Letters from our readers

Mr. McNair's illness

Evangelist Raymond McNair is reported to be suffering a serious illness at this time.

Mr. McNair is one of the original evangelists who assisted Mr. Armstrong throughout the 50 years in which the Worldwide Church of God grew to 140,000 members. The church reached many nations with the World Tomorrow broadcast and with up to eight million Plain Truth magazines per month.

In addition to Mr. McNair's speaking and writing schedule, he served as vice chancellor of Ambassador College in Pasadena and Bricket Wood, England. The college educated a generation of church family members who later lent their support to the local church areas and helped provide the millions of dollars of financial support that was needed to preach the gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom of God around the world.

Cards and letters can be sent to Mr. McNair at P.O. Box 502435, San Diego, Calif. 92015, U.S.A.

Brian Harris

Oceanside, Calif.

Letters from old-timers appreciated

My dad, Kenneth Herrmann, had a heart attack last week. Apparently only the back part of his heart was damaged: good news. Could have been worse as one artery was completely stopped and the other 95 percent. My brother was with him when it happened and got emergency help right away.

Dad is very weak and not able to get around by himself much. He is presently in a nursing home in Richardson, Texas, with medical care. He is asking for letters from old-timers, those who remember him from the early days of the college. He would appreciate cards from anyone, actually.

His address: Kenneth Herrmann, 700 Custer Rd., No. 195, Richardson, Texas 75080, U.S.A.

Susan Herrmann

Louisville, Ohio

Tribute to GTA

After receiving the Sept. 30 edition of The Journal, I was impressed by the letters and articles written about the most gifted, talented evangelist God's church had in these last days, Garner Ted Armstrong.

God used him to call me into the true church back during the 1970s. In my opinion he was the most effective speaker-writer the Worldwide Church of God ever had.

Garner Ted Armstrong had a greater influence in my life than any other person on the face of the earth. I learned more about the Bible from GTA than from any other evangelist or minister. For that I'll always be grateful.

I would like to purchase 40 copies of this issue because I know many people who would dearly love to read the articles by C. Wayne Cole, Brian Knowles, Ian Boyne, Ellis Stewart, James Tabor and all the others.

Thanks for doing an excellent tribute to Mr. Ted Armstrong in this issue.

Alex Nicholson

Fletchers Lake, N.S., Canada

Scholarly evidence

In the article by David Barrett on Garner Ted Armstrong [Sept. 30, page 5], he made several questionable statements, two of which I would like to address.

The first was: "At HWA's funeral his son and former heir was relegated to the unconverted seats."

My wife and I were WCG members at the time of Herbert W. Armstrong's funeral. We attended the funeral, and we did not have any seats.

My main recollection was seeing Garner Ted Armstrong in a reserved-seating area that was quite near the casket of Herbert Armstrong.

The fact was that Herbert Armstrong did not want Garner Ted Armstrong to publicly speak at his funeral and the WCG complied with that request. But GTA's seating was clearly superior to what my wife and I had.

The second questionable statement by Mr. Barrett was:

"As a scholar, I simply have to accept all accounts, however contradictory, as equally valid personal viewpoints of events."

Mr. Barrett stated this sometime after admitting that he received a lot of information from a source he acknowledged was opposed to the WCG and the COGs.

As one who earned his Ph.D. more than a decade ago, I disagree with David Barrett's contention about evidence for scholars. The point of science is the pursuit of true knowledge. Whether journalists or physicists, writers are supposed to attempt to determine the truth and do not necessarily consider all pieces of information of equal validity.

The apostle Paul summed it up pretty well: "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

This is not to say that individuals cannot have different viewpoints, but to state that scholars have to accept all personal viewpoints as equally valid is not correct.

Robert Thiel

Arroyo Grande, Calif.

Live and let live

I have so many fond memories of hunting camp in Colorado with Ted Armstrong for the many years that we were together there. In fact, he saw me about a month before he fell ill and invited me to go with him this year. I was unable to go but wish I had made the time now that he is gone, even though I don't think he would have been able to go.

Mark Armstrong has the ability, in my opinion, to continue Ted's work. However, he will have a tough road to follow.

