Letters from our readers
Ma and Pa
I would like to thank you for sending us an advanced copy of The Journal and for the nice picture and write-up you did on the "Pa and Ma Show" [Feast reports, Dec. 31 issue, page 4]. This was a real treat for us to have a part in the show.
Keep up the good work on The Journal. It's very newsy and informative. We love it and read every page. It has been a real blessing to us.
Charlie "Pa" and Geneva "Ma" Stanley
No third possibility?
In the May 31, 2004, issue of The Journal, Dave Havir predicted both the departure of Roy Holladay as the president of the UCG and the appointment of Jim Franks as the new president.
If the council of elders elects Mr. Franks as the UCG's new president, that will indicate two possibilities: (1) Dave is a real prophet. (2) Since Dave based his predictions on an analysis of pure politics, then the UCG is acting like any worldly political organization rather than having all its decisions inspired by God.
I wonder which of these two possibilities it could be?
A missed opportunity?
The current pope has held office for almost 27 years. He is in frail health so speculation abounds regarding a possible successor. In the UCG the current president has been in office for three years. He appears to be in the pink of health, but suggestions about his possible successor also abound.
Far from being informative, COE (council of elders) chairman Clyde Kilough's Feb. 28 letter to the UCG membership announcing the council's nonaffirmation of its president was as hermetic as a Soviet-era Kremlin communique. As a result, speculation can only increase.
In his letter Chairman Kilough wrote twice about "redefining" the council's expectations of a president, but not once did he suggest what those redefined expectations might be. He praised outgoing president Roy Holladay's integrity, diligence, humility, dedication, service and steadiness, but those qualities are evidently either insufficient or inadequate.
The chairman also requested prayer and fasting for divine guidance, but, since the council has already made its decision--in all likelihood with someone specific in mind for the post--how much guidance are council members truly seeking? They do not ask for any advice from the membership--or even from the eldership.
The letter offers few details; it is starkly bereft of substantive information. And therein lies the problem. The council's secrecy, a legacy of its members' training in the WCG, inevitably promotes speculation.
If they were open, transparent and accountable in all they do, fully answering all questions, speculation would die. Sadly, secrecy of this type is most often prompted either by fear or by hubris. Equating information with power means not having to give out the former or give up the latter.
To an outsider, two schools of thought appear to be at odds within the organization. There are those who seem to want almost everything kept the way it was in the WCG but without the pernicious influence of the successors to Herbert Armstrong. Others saw the break with the WCG as a starting point for much-needed reform.
It's not a total dichotomy, of course, because there are positions all along a continuum. But tensions do exist, particularly on the issue of governance.
The UCG was born in the hope-filled meetings of Indianapolis in the spring of 1995. Many attendees eagerly discussed the exciting prospects for massive change from the authoritarian WCG structure.
But conservatives have been fighting back ever since (starting with the UCG's first president, who appeared to favor the rigid hierarchical structure Mr. Armstrong had created, just with him at the top). This latest presidential change appears to be part of the continuing battle, and the conservatives (reactionaries, to some) seem to be gaining the upper hand.
Still, one can hope that the secretive agenda the UCG's council is following will force more church members to recognize that all religious leaders are biased and fallible. Such awareness is the first step in making sure that the focus is on Jesus Christ, who is just and infallible. Unlike the secretive council, Jesus is open (John 15:15). Governments among Christians may well be necessary and sometimes even helpful; they would do well, however, to always be transparent and accountable.
The feasts of the Lord
Those of us with a Church of God background refer fondly to the "Feast." It is understood that it is the Feast of Tabernacles that is being referred to. The Feast is, for most, the highlight of the year.
That is no surprise because we invest more time, effort and money into it than any other feast of the year. For eight days we immerse ourselves in the glorious vision of the future it represents. We would be quick to correct someone if he referred to this time as the Days of Tabernacles. We would say, "No, no, this is the Feast of Tabernacles!"
