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Letters from our readers - Issue 99
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Letters from our readers
Issue 99

Those of us who were there

Please send three back issues of March 31, 2005, dealing with the church shootings in Brook- field, Wis., on March 12. Those of us who were there that day appreciate all the articles you printed about it. I hope The Journal is around for a long time. I look forward to it each month.

Dorothy Hodzinski
Pewaukee, Wis.

Problem with doctrines

After reading the March issue of The Journal, especially the articles covering the massacre at Brookfield, Wis., I tried to analyze why God did not protect His sheep.

A few note that they believe that protection is not one of God's promises, a bit like the health-and-wealth gospel not being one of God's promises.

Well, to be honest, even before reading those articles I formed my conclusions, and The Journal has yet to publish those conclusions.

I believe God is telling us that our doctrines are causing His protection to be removed, out of love for us to change.

We are too insulated as a Church of God, and this caused a disturbed member to do what he did in murdering members of his congregation.

We are not building members up because we are turning inward by our beliefs.

Sure, we are reaching out to the world, but all the same we are coming out of the world, into the church, and refusing to look outwardly in Christian compassion towards our neighbors in daily life.


The church is our idol, though we profess otherwise. How, you ask, is this?

We use the Bible as an excuse to be right and everyone else wrong. Yet we refuse to believe that God desires all men to be saved, otherwise we wouldn't criticize other faiths outside our denominations.

This smacks of pride and hypocrisy to God, hence His indignation and the removal of His protection. Now, how should we appease God and regain His favor and protection?

Well, we should be more positive about life generally and allow members more scope and freedom to grow, to form their own opinions about reading widely, especially in the area of self-help and psychological books that train the mind and help one to take more responsibility for his own actions, rather than leaving it all to the church and God, as it were.

In fact, the church would do well to feature articles of self-improvement written by experts in their field and to sensitively blend sound advice with biblical truths that support that advice.

In truth, if members were encouraged to be the best they could be in this world, then there would be little room for misery and depression to take hold of unstable potential murderers.

In reality, I believe that when individuals develop an unhealthy balance of waiting for God to fix everything, they are setting themselves up for a fall. The church should do well to take heed to that fact.

Paul Christophy
London, England

Wake-up call

I feel that God let the tragedy of 9-11 happen to give this nation a wake-up call to pay attention to the threat without.

Could the church tragedy in Wisconsin be a wake-up call to the church that, hey, there are people in the church who are hurting and need love, compassion and comfort but feel that they cannot turn to the church because all the church has ever offered is shame and rebuke to those who show any weakness?

When I came into the church in 1968, I had severe emotional problems from severe childhood abuse that was downright criminal, but I quickly found that there was precious little love in the church. If you talked about your emotional problems, you were quickly rebuked. You were not allowed to feel what you felt.

Is the church in Wisconsin more neglectful than most? I doubt it. Perhaps they are a bit better than most. Perhaps God is working a little more closely with them than most because they show more hope than most.

Herbert Armstrong would not tolerate criticism or anything negative, not even people's deep inner emotional pain. He and the ministry shut down communication with the flock and were very intolerant of those who needed help. So people shut down.

You can't share your deep emotional pain with the world, but it shouldn't be that way in the church.

You can't share your church problems with your unconverted family. You can't go to a psychologist with your church problems. You can't go to the church about anything. You have no place to turn, so your problems fester until you crack and go berserk.

The LCG representatives said their members can seek psychological help. Duh! Is the LCG so lazy and loveless that they prefer that you seek help from the world rather than the church?

None of the corporate groups will be awakened by this tragedy. They will just endlessly wring their hands and whine and ask why, why, why.

Terry Ratzmann was probably so shut down that no one, not even his family, knew that he had a long, festering problem, nor will they ever know what was bothering him.

There were women in the church who would come to my wife and me for emotional help that they couldn't get anywhere else.

I knew of only one truly compassionate minister in the old WCG, and he went out with the apostasy.

I do not believe that Terry Ratzmann snapped over prophecy. He needed a safe sanctuary to turn to for help, and there wasn't any.

The ministry can duck and hide and weave and bob, but the church and ministry failed Terry Ratzmann. It's just that simple.

The church has failed its people.

