Letters from our readers

Ron Wallen obituary

I'm Ron Wallen's sister. In your article ["Notes and Quotes," Feb. 28] you indicate that Ron Wallen is survived by his parents. Your report is inaccurate. His parents are deceased. Ron's parents, Claude and Alta Wallen, his oldest sister Phyllis and his older brother Ed Wallen are all deceased.

However, Ron had six brothers and two sisters, and, in addition to being survived by his wife, Rosemary, daughter Ginger and son Brandon, his surviving siblings, listed chronologically, are Dwayne, Bob, Don (Ron's twin brother), Tony, Chris and myself.

Pamela Deichert
Via the Internet

To alleviate confusion

Lest anyone be confused, here is a minor correction to the article "Endowment Has Funds Available for Ministries" in the May 31 Journal. It lists a task-force member as "Robin Webber of Garden Grove, Calif." Since October 2001 the pastor of UCG Garden Grove has been Mario Seiglie, formerly serving in Chile. Mr. Webber continues to pastor two other UCG churches, in Eagle Rock (Los Angeles) and Bakersfield, Calif.

David Updegraff
Costa Mesa, Calif.

James to Jason

In the May edition of The Journal, Jason Poole asked, in a letter to the editor on page 2, a question of members of the WCG:

Why do members of the Worldwide Church of God see and believe things differently from the way they believed in the past?

It might just be that those of us who are still a part of the WCG have had our minds opened to understand the gospel of Jesus and the apostles. Maybe we have come to see that we are individuals with free will and that God has given us minds with which to think and that He expects us to use them to study the Scriptures and believe what the Scriptures teach.

It is not my purpose to judge or condemn Herbert Armstrong, but maybe we have been led by the Holy Spirit to see that some of Mr. Armstrong's teachings and doctrines were not 100 percent correct.

When one reads the Scriptures with an open mind and accepts what the Bible says (without our own interpretation), the Bible becomes a new book. The Scriptures come alive. What the church once called difficult scriptures are no longer difficult.

The books of Romans, Galatians and Colossians really do make sense, as do the other epistles Paul wrote. They teach the way to repentance and salvation.

In the WCG we were the one and only true church. All Sunday-keepers were a part of Satan's church. We were not to associate with them nor to permit our children to take part in any activity outside of our group.

How wrong we were. These are just some of the errors in our past teachings.

In John 8:32 Jesus told His disciples they would know the truth and the truth would make them free. I believe true freedom is in Jesus Christ and in our surrender to His will. When one really accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, the mind will be opened and the conscience will become clear.

In 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 are a number of scriptures that are quite clear on coming to understand what it means to be under the New Covenant.

We who are still within the WCG have come to accept the Bible for what it says. We give others the right to their own beliefs. We are free at last.

James Jackson
Big Sandy, Texas

Burning answer

Jason Poole asked some very good questions ["Burning Question," May 31, page 2]. I will answer each of Mr. Poole's points concerning why I stayed in the Worldwide Church of God.

Everything runs its course. For the first 2,000 years it did not rain on the earth; man and beast ate vegetables.

After the Flood, Noah was given new diet laws, and the animals' nature was changed.

After the Exodus, God dealt with only one family, Jacob's, and to Jacob God gave the law, which was all physical. He made a covenant with Jacob (Israel) only.

The Old Covenant ran its course, and there was need for a new covenant that would include all people, everybody.

God gave His Son's life to fulfill all that was spoken of Him in the Old Testament and to reconcile mankind to the Father.

This too will run its course, as I think Herbert W. Armstrong's purpose ran its course (Acts 5:33-40).

Some were able to free themselves from HWA and listen to Jesus, but some are using his last book (Mystery of the Ages) as their guide.

To answer Mr. Poole specifically:

• What do I say of myself?

I do not know exactly what Jason means by that question. I do know that it was HWA's teaching that got me interested in religion, and that's why I'm being converted.

