Letters from our readers


I am asking that you note a correction to my September 1999 article ["Star Wars Popular in Religious Circles," page 3]: that it was not James Dobson, but instead it was Craig Roberts, who was the host-interviewer. Dr. James Dobson was in no way connected to my article. This was a mistake on my part that I had clearly explained on more than one occasion.

Bruce Lyon

El Cerrito, Calif.

Down the drain

Even though I may find some minor disagreements here or there with some brethren, as we all do from time to time, I do support Richard Nickels for making a public acknowledgment of what Ron Dart is doing [see "CEM Founder Answers Questions About Sabbath Observance and Christmas Music," Feb. 29].

I am not judging whether Ron Dart is knowingly leavening the weak ones who are buying into his type of reasoning. I am discerning what I have seen in action and describing the danger it causes.

One of our ex-home-Bible-study groups has stepped over into the vortex of Ron Dart's type of reasoning and has been drawn under by the force of the dizzying whirlpool of compromise. Let it be a warning to all!

Once you start down the road of compromise and see how easy it makes things for you, and how those still in spiritual Babylon will pat you on the back and praise you and express love for you, when, if ever, will you stop?

The answer is that you probably will not stop but will continue the decline all the way back to what you left behind many years before when you were first converted.

You cannot teach children to avoid Christmas by putting up a tree, decorating it and putting gifts under it so they can kneel before it to retrieve them. Nor do you teach them the truth about Easter by dyeing eggs for them, dressing them up in new outfits and giving them candy on that particular Sunday morning. Nor do you take them among children who are being reared in this fashion and expose them to these customs.

Compromise is not the stuff victory is made of. The glaring, twisted agony is expressed and explained so clearly in a lot of scriptures.

1 Corinthians 7:14: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the [believing] husband."

1 Kings 18:21: "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him!" (not Baal).

2 Peter 2:22: "But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to his own vomit, and a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (This is why a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.)

There is a vast difference in sinning through weakness and teaching a sinister evil designed to sweep people back to spiritual Babylon. Romans 3:23 says we all sin and fall short of perfect obedience, which is the glory of God, but there is no glory for God or us in our compromising with the world. Have we forgotten Christ's admonition?

Luke 9:61-62: "But Jesus said to him, No one having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

Christ Jesus, our Savior, has already judged this offense!

Matthew 18:6-7: "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of the offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"

We have witnessed one taken back and away. It makes you wonder how many more there are who have followed the advice to take their kids to Sunday school to please their mate in an attempt to promote harmony in the family. Have they suddenly found they have lost what little influence they may have had over the children as they are drawn into the pagan customs these churches practice?

The worst part is that you may also wonder if they have lost out on their opportunity to be in the first resurrection.

2 Corinthians 11:4: "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may grow to accept it."

If we do accept it, the cause is lost! Brethren, let us hold fast to what we have and let no man take our crown.

Darl E. Arbogast

Kennesaw, Ga.

Contentless criticism

In the April 30 edition of The Journal Ian Boyne, CGI pastor in Jamaica (as reported by George Ramocan), accuses, among others, Ron Dart of Christian Educational Ministries (CEM) of "capitulating to a fuzzy, almost contentless Protestantism."

The last time I looked, Ron Dart and the CEM still kept the Sabbath and holy days (as opposed to Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc.).

They still believed in the hope of the resurrection (as opposed to heaven, hell, purgatory, the beatific vision, etc.).

They still believed that Christ would return to earth to set up the Kingdom of God (as opposed to the rapture).

They still believed that repentance is a life-long attitude (as opposed to a temporary remorse that precedes baptism).

They did not believe in a Trinity or immortal souls, or that the law of God was "nailed to the cross" and is no longer expected to be obeyed by Christians.

They still believed in abstaining from unclean meats and washing one another's feet during the yearly Passover observance.

This, I submit, is not a description of "fuzzy, almost contentless Protestantism."

