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Another word for freedom

Isn't it interesting [that so much contention in the churches] is over different interpretations as to how we should react to what the sun and moon are doing? To me that is scary.

Under communism you would be shot for complaining about anything. It isn't that way here, so we complain about everything. Freedom is a challenge, isn't it?

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.

Missing copyright notice

The credit under the photo of the United Church of God's council of elders that appeared on page 27 of issue No. 136 of The Journal lacked a proper photo credit. The full credit: Photo by Peter Eddington, © 2009 United Church of God an International Association.

Dixon Cartwright
Editor, The Journal

Questioning reincarnation

Mac Overton in The Journal's issue No. 136 [in a book review headlined "Every Once in a While Something Comes Along That's a Challenge"] gives the compelling story of the boy James Leininger that is told in the book Sole Survivor about his alleged reincarnation from a past life.

Even Ken Gross, who coauthored the book with the parents, did not want to jump to a conclusion. The book's Web site says:

"While he [Mr. Gross] is a skeptic about reincarnation, he is unable to explain the phenomenon of just what happened to James, although he is convinced that something inexplicable took place" (see

The Leiningers consulted Carol Bowman, who authored books claiming her children had past lives. She referred to Ian Stevenson's groundbreaking research (see

Here are information and quotes from Omni magazine's interview with Dr. Stevenson published in 1988:

Dr. Stevenson studied more than 3,000 cases of children who seemed to recall a past life, interviewing about 25 witnesses per case. He did not use hypnosis, which he deemed untrustworthy, susceptible to suggestions of the hypnotist.

He limited his study to those involving someone dead more than 25 kilometers away because there might be shared talk if closer, and avoided cases of nonrelatives because relatives would likely tell details of kin to their kids. These he restricted further by age:

"I cannot emphasize too strongly that a child who is going to remember a previous life has only about three years in which he will talk about it. Before the age of two or three he lacks the ability. After five, too much else will be happening in his life, and he will begin to forget."

He found most of his cases in the East since they tend to believe in reincarnation more than the West.

"Even in cultures where reincarnation is accepted, parents sometimes think such memories are harmful. They are often upset by what the child remembers. Parents would not be particularly pleased to have a murdered child, not to mention a murderer, reincarnate in their family."

The Omni interviewer asked: "Is your position that reincarnation can never really be demonstrated?"

Ian Stevenson replied:

"I don't think I rebuke anybody for being convinced by the evidence. All I say is that maybe they shouldn't believe on the basis of what's in that particular book [his then most recent one], because the detailed case reports are in my other books.

"Essentially I say that the idea of reincarnation permits but doesn't compel belief. All the cases I've investigated so far have shortcomings. Even taken together, they do not offer anything like proof. But, as the body of evidence accumulates, it's more likely that more and more people will see its relevance."

So even he claimed his work lacked complete proof, having shortcomings.

Here are questions that need to be answered by those who believe in reincarnation:

  • If the person was a murderer in a past life, should he be jailed now? If a sexual pervert?

  • When do successive lives finish? Does everyone have to keep recycling? Or does reincarnation continue forever? Why isn't one life enough?

  • Does a person upon death automatically go into another body, or is there a waiting period? According to Hindu legends, there can even be immediate rebirth, a father incarnated in the newly born babe the moment after the father's death.

  • Can a person come back to life into an animal body? If so, should we eat meat?

Some believe that humans upon death can come back as plants. If this is so, plants would seem to be forbidden as food. Those of the West regard animal or plant reincarnations repulsive (as a mosquito) so tend to restrict reincarnation to humans only.

Reincarnation means many relatives are actually the same people; a father could be his own grandson (or even son, as with the Hindus above).

  • o Does this make sense? Isn't this confusion?

According to the Bible, most all humanity will attain the Kingdom of God as one huge family reunion forever, one big happy family. But reincarnation shows chaos: a person being his own relative of the past, even many times.

  • Does someone stay the same sex, or can he switch sexes? If so, why, and who determines that?

  • Why doesn't everyone remember his past lives? By forgetting what happened, wouldn't a person commit the same mistakes over again?

The most reasonable explanation for supposed tales of reincarnation is demonic influence. Demons know the details of people's lives. Familiar spirits, or fallen angels, have lived long and are fully aware of how people lived. Immature people are more-likely subject to their influence (Hebrews 5:12-14).

  • Who benefits from belief in reincarnation? God or Satan? Why?

Magicians were able to mimic the first few miracles of Moses (Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7).

  • Facts of past lives may be accurate, but are these facts to deceive us?

False prophets can foretell events, but even if accurate they must not be trusted for persuading us against the God of the Bible (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). Many false Christs and prophets will show great signs and wonders to try to dupe the elect (Matthew 24:24).

Reincarnation should not be confused with resurrection, which means to "dwell" in a body looking similar to the original, not different-looking bodies as with reincarnation, disguised as someone else.

Jesus said we must be born again but was referring to living a new way of life, for the old or former man of sin was to "die" and the new one of righteousness to live. He spoke of resurrections, not reincarnation. He became flesh, but only once.

Reincarnation means we can control our own destiny, that we do not need a Savior. Many accept reincarnation as an alternative to hell where people will be in torment forever.

But the Bible shows this torment will be brief for those who will not forsake sinning, after being given plenty of time to repent.

Mac Overton wrote: "The writers--James Leininger's parents--are obviously sincere, sane Christians who are not under demonic influence."

  • Who in this life is not negatively influenced, tempted by the devil? These "Christians," if Protestant or Catholic, have embraced pagan-god practices synthesized to make them look Christian.

The time has passed to accurately assess the Leininger story, according to the expert investigator Ian Stevenson--a reason I did not read the book, which is just a small part of evidence for reincarnation.

