LETTERS & RESPONSES
We print a representative sampling of our mailboth positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print. We include our response to each letter in this type-style. We have selected a title for each letter for easy reference. If writers supply their own title, we will be happy to use it.
Biggest Problem Among God's People
Letter: December 16, 1996
Thanks so much for the back issues. It will take some time to study these. Please put my name on your mailing list.
If you are ever in Kansas City over the weekend please call. You are welcome to attend services with us. Would love to visit. (Met you at the Conference of the Churches of God in Tulsa. Much appreciated your input.) May God bless your efforts.
By the way, one of the biggest problems among God's People (and so called ministers) today is too little blessing others and way too much cursing in the form of innuendo and out and out slander.
John M. Akin, Kansas
Response: We agree with you. We believe this problem comes from thinking "we must be a member of the one right group with all of the right doctrines." There is a tendency to attack others who have even one different belief because they make us uncomfortable. If other "apparently good" people have beliefs that are very similarexcept in a few areaswe cannot help but think that they are probably wrong. We would feel a lot better if we could convince the other person to "see things our way." When we cannot convince them, there is a tendency to be angry.
When people's doctrinal beliefs are based on their own understanding of the Bible, then they should be confident that in a day of judgement they will be able to explain why they believed what they did. If they did the best they could with the understanding they hadeven if it was wrongthere will be little condemnation (Luke 12:48). When people base their doctrinal belief on whatever their organization or favorite minister teachers, then it is much easier for them to panic if someone challenges their belief. In a day of judgement, they are counting on all of their doctrinal beliefs being right, so they hope they will not have to explain them. They will not be able to explain the scriptures from which they derived their beliefthey will have to admit that they were simply following an organization or a man. They should know better. NSE
Exhortation To Be Patient
Letter: December 13, 1996
I appreciate that God uses various printed ministries to help us grow more in grace and knowledge. Yours, along with others, such as Prophecy Flash, helps us think and prove all things. The publications I support do agree that God's people are scattered, must be spiritually fed, are not the only "work" but a part of God's work. We can learn and glean spiritual nuggets, I feel, moreso from independent ministries. They are more open to the brethren's input. Although most of us do not agree on all issues presented in these publications and tape ministries, the fruits prove they are providing a service to us.
One thing to remember, brethren, about these independent ministries, is the lack of time to answer everyone's letters and phone calls, or they'd never get any work done. Some ministries hold full-time jobs in addition to the service they are providing. Also, some ministries may not automatically send out donation receipts unless you specifically ask them because of lack of time and help. I personally know of ministries where the husband, wife, and a close friend or two are handling the work load, in addition to their jobs. So I ask the brethren to be patient if we don't receive answers. It may not be because of lack of caring but lack of time. Let's be thankful we have much information to glean from, because one day there will be the famine of the word.
Respectfully, Pat Moody, Wash.
Response: Thanks for the encouragement. Your assessment of the independent ministries is largely correct. Most have a lot to do and not many resources. Nevertheless, this seems to be the case for many of the teachers found in the Bible. Apparently, though, the Eternal provides for the work that He wants done.
The vast majority of the work of Servants' News is done by a husband, wife, and a few close friends. Fortunately, enough people support Servants' News that the Edwards have not needed to seek other work, but they also serve as parents of their four boys ages 3 to 12. The two jobs leave almost no time for anything else. NSE
Freedom to Think and Study
Letter: November 21, 1996
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Thank you for sending me Servants' News and yes I would like to continue to get it. Enclosed are some tithes to help with this work for I agree with the openness that you're going about it with.
I used to be a member of WCG back in the 70'sleft in l980 and recently just a month ago left CGI. Last Sabbath, three of us gathered by a park with our Bibles and had a meeting right there. God blessed it, and we had a meeting like the 1Cor 14 format with each having opportunity to speak and share. We had exposure with this from our past because when we left Worldwide in 1980, we met by a believer's house and met this way for years, we learned a lot meeting this way, and it is Biblical.
Many groups want to get the big organization back, but God is allowing it to be torn down, I believe, to teach His people to stop idolizing the organization and to look to Jesus Christ. To get their foundation down in Jesus Christ and not an organization, so if the organization falls, you won't fall with it. I believe now is the quiet time to prepare, if we don't use this time wisely to build up our personal relationship with Jesus Christ in our prayer life (Luke 21) then we won't make it. And the bigger organizations are not teaching this as they should. It's like a protecting point by God allowing it to be scattered into many little groups. God's people need to break free from the institutional thinking that has kept them in chainsso they can use their minds the way God wants, and it's the creative use of the mind that is needed for growth. There's no growth without thinking. Each child of God should prove all matters out as God tells us to, then the thinkers can soar when they are freed from the bondage of false teachings that keep them bound to a rigid pattern of thought.
I've had to unlearn many things to think freely as I should under the direction of God's Spirit. God wants to give us wisdom freelybut our wisdom stands in the way (Prov 3:5-6). I've shared with many concerning all that's happening to "make no decision without much prayer." It proves to be good advice. We must have the humility that we may be wrong and consult God about all matters.
If we will do it this way God promises to guide us. God is teaching me to keep my own wisdom out of it. I'm glad to have an outlet to write some of these things and thank you for taking the time to do the work you're doing. I pray God will continue to bless your efforts. Servants' News is a good name, for each must serve with the gifts and talents available to each. God has so many people out there, no one can keep track of it allI'm reminded when Elisha thought he was the only one and God reminded him that there were thousands of others!
Your brother in Christ,
Tommy Willis, Louisiana
16300 Chef Menteur Hwy
New Orleans, LA 70129
Response: Our family and hundreds of others have gone through an experience very similar to yours. We know that our Loving Father can work with groups, or teach the same lesson to many individuals. Home Sabbath meetings will also have their difficulties, but each person can learn to individually apply the scriptures to solve the problems, rather than just wait for somebody to take care of it. As you well said, there is no growth without thinking. NSE
Sacred Names Studies
Letter: December 15, 1996
Dear Mr. Edwards:
It was a very positive experience to visit "your" feast site for my friend and me. It was also a privilege for us to meet you. We are attending with United and are happy with the freedom we have to stay informed from different sources.
[Literature request deleted].
Just a few remarks relating to your Sacred Name study.
I'm not sure if we can prove when Hebrew began. Was that language even in existence before the tower of Babel? While the name "Hebrew" appears to come from a descendent of Abraham, Eber, wasn't the language adopted from the Canaanites? Why should we think that Hebrew is the language of heaven and the angels? (I Cor 13:1) The Bible doesn't say that Hebrew is a sacred language.
Why would God give many languages but then be upset with the sound of His name in those languages He gave mankind?
We know that YHVH was not pronounced for many years and therefore it would seem to follow that had Christ pronounced it, He would have had to run for his life the way He had to for breaking some other Jewish traditions.
Acts 2:38 is really not that hard to comprehend for those whom God calls.
Finally, when Jesus used another name "Eli" instead of YHVH on His "death bed" in Matt 27:46, then that is a strong point of proof for me that a Sacred Name doctrine is not Biblical. Of course, there's Acts 4:12 and Rev 19:12. I know it is claimed that the entire NT Greek has been corrupted and edited concerning God's name.
Do we really think God's ego is more easily offended by His name being translated than humans are when our name is?
Ex 6:2-3 strongly suggests Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know the name YHVH.
No offense is intended but just a desire for truth. Norm, keep up the fine work.
Sincerely, M.H., Ohio
Response: Thanks for the letter. We will do the best we can with the many questions you have asked.
We cannot prove that Hebrew was "the original" language or that it is a divine language. It certainly has words in common with other Canaanite and other Mid-Eastern languages, but it is sometimes hard to prove which language got which words from which other language. The one thing we can say is that it is the language of the Old Testament. There is evidence that the original Hebrew characters were shaped differently, that some words were once pronounced differently, and that some meanings of some words have changed. However, I know of no research that concludes that the Hebrew scriptures are a translation from some other yet-older language.
There is no end of debate on what is the proper way to render someone's name in another language. There is a Hebrew name Yo-sef. Our English equivalent is "Joseph." But if we want to, we are capable of writing and saying "Yosef"and we might well do that if we wanted to gain the respect of a Hebrew Person with that name. Those who believe in Sacred Names recognize that we do not need to write the names in Hebrew letters, but they would like us to write English letters that sound the same as the Hebrew Name. NSE
Liked Oklahoma Feast
Letter: October 23, 1996
I came to the Grove, Oklahoma area to keep the Feast with The Churches of God but I was also wanting to visit the Servants' News Feast. I ended up not attending the Churches of God services, even though I really missed my friends there, because I learned so much at the Servants' News Feast Services.