The article in the September issue of The Journal told of the "trait that typifies" the Intercontinental Church of God: the willingness to forgive. Mark has shown that he can abide by this.

However, some of the members of his church have not. I refer to the scene that Earl Timmons caused at the front door of the funeral home when he tried to stop Ben Sharp from attending the service the day after Mark had given his permission for Mr. Sharp to attend. Mr. Timmons is the person who should have been shown the door because this was not the time or place to display his anger.

I only hope the ICG can follow Mark's example and learn the meaning of brotherhood and forgiveness.

Jim Rhome

Tyler, Texas

You gotta have ads

The whole issue [Sept. 30] was one of the best yet. I always enjoy reading about the reminiscences of longtime COG members, whether it's about AC, the FOT, the dig, Big Sandy, individual members or those of former prominence. Keep up that stuff by the barrel.

I also appreciated your interview re paid advertising ["Publisher Tells All About Advertising in The Journal," Sept. 30]. Though some of the advertising is personally revolting or silly to me, you, Dixon, have to do what you gotta do keep The Journal afloat. Good move on informing the readers about what other pubs experience as far as the proportion of ads they carry.

Nice pic of you and your squeeze.

Keith Speaks

Hammond, Ind.

Incomprehensibility isn't illogical

[Regarding "Comprehend the Incomprehensible," Sept. 30, page 4, in response to a letter in the July issue defending the doctrine of the Trinity:]

Trinitarians do not imply that God is unknowable to the finite human mind when they speak of His incomprehensibility. We can have a true but finite knowledge of God on a personal and intellectual level because God has revealed Himself. Thus, while we cannot fully understand the God who has revealed Himself, yet we can and do know Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24; Daniel 11:32; John 17:3; Galatians 4:8-9; 1 John 4:4-8; 5:18-21).

Neither do Trinitarians intend to imply that God is illogical when they speak of His incomprehensibility. If God were contrary to reason, then no thinking, reasonable man would believe in Him. Incomprehensibility "reveals that God is infinitely better and greater than man. We can build all the theological models we want, and we can try to force God into them, but in the end God will not fit. He will always be beyond our grasp.

"He is too high for us to scale and too deep for us to fathom. The finite span of the human mind will never encompass the infinite triune God of Scripture" (from The Trinity: Evidence and Issues, by Robert Morey, pp. 73-74).

Maximo Sarmiento

Croydon, Australia

Monotheists worse than Trinitarians

I read Maximo Sarmiento's letter in the July 31 Journal. What he refers to as 1 + 1 = 1 sounds like modern math, not the absolute law of God. His view does not sound like the Trinity; it sounds like the original oneness view Worldwide taught in the mid-'90s.

Jesus Christ was both God and flesh (Hebrews 1:6, 8). Only God, who created man in His image, is worth more than all humans put together. Christ was both fully man and God.

God in the flesh can die because Christ was the express image of the Father, and the Father willed that Christ die for our sins.

The Trinity tends to limit God. But the unitarian, or monotheistic concept, is 10 times worse than the Trinity concept because the angels worshiped Christ and only God can be worshiped. The monotheists say Jesus was not God.

Someone is a liar who believes either Jesus was flesh but not God (like the religious Jews and monotheists) or was not wholly flesh. The Scripture says they are Antichrists.

Larry Graff

House Springs, Mo.

Socinianism isn't new

The heading over the letter written by Archie Faul (The Journal of July 31) refers to "those other unitarians," by which he means those non-Trinitarians he disagrees with on the issue of the so-called preexistence of Jesus.

First, I think it wise to point out that the Socinian Christology with which he differs is not a new oddity popping up last year. It is an ancient and well-supported minor tradition in the Christian history.

The anti-Trinitarianism (Socinianism) that states that Jesus came into existence in the womb of His mother as Son of God follows the biblical Christology.

This view of the Son of God does not make the mistake of starting with isolated verses from John. It starts with Matthew and Luke and keeps its eye on the Old Testament portrait of the coming Messiah, Son of God (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 2:7; Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Acts 3:22; 7:37; etc.).

Not a word appears in the OT about a Messiah who is alive before he is begotten, and not a word appears in Matthew or Luke that would disturb that picture.

