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Letters from
The Journal Readers

Split keeps happening

Your Journal is doing a great service for serious COG members who want to know what is going on with all of the COG folks around the world.

After the Tkaches hijacked the WCG, serious members dropped out and joined the various offshoot groups. As you know better than I, many leaders of these offshoot groups had no intention of assisting these groups to get together. They preferred to establish their own churches, and various leaders are still causing new church splits.

In 1995 I followed the part of the local WCG that joined the UCG. The UCG then split a couple of times since, and I don't know when this will stop. Other offshoot churches have also split.

The basic biblical doctrines of the splitting groups has pretty much stayed the same. They merely follow new leaders.

In my opinion these new leaders are thinking more about their own power politics than about the members of their congregations.

I've been traveling a lot the last several years, and I've been attending Sabbath services with whatever COG church is in that area. I continue to notice that the basic biblical doctrines stay the same, and members tell me how much it hurts to lose old longtime friendships at each split.

I spend a bit of time in Kauai, Hawaii, where a small group of COG folks get together on Sabbath. These folks are from the pre-1995 WCG or one of the more-recent splits. These people get along just fine because there are no leaders there who create more splits.

I wonder what God thinks about all of this.

Earl Cayton
San Francisco, Calif.

The image of Mr. Cayton, above, is a self-portrait. The artist's creations appear on page 3 of each issue of The Journal.

Jesus didn't come to judge the world

I appreciated your "heart attack" article ["Heart Appreciation: The Beat Goes On" in issue No. 145, dated Sept. 17, 2011].

"I believe God is not nearly as picky as we are about religion." Love that quote.

"I think doctrine is overrated," along with "Yes, there are trunk-of-the-tree doctrines, but they're fewer than I once believed." Good stuff.

Of course, some won't agree. But even Jesus said He didn't come to judge the world. He prayed for His tormentors at the cross even when they didn't ask to be forgiven.

And, a big one, you can be sure His Father answered His prayer and forgave them on the spot. Yet we religious types feel free to judge and condemn each other.

I also appreciated reading John's article again ["The Church From the '50s to '90s: In Transition Publisher Writes of His RCG/WCG Recollections," by John Robinson]. I'd forgotten some of what he wrote.

Sheila (and Ed) Graham
Lake Kiowa, Texas

Bible cites Gad, Iddo and Jasher

Regarding "Lo and Behold, an Elephant Is in Our Room" by Dixon Cartwright and "The Boundaries of the Canon: Why Do We Think It's Closed?" by Alex Ciurana in the Dec. 20, 2011, issue of The Journal:

I really cannot clearly recall when I began to wonder why some books are included in the Bible while others (or portions of others) are omitted. I do know that it was early on in my conversion process, which has been going on for almost 40 years now.

Enoch, of course, is partially recorded in Jude's discourse, but (per Scofield's footnotes) Paul quotes two Greek poets in Acts 17:28.

According to C. Raymond Capt, there is also a "missing chapter" to the book of Acts.

So I had to ask myself: Are some of these, all of these or none of these authors' works inspired?

Books such as Jasher (in Joshua 10:13), Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29) and Iddo the Seer (2 Chronicles 13:22) are only a few scrolls actually named in the Old Testament. It seems apparent to me that these writings were as credible as Torah in Israelite history.

So my answer to the rhetorical question posed in issue No. 146 of The Journal, "Is Elohyim continuing to provide revelation (canon) to their believing disciples?": Undeniably, yes!

I would encourage individuals to compose their "inspired" thoughts if for nothing more than serious discussion among their peers.

Richard E. Heath
442 Whippoorwill Ridge Ln.
Ferrum, Va. 24088

Religion-flavored placebos

Regarding "Lo and Behold, an Elephant Is in Our Room" by Dixon Cartwright, Dec. 20, 2011, issue:

The key to 2 Timothy 3:16 is not what is or is not God-breathed, but what Paul says writings are profitable for.

Doctrine and righteousness are words the translators used that mean nothing in particular but can be interpreted to mean many things. I don't think that was Paul's intent.

People talk about being led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. Doctrines pretty much do away with being led anywhere.

We also need to consider that the church in the time of the apostles believed and did some things early on that they didn't embrace later.

So following those biblical examples would be as ridiculous as following a lot of other Bible examples in our quest to be "obedient to God," and we could be turned over to bibliolatry or bibliomancy. Wouldn't that be idolatry?

If I had an employee I was considering as a permanent partner in my business, I don't think I would consider his being obedient to me all that important. Rather, I would give him the opportunity to make decisions and see what he could do.

