Letters from our readers
The March 31 issue of The Journal contained errors in the front-page article "Three CGS Members Take Speaking Tour of India Region to Visit Sabbath Christians." "CGS Members" in the headline should have read "COG Members." The three men to whom the headline refers are Church of God members but not members of the CGS (Church of God Sabbatarian) congregation. Only one of the men, Keith Kleeschulte, should have been identified as a GGS member.
Also, in the article itself on page 6, Mr. Kleeschulte was erroneously identified as a Seventh Day Church of God (SDCG) member. Mr. Kleeschulte, although a Church of God member, is not a member of the SDCG.
The errors were made in headline composition and editing. They were not mistakes on the part of the writer of the article.
It was my pleasure reading the March 2000 issue of your Journal from the Internet [www.thejournal.org]. I have been a born-again Pentecostal Sunday Christian for a long time.
However, through the Internet I got to know the truth about the Sabbath. I was able to read and understand much from sites such as amazingfacts.com; sabbath.com; ozemail.com/au (Dave Hill) and many other sites.
Presently I work in Saudi Arabia on a short-term contract basis as a secretary. My wife and daughter live in Bombay. I can find SDA churches in Bombay, but I am not interested in them because of Ellen White's doctrines.
Since my exposure to the Sabbath truth, I am sort of restless. When I go back to Bombay I cannot honestly worship on Sundays. When I first got saved and was born again (1972), the Lord used me to get the message to my hometown (near Cochin, India), with the help of Pentecostal friends from faraway places, and now there are a number of Pentecostal churches in our neighborhood.
Initially when I share the Sabbath truth to our elders and leaders, the reaction is stiff opposition.
I do not know of any Sabbath-keeping churches in Bombay other than SDAs. If there is one, I have no info. I need help--even to start up a congregation in Bombay.
Will you kindly forward this mail to someone who would be interested in doing a pioneer work in Bombay. Kindly have someone contact me. I like to have urgent communication with a few Sabbath-keeping friends.
Jacob N. Cherian
Via the Internet
The Journal forward Mr. Cherian's E-mail to the men who recently conducted a speaking tour of Sabbath churches in India. (See the lead article, March 31 issue.)
We are not alone
Thanks so much. This is the second year since you started sending me The Journal. I don't have words to express my gratitude to you all. I heave learned a lot and still I am learning. I no longer feel cut off from God's people.
Keeping Sabbath alone is not easy, but The Journal keeps me informed with news of what is happening with all churches and God's people all over the world. This gives me courage, knowing I am not alone.
May God bless the work of your hands more and more so that you can continue to give us all the news of God's churches to those who cannot afford to pay for this wonderful paper. May God continue to use you as His instrument to serve His people with love as He commanded us to love one another.
My love to you all for working hard to keep everyone informed.
Elizabeth Wanjiku Kamande
Subscriptions to The Journal are normally available for a price (see information on page 2 and the last page of each issue). However, The Journal also goes to many people who cannot afford to pay for subscriptions, thanks to the generous donations of other readers who have provided funds for that purpose. If you cannot afford to subscribe, feel free to write one of the addresses listed on page 2 and request a free one-year subscription.
Sliced to pieces
Thanks so much for my first copy of The Journal. Many of the articles were interesting. I especially enjoyed Darlene Warren's article about Ambassador College ["It's an Unhappy Day for Church of God Folks," Feb. 29, page 17].
I was thankful that the auction did not take place as planned [see front-page articles Feb. 29 and March 31]. My friend since Ambassador College, Dottie (Strnad) Kruger, sent me an E-mail informing me of the April 4 auction. When I went to the Realtor Web page and saw how Ambassador was sliced all to pieces in different sections of land, it broke my heart. Even though I no longer attend any church, Ambassador has always been an important part of my life.
It was at Ambassador during the early and middle 1970s that:
Al has said many times, and he still says it, that his coaching days at Ambassador were so rewarding because he was helping provide a way for these young people of the church to compete in a sport that they couldn't compete in before because of the Sabbath.
I have to brag on him a little. He doesn't know I am writing this letter. His track teams in the '70s beat big schools like Stephen F. Austin and East Texas State. His cross-country teams were the NLCAA national champions for two years in a row. Plus, he had a decathlete, Gary Wise, who won the decathlon at the Florida Relays and the Texas Relays.
He also organized and ran off the summer churchwide national track meet for high-school kids that was held at Ambassador in Big Sandy. He started the 24-hour relay that became an annual event at the Ambassador track. Both his boys' and girls' teams set Texas records for this event.
