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Letters from our readers - Issue 105
Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God
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Letters from our readers

How can there be any sin in sincere?

In the June 2005 issue of The Journal (page 3) an article of mine was published, "What's on Your Mind? Go Ahead, Say It." In the first paragraph I referred to the word sincere as deriving from two French words, sans cire, meaning "without wax," as we were taught in the Worldwide Church of God.

A man in the United States recently E-mailed me to shed doubt on that meaning.

It turns out that he is quite right and that the stories of merchants covering pots with wax to disguise cracks in them is a misrepresentation of what the word sincere does mean.

Quoting from the Online Oxford English Dictionary: "There is no probability in the old explanation from sine cera 'without wax.'" Sine cera is the Latin form of sans cire (French).

There are two scriptures in particular where the New King James Version uses the word sincerity/sincere in translation, and both shed some light.

1 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV): "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Sincerity has been translated from Greek eilikrineia, which means literally "judged by sunlight."

I wonder if what happened was that, when the Greek was translated into Latin by Jerome in the 4th century, eilikrineia was rendered sincerus (Latin). The Latin never meant "without wax" but meant "simple" or "pure."

"Most authorities trace 'sincere' back to a different Latin word--'sincerus,' meaning 'whole' or 'pure.' Probably based on the roots 'sin' (one) and 'crescere' (to grow), 'sincerus' originally referred to a plant which was of pure stock--not a mixture or hybrid--and later came to mean anything which was genuine and not adulterated" (quoted from

However the story of merchants covering pots with wax emerged, "judged by sunlight" (Greek) does not mean "without wax." Paul was talking about bringing out into the light the deeds of the man mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 and judging them (verse 3). Christians should be pure in their deeds, not hiding their activities or motives, but behaving in a way that could be held up to scrutiny.

In verse 8 Paul quotes sincerity along with truth, which reminds me of John 3:20-21, where Jesus said, "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

Another scripture where the Greek word has been translated "sincere" in English (NKJV) is 1 Peter 1:22: "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart."

The Greek word here is anupokritos, literally "not hypocrisy," or "without hypocrisy." To quote from the Bible for Spirit Filled Living (NKJV): "Since hypocrisy originally denoted the acting in a play, 'anupokritos' signifies a sincerity void of pretension and without putting on an act."

Peter is here talking about the brethren's relationships being genuine, while Paul was talking about the brethren's deeds being available to scrutiny when examined in the light.

Truth is always simple at any intellectual level and can be understood by the most intelligent adult or the most innocent child.

The word sincere is still an accurate translation, but in 1 Corinthians 5:8 we miss a large amount of understanding by blinding ourselves with spurious ideas.

I don't think that this revelation detracts from my article as such, but it is interesting, and I am grateful to the American gentleman for bringing it to the attention of Lewis and me.

As a Journal writer, I hope to correct errors that may have inadvertently slipped into my writing!

Kathleen McCann
Milton Keynes, England

Gavin's watch

I, and I'm sure hundreds of others, deeply appreciate the labor of love that Ambassador Watch [the Web site at] represented. I'm disappointed (to put it mildly) that it can't go on, but fully appreciate and respect Gavin Rumney's decision to discontinue. [See "AW's Creator Puts Web Site Out to Pasture," on page 24 of this issue of The Journal.]

The AW site was the place to go for a little sanity, a refreshing reality check and a good bit of humor. Gavin also modeled a healthy skepticism, a quality that is sorely needed among the COGs.

I'm sure Gavin was the recipient of much abuse in his time upon the COG-world stage, and I imagine he was forced to develop a thick skin.

Still, I don't think anyone enjoys being abused, so I wanted him to know that many folks really appreciated the service he provided (I heard from several myself). Most of them probably didn't contact him to tell him that directly, which is a pity, but now he can know, however belatedly.

To call AW irreplaceable is not an exaggeration. We will doubtless muddle through but will sorely miss the good friend that AW had become under Gavin's inspired, inimitable and indomitable editorship.

AW did much good. I believe Gavin helped many people--far more than he may ever realize. He deserves our profound thanks for the long hours of work and the financial sacrifice the site represented. I also want to wish him every success in his future endeavors.

He deserves a break--and our deepest respect and gratitude.

Reg Killingley
Big Sandy, Texas

Prophecy comes alive

Because of the patterns of days, weeks, months and years between major events in the Church of God raised by Herbert W. Armstrong--and the working out of end-time prophecy, which indicate God's hand at work--it may be possible to now know the start of the 1,335, 1,290 and 1,260 days. And possibly of the Big California Earthquake.

Having looked at this for about 12 years, I see the patterns as suggesting that the Big California Earthquake may occur on the 72nd anniversary of The Plain Truth magazine, Feb. 1, 2006.

Some of the patterns can be seen under the heading "Endtime Timeline" at

Geoffrey R. Neilson
Fish Hoek, South Africa

I don't care if the sun don't shine

What is the very worst possible thing we could wish on someone? "You can go where the sun don't shine"?

Obviously not. The Churches of God do have a rich tradition of wishing (sometimes with a certain amount of satisfaction) the "third resurrection" on many who have disagreed with a particular group or minister. But the worst thing a COG member can ever say to someone else is to wish him "merry Christmas"!

This year brought a change. I used to support the ACLU in its fight against Christmas. No more. I am against everything the ACLU is for: abortion, secularism, promotion of the gay agenda, women's lib, suppression of Christianity, passivity in response to 9-11, socialized big government, etc. So why should I go along in lockstep with the American Civil Liberties Union on Christmas?

