Fred is no yellow pencil
Cindy and I first met Fred Coulter in 1996. He was refreshing because he was not part of a group that deliberately or unintentionally caused its people to speak only in a narrowly defined area. I do not agree with everything he says, but I believe he is dedicated to doing God's will to the best of his knowledge (and understanding).
When reading one of Fred's works, I often say to myself "Fred, you can't prove that."
That does not bother me because Fred also writes things that make a lot of sense and I learn from him. I could say the same thing about some things I read in The Journal. (We've also noticed The Journal's disclaimer.)
Fred is not a yellow pencil. He has his own standards and does not compromise.
Thank you for being willing to pass information about Fred on to your audience. I do not think Fred has the answers to everything but more often than many who act like they are God's gift to the brethren.
Bill Stough presented a timely and mostly true article in the Aug. 31 issue of The Journal. You have my congratulations for presenting the need for evangelism on several levels in the Churches of God.
It is interesting that Guy Swenson cited the success of Seventh-day Adventists in evangelism. They do have a high level of success in their evangelism work, but there are facts that should be considered before one decides to make final conclusions concerning their success.
The number of practicing SDAs will always be fewer than the official membership of the SDA.
Most churches will carry an inactive member on their rolls for about two years. Not so with the SDAs.
If an SDA simply quits coming to church, his (or her) name is eventually transferred to the local conference to be listed in conference membership. If that member joins another church or dies without the conference knowing about his death, his name will continue to be listed as a church member.
To remove one's name from membership, one must make a request to the local SDA church and the congregation will vote on the request. Some members who leave will not make that request in consideration of the feelings of loved ones who wish to remain in the SDA church.
Of course they will automatically delete a name when the church is notified of the member's death.
If the SDAs claim a membership of 20 million, that means that the membership of active members is fewer than 20 million.
The COGs that I am familiar with do not practice the pagan holidays of Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Most practicing Adventists do avoid Halloween, but the denomination keeps Christmas and Easter. To their credit, I have known a few Adventists who seriously question the pagan holidays.
The folks who accept the weekly Sabbath day but wish also to keep pagan holidays will be comfortable in an Adventist church but not a Church of God.
About 1925 a group of Adventists rejected certain changes within their church. I understand that the main issue involved their involvement in World War I.
These separated form the larger church and formed what is now called the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. SDARM has retained the original doctrines of the SDA church, including the rejection of pagan holidays. In more recent years they split into two groups with about the same beliefs.
One of these has a membership of about 33,000 worldwide. The other is similarly small, I understand.
Many people are attracted to the several Adventist groups because of vegetarianism, which is encouraged in the Adventist church. Vegetarianism is a core belief in the Reform Movement.
Compared to the Adventists who will not keep pagan holidays (the Reform Movement), the Churches of God have, collectively, more members than they do.
I conclude that the COGs should not look to the SDAs for any sort of example. It is a simple fact that the COG lifestyle is stricter than the SDA denomination's lifestyle.
The SDA denomination has diluted the truth it once knew and played around with its membership statistics to arrive at the 20 million figure. I do give the reformers credit for standing up against the crowd.
Again, I appreciate the concerns and message of Bill Stough's article.
Why don't we have healings?
Why doesn't God seem to heal anymore?
This is a question I have asked myself for 28 years. I have not seen anyone healed, brought back from the dead or had demons cast out. Why?
The only answer I can come up with: For a man to have the power, he would have to be chosen by God and not man. All of the leaders in God's church today were chosen by men. From what I have seen the past couple of months, the Church of God's leaders are not of God at all.
New Castle, Del.
I was just reading an old resignation letter written by Richard Plache, and in it he describes a ministerial agreement that organized a meeting of the ministry in '76 in which they were to discuss how Herbert Armstrong was taking the Old Covenant rituals that he chose out of that covenant and carried them over into the New Covenant commandments. I think that Herbert and Ted Armstrong got up and left in the middle of this one.
One question that he had was very interesting (and it was one of the reasons that Richard Plache was terminated after this meeting), and that is how do you take the Day of Atonement over into the New Covenant and not take the goat ceremony of Leviticus 16?
