Letter: Sept. 12, 2000
Dear Norm and Team,
Thanks loads for SN and SW. The front page articles in SN are not only very interesting, but very true. We have learned the hard way, after leaving the WCG, that many who call themselves teachers do not teach the necessary truth. Also they include some error. Some of these “teachers” left WCG, but they took WCG with them.
We would like to see someone write a comprehensive paper on agape and how it should work in all of the saints.
Of the Trucker’s Bible Study, the idea I get most is steering people to the Bible, then questioning some of their old beliefs.
— Ed Armstrong, Utah
Response: We have received some articles on love, and hope to make them available to Servants’ News readers.
You are very right about the Trucker’s Bible Study. Some people will say, “It doesn’t bear any real fruit.” What they mean is that it does not collect a lot of people into an organization. But each person who can be taught to think about their life, and to look to God and the Bible in spite of personal convenience or past beliefs, will go far toward doing the work of God.
Letter: April 29, 2002
Many thanks for your paper & other material on church government. It has been very enlightening for me and I am studying now as I have never done for years. I think it amazing I have missed this Plain Truth for all these years. I suppose I took so much for granted. I also read David Medici’s paper on the infringement of copyright by H.W.A. He also put in a lot of research into this. I have attended the F.O.T. the last two years at Chatsworth in England and met him there. Please pass on my regards to him.
Thank you again for all your help.
— Joe Graham, United Kingdom
Response: Thank you for your encouragement. I had no idea how this paper would change my life or the lives of so many others when I began the research on it.
Letter: August 5, 2002
The group I am with are people out of different denominations and several are from the church of God. I enjoy going. They seem to know a lot of the same things. I have spent years questioning and researching and it’s nice to be with people who are truly searching and trying to do what they feel God would want them to do (they celebrate the Feast) and they discuss the Hebrew meanings. I think the elder was in Worldwide but there was a falling out. He broke away from them and stuck with the old way [doctrines] but studied deeper into the Hebrew and the tribes scattered and going back to the Hebrew name of Jesus and Yahweh.
The people I’m with are seekers of truth and feel there is a lot of false religion out there. They have been persecuted by “the [Worldwide] church” because of refusing Sunday, Easter and Christmas. They celebrate the feasts and they use the Hebrew name of Jesus and God (Yahweh). I just started Sabbath for the first time last month. When I found this group, I had done a lot of research and stopped going to church because no one could understand why I chose not to celebrate Easter or Christmas and wanted to do Passover, and I was persecuted by lots who say they are Christian.
Pastor’s children in my area would tell their parents about my children at their school—how we don’t celebrate the holidays and they would tell their children to tell mine I was lying to them and we are going to hell because we don’t. Needless to say I was pretty upset over them judging me and my children after I’d spent countless hours and many prayers to find what God wanted me to do or not to do.
I found an antique book right after that happened at a book store. The book was dated 1890. It was called the Baptist Standard Manual. It was used in the USA for many years and the book stated that my Welsh baptist brothers and sisters were killed by the Roman Monk Austin for not celebrating Easter and mixing with the pagan Roman way—Christmas. This book showed me that my own Baptist ancestors were killed for not mixing and here we have Baptists who do what their brothers and sisters died for not doing.
I’ve personally suffered a lot of persecution and have always felt that everyone has a right to believe what they choose and I should be free to do the same and have never persecuted anyone for celebrating Easter or Christmas. But for some reason when people find out I don’t, they start asking questions and I tell them honestly the research I’ve done and people always seem to get angry. I had been asking for God to lead me to the right group that I could feel comfortable with (cause I have been to them all!) and a month ago I found this group. They just moved right up the road from me and I live in a country area (farming, cows, fields, etc.). I truly feel God brought us all together and that there are many out there just like us (looking).
Most of the group I am with left their old churches because of searching and seeing things they personally didn’t feel comfortable doing and feeling a need to not celebrate Holidays and Sunday, thus questioning and then suffering persecution. I know I have never been more happy in all the years I have spent researching. This group has taught me a lot. They all don’t believe the same things but they all agree in that we all have a lot to learn and we try to help each other and discuss things. We all agree on the Sabbath and that Christianity adopted Paganism. We agree to the Hebrew names. Its really nice to be in a place with people like myself who have been persecuted and have felt there was nowhere to go and be what I felt God wanted me to be. Its a breath of fresh air to be around those who accept me and feel the same way. I look forward to getting your magazine. I noticed you celebrate the feasts.
I’m not sure exactly what your group believes, but we have free tapes and books if you’re interested. The books are on false religion, mixing with paganism, etc.
— Nancy Wright
Response: Thank you for your story. It is wonderful to see that it is God who leads people to truth, not always through a church group. But it certainly is good to fellowship with other believers (Heb 10:25). I hope that you continue to fellowship, even if you disagree on some things. There are so many advantages in sharing study and personal trials in an open environment.
It is sad that so many Sunday-keeping brethren persecute Sabbatarians so badly—especially when they do not even want to see the scriptures that convince us to do it. I think there are many Sunday-keeping brethren who love God and want to obey, but keep Sunday out of ignorance. If they are willing to follow God and not tradition, they frequently come to understand the Sabbath and other truths.
I will send you some additional literature that you will probably find helpful.
Letter: May 1, 2002
Dear Brother Edwards,
I enjoy reading Servants’ News and can relate to many problems of
those who are wondering about which religious group
—if any—they should join. You are doing a great service in presenting facts about the choices available.
I did notice some statements in the issue that arrived today (Nov/Dec 2001 issue of Servants’ News) on which you might wish to check. The errors are historical, not theological.
You are right in saying that the Emancipation Proclamation did not bring immediate freedom to any slave; it applied only to those who were in parts of the USA still in rebellion.
Lee did own slaves at the time of the Civil War, but (and I must say this from memory) he provided that when he died, they would be free. Of course, the end of the war brought this to pass sooner.
But the statement that both Lincoln and Grant owned slaves is incorrect. In his Pigeon Creek, Indiana and New Salem, Illinois days, he was too poor to own any, even if he had wanted to. In Springfield, Illinois, he was a rather well-to-do attorney, but Illinois was a free state. The house in which he, Mary, and their boys lived, though commodious, had no room for slaves, and the yard was too small for him to need help.
Grant, whose life was spent mostly in Ohio and Galena, Illinois, lived only for a short time in Missouri, a slave state.
Keep up the good work you are doing! Blessings to you and your staff!
— Eugene Lincoln, Maryland
From Debbie Sash (the main source of Norm’s info): In response to a letter published in Servant’s News in regards to statements printed in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue of the same publication concerning the War Between the States; Eugene Lincoln was correct when he pointed out that Abraham Lincoln did not own slaves. However, Lincoln’s wife’s family was from Kentucky and they did own slaves, and as Kentucky was a border state, they were permitted to keep their slaves throughout the war.
