Letters from our Readers - Part 3
( READ PART 4)
I would like to advocate a policy to be considered by the various COGs.
I have been frustrated by some of the COG splinters' Web sites because when I come across them, although they may offer some sort of broad "statement of belief," even after reading for several minutes I still cannot tell where they stand doctrinally.
After much more digging I find they have taken off on one or more doctrinal tangents.
As the webservant in charge of the Web pages for www.tcog.us, I realized our site did not do all that good a job of defining us, so we have established a page on our site to address who we are doctrinally.
In Herbert Armstrong's days the primary thrust was trying to reach people, and there was some justification for not putting all of our doctrines out front lest we scare off those who were steeped in religious errors of various mainstream churches.
Now we are in a mode where feeding the scattered sheep of the flock has more sway. Accordingly we should let those who access our Web sites know up front where we stand on doctrine.
Hopefully it is an idea that will catch on with more of the COG sites.
Via the Internet
The bad side of the scattering
The scattered state of the Church of God is puzzling many, including myself. Some say this scattering was prophesied in Daniel 12:7. Some even say it is God who accomplishes this scattering. But is that true?
The latter part of Daniel 12:7 (KJV) reads: ". . . It shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." Who is this "he"? Is it God?
This scattering lasts three years and a half and is also referred to in Daniel 7:25, which refers to the future martyrdom of the saints mentioned also in Revelation 6:9-11 (the fifth seal). It has nothing to do with the present scattering of the saints.
God is not the author of confusion. He is not to blame for the present scattering of the saints, but many of those who claim to be His ministers are to blame.
They can't get along with one another and do not put into practice Matthew 18:15 with the right attitude. They do not all speak the same thing, in spite of the apostle Paul beseeching them to do just that (1 Corinthians 1:10). Virtually none of them is willing to publicly admit and correct doctrinal errors.
Just one example: God commands us to tell the house of Jacob its sins (Isaiah 58:1), not to pay people for committing sins! Paying others to sin is just as sinful as committing the sin yourself.
Likewise God holds those who pay others to work on the Sabbath personally responsible of working on the Sabbath, although technically they aren't working themselves. In God's eyes they are profaning the Sabbath. Unless they repent, He will not allow them in His Kingdom.
Yet the vast majority of the ministers and members simply go on profaning the Sabbaths, by paying others to work for them in restaurants on the weekly and annual Sabbaths.
There may be far fewer true Christians than we think. May God help us to repent so we are worthy to be chosen by Christ as one of the ten thousands of His saints with whom He will come to execute judgment on all! (Jude 14-15).
Marcel De Brael
Families are split
It is sad to see the Churches of God continue to self-destruct. Last year we had the mess in my homeland, England.
Then we had an elder and his wife in Paducah, Ky., who spent four months away from church services before the UCG's ministerial service and council of elders finally stepped in and reversed the injustice that had been done.
This year members from Lexington and Cincinnati North have split from United, and I understand others have or are planning to.
I attended the meeting in Cincinnati on May 15 [see "Church Lets Elder Go When He Disregards Its Gag Order," beginning on page 1 of this issue] and was appalled by the answers given by Richard Pinelli, Roy Holladay and Lyle Welty.
When I went back and read the summary of the question-and-answer session (I'll be glad to E-mail a copy of the summary to anyone who requests it by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org), I was appalled to see that in most cases the panel had not even addressed the questions asked, even though a number repeated their questions two and three times.
It seems like the panel, and many others in the ministry, have sadly forgotten that the words translated "minister" and "ministry" should rightly (as pointed out in Strong's and Vine's) be translated "servant," not "overlord."
Families are split, even though they are all members of "Churches of God," and, sadly, even go to different Feast sites. Last year in England, for instance, there were seven or eight Feast sites within a 50-mile radius of Grange Over Sands. Yet Ephesians 4 says there is one body!
We were called by God and baptized into His church, not into the UCG, Global, Living or any other organization of men. How many tears must God be shedding over His children?
My friend Tony Prettyman wrote a letter to the UCG council of elders. He said United stood at a crossroads. He was right!
Sadly, the council didn't listen. The council has so far spent three and one-half years trying to define and write a paper on "servant leadership," yet it's aptly summed up in Ephesians 4, especially verse 16.
God has given us a work to do. It's time we all came together as God's family instead of constantly splitting.
In the meantime, Jeremiah 4-15 is being fulfilled by a small U.K. group that sponsors the What Next? broadcast ( www.whatnextbroadcast.com).
Alan Ruth said in a letter to The Journal (Feb. 29):
". . . The heyday of TV-radio-magazine evangelism is past--period . . . While many talented brethren reside in the church, I have yet to find in 300-plus Church of God groups a person as gifted as they [the original leaders of the Worldwide Church of God] were who is effectively reaching the world with the gospel with the same tools they used."
