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Letters from our readers - Issue 101
Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God
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Letters from our readers
Issue 101

About the brethren

Thanks for keeping the newspaper going. Love to read about brethren in other churches and be updated on news that concerns the Sabbath-keeping community.

Rosalind Yong

Holding discussions

In reference to the disfellowshipping of Don Haney from the Living Church of God, I have to ask where he and others were in 1995 when many on the East Coast were being disfellowshipped from Global [the Global Church of God] for various reasons.

It is wonderful to be out from organizations that do not allow brethren to sit around after a Sabbath meeting with Bibles openly discussing the Word of God. Those having such discussions would have been turned in by the guards on duty for not having an elder present. All an organization had to do was explain, using scriptures, how brethren could hold Bible discussions without causing division.

By the way, while attending the Global Church of God from February '93 to February '96, my family never ate at restaurants on the Sabbath but never allowed our belief to cause division.

Marj Coulson
Edgewood, Md.


Hi, spy

I would like to congratulate Alan Knight (in his April 30 article "If I'm a Spy") for providing essential clarification of the doctrinal problems being discussed in the Church of God (Seventh Day). In essence, he points out that official church policies mean nothing unless the church leaders abide by them.

I would like to add some additional thoughts to the debate regarding the keeping of Christmas and Easter:

This is not a small matter. The focal issue is idolatry. The Church of God is the Body of the Messiah, and that is a spiritual organization spread across the world.

The Church of God did not begin 40 years ago in the "age of tolerance." Our forefathers were never Catholic, nor were they Protestant. The Church of God existed prior to and outside of these religions.

Our forefathers read and memorized the Bible in the original languages. They did not base the core doctrines of the Church of God upon Trinitarian-trained scholars commissioned by King James to create an English Trinitarian version for them to read. The core doctrines of the Church of God were taught by first-century eye witnesses and retaught on through the centuries to our day.

The few core doctrines have not changed in 2,000 years. If our founding fathers could hear what is being allowed, they would roll over in their graves. Many of them elected to die rather than submit to far less serious practices.

The focal issue is: How much can a child of the Father flirt with idols?

Yes, we all want to live in peace with our relatives who keep Christmas and Easter. But, if we participate in their rituals, are we then "flirting with their idols"? For 2,000 years the Church of God has said: "Yes, participating in their rituals is going too far."

Consider: If Caesar would have erected a huge statue of Zeus in the town forum but put a huge sign on its chest saying, "I am not really Zeus, I am Jesus the Christ," does anyone really think that would have mattered to our early forefathers?

Can you imagine our early forefathers saying, "Okay, let's now start keeping Zeus rituals"? No, the Catholic and Protestant churches can change the names of the idols, and give them new Christian-sounding stories, but does that really change what it is? It is what it is. Hopefully, we have more discernment than that.

Aaron made the golden calf and dedicated that idol to Yhwh and said this was His. Did Yhwh then say: "Oh, well, if you changed the name and the stories to talk about Me, then that is okay"?

No, the Festival of Bacchus (Christmas) is a sex orgy in honor of the god Bacchus and is always held at the winter solstice. Putting a huge sign on his chest saying "This is now not Bacchus; this is now the baby Christ child" does not change what it really is.

The same with Easter, which is a spring sex festival to honor the goddess Ishtar. Remember, Yhwh is a jealous God. He tells us not to worship Him in the same way that the other gods are worshiped.

So the issue is not one of let's be tolerant or let's be nonjudgmental. The issue is how close can a child of the Father get to these idols without offending the Father. If your own 3-year-old child asked you this question about a camp fire, what would you say?

Yes, the answer does change as your child becomes more mature. But the answer never becomes "It's okay to get into the fire." We must never participate in these rituals that were created to do honor to other gods.

A church organization should not attempt to make hardline statements about things like whether it is okay to keep Christmas dinner with relatives or whether you should sing a song that is called a Christmas carol. That is a matter of individual maturity and conscience.

However, a Church of God organization must make hardline statements about whether it is proper to worship our jealous God by keeping the rituals now called Christmas and Easter. This is not a matter of tolerance or individual conscience; this is a matter of practicing idolatry.