However, the writer is incorrect in his statements that Ulysses S. Grant did not own slaves during the war and that Robert E. Lee owned slaves and that Lee planned to free his slaves at his death. Lee had no slaves to set free. It was, in fact, a different General from an earlier American war for independence who gets credit for this noble act. George Washington was the one whose will provided for the freeing of his slaves at his death.
In regards to Grant, I will quote from the book by James and Walter Kennedy titled The South Was Right, the authors Kennedy cite as their source The Gray Book written shortly after World War I by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, “…the Yankee general Ulysses S. Grant’s wife held personal slaves at the beginning of the war. The Gray Book reveals that Grant’s slaves were freed, not by Lincoln’s proclamation, but by the Thirteenth Amendment passed after the end of the war.” Robert E. Lee was opposed to slavery and was one among several Confederate generals who were not slave owners, including Joseph Johnston, and J.E.B. Stuart among others.
Norm, in his comments about the war, was pointing out the hypocrisy of some of those in the North and the misrepresentation of some of those in the South. We should all remember that those who win the war get to write the history and most of the history traditionally taught in our schools about the War Between the States is heavily slanted toward the Northern point of view. The point of Norm’s comments, however, was not to argue over who owned slaves, when did they own them, how long did they own them, and when did they set them free, but what was the cause of the war. It was, as Norm pointed out, about states’ rights as well as money, jealousy, power, and sectionalism. State rights was the issue that divided this country almost from its inception. There were those who supported a strong central government and others who wanted to maintain a constitutional republic where the power stayed in the hands of the people.
It was the end of the War Between the States when we first witness the move from the Original Constitutional Republic to an ever increasing centralist Federal Government. Furthermore, the Federal Government and its emissaries conducted themselves poorly during the conflict, and they inflicted uncalled for and unwarranted cruelty and destruction on not only those whom they considered their enemies but their own citizenry as well. The atrocities committed in the state of Missouri are well-documented. Few people are aware that most of the state of Missouri, a border state, lived under martial law for most of the war and that the people of the state had most of their constitutional rights suspended, including the freedom of press. As Norm pointed out we should ask ourselves “how did that happen?” rather than pretending that it could not happen again. In this nation, we have had one of the rare opportunities in history to make greater choices in how we live our lives, which is, in fact, the greatest privilege granted to us by our creator God. He gave us the guidelines on how to conduct our lives, but then he left us free to choose. He exhorts us in Deuteronomy 31:19 to choose life so that we and our children may live.
No one would argue that slavery was a good thing and that it was an institution which wealthy southerners should have been allowed to maintain. However, the issue was not about slavery. It was about whether the Federal Government had the right to force states to pass or rescind laws regarding practices in their states not specifically addressed in the Constitution. It was up to the individual states and the citizens of those states to abolish the institution of slavery. As a result of the conflict, people of the South, in large part, lost their right to choose how they govern themselves and so did the rest of us. You might ask yourselves, what will be the issue that brings you in conflict with the Federal Government; your religious beliefs, your stand on abortion, or perhaps your exercising of your freedom of speech. Think about it. It is best summed up in the words of Thomas Jefferson “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
— Debbie Sash, Eldon, MO
[Thanks to Debbie for correcting my mistake about Lincoln owning slaves and adding additional information. There was a large “abolitionist” movement to abolish slavery in the North, and to a lesser degree in the South, within the churches. Had the churches done their job more quickly, or had the North leaders been slower to go to war, the War Between the States might have been avoided. The South was right about states rights, they were wrong about slavery. The South probably could have avoided the war if most of the individual states abolished slavery — NSE]
Letter: September 17, 2002
Although we enjoy your newsletters very much there is no hurry [in reference to an e-mail explaining why they were late]. Sometimes these kinds of seeming disasters are used by God to show us the need to slow down and smell the roses and let Him do the work.
We had a great Sabbath day and Atonement as well. God provided us company. Now that does not seem so great to most but it does for us who have been pretty much house bound because of my husband’s spinal stenosis and general back degeneration with constant pain which has kept him from doing very much traveling for more than an hour. So we have not been able to get to whatever fellowship meetings we could in the past and this has been going on for over six months. I do not drive anymore due to poor eyesight and none of you want me to be trying either. I can read and write and do computer work OK for now but if I have to decipher signs at fast speeds I cannot read them until I am nearly on top of them. You do not want to know the string of eye ailments so I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that we are all suffering in more ways than we can count. But God has promised to see us through to the end.
A very dear friend and his wife, both long standing members of the body of Christ, came to spend the afternoon with us, and, as I think personally that Atonement is one of the most difficult days to get through by oneself, it made the day a delight. We had not seen them for over six months so we spent the day discussing our favorite subject of the deep things of God the Father and His Son Jesus the Christ. It is so difficult to discuss these deep issues with anyone else except the brethren so it was a joy to have them with us. We did not even get to the tapes we had planned to listen to but relaxed and just enjoyed the time in fellowship.
So take your time and get first things done first. I am working on re-editing a book that will likely take me the better part of two years to complete but when it is done I believe it will be a worthy piece of work and it will benefit truth-seeking scholars who have not had access to it for many reasons. This work takes my mind off the horrors of this world’s collapse and my own worries and stresses. Even if I do not get it completed in the days allotted to me then it still will be a great benefit to me and others as well. Our lives have had to slow way down and that is OK. It helps us focus on the really important spiritual things of God the way he wants us to view them.
It sounds like you need to try delegating some of your work load to someone else if that is possible. We do need to be learning how to work together if we are going to be doing that for all of eternity.
We are not going to be able to go to any of the Feast sites until Ken has his back surgically corrected if that is going to be a possibility. But we are going to listen to the services of UCM’s Sevierville site by phone hookup if we can make it work right. We also have Fred Coulter’s Feast tapes and possibly some material by Mordakhai Joseph to whom we have been listening during the past year. You have helped us to understand and keep the motto of Proverbs 24:6 and 11:14 which says there is safety in a multitude of counselors. We have widened our perspective by listening to as many of the basic Apostolic Christian, or as Alan Knight defines us, “Primitive Christian” groups as we can find who are non-hierarchical and are not into some of the funny doctrines that are being argued about these days. This bickering will have to cease if we are to work together for all eternity—that is for sure. As I have learned today we each have one piece of the final puzzle and in order for any of us to see the composite picture as God sees it, we will have to communicate and co-operate with others of the Faith once delivered in order to receive the information on the piece of the puzzle they hold. If we continue to bicker and fight, we are in fact discrediting each other’s puzzle piece as invalid. Without it the whole picture does not get revealed. Maybe this is what God is waiting for—us to understand this and begin to open our hearts to others of like minds. Now I am not talking about false teachers or false doctrines, but about those with the truth who are not wanting to communicate with others of their kind for one silly reason or another. If God is truly leading a person by the Holy Spirit they will be wanting to know the whole picture and will seek out their brother and sister for their pieces of the overall puzzle. This is the first step in faith to seek, knock and then it will be revealed.
