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Encouraging Communication among the Churches of God

Letters from
The Journal Readers


Robert Berendt is not 80

Regarding the article "UCG Leaders, at Special Conference in Cincinnati Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, Address Causes of Recent Split," I noticed the age printed for our pastor, Robert Berendt, as being 80 years old and I was absolutely sure that he was 74, a year younger than myself (I will be 75 on Aug. 2).

Just to make sure, I asked him last Sabbath and he indeed confirmed that he is only 74.

Norman Chrestenson
Edmonton, Alta., Canada

Mr. McNair's booklets

Just received Issue No. 144 of The Journal and saw the publicity you kindly gave to Raymond McNair's booklets. [See "Notes and Quotes" in the issue dated May 31, 2011.]

Eve McNair had them published after his death as a tribute to him. The scholarship is very good and the three booklets together make excellent source material for anyone interested in the subjects.

I have had several requests for copies, including one from Denmark and one from the middle of Africa. You just don't know how far The Journal goes, do you?

John Jewell
London, England

The risk of two YHWHs

I read at a United Church of God Web site an extended discussion of the Godhead. According to the writer, YHWH means "I am": Jesus was claiming in the NT to be that "I am" and thus claiming to be Yahweh.

The UCG continues by saying: "There are, it should be noted, places in the Old Testament where yhwh clearly refers to God the Father. For instance, in Psalm 110:1, which we've noted earlier, King David stated, 'The Lord [YHWH] said to My Lord ...' YHWH here is the Father speaking to David's Lord, the One who became Jesus Christ. Often, however, the name YHWH refers to the One who became Christ--and sometimes it refers to both the Father and Christ together, just as the name God often does."

The UCG is thus confident in its assertion that Yahweh is the name of Jesus as well as of the Father.

Does this not obviously entail two Yahwehs? Is not the biblical creed in opposition to any such plurality of YHWHs? Jesus uttered the creed of Israel and approved it: "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Mark 12:29). Belief in two self-existent YHWHs would appear to be a risky business."

Anthony Buzzard
Professor of New Testament
Fayetteville, Ga.

For more on Sir Anthony's subject, see Brian Convery's and Ken Westby's articles in the Connections section of this issue of The Journal.

Be kind when you split

The pain and anguish of the brethren as a result of the recent UCG split are tragic. Following are three examples that we are aware of here in the U.K.

We had a phone call from one member who turned up for Sabbath services to find that only two others besides themselves had come. The rest had left for the new group without telling them. One of those who turned up had been attending for only a few weeks.

In another incident a longtime COG member who had recently started to attend the UCG found out that the congregation had overnight changed allegiance.

The final incident was a conversation with a brother who said in some distress, "Who can I trust?" He had recently been in communication with high-ranking UCG ministers who are no longer with the UCG.

These incidents are related to the recent split from the UCG, but similar incidents have happened in the U.K. with previous splits. The UCG alone in the U.K. has suffered three splits since its inception in the U.K., so the brethren should be adept at weathering the storms, but it still hurts!

This is not to point a finger at the UCG/CGWA split but at all of us, including myself.

If a split occurs in your group, don't drop your brethren. Communicate with kindness and compassion. Tell them by letter you are leaving if a phone call would be too difficult. Bear no ill will to those who have left.

When we left Worldwide, I rang the festival office to say that we would no long be attending the WCG Feast site, to ensure that they would not expect us. The lady in the office, whom Kathleen and I knew well, said, "Oh, it's okay. You are already on the DF list."

Well, at least the lady knew we cared. (DF = disfellowshipped, for those not familiar with the practice.)

Our hope is that we will meet our brethren again, so let's make that meeting easier. We don't have the excuse as the world does that those who have left will go to the other place (namely hell) so we can forget about them.

Lewis D. McCann
Milton Keynes, England

Ray Wooten behind the scenes

While reading through Ray Wooten's interview in issue No. 143 of The Journal [see "A UCG Founder Remembers Indy Behind the Scenes" in the issue dated November 2010] I was furiously making notes on the ongoing contradictions, unbiblical and occasionally sound opinions he expressed, and I realized about halfway through the article it would have taken pages of discussion to refute, just from the Bible, his opinion on God's plan and our purpose, not to mention the trip through ecumenical (and even Hinduism) land.

Sometimes you just have to pray about such positions, since reasoning together, and iron sharpening iron (something Ray apparently doesn't do), would likely not work for someone who was so astute and wise back when we were all ignorant and spiritually weak and undiscerning.

I would respectfully suggest Ray step down a bit from his loft and reconnect with God's true plan for humankind, which it seems (to me) he has forgotten.

Jeff Maehr
Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Indianapolis story from Ray Wooten

I found the two articles by and with Ray Wooten [in issue No. 143 of The Journal] quite interesting. I had heard pieces of the Indianapolis story about what happened to and with him. It was good to get a more-complete and personal account from him.

I pretty much agree with him on his point of view. We attended the Feast with Ray three years ago in Sevierville when he met with the Earl Timmons group in the Timmonses' church building.

Horst Obermeit
Kenly, N.C.

