Letter: November 28, 2000
Norm and Marleen,
Tom and I want to thank you for a most unique feast. It was more than the best feast ever. We heard messages from both groups that have ignited our Bible studies. We appreciate the challenges and we'll be digging deeper and deeper to search out God's will.
Thank you again and we hope we can all meet together next year as well.
— Tom and Shannon Hartle, Pennsylvania
Response: I’m glad you felt that way about the Port Austin Feast.
Letter: October 13, 2000
We received your note and thank you for writing. To answer briefly, we have never had any connection with Herbert W. Armstrong nor the Worldwide Church of God, or any of the break-offs from that church. Some who now belong to the 7th Day Church of God had earlier connections with the WCG, but most do not. The majority came to the knowledge of God’s Holy Days through their own study of the Word and the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit.
If we can be of further help to you, please feel free to contact us again.
— Pastor Paul Woods
Seventh Day Church of God, Caldwell, Idaho
Response: Thank you for writing. There are so many former-WCG brethren who claim that Herbert Armstrong was alone in teaching the Sabbath and Holy Days for many years. Unfortunately, I have never met anyone who both claims this and has made a serious effort to see which other groups have taught these doctrines.
Letter: December 18, 2000
Please stop sending the Servants’ News to me in any format. I was sorry to see that you continue to subtly water down the 4th commandment before members of the body of Christ. On page 10 of the latest issue (July/Aug 2000) of SN, you make the statement that one commandment is missing from the lists you personally chose to use to try to prove that the 7th day Sabbath is not mentioned in those scriptures. It was very easy for me to see that you did not include the 4th commandment where it could have easily been included: “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” God told Israel to refrain from doing their pleasures on the Sabbath. It is the 10 commandments that we are to use in making judgments pertaining to Matt 18, not just 9 of those laws. It seems that many are able to see that Tkach Jr. teaches heresy and is a false teacher but some are not able to see that protestant ministers do the same. Giving our approval for those in the faith to sit before false teachers every Sunday as Ron Dart has done is putting some in danger of committing the unpardonable sin. I am sorry that you have chosen to go in this direction.
Response: I think you misunderstood the article on page 10. I did not take 1Corinthians 5:11 and 2 Timothy 3:2-5 and try to find all of the ten commandments in them except the fourth. I simply noted each phrase that clearly matched one of the ten commandments. Commandment one is about loving God with all that one has and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” is the exact opposite—breaking the first commandment. Loving pleasure rather than God does describes only a part of Sabbath-breaking. Many people work at jobs that they do not like on the Sabbath, but do not know God gives them the day off. Other people want to put God ahead of their pleasure, but they erroneously think that Sunday is the Sabbath.
I did not set out to avoid finding the Sabbath, but when I was through marking them, I realized that it was the one commandment that was missing. That does not make the Sabbath a less important commandment nor “water it down”. It just appears that if someone is mixed up on that issue, but is otherwise seeking to live by the Bible that it is possible to work with them and learn from them in areas where they do have understanding.
I would not recommend that a believer regularly attend at service where the seventh day Sabbath is continually taught against. I would not recommend that anyone regularly attend a service where a large amount of any kind of error is continually taught. But the reality is that most Sunday-observing groups do not teach against the Sabbath much at all. Non-denominational Sunday groups may actually welcome teaching on the Sabbath and other truths. Joe Tkach, Jr needs to be avoided much more than the average protestant minister because he is actively teaching against the Sabbath and attempting to get Sabbath-keepers to become Sunday-keepers.
If we are to ever get away from the error of denominationalism, we must realize that we can hold godly beliefs and practices, even though the people we are worshiping with do not hold them. We need to realize that nearly every teacher teaches something false—every teacher I know has at some time corrected something in their teaching. You should know that the Bible does not say that “giving approval to false teachers is the unpardonable sin”. John clearly showed Diotrephes to be a false teacher (3Jn 9-10), but did not command all of the brethren to never listen to him again. Rather, he told them the same thing that I would say to someone who attends Sunday services for whatever reason: “beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good…” (3Jn 11). Even Christ did not command all the members of the seven churches to immediately leave the false teachers in their midst, but to individually repent of their errors (Rev 2, 3).