Thank you for your work in helping us to find each other. With love until we can meet in person,
— Charlotte Grantham, Columbus, Ohio
Response: Thank you for letting me share this letter. I hope it will encourage people to be an encouragement to the brethren. If a person is alone and does not know anyone to encourage, they can use our Local Servants Directory to find people, either near or far. I think it is wonderful that you are still working on your book and answering Bible questions from Alan Ruth’s web site—even with your eye difficulties.
Letter: [see May/June issue, page 15–16]
You promised to print a retraction concerning Fred Coulter. I hope you will honor this. And I request that you publish the letter in its entirety without dissecting it with your “getting the last word” commentaries.
Response: I have gone to great efforts in the past to print letters or articles without intervening like this. It takes much more time to use footnotes or refer backwards in some other way. I am far behind in issue production as it is. Please realize that I at least do publish many of the letters that correct me. When I write to other church groups, which I have numerous times, I almost never get a response, and have never had a group publish a corrective letter that I wrote. I would be happy to have them publish my letter in its entirety and comment however they would like. (I would be glad if Mr. Coulter would print a one-page letter on what I think is wrong with his Passover book, letting him respond anyway he likes.)
Letter: Firstly, “name withheld from Florida” is either lying or didn’t listen to the tapes he heard. After listening to over 100 taped teachings of Fred’s I have never once heard him suggest that there would be a secret rapture or resurrection 3½ years before Christ returns. Never. This is a falsehood and I feel you should be corrected for publishing unsubstantiated malicious gossip, especially as you indicated elsewhere that you are familiar with what Fred teaches. Neither is “divine protection” emphasized. The coming martyrdom of the saints is mentioned way more often, the time when we will stand for God and against the Beast.
Now I will clarify the Sea of Glass “doctrine”, which is, in fact, not a doctrine, but a most likely scenario. As the Church was born on Pentecost, so most likely will it be with the Family of God. All eyes will see the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is Christ and the angels on the sea of glass. It will appear as though there is a second sun in the heavens coming closer and closer to the earth eventually settling in orbit over Jerusalem. On Pentecost we will rise up to meet Him. The wedding supper will take place there, not on a decimated earth. Rewards and assignments will be given. We return to the earth on Trumpets. Incidentally a minister whom you praise teaches this as well. His name is Ron Dart.
Response: I am sorry about my mistaken explanation of Mr. Coulter’s “sea of glass” doctrine. At the time I answered that letter, I had been dealing with other groups that were teaching that only their members would meet Christ at His return. I realize that Revelation does mention people in Heaven—that some say they are literal and others say they are symbolic. I have not studied the matter thoroughly, nor do I feel I have any divine prophetic understanding on the subject. If Christ returns at Pentecost and takes believers to heaven, I have no objections.
Letter: Fred never ever suggests that the Christian Biblical Church of God is the only true Church. I find your suggestions of “deliberately deceptive”, “arrogant”, etc. profoundly offensive.
Response: I did not say these things about Mr. Coulter, but was talking about the problem with Christian prophetic teachers in general. Notice the plural form of my words: “That does not mean that all such prophets are deliberately deceptive—they may completely believe their prophecies. Some are arrogant enough to think that everything they teach is truth and if their prophecy was not true, that God would stop them from teaching it.” About five years ago, somebody sent me a copy of one of Mr. Coulter’s tapes where he was referring to my teaching and said something like, “If God raises up a teacher, is that teacher going to teach error? So if there are teachers teaching error, are they from God?” He went on to explain how he believed his teachings were from God. I think the reality is that even Peter, Paul and other men made and taught mistakes (the Bible records them), even though they were sent from God. I seek God for my teaching, but false ideas from my past and my own failings most certainly cause me to teach error at times.
Letter: I know you know better, so you might want to consider if these words might apply to yourself. Your statement that “Fred needs to realize that God will still love him… if he admits these mistakes” is profoundly deceptive and cynical.
Response: I did not mean it in this way at all. I see how much of Mr. Coulter’s life has been wrapped up in studying and writing on the Passover and I realize that it would be incredibly difficult for him to change. Yet my own study, and the study of almost everyone else I know who studied the issue independently (using the Bible, rather than WCG literature, Jewish sources or Fred Coulter’s book) produces results different than Fred’s.
Letter: You say this with full knowledge of Fred’s primary emphasis on teaching the Love of God. He is criticized by many for teaching too much about love.
Response: I think Fred’s emphasis on the love of God is very good—I know of other groups who derived their own doctrinal statement on love from him.
Letter: What you have done is shameful. What is it that has angered you so much about Fred? Why the hostility? Is it because Fred has taught against hierarchy since 1980, long before you, and has actualized it in reality, not just on paper?
Response: I am not at all angry at Fred, but I think there are areas where he and his ministry should grow. I am glad that he got started in 1980. Somebody showed me his Harmony of the Gospels in the early 80s and I wished I had read it then, rather than ignoring it because he was no longer in the WCG—I had a lot to learn!
Letter: Is it because of the maturity of his teachings? Or is it because he didn’t want to have the Feast sites advertised in your paper? I would suggest that the reason for this is because we want to be left in peace to harmoniously worship God and observe His Feasts. Also, if God wants someone to participate in our fellowship groups he will lead them there. He did this with me. I was travelling from Canada to your feast site and God stopped us at the border, leading to my staying in Canada and observing the Feast with the Christian Biblical Church of God. I had only discovered CBCG a few weeks prior to this. God worked it all out. I thank Him without ceasing for this.
Response: It is easy for me to leave his Feast sites out of my publication. Other groups, such as the Philadelphia Church of God have also requested this, and I do it. But in general, most of the non-hierarchical groups are glad to list their Feasts in my publications, The Journal, etc. I agree that God shows people where he wants them to go for the Feast—like He did for you. But I have also heard of hundreds of cases where people have found Feasts and fellowship through Servants’ News and other Sabbatarian publications. I understand that broad publication sometimes causes “difficult” individuals to attend a Feast, but I think mature believers with years of sound teaching should be able to handle these “difficult” cases, just as Jesus and the apostles did.
Letter: You accuse him of dishonesty because he would not accept your “correction” regarding the Passover and get into one of your letter writing campaigns. How dare he, eh?
Response: When I first talked to him about his Passover book, he said, “I’ve never had anyone shoot it down”. So I thought he would be interested in someone who took many hours to document the difficulties.
Letter: Norm, you are so uncertain about the Passover that you keep it twice. I don’t see how you can exalt yourself regarding this. Do you keep two Pentecosts, etc.? Prove that from the Bible to your readers.
Response: I do not keep Passover or Pentecost twice—and have never taught that. I am not sure why you say that.
Letter: You have exalted and appointed yourself not to be a loving, compassionate, encouraging teacher, but to be the critic of the Churches of God. Beating down and discouraging those who are not in your camp.
