH on the weekly Sabbath on Oct. 19 at Navarre, Fla., where members there were preparing to open the officially recognized observances. I met with not only our local elder and our local congregation's members but elders (and many other members) of two other congregations. The Congregation of YHWH is not a denomination. We are local independent congregations that hold some beliefs in common and are loosely affiliated for fellowship, study and worship. Some of the beliefs and policies regarding differences in individuals' beliefs can be found on our Web site at www.congregationYHWHpc.com. There is at least one other group that uses the name "Congregation of YHWH" and some who go by "Congregation of Yahweh" who are not affiliated with us yet with whom we have associated from time to time. Congregation of YHWH is a phrase found in Scripture back as early as the days of Sinai. Just one more short clarification. It was reported that I had said the King James Version of 1611 used the letter Y and not J. If I said that, I misspoke. Yes, the pronunciation would have been as Y, but the actual lettering was IE. As an example, "Jeremiah" was rendered "Ieremiah" and pronounced "Yeremiah," which is close to the more-correct Hebrew pronunciation of "YermeYahu." In any case, the letter J was not in use in the original KJV because it was a late development in the English language and only subsequently included in later versions of the King James Bibles.
Panama City Beach, Fla.The Duke don't need no high heels Some of what Darlene Warren wrote in her last column ["Consider It Discussion," The Journal, Sept. 30, page 11] applies to my ads, so here is my reply. Darlene's comparison of women's high-heeled shoes to cowboy boots shows that a useful function of high heels is to ensure that boots remain in the stirrup when someone is riding a horse. They're fine for that purpose, but how does this apply to ordinary women's high heels? They don't perform this function and would likely break if so used. The taller heel part still exalts the self while the person is walking. This makes even 6-foot-4 John Wayne appear even taller and a man to look up to as a leader in the world's eye, not God's. John Wayne's portrayals of taking the law into his own hands, even if seemingly justified, is not right. Who gave him the right to be judge, jury and executioner? The following is from John Watson in the Cleburne (Texas) Eagle News, in his column (date of publication unknown) titled "The Drug Store Cowboy": "In the early days of the old west the cowboys had a special aurora [sic] about them, and were looked upon as idols by many, just as a lot of our sports figures are today. Whenever the cowboys came to town all the girls wanted to have a date with them." "City slickers" subsequently got jealous and copied the cowboys. The saloon meeting place of the Old West gave way to ice-cream parlors and drugstore soda fountains. "In order to get more dates," continued Mr. Watson, "the local boys started wearing boots, western hats, etc., and hanging out at the drugstore soda fountains to meet the girls. These boys in their fancy cowboy duds, most of whom had never been on or near a horse, soon became known as 'Drug Store Cowboys' [and later] 'Rhinestone Cowboys' .Â .Â ." Does even a cowboy boot need to be pointed? The pointed part is likely more a hazard and fashion statement than useful. If the boot were blunt it would still serve the purpose, just as do military and police riding boots, which have no pointy toes and little heels. (A military or police riding boot with virtually no heel can be seen at www.horsemall.com/dept/Military_and_Police_Boots.html.) Regarding phallic worship: Most Christians don't think idolatry is a problem now. It is a problem, but it's more subtle than it once was. Ask a Sundaygoer why he worships the sun on that day and he'll deny doing so. But he keeps the day dedicated to the sun and unknowingly uses solar images for worship. Phallic worship can happen without the worshiper being conscious of it. One example is Americans' pride in the Washington Monument, an exact copy of sun obelisks of Egypt. I acknowledge that harlots wear makeup and high heels. Yet the notion that other women who do so are not harlots since prostitutes brush their teeth doesn't mean we should use makeup and wear high heels. By this argument any sinner is exonerated because he brushes his teeth. God's opinion of Esther's beauty treatments is not directly stated in Scripture. Just because He allowed them and used them to help save the Jews doesn't mean they were good. God used Haman's vanity too. Does that make his vanity good? Beauty contests are spin-offs of pagan rites. An example is the selection of a pretty girl to act as goddess on May Day. John Wayne, American's icon of Western virtue and macho, faked his real name, Marion Morrison. "Duke" is his exalted title, but it really comes from the name of a dog he owned.
