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Letters from our readers - Issue 100
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Letters from our readers
Issue 100

Jesus' Q&As

An elder in the church told a friend of ours: "If you keep asking that question you're going to find yourself suddenly out" (kicked out) "of God's true church."

Jesus answered countless questions about everything.

The WCG had an unwritten policy that said "no questions" about anything (doctrine, the Bible, administration, a sermon, etc.).

Say what? You think that the WCG-splintered COG that you're presently meeting with has corrected and changed that policy? Here's how you can find out. Break out that cherished question that you've suppressed for all these years and present it to anyone who is over you (in rank) and you'll get your answer.

If you have the spiritual fortitude (guts) to do that, we have one thing to say: Good luck. You'll need it. Because the policy is still "no questions."

Paul Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Business analogy

The recent election of Clyde Kilough of the UCG got me thinking again about church government and how it is structured. The rally calls of a centralized collective are touted and heard once again.

A business analogy can add insight to the risk of a "unified sole worldwide corporate org Church of God," at least under human leadership. In the real world if just one corporation were to acquire full control over a product that everyone needs, there is little doubt what would happen, even in the presence of well-intended and altruistic managers: The price would go up and the quality would go down.

Free-market economies and democracies put into place antitrust laws in an attempt to keep monopolies from practicing this kind of ineffi- ciency or, at worst, exploitation.

Competition among corporations forces them, at least to some degree, to keep product prices low and quality high.

In the real world of free-market Christianity, there is both a subtle and open competition for membership, even among churches that are within the same denomination. Because of this there is a continual brain drain of educated and talented membership from one church to another that offers brains and talent more opportunity or serves them better.

This natural process, a type of creative destruction of the religious order, allows for stale and stagnant churches to fade away and dynamic and active churches to emerge.

Those who dream of a "unified COG," with all the factions of the church under one org umbrella, I believe are misguided.

For the United Church of God to bring all of its associated congregations into a homogenized singularity with top-down supervision is also a mistake.

Surely the goal of peace and unity seems laudable. However, this will eliminate the natural competition, creation and push that will drive fallible humans to embrace the necessary pain of change for future progress.

Our COG experience shows repeatedly that, if option and choice are kept from the brethren, if only one religious option is allowed, then that church can and will oppress its members, and those members will have no recourse against it.

A One World Church Org will gravitate to controlling its subjects' lives to align it with its governmental rules. That church government, which in such an arrangement always ends up as an elitist group of people, becomes the unfettered arbiter and judge of what is good for itself and its subjects. Pride always ends up commanding such a church.

These principles show why the Soviet Union collapsed. Soviet leaders could lock out competition for people and enterprises. They built walls to keep people from leaving. They locked out new ideas and information. Thus, for a time, they got away with oppressing their citizens.

The Bible actually warns against such towers of Babel. A great gift and responsibility that we have been given by God is freedom. Let us take this gift personally and use it wisely, and, as we do things collectively with others, never attempt to take that gift from another.

Bill Lussenheide
Menifee , Calif.

Habemus presidentum

To United's new prez, Mr. Clyde,
A word of advice from the side:
It's better to rent
Or live in a tent
For you'll come and you'll go the tide!

Reg Killingley Big Sandy, Texas

When good men look the other way

In a letter in the Nov. 30, 2004, edition of The Journal ["Bill's Broad Brush"], Stuart Segall seemed to be smarting from the sting of paint remover, necessary, he says, after being painted with a broad brush.

Stuart maintains that one lone anti-Journal pastor in New Zealand is an anomaly and doesn't represent the vast majority of UCG employees.

It seems every time the UCG gets caught in a less-than-flattering spotlight, we hear the same thing.

Seven years of allowing a stalker to prowl [a] congregation was just the bad judgment of one regional pastor. Fondling of a teenage minor by a local elder [in another area] is just an aberration. The suspension of the girl's mother is a one-time event. The attempted cover-up of the whole affair was a deviation from the norm. Stuart wants to convince us that the ministry of the UCG is 99 44/100 percent pure.

We know from the Scriptures that the righteous are bold (Proverbs 28:1) and they know what is acceptable (Proverbs 10:32). So why, one should ask, do we not see report after report from the GCE (general conference of elders) meetings of elders standing up and demanding an end to the injustices rearing their ugly heads within the UCG?