Response: I want to be a loving, compassionate, encouraging teacher, and I am sorry that I have not always been that. I will try to do better. On the other hand, I have always published names and addresses of other groups, and have never tried to stop others from reading their teachings (Christian Biblical Church of God, P.O. Box 1442, Hollister, California 95024-1442, e-mail: FredCoulter@cbcg.org, phone: 831-637-1875). I never try to stop mature believers from comparing my teachings to those of others.
Letter: You also promote the ecumenical, “Lets all just put aside our doctrinal differences and errors and just get along”. If you’re looking for a social club or wanna play church then that sounds just fine.
Response: I think Romans 14 and Revelation 2–3 show that believers can get along even though they have doctrinal differences. However, the fact that I write about others’ teachings should be proof that I do think doctrine is important. I believe we are all personally responsible to Christ for what we do—both in learning new truth, and in sharing the truth that we already have.
Letter: You dissect people’s letters with your smart-alec “I get the last word” commentaries. And you do it all with a nervous laugh and a smile.
Response: You are welcome to watch me answer a letter sometime. I frequently struggle and pray about the best thing to say.
Letter: Your voting “doctrine” ends up turning the glorious resurrection into what sounds like a complete carnal bring-down. According to you, sometime after the resurrection those who have chosen not to vote will be held up in contempt and shamed by the Sons of God. What a downer. In that light, imagine what it will be like concerning the weightier matters of the law and our real sins.
Response: The weightier matters of the law are “justice, mercy and faith” (Matt 23:23). The Bible frequently faults the government of ancient Israel for its lack of justice—as it prophetically faults our governments today. What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Judgment? gives dozens of scriptures showing how all men will be judged—even believers. [See the next letter in this issue for more detail on this.]
Letter: Your presumptuousness and arrogance in assigning yourself as the one who corrects all the Churches of God is sad. I hope that you can genuinely accept correction. I mean genuinely, not your usual “thank you for your correction” line as you turn around and continue exalting yourself. You even shame your readership by upbraiding them for accepting your freely offered paper without making an offering to cover costs.
Response: I do not remember doing this, but Paul did it: “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you” (2Cor 11:8).
Letter: And you go to a channeler and presumptuously suggest that you didn’t think God wanted you to cast out a demon that day. Then you subtly emphasize the eye contact the demon made with you. Wow, you must be so spiritual for the demon to do that. These are just some examples of where your message is more in what you infer than what you actually say.
Response: Maybe other Sabbatarian believers would cast out that demon. If so, I would be glad to help them find that channeler’s travel schedule so they can do it. I am relatively new to working with demons, but the Bible says that believers have power over them. However, here are times when casting out demons does little good:
When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Luke 11:24–26).
If a person leaves their mind “swept clean” and does not fill it with truth, then a demon can return with others. This channeler was not seeking truth or deliverance from his demon, he wanted the demon. Casting it out would probably cause it to return with others. But if there is any believer with more knowledge and experience in this area, I would be glad to talk to them about it.
Letter: Brethren: Be healed from the pain of the past abuses. Grieve and ask for healing. You do not have to be blown and buffeted about by every wind of doctrine. There are profound teachers of God’s Word out there. Mature teachers of God’s Graduate school. We and our past corporate associations have been vomited up from the Body. Repent and return to God. Beseech Him for guidance and He will honor your humble requests. Do not let anybody ever come between you and the Father again. I wish Gods blessing on you all.
— James Meister, 130 Ellershouse Road,
Ellershouse, NS, Canada B0N 1L0
Response: Thank you for writing. We all grow from letters like this. I hope other publications will be more willing to run longer letters that are critical of their teaching. Let me say that I have met many individuals who have spent a few years almost exclusively studying and attending with Fred Coulter. At first they thought he had the right understanding of nearly everything. Later, through their own study, they began to see a few things differently than he. You may well follow a similar path. Christ works with us as He sees best—often working through imperfect human instruments. I regard you, Fred Coulter, and many others as brethren, even though we have some disagreements. We need a balance between admonishing each other, and teaching other people the basic principles of Christ.
May God bless you.
Letter: September 7, 2002
Robert: Norm, This letter is written with total disgust in response to the comments that were made in the “Letters and Responses” section of the May/June 2002 Servants’ News entitled “Christians Must Participate”. I haven’t had time to reply due to work issues and also I think this issue came a bit late in a pack with two others.
Marcia Gunderson’s Original Letter of May 25, 2002: This is the first time I have written concerning a published article. I just read your article “Christ leaving us an example”. I fully agree; my philosophy is if you don’t vote you have no right to complain about what the government does and I do complain, sometimes calling and voicing my concern. I don’t do this often enough however, but I try.
Keep up the good work I enjoy your paper very much.
— Marcia Gunderson, Wisconsin
Norm’s To Marcia: I agree that people should not complain if they do not vote, but I am wondering how Christians who do not vote will explain it in the Judgment.
Robert: That is pretty raw, Norm. Who set you and Marcia up to judge God’s people?
Norm’s Response: I do not think either one of us are judging God’s people. Marcia is just giving her opinion, which I believe is based upon Matt 18:15–17. If we do not like what our leaders are doing, we should go to them and tell them before we complain to others. This includes writing letters and, where applicable, voting. She is just saying people should take action rather than just talk—she is not saying that they forfeit some legal right due to non-voting.
I am not judging non-voters, but simply stating that after studying the Bible and our government, I cannot figure out how I, or most other brethren will explain non-voting in the Judgment. But you and other non-voters may well have a good explanation. Possibly, a traveling evangelist may not live in anyone place long enough to vote—his preaching may be more important than voting to God.
Robert: How will you explain in the judgment supporting the unrighteous decisions made by these unconverted and conniving politicians you have supported?
Norm’s Response: The command to form local governments in Deut 16:18–20 says nothing about conversion—there were few people with the Spirit of God then. However, they were required to do what is just. This, unfortunately, rules out most candidates today, who seem to be willing to compromise almost anything to get elected. I have voted for candidates from the Constitution Party (www.constitutionparty.org), Libertarian Party as well as independents. I cannot guarantee that none of them were “conniving”, but they had good records, the best I could determine. Do I think these candidates will win? Probably not. But the more votes they receive, the more others will be forced to pay attention to them. If the 50% or more of Americans who do not vote tried to look for honest leaders (rather than just pick from one of the two mainstream leaders with big budgets), we would have more honest leaders.
Robert: If voting is truly a right, then not voting is also a right. Who are you to judge?
Norm’s Response: Non-voting certainly is a right. By not voting, a person says that they accept whatever result is determined by the people who do vote. I do not think those voting have chosen very many good leaders in my life time, so I want to do my part to change that.