The wages of sin is death, not reincarnation. Men are appointed to die once, afterward the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Jan Young
Via the Internet

Come on out

God inspired the apostle John in Revelation 18:4 to write a command to us, to His people. Here it is: "Come out of her, My people."

Please notice carefully that this statement by God through the apostle was not a request or suggestion. It was a command. Are we supposed to follow God's command and commandments?

What God wants us to come out of is this "present evil world" (Galatians 1:4). Why? Because this present evil world that we all live in is evil, and it is Satan's world (2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 4:8-9). And, of course, this includes all the churches. Yes, all the churches.

It does not mean all churches except the one church and leader that we have pledged our allegiance to. I'm sure that everyone can relate to this.

1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us why God wants us to obey His command to "come out from among them." Notice carefully that God says that when we obey His command to come out of her I "will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters."

Aren't all of us sure that everyone wants to have that relationship with God? Don't you?

God wants us to obey His commands. The question that each of us must ask ourselves is: Will we?

Paul Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Center point

Joan Tovsen (in an essay titled "Out of the Yod of God, Maps of Foundations and Futures Shoot Forth," The Journal, issue No. 136) appears unaware, as are many brethren, that the big-bang cosmology is pure atheism.

Let's assess the mind-set behind this insidious idea.

Quoting from The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (Hawking and Ellis): "... We are not able to make cosmological models without some admixture of ideology. In the earliest cosmologies man placed himself in a commanding position at the center of the universe.

"Since the time of Copernicus we have been steadily demoted to a medium-sized planet going round a medium-sized star on the outer edge of a fairly average galaxy ...

"Indeed we are now so democratic that we would not claim that our position in space is specially distinguished in any way. We shall call this assumption the Copernican principle."

Note their "assumption" is based on their "admixture of ideology."

And what is their ideology? Atheism, plain and simple.

The Copernican principle, also known as the cosmological principle, espouses the idea that the universe is basically homogenous, or uniform, in all directions, that there is no center and no edge.

Astronomical observations from earth reveal a universe all around us that appears symmetrical. What logical deduction can be taken from this?

Simple. We are somewhere near the center of the universe.

Evolutionary cosmology cannot allow this, of course (which Hawking and Ellis admit is logical), so they conclude the universe is homogenous and symmetrical about any arbitrary point.

This assumption, fed into the mathematics of general relativity, gives us big-bang cosmology.

Joan tells us that the universe expanded from a ten-trillionth of an atomic particle.

Really? You might as well say it came from nothing (which is the truth: fiat creation).

But atheist cosmology says in effect nothing exploded and produced a universe. Big-bang cosmology is holding back from general public knowledge exciting new research revealing we are indeed placed in a unique position to discover and view God's magnificent creation; that the universe is not random; that the galaxies are grouped in concentric spherical shells (around our home galaxy).

But of course this must be buried. Evolution has carried off many brethren. It is an all-encompassing-universe view beginning with the "big bang."

Max McFeat
Otago, New Zealand

Initial reaction

Issue No. 136 of The Journal featured a curious commentary by Dr. Phillip Arnold about the letter W in Herbert W. Armstrong's name.

We learned in Dr. Arnold's report that HWA lacked a middle name, yet a middle initial was supposedly needed for professional purposes.

As reported, without the middle letter HWA's initials would have been HA, which would not have complimented, or complemented, a man like Mr. Armstrong.

So Dr. Arnold presented details about how he determined that the W stands for "nothing."

Yet there could be a bit more to this intriguing tale.

Although the W stands for nothing, there must have been something in HWA's mind that impelled him to choose the W instead of, say, A or H or O (whose inclusion, respectively, would have made Mr. Armstrong's initials HAA, HHA or HOA). It is obvious that no other letter would be quite as effective (by sight or sound) than W.

First, consider that W is the only double letter in the alphabet. Therefore it is the largest letter, being the widest letter. What might this imply?

Mr. Armstrong was known often to state, "Think big." It appears that he did think big--especially when choosing the most prominent of the 26 letters in the alphabet--to serve as his middle initial.

To suggest a further reason, we could recount a statement attributed to HWA in regards to his two key men, whom he called his "twins": Albert J. Portune and Charles F. Hunting (i.e., AJP and CFH). They were both tall men, while HWA was quite short (at 5 feet 6).

Dr. Charles Dorothy told me HWA had remarked about his "twins" in the context of his standing between them.

"I'm like a dime between two nickels," HWA quipped. With that comment have we solved the mystery of HWA's choice of the W? Apparently we are not yet quite finished.

Some of you may remember John Trechak, who published Ambassador Report years ago. John had a knack for ferreting out curious items of interest. One time he phoned me to discuss something he had learned about a possible reason for HWA's specific choice of W for his name.

John's research had uncovered a correlation between the life and style of another religious figure who was prominent before the rise of HWA: Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887). Mr. Beecher (i.e., HWB) died just a few years before HWA was born.

Mr. Beecher was an eloquent orator and America's most famous preacher.

Certainly HWA knew about HWB and may have copied some of his style. Mr. Armstrong may have felt he could do Mr. Beecher one better. After all, who was A (HWA) and who was B (HWB)? It's just a thought.

One correspondence that John Trechak mentioned concerned Mr. Beecher's Friday-night Bible studies, during which the great orator would sit in and speak from a large stuffed chair.

Those of us around in the early days in Pasadena (in the 1950s) may recall the large red stuffed chair at the Shakespeare Club HWA would sit in at Bible studies.

But of course this is only speculation. Can anyone know for sure?

Gary Arvidson
Kings Mountain, N.C.


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