Letters from our Readers
To the highest bidder
In reading the articles in The Journal about the sale of the AC Pasadena campus to various parties, I can't help but remember a prayer given 40 years ago by David Jon Hill at the dedication of the college gymnasium.
This was the first building to be constructed by the O.K. Earl Co. in what would later make up most of the Pasadena campus. The gymnasium and pool facility was planned and built in a hurry to keep the 210 freeway from cutting the campus in half. By constructing this facility, eminent domain for the new freeway was moved about 100 yards further south.
The gymnasium was just the first in an overall plan that would soon include buildings such as the men's dormitory (Grove Terrace), Academic Center, Student Center, Press Building, Hall of Administration and last (but definitely not least) Ambassador Auditorium.
I was only 16 when several hundred brethren, faculty members and students gathered outside the new gymnasium to open its doors for the first time. Maybe some of you reading this letter were there and remember. This was new and exciting for the members of the Radio Church of God. It was our first new and modern facility in the master building program.
What struck me as odd at the dedication was that the tone of David Jon Hill's prayer wasn't so much celebratory as it was a warning. He asked God that we as His people never forget that these were only temporary physical buildings and that the real power and strength were in God's Holy Spirit.
He asked that we never look to our buildings as something we had done nor take confidence in them, but to look to God as our source of strength and hope. He implied that all these things could be taken away if we turned our hearts from the Lord our God.
In hindsight, I think his prayer 40 years ago was timely. In the following years we would build more award-winning buildings, gardens and fountains. We would become the jewel of Pasadena.
We had the best and grandest auditorium that money could buy, and even Pavarotti gave his first West Coast recital there. Mayors, kings and world leaders would marvel at the beauty of what was built.
Members of the Worldwide Church of God who didn't have many of this world's goods could view with pride the many mansions, fountains and new buildings all made possible by "sacrificing as never before."
Back in the '60s and '70s I too was caught up in how wonderful our facilities were and in Herbert W. Armstrong, who made it all possible. Everything was "Ambassador quality." We were truly rich and increased with goods.
Yes, I have many fond memories of being a student there, yet David Jon Hill's prayer still speaks to me, as it should to every one of us while all of these things we once admired are going to the highest bidder.
Brush Prairie, Wash.
All one body we
Have you, as Joe Tkach Jr. says on the front of his book Transformed by Truth, "rejected Herbert W. Armstrong and embraced historical Christianity"?
If you have not embraced historical Christianity, have you left the WCG and joined another church? Whether you say you are of United, Living, CGIA, CGI or WCG, etc., if you have God's Holy Spirit living within you you have not joined another church. There is only one Church of God! Always has been, always will be. Because the church is Christ, and Christ is not divided.
It is we, the members of Christ's Body, who make up God's church. It is we, the members, who must love and accept each other regardless of what organization or congregation we attend. It is we, the members, who must rise above the pettiness within each group and reach out to each other--in love.
Combining the members of every single splinter group in the world, we are almost certainly fewer than 100,000. As a percentage of professing Christians worldwide--some 200 million Protestants and 300 million Catholics--we are only about .02 percent! As a percentage of the five-plus billion people on earth, we basically don't exist. Small enough flock for you?
If God's people are ever to be truly united (and I don't mean within the organization by that name) it will almost certainly have to be from the bottom up. We've never all seen eye to eye on every doctrine. We don't have to. But we should be able to love and associate with and learn from someone else who has God's Spirit without labeling and ridiculing. The way some talk about other groups, you might think someone other than Christ had a strong influence on them.
Let the executives slug it out over government and organization, but let us, the members, enjoy the common ground of God's Spirit and rejoice with God's people wherever we find them. Reach out. Go meet your brothers and sisters in Christ wherever they are. Mix without barriers, as Christ intended we should. Rejoice when the gospel is preached. Rejoice when a new member is baptized. Pray when a member is hurting. Regardless.
When anyone asks you what church you belong to, say simply and proudly, "I'm a member of the Church of God, the spiritual Body of Christ."
"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35).
By love are we united as one.
Via the Internet
The apostles weren't exegetes
Regarding "What Is the Real Situation in the COG Pod?," by Brian Knowles, The Journal, Nov. 30:
Not that I agree with Herbert (because I definitely do not), but I wonder how Brian thinks that those "unlearned and ignorant" apostles (Acts 4:13) tackled exegesis without the scholars of the Sanhedrin who must have known about "sentence structure and syntactical relationships." Give me a break!
Christ did not mention the need to understand exegesis in the changing of the scriptural symbols in John 16:13-14--just that we need the Holy Spirit in order to have revelation.
And that is all we need: not HWA nor Brian's exegesis.
Sulphur Springs, Texas
I have been reading some of the older Plain Truths, written 1939 to 1945, and find it interesting that, after some 21 prophetic failures as listed below, Herbert Armstrong abandoned his congregation in Eugene, claiming that Oregon did not have the capacity to print the large number of Plain Truth magazines that he was producing monthly.
Was he unaware of the large number of giant newspaper presses in Portland that could circulate hundreds of thousands? After all, the Eugene church was faithful even after the prophetic failures and had stuck with him when he left the Oregon Conference.
Below are my comments on prophecies he was promoting during World War II with the Eugene church's backing:
Via the Internet
Feast moved, not canceled
Re Sept. 30, 2004, Journal article, "Hurricane Ivan Hits Alabama and Florida Coasts, Changes Some Organizers' Feast of Tabernacles Plans," by Dave Havir:
The statement by Mr. Havir that "Rob Elliott's Church of God Worldwide site was canceled . . ." is true but incomplete. The Feast site was canceled, but not the Feast, which was transferred on a week's notice to a resort in Georgia.
Robert J. Elliott
The puzzle in Connections
My mother-in-law, Kathleen Bramhall, enjoys the puzzle. We all enjoy The Journal!
Do you remember when God first called you you were required to read four, five or maybe six booklets and get several "visits" before you would be considered a part of the Body of Christ, the church, the ekklesia? This idea, this practice, is unscriptural; it's unbiblical.
Consider Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. God sent Philip to the Ethiopian. The Ethiopian had a question. Philip recommended six booklets for him to read.
Is that how you remember it? No. Philip preached Jesus to him and that it is only by Jesus' sacrifice through grace alone that he could be saved. No booklets.
An even more powerful example is the thief on the cross next to Jesus. When the thief gave undeniable evidence that he believed that Jesus was the Messiah, can you imagine Jesus saying this to the thief: "It is really a shame that you have never been circumcised or don't have knowledge of the doctrines about new moons, tithing, holy days, kosher foods, atonement, etc."?
No. The thief didn't know and/or didn't do any of those things. No booklets.
because the thief believed that Jesus was the Messiah, our Savior said to Him, "You shall be with Me in My kingdom."
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