I know why the law was changed from physical to spiritual, why the New Covenant was needed and that Colossians 2:16 is not a difficult scripture anymore because I read verse 17 and I know what a shadow is.

• Was I led by the Holy Spirit at that time?

Yes. I think the Holy Spirit was leading me all along to the point that I would accept the truth when He revealed it to me. Why it took 30 years of HWA doctrine I can't answer. That's just the way God did it for me.

God brought me into the Radio Church of God and now the Worldwide Church of God. I can't even think of God making a mistake, so I will stay where He placed me.

• Was I unconverted?

I can't say that I'm fully converted now. At some point we make the turn, then the Holy Spirit comes in and leads us into all truth. I think conversion is an ongoing process until Christ returns to qualify us for the Kingdom.

• Was I merely following a man?

Yes, I was following HWA's teaching. In 1995 I read Matthew 17 and found I am to listen to Jesus Christ.

• Was I blind?

Yes, I was blinded by HWA's challenge for me to read for myself. It intimidated me, made me think that I could not trust his teaching. You know what? I was right because when I did study for myself I found that HWA did not have a corner on understanding.

• Was I deceived?

Yes, HWA taught me the Jewish laws, holy days, diet, tithing (only the priest could collect tithes), the 613 points of the law. These were HWA's foundation. He never got to the spiritual law at all, and that's what Christianity is all about.

• Was I stupid? You could say I was stupid. I know I lacked understanding, was dazed by HWA's dogmatic teaching. In the full meaning of the word I can't say that I was 100 percent stupid because if I were I would still be using Mystery of the Ages instead of the Holy Bible.
I hope I answered your questions, Jason. I think you asked them in good faith, and I was as transparent as I could be. Had I not been honest, your picture of me would have been skewed.
I thank The Journal for making it possible for you to ask and for me to respond. God loves you, and so do I.

Jim Perry
Tucson, Ariz.

Baxley on my mind

Help! I have a friend who lives in Georgia. He has never attended any Sabbath group and has little knowledge of any of them (only what I have told him in the last three or four years).

He had come to the conclusion--with God's inspiration, otherwise by himself--that the Feast and all the other holy days should be kept, including the Sabbath.

He had never met nor heard of anyone who actually kept the holy days or, for that matter, knew of them. It has amazed me the last four years what this guy has really understood from the Bible without the help of any human.

Now, after all this time of talking to him about these things, he has asked me to help him find someone in his area he can fellowship with on the Sabbath.

I would not recommend anyone to him whom I would not meet with myself.

I don't know how dedicated he will be to the Sabbath or any of his old customs, so members of his new fellowship will have to be willing to accept him as he is (he is very willing to change as he learns) and teach him by example and God's Word about the holy days and the other blessings we all may have taken for granted.

He lives in Baxley, which is halfway between Macon and Savannah. If there is any independent group of two or more people meeting together on the Sabbath in God's name that would welcome him, please respond to

C. Cornelison
Via the Internet

Chapter and verse

Moses says: "It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him" (Deuteronomy 13:4).

Righteousness is about serving the Holy One, not any man or group of men.

Our Lord Jesus Christ says:

"Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God" (John 3:21).

Men doing what is right, through God and to His glory and honor, will not be found hiding what they are doing.

What about the "disfellowshipping" of elder Dan Cafourek of Colcord, Okla.? ["Church Alleges 'Discord' When Disfellowshipping Elder," The Journal, June 30]. Reports I am reading lead me to feel ashamed of and fearful for the United Church of God.

"Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God" (Deuteronomy 1:17).

Trifle with what belongs to Him at your peril!

Jeffrey A. Caldwell
Cupertino, Calif.

Just because it's tongue in cheek doesn't mean it's not heresy

At last I found the April issue of The Journal and read many of the newsy articles. Now it seems I need to look over my shoulder lest I be suspended from what few duties I may have--or worse. The articles of caution were "Elder Protests UCG Move to Relieve Him of Duties" and "UCG British-Council CEO Disfellowships, Fires Council Treasurer."