Jim L. Weeks
Longview, Texas

Brookfield issue

I haven't read every word yet, but it seems that this issue [The Journal, March 31] is a masterful treatment of the Brookfield situation. I'm humbled to be a small part. [See Mr. Kellner's editorial, "Let's Learn Some Lessons From Brookfield," and several related articles and letters in the issue.] This is journalism at its best, and most personal. Please know that your work will be appreciated by many!

Mark Kellner
Rockville, Md.

Positive, balanced, mature

Dr. Meredith gave an in-depth, wide-ranging interview in The Journal ["LCG Leader Roderick Meredith Says the Fallen in Brookfield on That Dark Day Were Martyrs," March 31 issue] in which he discusses a range of topics about the Living Church of God.

In the article, in which Dr. Meredith covers the recent tragic events in Milwaukee and discusses the future plans for Living, he also speaks favorably of The Journal.

In the interview Dr. Meredith was asked about the New Zealand situation. His comments about New Zealand were in the concluding part of the interview, quoted here:

"Dr. Meredith also talked about this newspaper:

" ‘I wanted to let you know that this thing in New Zealand, when some man there was not allowed to come to services after he was delivering your paper, I just wanted to say we don't have a policy on that at all.'

"Dr. Meredith's comment about The Journal's New Zealand distributor referred to an ultimatum the New Zealand LCG pastor issued to Bruce Porteous, who lives in Auckland. Either Mr. Porteous could continue attending LCG Sabbath services or continue to distribute The Journal, but not both.

"Mr. Porteous quit attending church with the LCG and still distributes this newspaper. (See ‘New Zealand Church Pastor Issues Ultimatum,' The Journal, Nov. 30, 2004.)

" ‘Anyway, we feel good toward you guys,' Dr. Meredith said. ‘I don't always agree with everything that's in THE JOURNAL, and sometimes history does get rewritten in a strange way. I lived through a lot of that history.' "

Clearly, Dr. Meredith does not share the opinions of the local New Zealand ministry who have been very critical of The Journal.

Dr. Meredith's interview is a positive, balanced and mature account of the Living COG and should be read by all Living members. You can subscribe to The Journal by going to

Bruce Porteous
Auckland, New Zealand

Don't forget

To Bruce Porteous of New Zealand: God said in the latter days there would be a falling away from the truth. Remember? Keep the faith!

Prophecy is being fulfilled every day. Pray for patience! Read Revelation 12, especially verses 6 and 13-17.

We are praying for all of God's children.

Name withheld Pasadena, Texas

‘Roots' studies on former campus

Totally unrelated to WCG groups, Christian Believers United ( for several years already has organized three-day weekend celebrations for Pentecost and the FOT at Ridgecrest, N.C. (near Asheville).

This year my wife and I attended only one evening, but our ears certainly perked up when a Dr. Karl Coke mentioned that he had just spoken at a conference in Big Sandy, Texas.

He is a scholar of Hebrew and teaches "Jewish roots." We chatted with him a bit afterwards. We thought this little fact was interesting and wanted to share it.

The May 3-6 ATI conference in Big Sandy [on the grounds formerly owned by the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College] is briefly listed on his Web site (http:// htm).

Horst Selent
Greenville, S.C.

Lower middle class

Thanks for all you and your staff do to produce The Journal. I believe it contains a wealth of information we can obtain nowhere else, especially within the corporate churches.

I get flak from some in the United Church of God about the paper being divisive when I show articles to people in church sometimes. My wife and I are considered by a few people to be a little lower in "class" in the church because we take The Journal and go to the CEM Feast. I think it may be for the Feast attendance rather than The Journal. No more closing or opening prayers like I used to be asked to give, etc.

I have given a gift subscription to a UCG minister who reads and enjoys the paper, and I gave a subscription to Gerald Waterhouse before he died.

Name and location withheld

The learning never stops

I have been reading The Journal for over three years now and have learned a lot. I believe I have got the commonly accepted salvation scenario figured out pretty well now, as most, not including myself, see it.

I thought I would run it by you and see if it rings a bell.

Most seem to believe that at some time in the past God set the sun in the heavens with the earth going around it. Then God put a spin on the earth called one revolution of the earth a day. God started counting these days—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7—and He called seven days a week.

At some time or times in the past God ordained a person or group of people to watch the sun and count the days.

For the sake of simplicity, I will call this person or group of people the LDC (Legitimate Day Counters, priests or whatever).

At some point the LDC got old and God had them ordain a younger LDC before the older LDC died. God also ordained the LDC to pass on and explain the significance of the day count, etc.