Not only did these kids from the church compete in a sport they liked, they knew what it was like to be a winner. We didn't have all the fancy buildings, large enrollment or "university" name, but we were a big happy family.
I have to say, in the words of Dr. Donald Ward, "it [Ambassador] is my most favorite place in all the world." For all the above reasons, and I am sure many more, I began to pray on March 4 that God would please not allow this land that I love to be chopped to pieces. I prayed that it would be sold in its entirety to someone who would use it for the good and not for someone's own private vanity.
God answered my prayers as well, I'm sure, as the prayers of many others. My brother called me March 19 from Texas and said that the home-school organization that he had been a part of for about 20 years was going to buy Ambassador.
I couldn't believe it. He said they were going to buy it in its entirety and that they were going to use it to house orphans from Russia and also use it for a training ground for the ALERT group.
I had heard my brother speak of this organization for years. He always spoke highly of Bill Gothard. He said he was a man that stressed being a giver and not a taker. I heard Mr. Armstrong say those very words many, many years ago when I was a student at Ambassador.
I remember hearing Dr. Ward say that there was a good spirit on the campus of Ambassador College. I think It is still there.
I have never been one to write the editor of anything, but I just felt a need to write. Thanks for your time.
Place for owls
I was struck by the brief cutline under the photograph of the owl over the Tkach office ["Ambassador Campus Sells to Hobby Lobby; IBLP Moves In," March 31, page 6].
I thought of what it says in Jeremiah 50, a prophecy about Babylon. God, through the prophet Jeremiah, describes sins of Babylon in that chapter and its consequent destruction. In verse 37 we see Babylonians and Chaldeans mentioned as the ones practicing various sins.
On the sin list we find, for example, that they are liars ("We will not change the doctrines"), that their material blessings are being dissipated and their treasury robbed (the shameful $8.5 million selling price for AC that will go into the WCG's reserves), and even that the waters of Babylon are dried up and its inhabitants are given over to idolatry (verse 38).
If waters (of paganism) as opposed to living waters represent the Holy Spirit and they are dried up, it may seem that this country (or that organization) has lost the Holy Spirit. As for idolatry, it is fairly prevalent (desecrating God's Sabbath, Christmas trees, Easter sunrise services, Sunday-keeping congregations, crosses and all other spiritual anomalies).
Finally we come to verse 39, which mentions that Babylon will be a dwelling place for owls as a consequence of its sins.
When I read your article I could not resist the thought that there was much real symbolism in what has happened in the past five years.
Mind your head
Steven and Suzanne Kieler brought out some good points in their letter to The Journal pertaining to worshiping with Sunday-keepers ["Sabbath Issue," March 31, page 2].
Our God called many of us out from wrong worship towards Him and gave us His Spirit and access to the truth. There is a great danger, especially if we are an influential teacher or leader among the people of God, to openly give our approval to those who possibly may have already received the Holy Spirit to return to wrong worship with Sunday-keepers.
Have some of us forgotten that the Eternal brought many of us out from false Christianity and cleaned us up and gave us white raiment? Have we forgotten that we are the temple where the Spirit of God dwells and we are not to defile that temple, that it is holy?
There is a saying among the independents that while they attended the WCG they were required to check their brains in at the door as they entered. I have to wonder if some of us have become so careless in this practice that we would not even recognize an idol if we tripped over one that had a sign on it saying "I am an idol."
The vision thing
I appreciated the article about Ron Dart's ministry ["CEM Founder Answers Questions About Sabbath Observance and Christmas Music," Feb. 29].
I want to comment on Mr. Dart's statement at the top of column 4, page 6: "But, as far as a vision for the church, that's one of the most troubling things in my life. I don't have a vision for the church. I don't know where the Sam Hill we're going. I'm not happy with that."
This troubled me for a long time also. WCG members had a "vision": They were going to preach the gospel to the world through TV, magazines and personal evangelism; flee to a place of safety before the tribulation; and rise to meet Christ in the air when He returned.
When doctrines changed, I left that group to join the Global Church of God, where, to begin with, we had a similar vision.
In retrospect, it is clear that the visions of those organizations were not God's vision for the world.
That is the key. God has a vision for what He wants us to accomplish. When we were in the WCG we thought our groups were all that God was doing; we had the limited, incorrect vision of its leader. Now that we realize that God is a lot bigger than any one human group, we can have confidence that He is accomplishing His work even though we may not be able to see it.
So why doesn't God make His vision clearer to us? It may be that we are not able to handle it (John 16:12).
In John 21:15-17 Christ told Peter that, if he loved Him, he would "feed [His] sheep." Whether those sheep be new converts or 50-year "church members," each of us ought to be feeding (serving) those whom we can feed.