Robert: Further, who are you or Marcia to dictate? The idea that your voting somehow makes you superior to another or your rights greater than another’s makes your voting a self-righteous act. How will you explain that in the judgment? (Setting aside the fact that there is no condemnation for the people of God, in spite of the teachings of so many self-appointed teachers in their self-proclaimed groups).
Norm’s Response: Neither of our letters said we were better than anyone else for voting, and Scripture commands that we do not try to compare ourselves to each other to figure out who is best (Luke 22:24–27; 2Cor 10:2).
Robert: Apart from that, how do you, Norm, a man who has avoided incorporating under the laws of the land to avoid having the government dictate what you can or cannot say in your newsletter, justify also wanting the right to tell that same government what to do by the act of voting? Sounds like a double standard to me. Either incorporate and vote or don’t incorporate so you can be independent and do not get involved in trying to run the government. Sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it too.
Norm’s Response: If we were in a monarchy or dictatorship where no God-given rights were recognized by the state, then I would agree with you—it would be best to avoid governments altogether. But many God-fearing men (along with opportunists and criminals) bled and died to establish a government that is to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, and that was not permitted to make any law “respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The whole point of our government is to serve the people and to stay out of religion (crimes committed by individuals in the name of religion are still crimes). There is no legal or any biblical principle saying that freedom of religion is dependent upon not voting. Rather, it is more likely that freedom of religion will be lost because Christians do not vote or actively work to preserve it.
Norm to Marcia: God told the Israelites to make local governments (Deut 16:18–20).
Robert: God intended Ancient Israel to be a Theocracy, where God was the head of all the Governments. Did it work?
Norm’s Response: Yes, it worked while people still remembered how they had become a free people: “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.” Notice that after Joshua died, there was no “replacement”, but “elders” governed the land. This was not a theocracy in the sense that the priests ruled the land. Each family was given their own land. When there were conflicts, they went to local judges (Ex 21:6, 22; 22:8–9; Deut 16:18–20; 19:17–20; 21:2). Only if the local judges could not solve the problem were national leaders, including priests and Levites consulted (Deut 16:8–17; 17:8–13).
Robert: There is no comparison between God’s intent for Ancient Israel and the governments of modern nations. The comparison is ludicrous.
Norm’s Response: I realize that the biblical basis for our government is not taught in most American history books. But if one reads the writings of many of the men of that time, it is very evident that they were looking to the Bible (and also other political philosophy) for a means in which to govern. Why were oaths taken on a Bible and conclude with the phrase “so help me God”? (Deut 6:13). Our nation, like ancient Israel, was never perfect. Even when Israel followed God, Achan sinned (Josh 7). But as ancient Israel forgot God and wanted a man to rule over them, so our nation is no longer looking to God as the founding fathers did, but looking to big government for their needs and protection.
I would be interested in your thoughts about what the Bible says, if anything, about civil government today. The New Testament certainly says little about how to do it, and if the Old Testament government principles are not valid, then how can God hold any nation responsible for national sins? What is wrong with letting the murderer and thief go free and putting the believer in jail if God says nothing? If Romans 13 is the only guide, do not secular states then have God-given powers to do whatever they see best? I do not think so. Revelation chapters 16–18 show that God will hold Babylon responsible for corrupt governing. She will know—even if some Church of God members do not—that God gave righteous principles for governing in the Old Testament, and that she did not follow them.
Furthermore, we must ask, as did many Christian settlers in many different countries, how is a community of Christians to govern itself? Even today, if a group of Christians on a ship became marooned on a deserted island, could they govern themselves? Would they have to find a non-believer to rule over them? If there was theft, rape or murder among them, how should they determine who is guilty and how to punish them? If the offenders claim to repent and ask forgiveness in the name of Jesus every time they are caught, should they just let them have destroyed the entire group?
I have asked several Sabbatarian non-voters questions like the above, and the answer is virtually always: “that is an unrealistic situation”, or “God would reveal what to do”. They will trust believers to build or fix their house, car and appliances, to teach them doctrine, to perform medical procedures upon them—but they do not believe that believers are capable of governing. But if we reject human hierarchical government over the church, we also should reject it over the state. So what do we replace it with? I think we use the Old Testament principles, without those things requiring priests, Levites, and the temple—which we do not have today.
Robert: The USA is not a Theocracy, never was and never will be, which may come as a shock to some of your readers who subscribe to religious right beliefs.
Norm’s Response: Was ancient Israel or the USA a theocracy? That greatly depends upon which definition of theocracy one uses. I consulted several dictionaries. One definition is a “government by officials who are regarded as divinely guided”. This does not apply to ancient Israel—neither the priests nor the prophets were in charge of the whole government and God did not always guide them—he allowed them to become corrupt. The USA is not this kind of theocracy either; there is no requirement for leaders to profess divine guidance. However, the former WCG and some of its offshoots are this kind of theocracy—their leader’s decisions are considered to always be from God, even when they are illogical or obviously contrary to Scripture.
An ancient definition of the word theocracy is given in Easton’s Bible Dictionary:
theocracy—a word first used by Josephus to denote that the Jews were under the direct government of God himself. The nation was in all things subject to the will of their invisible King. All the people were the servants of Jehovah, who ruled over their public and private affairs, communicating to them his will through the medium of the prophets. They were the subjects of a heavenly, not of an earthly, king. They were Jehovah’s own subjects, ruled directly by him.
If a Theocracy requires its people to individually and collectively implement the will of God, then I think that fits ancient Israel, and to a large degree the USA. God did not even tell Israel to have a police force or a standing army, but made people individually responsible for dealing with blasphemy (Deut 13), attacks on women (Deut 22:23–26), murder (Deut 19:12), poor people (Deut 15), etc.
Robert: Jesus is not, was not, and will not be an American. Just as the Kingdom of God is not, never was, and will not be a democracy. Nor does God favor one political party over another.
Norm’s Response: I agree that Jesus is not an American. I do not know how other countries’ governments work, but if the people are responsible to govern, I think they should do as much as they can to govern according to the system that God gave in the Bible. He promised other nations would look up to Israel if they would follow His laws (Deut 6:4). I am not sure how the government in the Kingdom of God will work; it will be different with many perfect children of God ruling. But for now, mostly a lot of unconverted people need to be governed—much like ancient Israel. Obviously, God does not favor any one “political party” more than he favored the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and other parties in Jesus day. He wants those who govern to do what is just and right, whether they are in a party or not. Unfortunately, most people in political parties seek power and benefits for their party—a terrible problem in the USA.
Robert: Norm, most Christians are involved in most other aspects of our governments: they pay taxes. They use emergency services, public roads, public schools, state parks, etc. Some of them actually work for the government for businesses that do mostly government contracts. Most follow government laws, even if they disagree.
We, as Christians, are told to obey the ruling authorities. Nowhere are we told to participate in their governments. Rather we are warned to keep ourselves unspotted from worldly pursuits. The taxes and use of services and even employment are a necessary part of living in the present age, voting and participating in the garbage that is prevalent in the worldly governments around us is not. We are told to pray for our worldly leaders, Why? I, for one, do not equate “pray for” with “vote for”.