I was very inspired by the sermons (well, most of them, as some had ideas that were not what I believe the Bible teaches). But there were men there who obviously study diligently and had much knowledge. I loved the openness and the tolerance, the opportunity that was given for all the congregation to participate or question. I agree with you that maybe some topics would be better presented in a seminar but I still enjoyed every minute I spent at the Feast. In fact, I, for the first time, hated to have to leave and go home! (Even though for the 33 years I've been in the church, none of my family believes as I do and does not attend with me. Usually I get a little "homesick" for them by the Last Day).
I loved the music! It was so uplifting and wonderful. As soon as I could I went to a Bible Book Store and bought a tape called "Messianic Praise". It has a couple of songs that we sang there. It was the first time I felt such a deep joy in worshipping God in song.
The whole experience moved me deeply. Thanks to all who contributed to the Feast. I hope you had sufficient funds to meet the expenses there. (Enclosed is a small offering).
[Literature request omitted].
It was great to see your family participate in the music. Thank Mr. and Mrs. Dewey for their part in making the Feast so successful. Thank you for Servants' News each month.
B C, Kansas
Response: A lot of good, Bible-based music is available from religious mail-order houses and Christian book stores. As an example, Maranatha Music produces the "Messianic Praise" and "I AM" cassette albums. The music is worshipful and inspiring and the lyrics are mainly taken from scripture. The word "messianic" is from Messiah and rightly praises our Saviour. Local Christian bookstores may carry these. An individual recently told me, after spending years in WCG, the music she now chooses is of the messianic praise type because "it is the only music that inspires me to want to praise and worship my Creator". Marleen Edwards
Questions on Tithing
Letter: October 18, 1996
Dear Mr. Edwards:
I would like to ask if you could shed any light on some research I am doing on the subject of tithing. I have done a small amount of research on the subject, but I was not able to find a whole lot about the subject. I am basically interested in the administration of tithes, that is, how was the system of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tithes set up. The commentaries I have read seem to vary from the system that I have become used to in WCG and now in UCG.
All the commentaries agree that the 1st tithe was holy and was to be separated from the increase before anything else was used. That seems to be the only similarity to the system I was taught and the commentaries. Everything I have read in Jewish reference books says that the second tithe was 10% of the remaining increase after the first tithe was separated.
They further agree that the 2nd was only set aside on the 1st ,2nd, 4th, & 5th years of a 7 year cycle. The 3rd tithe, used for the widows and poor, replaced the 2nd tithe in the 3rd and 6th year. As I said, all the material I've seen supports this tradition. I haven't seen anything to support the system that Mr. Armstrong said that the Bible taught. How did he arrive at his interpretation? Can you tell me where I can find out more about this subject?
Thanks, NH, West Virginia
Response: The Worldwide Church of God and its look-alikes taught a view of second and third tithe that was held by very fewthough they often presented it to their members like it was what nearly all scholars believed, but nobody had the "faith" to do it. The views you expressed are the most commonly held. Josephus mentions three tithes (Antiquities. bk 4,3,4; bk 4,8, bk 4,22), as does the apocryphal book Tobit. These statements reflect what some groups were doing at certain times, they are not an accurate reflection on what was done through most of history. The biggest book promoting three tithes is The Tithe in Scripture by Henry Lansdell. Also see the Nov-Dec 1994 Global Church News. NSE
How Do We Give to the Eternal?
Letter: April 2, 1997
I hope this finds you and your family doing well.
I was very impressed and inspired by your recent article "How Do We Give to the Eternal?" I have been studying this issue for a while now and was pleased at how you brought all the information together. Are you planning to publish it in the Servant's News? I hope so. There is still a lot of healing & correction that needs to take place in the church.
God bless you and keep up the good work.
Sincerely, D.W., Texas
Response: How Do We Give to the Eternal? is a little big to publish in Servants' News, but we will continue to offer it separately to whoever requests it. It is possible we could run it in installments at some time in the future. Thanks for the encouragement.
Tithe Instead of Land
Letter: February 6, 1997
Regarding tithing, Numbers 18:20-21 says to me that the Levites were given the tithe instead of the land the Israelites were promised. This way God kept His wordas the only reason for having land is for what it will produce! And God gave them the produce. The only people that can tithe are those farming the promised land.
Well, take care and keep up the good God-biased efforts.
Doug Beatty, de Bolt, Alberta Canada
Response: We largely agree with you. The Levites were given less land (not no land) and so they were to be compensated for the other services they provided. You are quite right in observing that tithes were always on produce. Some will say that Israel simply did not have a money economy, but we find 625 verses that contain one or more of these words: "shekel(s)", "money", "gold" or, "silver". NSE
Still Studying Tithing
Letter: January 28, 1996
Certainly the xCGs [various "Church of God" groups] had tithing abusively wrong! On that we agree!
While I haven't read the new tithing paper yet, I jumped to the last few pages and noticed especially the bold print that says tithing is not part of the new covenant.
Since I believe all the necessary merciful exceptions were already built into tithing as it existed in the old covenant, I only see the administration of tithing as being changed (Heb.7). Unclean meats and Holy Day observance weren't spelled out again in the New Testament either, but I believe in them as well.
There is a mention of wages in Haggai 1 that correlates indirectly to the fruits of their labor including agricultural. When I read that certain ones tithe on everything, I don't think it was limited to just agricultural produce, even though those in that agrarian society primarily produced food stuffs. Also, the Septuagint does use three different descriptions for first, second, and third tithe. Anyway, our works don't save us, but they do point the way.
Response: Thanks for the letter. I realize that it will take some time to work through the tithing issue and that we all have more to learn. There are so many things that many of us simply have not thought of before. I think it is also amazing how much picking and choosing goes on. If Josephus states there are three separate tithes, many people are ready to accept that in spite of a vast amount of Jewish teaching to the contrary. On the other hand, if Josephus says tithing was on agricultural products, many people ignore that.
The New Testament has examples of Peter observing the clean meats laws (Acts 10:14), and the holy days (Acts 18:21, 1Cor 5:8). The purposes of these laws are still very much alive. However, the New Testament examples of tithing are only to Levites and we do not believe that Hebrews 7 is talking about a change in tithing at all. Beside, there are numerous examples of giving in the New Testament where tithing is never mentioned.
Haggai 1:6 talks about wages being cursed, but there are numerous scriptures in the Bible that talk about physical cursing for disobedience (Deut 11:26-28; also chapters 27 through 30, Jer 29, etc.) without mention of tithing.
We must remember that the Septuagint is a translation from the Hebrew, so when it has three separate expressions where the Hebrew has one, it represents the opinions of the translators, not what the Hebrew scriptures say.
Letter: I think your most reasonable point, that Paul's not claiming their tithe support in Corinth would have been encouraging or teaching them to sin, is addressed indirectly in Juan's paper. [For a paper with a different view of tithing, contact Juan Rains, PO Box 1082, Andrews, NC 28901.] Consider (assume) that we have a responsibility to tithe on increase unless we are suffering hardship that would qualify us for assistance from others, but that where or who we tithe to is NOT specified in the Royal Priesthood. Therefore Paul didn't have authority to claim tithe control (nor does anyone else), but rather had to demonstrate his worthiness of their support. I think most of the Jews still tithed to the Temple system for a long time after Christ died, and that is partly why Paul wrote Heb.7 even using tithing as an example of a change in the administration due to the change in the priesthoodback to the order of Melchizedec to whom Abraham tithed.
Response: I agree that Jews tithed to the Levites as long as the temple stood, but to where did the gentile converts tithe? There seems to be no teaching on this. Also, the Jews only tithe on produce grown in the land of Israel. Do you believe that Paul began to teach Jewish converts outside of Israel to tithe--if so, to where?
Letter: However, I have never read anything in the New Testament that would have unbound or annulled the well established tithing principles from of old (even 3 tithes, although welfare taxes more than fulfill third tithe today). I also see end-time prophesies against those who eat swine and abominable things, and those that forsake tithing. Therefore I conclude that the righteous will abide by the guiding principles of the Lord who changes not. On the other hand, the ritual and sacrificial laws were fulfilled in Christ and clearly not required anymore as explained in the New Testament.
Response: I do not believe that tithing was un-bound in the New Testament, it was a means of supplementing the Levites income because they had no inheritance. I believe that it was not transferred to the church--either while the temple existed or afterward--and this is born out by numerous examples of giving and no examples of tithing for church purposes.
Letter: Now, nothing we DO makes us righteous of and by itself, but what we do is a reflection of our hearts and our faith. (For example, simply not working on the 24 hour Sabbath is nothing if we don't keep the day holy.) Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Response: I agree with this.
