Letters from our readers


In your November issue you featured a story about Anse Cates's ordination in the Christian Biblical Church of God ["CBCOG Conducts First Ordination," page 13]. I just wanted to point out that, even though Mr. Cates was the first to be ordained in the CBCOG, there are actually seven elders in the CBCOG rather than three, as stated in the article.

The other six were all ordained in other Churches of God before their CBCOG affiliation.

The church doesn't move elders from one area to another, and, if an elder does move, it is up to the local fellowship group to decide whether it wants him as an elder in that area or not--after the group gets to know him and his fruits.

It's unfortunate the other Churches of God don't allow more local autonomy in this and other matters.

George Paetzmann

Hendersonville, Tenn.

Church of God: An International Community

In the past several issues of The Journal since the split of the Church of God from the United Church of God, I have noticed references to the Church of God that are incorrect. The Journal has used the term "Church of God, Monrovia" when referring to the Church of God. Proper reference to the Church of God is "Church of God AIC." This is the official and registered name of the Church of God. The AIC stands for "An International Community."

I wanted to bring this issue to your attention because we as members of the Church of God AIC do not want readers to see us as a "United Church of God Birmingham" or a "Church of God Texas," etc. These churches are registered as such; we are not registered as Church of God, Monrovia.

I would appreciate your willingness to correct this misprint.

Peter Felten

Church of God AIC member

Via the Internet

Private joke backfires

Please note that an apology letter was E-mailed to Dr. Meredith on Nov. 29 regarding the address changes on an E-mail. [See "Roderick C. Meredith and Global Church Part Because of Differences on Governance," Nov. 30]. It was a very private joke sent only to a few that was accidentally forwarded on. It was never intended to divert funds from anyone and was not meant to be at Dr. Meredith's or anyone else's expense. We would like people to be aware of this as we do not wish to be used as anyone's weapon in this "spiritual warfare" going on between Dr. Meredith and certain Global board members.

Paul and Denese Miller

Via the Internet

New E-mail address

Please print a correction for the announcement that appeared in the Nov. 30 issue ["Newsletter Serves Northeastern Brethren," page 24 under "Notes and Quotes"]. Our old E-mail address is no longer valid.

Old E-mail: New E-mail:

Also, could you include in the announcement that we also wish to include brethren from New Jersey on our mailing list and that any brethren from New Jersey are welcome to request a copy of the newsletter.

Rick Beltz

Portland, Conn.

Contradictory writings

In his letter dated Nov. 21 to the membership of the Global Church of God, Rod Meredith wrote the following:

". . . We are being trained at this time to learn and later to administer God's form of government. And as Herbert W. Armstrong explained clearly over and over again, God has virtually always worked primarily through one man in leading or guiding any particular phase of His Work down through the ages. All the way from Moses, Samuel, David to Nehemiah, that pattern is clearly shown in the Old Testament. Then, in the New Testament, the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that Christ used Peter, not as a 'Pope'--but, as the definite 'Leader' of the original 12 apostles. Then after Acts 15, Peter left the scene and apparently went to the 'lost 10 tribes' of Israel in Northwest Europe and the British Isles.

"Paul became the obvious and primary leader of the Work to the Gentiles. God even inspired Paul to put this into the very Word of God: 'But on the contrary, when they saw that the Gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the Gospel to the circumcised was to Peter' (Gal. 2:7).

"Notice that Paul does not say that the Gospel to the circumcised was committed 'equally' to all 12 of the original apostles, but rather to Peter! And, again, Paul did not write that the Gospel to the Gentiles was given to him and Barnabas, but rather to Paul himself! Certainly, these dedicated men--Peter and Paul--used and supported the others working with them. But at no time did they have a human 'board' of men lacking faith in Christ's leadership to constantly 'second guess' them, thwart their decision to preach the Gospel and even threaten them with dismissal if they didn't cooperate!

"Frankly, brethren, throughout the Bible, whenever you see a man being used of God--whether by appointment or through circumstances--to raise up or lead a phase of God's Work, that man is 'God's anointed' in that particular function and must be respected as such . . ."