Norm’s Response: You agree that government services are a necessary part of living. I agree. I want the county government to maintain and plow the road past my house. A necessary part of that is finding a man to be in charge of the county road crews. Suppose that two men are running for the office of county road commissioner. One has a bright smile, a warm handshake and promises to fix every street in the county next year with no additional taxes. The other candidate is noted for carrying around a lot of paperwork and says that based on previous years reports, it will take 2 to 3 years to fix every street without additional taxes (depending on how hard the winters are), but has a plan to fix the most used streets first. Does God expect someone to flip a coin to decide who will be the next road commissioner? Should Christians pray and expect God’s choice to miraculously appear? Should a State government or Federal politician who never drives in the county appoint its road commissioner? Or should the people of that county be allowed to choose the commissioner—hopefully having the discernment to know that the man with all of the paperwork is probably being more truthful?
You said that there is nothing wrong with Christians working for governments. Some counties appoint their road commissioners and others elect them. Is it a sin to do that job only where an election is required? Would it be OK to run if there were no opponent? If it is all right for a Christian to run, is it all right to vote?
In the New Testament, the Romans controlled the government and the Jews had no responsibility for it. Praying was all they could do. Today, we can pray, and write and vote!
Norm to Marcia: If Christians are preparing to rule with Christ (Rev 20:4), should not they be involved in the decision-making aspects of governments? This is especially true in countries like the USA where the people, as a whole, are the highest level of government.
Robert: What a load of… manure. You do your readers a disservice by that comment. Have you studied American Government beyond the high school propaganda level? The Government for, of and by the people is long, long, gone… if it ever really existed. The freedoms we have in the USA are by the grace of God because of a promise to Abraham, not the will of man, and man has used and abused those freedoms. Why do you think God created a nation with the kind of freedom we have? At least with the illusion of freedom we have… try not paying your property tax for a few years if you think you own your own home. Or try fighting the principle of Eminent Domain. Your freedom is an illusion. So is your vote. Tell me, if the people are the highest level why is George Bush, who lost the national popular vote, the President of the United States?
Norm’s Response: These are all good questions that deserve answers. I will be the first one to say that we were not completely free to begin with and that we have lost much of the freedoms that we have. I will certainly give credit to God to Abraham’s righteousness for what we have, but I can also say, beyond doubt, that God implemented these things through men who believed that God wanted freedom, and who worked hard to achieve it. Today, we seem to have many Christians who believe freedom is not worth physically working to maintain or improve. Many use their understanding of prophecy to “prove” that nothing will get better until Christ returns. I am glad that the founding fathers had no such prophetic understanding.
You mentioned property tax and Eminent Domain; a man could not lose his land for these things when our country was founded. I am not an expert in land rights, but I have talked to people who are. It is my understanding that the average land “Title” of today gives the state the ownership and the person the use of the land, and it is through that basis that taxes, regulations, and Eminent Domain are enforced upon land. Homesteads, land claims and land patents where no title is involved can sometimes still defeat these government intrusions—I have heard of people today who have done just that. It is also possible for a local congregation (one that is really a “church” and not a corporation) to avoid these things. Most courts, when directly challenged on the issue, will agree that they simply do not have jurisdiction over real churches. I know of some Chritian groups that are trying to learn about these things and teach others, and I think that is better than just saying “nothing can be done”.
George Bush is President because he was elected by the electors originally specified in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution and modified by amendments 12 and 23. The USA has never elected a president by popular vote. However, the electors’ votes are determined by the people. If enough people feel that the president should be elected by direct popular vote, the constitution could be amended to change that.
Robert: Also, you seem to state elsewhere that you believe in the conspiracy of a group of men who control or attempt to control everything… what use is your vote against these unseen men?
Norm’s Response: I would love to vote for any leader who would propose a law, probably a constitutional amendment that would give a severe (maybe even death) penalty for running for any public office without disclosing all the organizations and societies of which the candidate is a member. I think most of the people who are working to corrupt our government are members of various secret organizations. Many have sworn a life allegiance to them. There are bills proposed to make such things treason, but there have not been enough votes to pass them. There are numerous other branches of government that need to be abolished and loopholes that need to be closed that would greatly reduce the influence of evil forces in our government. All they need is a legislator to sponsor the bill, and enough votes.
Robert: One further point. We of the COGs cannot even seem to rule ourselves in His Church, what business do we have in trying to run a carnal government? Learn to rule our own “home” and maybe then we have a right to go try to tell others how to run theirs. We are supposed to be learning to run our “government” under God’s rule, what part of God’s rule are you learning trying to run these worldly governments?
Norm’s Response: Unfortunately, I have to agree that many in the CoGs seem to know little about how to run their church government or secular governments. That has really bothered me, since we claimed to be “in training to rule with Christ”. After spending some years studying government from the Bible, I hope that I have been a help to people starting local congregations, as well as doing their part in secular governments.
A lot of the issues that come up in secular governments, are the same that come up in church governments. One issue is arranging for people to go to each other and solve their dispute before going to court (Matt 5:25; 18:15–17). Lawyers, corrupt as some may be, have been doing this for years, but Church of God brethren still have a great tendency to “run to the minister” when someone offends them, rather than “going to their brother.”
In addition, both governments and churches deal with marriage problems, juvenile delinquents, the poor, people who pretend to be poor but just want a hand-out, etc. Both need to find good leaders and provide ways to make sure they continue to do what they are supposed to, and that they use the money given them for its intended purpose. The Christian can learn many lessons from both church and secular governance.
Norm to Marcia: Many people believe that the Bible shows God will punish the Western democracies for their national sins.
Robert: So you do not? Do you believe that there is going to be a government of God on earth? If so, what governments will it replace? Why? If you believe that there is going to be a government of God on earth, will His punishment fall only in the western “democracies”? What worldly government will survive under the rule of Christ?
Norm’s Response: I do not feel that the Church of God prophecy writers have a good enough track record in predicting events for me to say “I believe” their prophetic scenario. I have not had time to study all the prophetic books and see if God shows me anything from them. Since many church of God brethren do believe that God will send the Western democracies (Israel) into captivity again, I am simply asking them why they would not bear equal responsibility for the national sins, if they have done nothing to oppose them.
Does this mean that we, believers, are partly responsible for the abortions (murders) in our society? Notice what God says about murder:
Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you (Deut 17:6–7).
God gave all the people a responsibility to put away murder and evil from the land (see Deut 35:10–34 for more details). Today, these verses in Deuteronomy are not our national laws, so we cannot live by them directly. The ancient Israelites did promise to obey them (Ex 24:7; Josh 24:22). However, we have a representative government, which makes us responsible voting for men or women to represent our understanding of what is right, and for communicating with our existing representatives, whether we voted for them or not, what we believe is right for them to do. To the extent that this part of our national law is consistent with the Bible teaching to be a witness against murderers and to put away evil from among us, we should express this view to our leaders.