Ian, we rejoice with you and the Jamaican brethren you serve for the many new members God has apparently added to His church through your ministry. May the CGI in Jamaica continue to be similarly blessed.

However, leveling such a broad accusation as being guilty of "capitulating to a fuzzy, almost contentless Protestantism" without specifying of exactly what that actually consists is fuzzy, almost contentless criticism. This is hardly fitting coming from one who is reportedly a "professional journalist and communications consultant who has read widely in philosophy, psychology and theology."

Ron Dart has a very public ministry. Every week (and in some areas every day) he airs a 30-minute radio broadcast. There is also a CEM Web site on the Internet with his essays and broadcasts for anybody interested in doing his own research.

Last, the CEM has published all sorts of literature that highlights its scriptural teaching.

If Ian Boyne's accusations are true, then it would be constructive for him to rip the cloak of deceit from Ron Dart and expose his fuzzy, almost contentless Protestantism for what it truly is.

We are anxiously waiting, Ian, for your detailed and specific expose of this spiritual wolf in sheep's clothing. If your charges are true, please specify the Protestant doctrines, practices, beliefs or dogma that Ron Dart is stealthily injecting into those who follow and support him.

Otherwise, why don't you continue to "grow where God has planted [and from all reports is apparently blessing] you" in your home country of Jamaica?

Tim McCaulley

Jacksonville, Fla.

Makes you think

Well, well, well. Trust a woman to show men the way! Your headline of March 31, "COG Women Meet in Texas; No Men Allowed," was the greatest thing I've read for many a long time! Good for you, ladies. Keep it up. (Will the real men follow?)

Women are so sensible, when men for the most part are so stupid. In most cases we men have underplayed the role of the "little woman" long enough.

What do you think of God? Did He not say in Genesis 1:26-27: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him; male and female His created them"?

Can't you men--the real men--all get together, whatever church you are attending? Or are you all too busy poring over old manuscripts and musty old books, ever searching out the hidden truths (or lies), the meaning of this or that, when in reality the women more or less have the answers naturally? We need to learn from them, brothers!

Is it the Sabbath? Is it the right time for the Passover? Are we in the right church? Is this the name we call our God?

Let the only anointed one, Christ, give us a hint, guys. I think on the whole it is women who have (mostly) fulfilled Matthew 25:31-46. What do you think?

Guys, I can only answer by quoting perhaps one of your greatest American statesmen, Homer J. Simpson: "Dooohh!"

And, by the way, I was 18 when I first came into contact with God's church. I am nearly 54--so been there, seen it, done it.

A last thought: Say the first Armstrong who had the truth (Loma) had run the church organization? Makes you think, guys.

Say, if I behave myself and wear a kilt (well, David did), can I come to the next women's conference? I might hear some sense!

By the way, I am married (33 years, four kids). Just in case you-- No, you wouldn't, would you?

Jim Edwards

Banbury, England

One more time

I plan to make this my final answer in The Journal in regard to the constant, unending, utterly false accusations, insinuations, suppositions and innuendoes made by David Harrell in recent issues about me. [See letters by Charles C. Smith and David Harrell: "Dead Wrong About HWA," Nov. 30, 1999, page 5; "No. 19," Jan. 31, page 5; "Honoring God," March 31, page 4; and "No Intent to Judge," April 30, page 4.]

It seems that, although I explain and clearly try to get through to him, he insists on attempting to picture me as something I'm not.

In his last letter, in the April 30 issue, he attempted to convince readers of The Journal that he was sorry for the "sarcastic and judgmental" way he wrote about me previously, but then he went on to write an (approximately) 500-word letter, being sarcastic and judgmental again.

His letter was a scathing diatribe against the people in God's church who don't idolize HWA but do hold fast to what he taught: the truth of God that brought me and thousands of people around the world to real repentance--including Mr. Harrell, apparently.