Nevertheless, Galatians 6:1 applies. A person who is less spiritual and likely to become caught up in sin should not be the one to reach out and work among sinners. If a person finds that they begin to stop keeping the Sabbath because they are among Sunday keepers, then they should break off their contact. But those who can be a light, should let it shine!
Letter: September 16, 2000
Hello Mr Edwards,
I am just writing to you to thank you for the inspiring articles at your Servants’ News web site. I am an ex-WCG member. I believe that the present-day WCG has been led into apostasy, so I must receive my instruction and teaching from other sources. I am not attending any of the off-shoot Church organizations. I visit various internet web sites to receive my teaching and understanding. I thoroughly enjoy visiting the Servants’ News web site [www.servantsnews.com]. I also enjoy the articles at Bill Dankenbring’s web site, everything except the prophecy.
For understanding of prophecy there is only one web site I visit and can trust on prophecy, and that is www.zionministry.com This man [Neville V. Stevens] is also ex-WCG, and God seems to have given him the gift of understanding end-time prophecy, however I would like your opinion on the above web site, if you would be so kind. Thank you so much for all you are doing in honor of our Great God, and may God continue to bless your efforts on His behalf. In Christian love,
— Graeme Whittet, via the Internet
Response: I agree that the news and some
of the articles in Bill Dankenbring’s Prophecy Flash! are helpful, but
I, too, disagree with most of the prophecy. (Those interested may contact him
at PO Box 292, Altadena, CA 91003; tel 626-797-0075.) When I received your message,
I thought, “Oh good, maybe you have discovered someone who really has been given
a gift of prophecy from the Eternal.” When I first looked at
www.zionministry.com, it looked fairly well organized and had pages on many different subjects. I had other matters to attend to, so I asked Pam Dewey to look at it—and then I got back to it later.
The “I know more than you do” style of speaking was quite troubling. One quote from an article: “Perhaps you think you understand what the Kingdom of God is, and when it is established. But the Bible gives very detailed information on this, and the truth is not what you have always believed. Now you can know the shocking and graphic truth!”
How does he know what I have always believed? Does God reveal truth only to him? If this were an isolated exaggeration, it would not be so bad, but statements like that abounded.
The first article on the site dismisses the book of Galatians: “It is childishly flawed. At least half the Book of Galatians was written by someone who had very limited knowledge of the Bible, and a total absence of the Wisdom of God.”
To me, the most important thing in looking for a teacher is honesty. Will he clearly tell me what he really knows, what he doesn’t know, and what he thinks he knows?
How does one evaluate a prophecy teacher? It is difficult if none (or only insignificant) of his prophecies have come to pass yet. But most prophecy teachers end up talking about astronomy or science at some time, and if one has a background in those things (or knows someone who does), then it usually does not take very long to see if a teacher is being honest.
The web site contains an article: Geology, Dinosaurs, Chaos—What Really Happened to the Earth? While it does rightly raise some problems with modern scientific theories that are based on an evolving universe rather than on a created one, many of his theories show a clear lack of understanding of high school science. Here is a quote from the above titled article:
“But now let’s imagine that the asteroid enters our orbital path from the opposite direction and is travelling at the same speed as the earth—an impact speed of 222,000 kilometres per hour. Now we’re really talking about energy release. Even a relatively small asteroid of 10 to 50 miles in diameter is going to do more than just erase life…. An asteroid of this size and speed would release energies on impact that we could not begin to calculate. What would the effect be? The impact alone of such an object impacting earth at that speed would, momentarily, at least, slow the earth and cause everything on the impact side to tend to continue in a straight line [end of quote].”