In his booklet Church Government and Church Unity, on pages 10-12, Rod Meredith wrote the following:

"If we look into the New Testament with an open mind, we find a totally different approach to government than what has developed in the Church. This different approach affected the way the early brethren and ministers interacted with each other, and the way they handled disagreements. Perhaps before plunging into scriptural examples, I should first set the stage. Frankly there was never--in the New Testament Church--any example of a 'Moses figure' or a 'Pope Peter' who towered over the other apostles and elders, gave them orders, threatened to 'fire' them, etc. I cannot refer you to any scripture on this, because it is not there!

"You do find that Peter took the lead among the original twelve apostles and was acknowledged--although this is never directly stated--as the main speaker and leader. For Christ used Peter to preach the main sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2), heal the crippled man outside the Temple (Acts 3), open the 'door of faith' to the Gentiles (Acts 10), etc. But you do not find him giving orders to the other apostles, sending them on missions, or in any way 'lording it over' them.

"Rather, as you read Acts 6 carefully, notice that 'the twelve' summoned the multitude of the disciples for counsel on who to appoint to wait tables. 'They' wanted advice, they said, about whom 'we,' they said, 'may appoint over this business.'

"So the decision was clearly through 'multitude of council' (Proverbs 24-6), and then by 'appointment'--not voting. Yet all the apostles got this council so that, they said, 'we' may decide whom to appoint. Peter was not the Pope! He never unilaterally decided any of those basic matters in the New Testament Church! . . .

"I would encourage all who read this to really study Acts 15 with the above thoughts in mind. It is the inspired record of what was undoubtedly the major Ministerial Conference--if we may call it that--of the apostolic age. If there were ever a time when Peter would sit in the chief seat, giving orders to the other apostles, and totally dominate, this would be it!

"Notice Acts 15-1: 'Certain men came down from Judea.' Did Paul and Barnabas blindly yield to them--thinking they came from 'Headquarters' or from Peter and James!

"No way!

"And that is the point, brethren. The entire approach of the original apostles and elders was not: 'Who's in Charge here? I'd better go along or they may fire me!' Rather, the approach was--as Peter himself later wrote, 'All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility' (1 Peter 5-5)."

When I read these contradictory statements coming from Rod Meredith, I cannot help but recall the old saying: O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Trevor Smith

Via the Internet

Letter to Global board

To Larry Salyer, Raymond McNair, Edwin Pope, Norbert Link:

You may take over the corporation, but you will never take over the church! How dare you use the board to subvert the will of the council of elders. Since you could not force your will on the council, you have used the board to force your way and overthrow [Global Church of God founder] Dr. [Roderick] Meredith.

You accuse him of not being willing to submit to the board, yet it is you who have been unwilling to submit to the council of elders, whose charter it is to decide spiritual matters.

When the council directed three of you to personally investigate the charges against Mr. [Dave] Pack, you did not go. Larry, how could you badmouth Dr. Meredith over Raymond McNair's wife--she is the one who sued WCG--which you neglected to point out? How can you be so base as to bring up a matter that surely Raymond would like to forget?

He used to boast that he could have made a success out of marriage to any woman (I thought that was insulting to his wife).

You also talk about how Dr. Meredith was little in his own eyes when he started Global. Are you little in your own eyes? Why are you so filled with self-importance that you think your small group knows better than the majority of the council of elders?

And, Raymond, how could you turn on your own brother, whose only "sin" was to support Dr. Meredith? Are you so willing to sell your birthright (God's Kingdom) for a bowl of pottage (power today)? In your E-mail and letter you don't mention the battle over spending money on having the broadcast on WGN: the battle you lost.

The reason the vast majority of us joined Global was to do a work, and we see the broadcast as a vital part of that work. Those who disagree and feel that more emphasis should be placed on having more ministers have the United Church of God; they don't need you.