In verses 18-23 Christ tells Peter and John a little bit about His vision of the future for each of them. Peter seems concerned that his future will be inferior to John's, and the story about John becomes misinterpreted by people who repeat it. Humans do not seem to do well when they know their own future.
A study of New Testament evangelism quickly shows there was no humanly known master plan for gospel-preaching. The apostles and brethren were led by the Spirit of God--sometimes on very short notice.
If we ask God to individually show us what to do, He will take care of the big vision. It is more important that we do His will than build an organization that people will judge a "big work." "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain" (Psalm 127:1).
Thick and thin
We are members of the United Church of God Birmingham. We are attending services at our newly constructed building in Irondale, Ala.
It has been a very difficult time for all of us recently, once again two groups emerging out of one group [see "Pastor of Birmingham Church Resigns," March 31].
I personally have great love and affection for all of the people here who were meeting together for several years until about two months ago. I hope and pray that the friendships that are so important to me will continue in spite everything that has occurred.
Via the Internet
God's way or the highway
A classmate once told me, "We would all be together as friends if it wasn't for these stupid doctrines." He made this statement as he waffled in the WCG.
I hear and read this sentiment regularly from members, especially in the pages of your paper. One can sum the feelings up thus: "Can't we all get along? Aren't we all the same, deep down? If only you'd see things my way."
After reading The History of the True Religion by Dugger and Dodd, as well as Richard Nickel's "Six Papers," I conclude that we exist in a period that parallels the Church of God from 1844 to 1934. My conclusion is based on comparison readings from In Transition/The Journal and The Bible Advocate/Hope of Israel/Remnant of Israel/Review and Herald et al., especially within the letters-to-the-editor sections.
One can sum up their feelings thus: "Can't we all get along? Aren't we all the same, deep down? If only you'd see things my way."
The irony is there was, is and always will be one true Church of God (an "organized" group called out by and obedient to God for its entire life); all the other leaders, writers and commentators were and are tares, unbelievers, those falling away, etc. The church fulfills what Christ prophesied it to be. So, in a sense, we are paralleling all church history, prophesied from day one.
What is the answer to the summarized feelings? No, we all can't get along. We aren't all the same, deep down. God's people see it His way, not your way. This has been the truth, and the True Church, since Satan's rebellion.
Via the Internet
History of early Christians
Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate The Journal. The articles are most informative. I especially appreciate the essays, which make me put my thinking cap on.
The one by Alan Knight ["Nicolaitans Prominent in Destruction of New Testament Church," March 31] was a real eye-opener. It gives me a much better understanding of the New Testament.
The epistles of Paul, which are said to be hard to understand, become understandable when the history of religion of the times is explained, which Mr. Knight's essay series is doing.
Big Sandy, Texas
Thank you for the article on the new direction the Church of God (Seventh Day) president wants to take ["Church of God (Seventh Day) President Wants to See Church Move in New Direction," Jan. 31].
I was a member of a church that also took a new direction. That church, the Worldwide Church of God, abandoned the law and threw out the Sabbath. This morning when I saw the bodies of the dead young soldiers on the morning news and heard on the radio later that day of the burial of a mother and her child killed by a drunk driver, I realized that only the coming of that bright and glorious day will end these six days of man's evil work.
Since Adam chose to disobey God, God has commanded us to work out our six days building our governments, our society. He had commanded that the unrighteous remain so (Revelation 22:11), that we have eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.
Jesus did not speak without using a parable. He did this so that the majority would not understand. After 5,760 years (according to the Hebrew calendar), it should be apparent that man cannot direct his own footsteps. His way leads to death.
That great seventh day, the millennial Sabbath rest, will usher in the day when God magnifies His law and makes it honorable. The physical and spiritual laws are for our benefit. Breaking physical or spiritual laws leads to negative consequences, eventually death. Only Jesus Christ can turn us into the path of righteousness. We need to pray for that day when the government will be on His shoulder, that God's Kingdom come, and His will be done on earth.
Greg A. Jandrt
I am surprised that grown, mature men and women still allow little dictators to manage and rule their lives. To those in Milwaukee who refuse this ungodly format, good for you! To those who insist on maintaining this format, please remember God's own warnings (1 Samuel 8:11-22). [See "Milwaukee Splits Over Governance, Assn. Rules," Dec. 13, 1999.]
If you want a little king to rule you and charge you for it, then you shall have it, and you shall have all the results as well. It seems like we did not learned the lessons well in the old WCG under its dictator-pope, Herbert Armstrong.
There can be no man standing between individuals and their Creator. What do you think these men do? What do you think a hierarchy does?