A high-school physics class could easily begin and finish calculating the effect of such a collision. The volume of a sphere is figured by the formula V= 4/3 pr3. Since the earth’s radius (r) is 4,000 miles, its volume is about 268 billion cubic miles. The volume of a 50-mile diameter asteroid would be 524,000 cubic miles. This means that the earth is about 5,150,000 times bigger than the asteroid. If the densities of the two bodies are similar, then the earth weighs 5 million times more than the asteroid, so its speed will be decreased by only one 5-millionth—a fraction of a mile per hour. The author’s concept of “decreasing speed momentarily” goes against basic physics—once the collision occurs and the speed decreases there would be no force to speed the earth up again. This collision would be like a jumbo jet hitting a bird: the bird will be completely destroyed, the overall course of the plane will not change, but the plane will be damaged at the impact point.
Because of the much higher speeds involved with asteroids, the destructive force of this collision would be huge, but quite possible to calculate. The formula is kinetic energy (in joules) = ½mv2 where m is mass in kilograms and v is velocity in meters per second. 222,000 kilometers per hour = 61,700 meters per second. The mass of the earth is 5.96x1024 kg, and if the asteroid was similarly dense, but one 5-millionth the size of earth, its mass would be 1.19x1018. Using the ½mv2 formula, we get ½ x 1.19x1018 x 61,7002 = 2.27x1027 joules of energy. One megaton of TNT is 4.24 x 1018 joules of energy—see web site: http://www.phys.uconn.edu/~hayden/refdata.html
So, by dividing the above figures we get a 535,000,000 megaton explosion. An ancient massive volcano eruption in the Yellowstone park area was estimated at hundreds of thousands of megatons (http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/ frequent_questions/grp10/question3546.html).
There is little point in continuing our analysis of this theoretical impact. It is just one of many places where the author speaks like he has great scientific knowledge, but actually does not. The article also states: “In fact, THE EARTH IS DESIGNED AFTER THE MODEL OF THE ATOM.” If he would have taken my son’s high school chemistry test, he would have gotten several questions wrong. There are many experiments that clearly show that electrons do not “orbit” the nucleus of an atom, but behave both like particles (matter) and waves (energy). The “tiny solar system” model of an atom was used for years, but discarded over 30 years ago because it could not explain the way atoms give off light. We will supply one final quote from his article that even the non-scientific can understand:
“The evidence is in the geological record of the earth. This evidence is so amazing THAT IT REVEALS HOW AND WHY ALL THE PETROLEUM, COAL AND DIAMOND DEPOSITS WERE LAID DOWN and where they can be discovered. Because ‘science’ has so foolishly ignored the evidence they cannot understand. Billions of dollars of shareholders funds are wasted on exploration for these resources based on foolish theories that cannot be proven. Now you can know the truth!”
The article did not explain this “truth” at all. If it were true, its author would find dozens of mining companies more than willing to pay him very well for locating mineral deposits without exploration! (What a great “work” he could do with all of the money!)
The author calls modern scientific theories, stupid, foolish and many other names. Some “evolution” theories obviously wrong, but he seems to ignore the fact that “modern science” has produced things that actually work well. I do not think it wise to trust a “prophecy teacher” that makes such statements about science apparently without the ability to use high school physics. If he pretends to know a lot more than he really does in this area, is he not likely to do the same in prophecy?
Letter: September 16, 2000
Members, United Church of God-IA:
Dear Church of God Brethren,
The purpose of this letter to you dear brethren is for a conclusion of this matter as of the date of this writing.
Response: This letter was included with about 100 other pages of correspondence between Darwin and Laura Lee and various ministers within the United Church of God, an International Association. In briefest summary, the UCG-IA became involved in their divorce and remarriage (D&R) case, and the Lees felt that they were treated unjustly and were not dealt with honestly in their efforts to resolve the difficulties. The UCG-IA felt the Lees were uncooperative and rebellious toward the ministry.
Judging just judgment is a very important issue in the scriptures (Deut 16:18; John 7:24, Acts 17:31). So often, people “do not like confrontation” and the popular idea is to leave the issue of judging to “the government” or “the church authorities”. Those who hope to reign with Christ should be learning to judge righteously, now.