I have a few reasons for me to beware, namely:

• I've noticed my wife has determined her own Feast calendar for herself.

• She hasn't really kept quiet about it.

• I haven't been able to control her to stop her from spreading her views about the calendar.

• She seems to not "know her place."

Here's what I mean: The wife typically wants to go someplace new for the Feast each year, leading to some perplexity about "her place."

After the Feast she comes back with a few rolls of pictures. She picks out 12 of her favorite Feast-photo prints and takes them to Kinko's. For $25 Kinko's scans and prints them onto a hanging 8 1/2-by-11-inch custom calendar, glossy, full color.

Then, for the coming year, she has her very own Feast calendar, to reminisce about where her place once was! With obvious pleasure she shows off her new Feast calendar to her friends, and I can't stop her.

Those whose blood pressure rose at the start of this letter should now know it was a bit tongue in cheek and not heresy. Wait a sec. Is that someone at the door? Uh-oh, excuse me ...

David Updegraff
Costa Mesa, Calif.

Logic and reason are irrelevant

The May 31 article on the "One God Seminars" screams for response. It has been a long time since I have been so stricken with amazement.

While I respect the education, sincerity and maturity of the men involved in the seminars, they reminded me of a room full of monks sitting in a circle around a cooking pot, each with a long stick, stirring the soup in search of one tiny morsel of meat.

From what I read, no one found the meat.

The point of the whole thing seems to come back as a resounding echo that we in the Church of God worship we know not what (at least in the opinion of those at this conference).

The question is: Is Jesus Christ our Savior? If so, we are saved to what? Could one live, repent and be converted and baptized and go to his grave assured of a resurrection and not know if the ancient Hebrew word elohim is singular or plural?

I learned years ago that eternity is a state of being rather than a span of time. This is a doorway into a whole new realm of understanding.

If an eternal being can manifest Himself as human, eat human fare and drink water or wine and then suddenly disappear, we are dealing with a phenomenon not governed by logic or the laws of physics, biology or reason. This is why the seminar was futile before it ever started.

Studying words and word definitions is a vortex stepped into by the so-called early-church fathers. We all know where that led. It brought us transubstantiation, the Eucharist and Communion to replace Passover, the Trinity, purgatory, the Holy Ghost personification of God's Spirit and a myriad of other superstitious beliefs.

What you decide about these ancient words through endless wrangling or vain reasoning saves no one.

The point is, everything is not for us to know; we are in a walk of faith. How can you believe you will come out of your grave and be given back your mind embellished totally by God's Spirit and in a new body comprised of some sort of spirit and not believe that you are following the pattern established by our Messiah?

If He did this, and the Scriptures say He did, and went back to the Father, this means He had to have been there before. That is obvious.

The Elohim (eternal being) who became the Father to Christ simply put the eternity state of being on hold for Christ, temporarily, as He does for us humans who await a resurrection.

The act of Christ's conception by the power of the Holy Spirit in the hands of the other Elohim made one the Father and one the Son. The Father, being the Most High God, remained in total power and total control in His eternal state of being while the other was subjected to the temporary state of being human.

The Most High thus became the father of a physical human being through conception by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not logical by any of the physical laws or human reason, but it did occur.

To chase an elusive phantom, taking up so much time, expense and space in the paper, is just unbelievable. Are we seeing the next generation of "early-church fathers" being formed? I wonder how many of our once-credible evangelists and pastors will become the next generation of monks.

Darl E. Arbogast
Kennesaw, Ga.

'Word' doesn't mean 'spokesman'

Thank you for your detailed account of Ken Westby's One G-d Seminars ["One-God Seminars Near Seattle Promote Strict Monotheism," The Journal, May 31].

For several years now I have thought how sad it is that Mr. Armstrong turned the word of Someone into a "spokesman."

One of the first scriptures I remember memorizing as a child was "By the word of G-d were the heavens made ... For He spoke and it was done."