Take their money away and see how well they will serve you.
Apology to Mike Hanisko
It was recently brought to my attention that some have interpreted my editorial article in the December 1999 issue of The Journal ["What Went Wrong in Milwaukee?] as being critical of Mike Hanisko and disingenuous in my statements about my positive feeling for the quality of his service and ministry to people in the Milwaukee area.
In a phone call with Mike, I shared with him that my comments about him were, and are, sincere.
In 1982 I arrived in Milwaukee (as a local church elder), shortly after Mike had been transferred, and heard how deeply he was admired. I certainly realized, and in our phone call we both agreed, that the roots of the issues that divided the congregation ["Milwaukee Splits Over Governance, Assn. Rules," Dec. 13, 1999] preceded him, and there were many factors at work, some of which were completely out of his control.
I also explained that it was never in my heart to be coy and say something nice before a slam. There was no irony or need to read between the lines intended in my positive statements about Mike.
What was intended by me was an attempt at an even-handed expression of my deep and profound concern over the substantial and continuing loss of membership in the United Church of God, an International Association, in the U.S.A., of which Milwaukee was the most recent instance.
For those who took my comments as being critical of Mike, I want to apologize for my inadequate expression of what I intended to say. I hope the members and leaders of all the various congregations of the greater body of Jesus Christ in the Milwaukee area are successful in their efforts to preach the gospel, to care for the disciples God the Father calls, and to grow in Christian maturity.
No intent to judge
I apologize for the overly sarcastic and judgmental tone of my reply ["No. 19," Jan. 31, page 5] to Charles C. Smith's Nov. 30 letter ["Dead Wrong About HWA," page 5] about Herbert W. Armstrong. It wasn't actually my intent to judge Mr. Smith, although that's how the letter came out.
When I read his letter and dashed off my reply, I was a bit upset (not to mention that I was enjoying a cup of strong coffee, which didn't help things).
Why was I upset? Because Mr. Smith had credited the late Herbert W. Armstrong, above anyone else, with "changing his life." Frankly, I was dismayed at this. I wondered--justifiably, I believe--whether he gave any credit at all to the Eternal. He may have been thinking it, but he didn't write it. A careless oversight? Perhaps, but what an oversight!
Adding to my dismay was that Mr. Smith seemed to be merely one of many in the Armstrongist movement who, perhaps unconsciously, tend to place the spotlight on the work of fallible, sinful men rather than on the work of our great and perfect Creator. Even if not outright idolatry, it's too close for my comfort.
I believe idolatry--which includes undue reverence for and unquestioning obedience to men--is one reason the Eternal had to break up the WCG and why the breakaway groups continue to break up. They were practically begging for it. Many are still begging for it.
Idolatry is probably the easiest sin to commit. It comes in many forms, some overt, others subtle. I believe this sin is deeply ingrained in the Armstrongist COG culture, and even many well-intentioned people have been caught up in it. Even though few COG leaders are actively promoting (and enforcing) idolatry anymore, few also seem to be discouraging or vociferously opposing it.
Having witnessed the fruits of idolatry among my spiritual family, I have come to especially hate it--just as someone in a family of drunks, having witnessed the evil fruits of that lifestyle, might develop a special revulsion to drunkenness.
I'm not completely innocent. I believe I have been guilty of idolatry at times. But I have repented, and I daily ask the Eternal to search me for any trace of this sin, as well as others.
In his more-recent letter ["Honoring God," March 31, page 4], Mr. Smith insisted that he does not idolize HWA. I really hope that is true. He also said that the Eternal had changed his life through HWA--a big improvement over what he had said in his November letter.
But for some reason Mr. Smith chose to close his letter by quoting Matthew 5:11-12: "Blessed are you when men shall revile and persecute you . . . for My name's sake." I was puzzled in trying to see the relevance of that verse. I don't see the name Herbert W. Armstrong mentioned anywhere in it.
The WCG's CG7 roots
I greatly enjoyed Linda Hardy White's article "We in Churches of God Shouldn't Deny Our Roots" in the Aug. 31, 1999, issue of The Journal. Mrs. White makes an important point in highlighting the key role of personal evangelism in the history of the Adventist movement in general and the Churches of God in particular. She also accurately describes the differences between the Seventh Day Baptist and Adventist traditions.
However, I believe we should not overemphasize those differences, which are far outweighed by some fundamental similarities. The Seventh Day Baptists arose out of the Puritan movement in England in the 1600s. The Seventh-day Adventists and Sabbatarian Churches of God started about 200 years later, but their roots are in the similar Puritan culture of New England. Both share the Puritan respect for the whole Bible and for biblical law, especially the Ten Commandments.