Also in his letter of April 30, Mr. Harrell wrote:

  • "I wondered--justifiably, I believe--whether [Mr. Smith] 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!"

The truth is that Mr. Harrell did not "wonder" if I gave God any credit to the Eternal. He knew I did, because he read it on line 20 of my letter of Nov. 30, 1999, which said:

". . . I will be eternally grateful to God . . ." This is a plain and understandable statement that anyone over 5 years old can understand.

But, then, perhaps that strong cup of coffee Mr. Harrell claimed was probably to blame for causing him to write sarcastically and judgmentally against a fellow member of God's church was also to blame for his not being able to read or understand my writing.

I drink chamomile herb tea so I don't have an emotional problem when it comes to writing about my brothers and sisters. I say that facetiously, so don't anyone say that chamomile tea is my idol.

And, for the record's sake, and for any extremist zealots' sake, let me make it perfectly clear that I give all the thanks and all the glory to God for teaching me how to acquire a calm, sensible spirit and real peace of mind, using Herbert W. Armstrong as the middleman. What a great God! How wonderful.

1 John 3:14 says: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brothers abides in death."

Charles C. Smith

Cookeville, Tenn.

18 truths

Some friends no longer subscribe to The Journal because they feel it is too negative. I disagree. It's great to get all sides of a story. Thanks for all your hard work; it is much appreciated.

Regarding Ron Weinland's "the Church of God": A family I know quite well are members of this church. During the course of a conversation one day between [the woman of the house] and myself, it became apparent that she was pushing the idea that it was necessary to stick to the "18 truths revealed by Mr. Armstrong."

I couldn't see why this was so important to her, but, upon reading the article "Toledo Pastor Disfellowships Board Members" [Feb. 29], I could see where she was coming from. I sent a copy of said article to the family but haven't heard back.

(Mrs.) L. Peers

Georges Hall, Australia

Pain of regret

Some of us bring the awful pain of regret upon ourselves! How thankful I, Howard F. Bruce, am that I escaped this dreaded feeling of regret one sunny day up in Salem, Ore. Here is my story.

I had a friend. His name was Oscar. He operated a gasoline station. I was a customer and gasoline and other items on credit. Somehow I got in a financial bind and could not meet all my obligations. So, when I could not pay Oscar his money, I was ashamed to buy from him, so I stopped patronizing him.

At last, after several months, he wrote to me about the bill. I got mad and paid him in full, but I was ashamed to buy from him.

Dorothy, my wife, kept after me to go see my old friend Oscar. One day I did. And all was forgiven! We were friends again.

Several months later Oscar died. I cried at his funeral. But thank God Oscar died knowing we were friends again.

Some of you hate Garner Ted Armstrong. It's time you repented. Someday it may be too late. Ted is 70 years old now. Don't suffer the pain of regret.

Howard Bruce

Glendale, Ariz.

Doing what you want

Thank you for the article in the March 31 issue by Alan Knight ["Nicolaitans Prominent in Destruction of New Testament Church"]. Mr. Knight believes the Nicolaitan message included this principle: "You are free from the materialistic rules of the Old Testament as long as you simultaneously cultivate inner spirituality . . ." and ". . . We are unaffected by material sin, so do what you want."

Many today believe grace means we should ignore the law. I think we need to look into this matter so we can respond appropriately to those who hold this position.

God humbled Nebuchadnezzar, who said: "I have built it." In fact, it was God doing the building, not Nebuchadnezzar.

"So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (Luke 17:10).

We realize it is God's Spirit in us that does the work: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Under the New Covenant God circumcises our heart by writing His law on the fleshy tables of our heart.

So Paul said: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

After speaking about grace, Paul said in effect: "Now, don't get me wrong. Don't misunderstand me."

Paul asked: Is the law against God's promises? No. Should we sin so grace may abound? No. Do we make void the law? No. Rather we establish it all the more. How can we who are made for good works walk any longer in sin?