Wow! That was better than magic. That was power.

Later on I had to unlearn that because the Word of God was not the Word but a second being; that is, another G-d.

So when the First Commandment says, "You shall have no other gods before Me," some have wanted us not to believe it.

One portion of The Journal's article that impressed me was what was said about Yeshua [Jesus]: that He did not grasp at the concept of being "god" or in the likeness of "G-d," quite contrary to men whose physical lives cannot compare to Yeshua.

For several thousand years the Jews have recited the Sh'ma [Deuteronomy 6:4] two and three times a day, the same Sh'ma that Yeshua (the "Christian" savior Jesus) was quoted as having affirmed was the greatest of all commands: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is one," and you shall love Him (not them) with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength.

Didn't Yeshua teach that one cannot serve two masters?

As long as we are confused about the Holy One of Israel, we will fall prey to all manner of pomposity, such as grasping at the satanic concept of being "god like god is god." I use the lowercase here for a reason.

Blessings to you and the readership of The Journal.

Lisa Wenger
Hawkins, Texas

Looking over a one-leaf clover

In The Journal's recent coverage of the Seattle "One God" conference ["One-God Seminars Near Seattle Promote Strict Monotheism," May 31], a quote of Anthony Buzzard was inadverdently attributed to me. I had asked a question from the audience about Steve Collins' point of binary reproduction as a type of the nature of the Godhead.

Mr. Buzzard said that based on such reasoning he could say that a three-leafed clover could signify the Trinity (or words to that effect). The clover answer by Mr. Buzzard was attributed to me.

Not to place too fine a point on things, I would like to state for the record that, to the contrary, I place a high value on the typology of the nature of binary reproduction as it relates to the nature of God. The body is the church or the bride of Christ. Christ is as the husband. The woman is the "body" in marriage because it is in her womb that new life is conceived from a union of the genetic essence of each parent.

I say binary as opposed to binitary, however.

We are to be coheirs with Christ. He is the firstborn of many brethren. He is the elder brother as well as the husband of the church, being the first of the firstfruits.

We are the children of the Eternal Father. He is creating a family of beings who shall inherit everlasting life, each one with its own personality--just as with any parent's children.

One of the best sermons I ever heard on this concept was when Ray Wooten gave an eloquent explanation of the subject at the Feast in Gatlinburg in 1998. It was a wonderful depiction, and I agree with everything except I contend that there can never be but one eternal being because that eternal being (the Eternal Father) said so repeatedly throughout the Bible.

This fact was also confirmed by his firstborn Son, Jesus. No one who was ever born can ever be eternal because eternal goes backward in time as well as forward.

Eternal actually transends time and is not contained within time and space. We can, of course, be given everlasting life, which is eternal life going forward, so to speak. The Bible uses the two terms interchangeably, but the differences are assumed as understood.

Binitarians and unitarians have a lot in common. I fully believe in a wonderful plan of an Eternal Father to have an everlasting family. A "God family"? Well, it depends on your definition of God. But "to be God as God is God" as in eternal? You? Eternal? You have to be kidding!

I have come to the conviction that it is demeaning to both the Father and His Son to say that there were always two eternal beings. Jesus, the man, accomplished something much greater. He was 100 percent man conceived of the Holy Spirit and is an amazing example for all of us as to what can be done in this life when we are "at one" with the Father and have the Holy Spirit without measure.

A God-man accomplishes nothing. A God-man is not an example for us, and we have no hope in such a creature, let alone a true mediator between us and the Father. I have much more faith and hope in the resurrection and salvation if I know that the Father resurrected a man and not a God. God did not and could not die on the cross.

Will you ever have real hope for everlasting life if the only one whom you believe in as being resurrected was a God-man? You are not a God-man. For those who consider this blasphemy, I suggest you seriously consider the matter because one of these two views of the Godhead is blasphemous. Are you sure which one?