Of course I had always used the same excuse that everyone else used, and that is that Christ was the sacrifice for sin (that is, He was our atonement, Romans 5:11, "We have now received [past tense] the atonement").
But, if we accept that atonement, then why do we take the ceremonies of affliction by fasting, which is our attempt at making atonement and indicates that we have not fully accepted Christ as our personal atonement, and not take the goat ceremony too?
Doesn't Galatians 5:2-4 apply here? So, if we insist on observing part of the ceremonial ritual, then must we do the whole law as it applies to the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16?
You may use my E-mail address if you print this because I would like some ministerial input in regards to this and other questions as to why we have carried some of the Old Covenant over into the New Covenant and not carried the rest.
Just walk on by
I am writing in response to the UCG's doctrine against voting. A minister recently informed us that Missouri overwhelmingly voted for an amendment barring gay marriage. He said it is heartening to see that many Americans are resisting the immorality of gay marriage.
Yes, it is heartening! They are resisting it by voting!
It is a shame to me that the members in God's church are taught not to vote because all their votes together could help this resistance. As homosexuals gain more and more of their agenda by voting for laws they want, how long will it be before the church will be punished by law for preaching against homosexuality or forced to marry gay couples?
In its doctrinal paper the United Church of God defines voting as the expressing of one's opinion in decision-making. Then they say voting is okay if we do it for local issues that affect us, like garbage disposal.
Then they make voting okay for the church to do by changing its name to balloting. They say this kind of voting is okay because the church uses it to arrive at a "Spirit-led consensus."
Then they define politics as the unpleasant and ungodly wrangling over issues along with vying for personal advancement. Then they redefine "voting" as being the same thing as "politics" when applied to national issues, saying we should not participate in worldly politics. Is this right judgment? Or twisting of words?
It is not a sin to express our opinion by voting. The truth is, whether we like it or not we are responsible for the conditions we help to create in this country by our choice to vote or not vote, conditions that we and our children have to live in.
So the question is whether we as Christians can do more good by voting or not voting.
If God didn't want us to participate and think and make judgments and choices, He would have given us a dictatorship to live under with no voice at all.
John Kerry knows how important it is to vote. He suspended his campaigning to fly back to Washington to be present to vote against the Laci Peterson [www.lacipeterson.com] law, which would protect an unborn baby, and the partial-birth-abortion ban.
I wonder what those poor babies who die by partial-birth abortion would say if they had a voice and knew that, while evil men were flocking to vote for laws that would permit killing them, God's church could not be bothered to vote for men who would work to save their lives.
I read on Life News [www.lifenews.com] that this election could determine the direction of abortion laws for the next 30 years. Those aborted babies are our fellowman unjustly condemned to death. Shouldn't we do what little we can do by voting to help save their lives, or should we just walk on by like in the parable of the good Samaritan?
No offense intended
Some have mistakenly placed me in association with the new-calendar group. I attended one of their Feast sites when it was on traditional days. I was assured that there would be no calendar issues presented or discussed. However, that association has led to a misconception about my beliefs on that issue.
The following is my answer to all those following a new calendar. I do not expect it to change anyone's mind or attitude, only to clear the air about my stance on this issue.
First: "The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt" (Exodus 34:18, KJV).
The barley has to be in abib. If the barley is not in abib at the new moon, then there will be another month added called Adar II. There is never any mention of equinoxes or solstices.
The instructions are clear. The Passover season is solely controlled by the time of the green-barley ears and not an equinox.
Satan is using this issue of who is to determine the holy days and set times to worship God to divide and separate the people of God.
Several years ago when this calendar issue started to divide the church there was almost a month difference between the time appointed by the traditional calendar and the new-calendar people. I thought I would find out for sure the proof of the new calendar.
I went to what many refer to as the official site of the Karaite Jews. I knew they would know if the traditional calendar was wrong. Then there would be no barley in abib and the new-calendar people would be right.
