Letters from our readers
We're all deeply grieved about the circumstances in Milwaukee. Events, even tragedies such as this, underscore the need for individual ministries such as The Journal. I consider a free press within the COG world a valuable ministry to the entire community.
Poem for Jerry Miller
I am a member of the Living Church of God. I attended Jerry Miller's funeral. Because of the manner in which Jerry died protecting another member, I (along with a member of the United Church of God named Dave Campbell) composed a poem for Jerry that was read at his funeral. Feel free to use it in your paper. It is as follows:
A man of bravery
We saw in him
A gallant gesture
In one last act
As we reflect now,
The innocent have fallen
Sitting on folding chairs
Ever ready to flee
There is nowhere one can run
For thou and thee and me.
For in has come a madman
With fear and confused heart.
He cannot come together;
He cannot stay apart.
And in his mad red world
He reaches out with lead,
He spills the blood of holy men
On folding chairs so meek.
Men and women loving others,
Kind folks who love God in speech,
Sitting on the folding chairs
With heads and hands so clean.
A madman has hurt the hearts
Of many such as these;
He harbored hidden, confused thoughts;
No one guessed he was so mean.
Behind the toppled chairs,
Beyond the halls of white,
Are tears for our dear brethren,
Fallen in their fight.
Not dishonor the memory
People around the world are trying to make sense of the massacre in Brookfield, Wis., on Saturday, March 12. People are looking to find positive results from a horrible, horrible situation.
Here is one tiny positive result of the tragedy. Some members of the Living Church of God have had an epiphany about the promise that believers will be protected physically if they attend a particular church group or if they follow a particular man.
Some followers of people like Gerald Flurry, David Hulme, Dave Pack, Rob Elliott, Ron Weinland and others are now convinced that followers of Rod Meredith are Laodiceans who won't be protected in the tribulation.
They reason: "If God won't protect members of that church at their own church service, how can that church promise protection to them when the tribulation comes?"
However, members of the LCG now know that no church group can cite Revelation 3:10 as an absolute promise of protection to those associated with it. The theory that people in the supposed Philadelphia era will be protected is a continuation of the flawed health-and-wealth gospel.
Paul wrote that those who suffer with Christ will be glorified (Romans 8:17). He also wrote that he wanted to be made conformable to the death of Christ (Philippians 3:10).
The truth is that some people will be protected and some people will be martyred. It will not depend on them trusting any man or trusting any church organization.
Those who promise you protection by your being associated with them give you a worthless prophecy (Jeremiah 23:16). They speak a vision of their own heart and not out of the mouth of God.
As I said, some members of the LCG have had their epiphany. I hope the leaders of that church don't dishonor the memory of the victims by continuing to promote the flawed protection theory.
Oh, how I wish the tragedy in Wisconsin had never occurred. The debunking of the protection theory has come at a great cost.
A spy in the ointment
Greetings in the name of Jesus! I serve as the director of missions for the Church of God (Seventh Day) Denver, Colo. I also work with the president of the Church of God (Seventh Day), Ramon Ruiz Garza of Mexico, in our International Ministerial Congress on a regular basis. I have had the pleasure of working in our churches with thousands of our leaders on every inhabited continent on earth.
Who in the world does this Alan Knight think he is? [See "CG7 Moving Toward Christmas Observance," written by Mr. Knight, The Journal, Dec. 31, 2004.] I have never seen him in any leadership venue in any conference on any continent in the Church of God (Seventh Day), and The Journal makes him our quasi spokesperson?
It is unfortunate that Mr. Knight continues to spread such blatant lies and innuendo regarding a church in which he claims to be a member. He continually interprets to his own liking the events in a congregation that he has served as only a spectator--or should I say a spy?
I must admit that in the United States it has been too easy to get membership in our organization and we lack the follow-through in many instances to actually discipline someone.
However, I think in the interests of good journalism someone who claims to be a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and pretends to speak as to our behalf should at least have to substantiate his claims in the interest of ethical journalism, if nothing else.
I have confronted Mr. Knight personally before for his sniper tactics in which he sits on the sidelines and takes potshots at leadership in an organization in which he seldom attends any local church with regularity.
Furthermore, I think it is a travesty for The Journal to allow a casual attendee, who may have been given membership because of our low level of entry, to be allowed to malign the action and intent of men who have dedicated their lives to the cause of Christ in leadership and not even give them the space to defend themselves.
I suppose that such malicious propaganda is appropriate in our wicked world, but it should not be appropriate for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ.
Our doctrinal beliefs are clearly written and stand for all to read. Speaking on my own part and not in an official capacity for the General Conference, I think it's time that Alan admitted that he hasn't been an active member in this organization in some time and never even got close to being recognized in any leadership capacity.
His only recognition comes from his ability to twist, malign and lie about us while standing behind a less-than-honest publication for his protection. Mr. Knight, it's time you looked for another organization to infest.
William C. Hicks
In the above letter Mr. Hicks says Alan Knight spreads "blatant lies." Should it be provable that Mr. Knight is not a liar, then a judge or jury could find Mr. Hicks' comments to be libelous. Therefore The Journal checked with Mr. Knight before printing the above letter. Mr. Knight has agreed to sue neither Mr. Hicks nor The Journal for making public Mr. Hicks' potentially libelous statements.
For another letter and another approach from another CG7 official commenting on Mr. Knight's article, see Calvin Burrell's letter, below.
