Forum comments get wide play, so here's a reply to a reply

The writer is founder of Christian Educational Ministries and speaker on the Born to Win broadcast, carried on many radio stations. Access the CEM and Friends Internet forum (mentioned in in this article) from the CEM Web site, This article is a reply to Frank Nelte's response to a "challenge" by Mr. Dart concerning the issue of the feast-day calendar. See Mr. Nelte's essay on page 6.

By Ronald L. Dart

TYLER, Texas--I generally try to avoid engaging in what I call third-party debates in which a someone sends my work to someone else and asks for a reply. We then end up in the ludicrous position of a reply addressed "Dear Ron" but sent to THE JOURNAL.

It is especially futile when the challenge I issued in this case was to the CEM and Friends forum and came after lengthy discussions on the calendar in which the predicate had been laid for the challenge.
The challenge was then followed by considerable discussion in which I drew the obvious conclusions.

It was not a public challenge. Unfortunately, since Frank Nelte was not a participant in the discussion, he can't hope to intelligently address the issues we raised in his answer to my so-called "challenge" to him.

The oral law

About the oral law: I refer the reader to The Essential Talmud, by Adin Steinsaltz. During the time the New Testament was being written, neither Talmud nor Mishnah existed. What did exist was a body of what the New Testament calls "tradition" and what Steinsaltz calls "the Oral Law."

We infer from the fact that the Jews observed the festivals from ancient times that they followed a calendar of some sort. The rules for that calendar were nowhere written and therefore existed only in oral tradition.

I take this as self-evident. We may quibble over terms, but something definitely existed that could be called oral law. We can call it tradition if we prefer.

When I use the expression oral law, I use it to refer to what the New Testament called tradition. Steinsaltz does not refer to the oral law as "words given by God to Moses but not written down," and neither do I.

Who says?

For those who missed the thrust of the discussion on the CEM and Friends forum, my point, which Frank concedes, is that there are no instructions for a calendar in the biblical written law. We can draw inferences from the prophets and historical references as to what the priests and judges might or might not have decided on the calendar. The problem facing us today is that there are not enough data to arrive at a firm conclusion. If there were, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
The point of my challenge was that any calendar depends, in some measure, on some human authority. A calendar has to have rules. My question is who gets to make the rules.

In the Old Testament the authority for matters not covered in the written law was the body of priests, Levites and judges--and perhaps the 70 elders. In the New Testament a case can be made for those decisions being made by the apostles. One may even be able to extend that authority to include the leadership of the church in any age.
Up to this point the leadership in most of the churches in our tradition has followed the normative Hebrew calendar. When the churches get their act together and reach a consensus on a new set of calendar rules, I hope someone will let me know. I will expect an answer to all those questions that will satisfy a clear majority of all the churches that keep holy days.

Meanwhile, I have little interest in endless calendar debates. An old friend of mine once said that, if the devil can't get at you any other way, he will waste your time. Pam Dewey, whose piece appeared in the March 25 issue of THE JOURNAL ("Why I Use the Standard Calendar to Determine Yearly Feast Days"), has expressed my own feelings rather well.
Wasn't a public challenge

The CEM ministry sponsors an Internet discussion forum we call CEM and Friends. As the introduction to the forum states, it is "a forum established and maintained by CEM for our friends to get together for discussion of matters of common interest."

Participants may post questions, comments and other material on the Web page of the forum. Then other participants can daily read what is posted there and add their comments to the various "topic threads" that develop.
Many of the participants have been on the forum for two or three years. Long discussions develop that may last days or weeks or more.

The particular forum post that Frank Nelte took as a "challenge" was offered in response to many points, counterpoints, questions and comments by a large number of forum participants. It was followed up by much more.
It was, in other words, part of an ongoing dialogue, not intended as a public challenge to individuals, teachers or groups whose perspective on calendar issues are different from that presented in CEM materials.

The Journal: News of the Churches of God is available from P.O. Box 1020, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A., and For more information write . To comment on this article or any other article or feature in The Journal or Connections, write . The preceding article or feature is from The Journal, April 15, 2002.

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