I hope to see the Church of God (Seventh Day) remember its roots and consider that it is unlikely that the Father and our Lord are pleased that it is opening the gate for His children to flirt with idols.

Wayne L. Atchison
Bend, Ore.

Beware of setting dates

The standard scriptures that ministers use to discourage setting dates are Matthew 24:36 ("Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only") and Matthew 25:13 ("Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.")

Ministers also point to a long line of wrong dates that have been set and to scriptures warning us to "beware of false prophets." This pretty well seals the lid of discouragement on everyone from even thinking about the subject. Even if someone did find a good theory, he would be afraid to voice it.

I would like to set you free from this thought bondage by pointing out the following. Notice the scriptures above. They say we can know not the "day nor the hour." But it is possible to know the year, the month and even the week of Christ's return because of two sets of scriptures that exist for no other reason than for projecting dates!

  • Daniel 12:11-13: "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."

Notice that verse 13 says that Daniel will "rest"; that is, in death. Then, at the end of a specific number of days, Daniel will "stand in his lot." That means he will stand up in the resurrection.

So these scriptures, understood properly, can bring us to the "year" of the first resurrection. These "days" must indicate "years" since Daniel has been at rest for many years, not just a matter of days.

  • Revelation 11:3-15: "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth . . . And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them . . . And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them . . ."

Here we see that once we know the day that the two witnesses begin their ministry we can count to almost the day of the return of Christ.

After the two witnesses are raised from the dead, an event that will be visible to everyone, the seventh trumpet (which is the return of Christ) will come "quickly." Thus we can know even down to the week of Christ's return, yet still without knowing the day nor the hour.

I believe the reason God does not give us knowledge of the day and the hour is that it is easy to be ready if we know when someone is coming, and He wants to see if we will watch and be ready when we don't know exactly.

The above scriptures show that God is otherwise willing to be very generous with His people in sharing knowledge of the greatest event in the history of man. These date-projecting scriptures would not exist if He did not want us to understand them at some point.

All we need to do as His sons and daughters is ask for wisdom to understand them correctly and at the right time. So I would like to encourage every brother and sister to think and to ask.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5).

Marie Casale
Salinas, Calif.

The purpose of prophecy

Dave Havir caught my attention by saying he was going to tell us the purpose of prophecy [in Issue 99 article "Here are 3 principles of spiritual health"].

I have interpreted the purpose of prophetic teaching to be quite different from Dave's experience. It has been my experience that people use prophecy to, among other things, get people to believe they are important and get control of people's minds and lives.

Back in the early '60s I heard a man teaching that God had revealed to him that Christ would return in 1975, with seven years of significant events preceding His coming.

I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

By 1970 I was seeing that things were not as I had been told. I was amazed that most around me had made such a commitment to these "honest mistakes" that they could see no option but to follow this man.

Since I had become involved through a quest for truth and true religion, I determined I must seek elsewhere.

Fortunately, I live in a society that allows people options other than listening to BS (bogus scenarios).

The attraction of using prophecy to gain control of people is based on the fact that people must wait till the prophecy is proven wrong.

These teachers apparently believe that, by the time they are proven wrong, they will have the people under complete control.

I see some now claiming not to set dates, which makes it harder to prove them wrong.

Most use a time-proven method as used by the Jews, Roman Catholics and most others: claiming the Scriptures to be the Word of God. What they really mean is that their supposed mystically inspired interpretation is the Word of God.

Therefore, if we disagree with them, we are disagreeing with God. No possible discussion.

Another interesting spin on this prophecy-teaching thing is the teaching that fulfilled prophecy is yet to happen.

If they can convince us that something that was prophesied to happen and has happened hasn't happened, we can never prove them wrong.

A good example of this is the Jewish teaching of a coming Messiah, which the Christians believe has happened. I believe the mark of the beast is another and that the people who rejected Jesus by killing Him had such a mark in their minds, as demonstrated by their actions.

As I see it, the two witnesses are another good example. Luke quotes Paul as saying that Jesus brought His witnesses with Him from Galilee (Acts 13:31).