Lo and behold, on the official site there was a picture of barley in abib. I copied that picture and sent it to my friend who is preaching the new calendar and said: Lo and behold, the barley is ready for harvest. There is something wrong with the way you figured the calendar this year. The Jewish traditional calendar was right this year.
At that point I was told that I was wrong and there are several kinds of barley and it didn't make any difference anyway. It all had to do with the equinoxes.
The scripture quoted above seems pretty clear to me. I still observe the traditional calendar. God through observation, the way He commanded to determine the month of Abib, proved the traditional calendar was right.
I hope I haven't offended any with this letter. I only wished to state my own position on the subject for the record.
Fred Porter, Pastor
Sabbath Day Church of God
Hot Springs, Ark.
Use it or else
Don't allow yourself to be conned into believing prophecy that is not supported in the Scriptures. Of a truth, it is said that biblical prophecy interprets itself. This system of checks and balances has been incorporated into the prophetic scriptures as a protective safety net. Use it.
For example, the companion prophecies of Revelation 12:1-5 and Isaiah 66:7-9 forecast the same historical event; namely, a composite birth of the coming Kingdom's firstfruits. Taken together, both biblical accounts plainly tell you the Kingdom's firstfruits are an exclusively male composite of kings and priests who are destined to have absolute rule over the earth during the Millennium.
Thus Isaiah was inspired to write: "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the Earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."
Note the plurality of the word children, used in context with the composite birth of a nation. Also note that the woman involved in the gestation and birth of the Kingdom's firstfruits is clearly identified as Zion.
For even though a composite birth of the Kingdom's firstfruits will indeed transpire within the time frame of a single day (as forecast in type by the Hebrew Feast of Firstfruits) coincident with a blowing of the seventh trumpet of Revelation, Zion's protracted historical pregnancy actually spans 25 centuries, thereby predating and transcending the historical development of Christianity.
Within that context, Isaiah continues: "Shall I [the Lord of Hosts] bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? Shall I cause to bring forth and shut up the womb?" (verse 9).
One might well ask: Is it possible that the gestation and composite birth of the Kingdom's firstfruits can actually span 25 centuries to our own era?
The answer is yes. By way of comparison, human gestation requires about nine months. During that interval a composite fetus develops, composing and organizing itself through the growth of a great multitude of individual specialized human cells within the womb. At some point during that process the fetus becomes a viable entity and is quickened to life within the womb (see Acts 2).
In point of fact, as living individuals we are the composite result of a great multitude of specialized human cells organized into one body, having reproduced themselves for many generations in order to constitute what we presently take for granted as an "individual" life span.
Moreover, the living cells of our adult body are many generations removed from those that formed our body at birth.
Similarly (on a more protracted historical scale), as individual members of that greater national body into which we were all born or adopted, neither is this present generation the same as compared to those who composed our national body at birth.
Even so, we are most assuredly of that same national body by reason of common historical heritage and nativity. Comparatively speaking then, while a human life presently averages three score and ten years, the actual life span of a nation can span centuries.
So it is with Zion, together with the Kingdom's firstfruits presently abiding within her womb.
At present Zion sleeps, unaware of her identity and ultimate spiritual destiny. However, Isaiah also prophesied of her soon-coming historical and spiritual awakening (chapter 52), commencing in that coming year with Passover, concerning which it is also prophesied in Zechariah 3:9:
"I [the Lord of Hosts] will remove the iniquity of that land in one day."
What "land" might that be? Believe it or not, it is certainly not Middle Eastern Judah, as some might be inclined to speculate, for the Kingdom's development has since been taken from Judah and given to a nation that will bring forth the fruits thereof in the fullness of time. (Compare Matthew 21:43-44 with Daniel 2:44-45 and Genesis 49:22-24.)
Accordingly, Zion (and the Kingdom's firstfruits within her womb) no longer resides among Judah.
I read Harry Curley's article ["Lay Members Chose and Ordained Mr. Armstrong," The Journal, July 31] with interest and find that it compares well with a letter written long ago to one Garner Ted Armstrong. This letter even mentions the old hard line about Korah's rebellion. See www.quango.net/ekklesia/d_antion74.htm.