Although God says no man should boast that he "made the grade" by his own effort, that clearly does not mean we should sin or have been given a license to sin. God warns that those who grieve the Spirit will reap what they sow.

No adulterer, murderer, liar or covetous person will enter the Kingdom of God.

"The one who desires life . . . must turn away from evil and do good" (1 Peter 3:10-11). "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17).

Greg A. Jandrt

Schofield, Wis.

Primitive Christianity in crisis

After reading the first two installments [in the February and March issues] based on the book Primitive Christianity in Crisis in The Journal, I became impatient and ordered a copy for myself. To say that this book is sorely needed in this era of the COGs as well as the greater Christian community is a gross understatement.

In my opinion, this book is the greatest thing to hit Christianity since the epistles of Paul. I am not in any way equating this book with Paul's writings; I am saying that I haven't read anything more relevant.

I have been telling everyone who is even remotely Christian about this book and even telling about it on mainstream Christianity's forums on the Internet. I think we should all pray that as many people as possible read this book. You did the people of God a great service by printing it in The Journal

Mary Wendt

Via the Internet

The latest in Mr. Knight's series, "Colossians 2:16 Is a Condemnation of Sunday Observance," begins on page 8.

Invitation declined

Thank you for The Journal newsletter and the article by Mr. Alan Knight ["Thyatira Apostasy Alive and Well in Sabbatarian Christianity," April 30, page 8]. Your gracious invitation for me to respond to it is appreciated.

However, my better judgment leads me to decline such offer. I do not wish to speak to the issues he raises in his article. His conclusions are based on his own personal (private) interpretations of statements written by me and some of my associates. He does not represent nor speak for the general conference, and any attempt on my part to correct his assumptions would be an exercise in futility.

Blessings to you in your work.

Whaid G. Rose

President, General Conference of the

Church of God (Seventh Day)

Denver, Colo.

Moving on

I have enclosed a picture of three of us who graduated from Tidewater Community College Friday, May 12. We attend the United Church of God in Williamsburg, Va.

Dempsey Bruton lives in Norfolk, Va., and I live in Chesapeake. We ride together to church.

Dempsey graduated with an associate-applied-science degree in civil-engineering technology.

Susan Bruton, his wife, graduated with an associate-applied-science in administrative-support technology.

They both graduated with honors.

I graduated with an associate-applied-science degree in industrial management.

The Brutons invited me over to their house with their family to celebrate.

Gregory Beale

Chesapeake, Va.

Read the book

I have been a member of God's true church under Herbert W. Armstrong and Dr. Roderick C. Meredith for 20 years now. It's amazing what I read in The Journal: so many self-proclaimed pastors and ministries when the apostle James tells us not to become "many of us teachers" for we will receive a stricter judgment.

What's more amazing is that God did send the Elijah to come "to restore all things" in the person of HWA, yet many, many "nobodies" (who knows who sent them?) are rising up and claiming to have some kind of special knowledge, even speaking against God's true servant (HWA) and the truths he restored.

Main among those truths is the government truth. Mr. Armstrong's last book, Mystery of the Ages, talks about God's government from beginning to end, yet these self-proclaimed groups don't seem to have gotten it.

Make no mistake about it: The true Church of God is the only place on earth where the government of God is practiced and where God's form of government in the church is followed.

Wonder of wonders we have so many "Churches of God" today all teaching their own formulas of church government. I suggest that we read and reread Mystery of the Ages to clear this Babylon of confusion from among the Churches of God.

Vicente G. Enriquez

Pasadena, Calif.

A stand for God

When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus and give her seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955, she changed the course of American history. Her quiet strength sent shock waves through America.

Few realize that this seamstress's source of strength came from God. Charles Colson in a recent article wrote that Rosa Parks' strength to stand up to the evil of racism came from her deep belief in God and her daily study of the Bible.

Her epic stand for truth reminded me of a similar stand in Big Sandy by Dr. Douglas Winnail (referred to in Dave Havir's column, "Two Conferences Planted Seeds of Hope," April 30).