A good place to read about the similarities between these two branches of the larger Puritan tradition is in the books of Seventh-day Adventist historian Dr. Bryan W. Ball. These similarities are the subject of his book The English Connection: The Puritan Roots of Seventh-day Adventist Belief (James Clarke, Cambridge, 1981).
Dr. Ball is also the author of the authoritative book on the English Seventh Day Baptists, The Seventh-day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994).
I highly recommend The Seventh-day Men to anyone who wants to find out more about the roots of modern Sabbatarianism. Most people from the Churches of God who read this book will be struck by their common ground with those English "seventh-day men." For example, Dr. Ball includes in this book a description of English Sabbatarians of the 1690s given by Henri Misson, a Frenchman who traveled extensively in England during that period. Here are Mr. Misson's comments on these Sabbatarians:
"Here and there also you meet with a Millennarian; but I know there is a particular Society, though it makes but little noise, of People, who though they go by the Name of Sabbatarians, make Profession of expecting the Reign of a Thousand Years without participating in the other opinions which are ascribed to the ancient Millenarians.
"These Sabbatharians are so call'd, because they will not remove the Day of Rest from Saturday to Sunday. They leave off work betimes on Friday Evening, and are very rigid observers of their Sabbath. They administer Baptism only to adult People [footnote: 'In other aspects they subscribe to our Confession of Faith']; and perhaps they are blameable in these two Things only because they look upon them to be more important than they really are.
"The major Part of them will eat neither Pork, nor Blood, nor things strangled, but they do not absolutely forbid the Use of those meats; they leave it to the Liberty of every Conscience.
"For the rest, their Morality is severe, and their whole outward Conduct pious and Christian-like. Were it only for this one Opinion or Belief of theirs concerning the absolute Necessity of keeping the Sabbath on Saturday without paying any Regard to the next Day . . .; that alone would be enough to make them unavoidably a Society by themselves."
Somehow these folks sound rather familiar to me.
Please tell Linda Cartwright I thoroughly enjoyed her article, or, as Wes says, her editorial ["COG Women Meet in Texas; No Men Allowed"]. Interesting and well written.
We did achieve something special at that conference, which I will always treasure. I hope that the next IBLC conference will be even half as meaningful.
Linda Hardy White
I wanted to thank you for running the article in The Journal! I've had wonderful responses from it [see "SWF Says Single Not a Four-Letter Word," Feb. 29]. As a result, we have about four new members on the Sabbatarian Singles Fellowship Forum, and several men and women wrote to say thank you for putting my thoughts in such a public way for others to read. They said it touched their hearts, and they were pleased to read the article.
Marla Graham Prouty
Seniors get lonely too
In regards to Marla Prouty's article, "SWF Says Single Not a Four-Letter Word" [Feb. 29]: I feel she provides a good way for singles to fellowship.
I'm not young or middle-aged; I'm a senior single, in my early 60s. I attended my first Feast as a single mom in my early 30s. For many years I found no one with whom I wished to share my life and love.
When I was middle-aged I met a man at the Feast, and we hit it off. We were married about a year later. After several years he decided he wanted no part of the church or God's way. We divorced, because he didn't wish to remain married either.
My point is that we senior singles also get lonely and desire fellowship and companionship with those our age.
I think a newsletter with singles' ads is a way we singles could fellowship. If such a newsletter ever became available, it would be to the readers an advantage for the person's age to be printed.
Thank you for the newspaper and articles.
Name and location withheld
The Sabbath Singles Connection provides a place for Church of God singles to meet on the Internet, but founder Mike Kawasaki also publishes materials he sends through the postal system. Write the SSC at P.O. Box 647, Biggs, Calif. 95917, U.S.A., or email@example.com.
I really took heart over the women's conference! ["COG Women Meet in Texas; No Men Allowed," March 31]. That, for me, was the highlight of the March issue. I hope this trend continues. Of course, I expect a patriarchal backlash somewhere along the line.
God is Spirit
Is Jesus the Son of the Holy Spirit? Scripture leads us to believe that He is, for Luke states in Luke 1:45 that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. In Matthew 1:18 Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit, and in verse 20 Joseph was told that that which was in her was of the Holy Spirit.
In John 1:14 we read that Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. Joseph and Mary knew Jesus came from our Father. The Holy Spirit is the holy presence that placed Jesus in Mary as our Father, the one whom no one but Christ has seen (1 Timothy 6:16).
Our Christ is not the son of a separate Holy Ghost being. Based on these scriptures, we see that our Father is the Holy Spirit.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God