Letters from our readers
We are continuing to hear of interest in the Churches of God Conference in Tulsa, Okla., on July 28, 29 and 30. So far 100-plus church representatives plus spouses and other members have indicated they will attend.
Also, a dozen or more who are not on the official list have indicated they will attend. If anyone knows of others who plan to attend, please ask them to contact me. This will help in our arrangements with the hotel.
Most of us have received questions about what will be accomplished by this conference. Hopefully, we all believe, with God's help and our own prayerful, sincere and humble effort to work together, it will be clearly evidenced to us how and what we are to do.
Surely the words of David in Psalm 133:1 and Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:1, 6 are appropriate for us at this time of our church history as we come together with unfeigned love for this discussion session.
Please remember to refer to the Churches of God Conference 2000 when you make your hotel reservation to receive the special rate and to help reduce the meeting-room costs: the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel, 10918 E. 41st St., Tulsa. Phone (918) 627-5000 or (800) 325-3535.
The following people have indicated their intention to attend: John Akins, Steven Andrews, Dave Antion, Darl Arbogast, Chris Barr, Paul Bell, John Bobetsky, Rodney Boone, Erroll Brown, Allan Burlison, Hugh Butrick, Anthony Buzzard, Al Carrozzo, Dixon Cartwright, Benjamin Chapman, Lee Clark, David Cohen, Wayne Cole, Steven Collins, Harold Cormany, Richard Cress, George Crow, Julian Cruz, Ron Dart, Sidney Davis, Donald Deakins, Pat Dennis, Floyd Dodson, John Edmonds, Norman Edwards, Don Esposito, Bill Faith, Gary Fakhoury, Jack Fike, Cosden Foland, William Fowler, Janet Friedricks, Enrique Gabuyo, Dan Girouard, Ken Gordon, Lawrence Gregory, Alfred Harrell, Dave Havir, Jeff Henderson, William C. Hicks, Chipper Hinds, Ian Hufton, Peter Huizar, Arthur Hulet, Leonard Jacobi, Tom Justus, Phil Keener, Marvin Keim, Alex Kennedy, Steven Kieler, Alan Knight, Eugene Lamb, Jack Lane, Larry Lasiter, Jerry Laws, Bill Luecke, Frank Marang, Robert Marlow, James McBride, Carmon McCulley, Sam Metz, Charles Miller, Don Miller, Royce Mitchell, Manny Molinar, Edward Moody, Herb Morrow, Mac Overton, Terry Post, Ashley Rattee, Jim Rector, Bill Rollins, Alan Ruth, Don Samples, Wayne Schatzel, Bob Simpson, Gary Sjordal, Mitchell Smith, Herb Solinsky, Robert Stapleton, John Stiles, Ken Svehla, Ken Swiger, James Throgmorton, John Trescott, James Ussery, Virgil Velasquez, Joe Waller, Mark Welch, Ken Westby, Dean Wheelock, Louis Williams and Ray Wooten.
P.S.: In consideration of those who have been asking about displaying literature, we will provide an adjacent area with tables for that purpose.
Pastor, Tulsa Church of God
For details of the Tulsa conference, see "Tulsa Pastor Says More Can Be Done to Preach the Gospel," Jan. 31, page 1. See also information and reservation form on page 23 of the same issue. Phone the sponsoring Tulsa Church of God or its pastor, Mr. Gregory, at (918) 918 622-3448.
It is an answer to prayer: the attitude that is surfacing within a lot of the brethren of the various COGs. They want to do a work together, put differences aside and truly desire a unity of mind and spirit.
I have written letters to The Journal and Servants' News about this very thing, and I have prayed for the attitude of reconciliation. We need to stop the mudslinging and start the healing process with agape love. It will heal us of anything under the sun.
If our own children were to put one another down and not visit each other, how would we feel as a parent? Do you think that God, the perfect Parent, is grieved in His heart? I think you know the answer.
We as a collective body need to pray for the success of the meetings coming in June and July, meetings of brethren from various groups. If we put our whole heart into praying for their success, it will happen!