For us to receive salvation we need to find a current LDC and get the proper understanding of the signifi- cance of this day count, etc., for ourselves.

Doesn't this pretty well explain how most look at the salvation scenario?

Some will ask, "Where is the Bible in this scenario?"

Glad you asked that. People claiming to be the current LDC tell us that they are ordained by God to interpret the Bible for us and that their interpretation is the Word of God.

Others may ask, "Where is Jesus Christ in this scenario?"

Another good question. John explains this in what we call the Gospel of John in the Bible. John points out that a group, at the time of the Lord's ministry in Palestine, claiming to be the legitimate LDC assassinated Jesus because He didn't conform to their concept of Sabbath (John 5:16).

Isn't it interesting how hostile people become over day-counting issues? I can see why there are so many divisions in religion when the main priority is as simple as counting to seven. nobody else could count to seven, that ability would seem miraculous and mystical. Now it seems that about anyone who can count to seven considers everyone else as an interloper.

I have learned so much as an indirect result of reading The Journal that I am sending a check for another year's subscription. I am old and on a fixed income but I don't want to stop learning.

Sister Deborah Caleb
Delight, Ark.

The baton

Some of the leaders in the Church of God groups that came out of the WCG think that the baton of leadership was passed to them and therefore they are the best church and perhaps even the only true Church of God and that everyone should follow them.

These men know and the dumbsheep members (as Herbert Armstrong called them) all know that God through His "one true church" and His "true apostle," Herbert Armstrong, divinely inspired the baton to be passed to Joe Tkach Sr.

Herbert Armstrong gave the baton of leadership to the church to Joe Tkach Sr. He did not give it to anyone else.

Joe Tkach changed some doctrines. The New Testament church did the same thing when it started up. (See Acts 15.)

The wannabe baton recipients who so desperately desire to have brethren think they were the ones who received the baton were at one time in the past so totally loyal to the WCG and HWA and so obedient and zealous as to what the WCG stood for that it is beyond description.

Then at some point disobedience and rebellion set in and they left the church (WCG).

Joe Tkach led the church astray. But here we have these others vying for the leadership baton who are disobedient and rebellious. My question is: Should we follow such men?

Do you think this is a good question?

Paul and Micki Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Feast in Colorado

Apparently my attempts to E-mail this report to you failed. I hope it's not too late for you to publish it.

The beautiful Grand Valley of Western Colorado was a site of God's Feast of Tabernacles for the fifth year in a row in late September and early October. Surrounded by high mountains, desert vistas, orchards and vineyards, we felt greatly blessed by the presence of God's Holy Spirit.

Daily attendance ranged from 63 to 74, and the entire Feast was dominated by a feeling of freedom, openness, excitement and friendship. Brethren came from as far away as New York and California and all points in between.

Truly an interconnected gathering of the brethren, groups represented were the WCG, CGI, UCG, CCG, Church of Israel and Messianic. Others were unaffiliated with any group.

The common ground, however, was the desire to have our names be found in God's book of life, the true Church of God.

Message topics were:

* Christ our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, by Rich Traver.
* The holy days: an overview of God's plan for mankind, by Rod England.
* How our mistakes help us to grow, by Charter Chadwick.
* The many blessings mankind receives from God's law, by Coy Colbert.
* Examples, pro and con, of wine and strong drink in the Bible, by Tom Kelly.
* The importance of choosing your friends wisely, by Elbert Keefauver.
* Holy times, a gift of great value established forever, by Bob Wright.
* God's educational program for the Millennium, by Mr. Traver.
* The source, the power and the blessings of love, by Eric Katzer.
* The Last Great Day and the new beginning, by Del Leger.

Make your plans now for 2005 by going to or calling (970) 858-9299.

Del Leger
Christian Church of God
Grand Junction, Colo.

Who created the tsunami?

In your Dec. 31, 2004, issue is an article by Dave Havir, "Did God Create the Tsunami?"

God says that before He brings on death He raises up a prophet to warn the people before death comes. 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. In the past 62 years I have seen great changes in the human race, and they have not been for the better.

I feel as a man that God has given Satan greater power because the end is near and Jesus Christ said that all these things will take place. I feel that Satan is the one behind all of these deaths.

God allows it to happen because He said these things would happen before Christ comes back.

Jerry Lewis
New Castle, Del.