Norm to Marcia: If “not voting” is the righteous thing to do, then will God spare the Christians along with the 50% of the apathetic electorate that typically do not vote?
Robert: Norm, that is an idiotic statement. The 50% of the apathetic electorate that do not vote are not Christians. Why do you equate them with God’s people? Do you no longer believe in the Elect? Or do you now subscribe to Ron Dart’s unbiblical view that everyone who professes Christ is a Christian?
Norm’s Response: I believe that Christians are the people who have the Spirit of God (Rom 8:9). I believe I and many WCG members were Christians even when we regularly broke the second commandment by idolizing a man—we did not know we were doing it. Similarly, I believe there are Christians who break the Sabbath—but God accepts them because they do not know. God knows who are His and why He sometimes withholds truth—God did not even make it possible for most Christians throughout history to have access to a Bible or a concordance. But many scriptures show that not everyone who claims to be a Christian actually is one.
The question I am asking above is: If God is going to send our nation into captivity because of our national sins, and if all He expects of Christians (in this regard) is “to stay out of the government and not vote”, then should all of the non-Christians who do “not vote” be delivered from the national judgment on the same basis? Will God blame all of our national sins on our elected leaders? They will claim that they were just doing what the people elected them to do (which is partly true). Will God lay our national sins only at the feet of people who voted for the bad leaders? Or will he also blame those who did not vote—who made no effort to implement just laws and elect good leaders? How, then, are Christians who did not vote any less responsible?
I know that God will judge in righteousness, but I do not know what He will do. I have a collection of over 25 scriptures where God promises physical deliverance from specific trials to some believers, and about 25 more scriptures where he says that some believers will suffer and die. I know that He will do the best thing for me—and you—and all who are His.
Norm to Marcia: Or will God spare only those people who voted for honest candidates and just laws, and then punish those who voted for evil?
Robert: Norm, how can you possibly know a candidate is honest and which laws are just? Why do you think that there are so many laws, some conflicting with each other, some plugging loopholes in other laws, some made to benefit a select few? Last I checked you are no lawyer, how can you possibly understand the ramifications of the complex double dealing language in the proposals worldly leaders are constantly coming up with as “better” laws?
Norm’s Response: Again, good questions. It is much easier to prove a candidate “dishonest” than it is honest. One easy way to prove them dishonest is to see what they promise during one election, and then see what they do in office. Very few candidates ever keep their promises or make any effort to explain why their promises could not be kept—they count on people not paying attention. Another way is looking for promises that obviously don’t work: eliminating poverty with hand-out programs, making streets safe through gun control, eliminating drug problems by cutting off the supply; raising living standards through wage and price controls, etc. Many programs such as these have clear histories of failures in nearly every country where they were tried, but the dishonest politicians keep promoting them. There are some candidates who clearly say that we should eliminate most of our laws and branches of government. While I cannot prove they are perfectly honest, they are honest about this big issue.
I agree that we have huge numbers of conflicting and confusing laws, and that Christians should vote for people working to eliminate them. One of the biggest deceptions of today is that if there is a problem, the way to solve it is to produce a massive federal program. The only sure thing that does is cost money.
How can a believer possibly understand all these messy conflicting laws? Even police and district attorneys do not know all the laws that they are supposed to enforce. The believer cannot know everything, but that does not stop him from learning about the most important things. This process can be greatly helped by the sound biblical principle of working together. There are some lawyers who believe the system is corrupt and who are working for its simplification and helping individuals learn to navigate the maze themselves. There are many others who study the law without a law degree and write their findings and help others to understand it.
Computer searching and cross referencing has now given the individual a much greater access to law than was possible 30 years ago. At that time, law school, law journals and other lawyers were the only way that lawyers could have knowledge of some laws. Indexes were often cumbersome and difficult to use. Today, many computer searches of laws are available to lawyers and citizens alike. Also, computers are often used to consolidate a law and all its amendments so an individual can read it. “Hyper-links” sometimes provide definitions of “legal-eeze” so an unfamiliar person can find out with a mouse-click.
Not all laws are difficult to figure out. Some are straightforward and obviously good, some are straightforward and obviously bad. Some are deliberately mistitled, like the recent “Patriot Act”, which greatly eroded constitutional freedom and is now, thankfully, being challenged in the courts.
Robert: Also, based on your statement above, show me where in the Bible it says that your candidates are righteous and their opponents are evil. Please show me that!
Norm’s Response: I did not say my candidates are righteous and the others are evil. I just asked a question to encourage people to think about what God might do. But if we are going to learn to be kings and priests, it will certainly help us to presently learn to discern, by the Spirit of God, good from evil men. We are not deciding their eternal fate, just learning to apply God’s word and then being one vote among thousands. The Bible makes a great effort to point out which Kings of Israel were righteous and which were evil. Paul tells Christians that they should be able to judge others rightly:
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! (1Cor 6:1–6)
Robert: Dean Wheelock has written an excellent article on law in the latest “Hebrew Roots”, not that I agree with everything he wrote in that article, but his way of explaining law makes a lot of sense. You and your readers should send for a copy.
Norm’s Response: Thanks for mentioning the article. I have not read it yet.
Robert: Norm, it is impossible for you to know who or what you are voting for in this society. Or whether it is for the ultimate good or even whether it is even just. What hypocrisy! What arrogance! All that you are doing by voting is projecting your opinions and beliefs onto someone who may or may not genuinely hold those beliefs and opinions.
Norm’s Response: In an ultimate sense, you are right, I do not know the heart of any other man. But that does not stop us from rendering a judgment, as Paul instructed the Corinthians (1Cor 6:1–6 quoted above). God has not commanded us to co-operate only with perfect human leaders, whether they be church leaders or secular leaders. God told ancient Israel to choose leaders (Deut 1:13; 16:18–20) and also told them how to find good (not perfect) leaders for their congregations (Acts 6; 1Tim 3, Titus 1). I have no delusions that a government is going to be righteous just because I and thousands of other Christians help choose it. But it is not arrogant to do what God said. Just as there were degrees of righteousness among the Kings of Israel, so I can try to find the most righteous man running for an office. If I think none are righteous, I can usually do a write-in vote for someone whom I believe to be a qualified righteous person. Only by a miracle would a write-in be elected, but every vote that is not for a mainstream corrupt candidate is a message that I disagree with the current government. Whereas with non-voting, it is not possible to tell the difference between disagreement with the current government and apathy.
Robert: You are also dictating to others how they should live, which is really none of your business.
Norm’s Response: I don’t understand. Are you saying that God does not want the country to have any laws? Or you saying that only unbelievers are competent to make laws? Are you saying that whether or not my local school teaches homosexuality as a “valid life style” or the level of my property tax is none of my business?