Leviticus 23 lists all of the feasts, or appointed times, and activities of the Lord. It is a curiosity that there is also a weeklong feast that God directs us to celebrate in the spring that we rarely call a feast nor celebrate it for its entirety. Its observance is described in the same general way that the Feast of Tabernacles is described, yet it is commonly (and inaccurately) referred to as the Days of Unleavened Bread and is usually observed for only three days.
Most of us see ourselves as "observant" followers of God. If we abbreviate this holy time, are we fully observant? What are we missing out on by not fully observing this holy time?
We faced these questions head on several years ago when we left the corporate world of religion and began to take interest and responsibility for what and how we celebrate God's feasts.
In searching the Scriptures, we couldn't defend the incomplete way we had observed the Spring Feast. We became convicted that changes were needed.
We continued having a more formal service on the high days and weekly Sabbath but added a wave-sheaf study on Sunday. As more families have joined us in campers on our farm, we have since added breakfast, fellowship and Bible studies in our large kitchen as well as evening potluck meals and studies at others' homes.
Last year campfire fellowship, kite-flying, a museum and a fun show in our barn completed an inspiring Spring Feast. Seven days of gathering proved to be a powerful addition to the continuity of this feast, just like it was intended to be.
I encourage you to prove this to yourself and begin fully observing and benefiting from the Feast of Unleavened Bread in your area, or join us in ours.
Tributes to Herman Hoeh
I received the December issue of The Journal today. Good job. Reading the other tributes to Dr. Hoeh therein and at Vic Kubik's Web site was a most worthwhile activity. The synthesized comments constitute an excellent sermon on some important points in life: humility, work, caring, etc.
Who's blushing now?
The readers' tributes to Dr. Hoeh in the December Journal were good. I loved them. I especially liked Mac Overton's memory of how the ministers were not required to save a second tithe but were given a bonus at festival time, and Dr. Hoeh was virtually the only minister who ever turned unused money back in to the church after the Feast.
When I read that, I thought: Boy, I bet a lot of ministers are blushing now.
But then I remembered Jeremiah 6:13, 15: "... Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush."
How could those ministers stand up there and tell all us dumb sheep to turn in our excess second tithe when they never intended to do it themselves?
What did Jesus say of the scribes and Pharisees?
Matthew 23:2-3: "They sit in Moses' seat, all therefore whatsoever they did you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works, for they say and do not."
Luke 12:1-2: "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy, for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known."
I thought Bill Stough's "The Journal Is divisive; Cancel My Subscription" [Oct. 31 issue] was an excellent and though-provoking essay.
Particularly notable was the statement, "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."
In fact, I would like to expand that thought a bit: Had there been a publication like The Journal when Herbert Armstrong began formulating doctrines, church policy and ministerial standards, perhaps a kinder, gentler and healthier WCG would have been the result.
But wait. Oh, I forgot. HWA would have forbidden his membership to read The Journal. Never mind.
Lea Anne Edwards
The Journal of Dec. 31 gives Brian Knowles' article "What's With This Irrational Fear of Becoming 'Laodicean'?" In it he denies Herbert W. Armstrong's teaching that there are seven successive church eras and cites the late Garner Ted Armstrong as having debunked that idea.
Nevertheless we ought to question that debunking. For a start, seven is the number of spiritual completeness and so, as there are seven distinct days and seven distinct millennia, we should expect there to be seven distinct church eras that lie on a mail route from the apostles to the two witnesses.
Why should seven relatively short-lived churches in Asia Minor receive a three-chapter spotlight in Revelation when this book centers on the Lord's day? (Revelation 1:10). Those seven apostolic churches of Asia Minor are a type of seven subsequent church eras of the same name, and that three-chapter message is a prophetic one for especially our day.
Mr. Knowles may like to read Section 2.0 "The Seven Church Eras" in my paper Laodicea's Lamp!, which is available for downloading at www.zipworld.com.au/~hwj.
Members of God's true church need to understand that from 1934 to 1974 and 1979 Mr. Armstrong led God's seventh and final church era of Laodicea rather than Philadelphia! Laodicea's Lamp! and its three companion papers offer explanations of the events that began in the 1970s and boiled over during the 1990s.