Alan Knight's article ["CG7 Moving Toward Christmas Observance," The Journal, Dec. 31, 2004] gets most of its facts straight, but the title misleads.
The Church of God (Seventh Day) has not changed its position with regard to Christmas and Easter, nor are we near to changing it. Our latest restatement of this doctrine came in 1994 and echoed a conviction we have held for more than 50 years. It reads: "The celebrations of Sunday, Christmas, Lent, Easter, or Halloween as sacred times have no scriptural support."
The church's official doctrine proceeds to list Christmas and Easter in particular, showing how both are rooted in ancient pagan festivals and are inaccurate in their biblical chronology.
The doctrine does not insist, however, that a Christian (or church member) must not recognize nonbiblical celebrations in any regard. The church has always had some members who personally practice a degree of holiday observance, and that is still the case.
What Mr. Knight doesn't report is equally important. The official position of the church is unchanged. Our article by Richard Cress (July-August 2004, Bible Advocate) does not promote observing Christmas or Easter either in the traditional manner or on the traditional dates. It does suggest honoring both the birth and the resurrection of Christ at alternate times and in scripturally congruous manners.
The editor's reply to letters (November 2004, Bible Advocate) restates the church's objections to Christmas and Easter, defends the right of Christians to worship in ways not overtly commanded in Scripture and suggests that the celebration of nonbiblical holidays by earnest, biblically committed believers may fall under the "doubtful disputes" rubric of Romans 14.
Attitudes against Christmas and Easter appear to have eased a little across much of the church in this generation. We are more tolerant toward our Christian friends who celebrate. Still, we neither practice nor promote church observances of Dec. 25 and Easter Sunday, and I hope we never will.
P.S.: The Journal's readers who may be interested in reading the Bible Advocate magazine at no cost or obligation may request and receive it by writing P.O. Box 33677, Denver, Colo. 80233, U.S.A.; telephone (303) 452-7973; or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce Porteous' article "What Is the Future of the Church of God?" [The Journal, Dec. 31, 2004] is timely and needed to be said. The "leadership" today is interested only in power and nothing more. Is it any wonder old members don't want to know about the groups?
I've visited most of the larger Church of God Web sites this week and to my dismay there was not one word about the nation's biggest story (Terri Schiavo) and what this situation portends for the future.
I would have thought that at the very least some thoughtful organization would make mention that "we as a church are praying for Terri and her family during this difficult time."
I find it extremely odd that none of the COGs has reached out in this regard.
Are we so self-absorbed in our own problems that we are blind to what is happening in and around our nation? Or is the Schiavo case too political?
Rest in peace
Many, many thanks for sending The Journal to my dad, Jack Bradfield. My dad passed away last month due to a malignant brain tumor. He was suffering in the end and going blind but still loved reading The Journal with the help of his magnifying glass.
He set such a fine example and God strengthened him as he was such a comfort to friends and his family. He loved the truth to the end, and I am grateful to you all for sending Dad The Journal.
My younger brother, David Bradfield, wrote this poem for Dad.
On Tuesday evening I came across a huge, very old bull elephant as I was walking along a game path with my dog in the park where we live.
I saw Dad in that elephant, past his time, the father and grandfather of a family, fighting for survival.
I spent the better part of two hours with him, he knew I was there and I think he was happy for our company.
He reminded me of Dad, vulnerable but strong, a fighting spirit . . . content.
He can tell many stories, and based on the past, believing what he believes, can foresee the future.
Through God, Dad saw the future, and we are blessed to have been taught by him.
Dad gave us our belief in God. He gave us strong morals. He made us a loving family. He gave us our fighting spirit.
Through his farming, he taught us to be close to nature. He gave us our love for animals. He insisted that we speak three languages fluently, a gift that has given us firm roots in this beautiful part of Africa.
Dad made us proud to be who we are. He always taught us that we come from ancient Israel. He always reminded us of our proud Dutch and British blood.
And, knowing our history, we know our future.
Dad, we will see you in the world tomorrow.
In the Feb. 28 issue, two paragraphs in my essay, "Passover Plus Unleavened Bread Is Only Seven Days, Not Eight," should be deleted and replaced. The paragraphs are on page 7, column 2, under the subheading "One and the Same." The incorrect paragraphs begin with "Inasmuch as the Passover . . ." and "To be consistent . . ." The following two paragraphs should replace them:
"Deuteronomy 16:1-8 combines the Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread (UB) on the 14th. The Feast of UB is on the 15th, the second day of UB. It is apparent that the sacrifices from the flock and the herd were both done on the 14th and continued on the 15th for six days, a total of seven days. See also 2 Chronicles 35:1-9, 13.
"These offerings involved the whole day of the 14th, which includes both Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread; the offering from the flock occurring in the evening of the (13th)-14th and the offering from the herd (and flock) in or after the morning of the 14th."
Please note and cross-refer this letter to my essay on page 7 of the February issue for clarification and correction. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.
Mary E. Moon
I was very pleased to see the article regarding Faith Networks, especially since you placed it on the front page [of the Feb. 28 issue]. However, there are a couple of points in the fourth paragraph that need clarification.
Sorry to pick nits, but the name of the church officially is Church of God Cincinnati. This was necessary because another church was incorporated with the name Cincinnati Church of God several years ago.
Also, even though it is a tempting idea to have Jeff Osborn as our pastor, in light of everything that we went through during the past year I am sure that everyone in the congregation wants to keep Jim O'Brien as our pastor.