The ACLU and the secular left aren't really against Christmas. They are only against Christianity being in Christmas.

The real war isn't over Christmas per se but over whether Christ is to be allowed in Christmas. Yes, the origins of Christmas are totally pagan, complete with infant sacrifices, pagan orgies, the whole nine yards. It was the winter solstice, Satan's day (or night, as Satan's time is always midnight and the winter solstice is the midnight of "the solar day").

But that's not how Christmas is now celebrated. Let's be honest.

There are positive aspects in Christmas such as the sincere rejoicing in the Western world of the birth of Christ, the ardent desire for peace on earth and goodwill to men, the future conviction that good will triumph and God will bring peace, the attitude of giving and sacrifice, the elevation of the most noble qualities of man of peace, joy, love for fellowman and worship and obedience to God, the triumph of Christianity in Western civilization, the greatest music ever written to praise God and Jesus--the list goes on and on.

Sure, one can look at negative aspects such as overdrinking (as if to say no one has ever overimbibed at the Feast of Tabernacles), the commercialism and the secular trappings. But these things are just that, secular, and most professing Christians deplore them.

COGs retort that Christ wasn't born on Christmas day. So what? Few people in the world are so ignorant to think He was. COGs say Christmas came from paganism along with Easter, Sunday worship, etc., and all from the Catholic Church, the beast.

That's true but only partly true because Christmas isn't celebrated as the pagan day it once was.

Besides, without the Catholic Church there would be no New Testament preserved, no Christianity in Europe, no religious defense against the Muslims, no pilgrims coming to America to seek freedom to worship their Christian God, and we'd all be still worshiping the pagan gods our ancestors venerated 2,000 years ago.

The Jews, in the book of Esther, set aside the 14th of Adar to be a national holiday celebrating their deliverance from Haman. This is Hanukkah today. It wasn't prescribed in God's holy days in Leviticus, but neither is it proscribed in the Bible.

Christ in John 10:22 apparently observed it, and it is recorded positively in Esther.

So what am I saying: that I've decided to keep Christmas?

No, I observe God's holy days. But I'm not going to be self-righteous and hold up my nose and condemn my neighbors who are doing the best they can with the understanding God has given them and sincerely celebrating the birth of the Messiah and the peace and salvation God has brought through Jesus the Christ.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:10 we have to associate with the world, even though some are sexually immoral, greedy, dishonest or worship false gods (NJB). How much more then should we associate with those who are sincerely keeping Christmas in honor of Christ?

Look at it this way. How would you feel if you were Satan and the day you reserved for yourself for mankind to celebrate is now used by mankind to celebrate the birth of the man who defeated you and will shortly take your kingdom?

Your day has been turned into His day. Your murdering of the firstborn at midnight with all its symbolic meaning in Exodus has been negated by the substitution of the Lamb, Jesus.

You took the Lamb at midnight, as Matthew records. You entered Judas at night, as John made a point of in his gospel. You murdered Jesus by a horrifying crucifixion.

Guess what. Your victory is turned to defeat. God raised Him to eternal life as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to replace your kingdom of darkness.

In a symbolic type or way, you murdered Him at the midnight of the solar year, your holiday. Yet your efforts resulted only in the resurrection or birth of God's Son, Jesus the Christ, as Paul states in Romans 1:3-4.

Thus, in a symbolic way, Christmas is the birth of the Christ.

If I were Satan, I would not be happy with Christmas. I'd be backing the ACLU. For those who sincerely observe it, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

I know, I know. Some of you are wishing I'd go to where the sun don't shine.

John Sash
Eldon, Mo.


Re "UCG Announces Several Changes in Church's Ministerial Personnel," September-October issue, page 1:

I think you need to recheck your information on Dave Register taking over the pastoral responsibilities in Pittsburgh and Wheeling. My understanding is that he will be in the home office [of the United Church of God]. Don Henson is losing the Meadville, Pa., congregation from his present circuit but will still be responsible for Wheeling and Pittsburgh.

Name and location withheld

Editors Note: The letter writer is correct. The Journal inadvertently conflated the information for Dave Register and Don Henson in the list as printed. The information has been corrected.

A banished one

I am a prisoner of the Lord kept out by UCG for 72 months, cast out on false charges. My prison is not a jail but a pit every Sabbath (Matthew 12:11) in which I wait for deliverance. Though one draws his beast out of a pit, yet my brethren refuse to do it for me, for no man cares for my soul (Psalm 142:4).

Still, the Lord says, "Tell it to the church" (Matthew 18:17).

Therefore remember my bonds for I am a banished one (Isaiah 66:5). I am that which has been driven away (Ezekiel 34:4). I am that which is wandering through hills and mountains (verse 6). I am that for which no one is searching (verse 6). I am prey for the beasts of the field (verse 8). I feed in dry pasture (verse 14). I eat what others have trodden on. I drink what others have befouled (verse 19). I am the lean and emaciated cattle (verse 20). I wait to come back to my fold (Jeremiah 23:3).

Ned Dancuo
Stoney Creek, Ont., Canada

Carrying doggereledly on

He's been gone now in years near a score;
He was rich but his heirs now are poor.

Had he been less dogmatic--

Not quite so theocratic--

Then his legacy could have meant more.

Reg Killingley
Big Sandy, Texas

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