Resign and step aside. Your rebellion is an offense to us and God. Else preside over the collapse of Global while we start again under a different corporate umbrella but still the same church.

And, yes, Raymond, the sheep do know their shepherds, and you and your cohorts are not among them.

Dave Machanick

Plano, Texas

Jeananne Gibson update

We wanted to send our appreciation to the Journal readers who have taken the time to write encouraging letters or E-mails to Jeananne Gibson. She has been buoyed up by the love shown to her and the stories of others who have endured through similar trials.

She cannot respond as yet, so I will give you a brief update.

She is still paralyzed from the neck down and depending on a respirator to breathe for her, but there have been small improvements.

The stomach tube has been removed, and she is able to enjoy a liquid diet, which Dad supplements with blender drinks and food supplements from home.

Infections are still a cause for concern, as is the constant need to suction her lungs. We were disappointed when the Victoria Hospital denied our request for a transfer but will persist in making our needs known so the financial and emotional strain on the family might be eased a little by having Mom within easy driving distance from home.

Mom remains hopeful and courageous, knowing her life is in God's care. We would appreciate your continued prayers.

Jeff and Carolanne Patton

Victoria, B.C., Canada

Mrs. Gibson's mailing address is Vancouver General Hospital, Spinal Cord ICU, Centennial Pavilion--East 9, Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 1M9, Canada.E-mail may be sent to

Report on the Karen brethren

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand. I would like to thank all of you who had responded to Mr. Leon Sexton's article ["Karens Are the Forgotten Brethren," page 1, Sept. 28; see also "Karen Update," page 2, Oct. 30].

First I'd like to write about how I happened to get to know Mr. Sexton. It was about early 1979 while I was studying the truth that I met him miraculously, unexpectedly at our place. We had a brief talk and we departed, but we still made contact, and he started to provide me more spiritual materials such as sermon tapes and article reprints that I had never read before.

Since then he has become a very helpful tool for my spiritual growth. We became very close friends, including the late Jeffery's family and Moolah [a deacon]. He was and is the one who comprehends our circumstances, our situation.

At that time Mr. Sexton was in Chiang Mai and he visited us frequently together with the AC students during the Feasts, and he was also the one who helped us to be able to keep the FOT in Chiang Mai. He has been very great (and big) to us. But after he left Thailand we lost contact for a while.

In 1995-96, after the disturbances and unrest along the border where we lived, we scattered and left the farm where five families lived. As it was very risky and touchy to stay along the border, me and my family left the border and came to Bangkok, applied to UNHCR [the UN center for repatriation] for "person of concern" status, and, by the grace of God, I was granted POC status, provided protection and was able to stay in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, when I was at the state of confusion after the Great Change in the church, again I happened to meet with him. I told him my situation, that I can't understand the new doctrines, and he helped me back on the right track but without encouraging me to join any organization.

We told him our condition, our plights. He grasped our difficulties and wrote the article, and you responded with compassion. Now we are at ease because of your love and concerns.

On behalf of everybody, I would like to thank every one of you, and I hope I will be able to write and meet all of you in the near future. Anybody who wants to contact me personally can write me at the address given below.

Thaw Thi Ko

Thaw Thi Kho(a) Thomas ko

P.O. Box 2-121

Ratchnermnern Nok/

Ratchnermnern Ave. 10200

Bangkok, Thailand.

When Thaw Thi Ko wrote the above letter, on Dec. 17, he and his family had had to flee his small apartment and hide with Leon Sexton in Mr. Sexton's apartment in Myanmar to avoid an immigration-police raid. "Even though he and his family are recognized by the United Nations, they live in constant fear of being sent back to Burma," reports Mr. Sexton, whose permanent residence is in Texas. (For a photo of some of the Karens, see page 1 of this issue.)

Elders are older

Someone recently wrote that "nowhere, nowhere, do I see the slightest hint that the congregation, the brethren, should have the same access and inputs" that are afforded the ordained men in the Church of God.

The brethren have had more input than we realize. Let me explain by first answering a question: Where did we get church government in this Church of God era?