Letter: We see the highlights in Abraham's life and some sketchy examples of his tithing, but we must be careful not to draw totally vast conclusions on half vast data! If the tithing principle wasn't preordained before the Levitical system, then why are there so many examples of righteous Patriarchs paying a tenth?
Response: So many examples? The only real example we have is Abraham paying a tenth of spoil that was not increase to him as he did not keep it. We see Jacob promising to give a tenth of what was given him, but we have no specific example of what he tithed or to whom. Yet we have many examples of clear non-tithing by Patriarchs. Jacob did not tithe on his wives, Joseph did not have the Israelites or Egyptians tithe on their abundant harvest. Their was no tithe on manna outside the land of Israel. Only a fiftieth of the spoil of a war was given to the Levites (Num 31). The tabernacle was built with offerings, not a tithe of the Egyptian spoil.
Letter: I don't believe all these and the rest of the righteous examples of tithing can be explained away as not applicable today in principle due to this or that specific historic practice that doesn't apply in society today. What went on in the heart? That still is relevant!
Response: I agree completely. I am not against giving large percentages of one's personal wealth to do the Eternal's work. I sold two houses to start Servants' News. If a person has been tithing for years, I see nothing wrong with him or her committing to the Eternal to continue such giving. What I cannot find is a single Bible verse anywhere that leads me to believe tithing is an eternal principle for all mankind. The eternal principle is "it is better to give than to receive." Tithing appears to be a part of the physical system that the Eternal gave ancient Israel. We can learn much from the principleswe can see today that many good religious works do not succeed due to lack of funds. However, we do not send a tithe of our food products to a temple storehouse today in the way the Eternal commanded them in the book of Malachi.
Is the Old Testament All Fulfilled?
Letter: August 20, 1996
The Old Testament points to Jesus Christ. The New Testament reminds us of the O.T. fulfilled, which is frequently repeated in the N.T., to indicate that Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Christ. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt.5:17). The dictionary meaning fulfill is, to carry to completion, complete, accomplish, or carry into effect. Christ is the end (goal) of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (Rom 10:4). The laws of God are given to the Israelites, the law of Jesus Christ was given for us today. Christ has given us freedom from the laws of God (Gal. 5:1-25). The law of Christ is summed up in a single command; Love your neighbor as yourself.
Response: Yes, Christ was able to fulfill the law; he was able to live it perfectly. Also read the first part of that verse, it says that he did not come to destroy itit is still here. Your reference in Galatians is also very good. "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (v 18). Indeed it is the power of the Spirit that enables us to do what is right, not meticulous attention to the letter of the law. But what will those who are really led by the spirit do? First, they will not do all of the "works of the flesh" listed in verses 19 through 21you can find every one of those sins listed in the Old Testament law. What will happen if we think we are walking in the spirit but continue to do those things that are against the law? "...those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (v 21). A punishment for sinthat sounds like some kind of law is still in effect.
But does Christ give us his spirit just so we can keep a specific list of rules? Oh, no! He did much more than that. The fruits of the spirit listed in verses 22 to 23 gives us the power to keep the law and to go beyond the law to keep the full spiritual intent.
Letter: Many are misreading the O.T, these scriptures were given to us for an example and for our admonition (1 Cor 10:11). The O.T. was written to show us how God dealt with the children of Israel. God was very specific about who He was talking to. In most instances, He would say, "speak unto the children of Israel," this was to avoid any confusion. But somehow there is still confusion. Christians, today, still want to believe that the O.T. was meant for us today.
Response: Unfortunately, reasoning like this adds to the confusion. The fact that the Old Testament examples are for our learning does not render void the commands of the Eternal in the Old Testament. The expressions "speak unto the children of Israel" are found frequently in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, but not once in any other book. That expression is always used between the Eternal and Moses. The Eternal used it when he had words to be repeated directly to the people. In other places the Eternal told Moses to speak to Aaron and his sons (Lev 6:5). In other places He spoke just to Moses (Ex 14:29). When the Eternal spoke the commandments, he addressed them to everyone listening and he spoke loudly (Ex 20:1,18,19).
If you have any doubts about the value of the Old Testament, remember that Paul told Timothy "and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (1Tim 3:15-16). The only scriptures that were available to Timothy "from childhood" were the Old Testament.
Letter: The Israelites were God's chosen people. HE set aside the Sabbath as a special covenant with Israel. " Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generation; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you" (Ex 31:13 also 16-17). There are two key words that let us know who the Lord is talking to. (1) A generation is a body of people existing at the same time or period. (2) God is specific, it is a sign between He and the children of Israel.
The Sabbath is a covenant between God and the children of Israel ONLY. The Feasts are also part of this covenant. Leviticus 23, is also specific about who was supposed to keep these Fof the Lord. Verse 2,10,24,34, says, " Speak unto the children of Israel." Verse 42 leaves no room for error, " Ye shall dwell in booths seven days all that are ISRAELITES BORN shall dwell in booths." Who are Israelites? " Their's is the adoption as sons; their's the divine glory, the COVENANTS, the receiving of the LAW, the worship and the promise" (Rom 9:4 NIV). The key to understanding the Bible is understanding who God is talking to and why.
The Old Testament or Covenant, Exodus to Deuteronomy, contain over 600 laws given to the children of Israel. A covenant like a contract is binding upon the people that agree to keep it. Exodus 24:7, " He took the book of the covenant, and read it in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient" (see verse 3). Also let's look at Deuteronomy 5:2-3, " The Lord our God made a covenant with US in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with US, even US, who are ALL OF US HERE ALIVE THIS DAY."
God found fault with the first covenant, He established a new covenant (Heb 8:6-13). The new covenant is not a revolutionary new idea, as it was planned. " Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel" (Jer 31:31) .
Response: It is interesting to note in Jeremiah that the New covenant is also to be made with the "house of Israel." Does that mean it does not apply to non-Israelites? No, non-Israelites were always invited to join the Israelites if they were to live like them (Ex 12:49). Others are also welcome to join the new covenant as they become part of Israel (John 4:22; Rom 2:28-29; 11:13-28).
But how does the new covenant work? We need to read two more verses down in Jeremiah: "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jer 31:33). The new covenant is founded on God's law!
Letter: The Israelites were not able to keep the law, the law became a curse instead of a benefit. ALL WHO RELY ON OBSERVING THE LAW ARE UNDER THE CURSE, FOR IT IS WRITTEN; Deuteronomy 27:26, " Curse be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them". Gal.4:10, " For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: For it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." The law in the covenant produce a curse, from which Christ had to redeem men. Keeping the Sabbaths, Feast days, food laws, and tithing are some of the laws, but the Bible clearly states that you are cursed if you do not do all things which are written in the book of the law. Remember there were over 600 laws. See the consequences of disobedience, Deut. 28:15-68.
Response: Obviously, we are not under the old covenant. We no longer have a temple, we no longer have our own land, we know longer have the judicial system prescribed in the Bible. The Eternal divorced Israel and punished Judah. Many of the 600 commands simply cannot be obeyed noweven most Orthodox Jews would agree. Some of the Old Testament laws were not good, but were given to compensate for the evil in man (Ezk 20:24-25). But many of the Old Testament laws are applicable today and they show us how to love our neighbor. The ones we cannot keep, we can study to understand the mind of the Eternal. One of the tasks of believers today is to study the Bible and learn how much they can do, not how little.
Letter: Paul warned us that there would be false apostles that would masquerade as apostles of Christ. (2Cor. 11:13). HERBERT ARMSTRONG WAS A FALSE APOSTLE. Every doctrine he taught was wrong. He gave meaning to the holy days that are not biblically sound or found. Israel is an agricultural country, the holy days represented the end of a harvest season. Herbert Armstrong fabricated meaning for these days, that cannot be found in the Bible or any history book.
It is ludicrous to believe that the Feast of Tabernacles is God's plan of salvation. Many souls will be lost because of this wrong teaching. The Bible states that salvation comes by none other than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). He is the Author of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9) This salvation, which is a free gift from God, has nothing to do with the holy days. The Feast of Trumpets is not when the dead in Christ will rise, it is Israel's New Year celebration (Psa. 81:3). On the last Passover Christ celebrated, he instituted a new covenant or testament. "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20). Christ became our Passover (1 Cor 5:7) The Passover was replaced by what is called the Lord's Supper or Communion (1Cor 10:16). We have received our atonement to God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:11).
Response: Herbert Armstrong taught salvation by repentance, baptism, and faith in Jesus Christ, not by the keeping of the holy days. While some of his holy day teachings are not found in the scriptures, others are. We find, from both the Bible and early church history, that the holy days were continually kept by early believers. We find no "replacement" of any holy day in the New Testament.