The Lees believe that they have exhausted the possible remedies within the UCG-IA, so they are attempting to continue the Matthew 18 process and take the issue to the Church. The rest of the documentation for this case is available from Darwin & Laura Lee, P.O. Box 2333, Bismark, ND 58502. Paul Luecke, the primary UCG-IA minister involved, may be reached at P.O. Box 7453, Bismarck, ND 58507. The UCG-IA headquarters address is PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254.
Letter: Laura and I also appeal to all of you who read this letter and the material sent to you—see 1Corinthians 6:1-8. Is there a wise and just man or women as well in our midst out there? “…no not one that is able to judge…”? (1Cor 6:5). Most of you have been in God’s Church for many years. Are you not able to judge righteous judgement? If Laura and I committed a sin by getting married without the ministry’s permission, then hang us on the gallows. If the ministry has the right to do what they did with us [suspend them from services] because we asked brother Steve Nutzman [UCG-IA minister] to set up marriage counseling with us because, as he put it, “We already made up our minds”, then we will hand you the stones that you may stone us. Also, as a reminder, the letter sent to Laura by brother Richard Pinelli [head of UCG-IA ministry] regarding her D&R decision clearly says that marriage counseling was recommended. Yet, we asked and brother Steve Nutzman refused.
Response: In general, I feel that the Lees have done a better job at sticking to the facts and documenting the facts than the UCG-IA. However, the language about “hang us on the gallows” and “stone us” is a mistake. Judgment should be about facts and intent, not about emotion stirred up later. Neither the UCG-IA, nor the New Testament, nor our present civil government executes people for adultery or other marital problems. Anyone who would attempt to kill you for such a reason (even if you handed them the stones), would find themselves guilty of a crime under our country’s laws.
However, I believe that you are right about the basic issue. If the UCG-IA ministry felt that your sins were so bad that they had to suspend you from services, then they should publicly state why, just like Paul did when he told the Corinthian church to put the man out who had his father’s wife in 1Cor 5. The UCG-IA letters continually stressed the need for confidentiality in D&R cases and how they did not want the Lees to have witnesses or tape recordings of conversations with their ministry. The UCG-IA approach seemed to be a continuation of the WCG’s method: we are the ministers of God, if you oppose our decision, you are opposing the Church of God and ultimately God Himself.
They forget that the same logic was used for years by tyrants: we are the authorities established by God, if you oppose us, you oppose God. This thinking led to secret court sessions and trials where the authorities could simply threaten the person on trial with death or some other punishment in order to extract a confession, then go away from the trial saying, “see, we are in agreement, the person confessed to their crimes.” And nearly everybody who heard the news believed it. How can the victim prove that he was coerced into signing the confession? The USA and many other modern nations have enacted many laws to make trials public, to guarantee that a person does not have to testify against themselves, etc. (We are gradually losing many of these blessings, but that is a separate issue.) I am not saying that the UCG-IA is behaving as an evil tyrant, I think they have the good of their church and the people in mind. However, their ministry is probably not used to thinking cases through and attempting to treat everyone similarly. They certainly don’t feel comfortable with laying out all the facts so that others could make a judgment.
Letter: If we sinned because we dated before Laura’s D&R decision was final, then judge us so having sinned, but the same judgement you use on us be sure you use on [Couple X, names removed] who also dated and got married without even going through a D&R process. Yet brother Steve Nutzman and Brother Gary Petty together conspired to marry them and went ahead and did just that in spite of what they preach to us that everyone has to go through the D&R process. Then brother Paul Luecke in his September 13, 2000 letter to us said no less than four ministers were in agreement on this matter [suspension] with us and says we were cynical, insulting, had angry accusations towards the Bismark brethren, issued ultimatums, threatened and had disdain for the local pastor, other ministers and UCG administration. If what we have presented to you in all this material proves these things, then judge it so.
