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Letters from our readers - Issue 108
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Letters from our readers

Memories of Kenneth Herrmann

Like many other incoming Ambassador College students, I met Ken Herrmann as college registrar and as one of the first officials I talked to back in 1958.

He helped me choose my classes and told me that, even though I already had a degree, I should plan on taking three years instead of two at Ambassador.

He talked me into taking Leon Ettinger's class in voice phonetics because he thought I had a regional accent, which I did not believe I had.

Besides being registrar, Ken was director of admissions. He was but one of several members of the admissions committee, so the final choice of new admissions rested with the group.

He had the task of writing turndown letters to those not admitted. In most cases such letters were routine. However, in some cases qualified students were turned down for one reason or another.

While I was assisting him in reviewing student applications, he shared with me some of those letters and how he had agonized over writing them. He kept a folder of carbon copies of every letter he wrote, jokingly referring to it as his Ph.D. dissertation.

Taking his pictorial-journalism class, I found myself on the staff of The Envoy, the Ambassador yearbook. I learned much from him about layout, writing and photography. I spent many hours in the photographic darkroom in the basement of Dr. and Mrs. Hal Lisman's house making photographs for The Envoy and other college and church publications.

For several years I worked under Mr. Herrmann as photographer for college and church publications. He also gave me the job of annually pasting up the church publication of "God's Calendar."

While doing this I pondered the meaning of the holy days and remember thinking that we had just scratched the surface in understanding their significance.

Pasting up the calendar launched me into a lifelong study. I used to read the Jewish Encyclopedia during my lunch hours and found that there was much more to learn. I credit Ken Herrmann with igniting the spark of inquiry within me that resulted in a paper on the meaning of the Christian observance of the holy days. I felt honored that he agreed to proofread it for me in about 2001.

I had previously proofread several of his papers including his master's-degree thesis, Calendar Eclipse Interrelationships. I proofread everything but the title page.

After it was published he noticed that the title should have been Calendar and Eclipse Interrelationships! Ken Herrmann's thesis was a groundbreaking work in the field that will forever go misnamed, all because I failed to note the error.

I took Ken Herrmann's course in astronomy at Ambassador, which mainly reflected his primary interest of the cycles of the earth, moon and sun.

I also took his courses in geology, which sparked another lifelong interest. I took courses in geology at Pasadena City College and was soon teaching physical geology at Ambassador. Later I went on to study geology at Cal State Los Angeles and UCLA, getting my master's degree in geology in 1977.

The reconciliation of the geological and biblical records is an interesting study and to this day a controversial topic. It has come up many times in the past, and it was repeatedly examined at Ambassador.

Ken proposed that a catastrophe prior to Noah's flood took place during a "gap" of an indefinite duration between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. He believed that this postulated catastrophe was associated with Lucifer's rebellion and accounted for the earth becoming without form and void (Genesis 1:2) and thereafter the deposition of the first part of the geologic record.

The "gap theory" had been proposed in the early 19th century by Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers to reconcile the obvious antiquity of the earth with the then current view that the entire geologic record was the result of Noah's flood.

Ken Herrmann's model included two catastrophes, a pre-Adamic flood and the Noachian flood, to account for a major portion of the geologic record, and became known as the "two-flood model" as opposed to the previous "one-flood model."

Dick Burky, another of Ken Herrmann's geology students, also studied geology at Pasadena City College and elsewhere. He, John Hopkinson and I went on field trips in several western states to check out the geologic record in person to see if it could be reconciled with the "high-speed deposition" necessitated by the "two-flood model."

To make a long story short, we found that the two-flood model could not be reconciled with reality any better than the one-flood model. Contained within the geological record are countless instances of long periods interspersed with indications of rapid deposition.

Both the geological and biblical records have the same Author, and it became apparent that it was our interpretation of those records that was faulty, not the records themselves.

Others more qualified than we, including Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe in Pasadena, Calif., have gone on to devise better ways of reconciling those two records.

Nonetheless the controversy regarding geology, astronomy and the Bible continues. Several are promoting young-earth creationism. However, I believe that reality cannot substantiate such a view and remain to this day a proponent of an ancient earth and universe.