God is merciful, loving and kind and no respecter of persons. We need to become the same way regardless of what group we belong to.
The inner work is the important work within the Body of Christ. When we get the inside of the cup clean, the physical growth will be greater than it has been. Let's get to work together.
In The Journal of April 30, Jamaican Church of God International pastor Ian Boyne made unsubstantiated, uninformed and unwarranted allegations regarding me. After much consideration, I have decided to respond to his remarks. I believe it would be irresponsible to just stand by and let these false allegations go unchallenged.
It is troubling that Mr. Boyne would make potentially damaging charges on the record in front of the brethren in reference to my character and then allow them to be published with no allusion to scriptural specifics whatsoever.
In the vernacular this is called a cheap shot, and it is not a nice thing for a "man of God" to do.
To my knowledge Ian Boyne has yet to openly mention or publish anything biblically specific regarding something I teach that is in fact "contrary to Scripture." His publishing now, therefore, of unsupported accusations, amounts to malicious, idle talk (Matthew 12:36-37).
Mr. Boyne was quoted in The Journal April 30 ("Pastor Reports on Jamaican Passover, Assesses Other Ministries"): "We simply have to find a balance between Gerald Flurry and Dave Pack, on one hand, and Norm Edwards and Paul Haney on the other. The two extremes they represent have failed to produce any sustainable growth and are contrary to Scripture."
In reality, I doubt that Mr. Boyne knows much about what I represent. As an independent, traveling, ordained minister of Jesus Christ, I have no congregation under me, growing or otherwise. Christ Fellowship Ministries is a seventh-day-Sabbath-keeping Christian ministry to the glory of Christ, an outreach ministry to the sheep of our Savior and a "harvest" ministry.
We accept and believe that Scripture teaches the precept that all members of the Body are spiritually united in Him. Therefore we welcome with open arms into spiritual fellowship all who genuinely seek the testimony of Christ so bridges of godly love may be established and eventually extended to all mankind.
CFM has an ongoing "Bibles for Prisoners" program that to date has sent more than 650 high-quality Bibles (our cost about $15 each) and assorted literature to men and women in U.S. prisons after personal requests from the prisoners.
CFM is always open to spiritual growth in Christ and to new and better understanding of God's Word. Therefore we search and study Scripture according to Acts 17:11, remembering: "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him" (Proverbs 18:13).
We recognize that some Christians carelessly jump to conclusions and prejudge others on little more than unfounded rumor or hearsay and gossip. Jesus said: "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" (John 7:51).
No, it does not. The implication: "Then, why do you do it?"
This is my formal challenge to Ian Boyne: Produce clear biblical texts supporting your charges that I am (a) teaching things "contrary to Scripture" and (b) that what I represent is an extreme position, or submit an immediate apology to me in bold type to run in two consecutive issues of The Journal for all to see--immediately.
Indeed, I would welcome a cordial, nonconfrontational, Scripture-based debate with Mr. Boyne on anything I teach, point by point, that he thinks is contrary to Scripture. Certainly I would agree to change any position I hold if it can be shown by plain, unadulterated Scripture (as opposed to private and distinctive interpretations thereof) that what I teach is in fact contrary to the written Word of God.
I would expect Mr. Boyne to agree to similarly change when shown the error of his ways.
I do admit to teaching things that are contrary to Church of God traditions, but, then, the Bible has a little bit to say about man's traditions.
I would also like to see him define "Armstrong movement." I wonder how many of the brethren might agree or how many even realize they are in such an association, since he seems to openly represent it (and them) before at least one Protestant denomination.
Mr. Boyne's view that "man will become God" is one of the original lies and heresies of the great deceiver, Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (Genesis 3:4-5).
I believe the doctrine is an arrogant, self-promoting heresy of the worst sort. I further believe that the doctrine Mr. Boyne so ardently supports ought to be roundly condemned by every person who calls upon the name of the Lord and the Father in spirit and in truth.
Rather than unfairly and inappropriately attacking other ministries, Mr. Boyne would do well to mind his own store and resolve primarily to bring glory to Jesus Christ, our present-ruling King, every day.