Jan Aaron Young
Yuma, Ariz.Makeup and memories Congratulations on the Sept. 30 issue of The Journal. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the sermons at the festival sites. I loved Darlene's preaching. Oops! I mean discussion. She addressed something that needed to be addressed, and what a beautiful job she did. I think those who write "put-down" articles and letters need to realize wives are coheirs with their husbands. Does the writer of the "Ten Commandments for Wives" [letter on page 4, Sept. 30 issue] realize that there could just as easily be 10 commandments for husbands? I recall quite clearly that it was a "man" or "men" who couldn't decide whether women should or should not wear makeup [in the Worldwide Church of God of the 1950s through the 1980s]. The makeup ruling also included decisions about whether women could color their hair and paint their fingernails and toenails. Also, The Journal's series on the history of the Big Sandy campus [see the July, August and September issues] is a walk down memory lane for me. My family and I moved to Gladewater in the summer of 1959 and over the years watched and participated in some of the changes to the campus. As a student who attended Imperial School in Big Sandy, I had the wide open spaces to roam in and Lake Loma to swim in, and my driver's-training lessons were begun on the campus. I spent many enjoyable Feasts camping in the Piney Woods, where folks shared not only their food but their campfires and sing-alongs with any who wanted to participate. In the early days in Big Sandy, most ate their meals in the Redwood Building. This provided the opportunity for hundreds to pitch in and help with cooking, serving, cleaning up and doing the dishes. It was a time of real closeness for the brethren that will live on in my memories. Thanks again for all the efforts that go into putting The Journal together each month.
Denton, TexasDon't cuss; discuss While trying to recover from the effects of seemingly endless posturing and philosophizing by three Heavenly Host persuasions of Feastgoers, I was browsing through the Sept. 30 Journal seeking comfort and inspiration. After reading most of the articles and ads, with hope fading fast and with the jaws of despair closing in upon me, I saw the words "Consider It Discussion" [the title of Darlene Warren's column] on page 11. Discussion? What does discussion mean? Can there be discussion in The Journal? With newfound inspiration in my heart, and the divine wings of comfort overshadowing me, I searched desperately for a dictionary. Yes, I like discussion. My dear old dad, who would be 106 next May if he were here, always told me not to get involved in fusses between men and women, but, if this is going to be a discussion, God knows I don't want to be left out. The idea of a discussion in a Christian format is somewhat new to me, as it seems to be to everyone else, so I will try to keep it light and not preach. If I am not mistaken, weaker is a relevant term, and vessel is used in 1 Peter 3:7 as an allegory. If the discussion is quantity, quality or strength, Peter seems to be saying the husband should give the wife whatever he has that she lacks and that it will then be hers also. 1 Peter 5:5 seems to include the same flow of context: "Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." Isn't trying to elevate each other in a Christian fashion what discussion is all about? I like the idea of discussing things. Why didn't someone think of it before?
Delight, Ark.Over the line Well, Jan Aaron Young, you stepped over the line with your advertisement in the Aug. 30 issue of The Journal ["God's Least Feast Applied to Makeup," page 29]. Something is very wrong when the editors have to white out your text. What woman did a number on you for you to be so full of hate for women--and in the guise of religion?