Paul warned believers not to be concerned with the rituals of the Jewish calendar (Gal. 4:8-11 and Col. 2:16). These holy days were the shadow of things to come, but the real substance is Christ. Justification is not by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16). To try to worship days to please God is legalistic.
Response: Galatians 4:8-11 is clearly talking about Gentiles returning to their former ungodly religious practices. Col 2:16 is a warning not to let others judge us as to how we keep holydays, but not a command to ignore them. "Yes", these days are a shadow, and "no" we do not earn salvation by keeping these days, but they teach us lessons that many of us desperately need to understand. They are also a primary means of teaching our yet-unconverted children.
Letter: DEAREST FRIENDS, DO NOT FRUSTRATE THE GRACE OF GOD: FOR IF RIGHTEOUSNESS CAME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN (Gal.2:21). To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it (Eph. 4:7). "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the Gift of God" (Eph.2:28 NIV).
Ignorance is a valid excuse only if knowledge is not available. The Bible is available to all to read and research.
Sincerely, A.L. Rollins, Illinois
Response: We agree! Remember our Savior's admonition to live by "every word of God" (Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4). Where did He get that idea? Deuteronomy 8:3! We are confident that you will grow to see the value of the Old Testament if you continue to study your Bible with an open mind and seek the will of the Eternal. NSE
Where Is the Love?
Letter: January 17, 1997
Dear Mr. Edwards:
Your paper has really been helping me, like so many others, in our process of tremendous change, trials, and still plain confusion since WCG has turned Protestant and against God's way.
Yes, I'm still in confusion with so much going on, and so, so many now believing and teaching so many different things, dates, and all the bickering that's being said and printed. To me, it's very sad to see so many not even being friends anymore. I never, ever dreamed I'd see such a thing.
I've been in WCG since 1972 and quit in 1995. Why so long to wait? Well, I'm disabled and couldn't attend. Only rarely did I get tapes and less did I get fellowship, so, I was in the dark. Then to hear most of the people stayed (at that time) with WCG and I didn't, I was really alonetil I heard of your paper. It has really helped me study and been so worthwhile.
I can't help but wonder " where is the love and concern by brethren today that God our Father and Christ wants us to have and give?" Alone I am and miles away but much farther from those who really careand they are " very rare" so I cherish those few deeply and pray for all of us, knowing for all things God has HIS reasons. In the end, if we live His way and hold tight, our reward will be great! HE is always with us even when we are physically alone. Thanks again and please accept this donation for materials requested.
Mrs. Ruthann Monroe
20250 Quail Run Dr.
Cordes Lakes, AZ 86333
Response: "Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt 24:12). It should not be this way with God's people. Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
[Personal response sent, also]
Footwashing & Hierarchy Don't Mix
Letter: March 29,1997
I do not believe that many of us have ever understood what footwashing was instituted for.
In time sequence, the disciples had been arguing at the start of the last supper as to who was the greatest (the Muhammad Ali syndrome). Luke 22:24 records "And there was also a strive among them which of them should be accounted the greatest..." It was soon after this that Christ "riseth from supper and laid aside his garments: and took a towel and girded himself..."
To leave us in no doubt about what Christ did this for, he explains ityet we still do not get what He plainly said. John 13:13 "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Footwashing has everything to do with Church Government. Christ was showing that HE was the Master, the one and only master, and that all their arguing about who was the greatest was totally irrelevant and carnal. He then showed them what true greatness isnot having a rank, but serving. Serving is not popular. Humble service is despised. Christ was despised. How would you react to God appearing to you and saying He wished to wash your feet? Now that is an attitude that separates the true God from all the false, and the true servants from the false.
A footwashing attitude is one of wanting TO minister, rather than wanting to BE the minister. We are all ministers. Angels minister. Christ ministers. I recognize no rank called minister. I call every member by their Christian name, not mister, and the title they and others confer on themit all means nothing to me. When we shine with different glories, then we will know who was who in the zoo. God has called every man, woman and child to minister. Before Philadelphians there is an open door, with no man/hierarchy standing blocking the way, saying we may or may not minister. The fields are white out there and ripe to harvest, and harvesting began immediately after Passover. We can go minister to them. Anyone who has been in the church longer than 3.5 years has had more "ministerial training" than Christ's Apostles had. We can go and serve in any and every capacity, no man forbidding us. This is the gist of the very last verse of Acts. Unless we get rid of the attitude of looking to men for permission or approval, we will never see action in preaching the Gospel. "Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no one forbidding him".
Footwashing did away with hierarchy. Footwashing celebrates the removal of worrying who is the greatest. Christ is. We are all servants. Steven Thomas
Response: This was an excellent explanation. We believe that footwashing as a ritual teaches an important lesson. However, if people think they are fulfilling the scripture by washing someone's feet once each year, they are missing the whole point. The real issue is that everyone, including those in authority, ought not to think they are above doing "menial work" when it needs to be done. NSE
Appreciates Passover Article
Letter: March 17, 1997
I just completed the Passover article from the newest "Servants' News" last evening, and wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the scholarly quality of your work. Seldom have I seen a topic covered in such a way that will allow everyone to get the facts, yet leave them free and unjudged to choose the best path that they believe God has placed before them.
A friend of mine who read the article before me, commented on the fact that while "grace" was never mentioned per say, the whole article had the flavor of God's grace throughout. I think it is important to realize as we find ourselves in increasingly difficult times as a church, to remember that attribute of Christ's nature and take it upon ourselves to have that type of mercy for our scattered brethren, wherever they may be.
It is the same attitude that Christ has for us, even at this very moment. We all think we have God-given understanding, but the plain simple truth is that The Father and Jesus Christ have full and perfect understanding. They understand how little we know and how wrong we are in our understandings. Yet they love us in spite of our shortcomings, misunderstandings, and foibles.
Perhaps if we were able to love as our Father and Elder Brother do, we wouldn't have the splinterings we see today.
Please keep up the good work.
Warmest regards and love,
John Davis, Warsaw, Indiana
Response: Thank you for the encouragement. Nearly everyone I have met wants to observe this day the way the Eternal wants it observed. But the arguments deal with so many meanings of Hebrew and Greek words, apparent Bible contradictions, questionable history, estimates of how long it takes to move two million people, and other subjects that are very time consuming and difficult for people to understand. Literally thousands of pages have been written on the subject. How can we expect all of the Eternal's people to believe the same thing? NSE
Bread &Wine in Jewish Practice
Letter: March 14, 1997
The "kiddush", a practice of eating bread ( challah [Hebrew]) and drinking wine ( hagafem boray fe-ree [Hebrew]) is regularly practiced in Jewish families, not only every Shabbos [Sabbath], but at not all gatherings of the Jewish people. I, for one, can recall seeing it at weddings, funerals(!!), bar-mitzvahs, even just get-togethers.
It appears to be even more significant to usspiritual Jewsas it is the symbol given us by our Savior of partaking in Him. "For as often as ye do this...".
Brother David, Pennsylvania
Jew, spiritually and physically
Response: It is interesting to hear other's experience in this area. I do not advocate the keeping of Jewish tradition because it seems nice, but when it is apparently also taught by the scriptures, then I think we need to carefully consider it. We hope to write an article someday on the Jewish traditions that were upheld in the New Testament, and the ones that were condemned.
Appreciated Calendar Conference
Letter: February 5, 1997
We consider it a great benefit to have been able to attend the Calendar Conference in Dallas. A lot of information was provided, and I feel every presenter believed their concept was the right one. The conference allowed us to consider every aspect from astrology to the Hale-Bopp Comet. The panel discussions gave everyone an opportunity to question the presenters that made themselves available.
After fully considering everything, we were unable to agree with any concept presented, nor are we satisfied with continuing with the Hebrew Calendar that the Churches of God have been following for years. We believe the Eternal to be a creator of perfection, therefore an arbitrary sliver or first crescent would not be a new moon.
We contacted the Burke-Baker Planetarium for the new moons (conjunctions) of 1997. This makes April 8th the beginning of the Sacred Year. Per Leviticus 23: Passover is April 20th, unleavened Bread April 21-27th, Pentecost June 15th, and with the new moon of the 7th month being October 1st, that is Trumpets. Continuing with Leviticus 23: October 10th is the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles beginning on October 15th with the 22nd being what most call the Last Great Day.
No artificial postponements of any kind were considered, and we also believe the beginning of the Sacred Year should always follow the Spring Equinox. We feel the Eternal would have revealed them if they were necessary. We do not consider keeping God's Holy Days a Burden regardless of how they fall. We feel this is right, so we are following our heart, and hope we will not be alone. We would like feed-back from anyone that is interested.
Bob & Margaret Rose
Response: We appreciate your desire to follow what you believe is the correct calendar. However, since you use astronomical conjunctions to begin your months, you can be pretty sure that the calendar you are keeping is not the one that the Patriarch's of the Bible kept. See the article on "Earthshine" in this issue for an explanation.