Although he is entitled to his "independent" opinion, I suggest that, for the Living Church of God (LCG) at least, the numbers disagree with Alan Ruth's view.
In the March 22 coworker letter, the LCG's Rod Meredith reported: "The telecast has been aired on a combined total of 187 TV stations across North America, with a potential viewing audience each week of more than 74 million households--66 million households in the United States and 8 million households in Canada."
The church's telecast, Dr. Meredith wrote, "is now aired in virtually all of Nielsen's 210 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. WGN by itself reaches 60 million households."
In addition, "our local commercial TV stations and public access stations are in 77 of the DMAs in America (37 percent of all DMAs), reaching 23 million households; 60 million plus 23 million is 83 million . . . The unduplicated household count is 74 million with access to a Tomorrow's World broadcast.
"Since the Work began airing the Tomorrow's World program at the end of January 1999, the telecast has generated 346,837 responses, including phone calls, letters, E-mail and Web site requests. These requests came from 202,040 viewers."
Thus more than 200,000 different individuals have responded to the LCG's media. Not bad for a group that has only about 7,000 in attendance.
The LCG's Wayne Pyle also reported: "The exact count for 2003 was 97,572 direct responses from television."
Mr. Pyle previously told me the proportion of television responses the LCG gets per member (as well as baptisms per member) and per dollar is actually higher than the WCG used to get.
Thus I believe the statistics, at least for the LCG, disprove Alan Ruth's point. Mr. Ruth may have personally preferred Garner Ted or Herbert W. Armstrong, but statistics suggest that interested persons these days seem to prefer the LCG's team of presenters including Richard Ames, Dibar Apartian, Mario Hernandez, Syd Hull, Dr. Meredith and John Ogwyn (it should be noted that two or three of those presenters are on radio only).
If Mr. Ruth and the other "independent" critics would shift from their criticisms and support the LCG, then our total impact would be greater, perhaps much greater, than GTA and HWA combined.
Arroyo Grande, Calif.
The good side of the scattering
All things work together for good to those who love God, and this includes the matter of scattering brethren and of doctrinal disagreements erupting everywhere. Because of the scattering, a lot of Church of God material has been retrieved and preserved for posterity that otherwise may have been lost forever, so there is God's hand in this matter.
As for doctrine, again this is how God would have it. By causing brethren to study their Bibles again, they are forced to go to the lengths of keeping Herbert W. Armstrong foremost in their thinking as a unifying factor to bring the brethren back together again.
They are seeking for a common denominator to unify brethren, and I think that one of those denominators is a pet doctrine anyone can rally around. In many cases it is the holy days and their part in the churches' doctrine, particularly the timing of them and the purposes and validity of them.
Insight and accuracy
Intercontinental Church of God friends of mine recently showed me a new booklet by Mark Armstrong titled The Long Tradition of Prophetic Insight and Accuracy, which documents the remarkably accurate prophetic record of both Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong. I only paged through it and await my own copy. But it looked worth getting.
You can order it at www.garnertedarmstrong.ws/other.shtml. Hopefully it goes some way to proving how amazingly accurate HWA was and put to rest, once and for all, the lies that he was off the track in his predictions.
I wanted to announce our plans for the Feast of Tabernacles 2004. We will hold the Feast at Camp Beaver Fork near Conway, Ark., this year from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. We have 18 cabins available along with RV sites and tent sites. Motel rooms are also available close by.
Specific information is at www.pointsoftruth.com/Feast2003.html.
Larry R. Lasiter
Those fearmongering Laodiceans
So many of the articles in The Journal, in fact most, have the Laodicean slant and approach to the Christian walk. Legalism, along with fear and duty, is the hallmark of Laodicea.
Laodicea struggles to get the gospel out, but Laodiceans don't do it out of love; they do it out of fear and duty.
But 1 John 4:18 says there is no fear in love, that perfect love casteth out fear.
The WCG for 40 years before the apostasy was a fear religion.
Christ also said that Laodicea is wretched and miserable, and that description fits nearly all of the ministries from the early 1950s to the present.
Most of the articles in The Journal are based on fear. Anyone who is motivated by fear is not deeply converted. Prophecy is one of Laodicean ministers' favorite tools to keep people frightened out of their wits.
The Laodicean tithing system reduced many families to degrading poverty. That along with other abuse drove most of the youths out of the church.
The driving force behind Philadelphia is love and hunger for God's Word.
There are a few good and helpful articles in The Journal, but the Laodicean contributors continue to be wretched and miserable.
Jim L. Weeks
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