Why does a young girl have to endure fondling at the hands of a local elder, and her mother is thrown out but the elder was allowed to attend, without even offering the girl an apology?

If the old-school controllers are truly in the minority, then, one wonders, why are they not simply voted out by the GCE? Could it be that most in the old school are firmly entrenched in positions of power (regional pastors, ministerial services and the council of elders) over the "righteous" majority?

Have the majority forgotten that "a little that a righteous man has [is] better than the riches of many wicked"? (Psalm 37:16, NKJV). Are their paychecks and pensions more important to them than doing what is right? Solomon advises us not to be surprised at such a situation:

"If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them" (Ecclesiastes 5:8, NKJV).

So it seems that the fruits of the GCE show us that UCG elders are not quite as righteous as Stuart would like to believe. You can't have your cake and eat it too. I remind Stuart that paint remover doesn't have nearly the sting that the truth does.

Bob Etheridge
Victoria, B.C., Canada

In defense of the UCG

The general conference of elders this year, I felt, was the smoothest conference we've had in the United Church of God. The sessions were open, as they have been for several years now, as has been reported in The Journal.

I think the United Church of God is stressing more and more the servantleadership approach that we see in the Bible, where we are to make God's Ten Commandments part of our heart and soul and mind in our everyday actions toward our fellowman. I came away from the conference feeling very positive about United.

United receives much criticism for its alleged shortcomings. One of the problems people in various of the Church of God groups have with it is that it is legally incorporated.

But, to me, to be organized and have board members and governing documents, as required by its being a corporation, keeps us organized. I'd rather be organized than disorganized.

I am a part of an organization that is operated as a corporation organized by men. But I am not looking to men for my salvation, and I hope nobody is looking to men for theirs.

At the time of the split in 1995 from the Worldwide Church of God, a lady said to me: "Do you think we put Herbert Armstrong between us and God?"

I told her that I didn't, and I knew she didn't. The leaders in the Church of God, including at the time Herbert Armstrong, are here only to help us be organized in doing the work God wants us to do. I did not and do not look to Mr. Armstrong for my salvation.

You will never find a perfect organization. No one is perfect, except Christ.

Ellis W. Stewart
Big Sandy, Texas

Wheat and tares

Much of the letters page of The Journal of Dec. 31 was negative towards Herbert W. Armstrong. Myra McQueen concluded with "And that is all we need: not HWA"; Alex Donovan listed 21 prophetic failures of Mr. Armstrong but did not allow that these resulted from Mr. Armstrong's perceived 1939 need to warn his beloved Israel; Paul Herrmann dismissed Mr. Armstrong's booklets as unbiblical because neither Jesus nor the apostles used these to convert others. He did not allow that in our time the booklets explained the forgotten Sabbath, Passover, holy days, Israel identity and salvation.

What wisdom Jesus showed in giving us the wheat and tares and the sower parables and warning us about ravening wolves in sheep's clothing!

Henk W. Jens
Sydney, Australia

Doesn't say we must obey spirit of law

The apostle Paul explains how to walk after the spirit in Romans 7:22- 25. We must delight in the law (verse 22). We must engage the struggle (verse 23). We must serve the law with our mind (verse 25).

The teaching that Jesus did it for us and we don't have to has been disqualified.

Nowhere in God's Word does it say we must obey the spirit of the law!

How can we obey in the spirit since we cannot even keep it in the letter?

Many have been discouraged and left God's church because of that damnable teaching.

Do you feel that others are more righteous than you?

You do well because we are to esteem others above ourselves.

But, dear children of God, we were not created with the capacity to obey God's holy, just, good, spiritual, righteous law.

We were created carnal, flesh-and blood beings in a lower state than angels, and one third of them rebelled and disobeyed.

If you delight in God's law, if you serve God's law with your mind, you will obey it more often than you will disobey.

And God is looking for a people that will struggle with self and look to His law for the way we should live. Paul does not say Jesus kept the law for us and we don't have to. He does not say we must keep the spirit of the law!

He says we must do our best because Jesus has done the rest.

His question in verse 24 is not what can I do to be delivered from this carnal body of death, but who shall deliver me? His answer: Jesus Christ!

Byford Edwards
Harrisburg, Ill.

Read Letters to the Editor from Issue 99

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