We have heard many calendar explanations begin by saying "since God is a God of perfection, He must have...." Then the person goes on to describe what they believe the Creator would do. I see two main problems with this:
1) People's ideas of perfection and the Eternal's ideas seem to be different. Many people's idea of perfection would include perfectly round orbits of the Moon and Earth, and months and years that were an exact number of daysbut that is not what the Eternal did. To other people, perfection means something simple enough that they can easily understand it. But Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, said people could not figure out everything that the Eternal has done: "then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it."
2) The Eternal did not say that the creation was "perfect," but he said that it was "very good" (Gen 1:31). If he did not leave instructions the heavenly bodies in such a way for us to know his simple calendar, then it is possible that He intended it to be centrally administered.
The calendar you have chosen will sometimes synchronize for an entire year with other calendar systems currently in useand will usually be within a day or two of the heavily used Hebrew Calendar. We hope things will work out so you will be able to fellowship with other brethren on the Holy Days.
Letter: March 13,1997
Dear Mr. Edwards:
I was most pleasantly surprised to see your report on the Dallas conference on Biblical calendars. The content of the topics presented confirmed that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and/or uneasiness with the present practice of following the Hebrew calendar in regards to the establishment of the dates of the annual Holy Days. I was unaware of this conference when I sent your copies of the various papers on this same topic for your review last February 23rd, but your report was the intended purpose of my transmittal, and the presentations you reported showed the level of interest in other areas of the country among God's people. It seems to me that this widespread (universal) and simultaneous concern for "getting it right" may very well be the working of the Holy Spirit. Surely Satan is not interested in correcting erroneous practice.
Response: Debates over calendars have existed in the smaller Sabbath-keeping congregations for at least 20 years. People in big organizations usually trust their "scholars" to know the answers to these questions. The scholars usually publish an article quoting only one view (usually the Jewish calendar), and that is the end of the matter for most people.
Satan would be interested in correcting erroneous practice if he could cause a lot of division in the process. If thousands of people leave one error for the truth, and tens of thousands of people leave one error for a bunch of different errors, and none of them work together any moreSatan will be happy.
Letter: You raised the question of "keeping the Holy Days early" if Russell's system (J. Russell, Corona, CA) is followed, i.e., keeping the Holy Days based on the true astronomical conjunction. While I'm not trying to speak for Mr. Russell, I find nothing in Scripture which tells us to start the month when "the crescent becomes visible." Rather, this entire matter is to commemorate the month of the year when the dual events of the Passover and Exodus (obviously under the brightest moon visible anywhere on the planet on the 15th of Abib) and the crucifixion of our Lord took place. Likewise, the full moon on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles is of paramount importance on this date, most probably because it is the actual anniversary of our Lord's birth. For these reasons, Mr. Russell's proposed solution, while it might not have been possible at the time of the original Exodus, is possibleand consistently predictabletoday, and it does produce the most accurate results year round. It could very well be that the Almighty accepted the original practice of looking for the crescent as the best available method at that time, knowing that when the technology developed to determine these days correctly, the Holy Spirit could lead HIS people to the proper method. This is happening today, and I must tell you that this method is currently being adopted by many of God's people throughout the country, irrespective of "leadership" hang-ups with following the Hebrew calendar.
Response: First, it is important to note that starting the first of the month with the mean conjunction will not always put the full moon on the fifteenth of the month. The moon's orbit is not round and the time between the conjunction and the full moon can vary from 13.73 days to 15.80 days. We understand your desire for a consistently predictable calendar, but it appears that the Eternal did not set the moon in orbit so that that phases of the moon would always occur on exactly the same days in the month.
Secondly, there is some Biblical evidence of using a first crescent, the Hebrew chodesh ("new moon") is only a couple of vowel points different from chadash which means "renew"a pretty good fit for a first crescent. Also, Genesis 1:14 said the lights were to be for "times." New moon conjunctions can only be seen during eclipses.
We are continually amazed by reasonings that go like this:
The Jews fixed their calendar according to imperfect 19-year time cycles and then altered the start of years so they could kept the feasts together and be able to prepare food for the Sabbath while they were in captivity. Imagine the nerve of those sinners changing God's holy days for their convenience.
Yet the same people will go on to make statements like:
We realize that Moses, David, Isaiah, etc. could not have kept a calendar based on a calculated true conjunction. But today we do not have anyone to sight new moons in Israel, so we will use a calculated conjunction calendar to keep God's holy days for our convenience.
Letter: And I want to make it perfectly plain that there is no anti-Semitic prejudice involved; it's pure conviction based on Scripture, which current practice does not reflect. It remains to be seen whether any further turmoil will result because of this revolt (?), but it is apparent that individuals are realizing that they are solely responsible for their own salvation and therefore, more willing to defect from rigid but, in their opinion, erroneous doctrine!
Response: What evidence is there in scripture for a calculated conjunction calendar?
Letter: You also stated that "the Edwards do not plan to depart from the Jewish calendar until"3 conditions took place. I have enclosed a booklet entitled POSTPONEMENTS (written, published, and distributed by the same Church of God, in Truth where Mr. James Russell is a minister), which I believe more than adequately fulfills all three of your conditions. Although I have had this booklet for some time, I didn't locate it at the time I copied the prior submittals related to this question; turns out to be the best and most concise of all.
Response: I have read James Russell's booklet and some of his other information. His booklet does not fulfill any of our three requirements:
1) We are not completely convinced that his system is the one that the Eternal wants us to use. To the contrary, we are convinced that it could not have been the system used in the Old Testament.
2) Although Mr. Russell has written a nice, inexpensive book, its concluding chapter says anyone keeping the Jewish Calendar has accepted the "Mark of the Beast." That means that nearly all holy-day-keeping Christians during the past 2000 years will "will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb" (Rev 14;10). We find this interpretation completely unacceptable as the other Biblical description of the Mark of the Beast shows it is not a calendar issue. We must realize, a great many Sabbath-keepers have lived and died without even even having access to information that would show them the problems with the Hebrew calendar. Also, Russell's book does not thoroughly explain how to find conjunctions or what to do when the conjunction occurs during the sunset or twilight periods.
3) Russell is explaining his understanding of the calendar to other groups, but it appears that most of the groups are not accepting itwith good Biblical reason.
Letter: In closing, I'll leave you with a question which this subject has brought to light. Forever, it seems, God's people have disagreed with the Jewish interpretation of when the Pentecost should be kept. We've said (along with Catholics and Protestants) that this Holy Day should be observed on the SUNDAY after the 7th Sabbathwhich means that we have always observed "back to back" Sabbathsone of the reasons for Postponements. By maintaining that this day should be observed on Sivan 6, which is accepted Jewish practice, they rarely are confronted with postponing their "Feast of Weeks" (Pentecost) to another day, but it must happen occasionally. When it occurs on Friday, do they advance the Holy Day to the following Monday or celebrate it on the day preceding the normal Sivan 6 date? Do you suspect this may be a large part of the reason for insistence that Sivan 6 is the proper date, i.e., no need to postpone another Holy Day every year? Just curious!
In Christ's service
Ray Rousseau, Massachusetts
Response: This is a question we have never thought of before. However, I do not think there is any relationship. Actually, the Talmud records arguments among the Jews as to whether Pentecost should be Sunday or Sivan 6. The Hebrew calendar only attempts to prevent certain holy days from falling on Friday or Sunday, not all of them. Sivan 6 was on a Friday in 1996 and will be on a Sunday in 1998. The Hebrew calendar only postpones the beginning of the year, not individual months or days within the year.
One interesting tie-in between the Pentecost debate and calendars. A common argument made is, if Pentecost always falls on Sivan 6, why doesn't the Bible just say so? If the Hebrew calendar was at one time determined by new-moon sightings, then it is possible Nisan and Iyar could be either both 30 days or both 29 daysthat would occasionally place Pentecost on Sivan 5 or Sivan 7. The most common occurrence would still be one 30-day month and one 29-day month (the way it always is with the fixed Hebrew calendar) which places Pentecost on Sivan 6. I have not studied the counting of Pentecost enough to write on the subject.
Heap on Homosexuals
Letter: January 21, 1997
You published a short article by Melvin Rhodes entitled Caught Between Two Extremes in the December 1996 Servants' News. Whilst I believe the tone and intent of that article was very good, I wonder if I could point out an error. Maybe it was just poorly phrased. It is this statement:
2. Nowhere in the Bible are those with homosexual tendencies condemned.
That is entirely untrue!