These events have caused many to become disoriented and led others to question their faith. So surely we must consider all angles. Perhaps we may discover there is a need for the Church of God to repent and accept the eye-salve our Lord offers Laodicea!
Strong faces, strong wills
Mahoumed Abbas was informed he'd receive the baton of Palestinian (Philistine?) leadership--exactly one 19-year time cycle after it was announced that Joseph Tkach Sr. would be passed the baton--when Abbas was declared the winning candidate Jan. 10. Will there be a parallel disintegration of the Jewish state as there was in spiritual Judah (the Church of God) as a result?
Jan. 16, 2005, is exactly one 19-year (moon) cycle after Herbert W. Armstrong died. Shortly before then, Pasadena was completely sold, symbolizing the complete great falling away there from everything Mr. Armstrong restored as the final Elijah.
Have you noticed the strong will and similar facial characteristics that Mr. Armstrong and Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon share? They may be related sons of David.
God gets blamed
Regarding your Dec. 31 Journal article by Dave Havir, "Did the Creator God Create the Tsunami":
God says that before He brings on death He would raise up a prophet to warn the people before death comes.
But I haven't heard that He did that. God gets the blame for almost everything that goes on in the world.
I am 62 years old, and in the past 56 years I have seen great changes in the human race, and they have not been for the better.
I feel that God has given Satan greater power because the end is near, and Jesus Christ said that all these things will take place, and I feel that Satan is the one behind all of these deaths. God allows it to happen because He said that "these things would happen before Christ came back.
Satanic counterfeiting in advance
Symbolic error follows historical error, not the other way around. That is why the Jewish religion is a day late and a shekel short in its annual observance of the Passover. Indeed, when the actual historical time came for an applicable fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice, Judah rejected the Messiah out of hand.
Moreover, that is why men today fail to observe the Passover sacrifice as their foundation in faith, marking the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Much like the disciples of old, many are asleep concerning observance of the Passover vigil (actually the highest and most solemn of all the Hebrew sabbaths) during the night of the 14th, whereof it was warned of old that if any failed to observe it they would surely be cut off from the Kingdom.
Indeed, in failing to observe the Passover on the 14th as a high Sabbath and first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, an annual symbolic statement of error is made as follows:
"While recognizing the Messiah's sacrifice [on the 14th] we hold that sacrifice to be separate and apart from the historical process (symbolized by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread) of our salvation."
Put another way, mankind currently rejects the Messiah's Passover sacrifice as its foundation in salvation, subsequently worshiping a counterfeit messiah whom Satan cleverly substituted throughout the Scriptures soon after the Messiah's sacrifice was fulfilled nearly 2,000 years ago.
Directly relating to that era and time, we thus read of a direct conflict in symbolic observance in Matthew 26:27, which clearly states:
"Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to him saying . . . Where would you that we should prepare for you to observe the Passover?"
Similarly, Mark 14:12 records the same incident:
"And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples came to to him, asking . . . Where would you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
Through mistaken tradition the Jews of that time referred to Abib (Nisan) 14 as a "preparation day." True to symbolic form, they actually rejected the Messiah, who was then killed "between the two evenings" marking the natural boundaries (i.e., beginning and end) of that profoundly fateful historical day.
Soon after actually partaking of the Passover meal on the eve (beginning) of the 14th, the Messiah was arrested and His historical trial began, concluding with His death and immediate burial just before the next sunset, which defined an end to the 14th and beginning the 15th day of the first Hebrew month.
What actually happened that first Passover, commencing (as accurately as can presently be determined) with Abib 14, in the year 1461 B.C.? To properly understand, you must first recognize there is both a historical macro and micro aspect to Passover's actual historical fulfillment.
For example, from a macro perspective, the Messiah's sacrifice and subsequent burial concluded 4,000 years of recorded history. Similarly, from a micro perspective, that same prophetic act also concluded the fourth day of the week.
For this reason, when the Lord of Hosts again establishes His true Sabbaths here upon earth, He will do so with their foundation in Passover, coincident with a beginning of the seventh-day Sabbath.
That coming intervention (see Zechariah 3:9) will actually commence the seventh millennium.
