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Whited socks

I am compelled to write to your worldwide audience while seated here at my desk at 675 feet above sea level to share this clarion call to warn you of a plot unfolding in the United Church of God.

It has come to my attention that three longtime colleagues of mine, Darris McNeely, Robin Webber and Paul V. Kieffer, have been elected to the UCG bored of elderlies, joining yet another ex-classmate of mine, Aaron Dean.

This dramatic turn of events calls out for my end-time warning with respect to the character and background of these fellows.

Has it come to the attention of the electoral college of the UCG that all of these men are devoted National League followers?

Mr. Kieffer and Mr. McNeely are followers of the St. Louis Cardinals. Isn't the conflict apparent? Saint Louis, an obviously Catholic reference and, even worse, Cardinals?

Most people ignore the significance of "Louis," which is also pronounced Louie and is therefore linked to the infamous 1963 semirisque song "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen.

And Dean and Webber. Come on. They are Los Angeles Dodgers fans, already.

Los Angeles: named after the great angelic host. And Dodgers: obviously a reference to aversion to walking the straight and narrow.

Another little-known fact is that the numbers associated with the spelling of Brooklyn, from whence the Dodgers moved 50 years ago, in the ancient Arawak tongue add up to 666.


It pains me to think that these glaring character flaws were not pointed out during the process of electing these gentlemen to their positions. Please accept my condolences to all concerned.

Apart from these negative prophetical linkages, for which I forgive them, they all are excellent parents, students, friends, sportsmen and neighbors to all they have touched in their 56 or 57 years of earthly existence.

Keith D. Speaks
Whitesoxville, Ind.

Love those who agree with you

Dennis Diehl seems to be saying, in his pity party in the June 2008 Journal, that repentance means to stop being so hard-hearted and start showing affection for others. You know: Love our neighbor as ourselves and thereby prove that we love God.

The problem seems simple. Once we are indoctrinated to the concept of "doctrine," we greatly limit our ability to love anyone who is not in complete unity with our doctrine.

The word doctrine in the New Testament was used to replace the word teaching or instruction.

The concept of modern doctrines and teaching is as different as night and day. Doctrines are nothing but laws without due process or any form or hint at justice and mercy.

Doctrines basically do away with our ability to express the love that it takes for faith to work, and faith becomes a statement of doctrines, with rituals, ceremonies and the like.

We no longer can believe because we think we know. Love for doctrines gives people that coldness that Dennis noticed and takes away the heart that is tender toward others.

Doctrines (written in hearts of stone) keep us from doing much of anything except crowing about how informed we are and criticizing everyone who doesn't agree with us.

Brother Dennis seems to be in pretty good shape in that he no longer thinks he has all the answers and has gone to Christ outside of the camp (Hebrews 13:13) of those who can't believe because they are so sure in their hearts that they know.

Nice party. I had a great time. Dennis is kinda cute, but his sarcasm, which he boasts of, seems a bit weak. His stronger sarcasm may have been edited out by someone who believes sarcasm doesn't have a wide appeal, which unfortunately it probably doesn't.

I may be preaching to the choir here, but some, like Dennis, seem to have repented of their love affairs with doctrines.

Sister Deborah Caleb
Delight, Ark.

Where friends went

Recently I read a commentary in The Journal written by Dennis Diehl titled "Friends: Where Did They Go?" [see the March 31, 2008 issue]. Mr. Diehl is disillusioned with how many former friends no longer want his friendship.

To me if these former church members and friends claim to be "Christian" they are demonstrating the height of hypocrisy.

Unfortunately in the old WCG we were constantly brainwashed into being judgmental and fault-finding of others rather than truly loving our brothers and sisters and overlooking their faults.

A better way is to encourage one another and forgive one another. The only example to follow is that of Jesus Christ, not of a church or organization practicing its own form of government while proclaiming it to be God's government.

Disfellowshipping and "marking" people are a far distance from Christian love.

It is sad that Dennis has had this experience. Mine has been quite the contrary. Over the years I have stayed in contact with old friends with whom I attended Ambassador College in Big Sandy in the late 1960s. We have gone our separate ways and no longer share many of the beliefs that we were taught back then.

However, our friendship has remained. Thanks to this age of the Internet I have been able to reconnect with many long lost friends. I make it clear that religion will not be a point of contention.

In other words, you believe what you want to believe and so will I. To argue over doctrine becomes an exercise in futility because we can all quote scriptures to prove our point. It seems each person has a true church that is truer than the other's true church.

Amazing. They might even sock you in the nose to prove it.

I know my experience is far different from Dennis's because he served in the ministry for many years. I neither served in the ministry nor participated in the controversies of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. I simply left in the late '70s.