Matthew in his first chapter discusses the "origin" of Jesus (note the Greek word genesis in the best manuscripts at Matthew 1:18). Matthew is describing the beginning of the new creation, the new genesis. He wants us to understand the origin of God's Son.

It happened, according to the angel, when Mary became pregnant in such a way that "what is begotten in her is from the holy spirit" (Matthew 1:20).

Luke's account is equally deliberate and unmistakable. Gabriel announces in Luke 1:35, "For this reason precisely [dio kai] the thing being begotten will be called the Son of God." There it is: The Son of God is so constituted because of the miracle in His mother's womb. Jesus is the Son of God because of--note the causal connection--the miracle in Mary.

Scholars of various denominations agree with the obvious fact that neither Matthew nor Luke describes the turning of an already existing Son of God into a fetus, which is a vastly complicated notion requiring much elaboration.

What Matthew and Luke both describe is the coming into existence, the genesis, of the Son of God.

This becomes complex only if one decides to contradict these matchless accounts, using John to do so.

But John is as unitarian as his colleague Gospel writers. The Father is the "only one who is truly God" (John 17:3), and Jesus denies flatly that He is God, claiming that He is the supreme example of one who represents and reflects His Father, the one God (John 10:30-36). He compares Himself with the human judges of Israel, who in a lesser way represented the one God.

It is a basic rule of Bible study that the words of Scripture be read in their immediate context, their wider context (the whole Bible), and above all in their Jewish first-century context (it is amateur to read words only in the light of 21st-century usage).

It is wise to examine the several occurrences of the "I am" statements of John. The first occurrence is of particular significance. Jesus is talking to the lady at the well, who reminds Him that the Messiah is coming--not God the Son, but the Messiah. Jesus then says: "I am, namely the one speaking to you" (John 4:26).

Not only, says Jesus, did Abraham look forward eagerly to the Messiah's coming day, but, even before Abraham was born, Jesus was "the one, the Messiah." He was the reason for the whole creation.

Let us bring in a few witnesses to this view, which has the great merit of not contradicting the Christology of Matthew and Luke and the rest of the Bible:

"That the absolute use of 'I am' need not have connotations of divinity is clear from its usage by the man born blind at John 9:9. Jesus' words, then, were not an unambiguous asseveration of divinity . . ." (H.H. Rowden, Christ the Lord, p. 172).

The British biblical theologian J.A.T. Robinson of Cambridge, of whom F.F. Bruce said "John Robinson's strength lies in NT scholarship, to which he brings a lively and well-informed mind not too much hampered by deference to currently accepted wisdom" (correspondence with this writer on March 13, 1981), comments on John 8:58:

"The identification of Jesus' I am statements with the I am of Exodus I believe to be a misreading of the text. Of the 'I am' sayings in this Gospel [John], those with the predicate 'I am the bread of life,' 'the door,' 'the way,' 'the good shepherd,' etc., certainly do not imply that the subject is God. As Barrett rightly says. 'ego eimi' ['I am'] does not identify Jesus with God, but it does draw attention to him in the strongest possible terms."

I think Mr. Faul will agree that the "I am he" statements do not mean "I am God." I only invite him to weigh in the argument the massively important testimony of the OT, Matthew 1:18-20 and Luke 1:35 and to see if there is not a way of harmonizing John with the rest of the NT.

The "rock which followed them" (1 Corinthians 10:4) was not Jesus preexisting but an OT type of the coming Christ. Paul said that, not I.

In 1 Corinthians 10:11 he said that he has been talking "typically," "in types." Paul provides his own commentary.

What I have learned in the past 30 years since coming out of the Armstrong movement is that we were handicapped by our amateur approach to the Bible and a consequent lack of familiarity with the other possibilities in the question of who Jesus is, which is a very important one for us all.

After all, we were schooled to think that all scholars tended to be fools! But who were we, armed with the King James and a Strong's, to have such confidence?

Anthony Buzzard

Morrow, Ga.

The brethren and the fires

Our prayers are sorely needed on behalf of our brethren who are having severe trials with regard to the fires here in Southern California.