I don't think it is unrealistic to suggest that obedience can become a mystical endeavor when people attach an endless string of dos and don'ts to their priorities that are endlessly debated as to their moral or ethical value.

The value of the priority itself is often brought into question during the debates. The early examples in the book of Acts and other Bible passages may not be as good as we thought.

People use doctrines and Bible examples like religious insurance when in reality they are often no more than religion-poisoned placebos.

We establish righteousness doctrinally and then are in a position to judge everyone dogmatically. Hence the endless fussing and ill will. Once we have our doctrines established, we are led into the endless world of trivia in the name of seeking truth.

Yet it seems plain from Matthew 25 that we are not judged righteous doctrinally but by what we can reasonably or realistically do to help others.

I am in agreement with your comments but find them a thousand years overdue and just the tip of the iceberg.

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.

Dogmatic toes

I just finished your article on the canon in the latest issue (No. 146, Dec. 20, 2011) of The Journal and am gratified that you have taken such a bold step in addressing the issue.

I am pleased that you have touched upon some of the very things dear to my heart, things I have written about and discussed (to one degree or another) over the past several years.

The problem is (for me!) you made a better point of the issue and a better presentation than I had ever done. Though I have not presented the canon as you have, in the exact light you have, I have rambled around in that same arena. And so bravo!

Please do not draw back but hold your ground when the fire and criticism come from your friends in the COG community regarding your "heretical" remarks.

Our search for the truth of these matters necessarily entails stepping on ecclesiastical and religious dogmatic toes (witness the rejection of my innocent--and perhaps naive--presentation regarding a mere discussion of problems in the book of John in my presentation at the New York One God Conference).

I have written about the Bible most certainly not being the "Word of God" after all, and its not being inspired (as breathed to secretaries or spoken to authors as people often suggest) at all.

Rather, the writings are simply writings of men who may or may not have had God's or the people's best interests at heart but were moved in some fashion to write what they did.

I have written that any writing purporting to be holy or sacred because it says so in its own text (or that other people say so) is no proof of holiness or sacredness at all, even when a majority of people accept it as such.

As you know, most professing Christians are biblically illiterate, but, unfortunately, many of our more-enlightened brethren do indeed also accept much of the Roman Catholic/Protestant views of the Bible and all it contains.

I also read the piece by Alex Ciurana and think he made several good points.

Please excuse my gushiness, but I think this is something to gush about.

F. Paul Haney
Kensington, Conn.

Open window

Thank you, Dixon, for the excellent editorial on the "canon" scriptures. You have opened a window, and fresh air is coming in already.

Theda Horton
Little Rock, Ark.

Speak often one to another

I appreciated reading your article [about the Bible canon in the Dec. 20, 2011, issue]. Thought-provoking!

What I get from it is that we should not worship the Bible but allow it to serve God's primary goal: to engender healthy relationships between us and Himself and between ourselves.

Like He says often, "I will be their God and they will be My people," and Jesus' words to us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength and to love others as ourselves.

Relationships should be built on loving communication. One of my favorite verses is Malachi 3:16:

"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name."

God loves it when we get together and communicate with one another about the wonders He has done, not only the stories recorded in the Bible but the things that God has done in our lives.

He loves it so much He writes it down in a book of remembrance when we share these testimonies with one another. He loves His children coming together in this way.

Jerome Ellard
Big Sandy, Texas

First a heart attack, now this

How a heart attack [see issue No. 145] opens one's eyes to new vistas, such as the canon of the Holy Bible!

You [Dixon Cartwright] referenced four scriptures in your column [about the canon in the Dec. 20, 2012, issue].

Alex Ciurana has no Scripture references in his column [also about the canon, in the same issue]. (It is noted there is one scripture in a footnote in Alex's article.)

Alex does quote other authors six times. This makes me a little suspicious.

Some thoughts:

  • The WCG believed that Herbert W. Armstrong's writings would become part of NT scripture when Christ returned. So the WCG did not believe in a closed canon.
  • Alex speculated that, if the apostles believed in a closed scripture, then there would be no NT. However, I can picture Matthew furiously taking notes during the Sermon on the Mount. After the crowd disperses, Matthew goes up to Jesus:

"Man, this is good stuff. We should write a NT to go along with the New Covenant." Jesus smiles and says, "I am way ahead of you."

  • Bottom line: A God who can inspire writers to write His words can also inspire the canon of His words.

Men died, such as William Tyndale, preserving this canon so that mankind could have access to God's words of life, comfort, joy, hope, love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, restoration.

  • We all know the "rest of the story" when Christ returns.

May God's peace be upon His people.