If, as is common, we accept the meaning of "witness" as someone without first-person knowledge, as do the Jehovah's Witnesses and most others, anyone can be a witness. By this unrealistic definition, I could have been a witness in the Michael Jackson trial, even the star witness.

Does my opinion from reading about something make me a witness?

I question the honesty of creating definitions to create doctrine by.

I do appreciate Dave's respect for and encouragement to hear other people's views. It is wonderful how much we learn when we show respect for others and realize that they may have and/or be a piece of the puzzle too.

It takes all of the parts of a body to be a complete body. Of course, this is an allegory, scripturally. Could it be that in the same allegorical sense it takes all of the parts of a mind to be a sound mind?

That concept could change some people's definition of discussion.

Relishing freedom of expression in The Journal . . .

Sister Deborah Caleb
Delight, Ark.

What's the good word?

What's the good word for today? Hear any good words lately? Lay some good words on me. People never tire of hearing a good word. Good words give courage, the spark to continue forward.

Within every community there is a word that seems to breathe a magic of its own, giving backbone, lifeblood and vitality to all it touches.

The word is liberal in healing and relieves those in distress. It's involved with the needs and desires of individuals, maintaining concern for circumstances and feelings.

The word always bears the disposition to promote that which is good to all, regardless of energy or time.

It's dedicated to a way of life that creates something of lasting value for everyone, binding itself by a principle of character and conduct to an unenforceable obligation.

It sees a need and chooses to do something, however small, about it.

That word?


How valuable every volunteer is. Volunteers better the lives of every member of the community because they are there. How thankful we should be for them.

Who is the volunteer? He is a living, breathing human, derived from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor, the educated to the illiterate. Male, female, child, senior, white, black, red, yellow. No boundaries. No confines.

Volunteers are people who believe as long as they breathe they are somehow responsible to care for the needs of those who are their brothers by association as well as birth.

They make light the heavy burden of those who hurt or are hungry or just down and out.

They are people who need people. But, more, they possess the need to be needed, to give of self.

Believing the best comes back brimful and running over. Those who understand, as they give and share, are those who grow and mature, becoming in fuller measure all that they can be.

To the volunteer: Thanks for living.

A. Gail Donahue
Alhambra, Calif.

Grave disservice

Ken Westby is hosting another "One God" seminar, in Ohio, this spring, which I believe is doing a grave disservice to the Church of God because, as has been reported, he is asserting that Jesus wasn't and isn't God.

This heresy is caused by basic lack of understanding of spirit. We know for sure that a son is part of the father, and Jesus said, "I am that I am."

The fact that Jesus said My Father is greater than I because Jesus was still lingering a short time in the flesh does not, of course, change the fact that He was His Father's Son.

The gospel as understood and proclaimed by countless individuals down through the ages has been unnecessarily complicated when it is much simpler than thought and taught. "Any child can understand it" except in the case of a mental block resulting from an evil spirit.

To start from the beginning:

  • God is spirit. The "Father" always was, is now and always will be spirit.

  • The Holy Spirit always was, is now and always will be spirit.

  • The Word of God, Jesus, always was, is now and always will be spirit, although this spirit was briefly housed in flesh for about 34 years and 3 months (Jesus' time here on earth including gestation).

  • All humans are spirit from conception forever though temporarily housed in a body of flesh till the death of the body (the spirit then "returns to God, who gave it." God obviously holds the power of future life or death for each spirit.)

To summarize: God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) always was, is now and always will be spirit.

Humans were, are now and always will be spirit, since conception until eternity if allowed to enter the Kingdom of God, which all depends on their decision to replace their spirit with God's Holy Spirit.

The fact that Jesus and all humans were temporarily housed in human flesh does not change the fact that a person is a spirit (that "returns to God, who gave it"). That body lying in the casket at funerals is accepted as the person but is not. ("He or she looks good!" they all say when filing past the casket.)

God is indeed one. One spirit. The same God, whether called God, the Father, the Son, the Word, the Holy Spirit or a hundred other names: one spirit. A Holy Spirit, the only Holy Spirit.

At Passover we read how we are part of this spirit and God is in us. We have asked Him to totally replace our unholy spirit.