It befuddles me that so many sanctimonious letters to the editor of The Journal regarding the Seattle conference confidently quote scriptures to "prove" their binitarian points without even going to the trouble of getting tapes or papers of the conference to learn the truth about those scriptures.

"Hey, what about John 1:1-4"? they seem to say.

To which I guess we are supposed to respond: "Nope, we never thought of that one! Wow, you sure got us! Thar it is jus' starrin' us right in the face and we didn't see it till you pointed it out. Thanks for settin' us straight."

The Father must not be robbed of His role as Creator. His Son, Yeshua, must not be robbed of His role as Savior. Guess which view of the Godhead does this to Satan-inspired perfection?

Mary is dead and is not our mediator with the Father. Christ died and is now the first of the resurrected firstfruits and is our true Mediator. If Christ is "God the Son," how can He fulfill this role, for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus? (1 Timothy 2:5).

W. Robin Wansley
Laurel, Miss.

It's elementary

May I refer to Robert Schmid's letter in the March 25 issue ["Plain Confusion," page 4], not because he referred to me but because he expresses something that is basic to Christianity, vital to righteousness.

We find that in Genesis 15:6, where it says that "Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (NIV).

Quite a statement and quite an individual. A simple faith is described here, the same childlike faith the Christ spoke about many years later that He, the Christ, declared essential for entrance into the Kingdom.

Most of us who entered the WCG in the days long passed possessed that faith. We had stars in our eyes, a song and first love in our hearts.

We, above all people on the earth, had been "called." The Lord of all the earth had chosen us.
What happened? Have we allowed teachers and arrogant preachers to nullify and take away faith that has nothing to do with men but with Him who created us?

Because others went astray, will we go astray also? Because some doctrine may have been found to be in error or even false, does that take away from the faith once delivered?
Because money became the god of the WCG and the god of many of the spin-offs, does that change our God in the least?

If anyone had reason or opportunity to change faith, God should be the one to do so with the antics and unbelief expressed so many times.

If anyone had reason to abort a mission, surely the Christ would have been the one, but He believed His Father and got on with the job.

He risked eternity because He knew He could make something of these rebellious humans, and all we have to do is believe Him.

When we think about it, do we really have a choice? We cannot give ourselves what we want; that is, eternal life. It seems we must join with Abram and believe Him or not.
Robert Schmid calls it elementary. I most certainly agree.

Sam Metz
Barton, Md.

The missing priesthood

I applaud The Journal's staff for allowing the people of God an avenue whereby they can express their views, though some may fear it encourages discord and gives "free thinkers" a stage to divide and confuse.

Please allow me to remind us that the Israelites had the mind-set that they, too, were pleasing God with how they were doing things, but in actuality the Eternal hated their practices (Isaiah 1:3, 13-15).

Though we may adamantly disagree with our brother, we should each humbly seek God and obey what we feel is correct and always keep an open mind and never stop inquiring concerning how we can more fully and more accurately honor and obey the Creator.

With obedience to the law and turning from our iniquities, God will grant understanding of his truth (Daniel 9:13; Deuteronomy 4:29).

Presently we do not have a priesthood authorized by the Eternal whereby we can go and ask: What is the correct calendar? When is Passover? What laws have been done away?

But, if we are to truly understand His truth and His will, our prayer must be: "Teach me, O Eternal, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding and I shall keep your law" (Psalm 19:33-34).

The Creator of the universe has one law for all people. Any can come, worship and obey and be blessed. He gave His laws to Israel and became Israel's God (Deuteronomy 7:6-11), yet Israel was a stiff-necked people that went after the other "gods" and forsook the Eternal.

The Eternal is not a respecter of persons regarding salvation. The law is everlasting. Elohim says, "I change not" (Malachi 3:6).

Brethren, continue searching, but remember until the great God purifies the priesthood we don't have complete knowledge. So please don't belittle anyone's attempt at searching for the truth.

Gary Woodring
Tyler, Texas

The error of the NIV

Paul Herrmann was right on ("Let's Keep the Proper Holy Days of Unleavened Bread," Feb. 28 issue).

