The Journal is divisive.
Cancel my subscription!
By Bill Stough
LONEDELL, Mo.--At the Christian Educational Ministries Feast of Tabernacles observance in Eureka Springs, Ark., this year, we put out 150 copies of The Journal for nonsubscribers to take.
One day I was standing in the lobby at the Feast-site facility and saw someone stopping people from taking a copy. He would stand there and tell each person he should not take one, then give each one a lecture. So I went over and listened in.
"This is a very divisive publication," he said, "and no one should read it."
The condemnation continued. I told him I disagreed, that I write many news articles for The Journal. I suggested as nicely as I could that he get lost.
I did not see him again.
Later I talked to a friend from Oklahoma who asked me about Guy Swenson and Bill Jacobs, who were soon to visit the CEM site.
I told her about Guy's and Bill's evangelism conference and that she could read about it in The Journal that was available for pickup.
She said she'd once received The Journal but canceled it when she disagreed with some editorials (on page 3 of each issue).
I asked her how she could ever learn anything if all she read was whatever she already agreed with.
In each Journal, I pointed out, are often opposing points of view. The goal of the editorials is to get people to think, and that does not occur without considering more than one point of view.
She also said she canceled her daily Tulsa, Okla., newspaper because there were "liberal points of view" in some editorials.
Recently, in two Churches of God in New Zealand, elders of churches allegedly said less-than-flattering things about The Journal to members of their congregations, simply because it contains content that is not officially sanctioned by their respective church headquarters.
How should one deal with these attitudes and approaches?
The Journal has several sections, as does an average daily newspaper that is sold at a newsstand. The front page begins with news stories. Page 3 has editorials.
Various points of view regularly and frequently run in the same issue or in successive issues.
The Journal encourages putting forth more than one point of view, even on sensitive matters.
The advertising sections (called Connections: Member to Member) occupies several pages later in each issue of the paper. It is made up of paid ads. The top of each page of Connections says: "This page contains paid advertising."
That means just what it says. The writer has paid to put in what he says, and that does not mean in any way that The Journal endorses it.
It has been vital for The Journal to carry advertising because this publication was not surviving financially until ads were instituted.
That seems to be true for most publications that are not sponsored by a church or another business. But it does not mean you have to agree with everything in them or even read all the articles.
No thinking allowed
When I was covering the Mystery of the Ages lawsuit between the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and Philadelphia Church of God (PCG), I always sought input from both churches. The legal department of the WCG always spoke with me and gave me its take on the latest legal action and related issues.
But that is only one side of the story, and there is inevitably another side, so I'd always call the PCG as well.
But with the PCG I had to leave a message on Dennis Leap's answering machine stating what I wanted, and he rarely called back.
Finally he called back on one occasion and was angry with The Journal for printing what the WCG had said about its point of view on the Mystery story.
"Would Jesus Christ allow more than one opinion to be expressed?" he asked me.
That statement so astonished me I didn't know what to say.
Later I thought about it and assumed that such a statement might represent how Mr. Leap, one of PCG founder Gerald Flurry's assistants, felt or even how PCG members as a whole think, but I didn't believe it went much further than that.
I strongly disagreed with him and thought of many teachings in Proverbs and the New Testament that refute what he said. You can do your own Bible research on this subject.
But doesn't what Mr. Leap said represent the same kind of thinking as the thought processes of the two people I described at the Feast this year?
How about it? Do you believe articles in The Journal should be "approved" by somebody or some church and you should not read them unless they are approved?
Had there been a publication like The Journal when the WCG began changing doctrines, it would have been harder for that church because alternate points of view would have been put forth. More people would have had to think for themselves rather than suffer confusion and intimidation.
Dictatorships use control of the press as an essential tool for survival of the dictatorship. They know most people are sheep and can be herded along mentally and emotionally.
You need to watch out when a church starts attacking a free press and employing the tactics of dictators.
It has always been a source of great grief to me to see that most people are so sheeplike and simply parrot the rhetoric of their church. Consider the word "divisive."
This term produces a negative emotional response and somehow intimidates you to not think. It is an appeal to control your mind. Think about that.
Should we individually continue to "prove all things," including the direction a church is headed, or should we unwittingly give in to emotional blackmail?
Did Christ accept what the religious leaders of His day said, or did He go into the temple of God with whips and drive out the money changers? They had perverted the church, so to speak.
Jesus Christ was no wimp. Should we be wimps?
Groupthink is all around us. My concern is that the people who need this article the most are the ones who will not read it. They are the ones who are already under emotional control of their church.
Perhaps you who read this can influence friends not to be fearful to challenge the groupthink atmosphere of their church.
The church I see as facing the greatest danger right now is the United Church of God an International Association (UCG). That denomination was founded on principles that have been thrown out of that church. The UCG is becoming a completely controlling organization and is circling the wagons to protect its hierarchy and ministers. That is why some of its leaders are speaking out against publications like The Journal.
Shooting the messenger
Sin should be repented of. Shooting the messenger does not take away the sin. If David had killed Nathan the prophet when he corrected him for his adultery and murder (see 2 Samuel 12), would he have gone down in Bible history as a righteous man? Would God have allowed his reign to prosper?
You may assume that I write like this because if The Journal goes under I lose my salary. But I don't earn one penny from The Journal and never have. I make my living repairing electronic equipment and intend to keep it that way. John Warren, Dave Havir, Brian Knowles, Kathleen McCann and others, including The Journal's distributors in other countries, are also unpaid volunteers who write and otherwise contribute because they see a need.
I am stirred up about this trend to get people to close their minds and fall lock-step behind der Fuehrer, which happens to be their church.
Don't submit to emotional blackmail or turn your mind over to someone else.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God