Jim Owen
Bainbridge, Ohio

Unitarian confesses

Please renew my subscription to The Journal. I really do appreciate the connection you give to the Churches of God. Whether the news is good or bad, we need to know. Whether we all agree on everything or not, we need to know why we don't always agree and why someone else thinks differently.

To know what is going on is one way to prevent certain factions from taking control of and abusing us.

Church leaders and even those who control the various "discussion forums" don't always want it known just why someone is "dissed." Sometimes those who control discussion on the forums are also the ones who control the churches' speaking schedules.

As one who has been a member of the WCG and UCG and Church of God Big Sandy, and now the Tyler Church of God, I value the "interactive Bible studies" and the right to speak out what I believe, even though I am a confessed "unitarian."

I hope that my right to give an opinion is not taken away by the forum moderators.

I notice there is another set of One God Seminars this year. Although I won't be able to attend, I assume The Journal will be there to gather and report what goes on.

This is the fourth one, and the attendance seems to be growing, even though this is not a popular view. There are lots of new presenters this year. I anxiously await the news from this and future such seminars.

Duane Giles
Palestine, Texas

The Journal plans to report on Ken Westby's latest One God Seminars--which took place in Streetsboro, Ohio, in June--in the July issue.

2 Corinthians 3 and Palm Sunday

2 Corinthians 3:1 states: "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."

  • First witness: In Matthew 26:1-7 a woman poured ointment on Jesus. Matthew 21:1 through Matthew 26:1 tells of Jesus being in Jerusalem three days earlier.

  • Second witness: Mark 14:1-5 says a woman poured ointment on Jesus. Mark 11:1 through Mark 14:1 tells of Jesus being in Jerusalem three days earlier.

Witnesses are what the Gospels are, yes? In John 12:1-12 Jesus arrived in Bethany. Two witnesses say this didn't happen. He was in Jerusalem three days earlier. It appears that from John 11:55 to John 12:11 events are not in order.

  • Luke is my third witness, but he comes from a different angle, which is explained in the article at It has to do with Judas after Jesus was in Jerusalem three days earlier.

I came across this when studying the similarities of time between the 3rd and 6th verses of Exodus 12, when the lamb was separated and when it was sacrificed and after two days is the Passover and six days is the Passover. It's four days.

Joseph A. Little
Easley, S.C.

Count only once?

All of God's festivals are fixed, appointed, including Pentecost (Leviticus 23:2, 4, NASB).

Moses' instructions to count (Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16:9) were given before Israel was to do so in the year of entering the land.

When Israel did count, it was to proclaim "on that same day," the 50th day, "Sunday," the day after the weekly Sabbath (seven Sabbaths in 50 days can only be weekly), to be a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:20). That same day was to be a holy convocation, a perpetual statute.

Is there any evidence that after counting in the year of entering the land that Israel, or anybody, was to count to determine Pentecost? I don't know of any. Remember the Greek word for "Pentecost" means 50th, not count 50.

How is it possible to begin to count, now in this 21st century, from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain? (Leviticus 16:9).

Have you ever swung a sickle? Do you even raise grain? Some have gone to what is now the nation of Israel to attempt to determine when the barley is first ripe in the spring.

That attempt may be fruitless unless you live there and you determine when the grain is first ripe in the nearest field to your residence, and, lo and behold, the day the grain is first ripe may not be on a Sunday that is the day to begin counting.

What do you do then? Count from Wednesday, or whatever, when the grain is first ripe? Are you sure the day you select as the day the grain is first ripe is the correct day? Or is it the day of your neighbor's first-ripe grain that is five days later than the day of your first-ripe grain because your neighbor planted his crop a few days later than you did?

And, if you are in northern Israel, the grain in the southern part of the nation probably has already ripened and you are counting differently from your southern compatriot, and therefore everybody is counting differently to different days when to meet for a holy convocation, and therefore not everybody is meeting together on the same day.

