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Letters from Journal Readers


God lives by faith

On page 6 of the March 2008 Journal Eric Snow tells us: "Obviously, occasional failures in practice and thought will occur, but they don't imperil our salvation since we're saved by grace."

On page 4 Bill Glover says: "... Not a single doctrine will save anyone! Salvation does not come from 'obedience to the law' but through grace."

If, as Mr. Snow suggests, "God's demands upon His people are based upon His own standards," then God lives by faith and we will have to define our faith accordingly.

On the flip side of that coin He will expect us to be giving grace on doctrine, conduct and legal issues.

When I read The Journal I see few who are willing to give any slack to anyone, let alone the grace I will need from God for me to receive salvation.

If God works through human instruments, as most claim, why don't we see Him giving more grace through His human instruments? This may be why we see so many groups in Christianity: People are looking for a place where grace abounds.

We may not need to draw lines in the sand and dare people to step over them doctrinally. Maybe we need to do as Mr. Glover did with his contact and give slack after slack and even reluctantly acknowledge the line God has drawn.

People seem to do this all the time with their own children. So why can't we do this with God's children? Too often we may expect too much of each other.

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.


Saved by works

Most professing Christians actually believe they are saved by works. They think salvation is by grace, but they really should admit that they believe works are necessary for salvation.

Take a simple test to see what you believe. Ask your minister, priest, teacher or elder if you will be saved if you do not participate in the following physical activities (called works in the Bible).

Ask him if you will be saved if:

  • You don't attend church regularly.
  • You don't give money to your church.
  • You don't observe certain annual holy days or holidays.

Most Christians are cowards (but not all; see 2 Timothy 1:7). Go ahead and ask and you'll see that you'll be told that without physical works you cannot be saved.

That answer is not biblical. The Holy Scriptures clearly and unequivocally say we are saved by grace, period. "For by grace we are saved" (Ephesians 2:8). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

See also Romans 10:9 and many other scriptures.

Don't be afraid. Go ahead and ask. If you get the wrong answer, maybe you need to reconsider your religious beliefs.

Paul J. Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Who's in charge here?

The problems facing the UCG (and most other COGs) regarding its governmental policies were foretold along ago. You find their origins from the time of Adam and Eve, beginning with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

What the following information shows will probably mean nothing to those who need it most: the hierarchical organizations.

This is, first, because they believe they have all truth.

Second, it's because, if there is any truth they possibly do have, it can be revealed only through the ministries of their churches.

What type of government was established for the nation of Israel after the Israelites left Egypt? Was it a theocracy, as Herbert Armstrong taught and as most of the COGs teach?

If you still believe that, you may be startled to learn that you cannot find such a concept in Scripture.

The theocracy of Israel was woven into the religious system of the Levitical priesthood.

What form of government did God give to the Israelites when they were at Mount Horeb? Was it from the top down?

No, it was not! In Exodus 18 we read of the form of government given to the congregation of Israel.

It included captains, or judges, of 1,000s, 100s, 50s and 10s. Who chose those captain-judges?

If you say Moses, you are wrong. There were thousands of individuals involved in the selection process, and Moses could not have known that many people.

The answer is simply that those captain-judges were elected by the congregation. The congregation was the ones who nominated and voted for their favorites.

Israel's government at Mount Horeb was a democracy--yes, a democracy--not a theocracy.

Ray E. Daly
Lincoln, N.D.

Disfellowshipping as a solution

I just happened to be reading from The Book of Jewish Knowledge by Nathan Ausubel the article "Excommunication," which he summed up by saying:

"The frequent practice of resorting to excommunication of opponents led to ceaseless strife in the community ...

"Happily, the institution of the cherem (excommunication) died a natural death for, in the enlightened and tolerant religious climate in Jewry today, it can no longer have any validity nor wield any practical effect. But, viewed historically, it served in times gone by as a powerful coercive instrument for authoritarian control of Jewish belief, custom and practice."

I hope readers can see the analogies for us. Clearly, Matthew 18:15-20 is seldom practiced because, more often than not in my experience, brethren choose to refrain from talking and somehow justify their misguided decision not to talk by saying, "Well, I'll pray for him or her."

How often has "the church" or some group leader told us to avoid so-and-so and then years down the road we find so-and-so still a very converted person, just misunderstood because of the church's (or group's) tactics and decision to shut off communication with the person?

We were so superstitious. Maybe we should have worn garlic around our necks.