F. Paul Haney
Christ Fellowship Ministries
Ladies shouldn't speak in tongues
I suggest you start a series titled "The Real Tough Questions" in which readers can submit such and let the experts respond.
For example, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 says women shouldn't speak "in the churches." Many take this to mean they aren't allowed to preach. Yet the context of the chapter deals with speaking in tongues.
Verse 27 says if a man can't be understood he should shut up.
Presumably verses 34-35 say a woman speaking in tongues should shut up regardless. This does not appear to be dealing with preaching, whether men or women. So, if women can prophesy, preaching is okay.
How about answers to this?
Edmonton, Alta., Canada
Be not ashamed
In the May 31 issue, in "Letters" ["Makes You Think," page 2], Jim Edwards extols the virtues of women with great gusto. His opinion of males is enlightening--even more than God's, it would appear, in relation to leadership in His church.
I pass along to Mr. Edwards the apostle Paul's advice in Galatians 5:12 to, in its full meaning, go all the way and remove his maleness.
Come on, men. Don't be ashamed to be real men. There is a lack of us in the church.
Via the Internet
I felt a warmth around my heart as I read Dave Havir's recount of that historical Passover in 1995 ["Two Conferences Planted Seeds of Hope," April 30]. That wonderful occasion was the most special Passover in my life, when I felt for the first time the words of Jesus Christ in John 15-17 coming alive to me and being an active part of my life.
I still vividly remember some of those details, the warehouse and the atmosphere and some people who were there. That was the most important life test that I ever had to pass, the test that nobody taught me at Ambassador.
In fact, many of those who taught me were on the side against the pure truth of God at that time. What a tragic time! Yet we are told that a disciple cannot be greater than his teacher!
Yes, I still remember Passover 1995 with much fondness and cherish a dear memory of that event. I often hoped that the spirit of that night would carry over into my entire life.
Since Dave Havir on May 31 launched a broadside against hierarchical church government ("The Class System's Roots Run Deep," page 3), some brief reply is necessary by someone who cares to defend the so-called class system Mr. Havir decries.
Since the political model the New Testament upholds is altruistic paternalism, not egalitarian democracy, all attempts to defend congregationalism are inevitably unscriptural.
Under the model of self-sacrificing paternalism, the leaders are to manage those underneath for the latter's benefit, not their own. True, it's easy to be cynical about paternalism and say those in charge will be abusive, selfish, etc., but the New Testament uses this model for family relationships.
For example, the husband has authority over his wife, but in return he is supposed to have agape (self-sacrificing) love for his wife (Colossians 3:18-19).
A similar unequal relationship is supposed to exist between parents and children in which parents sacrifice and provide for their children but their children obey them in return (verses 20-21).
Many will object that, because various elders or pastors have been abusive in the past in the WCG, therefore the whole hierarchical, or "class," system has to be scrapped to prevent future abuses.
But there have also been many abusive and neglectful parents and husbands. Does that mean the hierarchical structure of family relationships that God has commanded should be similarly discarded?
The concept of "servant leadership" is admirably suited to teaching pastors and elders to be self-sacrificing shepherds but doesn't fit congregationalism so well when the pastor has to conform to the wishes of most of his congregation or be removed from his position.
His leadership role is inevitably stunted should anything especially controversial but ultimately good ("tough love") need to be done (such as giving strong, corrective sermons).
Although Mr. Havir objects to "coercive hierarchy," any congregationalist government has similar coercive power since a majority vote binds all in such a group. Any who can't live with the results have to leave.
Since Scripture has no case of a group of lay members voting to remove or discipline an elder or pastor, but leaves that to other elders (1 Timothy 5:19-20), the practice is inherently unscriptural. Although Acts 14:23 is often cited as an example of lay members voting to ordain elders, in fact the "they" who "appointed elders for them" was Paul and Barnabas. An election by two individuals is hardly an election.