I have called Lori Neal. She's okay. Bob and Peggy Macdonald say they are okay, with no fire within five miles of them.

But Bob and Mary Phelps have been put on alert and have packed their valuables and are ready to leave when notified.

Even more severe are Al and Jill Carrozzo, who must leave their home immediately. They have taken their papers and valuables and are evacuating their home on their beautiful acreage. Please remember them.

Though Norman and Alberta Peterson are not at this moment affected by the fire, Norman had a "transient ischemic attack" (a small stroke). He seems to be recovering well. Alberta has an ear infection, and your prayers are needed for her.

Please remember all our brethren who have respiratory problems. Lori said the smoke is bad in her area. Bob and Peggy have ashes raining down on them.

Norman and Alberta smell the smoke but are not threatened by fire, but their granddaughter has sensitive respiratory problems.

This is a severe crisis, and our prayers are needed not only for our brethren but for so many, many people who are devastated by this traumatic situation. Please ask God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to intervene for the sake of so many.

If arsonists are responsible, pray that the authorities will find them and prosecute them so they cannot continue their sick and evil ways.

David L. Antion

Pasadena, Calif.

Significant dates

Seventy years ago, on Oct. 21, 1933, the Radio Church of God was officially incorporated, under the direction of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Two hundred years ago, on Oct. 20, 1803, the important Louisiana Purchase was ratified.

Geoffrey R. Neilson

Fish Hoek, South Africa

Sandy heads

Phil Griffith in his ad on page 16 of The Journal of Sept. 30 asks, "Is a Calendar Required for Salvation," and concludes: "I am not willing to listen endlessly to a dialogue on divisional issues"--which could be interpreted as: Don't discuss it; just maintain the status quo, right or wrong!

I find interesting in his stance--I assume Phil is a Sabbatarian believer--that this question for decades was answered in the affirmative by both of the leading Sabbatarian organizations as well as many smaller ones.

Sabbatarians' targets for conversion have been deceived believers in Catholicism and Protestantism, those pagan Sunday, Xmas and Easter observers. So are we now embracing a double standard?

Even today a Seventh-day Adventist minister is offering a cool $1 million to anyone who can prove that Sunday is the Sabbath, even getting publicity on World Net Daily for what he admits is for the purpose of drawing attention to the seventh-day Sabbath.

Can any objective person deny that this has been used as a divisional issue by those who considered themselves spiritually superior because they observe the seventh day of the pagan Roman week named after false planetary gods instead of the first?

Now that the shoe is on the other foot and questions are asked about whether Jewish traditions are any more accurate than those of Christianity (see Titus 1:14), are Sabbatarians adopting the defensive stance of Sunday-keepers?

There are basically only two possible responses to such challenges:

o A refusal to look into the issues and accusing those asking the questions of being divisive, lacking love, being wolves or heretics, being anti-Semitic, legalistic or stating the issue is not salvation one.

o The response of a truly converted person: "I have never really considered or looked into that."

Should not our stance automatically demand that when we are challenged to give an answer for the hope that lies within us we coherently provide a sound biblical foundation for our belief?

If that is the case, then someone who answers no to Phil Griffith's question should still want to make sure he has proved all things and is indeed clinging to that which is good.

The person answering "yes" to Mr. Griffith's headline question is then challenged to prove from Scripture that the Creator indeed established specific, identifiable days that He has preserved through a fixed order of the heavenly bodies: sun, moon and stars (Jeremiah 31:35; 33:25).

Sticking one's head in the sand and wishing the questions would just go away while clinging to an established tradition can hardly be said to be growing in grace and knowledge. We either choose to become part of the solution by positively looking into the matter objectively, or we remain part of the problem by upholding a chosen tradition of men.

For related information, see my articles in the Connections section of many issues of The Journal.

Myron Martin

Brampton, Ont., Canada

No justice in the land

In The Journal of May 31 you led with the story "Church Members Deliver Open Letter to British PM." In their letter the members of the North West Church of God rightly brought to the British prime minister's attention certain ills in British society, including the Tony Martin case.

Tony Martin is a slightly eccentric farmer who lived alone in his farmhouse in the village of Emneth, near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Mr. Martin had been robbed so many times that he had taken to sleeping fully clothed beside his illegally held pump-action shotgun.