I think the angels in heaven will rejoice when we throw off the misunderstood shackles of the old regime and actually do what Christ tells us, then maybe James 5:19-20 will be fulfilled.

May I add that "sin" in this verse is not doctrinal disagreement unless we choose to worship Baal.

I look back on the problems there have been in the churches and conclude that most if not all were caused by lack of proper communication.

Disfellowshipping does not fix problems!

Jason Darrow
217 S. Barnstead Rd.
Center Barnstead, N.H. 03225

You're out

Thank you for the hilarious front-page article in the April 30, 2008, issue. It may not have been meant to be, but this touch of humor and irony is priceless: "Fred Coulter Disfellowshipped for Third Time." Is this suggesting there's a third-strike rule in this realm of activity?

Here we have a minister of one church organization deluding himself into thinking he has God's authority to disfellowship someone serving God in another, not only once but for a third time for exactly the same offense: that of having originally been disfellowshipped from yet another (now defunct) organization several years in the past.

We are here treated to the fullest manifestation of authoritarian absurdity one could ever hope to witness (though many of us could pose some close seconds).

I also suggest you admit to being remiss in not mentioning the pertinent fact that Fred is not with, and never was with, Rod Meredith or his latest organizational effort, the LCG.

The article as written leaves the unfamiliar with the impression that there was some affiliation between the two when there was not. Curious also is the absence of mention of the name of Fred's organization, the Christian Biblical Church of God, Hollister, Calif.

Mr. Meredith fails to mention or even allude to the subject of Fred Coulter's so-called confrontation with Mr. Armstrong.

I was told it was the appointment of Stanley [Rader] to high ecclesiastical office, which Mr. Armstrong had previously promised the ministry he would never do.

Perhaps Rod should lay out clearly for us what he thinks about the then recently baptized Stanley having been leapfrogged up to an evangelist-rank minister, the highest office other than apostle.

Fred apparently had the faith and courage that others so obviously lacked. That, as I understand it, was the issue with the pastor general.

To this day the ministers are loath to admit their opinion regarding that malappointment, let alone his uninspired Tkach appointment just a few years later. Rod owes us a clear statement of his opinion on these matters. His negative relationship with Joe Tkach Sr. is well known.

From someone familiar with the events of that time, I'm told the meeting with Herbert Armstrong occurred sometime in July 1979.

Because of the problems with the lawsuit and receivership, and a forced movement to transfer him, Fred exercised his right to appeal to Mr. Armstrong.

Mr. Meredith claims that the meeting and their travel to Tucson to visit with Mr. Armstrong were pleasant, nonconfrontational and agreeable. He asked only that Fred and Dolores, Fred's wife, support him in rescuing the church from the receivership.

They assured Mr. Armstrong they would, and they left with handshakes and hugs. There was never any confrontation.

The reason for Fred's resignation was that Mr. Armstrong ordained Stanley as an evangelist. That was the last straw for him and his wife.

Fred found out about the ordination on the Thursday before Atonement, 1979. He requested and got permission from Leroy Neff to give a farewell sermon on Atonement. However, no one knew that it would be a resignation sermon except his wife and two others.

After Fred resigned, according to his resignation sermon, Mr. Neff called Mr. Armstrong, told him the circumstances, and Mr. Armstrong, by phone--not in person--said Fred was disfellowshipped.

Perhaps most important, it appears many in our genre are finding they can't excel in the open arena of ideas. Thus it's necessary for them to hold onto their membership by command rather than by inspired and inspiring leadership.

Frankly, I find Mr. Coulter's books and other publications far more riveting, scholarly and insightful than most of the usual Milquetoast booklets and articles put forth by the succession-claiming ministries.

Inspiration stands out. God's people know His voice.

We all recognize what a cheap shot is. Rod's action qualifies for nomination to that category, and Mr. Coulter's ignoring it is appropriate, letting the obvious absurdity speak for itself.

It may also be that The Journal could have been more diligent in seeking the facts, and perhaps that contributed to why Fred chose to ignore it.

We shouldn't close out this little matter without being reminded that Rod himself was disfellowshipped from the WCG, under the Tkaches, and was later bumped from his own organization by his council of elders.

Again we ask: What's wrong with us? What will our young people and our new people think if we continue acting this way?

Rich Traver
Grand Junction, Colo.

Prophetic years

Atonement 2007 was exactly 22 prophetic years (or 22 x 360 days) from Herbert W. Armstrong's death.

The state of Israel was formed exactly 22 prophetic years after he began to understand the truth in 1926.

Geoffrey R. Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa

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