In a doctrinal study paper on "Church Government in the New Testament" (, Global Church of God official Raymond McNair asks, "What is a hierarchy?"

He goes on to say that "God's New Testament pattern of church government has been called, by some, pyramidical in form--broad at the bottom and narrowing toward the top (cf. Ex. 18:13-26), but the top of that pyramid is somewhat flattened. The 'Apostles and elders' at Jerusalem formed the flattened top of that pyramid. But, Jesus Christ--the head of God's church--forms its topmost capstone."

Where did Mr. McNair get that? It's not in the Word of God! I searched for "hierarchy" and "pyramid," and they are not there. History shows that Israel left the pyramid in Egypt, and that is where it should stay. The pyramid is not the pattern for the New Testament Christian.

Christ was the Chief Apostle sent by the Father, and Jesus said He wasn't greater than He who sent Him. Christ sent out the apostles (with signs and wonders), but they were not greater than He who sent them. Christ said "he who is sent" ("apostle," John 13:16) is not greater than he who sends him.

Herbert Armstrong had the paperwork to prove that he was an apostle: "he who is sent." I've seen it (his ordination certificate from the Church of God [Seventh Day]), but he was "sent" by the brethren!

Question: Was Mr. Armstrong greater than they who sent him? According to the Scriptures, no! I would say that the brethren have had some input in a big way in this era of God's church.

How, then, did hierarchy as we have practiced it enter into the church?

In The Journal, issue No. 9, Aug. 31, 1998, in the article "RCM Says No Takeover in Offing," on page 18 under the subhead "Church Government," Roderick Meredith [Global Church of God founder] said it was he and [WCG elder] Herman Hoeh who helped Mr. Armstrong "understand" church government. (My wife and I heard this in detail at a Global ministerial conference in early 1995.)

The Journal reported that Dr. Meredith told brethren in a Tulsa, Okla., congregation: "Referring to Moses in Exodus 18 (the account of Moses' father-in-law advising him on judging the Israelites), [Dr. Meredith] said the pattern of government throughout the Bible is 'from the top down.' "

There is only one thing wrong with this concept. It came from Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, a Midian priest. Could anything as important as government be determined by the advice and council of a Midian priest and God remain silent on the issue?

Both Dr. Meredith and Mr. McNair, as well as others, refer to this example to establish hierarchy! Why? Because it establishes rule without regard to age, and, when these two men "taught" it to Mr. Armstrong, they were young men!

In Numbers 11:16 God told Moses to choose 70 men of the elders of Israel. Later it was the elders of Israel and the elders of Judah who anointed David king. They recognized his fruits and "sent" him to be king over the land.

In the early New Testament church, many of the elders (older people) were converted and, with the apostles, led the church. When God judges the church, He begins with the "older people" (Ezekiel 9:6). The elders (older people) are to whom God looks first for accountability.

Yet, in our church era, we have largely ignored the "older people" among us, as far as advice and council are concerned.

When are we going to learn that God is building from the bottom up and not the top down? The image in Daniel 2 of the gentile kingdoms, with King Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold, stands on feet of iron and clay, and it will fall. It does not have a sure foundation.

God does reveal a pattern (Revelation 21:19) for His building. It is a foursquare city, with 12 foundation stones (three foundation stones on each side). In those stones are the names of the apostles.

We are the precious stone laid upon the foundation. God is building from the bottom up--upon a sure foundation, Christ being the chief cornerstone, the first stone laid.

That is what He meant when He said, "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."

We, in the building, are above the apostles, but they were first, they are the greatest and servants of all those whom God shall place over them.

That is why we are to bear each other's burdens. Be a support for that weaker brother and sister so God can place you near the bottom of the building and it will have a strong foundation and never fall.

Charles McLendon

Hawkins, Texas

Ways and means

This is in response to Dean Hardester's letter, "We Have Ways," in the Oct. 30 issue. First let me state that I believe everyone has a right to his opinion, be it right or wrong. In Mr. Hardester's case I believe it is the latter.

