Journal begins series on nature of Jesus
With this issue, The Journal begins a series of three issues containing essays on the nature of Jesus Christ, which of necessity includes considerable comment on the nature of God.
The traditional view of Jesus in the Church of God groups that broke away from the Worldwide Church of God--and the former view of the WCG--is that Jesus is God, or, more specifically, Jesus is one of two beings in the God family.
The WCG itself challenged that view beginning in 1993 and ultimately changed its official teaching to advocacy of the Trinity.
But, besides the traditional two-beings-in-the-God-family view and the Trinity, other teachings and beliefs on the subject are extant among the brethren of the Churches of God.
Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong taught that Jesus is one of two beings in the God family. In Mr. Armstrong's time most WCG writers and preachers taught the same thing, although at times they stated there were actually two Gods in the Godhead. Statements that two Gods exist were rare; usually it was stated that there is only one God but two beings in the God family.
The WCG's view nowadays is that God is one, but He includes three "persons" who are not separate beings: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Journal begins here a series of essays by writers who are all critics of the Trinitarian view. Here is information about the writers and their articles:
In this issue are the lead-off articles by Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Fakhoury, Mr. Snow and Mr. Buzzard. (Mr. Fakhoury's article, which is rather long, will run in installments.) Mr. Cox's and Mr. Buzzard's articles on preexistence and another article agreeing with Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Snow are planned for later issues.
The question naturally arises: Why does The Journal choose to print these articles?
Subscribers will realize that The Journal frequently publishes articles that its staff does not necessarily agree with and that take issue with the conclusions of other writers even in the same issue. For example, The Journal has published articles from writers with various views on the festival calendar and various views on who was or is the end-time Elijah.
It is The Journal's view that an open forum ultimately benefits the brethren of the Churches of God. Many of the subjects in question have been debated for years behind closed doors by elders in the WCG and other Church of God groups. An example is this very subject, the nature of Jesus and whether He was the God of the Old Testament, which was discussed for several weeks recently by United Church of God elders on its recently discontinued E-mail forum.
The difference here is that the discussion is not confined to elders; the ordained and the unordained alike may participate in it.
The Journal expects to print letters to the editor from people who wish to comment on the articles published here on the nature of Jesus.
But The Journal's reasons for publishing this series go further. This subject is one that, as mentioned above, is discussed in various of the churches, and it was a doctrine that led to the split the Melbourne, Australia, congregation of the UCG in 1997. Even though all concerned in the Melbourne group believed that God is somehow one--and that Jesus is Messiah, Savior and the Son of God and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven--the brethren there split over whether Jesus is part of the Godhead.
This discussion is not to be confused with the debate in some religious circles, in and out of the Churches of God, with those who claim that Jesus is not the Messiah, not the Savior and not the Son of God and that the New Testament is not inspired and is, in fact, a hoax. The writers in this series--including Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Fakhoury, Mr. Snow, Mr. Cox, Mr. Buzzard and Mr. Hunting--all believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, that He was born of the virgin Mary, that He lived sinlessly and willingly made the supreme sacrifice that makes salvation possible for all mankind.
Beyond that, as these articles make obvious, there is disagreement.
This divergence of opinion is nothing new. For instance, one of Mr. Armstrong's early colleagues, John Kiesz of the Church of God (Seventh Day), disagreed with Mr. Armstrong over this same issue. Elder Kiesz believed that Jesus Christ, though sinless and of divine begettal, was not a member of the Godhead.
Readers of The Journal are invited to respond to these articles in the letters section. Please keep letters short, no more than 750 to 1,000 words. Letters of 300 to 500 words, because of space limitations, stand a better chance of making it into print.
Write: Letters, The Journal, P.O. Box 1020, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A., or send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: The Journal capitalizes pronouns, such as He, His, My and You, that refer to God or Jesus Christ. The Journal continues that convention in this series of articles, even though readers could reasonably observe that, based on the content of some of the articles in this series, it might make sense not to capitalize pronouns that refer to Jesus.)
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