While it is axiomatic that God loves the sinner, He condemns his sinful tendencies. However, it does not mean that God does not condemn homosexual tendencies and excuse those who are that way. Romans 1 makes that point plain. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men." Rom 1:18.
Does God reveal His wrath against homosexuality? Yes! Paul wrote: "...men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Rom 1:27).
Rom 1:27 is unequivocal that such behaviour is perversion. Paul goes on to state that it is the product of a "depraved mind" (v 28).
Are homosexual acts and desires depraved? Yes, according to God's Word.
Are homosexual tendencies sin? Yes, according to God's Word.
Are those with homosexual tendencies condemned in the Bible? Yes! Just as are adulterers and those who allow themselves to entertain thoughts of lust, or those who desire pornography, or who harbour thoughts of greed, envy , resentment, whatever is contrary to God's holiness.
God condemns ALL godlessnesseven thoughts and tendencies within us which are deviations from His holiness. We are to bring every thought into line with Christ's revealed will and mind (2 Cor 10:5).
Homosexual tendencies are deviations from His intended psychology. God condemns such thoughts. Everyone who suffers from such deviations is under condemnation until they recognise their wrong sinful desires, and repents of such by making a concerted effort to turn away from them. When a person has made that determined choice, he is no longer under God's condemnation. But, if homosexual sinful desires keep recurring (as is the case with most who have a wrong thought pattern), he (or she) must keep repenting of them, until they have finally been submerged and replaced by a correct psychological approach, one totally in line with the Spirit.
I do feel it is important to redress the liberalism that Melvin Rhodes' false statement may have put in some people's minds. I don't think he meant to be liberal, but it could have that effect. God's grace gives no one license to deviant thoughts or tendencies. Every form of wickedness is intolerable to God. Many simply do not perceive the depth of human evils and the contrasting greatness of God's holiness. But without holiness no one will see the Creator (Heb 12:14).
You are doing a very worthwhile work in helping many lost 'sheep'. Keep up the good work. We will co-operate in whatever way we can. God bless!
Malcolm Heap, England
Response: Thank you very much for your encouragement. Probably the point of disagreement here is what did Melvin Rhodes mean by "tendencies." All of the scriptures you quoted condemned homosexual actsnot homosexual thinking or tendencies. However your quote on bringing every thought in line with Christ is also quite right. Homosexual lust, just like heterosexual lust or plain coveting are all sin. I think James explains it well:
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (Jms 1:14-15).
James shows that being tempted and having a desire is not wrong, but letting it conceive and give birth to sin is. I personally have never had any homosexual temptations. I do not know exactly why, but I feel certain that a big part of it was my masculine father and feminine mother who clearly loved me and remain married to this day. There are others who have not been so fortunate. Ever since they can remember, they have felt little attraction to the opposite sex and plenty of attraction to their own.
But I have had other temptations, some of which some homosexuals have never had. What Mr. Rhodes was saying is that homosexuals are not sinning by existingnor by having homosexual temptations. Just as heterosexuals are not sinning by being attracted to some other married person of the opposite sex. Both are sinning when, as James says, they let this "desire conceive" and it gives birth to sin. If they recognize the temptation as wrong and put it out of their mind, then there is no sin.
Obviously, we should pray and take steps to avoid temptation (Matt 6:13, 1Cor 7:5). The goal of homosexuals should be to be healed to the point where they no longer have homosexual temptations, just as everyone should strive to reduce their own sources of temptations. Mr. Rhodes has started Anchor to help homosexuals with this process, rather than condemn them for existing, as many ministries do.
Finally, we must all realize that it is not a sin not to be attracted to the opposite sex. Paul considered it a gift that he was able to function without being married (1Cor 7:7-9). NSE
Hope For Homosexuals
Letter: January 26, 1997
I have been a Christian for 20+ years and have struggled with homosexuality. Today, I was searching for something besides the ex-gay ministries that after 15 years leave me without the true picture.
After reading the short introductions of Anchor Magazine, I am convinced that I have found what I have been looking for my entire life. An understanding ministry for homosexuals. I am a strong Christian and my cross to bear is homosexuality. I am not gay. I am a homosexual, there is a difference. I do not practice my orientation due to my respect & love for God.
Response: We appreciate your desire to obey the Eternal in spite of your desires. We have prayed for your deliverance from this difficulty. NSE
Hope for Heterosexuals
Letter: January 10, 1997
Dear Mr. Edwards:
Thank you for Servants' News. It does seem to be filling a need for many hungry brethren. You have many good ideas and articles. We appreciate it when you stick close to the scriptures in the opinions you present in Servants' News.
Your article on page 17 of Vol 2 No 10 (December 1996 issue) "Hope for Homosexuals" was good in most parts, something needing to be addressed. However, it was hard to grasp in an article on being "forgiving and understanding" to ALL kinds of repentant sinners an insert which refers your readers to SN March-April 1996, page 23. I quote your enclosed remarks in "Hope for Homosexuals".
"Members of one Sabbath-observing group seemed quite willing to continue to let a man lead them who had been video-taped committing adultery only a few months before."
Are you telling your readers there is hope in Christ for repentant sinners except for this one person? Whatever your motive, I want to talk to you like a sister and a mother: I had hoped you took a long look in the mirror since my last letter.
I fear this may not be the case. You have to judge your own heart. But as a teacher, writer, publisher and preacher, you owe a lot to God, Jesus Christ, and your readers. Please do not fall into the self-righteous pit as many others have. Remember, [name withheld] was a good teacher. Wanting to be exactly right, led him away from Christ's teaching. Why do you think his group falls off as fast as it grows?
The brethren of the Churches of God led by the Holy Spirit can see if a teacher is even honest with himself. Poor [name withheld] will get a dose of reality if he does not repent of his wanting to be right. All you men (teachers) who are so willing to stone Garner Ted Armstrong should just wish God loved you enough to hit you with a baseball bat; and that you loved God enough to repent and change as much as he is.
Does your article let your readers think homosexuals can repent and change but that Garner Ted Armstrong cannot or will not? Are you his judge? Those of us in CGI are led by Christ, not a man. Thankfully, the facts are that GTA is the spokesperson on the telecast. In the year ending, CGI had 23,403 new people wanting to learn the truths of God for the first time. None of these counted "new" are recycled brethren from church to church. Thankfully too, we have some of those. But no thanks goes to your paper or you for this. So if the telecast is still reaching new converts, then Mr. Armstrong and we with CGI are still doing Christ's bidding.
Is it your calling to lead people to Christ? Or to be right? (The real meaning of self-righteousness is to think you are right against all reason.)
Response: Thank you for your letter. Your question, "are you telling your readers there is hope in Christ for repentant sinners except for this one person? The answer is "no." As we have stated multiple times in our writing, the issue here is not repentant sinners, the issue is: "Should people with known major sins be leaders and preachers?" In our work at Servants' News, we frequently encounter people who are ready to give up on all Sabbath keeping organizationssometimes ready to give up on the Bible and Godbecause of the bad examples they see in "church leadership." What do you say to a young prostitute who is trying to repent and live a clean lifestyle if she were to encounter Garner Ted Armstrong as a customer? How can we tell others to trust a man as a spiritual leader and at the same time recommend that they never leave their wives or daughters alone with him? If the leaders of the Eternal's people cannot or do not live righteous lives, why should anyone want to receive His spirit and try to live righteously?
Look at the qualifications of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. What are those scriptures there for? We have heard some in the Church of God, International say these are the qualifications for a new elder, but we can't find a Bible version that says that. Can you? If a man is righteous for a while and qualifies to be an elder, does God "save up" that righteousness and allow a certain amount of sin later on? "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die" (Ezk 18:24).
What does it take to disqualify a person as a leader? Are serial rapists, child molesters, or serial killers qualified to be church leaders if they claim they are repentant? Should we all be forgiving if our church leader repeats one of these sins from time to time? If this leader has a slick lawyer or bribes a judge and manages to stay out of jail, would that make these sins acceptable in a leader? We think you can see that there is some limit to whom we can accept as a church leader! The only question now is, does Mr. Armstrong's sin disqualify him? What do the scriptures say?
"Therefore put to death the earthly parts of your nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed; for it is because of these things that God's anger is coming on those who disobey Him" (Col 3:5, JNT).
"But fornication and all uncleanness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for the saints" (Eph 5:3).
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (1Thes 4:3-5).
"For certain men have crept in unawares... ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ...suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (1Thes 4:3-5).
"If you instruct the brethren in those things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed" (1Tim 4:6).