Coming downstairs in total darkness, he was confronted by Fred Barras, 16, and Brendon Fearon, 30. Both were professional criminals who, with their get-away driver, Darren Back, had 114 criminal convictions between them.

Barras and Fearon tried to make their escape through a window, but farmer Martin pulled the trigger, hitting Barras in the back, Fearon suffering serious injuries to his thigh.

Fearon crawled away to seek help, leaving Barras to die in Martin's garden. Police found Barras' body the next morning.

On Aug. 23, 1999, Mr. Martin was charged with the murder of Fred Barras. In April 2000 he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

I live not far from the village of Emneth. I have spoken to the villagers. They suffer from robbery and intimidation from Gypsies, whom we now have to, politically correctly, call travelers. The supporters of Barras and Fearon hung up dead chickens during Mr. Martin's trial in the village to create fear and intimidation.

The actions of the British government and the English judiciary subsequently were so perverse that it would be difficult to make the story up.

I (a member of the Church of God UK, Cambridge congregation) leave the final word on the Tony Martin case to the well-known British Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens: "The criminal justice system now enforces the letter of the bureaucratic law rather than the spirit of an agreed and accepted moral code."

Where have we heard that before?

Terry Gresswell

Bar Hill, England

Jacob's Trouble

The affluent nations of the West will soon face complete and utter destruction. This phase of World War III is also known as Jacob's Trouble and will involve weapons of mass destruction, famine and disease. All survivors will be scattered as slaves among the gentile nations.

Accurate chronological calculations and facts indicate that this event will take place around 2006 (the correct calculation of the next jubilee year is an important factor). The wise should start getting ready to leave for a place identified in Scripture. Also start planning your life (and finances) accordingly.

Kindly disseminate this information to all interested parties. Personal lectures could be arranged.

Marius Hurter

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Status lost

I am amazed that time after time we read of brethren groveling before ministers, councils of elders or hierarchical boards to regain their status in the church.

Matthew 18:15 clearly shows the church is to judge and decide if something cannot be resolved between brethren who have a problem with each other. The ministry or hierarchy is not the Church; it is only a small part of it.

After all, Hebrews 3:1, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 2 Corinthians 6:16, etc., apply to all of us who have God's Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul shows that the brethren as a group (a congregation that knows what is going on) must make the decision to disfellowship a brother or sister.

Paul stated his position and told the Corinthians he wanted them to come to the same decision, but he did not automatically overrule and ignore them.

If the congregation wanted to ignore his advice, the only way out for Paul would have been to take his own advice in 2 Thessalonians 3:6!

If we love God, then He will remove our fear of men from our lives.

Konrad Drumm

Via the Internet

Thank you, God, for everything

Thank you, God, for all things new,

For cheery birds that greet new days,

For quiet dawns aglow with light

And new resolve to live life right.

New days, fresh hope to choose Your ways,

In all we think and say and do.

Thank you, God, for all you made--

The mighty river, cascading stream,

Oceans that gently lick the sand

And lakes that softly adorn the land;

Rain whispering lightly as I dream,

Leaving me at peace and unafraid.

Thank you, God, for all that grows--

The fragile ferns, the stately pines,

Green blades tickling children's feet,

Lilacs making the breeze smell sweet,

Springtime's iris and fragrant vines

Predicting the arrival of summer's rose.

Thank you, God, for life and love--

Life made new through saving grace,

Christ's love bearing the sin of man,

Your love disclosed through Your perfect plan.

Children's wet kisses and friends' embrace,

Love of brethren and from You above.

Thank you, God, for all you give--

Promises kept, and blessings flowing,

Forgiveness, faith and angels' protection,

Mercy and hope of the resurrection,

Daily comfort and joy o'erflowing,

And guidance to teach men how to live.

Thank you, God, for beauty of spring,

For robins' first chorus and music sung low.

Thank you for the blazing autumnal trees,

Deep blue skies, balmy days and fresh breeze

And the silent beauty of winter's first snow.

. . . Thank you, God, for everything!

Kathy Coleman

Manhattan, Kan.

This 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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