Readers who disagreed pointed out there are two "first days" and the 14th is a stand-alone first day or that Leviticus 23:6 shows the feast begins on the 15th.

But why would the 14th be called a first day if it stands alone and is not the first of anything?
Unfortunately, the NIV is in error on Leviticus 23:6. There's no Hebrew word for begins in that verse. The feast commanded on the 15th is a time of eating and drinking on the second day of the festival. The original Hebrew does not state the festival begins on the 15th.

There are only three annual festivals (Exodus 23:14-16). The other annual holy days are sabbaths (see Leviticus 23:1-4 in the NASB). Therefore the 14th and 15th–21st are not separate, two, festivals, but the first festival is the 14th–20th.

David Rydholm
Olympia, Wash.

Calendar struggles

We have kept the Feast since 1966, so we have watched congregations struggle with the question of the calendar, often to their demise.

We appreciated the articles in the recent Journal dealing with this problem and appreciated Ron Dart's input ["Ron Dart's Calendar Challenge Deserves a Short Reply," by Frank Nelte, and "Forum Comments Get Wide Play, So Here's a Reply to a Reply," by Mr. Dart," both in the April 15 issue].

Frank Nelte spoke to our group (The Bereans) on the subject of the calendar. We think everyone should think through this question before any group makes a decision because it will affect the group in more ways than one.

The questions we have in mind are from an article in Servants' News. I thank Norman Edwards for that article. As we remember, the questions were as follows:

• Be careful of presenters who claim their proofs are from the Bible and claim they do not use nonbiblical history.

• Some people think the calendar could not be calculated until the computer was invented. In that case, God gave us a calendar that could not be calculated for thousands of years.

• Before computers, people used the equinox to start their year by putting a fixed pick in the ground and marking the end of its shadow at noon. Hillel [the rabbi who announced the present Jewish calendar about A.D. 359] had men observe the moon, then interviewed each of them separately, showing them drawings of phases of the moon. Only after he had established what they had seen did they make a decision.

• What about the variation from place to place in moon observation? The first crescent will be observed at different times in different places. Clouds and elevation can have an effect on the result.

• We must be careful not to observe any of the things that are on Satan's wish list.

• Some believe calendar systems should be based on the barley harvest. What about countries in which barley does not grow?

• God has not called many great and wise, and we put ourselves in that category. Must I again follow a man? If so, which man, since there are many variations and opinions?

The basic question is: To whom has God given the responsibility to blow the trumpet, or shofar? Who was to announce the beginning of months, holy days and festivals? Did He give that responsibility to the priests? What part does the Sanhedrin play in calendar decisions?
If the insurmountable problem is the calendar postponement concerning Atonement, the Jews celebrate all their holy days, except Atonement, for two days. If this is such a large problem, all we need to do is keep the fast for two days.

Let us make it perfectly clear that we don't fault the people who have done this research. We believe they may be correct. The question is: Is the result God's will?

Ken and Arlette Omick
Oostburg, Wis.

Self-defense isn't conscientious objection

May I refer to Steven Collins' letter in The Journal, March 25, 2002, page 2, column 1, "Oxen in Ditches." Steven feels I have "missed [his] central point about Sabbath observance during warfare."

Mr. Collins' point, he writes, was that, "if warfare overtakes a nation (or a person) on the Sabbath day, God does not regard it as breaking the Sabbath. Defending ourselves abundantly satisfies the biblically affirmed ox-in-the-ditch exception."

There most certainly is a dilemma for people who would be pacifists, a puzzle that lends itself to endless discussion. That is, it's one thing to refuse to go to war, but, when someone actually attacks you in the street or enters your house, how do you defend yourself?

We women expect our men to defend us in our homes, so how can we expect them not to use force?

There is no easy answer to this, except to ask God to defend us. I apologize for not acknowledging this aspect of the subject in my article ["Christians Are Confused About Armed Forces," The Journal, Jan. 31]. However, I don't see going to war as being in the same league as defending your home.