You tell me

I was seriously considering canceling my subscription, but where else can I find so many articles of such vast controversy as well as interest and so many of a wrong persuasion?

However, the profound and Holy Spirit–guided articles make my subscription worth it!

As it is written, how can I learn unless someone tell me?

Basil Hronchak
Sandy Hook, Ky.

Biblical tithe

I would like to comment on the Art Mokarow letter concerning the biblical tithe in the Nov. 30, 2004, issue. Here are a couple of Web sites I would like to share with your readers:

* L. Ray Smith's com/tithing.html, "Tithing Is Unscriptural Under the New Covenant."

* Richard Anthony's www.ecclesia. org/truth/tithe.html, "Tithe Is Abolished."

I believe God has given Art Mokarow, L. Ray Smith and Richard Anthony a solid foundation and understanding of the Scriptures concerning tithing.

Not any church or person has the whole truth. I have taken the understanding God has given me and searched for others online and in the world who have been given the same understanding.

Cynthia Y. Witt
Laredo, Texas

Right on

Regarding Mary Moon's article ["Passover Plus Unleavened Bread Is Only Seven Days, Not Eight," The Journal, Feb. 28]:

All of our thoughts and beliefs are based upon oral and written traditions. We want to believe what we have been told. It's only with diligent study that God reveals bits and pieces about His truth.

I wish to applaud Mary Moon for her article on the Passover Feast. Though several of her minor points would take exception to, her main message was right on.

The Passover Feast lasts for seven days, in which you eat unleavened bread, with the 14th of Abib being the first day. This seven-day period is not the Feast of Unleavened Bread but the Passover Feast, in which you eat unleavened bread for seven days. (Thus it is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, vs. leavened bread.)

Gary Woodring
Tyler, Texas

Church eras or assembly modules?

It amazes me that the same people who may doubt the British-Israel thesis (for which there is a mountain of evidence) may embrace the idea of church eras as practically a self-evident component of their belief system.

The Radio Church of God believed in church eras, as is evident in the old correspondence course. The Philadelphia era was reportedly from the late 1920s, when Mr. Armstrong learned the truth, until 1986, when the wateringdown crew took over after his death.

Compare this era against some of the other five previous eras and you see huge differences. Some eras lasted for centuries.

Of course, the Radio Church of God was one of the most recent of several churches claiming to be the Philadelphia era. Andrew Dugger considered the old Church of God, especially the Church of God Seventh Day, to be part of the Philadelphia era. In the book he coauthored with C.O. Dodd, History of the True Religion, he makes an argument for the idea that the Philadelphia church began at Philadelphia during the time of Ben Franklin (pp. 253-255).

Mr. Armstrong referred to the Church of God Seventh Day as the Sardis church. [See a letter from a CG7 official about the "Sardis" appellation on page 3.]

Almost everybody wants to be Philadelphian. To the best of my knowledge, only Larry Johnson of Florida wanted to be Laodicean. I haven't heard much about his Church of Laodicea lately, though.

One thing most of us can agree on: The original seven churches were churches in Asia at the time John received Revelation at Patmos. The next thing to ask: Why are those messages in the book of Revelation, a book of prophecy?

However, if we accept this thesis, then the prophecies that pertain to the end time should be directed only to the church of Laodicea or, stretching it a bit, to the churches of Laodicea and Philadelphia. After all, by that time the first five churches had passed into history, if we take this to be the truth.

But do the first five churches receive end-time prophecies?

Yes. This may not seem evident at first because John, like many of the prophets, wrote of prophecy as if it had already taken place.

For example, there is Antipas Revelation 2:13). Some scholars who accept the thesis of church eras believe Antipas to have been Constantine of Mananali, who opposed the pope and was killed in A.D. 681.

There is a line of logic here. However, between then and now how many other men opposed the pope and died as a result? Quite a number, and many of them are well known.

E.W. Bullinger indicates Antipas as being mentioned proleptically (Companion Bible, p. 1886, marginal note on Revelation 2:13). Prolepsis is representing a future act as if presently existing or accomplished.

What harm is there in believing in church eras? None, unless the tribulation is just around the corner, in which case the admonitions of Revelation 2- 3 may not be absorbed as needed.

If the tribulation is just around the corner, then these days we are living in now will be remembered as the good old days.

On very old maps, Petra is labeled "Philadelphia." But that's another story.

Wily Elder
North Miami, Fla.

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