From information I have read over the last 10 to 12 months, including the article by Gary North ["Y2K Scenario: Blind Man's Bluff, Anyone?," Aug. 31], it was evident that the IRS had not even started addressing the problem until early in 1997. If so be the case and they, the IRS, had 100 million lines of code to check and they planned on assigning but 300 programmers to the task, how by any stretch of the imagination do they think they can be compliant by Jan. 31, 1999, when the Social Security Administration, with only 300 million lines, had completed only six million by June 1996 after working on the problem since 1991 with 400 programmers?

Second, Mr. Hardester seems to imply that the IRS is taking care of the problem itself. If so, why has the publication "Request for Comments (RFC) for Modernization Prime Systems Integration Services Contractor," May 15, 1998, been released? Again, from information I have seen, this 116-page document is primarily to enlist private concerns to help solve the problem. If this be the case and the contract was not to be awarded until Oct. 1, 1998, did the IRS expect the successful bidder(s) to have the corrections completed by Jan. 31, 1999?

A third point: If the IRS failed, after many years and untold millions of dollars, to get its new computer system up and running, what makes it so confident that it can solve this problem in less than two years, 1997-1999?

I guess we all like to back up our bosses, even when they are a (non)government concern such as the IRS with all its abusive excesses, and it sure sounds like Mr. Hardester's statements are simply the old party line. But, to try and mislead people, especially those you consider your Christian brethren, with such rubbish is beyond my comprehension. My position is, and it is what I tell anyone I discuss the matter with, prepare for the worst and pray for the best. Personally, I--and I believe it is the feeling of a good many people in this country--would not mind seeing the IRS go belly up and we get back to an honest tax system.

J. Kelley

Culleoka, Tenn.

Y2K and In Transition

Having received In Transition and now The Journal, my wife and I have been concerned with what is happening to the Church of God. We wonder how long it will take to break up the rest of the hierarchies. God hasn't finished His work.

In the Aug. 31 issue, the article on Y2K by Gary North caught our interest. We think more people should be concerned enough to ask their electric, water and gas companies to work hard at being ready.

One other item: We have 17 issues of In Transition that might be worth something to someone. They include all issues for 1995, seven issues for 1996 and one issue for 1997. We would rather send them all to one address.

Ed and Betty Armstrong

6490 S. 1140 W.

Murray, Utah 84123

Challenge to challenge

In answer to Darl E. Arbogast's letter ["Challenge Accepted," Nov. 30]: The God we worship is a person, not a "Godhead"! He is the Father of His family, but He is not the family. He has a Kingdom, but He is not a kingdom. There is not His equal in the universe, but His Son, Jesus the Christ, is "the express image of His person" and has the same divine nature.

Much evidence has been presented by the writers on "the nature of Jesus Christ," and the interest of The Journal's readers has been shown. I want to thank this paper for publishing the information and for giving space to the opposing views while leaving it up to the readers to study and compare them with Scripture. Some wonder why we don't spend our time and talents on something more important. Just read John 17:3.

There seems to be a fear of some kind involved with anyone who says Jesus is not God and did not preexist. Some would even have those who say such things cast out of the church for "heresy" or "blasphemy." I want to remind all those with ears to hear and eyes to see that this matter will not go away, and we must resolve it to some degree.

Thank you, Mr. Arbogast, for your response [to Mr. Giles' letter, "How Is God One?," in the Aug. 31 issue] and attempt at answering my questions. You have obviously given the subject some deep thought, and your explanation is close to what I accepted as truth for a long time while I was a Baptist and even longer while in the Worldwide Church of God. I'm a bit confused, however, at your explanation of the Godhead being the "ultimate echelon" called the divine nature. You seem to think of God as a Godhead, which is an incorrect interpretation of the Greek, while Herbert W. Armstrong said that "God" was a "family" consisting at present of two family members.

Herein lies part of the problem separating our understandings. The divine nature is the nature of God, who is a "person" called Lord God Almighty, the Highest, and our Father. The word God is a title, not a family name or the name of a species or nature.