I don't think it is entirely fair to say that I missed Mr. Collins' point when one paragraph in my essay states clearly:

"Yes, there is something to be said for the nation-state defending itself from attack, but the argument falls down for Christians when you remember that we are not a nation-state and Christ requires us not to live by the world's rules of engagement. To quote the part of what Jesus said in Matthew 26 (verse 52) that Mr. Collins omitted: '... All who take the sword will perish by the sword.'"

I do accept that ancient Israel went to war and that this might have involved fighting on the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 20:19 tells me that Israel sometimes went on long campaigns but doesn't tell me which days of the week the Israelites fought on. I cannot assume that the Sabbath was included. However, if Mr. Collins has more information, then I shall stand corrected.)

However, the point I was trying to make was that Christians are not a nation-state and Christ requires us to live differently from the world. If you join the armed forces, you will have no option but to fight on the Sabbath; it won't even be a matter of choice and free will.

Besides, there are many other reasons for not joining the armed forces, which I gave in my article. Apart from the Fourth Commandment, at the very least you will be breaking the First and Sixth Commandments.

I may be misunderstanding the matter of the ox in the ditch, and, if so, please, will an elder in the church correct me, but my understanding is that it covers an accidental, unfortunate situation that arises on the Sabbath.

Joining the military, on the other hand, is a career choice; going to war requires years of training and planning.

I never suggested that healing, rescuing a trapped animal or helping my neighbor on the Sabbath constituted breaking the Sabbath.

I do accept that the ancient Israelites went to war and that the nation-state must defend itself from attack. What I find hard to accept is that the followers of Christ are to behave like ancient Israelites (the reference to modern-day Israel and the Yom Kippur War was not in Mr. Collins' original article) or to join national armies in the 21st century.

Yes, it's beneficial that The Journal gives the brethren a forum in which to discuss issues; it would be a truism to say that we don't know what people are thinking unless they are allowed to express themselves.

Kathleen McCann
Milton Keynes, England

A vote for abstaining

This letter is in response to the December 2001 letter in The Journal titled "A Vote Against Errant Leadership," in which the writer states that "it is not simply a matter of voting for this man or that" when deciding whether to vote or not.

If I vote for a particular man or a party, I exercise my right to elect a man or party to office. If my candidate is elected, I go on record as one who had endorsed him for the principles on which he stood.

If he begins to speak lies, use deceit, break campaign promises, violate God's laws repeatedly, approve of gay marriages and abortion, release murderers into the streets and is lenient toward child pornography, what have I done? I have elected a man of Satan, an endorser of evil deeds, into office.

Israel also desired the right to vote, but its best hopes turned into its worst fears when it got Saul.

When the Lord God voted for a king, He chose the right man. No matter what political, moral or economic advantage you think you might get by voting a particular candidate into office, the endorsement you give empowers him to do both good and evil.

Therefore, as much as you are partly responsible for the good he does, you also are for the evil, because you voted for him, just as Israel was guilty of rejecting the Lord when it wished for a man to lead them.

Regardless of what we wish for, God will set up in power those whom He wishes, good men in good times and evil men in evil times--though we might wish for good men at all times.
The example of Saul shows us that handpicking our rulers is not our right, even though it may be offered to us by the state. A law of the state may grant it but, as Paul said, "I will not be brought under the power of [it]" (1 Corinthians 6:12).

You may indeed have the right to eat meat, eat flesh that was sacrificed to an idol and later put on the market, choose to remarry, or cast a vote, but, if that right causes you to sin, it is a right best not exercised.

If we put men in power who commit grievous sins against God and man, we make ourselves partakers of their sins, do we not?

"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful" (same verse).

Ned Dancuo
Stoney Creek, Ont., Canada

The June 2002 issue of The Journal includes many photos and several other graphics, besides the Connections advertising section. Don't forget to subscribe to the print version of The Journal to read all the news and features previewed here.

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