Sylvia A. Houseman
Coos Bay, Ore.Troubling ads Over the years I have enjoyed reading The Journal. I may not agree with all that is printed but thoroughly enjoy the medium that allows opinions to be expressed and ideas presented. However, the paid advertising that has recently appeared in The Journal troubles me. I realize that money pays the bills, but I wonder where to draw the line. A specific case that offended me was the recent paid ad titled "Where Are the Women of Proverbs 31?" [Sept. 30 issue], placed by Dean Neal, as well as his letter to the editor. (Why both in one issue? The letter was just a repeat of a section of his paid ad.) I do not have a background in psychology, but I feel Mr. Neal has a serious woman-hating complex. Possibly he has had a failed marriage or failed relationship and seems to think all women are alike. I recall a letter to the editor from Mr. Neal a year or so ago with the same woman-bashing theme. I felt moved at that time to write but chose to bite my tongue or "lip"--something he mentioned frequently in his paid advertisement. I think the quality of such ads, while inviting controversy, do not provide a benefit for your otherwise excellent publication. The nature of Mr. Neal's ad reminds me of the themes for such TV shows as Geraldo's. These shows invite certain people as guests. Some aspect of the guests' lives typically leads to conflict and sometimes violent outbursts on the program. I take issue with Mr. Neal's premise that "Eve's guilt was probably much greater than Adam's." I believe that "all have sinned" and we are all in need of God's mercy. Mr. Neal gives the impression that our problems are primarily the result of women: If someone could only fix the woman problem, all would be well. Mr. Neal, with his revised Ten Commandments, gives the impression that adultery and marital breakup are primarily committed by women. Statistics show that more men leave the wives of their youth for younger women, not the other way around. I hope in the future your publication will limit these types of ads. I do not find them profitable or biblical.
Huntsville, TexasHistory and her story I've enjoyed the history of the church and Big Sandy by John Warren [see the July, August and September issues]. Also, I think the diatribes on women by Dean Neal are absolutely hilarious.
Eldon, Mo.Be ready always to give a correct answer We are all called to give an answer for what we believe from the Word of God. By this act alone, we are teachers of the Word of God, whether in deeds as an example of our daily life or in words as disciples of Christ, answering questions of friends or family members about God's Word. We should be diligent in our study of the Word and meditate on it so we can give a correct answer to those who ask us about the truth of God. So I encourage you to study and meditate on the Word of God and be ready to answer any questions you are asked about the truth with the correct answer.
Doyle J. Carter
Tulsa, Okla.There a little Robert and Joyce Thiel recently discovered that all references to church eras were edited out of the 1986 edition of HWA's autobiography (The Journal, July 30, page 31). I noticed this 15 years ago. When I mentioned to Joe Tkach Sr. that HWA had done this, Joe replied that HWA did it at his (Joe's) suggestion. HWA made many revisions while he was still alive. It is interesting to compare the two editions (1973 and 1986) paragraph by paragraph. HWA omitted the entire section on the Colorado campaign (which originally ran serially in The Plain Truth) from the 1986 edition. HWA added new material. For example, he explained how staying up late for several months had made it difficult to sleep nights even 50 years later (to counter an accusation made during his divorce proceeding). I can recall that HWA's final telecasts were of a conciliatory nature toward the Church of God Seventh Day. He called it the one true church. It is my understanding that Joe Tkach did not attempt to cooperate with the CG7 until I invited Elder John Kiesz to meet with him in Denver in 1992, the week before Pentecost.