Response: I think there were places where your letters were cynical, insulting and showed disdain for the UCG administration. In some cases, I think they deserved it. It is very hard to uphold good character when in an important disagreement, but we can learn to do it—Christ did it and He should be in us. On the other hand, I think most of the substance of your disagreement was poorly addressed by the UCG-IA.
Letter: We were called adulterers. We are not just making an angry accusation. It was something that took place and a lie that was started by none other than brother Paul Luecke who, in our 5½ hour meeting with him and brother Gordon Guller on March 6, 2000, said that [Woman’s name removed] said that in confidence to someone not in UCG-IA. That is all he could say about that lie and rumor that he and he alone could have started and the defamation of our character and he thinks absolutely nothing of it. What a travesty of justice and in his own words “at least none other than four ministers are in full agreement”. All of the other things that took place mentioned in this material are not angry accusations either, they are things that took place and we went to the home office asking that this conduct be put to an end. If the ministry feels that was a demand from us, then so be it. The very spirit that God gave us demands us to love one another “as I have loved you” (John 13:34; 15:17). Taking care of that problem would have been love in action. “My little Children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth” (1Jn 3:18). If we have disdain for the ministry, then we truly are guilty because that conduct and other non-Christian conduct by ministry throughout this ordeal is disgusting to us by those who stand up and claim they are ministers of Jesus Christ. Is this truly what Jesus Christ ministers? You judge.
Response: Big church organizations frequently take the approach that they need to “support their ministry”—which all too often means that if a minster makes a mistake, the headquarters will claim it was not a mistake or even say it did not happen. This is contrary to 1 Timothy 5:20: “Those [elders] who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all [everyone], that the rest [of the elders] also may fear.”
Church organizations also tend to “support their leaders”. The UCG-IA’s claim that all four of their ministers agreed would be more meaningful if ministers regularly gave independent decisions. But the mood of most hierarchical churches is that whatever the highest-ranking minister says is right and the others ought to go along with him. I simply cannot recall ever seeing a disfellowshipment or disciplinary letter of some nature from a CoG group that acknowledged that some minister(s) disagreed with the action being taken. Yet this concept has worked for hundreds of years in USA appellate courts where a “dissenting opinion” will be written by a judge who disagreed with the majority.
Letter: As far as brother Paul Luecke claiming we issued ultimatums and threats, again, you judge. We brought the things mentioned in this material to church administration’s attention in the name of decency to do something to straighten out the lie that the Bismark Brethren were told and other issues, yet all we got from UCG church administration was agreement that what brother Paul Luecke was doing was O.K. with them and had their backing. They are all in agreement. Read it for yourself again. See the letter by brother Paul Luecke dated September 13, 2000, paragraph 2, line 3. One thing needs to be corrected here. Paul’s next words: “…your response to our communications to you…”. The correction here is that we communicated to the ministry what was going on here in Bismark and they refused to do anything about it. Now they turn around and try to claim they can’t teach us anything any more and that we’re bad-mouthing the ministry. They created this problem and they refused to fix it and turn and twist the whole mess to make it look as if we were creating division. We ask you at this time, “what was the division?” Getting married? They said Laura was free to remarry. Not getting marriage counseling? We asked them to set it up and then we were refused by them because “we decided we were going to get married.” Dating before Laura’s D&R process was final? [Couple X] was free to date and get married without ever having to go through a D&R process. We did not appreciate being called adulterers and being told that our conduct made the brethren do it, so we are responsible. And brother Paul Luecke said we were causing division. Is this the real “twilight zone”? Now I suppose that is being cynical.
Response: Yes, I think you are being cynical. Your case would be better presented if you concentrated on clearly stating the facts and stayed away from name calling (i.e. “twilight zone”). Your organized set of letters (you could add a “table of contents”) is what states your case.