It also mentions how ministers feared their own church and would refuse to go to HQ for meetings, etc. One has to wonder when he reads this if the United Church of God is not fast approaching the redundant crossroad where the church faces the same type of fear tactics and guilt-ridden consciences that so permeated the ministry in the early years.
Of course, this letter did not produce results then either. But we all get accustomed to repolishing the idol and sweeping the residue under the proverbial rug. And yesterday's students become today's leadership and wannabe icons.
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Redesigned Web site
Thanks for refurbishing your Web site [www.thejournal.org]! It's great. I am still a member of the Worldwide Church of God. However, I am unable to attend because all area churches have gone to Sunday. I feel the need to "watch" those inside and out of the church. Your site helps me.
Via the Internet
Mature Christians are not prejudiced
Mel Hershberger in his letter (The Journal, July 31) wrote, "Tom Mahon makes some foolish statements about Anthony Buzzard that will come back to bite him."
Since I am not sure what specific "foolish statements" Mr. Hershberger refers to, I can't comment on them. It would be helpful if Mel could be more specific.
As for my "foolish statements" that will "come back to bite" me, I believe that Mel will wait in vain to witness this impossible event.
However, Mr. Hershberger proceeded to make some rather bold but rash assertions. Mel asserted: "We don't really want the truth."
Who are the "we" who don't really want the truth? I'd suggest that Mr. Hershberger speak for himself, for to say that "we really don't want the truth" is similar to saying that "we really don't want Jesus" (John 14:6).
Mr. Hershberger further asserted, "We want the Bible to agree with our opinions."
Unfortunately, Mr. Hershberger doesn't know me, so he is not able to know that when it comes to the Bible I do not have any opinions.
I define an opinion as "the ignorance we express when we don't know the truth."
If we know the truth, why would we need an opinion?
Yet I'd agree with him that some people do handle the Word of God deceitfully, by twisting the Scriptures to fit their agenda. This practice is widespread amongst the COGs.
Again, Mr. Hershberger asserted, "Most of us Christians are not capable of studying many subjects because of our biases."
I'd concede that babes in Christ may still fight against biases, but mature Christians don't have any prejudices, for they have developed the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and are therefore motivated by love to seek and do the will of God, as Christ did.
Moreover, Mr. Hershberger asserted, "I've respect for both" (David Antion and Anthony Buzzard's) "opinions."
Mr. Hershberger is free to respect the opinions of anyone that appeal to him, provided he is not prepared to quibble with me if I choose to accept the teachings of Jesus in preference to the opinions of misguided men.
Astonishingly, Mr. Hershberger went on to aver, "I daresay that Anthony Buzzard exudes more of the fruit of the Spirit and understanding than many brethren."
Such a bold but rash assertion suggests that Mr. Hershberger is both qualified by reflection and experience to judge what the fruits of the Spirit are. If the content of his letter were used as measure of his ability to judge such matters, any impartial, objective observer would conclude that he is unqualified.
Finally, almost in triumph, Mr. Hershberger concluded, "I come to Anthony Buzzard's defense but do also extend the right hand of fellowship to you."
Perhaps Mr. Buzzard is sufficiently desperate to welcome Mr. Hershberger's advocacy, for his case is untenable. But, for the reasons set out above, his extended right hand to me must be rejected.
West Bromwich, England.
Gerald Waterhouse lived in Port Lucie, Fla. Hurricane Jeanne wrecked the place 753 days after he died. Seven hundred fifty-three is the numerical value of "Satan" in the New Testament, as in Revelation 12:9. Surely this is too precise to be accidental and suggests Satan has been behind the hurricanes in Florida.
Fish Hoek, South Africa
Zerubbabel's plumb line
[Regarding Geoff Neilson's poem "Rise of the Two Witnesses," which appeared as a letter in the June 30 issue of The Journal:]
Seldom am I ever speechless, but this has made me so.
Homosexuality and the Bible
I have just started reading The Journal of June 30 and see the topic of homosexuality is ongoing. To comment on Ken Hill's article promoting "reparative therapy," he calls it "controversial" but does not say why.