Robert J. Romagnoli
Reseda, Calif.Disturbing barrage I can appreciate that some people are disturbed by a barrage of doctrinal questions and may equate them to the bashing of Herbert Armstrong or some minister, but the problem is really that we need a new paradigm that embraces truth (John 17:17) rather than religious tradition. If we would first humble ourselves and admit we could be part of all mankind who are still deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9) with a need to come out (Revelation 18:4) of the religious confusion fostered by hierarchical organizations of men, perhaps the page-3 essays in the July issue like those of Dave Havir ("It's Different When Our Leaders Do It) and Brian Knowles ("Why Doctrinal Reform Won't Happen Any Time Soon") would no longer be necessary. We who have been part of the WCG religious empire particularly need to recognize that HWA simply jumped from the ditch of Catholic-Protestant error into the equally deep ditch of assuming the Jews must be right, and he ended up mostly teaching the doctrines of the Pharisees our Savior warned His disciples against. My solution is to adopt a new paradigm that is based on strictly biblically provable criteria; that is, no assumptions based on history or religious traditions of men. When you approach the Scriptures with the understanding (Jeremiah 3) that both houses of Israel (Judaism and Christianity) have succumbed to syncretism and been compromised with pagan concepts, your paradigm changes. Yes, Brian Knowles' selected quote from New Testament Theology in Dialogue is deadly accurate: ".Â .Â . The understanding we bring to the task of exegesis has been shaped by our upbringing and education, by our inherited culture and traditions--including our own theological tradition in its particular distinctiveness." And then further: "How we view scripture is determined not only by the presuppositions and horizons to which we cling, but by prevailing denominational politics .Â .Â . Each group screens out each other group's scholars because their findings do not serve the interests of its leadership hierarchy--conclusions drawn will always fall within a set of predetermined parameters." Brian's diagnosis is brutally realistic but to some may sound cynical to the extreme. Indeed, if left solely to men rather than intervention by the Creator Himself, he might be right on target. My point to him would be to ask him whether the Creator of the universe through His Spirit (John 16:13) is not powerful enough to do an end run around the spiritual dinosaurs who cling to dubious paradigms. If they seek to prevent growth in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) that might threaten their income and privileged position, surely our Father and Savior are not thwarted. In WCG circles, have a lot of things not been repeated without thorough investigation as to biblical soundness? In fact, is investigation of established teachings not firmly resisted? Ezekiel 34:10: "Thus says the Lord God: Behold I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and cause them to cease feeding the sheep; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them." May the Eternal speed that day!
Brampton, Ont., CanadaGod's church will be different Only God's church will believe the whole Bible. God's truth must not be compromised. There cannot be true unity in disagreement. There cannot be unity in incorrect knowledge. God's end-time church will be without spot and blemish. It will be united in faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. The overcomers in the Philadelphian era of the church were pillars in God's temple. They had to hold fast to what they had. That era is gone with Herbert W. Armstrong. The Laodicean era is built from people who believe God and are not afraid to confront disbelief, which is rife in the churches. They will stand up and be counted. We here quote some scriptures that the leaders of the churches do not believe: â¢ 1 John 1:1: Christ is from the beginning, not eternity. â¢ Hebrews 1:1-2: God created all things by His Son. â¢ Psalm 83:18: There is one self-existent God, Jehovah. â¢ Isaiah 57:15: One inhabits eternity. â¢ Jeremiah 10:10. There exists one true God. â¢ John 17:3: One does not mean two. Ask the pastors of the churches what are the keys of the Kingdom mentioned in Matthew 16:19, and why don't they teach them? This is an extremely important subject because we will not be in God's Kingdom if we do not believe the Bible.
Jim and Peta McGinn
Via the InternetWhich is the Last Great Day? There has been some discussion in the past few years in the Churches of God on the subject of which day is the Last Great Day as found in John 7:37. Some people say the Last Great Day is the eighth day, or the day after the Feast. Others say it is the seventh day of the Feast. To understand the Last Great Day, we need to see how the term was used in the first century. In the first century during the Feast were various ceremonies performed at the temple in Jerusalem. One of these was called the water-pouring ceremony, performed during each of the seven days of the Feast except for the first day and the weekly Sabbath during the Feast. During this ceremony a designated priest would gather water from the Pool of Siloam and pour it into a silver basin on the southwest corner of the altar in the temple. This ceremony was never performed on the eighth day. Another ceremony performed during the seven days of the Feast involved priests who would circle one time each day around the altar with the lulavim, or four species, found in Leviticus 23:40. However, on the seventh day they would circle the altar seven times and also bring up willows to the altar that would make the sound of a rushing wind when waved. Because this ceremony was different on the seventh day, it had a special name given to it, Hoshana Rabbah. Hoshana literally means "save now," and rabbah means "great," so the seventh day of the Feast was the "great save-now day" or the "day of the great salvation." During the seventh day of the Feast in the first century, the teachers would review all of the scriptures concerning water, which corresponds perfectly with John 7:37-39. The term for the eighth day after the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23:36 is Shemini Atzeret, which literally means the "eighth day of assembly." On this day in the first century, there were neither the water-pouring ceremony and its emphasis on pouring out of water nor the ceremony of circling the altar. On this eighth day the teachers didn't review the scriptures concerning water. The number eight in Scripture relates to "regeneration" or a new beginning. It is related to the sign for infinity. At the end of the seventh day of the Feast the people would take down their sukkahs, a type of the human body and everything temporary in this life. The meaning of this day most likely relates to the new heavens and new earth. History shows the term Last Great Day in John 7:37 is the seventh day of the Feast, that Great Day of Salvation.