Letter: They never came to us about anything since we got married on April 10, 1999. Neither did brother Paul Luecke come and talk to Laura and myself about anything, let along comply with the recently adopted Suspension and Disfellowhsipping Policy of the UCG-IA dated August 30, 1999, before Paul suspended us. And he says we have disdain for the ministry! Any clues as to why that might be? Brother Paul Luecke never once at any time had any meetings with Laura and myself about any problems he had with us before he suspended us. Yet the twelve council of elders clearly gave him a directive not to suspend someone without two prior meetings with those he has a problem with. If we have disdain for the ministry, It’s for a cause. If they want us to respect them, then maybe, just maybe they should have respectable conduct while claiming to be ministers of Jesus Christ.
Response: I cannot help but think, again, about the efforts of those who founded our country to insist that if a person were accused of a crime, that the charges had to be specific and made known to him. When I first studied this in school, I remember thinking, “how silly, leaders wouldn’t accuse someone unless they had a good reason—and of course they would tell the person. Not so. If someone is making life difficult for a leader, but has violated no laws, leaders often have a tendency to punish the person. If there are no specific charges, or if it is a vague charge like “causing division”, then it is difficult to defend oneself. Church leaders may say, “Your actions are causing members to think about leaving the Church, but we cannot tell you who the members are because that would be betraying ministerial confidence”. Again, how can one refute such a charge when they don’t know whom they have offended? This is why all parties and witnesses to a dispute must be made known to all—our nations’ forefathers understood that.
Letter: So in closing, just one more thought. You are all being trained by Jesus Christ in and by God’s word to be future judges as well as now. God and Jesus Christ will be watching how you judge this one and whether you will be capable to judge in His Kingdom. Also, for the record, we bear no ill will towards brother Paul Luecke, his wife, the Bismark brethren or any ministers or church administration personnel of the UCG-IA. What was done by them was wrong. Why can’t those who claim to be servants of Jesus Christ (ministry and member alike) admit error, and that to their own brethren? Is pride so deep within us that we just won’t do it even if it puts our salvation at stake?
The ministry wants to be respected, trusted, honored, and held in high esteem by those he serves. Well, let me say this. I have a dog of five years. I’m its master. It respects me, trusts me implicitly. Why? Because I treat it with respect, love and care for her; indeed as Jesus who is our master treats us with respect, great love, and care, so in turn we trust and respect Him as our true Master. If the ministry wants and feels they deserve that position of master, then they need to fill Jesus Christ’s shoes and live and walk as He walked and live the life they profess to teach others. Jesus the Christ said judgment is one of the main points of what He wants from His leaders to display and practice. He also said to judge righteous judgment (John 7:24). So now its in your hands. Will you judge righteous judgment?
Your brother and sister in Christ’s Service
— Darwin Lee and Laura Lee
PO Box 2333, Bismarck, ND 58502
Response: I have written a number of letters and send many articles to various Church of God organizations about their methods of governance and/or specific cases, and rarely ever received a response. The root of the problem has been around for nearly 2000 years: denominationalism. Church groups seem to believe that their doctrinal statement and/or their organization are somehow just a little bit better than all groups and therefore as long as they are internally satisfied with whatever they have written or done, that it matters little what the rest of the world thinks about them. I could spend a lot of time reading everything available and talking to people about this case, but I do not see any value if the UCG-IA is not ready to listen. I wrote them a letter asking if they were interested in the brethren’s opinions of your case, but have not received a response in two weeks.
The reason why you have had all of this difficulty in the first place is twofold:
1) The UCG-IA has replaced the instructions of Matthew 18:15-17 and related scriptures with their own policies. These policies allow a few ministers to decide to remove a person from their local congregation, rather than letting the brethren in that local congregation decide. The only way to solve this problem is for either the leaders or the brethren to insist that it be done.
2) The Bible does not give authority to ministers, priests, rabbis or anyone to bind marriages. Marriages in the Bible were handled by agreement of the parties or the parents of the parties. There is no Bible example of any kind of spiritual leader counseling someone for marriage or performing a wedding. Leaders should teach what the Bible says, and, when brethren come together, they may need to remove someone from the congregation who has an obviously incorrect marriage (a man was married to his father’s wife in 1Cor 5:4-5).