I checked out his reading list on Amazon.com and elsewhere, and of course those books get five-star reviews. But it was interesting to read some of the one-star reviews. Joe Nicolosi is decredentialed for his Catholic theology and his "pseudoscientific" Freudianism.
The various therapies can briefly be described as "weeding out bisexuals," costly, quacky, even "dangerous."
But this is all anecdotal evidence. My take is that if there was a "cure" for homosexuality the U.S. military would have adopted it long ago.
I read in the May 31 Journal the question asked by Paul and Micki Herrman about the Pentecost date in 2005. They called it a huge problem.
The answer is right in your Bible. Herbert W. Armstrong followed the wrong doctrine, the one taught by the Sadducees and Samaritans. If he had stuck with the one from the Pharisees, there would not have been any argument.
In the June 30 edition of The Journal Jack Jackson responded to the Herrmanns under the heading "A Short Answer," but his comments were not an answer at all--not a biblical one, to be sure.
In my humble opinion here is the only explanation possible: To establish the date for the Day of Pentecost, count from the day that the wave sheaf was to be waved within the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Via the Internet
Turn, turn, turn
Few subjects incite my ire more than (1) articles referring to continued worship of the memory of Herbert W. Armstrong and (2) articles promoting pacifism and defeatism in the face of the enemy!
I wish to take issue with an example of the latter in Wes White's article "We Should Not Force-Feed Freedom" [The Journal, July 31, an editorial about America's War on Terror].
In his opening paragraph Wes claims it is more hurtful to see old tombstones than fresh coffins.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is contemptible for the left to display pictures of coffins to undermine the war in Iraq. Is Wes blind to the political use of dead soldiers to promote cowardice?
"Let's be honest," Wes continues. The Bush administration "sure messed up by getting into this Iraq mess."
I find such comments to be reprehensible cowardice in the face of the enemy. Yet that is what we must expect from years of pacifism and cowardice taught from the pulpit based on one phrase, "Turn the other cheek."
As for problems in Iraq, if you think defeatism as depicted by the mainstream media (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS) accurately portrays the situation in Iraq, perhaps you may wish to find an American who has been there and ask him. Where are the 100,000 dead American soldiers the timid souls on the left predicted before we even got to Baghdad?
As for Bill Clinton not having the expertise to handle Iraq, who told you that nonsense? Baathist control in Iraq with the murder of tens of thousands is preferable to what? Shiite control?
The history of the world is the history of abuse of authority. Perhaps we really wanted weapons of mass destruction in the hands of al-Qaeda. Since all intelligence sources claimed Iraq had them and that Iraq was forming alliances with al-Qaeda, George Bush couldn't take the chance and do nothing as Clinton did.
Concerning Wes's final paragraph in his opening section ("George W. Bush is now allowing former Baathists in the new government and new military. So the Baathists weren't so bad after all, eh?"):
President Bush has to come up with a multiethnic, multisect and multicultural government in Iraq. Certainly it might be a waste of time. The obstacles may be insurmountable. Yet he has to try. Such would be a wonderful gift to bestow on the Iraqis.
If you must be a defeatist, may I suggest you vote for John Kerry. He has promised to turn tail and run in six months.
God bless our troops!
Timothy W. Henry
Confusing about tithing
Some of God's people--our brethren--are confused about tithing. They think God wanted ancient Israel, Old Testament Israel, to give the first tenth as a tithe. This is not true.
God is a God of love. In fact, God is love (1 John 4:8). As we should know and hopefully believe, God's love means putting others before ourselves, giving to others, sharing with others.
This is what God did about the tithing requirement with ancient Israel. He put the people ahead of Himself and told them they should keep the first nine tenths and then give the last tenth, the tithe, to Him.
Notice Leviticus 27:32: "Whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord."
So every tenth animal was to be given unto the Lord, and every tenth basket or bushel of produce was to be given unto the Lord, not the first tenth but the last tenth.
Did you know this? It's very important.
Paul and Micki Herrmann