Uh, was that the intention of Deuteronomy 16:9? Or was it that Israel began to put the sickle to the standing grain, on the 15th of Abib, on "Sunday," in the year of entering the land, and began counting, and determined the date of Pentecost to be Sivan 5, and proclaimed that very same day was to be the day of holy convocation as a perpetual statute, and that was that and the end of counting to determine a holy day that is fixed? (Leviticus 23: Joshua 5:10-12).

It seems so.

David Rydholm
Olympia, Wash.

Sighing and crying

A letter to the churches: Keep sighing and crying over the woes that have come upon us (Ezekiel 9:4; James 5:1). If your leaders take offense at this, ask them which mark would they rather have (Ezekiel 9:4-7) and in what are they boasting (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).

Though Zechariah wrote, "Despise not the day of small things," yet Habukkuk said, "Is not today's temple as nothing compared to its former glory?"

Ned Dancuo
Hamilton, Ont., Canada

Passover uncertainty

Many in the church today, aware that the Lord passed over the houses of Israel in the Night to Be Much Observed, which is to say the night of the 15th, the first day of Unleavened Bread, are asking when, then, is the Passover.

In their uncertainty they conclude that they should keep Passover in the night of the 15th even as the Jews do.

Did Jesus keep that last Passover of His life a day early because He would die the next day and thereafter it was to be kept as before?

The Jews certainly have their Passover meal in this night, and it would not have been possible for them to do otherwise in days of old when the paschal lambs were sacrificed.

They couldn't put the blood on their doorposts and lintels before the lambs were slain nor go into their houses to prepare and roast the same lambs for supper that night before they were slain. That is obvious. They ate the lambs with unleavened bread and bitter herbs as the Bible instructs, because it was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Lord's Passover was the previous day, the 14th (Leviticus 23:5), when the lambs were slain at even, at the time of the evening sacrifice. That is when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, died, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, having been nailed to the stake and raised up in the sight of the people six hours earlier, at the time of the morning sacrifice about 9 a.m.

It was the blood of the lambs that provided the Passover (Exodus 12:13), and it is the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, that provides for the passing over of our sins (Matthew 26:27).

We in the Churches of God today take the bread and the wine of the New Covenant at the beginning of the 14th in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26). He is our Passover.

However, we likewise keep the Night to Be Much Observed (Exodus 12:42) in remembrance of the way in which He passed over the Israelites and brought them out of Egypt to become the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). In like manner He brings us out of the world to become His church today.

It would not be possible for us to come out of the world before the blood of the Lamb was shed. In God's providence He was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), but on the day of His crucifixion it became a fait accompli; it was done.

As our High Priest, He takes the proof of His shed blood into the Holy of Holies to pay the penalty for our sins. This we bring to remembrance in the night of the 14th (as also at Atonement).

The Passover is the 14th, when the paschal lambs were sacrificed, when the Lamb of God gave His life for our sins, when we take the bread and the wine in remembrance of Him, even as He commanded. The passing over was on the 15th, and in that night the blood saved them from death. We must observe them both, yet keep the profound distinction between them clearly in mind.

Let's understand that we are called into the Church of the Firstborn (Hebrews 12:22-24; 11:28) to be united with Jesus Christ, who is the First of the Firstborn. The ancient typology applies directly to us, and we must be careful how we interpret it.

Passover provides the sacrifice that saves us. Unleavened Bread provides for the passing over as we rid ourselves of sin and subsequently begin the countdown to Pentecost.

George Carter
Via the Internet

'The Church: My Mother'

Observing the continuing turmoil and splits in the Churches of God, I think a poem I wrote back in 1974 is even more appropriate today. I submit it for your consideration for a future issue of The Journal.

Oh, God . . . my mother is dead!
No, not yet, but soon.
Already I feel the pain of my loss.
She was not always right,
Not always correct,
But she was my mother, and I loved her.
We had such hopes, such dreams
Of things to do and share,
But the present goes
And that future will never be.
A dread disease has ripped and torn,
Has ravaged and killed my Mother,
And her body and soul are gone.
Oh, God . . . Your own pain and loss
are greater than mine, for You knew what
She was and could be.
But, Father, look down and see my tears
. . . And find a new Mother for me.

Karl A. Hampton
Bigfork, Mont.

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