Jesus does share the nature of God. I know God is not a two-member Godhead because Jesus said, "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Mark 12:29). We will share the nature of our Father: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God . . . We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:1).

The Father is one Father and one God, as Malachi 2:10 says.

You say I have no concept of the spiritual and refer to Acts 17:29, which shows that we are "the offspring of God." Doesn't that verse show that God is our Father and not some Godhead? God is "the Father of Spirits."

You say spirits are real, although they don't have weight or occupy space. Both God and Jesus Christ and the holy angels have at times chosen to manifest themselves in the physical realm. Jesus even walked, talked and ate with the disciples after His resurrection. An angel of God wrestled with Jacob, and Jacob prevailed! God is a real person. The Word is His word. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. He was speaking His word! It was not until these "last days" that He spoke through His very own Son, who then received the name The Word of God through inheritance (Hebrews 1).

Let's get the story straight. The Word and God Most High are supposed to have existed within one Godhead. Then an egg was fertilized in Mary's womb. This made God become a Father and the Word become His Son. How? Who fertilized the egg? Whoever it was is the father of the baby born as Jesus. Was it a Godhead of two beings or YHWH (Lord) God the Highest? According to Luke 1:35, it was "the power of the Highest." Just so you will know, the baby was the Lord's Son (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15). Since He required no space, He, along with the Holy Spirit of the Godhead, resided in the baby and, because He had the Holy Spirit from conception, that made Him the Son of the Father, who was now a Godhead, with the Word having left His side to reside in the baby, or as the baby.

One thing is true. If this is a "concept of the spiritual," then I have absolutely no idea how it could have happened.

But let's go on. You say the Spokesman (Logos/Word) divested Himself of entity as a spirit being to incubate inside the human egg, and that's how He became the only-"begotten" Son of God. With that kind of reasoning, however, if my brother dies, then I could clone him and the baby would be my son.

That's not what I read in the account of Jesus' conception and birth. It was the "power of the Most High" that impregnated Mary. It was by His own Spirit and from His own eternal life that God placed His child in Mary's womb. That is why He is God's very begotten Son from God Himself and not another family member.

Mr. Arbogast, I am not rejecting Christ when I say He is not God. The apostle Paul said the same thing. God said that we must believe in His Son, or we call Him a liar.

I believe that Jesus Christ is God's very own Son, who came into existence from the very person of God Almighty and that He is my Lord and Priest and Apostle and King and Brother and Savior and that I am a part of His Bride, His Church. I hope you believe the same.

Duane Giles

Palestine, Texas

Priesthood of scholars

A response [by Anthony Buzzard] to a letter in the October Journal ["Evaluating Anthony," by Jim Alexander] and a letter in the November issue ["War Debilitates," by Brian Knowles] have prompted me to comment on a couple of topics, as well as adding remarks regarding one other area.

The first issue is what I'd have to call the "priesthood of scholars." I'm aware that's not a biblical term, but I perceive that there are those who believe themselves to be a part of just such an elite priesthood. I'm really tired of the attitude that generally goes with that perception, and my thoughts about such have admittedly become quite negative.

My present feelings about biblical scholars follow pretty much along these lines:

  • Most who would find the need to call themselves scholars are people who are paid (or have been paid or would again like to be paid) to study the Bible. I'd honestly rather study with and discuss Scripture with those who are deeply into the Scriptures out of a pure love for the Word of God.
  • I think that many scholars work far too hard at finding some "new thing" so they can justify their salary, have an excuse to talk down to other people or be esteemed by their peers (other scholars) and to be of high "standing, credibility and reputation."
  • I've found that, while a good number of "scholars" try so very hard to appear to be above all the rancor, they yet seem to be much in the midst of it with their judging and name-calling. I refer to remarks in recent issues, where those not agreeing with the writers have been called closed-minded, uneducated, "spiritual sticks in the mud," less than "serious Bible students" and people unlikely to "ever make it to Canaan."
  • My observation is that many, if not most, who see themselves as scholars are closed-minded because they believe that they've already discovered all the answers. Yet we all know that you can take any issue in the Bible and find scholars on every side of it. Being even a "great" scholar does not make someone right on any given issue, much less all issues.
  • From the fruits that I've observed over the past 30 years, the guiding of the Holy Spirit has been most evident in those who are humble and haven't spent much time thinking too highly of themselves.