Moreover, up to this point in time (in failing to properly observe that foundational sacrifice) Israel's self-righteous Sabbath-keeping throughout recorded history will have become an exercise in futility.
Put another way, how Passover (as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) actually intersects the weekly cycle in a year of actual application and literal fulfillment is of profound historical importance.
The Passover lamb was selected on the 10th, then held in reserve for four days before being slaughtered on the eve (beginning) of the 14th (Exodus 12:3-6). From a macro perspective, this four-day interval represents the 4,000 years of recorded history that passed before the Messiah actually fulfilled that sacrifice.
In keeping with a rejection of the Messiah's sacrifice in their stead, many (including the Jews) falsely reason that the Passover lamb was killed sometime on the 14th, followed by a Passover and/or Exodus from Egypt on the 15th.
In point of fact the Lord's Passover transpired at midnight on the 14th, whereupon Moses and Aaron were sent for in haste by the Pharaoh that same night and told to initiate Israel's Exodus from Egypt without delay. Thus Israel kept a first Passover vigil on the 14th (being instructed not to go out of their houses until dawn). Then the Israelites spoiled the Egyptians (even as the Egyptians were burying their dead) in preparation for an Exodus from Egypt, commencing on the 15th.
The Israelites did not actually leave the borders of Egypt until three days later, on the morning of the 18th, when they crossed dry-shod through the midst of parted waters into the Sinai wilderness (Exodus 13:20-31). It was the Passover intervention of the 14th that released Israel from bondage.
Thus Israel did not depart Egypt on the 15th. That patently false scenario is clearly not supported by the Scriptures.
Moreover, a scriptural study concerning this vitally important subject reveals a degree of interpretive latitude that lends itself well to today's varied mistaken interpretations concerning Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
This writer believes these same scriptures were deliberately inspired after this manner to allow for the historical deviations surrounding the Passover that were foreordained of old.
Out of the bag
Dean Neal, in a refreshingly candid and open admission of multiple-God worship within the Armstrong binitarian camp--which worship model has clearly been shown to be the practice of polytheism--wrote in The Journal of Nov. 30 ["Christ Outranks Elijah and Moses," page 4]:
"A vicious trend exists in the attempts to relegate Christ to the status of a man only and not one who emptied Himself of glory as a fellow God ... As a wife and husband are 'one,' so too with both Gods: One God family exists" (italics added).
Mr. Neal has let the cat out of the bag, folks. He is admitting to the world that the Armstrong worship model he supports is the worship of "fellow Gods." In reading his letter carefully, I note that he admits that those in the Armstrong sects are to be fellow Gods too!
Mr. Neal wrote: ". . . We as God's new sons are one with Christ and the Father. Christ is now our brother!"
What do we call the brother of a God? Would not the brother of a God also be a God? You bet. And, since the Father is God, Jesus is God, and all the brothers of Jesus are Gods (not to mention you sisters who are probably supposed to be Goddesses). In the "one-God family" Mr. Neal wrote about exists a household assembly of Gods--many, many Gods, millions of household family Gods.
All of these new human-Gods are to be just as powerful as the Father and Son Gods, employing their new God-being attributes that are typical of the Father God and his "God-son" as "Co-Creators" and "Co-Saviors."
The Bible testifies against Mr. Neal's imaginings: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5; Matthew 26:71-74; Luke 23:1, 6; John 5:12; 19:5).
". . . He [God] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained" (Acts 17:31).
So God ordained a man through whom He, God, will judge the world and established a man as a mediator. The Father did not ordain a God or a God-man, nor did He turn a God or a God-man into a mediator.
True biblical monotheism cannot be qualified as "strict" monotheism while the supposed "monotheism" of binitarianism is another form of monotheism, say, "loose binitarian monotheism," eerily similar to Roman Catholic "trinitarian monotheism."
No, a person either supports biblical monotheism (one God being) or antibiblical polytheism (more than one God being).
Finally, I agree with Mr. Neal: "Don't believe carnal man." But he may be wrong on his next point: "Your leaders don't know the truth." I think your leaders really do.
F. Paul Haney
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