No matter how the brethren judge, it will probably not make much difference in your relationships with the UCG-IA. It may be hard to leave a congregation where you have many friends, but that is often the only solution when a specific case of non-biblical decision-making separates brethren. After everyone has learned what they can from this case, you will need to leave it rest until the eternal Judgment. In the meantime, you will need to look at the talents that God has given you, and see how you can serve other brethren until then.
Letter: September 8, 2000
Norm; Thanks for the response [to a previous letter].
I think what’s at issue here is “Worshipping The Christ”. In Phil 2:9-11, I think on close examination you will find that since Jesus is “The Messiah”, The “Only Begotten Son of God”, The “Heir” of all creation, the one who will be, no the one who is “King” of The Kingdom of God, ordained by and to the glory of God, the Kingdom that encompasses both heaven and Earth, That God, who sits on the throne over all his creation, always has, always will, that God has ordained that all of the creation, (those with voice), should bow the knee and with the tongue confess, declare, swear allegiance to Jesus. Having been atoned for and justified by and thru his sacrifice He is to lead us in Worship of the Father.
Response: While Christ certainly does worship the Father, he also receives worship: “Saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” (Rev 5:12-13).
Letter: This is what Messiah means, It’s purpose for being. I think we have lost the meaning and the understanding of this office/title, it is not part of Jesus Immanuel bar Joseph’s name. What is the great error of the trinity doctrine? Is it the violation of “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One”? [Deut 6:4] Is it “You shall have no other God besides/ before/in presence of me”? [Ex 20:3]
Is it the teaching of multiple Gods?
Which is the greater error, The trinity, or the binity (two gods in one)?
Response: The error of the “Trinity” doctrine is not so much the teaching of “multiple Gods” as it is teaching a definition of God that is not in the Bible. Most people who teach the Trinity do not teach “three Gods”, but one God that appears in some way appears as “three persons”, but is the same God. They write many words about “three in one” and “one in three” that are simply not in the Bible. Most Trinitarians teach that these three “persons” are somehow equal, but Christ said: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28) and “But when he [it], the Spirit of truth, comes, he [it] will guide you into all truth. He [it] will not speak on his [its] own; he [it] will speak only what he [it] hears...” (John 16:13). The Bible teaches that the Father is superior to Christ, and that both are superior to the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not record anyone having a “two way conversation” with the Holy Spirit, nor is it ever seen in heaven as the Father and Christ frequently are (Acts 5:31, 7:55-56, Col 3:1; Rom 8:34; 1Pet 3:22; Rev 5:13; 7:9; 7:17; 22:1).
Considering Christ as “God” does not make Him an “other God” forbidden by Exodus 20:3 since He is united with the Father: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). The Hebrew word for one in Deut 6:4 is echad—which clearly can be used to describe two unified people: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
Letter: Isaiah 42:8 says “I am YHWH, that is my name, I will not give my glory to another”.
Isaiah 43:10 says “Before me there was no God formed, and there will be none after me”.
Isaiah 44:24 says “I YHWH, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by myself, and spreading out the earth all alone”.
Response: I think you are missing the context of the above verses. If you would have finished quoting Isaiah 42:8 and quoted the next verse or two from the others, you would have seen what the subject is:
I am the Lord [YHWH], that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images (Is 42:8).
“I, even I, am the Lord [YHWH], And besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses,” Says the Lord [YHWH], “that I am God” (Is 43:11-12).
Who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense (Is 44:25, NIV).
In these verses, the Eternal is showing that carved images, foreign Gods, false prophets and diviners are not “gods”. But these verses do not say that YHWH cannot have a Son or even many children who will be like Him. Isaiah 42:1 begins to describe one who is to come: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” All of the Old Testament scriptures that are against multiple “gods” are against the multiple competing—often warring—gods pagan religion.
The book of Revelation clearly indicates that the Father does share His glory with the Lamb (who is Christ—John 1:36). Notice:
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne (Rev 3:21).
Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them” (Rev 7:15, NIV).
It seems that the Eternal is sharing both His throne and His tent (dwelling) with others.
Letter: Jn 1:14 tells us that the glory of Jesus depends on one thing. While the Father has many sons, there is only one that is begotten. This is his glory.
Take this away and he is not Messiah, he would have no glory, He would have been just another descendant of Israel!
Response: The above quote indicates that you believe the “Word” in John chapter 1 is Jesus. If so, it seems that one must conclude that Jesus is God:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
Letter: Jesus today sits at the right side of the throne of Glory, waiting for he who sits thereon to put away all rebellion, and to deliver up a kingdom to him that is under subjection. The only thing that Jesus has been given authority over today is the Elect. The only ones that comes before the judgement seat of Christ now, is the Elect.
Response: Matthew 28:18 seems to disagree with your statement: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’”
Letter: You ask, “do you really believe that when we appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that he will tell people, ‘you were worshiping Satan’?”
Yes I do! Matt 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Response: If you read these two verses, it could sound like Christ is saying that people who do works in His name are “practicing lawlessness”. But the previous verses show that the problem isn’t that they have the “wrong name” or the “wrong God”, but that some people are “ravenous wolves” bearing “bad fruit”. Verse 21 says:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Obviously, some who do say to Him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. There are many scriptures explaining the Apostles willingness to baptize, perform miracles, teach and even die for the “name of Jesus” (Acts 2:38; 3:6; 4:10,18,30; 5:40; 8:12; 9:27,29; 16:18; 19:5; 21:13; Col 3:17). It is those who claim to know Him but practice lawlessness who will not enter the Kingdom. One such example are the seven sons of Sceva who cast out demons in Jesus’ name, but did not know Him (Acts 19:13-17).
Letter: And again, I believe that the principle in Matthew 15:8 will apply: “This people worships me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”
Response: This scripture does not say “these people honor Me with their lips when they should be honoring the Father.” The problem is that the people’s hearts were far from Christ. The previous verses tell about people who had invented tradition to avoid God’s command to “honor their mother and father”.
Letter: When John fell down before the Angel [Rev19:10; 22:8-9], the Angel told him “that’s not acceptible”. Should we not tell those who “worship” the Messiah, “that’s not acceptible”. You are to bow in submission to him to be lead in worship of the only God!
Response: There is a vast difference between Christ and the angels. This is explained in Hebrews 1:3-6: “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’”
Whenever the Bible mentions worship of angels, people are condemned for doing it. It also mentions many times when people worship Christ (Matt 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; Mark 5:6; Luke 24:52; John 9:38)—and nobody is ever condemned for doing that.
Letter: This may well be the greatest hoax ever! Hoards of people worshiping the created rather than the creator. Vaccinated against the Truth. Why? Because they did not love the Truth! 2 Thes 2:10.
Response: I certainly have to disagree with that statement. There are far more people in the world who worship idols and ancestors than there are people who worship Christ or the Father. The Bible has numerous clear statements against idol worship. Would it be better that we spend our efforts trying to reach those people with the truth rather than debating the worship of Christ among ourselves—a subject that is less clear in the Bible?
Letter: We are studying your Judgement article now. Sabbath Blessings
— Jack Pye, Georgia
Response: Thank you for your blessing. I am glad that you are studying What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Judgment? There are a huge number of scriptures that make it clear that people will be judged in regard to how they treated their neighbors. But there are very few that talk about a person being asked to explain the “nature of God” in the judgment.
Three of the Gospels record the parable of the rich young ruler who asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matt 19:16-21; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-22). In all the accounts, Christ tells him to keep the commandments--then repeats most of the last 6 commandments. He did not quote any of the first four commandments on “loving God”. While this young ruler probably had a good understanding of the Eternal, Jesus did talk to him about “other gods, images, pictures or even the Sabbath”. He told him to love his neighbor, which included selling his wealth and giving to the poor. Why?
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1Jn 4:20).