Reasoning with Jesus

This is a story called "Emma's Request" (© Leslie A. Turvey), inspired by Ronald L. Dart.

Will we see our pets again in God's Kingdom? I don't know, but let's take an imaginary trip into the future.

"Hello, Emma. What brings you here?"

"Hi, Jesus. I have a question. Actually, it's more of a request."

"Well, what is it, Emma? Maybe I can help."

"Remember when I was alive I had a little puppy? When I got sick and knew I would--well--die, I wondered what would happen to Fluffy. Do You know what became of her, Jesus? Could You bring her back to life--here--so I could play with her again? Please?"

"That's quite a request, Emma. When I created Adam and Eve I made them to be like Me. I didn't make animals the same way. You see, people can receive My Father's Holy Spirit and make decisions based on the Spirit's guidance. Their resurrection depends on their decisions."

"So animals can't receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus?"

"I'm sorry, Emma, but they're not made with the same kind of mind that humans have."

"But, Jesus, when I was alive Mommy and Daddy said nothing was impossible for You [Matthew 19:26]. So bringing Fluffy back to life shouldn't be difficult."

"Well, Emma, you put up a pretty good argument. But I think I need more convincing."

"Okay. Didn't a man ask You to heal his servant? When You said You would go, the man said something about not being good enough for You to enter his home. Instead, all he needed was for You to say the right words and his servant would get better.

"Then You said You had not seen such faith among the people of Israel, and healed the man's servant [Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:2-10]. Don't I have that kind of faith, Jesus?"

"Of course you do, Emma, and I can't ignore that."

Jesus whistled, and a familiar bark was heard nearby.

"Fluffy!" exclaimed Emma. "Oh, thank You, Jesus. Thank You. Thank You.

"Oh, Fluffy, I wondered if I would ever see you again, and here you are! The Bible's right, Fluffy. Nothing is impossible for God."

Will we see our pets again in the Kingdom of God? I don't know. But Emma's story makes me wonder.

Leslie A. Turvey

Handy list of leavened items

The following is adapted from a Church of God Web site on unleavened bread.

It is a guide to determining foods that are appropriate and inappropriate to eat during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

For instance, just because the word puff or puffed is on the label (as in "puff pastry") does not necessarily mean that the product is leavened.

In the U.S.A. there are normally four main ingredients in puff pastry: flour, butter, salt and water; i.e., it would contain no leaven.

However, in the U.K. "puff pastry" does include leaven, as reflected on the label, which means that it must be avoided. In any case, even in the U.S.A. labels need to be checked to ascertain whether the product contains leaven.

Some piecrusts are unleavened, but one needs to be careful here, because most crusts do have leaven in them. We are informed that Marie Calendar's does not have leaven in its crusts.

The following is a list of items that contain baking powder and/or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and/or yeast and/or baker's yeast. All of these need to be avoided during the Days of Unleavened Bread:

Crackers; bread; bagels; muffins; hamburger and hot-dog buns; garlic bread; baguettes; cheese straws; sausage rolls; corn dogs; sour dough; biscuits; pretzels; (some) cereals; cheese puffs; cake; pastry; (some) pies; cookies; ice-cream cones and wafers; (some) ice cream with added cookies; pancakes; waffles; puff pastry (in the U.K.; see comments above); self-rising flour; graham crackers; bread crumbs; deep-fried chicken; anything battered (i.e., onion rings or fish); croutons; flour tortillas; burritos; soft tacos; Kit Kat; wafer biscuits; (some) candy; (some) candy bars; Chinese orange chicken; Kentucky Fried Chicken breaded chicken; (some) cereal bars; granola bars; and (most) bacon bits.

Note that in the U.K. the reference to "bacon" in "bacon bits" is understood to mean pork. Of course, pork must not be eaten at any time. In the U.S.A. the reference to "bacon" can also apply to beef and turkey. But "beef bacon bits" or "turkey bacon bits" must not be consumed during the Days of Unleavened Bread when they contain leaven (as distinguished from "autolysis yeast," which is not a leavening agent and therefore appropriate for consumption; see below).

Also, we need to point out that many restaurants have leaven in unsuspected products, for instance in meat. In checking the ingredient statement on Taco Bell's Web site, we are informed that in addition to the more obvious items (such as flatbread or chalupa flatbread), its chili and "seasoned ground beef" contain yeast.

On the other hand, products that contain yeast extract (for instance in soups) or "autolyzed yeast" or "deactivated yeast" are fine (these are not leavening agents, as they provide no fermentation activity. For instance, deactivated yeast is strictly designed to be used as a reducing agent for increased extensibility).

Corn tortillas are fine as well.

Also exempt are products that are not for human consumption, such as dog or cat food, fire extinguishers and toothpaste; or beverages such as beer.

We cannot overemphasize that it is important to read the labels for the ingredients of each product. When in doubt we should abstain from eating the item during the Days of Unleavened Bread, for "he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).

Keith Slough
Kannapolis, N.C.

Mr. Armstrong's official beginning

Herbert W. Armstrong regarded July 9, 1933, as the real start of his worldwide work of God.

That day he commenced a six-week-long tent campaign--78 years ago--as the Autobiography shows.

Geoff Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa


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