When Dr. Winnail stood up to defend the observance of the Sabbath on March 25, 1995, he knew full well that he risked losing everything: his friends, his ministerial credentials and his teaching position. In spite of all this--and while many others including Dr. Herman Hoeh ran cowardly for cover--Dr. Winnail willingly stood up and defended the cause of Christ.

I am proud of Dr. Winnail. His strength during this crisis and lifelong service radiate the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Richard Griffiths

Kingston, Mass.

James who?

In response to a full-page ad in the April 30 issue of The Journal: Who is James Messenger? And should we believe him? [The advertisement, on page 22, consisted of eight words: "'Pentecost is always on a Monday.'--James Messenger."]

The year was 1934. A male figure came up the driveway of a farmhouse near Springfield Junction, Ore., knocked at the door and introduced himself by saying, "I am James Messenger, and I wondered if you would give me something to eat?"

The lady of the house noted that he looked so clean, neat and wholesome that she said, "Yes, and my husband and daughter will be here in a few minutes."

He wore blue jeans and a blue work shirt just as her husband wore. He had blue eyes and neatly groomed gray hair and was bald on top. Her husband greeted him as his own brother and invited him to eat with them. He told them about the Sabbath and holy days, which pictured God's plan of salvation. He said that the holy days could come on any day of the weak except for Pentecost, which always came on a Monday.

He repeated: "Pentecost always comes on a Monday."

When he left the next morning, members of the family figured they had been visited by an angel.

The family living in the farmhouse consisted of Arch and Chloe Schippert and their daughter, Julia. The Schipperts grew to understand more of the Bible, came in contact with Herbert W. Armstrong in 1937 and became members of the then Radio Church of God.

I became acquainted with the Schipperts as a student in 1958 at Ambassador College, where they lived right on campus. They were very kind and generous to us as students, giving of themselves for our material and social and spiritual needs.

After Arch died, in the '70s, I visited Mrs. Schippert from time to time. She shared with me some 32 pages of an account of some of her life experiences that she had written up during her widowhood. She decided to do the write-up because she believed it would be helpful to others. Nothing I write here is intended as any criticism of the Schipperts.

Mrs. Schippert had dreams and visions most of her life. While many of them were puzzling as to their interpretation, some were helpful to her and her family in their personal lives. There were many miracles and answers to prayer in supplying the needs of her family.

One of the visions that did not come to pass predicted the worst famine that the world would ever know. It was to come in 1980!

In addition to dreams and visions, she and her family were also visited several times by entities other than James Messenger that they perceived to be angels. Interestingly enough, she noted that the color gray was associated with all of them.

Can James Messenger be believed? He made one other statement to the Schipperts. He said that "the holy days were God's sign between Him and the ones He is calling now."

I am not aware of any place in the Bible where this statement is made. They are certainly not an identifying sign for Christians. If the holy days were the identifying sign of God's people in this age, Orthodox Jewish people would be they. Christians are identified as having Jesus Christ living in them: Christ in us, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27).

If James Messenger cannot be relied upon to reveal the identifying sign for Christians, he cannot be relied upon to reveal to us which day is Pentecost. No one tested the spirits to see if they were of God (1 John 4:1-3). James Messenger was not a messenger from God!

Furthermore, how much importance does God place on our observance of Pentecost on the "right day"? In a recent article my pastor, David L. Antion, pointed out that in Jesus' time there were three opinions about when Pentecost was to be observed. The Pharisees had one day, the Sadducees had another, and the Essenes had a third. All were based on differences of opinion concerning from which Sabbath Pentecost was to be counted.

Jesus surely knew about the differences among these sects, but He did not waste any time in trying to straighten them out. How easy it would have been to settle the matter once and for all! But it was apparently an issue of little importance to Jesus.