Ron Masek
Strongsville, Ohio

Art Mokarow then and now

I met Art Mokarow 40-plus years ago. He was pastor of the WCG in Detroit. I became a "baptized" member at that time.

His wife, Claudia, and I think two children were also attending services. Shortly he was recalled to Pasadena. I lost track of him. In recent years I became aware of his seminars in Birmingham, Mich., and started attending them.

I've written for and received many of Art's books, so I began a home Bible study with his informative volumes.

In my opinion, many articles by other writers seem to overlook God's plan of His Kingdom since His creation.

It seems pastors tend to overlook Acts 1:3, where Jesus appeared and spoke about the Kingdom of God before His ascension.

So I'm thanking you again for The Journal. I think you also recognize Art Mokarow's books are closest to God's work, and his articles really hit the mark.

I didn't know you were editor of The Journal. Your article "The Elephant ..." about the canon [Dec. 20, 2011 issue] is very interesting. I'm reading more.

Leonard Sowders
Warren, Mich.

I believe I'll believe what I believe

If you were born a Lutheran, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian or any other Protestant and you are now a mature adult, you probably believe that God is a Trinity, that you have an immortal soul, you'll go to heaven when you die, etc., etc.

You would believe this because you always have, having been born into those wrong beliefs and never thinking or questioning or checking into many subjects to see if they are true. This is true regardless of what church you were born into.

Some churches believe they should keep Sunday as the worship day. Others believe everyone should tithe. Some think the Old Testament holy days should be kept.

Most will believe and practice what their denomination teaches. Since nobody has all truth, no one can pass the blame for mistakes onto their church.

Regardless of the subject or doctrine, most people will not check into anything because they think all they were told is true.

Are we deceived?

Paul and Micki Herrmann
Metairie, La.

This, that and Acts 16

I noted the recent articles in the Connections section of The Journal. Normally I pay little attention to those articles written by people with some pet theory or an ax to grind.

But because of Ken's Westby's article (on the "one God") in No. 146 I went back and skimmed Brian Convery's article (a critique of the "one God" teaching) in Issue 145.

I have also read the previously published articles on the one-God conferences and listened to some of the recorded talks including that of our pastor, David Antion.

I am pleased to note that in all these discussions on the nature of God no one has accused holders of other views of not being acceptable to God because of their views.

I will not go into how I have arrived at my conclusions, but I have observed that both Trinitarians and Binitarians are acceptable to God.

I have not been in a position to observe "one God" people like the good folks of Ken Westby's Association for Christian Development, but I have no reason to believe that they are not also acceptable to God.

Obviously these views cannot all be correct. Perhaps all of these views are incorrect. We all may be looking at it wrong. Comprehending the true nature of God may well be beyond our human understanding.

But God is exceedingly merciful, far beyond our comprehension, and He accepts all of us who meet the basic requirement of faith as His sons and daughters even though we don't get everything correct.

That basic requirement is stated several times in Acts in answer to the question "What must I do to be saved?"

Peter, Paul, Philip and perhaps Silas all provided the same general answer. See Acts 16:31.

In the old WCG we used to argue that there must be more to it. It could not be that simple, that we also had to do this, this and this and believe that, that and that.

At the advanced age of 79 I seem to be getting my priorities reordered and getting rid of some of my prejudices.

Robert Macdonald
Lebanon, Mo.

Applying some countermeasures

Thank you for the "free" subscription. My wife and I are retired pensioners, and I live partly on American Social Security and partly on Canadian, New Zealand and Australian pensions.

I appreciate The Journal immensely and value it for the latest on current happenings and heresies.

Ever thought of adding to the front page beware: contents can be hazardous to your spiritual health; apply countermeasures of 2 timothy 3:16, 1 thessalonians 5:21, matthew 4:4 and isaiah 8:20?

I find many articles great stimulus to constantly do as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).

Ian R. Willis
Myola, N.S.W., Australia

In memory of Wily Elder

When doves fly

In my father's hand,

There lay a dove

Under the shadow of his love--

* * *

Nurtured and cared for

Since the beginning of time.

Out of the many

It was called and chosen.

* * *

The angels came

And took it

To its new home,

Another of the Father's

Treasured abodes.

* * *

Today in hearing of your passing,

Dearest brother and friend,

In deep mourning, also in joy,

I dedicate these words

For a loss so deeply felt

But for one who will return.

* * *

Your journey here has ended;

Another has begun

When you hear your Father's voice

To rise and shine

As the stars from heaven above.

* * *

You will be missed,
My dear friend.

Gladys Acosta
North Miami, Fla.


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