Your statement, "The brethren of the Churches of God led by the Holy Spirit can see if a teacher is even honest with himself." If you will read the statements made by the Church of God, International, listen to the tapes sent out by the CGI on the matter, read the court documents, and watch the masseuse video tape, you must conclude that Garner Ted Armstrong is not being honest with himself or anyone else! Sometimes he said he has done nothing wrong, other times he said he "had a minor slip-up," and other times he says he has made a major mistake. When we first heard of the issue we wrote to him and asked. about it. He personally responded and we will give you a quote from it:
"I don't know what she thinks is on the video tape, but the actual tape is in the hands of the FBI, and I hesitate to go into detail, since it is supposedly a "covert" investigation, and of course with the federal offense such as extortion, some rather lengthy prison sentences could be handed down, and the last thing in the world I want to do, is the extortionist's work for them."
These were all lies! The FBI never had the tape and they never started an investigation. If you believe they did, please tell us which FBI office was doing the investigation and we will gladly print a humble retraction in Servants' News. When one looks at the masseuse tape, we do not see a man making an accidental slip, but a man making over 40 separate advances toward a woman who quietly rebuffed them. Are we to believe that he has never done this before? We would hope that even most married couples would realize that their partner is not interested after only a few rebuffed advances.
Please correct us if we are wrong, but we have never seen Mr. Armstrong give any sort of accurate description of his sin and "own up to it," being primarily his fault. When David repented, he acknowledged his sin in front of all.
You said: "So if the telecast is still reaching new converts then Mr. Armstrong and we in CGI are still doing Christ's bidding." Yes you are, to a limited degree. Many people and organizations are doing Christ's bidding to some degree. But why should we try to do His bidding and also knowingly violate some of his instructions? Why ignore His principles on how to select leaders? There are many others who have served the Eternal, but led a life that was a poor example. Solomon built His temple, but had too many women. Jehu executed judgment on the house of Ahab, but did not live a righteous life (2Kngs 10:30-31). Our Savior recognized some right acts of the Pharisees, even though they were terrible hypocrites (Matt 23:2,23). He even agreed with much of their teaching it was their works He could not accept: "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do" (Matt 23:3).
Today, there are many partially-effective church organizations that are hindered by sin within their leadership. It is easy for the Church of God, International to count the number of responses to Mr. Armstrong's telecast; it is impossible to count the number of people who have given up on biblical truth when they see how he lives his life. Is it Mr. Armstrong or the Father in Heaven who brings people to conversion? Would your organization bring in twice as many new converts with a righteous man leading it and making telecasts? For years, the Worldwide Church of God taught that only Herbert Armstrong was capable of doing their telecast. After his death, three presenters took over the telecast, and each one of them achieved a greater average response than Herbert Armstrong did. Ron Dart and others who left the Church of God, International have far less resources than the CGI does, but they "started up from scratch" and are bringing in new responses from their broadcasts and literature. Should the CGI be afraid to try a new presenter and see if the Eternal will work through him?
You have asked that we, "Please do not fall into the self-righteous pit as many others have." Webster's Dictionary defines self-righteous as: "convinced of one's own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others." We are not judging whether we are more or less righteous than Garner Ted Armstrong. We cannot predict whether we or he or anyone else will ultimately be saved or how we will be rewarded. We are sinners too. We continue in our service because our sins are not creating major stumbling blocks for other brethren and new converts. Garner Ted Armstrong is disqualified as a spiritual leader because:
1) His major sins are public knowledgethey are a part of a public lawsuit and there are hundreds of copies of a video tape of his sins in circulation.
2) He only seeks forgiveness for a "covered up" and minimized account of his sinHe does not openly acknowledge the truth about his sins and repent of what he has actually done.
You ask, "Is it your calling to lead people to Christ?" Yes, that is certainly part of it. It is also our calling to help teach the body of Christ how to lead others to Him. We encourage people to attend with a lot of Sabbath keeping congregationswe do not claim that we, or some one group, has more truth than the others. But how can we lead people to Christ and include your organization in that process when we know that some day in the next few years many members will probably see a newspaper headline about the settlement Garner Ted Armstrong (and possibly CGI) is paying for his sexual misconduct?
We hope and pray that Garner Ted Armstrong will be granted repentance and receive forgiveness. But the Bible instructions on church leaders gives no "exception clause" for a disqualified leader, even though he may still be doing some good works. Our Father in Heaven, and the Church of God, International are quite capable of doing the Work without him.
Norman & Marleen Edwards
The Marriage Contracts--We Did It!
Letter: January 13, 1997
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Your recent articles on marriage were most welcome and I applaud your courage to challenge some dear and fervently believed assumptions! Recently, a small congregation was upset over a young couple who were discovered to be living together while plans for their wedding ceremony were being made. Because they have "refused to repent", they are being ostracized by their so-called friends and brethren. While not necessarily condoning the actions of this couple, when I suggested there might have been an overreaction, or possibly it was none of their business, I have myself have been attacked as being illiterate and/or of rejecting God's Commandments.
On the contrary, it is obvious to anyone who truly studies the Scriptures on marriage that, by living together, this couple is already married and were seeking approval of family and friends with the ceremonial we have come to expect and demand for "validity." I hope all these people have seen your first article and are seriously re-considering their ideas, judgments, and actions.
I laughed when I read the title of the article, "The Marriage Contract: Does anyone really do it?" The answer in our case is a resounding, "Yes!" (And this before anyone told us we could or should).
I wrote you previously about my interest in the Judaic origins of our faith. It was out of this interest that I had long-desired to have a "Jewish " wedding. Thankfully, my husband-to-be was equally enthusiastic about the idea, so that is what we did!
One of the key features of a Jewish wedding is the Ketubbah or marriage contract. After studying texts from Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform sources, we composed our own document which addressed our specific needs and concerns. Although, not as detailed as the contract quoted in "Living by the Rules" (which any long married couple would chuckle at as absurd), our document does address the issues you mentioned, i.e., our expectations about "mutual support and cooperation, a sexual relationship, and responsibility for the children." More specifically, guided by Scripture, we defined our roles and responsibilities in the relationship, and clarified the financial assets we brought together by the marriage. This document is not signed by the man and woman themselves, but rather by their individual witness/representatives. (It is ratified by the woman's acceptance of some token offered by the manusually a plain gold ring worn on the wife's right index, pointing finger.) "In Jewish law, anyone may perform a wedding, for Jews are essentially married by consent. The passing of a ring, or any object of value, from groom to bride represents a contract which is valid if it is witnessed by two other adult male Jews." ("Judaism" ed by Arthur Hertzberg, Washington Square Press, 1961, page 84.)
If there is to be a ceremony (as we chose), before it begins, the groom and witnesses (with any officiant) sign all the marriage documents (Ketubbah, license, etc.). In modern practice the Betrothal Agreement is usually signed on this same day so that the couple requires no legal divorce if, for any reason, they fail to consummate the marriage. In the actual ceremony, after an opening blessing, the groom is asked to verbally confirm his agreement to the marriage and offers his token to the bride. Then an honored guest is asked to read the Ketubbah aloud to all witnesses present. After its reading, the bride is asked if she accepts its terms, and if so, is given the token and the document for her life long safe-keeping. This is followed by seven blessings being pronounced on the couple (we asked seven friends to each read one of these). After this, groom and bride drink from one glass which is then crushed beneath the groom's footassuring no others may ever "drink of their cup of blessings." Then the couple turns together and is introduced to the company as man and wife.
While I would take nothing for the beautiful memories of this day and ceremony, i t is important to remember, as you stress, that almost none of this was essential for us to be married in God's sight. I was rather CONCERNED BY THE LETTER BY DONALD STECKEY, however. While a state license is not needed in God's sight, it is generally required in the sight of man! Besides submitting ourselves to governmental authority (as long as it does not contradict God's lawand this does not), we are encouraged to "give no appearance of evil" by flaunting benign conventions. The "common law" marriage is becoming increasingly invalid today, and one should check state laws carefully! Besides these issues, if a widow should desperately need rightful veterans or social security benefits, it will be nearly impossible without a marriage license.
Further, on the issue of then requiring a legal divorce: If God is present with both parties, they will not be seeking a divorceand if man or woman (or both) have removed themselves from God's Presence to reach this point, then they better have someone/something (i.e. the appointed earthly authorities) to mediate between the two! Let us not be so paranoid of government (which God has allowed whether we like it or not) that we foolishly put ourselves in real jeopardy! The Jews have their own religious authority, the "betdin" which mediates their divorce proceedings: unless the church is willing to assume such a similar practice, we should not casually dismiss the protections offered by the secular state! This is not an issue to be taken lightly and I hope you will make this point to your readers!
Thank you for an excellent publication! Please accept the enclosed to help you in your work.