Second, I'd like to address the issue of "openness" and the fact that litmus tests work both ways. I have to feel that if my husband and I were not fairly open we'd still be in an organization, following a man or men, thinking our organization was God's one and only true church and not simply be a part of the Body of Jesus Christ fellowshipping with other believers.

However, I don't wake up every morning and say, "I think I'll look again at my belief in Sabbath-keeping and see if I can be open-minded enough to try to disprove it." If I had the time and the desire, I suppose I could spend my days in Christian bookstores, reading most points of view on most every issue, and could really feel intellectual and open-minded.

However, I feel no obligation to be so open that I am continually questioning every doctrine I've proven and reproven over so many years, just because I might fail someone's litmus test of openness and be labeled closed-minded or unwilling to change. I'd rather be about the business of living life and building on those things that I believe to be pleasing to my Father in heaven. I pray I'll always be a seeker of truth, and I know that I don't have all the answers, but there are most certainly areas that I've looked deeply into and where I'm not now open to endless debate.

I dare to say that even those professing themselves to be open-minded likely have their own doctrinal comfort zones and sacred cows. So perhaps it would be good if we just allow each other those things and stop the name-calling and accusing any who don't agree with us as being so pitifully inadequate as to still not be able to "think outside the box."

I really look forward to the day when we can quit looking down our noses at other people an stop being so presumptuous as to think that God needs our help in deciding who are true Christians and who are not now worthy of His concern.

I realize I'm probably about to be labeled one who makes it my business to sniff out heretics, but I have a question on a different kind of openness: How honest and open is it for ex-Sabbatarians to be so willing to let others think that they still are Sabbath-keepers? The several I'm aware of who have seemingly been trying to hide (or at least not mention) some of their beliefs are likely doing so in order that they may teach, preach to or convince others to follow or join with them, even though a majority of their beliefs may be far more in line with mainstream Christianity.

This, of course, gives no justification for not loving them or being unkind to them, but I mention this just because I think their approach might need rethinking.

Finally, I'd like to comment on "the scattering." My belief is that it is of God and we should be so thankful for it! My husband and I believe that our heavenly Father has delivered (and is delivering) so many of us from the error of corporate religion. He has enabled us (and also so many who are yet in corporate religion) to start thinking and seeking for ourselves, to stop believing lies just because someone "over us" tells them to us and to finally take responsibility for our lives and our relationship with our Father and His Son.

We've never been happier or felt more spiritually alive. I find it hard to understand that someone would love to go back to the way things used to be: all of us in one human organization, going through the motions, doing what we're told, ignoring corruption, arrogance and immorality and being quiet little drones.

I firmly believe that what I (and likely many others) did was idolatrous in putting men and organizations between us and God, when the job of intercessor belongs only to Jesus Christ. He alone is our Master. Can we actually believe that our God in heaven sees the Body of His Son as being so horribly scattered just because we're not all in one humanly started, hierarchical corporation?

God most assuredly knows every one to whom He has given the Holy Spirit, and He knows where they are and is more than able to guide, teach, correct and nurture us all. I do not believe that He is so encumbered by our perspectives that He would think it's a must that we all get a member letter--the same member letter--with the same corporate logo.

For the most part, I see the fruits of corporate religion to be lacking and sometimes actually evil. Selfishness, the love of money, the need to exercise power over others, the ego of needing to be looked up to, saying anything to preserve one's position, etc., are certainly not fruits of the Holy Spirit. How thankful we can be that God is not only so merciful to us but that He looks at things differently from the way we do from our puny and limited human perspectives.