Although full proof of this has to be left to my essay "Is an Ordained Ministry a New Testament Doctrine?" (www.provide.net/~kmiller1/npath.html), there are texts that authorize a spiritual division of labor under which elders rule the laity since they have the ability to teach more, thanks to professional specialization and God's spiritual gifts to them (Romans 10:14-15; Acts 8:30-31, 34-35; Ephesians 4:11-16).
Only by dubious manipulations of the Greek can Hebrews 13:17 be evaded: "Obey your leaders, and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account."
The Baur-Arndt-Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon plainly indicates that the NASB has correctly translated the most controversial word in this verse: "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching."
Hebrews 13:24 even authorizes a "class system" since it distinguishes the laity and leaders: "Greet all of your leaders and all of the saints."
After all, as Paul notes about spiritual gifts, not all have the same function in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).
Note that Paul's reasoning against women being made ministers is because spiritual teachers intrinsically have authority over others in the faith (1 Timothy 2:11-12): "Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet."
Don't these texts alone show a "class system" (that is, a distinction in position) exists within the church?
Although Mr. Havir cites 1 Samuel 8:6-22 as a point to show God will accept and work through a less-than-perfect form of government among men that they want, it's actually much better used against congregationalism. How so?
Notice that the Israelites wanted to be like the other nations in having a king to lead them (verses 19-2). What is congregationalism other than the church adopting the form of human government that's the most popular and respectable in the world around us, especially in this country, which waged two world wars to further the cause of democracy?
The fundamental error of the congregationalists and independents is to read the world's reigning political philosophy into Scripture.
Scripture has far more to say about obedience, self-sacrifice and ruling than it does about voting, doing one's own thing or individual rights. For proof analyze the texts concerning citizens obeying their government (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-15), slaves obeying their masters (Ephesians 6:5-6; Colossians 3:22-23; 1 Peter 2:18-19), wives obeying their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6) or children obeying their parents (Ephesians 6:1).
If there's hierarchy and ruling in the world tomorrow, why should we assume it's any different today? (Luke 19:11-27; Matthew 25:14-30; Revelation 5:10; 2:26-27).
Texts such as Matthew 20:25-28 and 2 Corinthians 1:24 merely condemn or deny an abusive use of authority, or otherwise they would contradict other Scriptures, since human governments (Romans 13:1-7 again) and pastors (1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 12-13) certainly have the God-given authority to command others to do things they don't want to do.
Only by the worst kind of manipulation of the meaning of the Greek can congregationalism be read into Scripture.
Mr. Havir is quite right to point out many of Mr. Armstrong's errors on church government, such as one-man rule and equating the church as a single corporate organization within the spiritual organism. Nevertheless, I submit (a fine word choice here) that much of the basis of Mr. Havir's article on government has far more to do with the spirit of 1776 and 1789, or even Das Kapital, than it has anything to do with what Scripture teaches about church government.
As a new subscriber, I want to say thank you for the informative and various views that your publication presents. Of particular interest to me is the doctrinal issue of servant leadership, which has been so great problem for the WCG churches. Praises to our great God for the independent churches that have formed to escape the abusive, coercive, elitist hierarchy of the old WCG and her major daughters.
I truly believe these new churches are paving the way for the return of our true servant leader, Jesus. Hallelujah! Way to go, children of God.
Via the Internet
Closer to truth
I enjoyed both of the May 31 articles on Dr. Robert Kuhn ("Former AC Faculty Member Launches Public-Television Series" and "Here's How Robert Kuhn Is Bringing America Close to Truth"). The accomplishments of Dr. Kuhn and his colleague Brian Knowles reminded me of Proverbs 24:5: "A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength." Thank you both for your example.
Richard Griffiths (Ph.D. candidate)
Regarding "Columnist Says Good-bye," May 31 issue:
There once was a writer named Melvin Whose wit was as trenchant as Calvin And Hobbes'. He got out Of the kitchen, no doubt, 'Cause the heat far exceeded Lord Kelvin!
There once was a writer named Rhodes. A colossus? Perhaps, he irked rogues. Like Cecil of old His work shone like gold. In fine, though, 'twas hard to fight goads!
Big Sandy, Texas
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