Over the years I have drifted back now and then and attended various congregations and Feast sites around the world. The reception from old and new friends has always been warm, except perhaps from a judgmental few.

Dennis commented that shared beliefs made many of these friendships, which is true. When your beliefs become different due to doctrinal changes in your church (man-made), that should not be a reason for your friendship to end. Human nature takes over and suddenly your friend is an adversary.

I think we should take note of who the real adversary is: the same being who was in the Garden of Eden.

I have thoroughly enjoyed finding old friends from college and church and seeking them out to renew the friendships and refresh them.

John Dickerson
Austin, Texas

Apparent contradiction

I find Bill Dankenbring's article on his realization that he is another COG apostle to be both humorous and troubling. [See "Is William F. Dankenbring Really a True 'Apostle' of God?" on page 14 of The Journal of June 30, 2008.]

Since every man in this age who discovers he too is an apostle uses the apostle Paul as an example of how this can all come to pass, let's remind ourselves that Paul had a heck of a time getting anyone but himself during his lifetime to recognize his apostleship.

Of the 22 times in the Bible where Paul is referred to as an apostle, only twice is he referred to as an apostle by someone other than himself.

These two instances come from the same person: not from Jesus, Peter, James or John but from Paul's close traveling companion and personal press secretary, Luke (Acts 14:4, 14).

As far as we can tell, no one else in the New Testament thinks of Paul as any kind of apostle. So what are we to make of this glaring omission?

The problem with those who declare themselves apostles, prophets or witnesses is that we can never quite successfully argue with them since they hear the voice of God we don't hear. We just have to take their word for it.

Anyway, I don't think I have ever seen or heard of a parent organization, other than the WCG, spawning so many Lone Ranger apostles, prophets and witnesses. I have to admit they do it in exactly the same way Paul himself did it.

Here's the formula:

First they tell you how miserable a human being they are.

Then they tell you how important they were in their past. You know. The brightest, best, etc.

Then they tell you a story about how God called them in some unusual and obvious way to be an apostle.

Then they tell you how wrong you all are for not believing them.

Then they shout a bit or might even curse someone for not believing them.

Then they tell you stuff like, "When cursed, we bless and curse not."

Then you notice they are the only ones telling you they are an apostle.

Then they start to tell you where you are wrong in your thinking but, not to worry, write for their insights on their unique understanding of mundane topics and it will all work out.

Oh, I almost forgot. Mr. Dankenbring spent three years studying the Bible on the island of Formosa, which he connects to Paul, mentioning that Paul spent three years in Arabia. (Luke says otherwise and that he went directly to see the apostles after his road-to-Damascus incident, but I spare you.)

The men who have set themselves apart and above the crowd over the years with the implosion of the WCG may be very sincere. I don't know. Some are more sincere more than others, perhaps.

But this "above his fellows" stuff is getting both hilarious and sad all in one. Self-appointed apostles, prophets and witnesses often say, "As God is my witness." The problem with this is that we can't argue with God and He never shows up to testify.

Shoot, I just don't miss it.

Dennis Diehl
Greenville, S.C.

Will God enjoy destroying us?

Many thanks to Jan Aaron Young for his excellent series of articles [in the Connections section of most issues of The Journal]. I wondered why God could possibly turn against Ephraim, Manasseh and Judah in fury (Leviticus 26:28). Now I know.

Our use of depleted-uranium weapons alone must make God furious. We are beginning to destroy the genome of the earth.

If we are insane enough to use the immense stockpiles of DU weapons deployed in the Middle East and South Korea, I can finally understand why God will rejoice over us to destroy us (Deuteronomy 28:63).

I did a Google image search for "depleted uranium defects." I didn't even cry. I was too horrified. Thy Kingdom come, indeed.

Don Harrison
Bundaberg, Australia

The sin of socialism

The early church was plagued by the sin of gnosticism, and the apostles battled against it, as can be seen by the hints sprinkled throughout the New Testament (see Alan Knight's excellent book on primitive Christianity).

I propose that today's Church of God is plagued by the sin of socialism, for it permeates the economic and moral thinking of Western society.

Since it is based on the three sins of lies, coveting and theft (via government agents), it eventually must be recognized and addressed by the church, as painful as that will be.

But even the COGs' leaders cannot see our creeping socialism, and they certainly don't have any appetite whatsoever for raising the subject.

If Joseph chooses to destroy itself economically by flipping to socialism, will the church care to even mention the consequences of this sin?

Ewin Barnett
Ashland, Mo.

The world today

A quote about the global financial crisis from Peter Mandelson, EU trade commissioner, on The World Today on BBC radio: "One lesson we're learning about globalization is that it needs government."

This is precisely the view that the biblically prophesied beast's government will have.

Geoff Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa


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