Kay Curd

Federal Way, Wash.

Maine attitude

To Victor Hawkins in regard to his paragraph about Dave Havir ["Memo to Dave," Oct. 30, page 5]:

You might as well lump with him all of us independent spirits, of whom I am one. I have news for you. The Texas, Maine and independent spirits worldwide will be in the Kingdom of God. I hope and pray you will have a change of heart and I will get to meet you in the first resurrection.

Apparently you are following a board or a man. We are following the Word of God. You mentioned reading Acts 10:2. Why not read Acts 10:34 to the end, especially verses 34-35? Maybe Dave and I and all the other independent spirits do not have as much fear of God and humility as Cornelius did, but God is not finished with us yet.

I do not fear, because Jesus Christ, my Savior, has paved the way for me so that I can approach the throne of grace with confidence. The Father loves me, and Jesus loved me enough to die for me.

What I do fear dreadfully is what would happen to me without Him. So my prayers and adoration go up to Him daily, thanking Him for keeping me in His hands. I am completely dependent on my Father, through Jesus Christ. I am independent; that is, "not subject to the control of others" on this earth.

Some of my favorite Bible verses are 1 John 5:11-13. I know I have eternal life. What confidence we can have following God's Son.

Ruth Martin

Palmyra, Maine

Grace, law and the covenants

I really enjoy The Journal and eagerly look forward to each issue. I especially enjoyed and learned from Gary Fakhoury's article on grace, law and the covenants in the Oct. 31, 1997, issue. It made so many things that I had wondered about clear. Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing.

Margaret Gipson

Dawson, Texas

The wrong side of the Feast

I was born and raised in the WCG, Akron, Ohio. I made the decision to leave the church around the time United formed. The reasons were quite a few, and reasons for not going back to either church (the WCG or UCG), unfortunately, continue to accumulate.

I recently went home to visit my parents for a week and I was told that my dad's duties as a deacon were being lightened because he and my mother came to the Feast here in Destin, Fla. Any service that is visible to the congregation was removed. I was wondering if you might be able to explain these rather disturbing actions to me.

My parents were not the only ones who attended this site. I understand that it is not a United Feast site, but why punish my father? My parents attended church, and I can say for the first time in years they actually enjoyed the time present in services and liked what they were hearing. After a wonderful visit with their daughter and an enlightening holy week, they returned home to be reprimanded for not telling everyone that they would not be going to the site that everyone else felt they should attend.

I thought God, not man, made the decisions. The God I was brought up loving would not punish His children for choosing a Feast site that enabled them also to see their children, whom they see only a few times a year. I think He would be happy to know the opportunity came about.

It is sad to see the things that are happening in the UCG over the past few years. The very ones who preach love, acceptance and unity, along with not judging our fellowman, are doing just that. Without any consideration, my family is being judged by man for an action that I believe God approved of.

I hope you can make the situation a bit more clear to me. As much as I love my parents and respect their decision to stay with the UCG, I think the church's leaders need to reconsider some of the actions they feel they need to make.

Name withheld


Idea for a church project

My husband, Don, and I drive a truck over the road, and we have a lot of time to listen to music and books on tape, etc., but we don't have that much time to read. It is difficult to read in a moving truck.

I was wondering if there is anyone out there who has been producing booklets, magazines or articles on cassette tape for the blind or for commuters? I am willing to pay for the service and costs if there is something available.

I am not really looking for sermon tapes; I can get those from church and many other sources. I am looking for The Good News or The World Ahead, etc., or some of the controversial articles from the Internet or this newspaper. I would really love to find the nature-of-God series on cassette.

If these aren't available, this would make a wonderful local-church project that would include the whole congregation. Many local congregations already have the equipment needed. We find many cassettes offered free at truck stops from many church groups, with some unique displays that take up little space. Don has many ideas and advice about this topic. We would like to hear from you.

Peggy Wales

13111-A Honey Ln.

New Berlin, Wis. 53151, U.S.A.

(800) 373-3155, ext. 309

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