Robert: Our business is how we need to live.
Norm’s Response: I agree. We first need to learn to take care of ourselves and obey God in our lives. But we do not live alone. The biggest problems we have in our churches and communities are not generally caused while somebody is working or living alone. They are caused when people interact with each other.
When several children are playing together, and they are trying to decide what game to play, how would you teach them? Would you say that the biggest kid should always make the other kids play what he wants? Would you encourage them to let each child have a turn in deciding the game? Would you encourage them to vote on which game to play? Would you say that none has any right to tell the other what to do, so they should not play a game? I think the lesson is clear that whenever there are people working together, there often needs to be a way to resolve differences. That is government.
Norm to Marcia: Will then God give the non-voters the same judgment as the corrupt minority that did vote?
Robert: If by this you mean the carnal voters and carnal non-voters, yes, they both will have the same judgment… but isn’t voting, ultimately, a carnal act? Think about that. What spiritual principle is applied by your voting? It is not a spiritual thing, but a carnal desire to somehow be the one in control. Voting is an illusion of control over an uncontrollable world. In addition, it fosters disagreements and disunity… my party, my candidate… my opinion… is better than yours. Where is the humility? Where is the glory to God in that?
Norm’s Response: More great questions!
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! (Pslm 133:1.)
The basic approach of the unconverted is, “What’s in it for me?” Jesus taught: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). I agree with you that most politics today is my this and my that. But each Christian voter should make decisions based upon what is good for everyone, from his understanding of the Bible. Wanting to vote for the most righteous laws and candidates that one can find today is no more carnal than wanting to rule with Christ in the Kingdom. The issue is not that it is bad to make laws or decisions for groups of people, the question is whether those laws are made for the benefit of the decision-makers or for the good of everyone. The difference between today’s voting and Millennial ruling is that if we make a mistake today, it has only a small affect on the world. Whereas to rule with Christ in His Kingdom, we must be beyond the mistake stage.
Robert: And in addition to that, you and Marcia have added: My rights are greater than your rights because I VOTE! Poppycock! (And yes I know what that word means!)
Norm’s Response: I am sorry that we appeared to say that. That is not what we meant.
Norm to Marcia: After all, the technical effect of non-voting is to affirm the decisions of those who do vote. Whereas, voting for a “third party candidate who stands for righteous principles, no matter how little chance of winning he may have, adds to the permanent record of people who disagree with the way a country is being run.
Robert: The technical effect of not voting may or may not affirm the decisions of those who do vote, but voting, and especially voting for a third party candidate, is an exercise in futility.
Norm’s Response: American history shows several “third parties” that came into existence and elected candidates in numerous offices. Some ended up replacing one of the “mainstream” parties of their day. Some of these parties started suddenly, another started small and gradually achieved more votes until they won. With so little significant difference between the two major parties today, third party votes would seem more important than ever.
Robert: In addition, you have no idea just whether a candidate subscribes to “righteous principles” or just talks the talk to get elected.
Norm’s Response: The practice of electing candidates who have served well in a lower office to a more important office is good. Voters should check to see what a candidate did in a previous office before voting them into a more important office. Unfortunately, most voters make up their mind from the candidate’s commercials.
Even so, limited terms allows voters to reject a candidates with bad fruit during their first term and to re-elect a candidates with good fruit.
Robert: God’s will is done, not Marcia’s and Norm’s.
Norm’s Response: Does this mean that if God wants a certain person into office, that He prefers to do it by influencing the votes of only unbelievers? The Scriptures frequently show that God’s will is a reaction to man’s will.
God wanted to be Israel’s king, but He listened to the people and gave them a human king (1Sam 8). Jeremiah 18:7–10, Jonah 3:4–10 and other verses show that God changes His plans based on what nations do.
Robert: Does God want you doing futile things? Is that what you want on your “permanent record”? That you participated in an ultimately futile and useless process in a vain attempt to voice your opinion? Some permanent record!
Norm’s Response: I spent 18 years of my life programming computers for the WCG, developing what I hoped would be the software that would produce a powerful end-time witness, and maybe even organize things in the “place of safety” and maybe give us a good start into the millennium. If one just looks at software, that turned out to be a futile thing—it will never be used for anything again. But if one looks at God’s investment in me, it is wonderful. I learned a lot about how to analyze situations, determine the facts and make something work. I learned to work with people, teach them and direct the work of others. I learned to love serving God and working with other people who wanted to do the same. I got married and started a family. I did not do these things perfectly (didn’t save myself by doing them), but I am not ashamed of them being on my record. I didn’t vote then, and I didn’t read the Bible as much as I do now.
Learning to discern the best laws and candidates is a similar experience. I have no illusion that it will create a human government of lasting, eternal value. We are all dust and that is how we will end. But learning the difference between good laws and bad laws, learning how to let people make decisions so they can learn, but prevent them from destroying themselves or others in the process is a valuable thing—both for raising children, and for governing people.
But I am quite willing to learn. I would like to know the things that you have on your permanent record that are clearly not “futile”. I might be able to learn some of them, also.
Robert: You may have started out well, Norm, refusing to incorporate so that you could be independent of governmental interference so that you would have the freedom to write, why do you now wish to go back into its captivity?
Norm’s Response: If you can explain how voting to promote a better future for myself and others is going into captivity, I will gladly stop.
Robert: If you want to vote, then do so. If someone doesn’t want to vote, you have no right to judge them. That is not exercising a right, but exercising abuse. If you do vote, you have no right to deny others any of their rights, including their freedom of speech. There are other ways than by voting to let the leaders of this world know of your displeasure with their actions.
Norm’s Response: I think I finally am understanding your complaint and I am sorry. I did not mean to say that if you do not vote, you should not have freedom of speech or be able to petition the government for redress of grievances. I actually think that sending numerous letters, e-mails and phone calls to appropriate governments has far more of an effect than voting for some issues. I would certainly encourage this, whether a person votes or not.
Robert: While I believe that it is necessary to respond to you first on this issue, because of the lag time in responses through your public newsletter you may also see this posted on forums in the future as an open letter to you at a later date.
You may use my name.
— Robert Knarr
Norm’s Response: Thank you. I am sending you this e-mail so you can post it with my responses.
For a long time, I believed the WCG teaching that nothing of value could be done, so why bother. Yet when one compares life in the 1300s with life in the 1600s, after the Protestant reformation, one sees that things improved greatly because men struggled for it. More improvement is seen from the 1600s to the 1800s, with freedom of religion established in many places. It has been in the 1900s where some issues (such as racial equality) have gotten better, but personal freedom has been greatly eroded in favor of big government.
Before anyone says, “nothing can be done” one ought to at least make an effort to find out what has been done, what is being done, and what can possibly be done in the future.
Since I spent 20 years believing that civil governing was not my responsibility, I will endeavor to be patient with others who may need a number of years to study the subject and come to a better understanding of it.