Dick Burky and I wrote up several papers and did presentations that showed that the notion of high-speed deposition required by the two-flood model did not fit with reality, and Ken and others came to see that this model was incorrect.

To his credit, when proven wrong he was able to change his views on something he had spent many years formulating.

The activities of Mr. Herrmann and our family were much intertwined: sharing meals, field trips and outings including fossil and rock collecting.

The second of the four Herrmann daughters was named after my wife, Peggy.

In 1964 Ken and Elise Herrmann entrusted the three youngest girls, Peggy, Edith and Brenda, to us while they went to Europe for a couple weeks. Susan and Karl, their first two children, stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Leskey.

The bond between our two families continued over the years. Our family has benefited from that relationship, and both Ken and Elise Herrmann will be remembered in many ways.

Robert Macdonald
Lebanon, Mo.

Jerusalem-centered discussion

I sincerely hope that The Journal's readers found my essay titled "To Understand the Future, Consider the Past of Jerusalem" in the September-October 2005 issue thought-provoking. It presents a Jerusalem-centered approach to history and prophecy.

Those of us who were part of the Worldwide Church of God and are now in derivative organizations were presented with a Rome–Western Europe–centered view.

A Jerusalem-centered approach to history and prophecy produces very different results. The article provides a background to Jerusalem and the history of Jerusalem beginning with the Roman Empire.

I hope to begin a discussion in the pages of The Journal on this topic. If anyone would like to contact me, I opened an E-mail address just for this purpose. Feel free to contact me. I will do my best to respond to all, whether criticism, addition or interpretation.

If there is sufficient interest, I can add more information and continue with the history of the Eastern Empire, especially its symbol of the double-headed eagle. I look forward to readers' comments.

Jack Demirgian
Downers Grove, Ill.

'Thine enemies make a tumult'

I just read the article in the September-October Journal on page 5 by Jack Demirgian about Jerusalem and prophecy. It was interesting, to say the least.

At the very end of his article, Mr. Demirgian said: "Today we see the same conditions where American and European forces are at odds and the Islamic forces are gaining strength. The results now may be just as disastrous."

May I throw a scripture--Psalm 83:1-18--into the mix? Are these verses history or prophecy?

I noticed Mr. Demirgian didn't use any scriptures in his essay. It was mainly history--very good too.

Mickey Ashcraft
Tyler, Texas

Whatever works

Jesus told the Jews who believed on Him that if they continued growing in grace and knowledge they would know the truth and that truth would make them free (John 8:31): free to study and change.

He told them that they would be free from the yoke of physical activities and rituals that were required of them by the Old Testament works system: works such as animal sacrifices, washings, days, feasts, tithing to the Levites, new moons, a day of atonement, etc.

All of these works were required for two reasons:

  • Because they pictured and gave knowledge of how to identify the true Messiah when He appeared on the earthly scene.

  • The "works" system gave them temporary forgiveness for their sins.

When Jesus came as the true Messiah (Christ), He gave permanent forgiveness for sins.

However, the Jews did not recognize or accept Jesus as the Messiah, and consequently they continue to be in bondage under the Old Testament works system. They reject Jesus and are expecting a future different Messiah.

Any race or religion that is captive to the same works system has rejected Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Lord, the Messiah, the Savior.

Paul J. Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Dark of the moon

In his booklet Pagan Holidays or God's Holy Days--Which?, Herbert W. Armstrong said:

"The first day of the new year begins near the Spring Equinox when the New Moon usually is first visible to the naked eye at Jerusalem" (not the United States) (p. 66, chapter 6).

In the next sentence he said: "The Jewish Calendar as used by the Jews today is correct."

Can anyone reconcile these two opposing statements?

It's interesting that in the booklet God's Festivals and Holy Days, copyright 1992, the mention of the sighting of the new moon has been left out.

I mention these things because everyone knows that the Jewish calendar begins on the first day of the seventh month (Rosh Ha Shanah).

John Veal
Innsworth, England

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