Should we then make a big thing about this? The particular day on which Pentecost is observed is not a matter of salvation. The important thing is the significance of Pentecost to Christians and what it reveals about God's plan of salvation for mankind!

Robert Macdonald

Pasadena, Calif.

Two sides to the story

The April 30 article by Ellis Stewart ["UCG Modeled After Proverbs 11:14," page 3] states that the United Church of God was modeled after Proverbs 11:14: "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."

That statement should be modified to state: ". . . But in the multitude of counselors who are ministers there is safety."

The reality of the UCG is a two-class system: elders and everyone else. The corporation is constructed that way. The rules are slanted that way for dealings within the UCG, and every minister, at heart, knows this, and most act accordingly.

There are many fine individuals within the UCG who are sincere about what they believe and do. As we all know, that does not always make it the right thing to believe or do.

That UCG practices are this way is sad, because the scripture truly does say and mean "multitude of counselors."

If the UCG had truly applied that scripture and in turn treated correctly all those who were sincere in following God's way yet wanted to be a part of something, who knows where the UCG could have been today, five years later?

As it is, the UCG has lost many, many sincere individuals and families who have been made to feel unwelcome, coerced to leave on their own or forced out over disagreements largely initiated by the UCG ministry or HQ.

I know Ellis Stewart and others would counter that the UCG does ask for input and comment from nonelders. Unfortunately, that does not mean too much when the intent is only to feign listening when their minds are already set. People know when they are really being listened to or not.

The fact is that opinions are weighted in the UCG depending on whom they come from.

The article, by Ellis Stewart, paints a one-sided picture of the UCG from an elder's point of view. I am not an elder, and I attend with a UCG congregation. It is different on this side of the fence. This is not to say that most if not all other organized groups don't function the same way.

Mr. Stewart probably does believe what he says in the article about the UCG and probably is sincere about it. However, his perspective and mine are quite different on this subject because of our own experiences.

Marcus Brown

Cypress, California

The breach of '31

The merger of two small congregations in Fayetteville and Springdale, Ark. [see "Notes and Quotes," page 24], is truly refreshing and lifts our hearts because of what it portends: to bring unto one the children of God who have been scattered abroad since the unnecessary "breach" in 1931.

The reason the merger is so magnificent and wonderful is that it may be the beginning of the repairing of the breach among the people of God in North America. One of these congregations was an affiliate of the Church of God (Seventh Day), and the other was a double split-off from what came to be known as the Worldwide Church of God.

I believe this merger is God-sent because the breach in 1931 inadvertently set a precedent for division and set the stage for 90 percent of the division we are experiencing today. When somebody does something righteous, we should all rejoice.

All Sabbath-keeping Christians should rejoice, because we finally won one and are heading towards reconciliation and proper discernment of the Lord's body!

Milton and Carole Huston

Kansas City, Kan.

Don't forget to renew

Please keep my Journal coming! Just yesterday I found my renewal coupon and two-year payment check--dated in December!--which I had set aside to mail out, then forgot about and ultimately shuffled into hiding. I mailed them out this afternoon.

Please continue my subscription with the April 2000 issue.

Jerry W. Brooks

Topeka, Kan.

8.5 million peanuts

It seems to me the price of $8.5 million is peanuts for the Ambassador University property ["Family Member Dismayed at $8.5 Million Sale Price," April 30]. If all there was to the Big Sandy campus was the tabernacle, Booth City and the alligator, okay. The last time I was in Big Sandy was in 1985. If it had sold for $8.5 million then, that would still have been a song.

Jay Tompkins

Via the Internet

Subscription query

I have long wanted to subscribe to The Journal but I don't have the financial means to do so at the moment. Is it possible for me to get a subscription for free until such time I am able to pay for it?

If so, I would appreciate receiving copies starting with the January 2000 issue.

Joshua Marquez

Morobe Province,Papua New Guinea

Free subscriptions are available for people who cannot afford to pay for them. See the addresses listed on page 2.

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