Bolingbrook, Ill.Cause and effect In response to the letter in the June 30 issue "Belly Up to the Beer" [page 29]: I attended the Worldwide Church of God for 25 years, and the alcohol flowed freely at church events. I personally know several men who are alcoholics today who grew up in the WCG. Their problems range from losing their driver's license to spending time in jail, and I know of two who have been in prison. Most all admit the drinking problem started and was encouraged while they were youths in the church. How many more people have alcohol problems because of the example that was set in church, of all places? I do hope the Churches of God will rethink their position on serving alcohol at church activities.
Name and location withheldWho'll bring the beer? I read the letter of a young person who attended a Church of God activity for young people ["Belly Up to the Beer," June 30, page 29] and was so sorry to hear the church supplied the beer for the occasion. In all the years I've been in the Church of God, never has the church supplied beer for the brethren. When it is supplied by a church, it gives people the impression that encourages one to go ahead and drink alcoholic beverages, and who knows what else it leads to? It could lead to excessive drinking, attending bars, where boozing happens and "girlies" hang out, and where anything but a Christian atmosphere conducive to morality and Christian growth prevails. Shame on us! The young person who wrote the letter said she came away "disgusted and discouraged." Is that the way we want our young people to feel after attending a church function?
KansasWhat's new? Recently I've been reading Roy A. Marrs' books Paul: New Testament Lawyer and Advocate of Grace and God's Will and the Rest of the Story. It is disappointing to see that one of the issues needing to be addressed is whether Old Testament scriptures and even the four Gospels themselves are now valid since some consider these precross--that is, Old Covenant--material. I know that issue has to be addressed. One Christian radio announcer told me to my face that Jesus' statement "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" was precross and thus not applicable today! A minister of Grace Bible Church told me ancient Israel lived under a different administration, just as citizens during the early '60s were under the John F. Kennedy administration rather than the George W. Bush administration. Many in the Church of God, however, believe all Scripture is profitable for instruction. God knew what He would do before He created the earth. The physical pattern of His spiritual plan was recorded in the Old Testament. The physical pattern of the heavenly, carefully recorded, is a shadow of the spiritual, a prophesy of what was to come. Whatever is in the New Testament was already referred to in the Old Testament. For example, when the New Testament says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us," we know we can go to Leviticus, which gives us this formula. Leviticus says you shall confess your sins and the one for whom the sacrifice is made will be forgiven. The Passover crucifixion is carefully documented in the Old Testament, etc. King David discusses grace when he says, "Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven." We learn from the Old Testament that only the blood of the sacrifice can cleanse us from our sins. In Old and New Testament we learn that the blood of the sacrifice covers unintentional sins or sins made in ignorance. But, for him who comes to know God's will and continues in sin, there remains no sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking forward to judgment. Concerning these kinds of comments, another radio station announcer said to his audience, "There are many confused about grace." (I work in a building that houses a radio station.) Notice that this announcer, who has an aversion to the word law, would not even mention the word on the air. Since so many are confused about grace, I pray that more books will be written on the subject of how law and grace complement each other. Thank you to writers like Roy A. Marrs of Lodi, Calif., who are willing to tackle Paul's "difficult verses."
Greg A. Jandrt
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