Sincerely, Sadie Morgan
221 Ivy St.
Rossville, GA 30741
Response: Thank you very much for your interesting letter. You are absolutely right about the couple who was living together before they were "married." According to Old Testament law, a betrothed couple could consummate their marriage at any time, and it was considered thata marriage. They may not have a contract to begin with, but that can be agreed to later. In some places, a betrothal agreement is signed as soon as the betrothal is arranged and it covers most of the things that go into a marriage agreement. That way, any sooner-than-planned marriages are covered by an agreement.
Thank you very much for your own personal story. Some aspects of the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony can be found in the Bible, but many cannot. It does seem that much of it has a lot of positive meaning.
Yes, we cannot emphasize enough the responsibility that comes with marriage. Probably, some couple will read one of our articles and conclude that they do not need the state or the ministry to marry them. They will get out a piece of paper and write "I love you, you love me, a married couple, now are we," sign it, and start living together. They would be much better off going to some kind of ministry and getting a state license than to commit the above thoughtless act.
The point of our article was to teach people that they cannot put the responsibilities of their marriage on the ministry or on the statethat they should do more planning than the ministry typically encourages, that they should write down their expectations in a contract and sign them. For those who want to spend probably hundreds of hours looking at state law books, it is possible to record a common law contract and create a marriage that will be upheld by courts and possibly make provisions for the family even better than what a state license would. The point of this is that you are still not legally required to get either the state's or the ministry's permission to marry in the USA. However, this is the hard way to do it, not the easy way.
A couple who wants to make special provisions for each other can often do so with various legal instruments used in addition to a state license. For example, husbands and wives can place their assets in various kinds of trusts so that they will have full access to everything without expensive and time consuming legal probate in the event one of them dies. Also, they can sign prenuptial agreements that control things such as how their assets or family will be divided in the unlikely event of a divorce.
If there is any lesson we can teach, it is that marriage is the second most important decision a person will ever make, and it should not be done in a hurry. A poor decision can greatly harm your whole life.
Thanks again for your letter. NSE
The Error of Racism
Letter: December 25, 1996
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Thank you for publishing the letter by Mrs D S. Many members of the churches of God would do well, to do as Mrs D S has done and learn more about the beliefs of the Jews. Jewish concepts of righteousness are often far more truly Biblical than traditional American, Protestant concepts; although one can find more than a little nonsense and superstition in Jewish folklore. The churches of God would be more righteous if they moved towards Messianic Jewishness and away from the 19th century 'American Adventism.' Three subjects people could learn a lot about by reading Jewish writings are (1) the human spirit and the state of the dead it is nearly impossible to understand the Biblical story of Lazarus and the Rich Man without understanding 1st century Jewish thought regarding the state of the dead and the human spirit; (2) concern for the poor and the righteousness of those who have mercy on the poor, and (3) the nations and places on earth where the so-called lost tribes of Israel emigrated. Everything I have seen that was written by legitimate Jewish scholars regarding Israel refutes Anglo-Israelist racial dogma which many ex-WCG members seem to love. And most ancient Jewish writers, who wrote about where the so-called lost tribes could be found, wrote things that contradicted Anglo-Israelist dogma.
Response: We would like to point out that it is possible to believe that the USA, UK, and other nations are the modern day lost ten tribes without being racist. We believe these nations today were being blessed because of the promises to Abraham, not because of our own righteousness, and that they will be punished for their sin and for misusing their blessings. We believe that national origin has nothing to do with who can be saved or how they will be rewarded (1Cor 3:13, 12:13).
We will have to agree with you, though, that many groups who support Anglo-Israelism believe that some races are spiritually or physically superior to each other. That is wrong. We believe the entire collective human family is much like the body of Christ in that different members have different gifts or skills, but there is no way to say what part is betterwe need all of it (1Cor 12:14-27).
We are aware of various other small groups that the Jews recognize as the lost 10 tribes of Israel. These are probably also part of the lost 10 tribes, but the promise to Abraham of being like the stars of heaven can only be fulfilled by the major nations of today.
Letter: Mrs D S provided a valuable service for the readers of Servants' News by exposing the heresy of the Anglo-Israelist Dan Gayman, and also the error of the Australian "Friends of the Sabbath" who apparently offered "the right hand of fellowship" to Dan Gayman. I wonder if the Australian "Friends of the Sabbath" would have welcomed and accepted and spoke well of an alleged Sabbath keeper who was a proud and unrepentant murderer? Or someone who was an avowed witch or shaman or juju man, who also claimed to observe the Sabbath? Or a Gay activist who advocates homosexual marriage and is the leader of a Gay Sabbatarian church? Whether they would have welcomed sinners such as that I don't know. But there is little difference between giving the right hand of fellowship to a racist who teaches the "Satan's seed" heresy and/or the "mud people" heresy (both of which are popular with Anglo-Israelists) and giving the right hand of fellowship to a high handed sinner who is a murderer or occultist or Gay activist! I wonder if they would have welcomed a "black" racist who believes in keeping the Sabbath, but also believes in the Black Muslim myth that the "white" race is a race of devils that was created by Yacub the "big headed scientist?" Would they have been as accepting of, and as comfortable with, a "black" racist as a "white" racist? That is an interesting question to ponder.
Response: Dan Gayman seems to be adept at not presenting his more offensive beliefs to audiences who are not ready to accept them. I do not think that the Australian "Friends of the Sabbath" had any knowledge of them.
Letter: It can be a virtue to be inclusive and tolerant of others who may have beliefs that differ somewhat from our own, but one has to draw the line somewhere. And the line should be drawn when it comes to sinners who love and practice the greatest sins listed in Revelation 21:8 and 22:15. Sorcery is one of those great sins, and the Apostle Peter had no qualms about rejecting Simon the sorcerer, even though Simon claimed to be a believer in Jesus Christ. And Jesus criticized the Thyatirans for putting up with "Jezebel" who taught idolatry and sexual immorality which are two of those great sins. No one can be saved who loves and practices any of those greatest of sins that we find in Revelation 21 and 22.
If one can admit that all humans are created "in the image of God", then one must also admit, if one is rational, that anyone who loves and teaches the doctrine that Jews are "the seed of Satan" and non-whites are subhuman beasts is someone who loves and teaches a lie. If one can admit that non-whites can receive God's Holy Spirit and be saved, then one must also admit that there are, and have been, non-whites who are spiritual brethren of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that all who "hear the word of God and do it" are His brethren (Luke 8:19-21). Jesus also said that anyone who would call his spiritual brother in Christ a "despicable fool" would be in danger of eternal damnation (Mat 5:22). How much greater danger would one be in if he claims to be a disciple of Christ and calls the brethren of Jesus, who have God's Spirit, damned children of Satan or damned beasts simply because of their so-called race or their ethnicity? (Anyone who says that certain races cannot be saved is saying that all members of those races, regardless of how righteous they may be, are eternally and hopelessly damned by God!) Paul rebuked Peter for not wanting to be seen eating with Gentiles; and should not one be rebuked for teaching that non-whites are damned beasts?
Response: The doctrine that only certain races can be saved is certainly wrong. However, probably all of the original 12 apostles believed only Jews could be saved for several years. Yes, just as Peter needed a vision from the Eternal to see his error, then needed to be rebuked by Paul, so must the people who teach the Satan's seed doctrines be rebuked. But before we answer the matter, we will hear it first (Prov 18;31), so we can show them from the scriptures in their own terminology where they are wrong. Will we be able to change the minds of the leaders of these groups? Usually not, but we cannot be sure. But if we can answer their errors well, we may be able to convince other people to reject this error, or to never accept it in the first place.
There are plenty of scriptures indicating that people of various races joined ancient Israel, and the New Testament Church. Some of the scriptures used to teach the "Satan's Seed" doctrine are obviously misinterpreted. We hope to do an extensive article on the subject later.
Letter: John said: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren"; and "He who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (I Jn 3:14-15). Any racist who condemns people because of their so-called race and who refuses to accept the fact that all humans are made in the image of God and all who "work righteousness" are accepted by God is a sinner in whom the love of God does not abide. James said that those who "have respect of persons", those who are prejudiced, are sinners who do not love their neighbor as they love themselves (James 2). Racists love themselves far more than they love their neighbor, if their neighbor is of a different race. And by putting down and condemning their neighbor who is not of their race, racists lift themselves up and increase their own self-esteem.
Response: Racists are not necessarily people who do not love their neighborthey just do not know who their neighbors are. Christ had to tell the story of the "Good Samaritan" to a lawyer who understood he needed to love his neighbor, but did not understand that his neighbor included other races (Luke 10:25-37).
Nevertheless, I must agree that most racists have a proud look about themthey act as if they are better than others. This is one of the things that the Eternal hates (Prov 6:17).
Letter: I know it is very hard for people to humble themselves and repent of sin, that is human nature. And it is extremely hard for people to humble themselves and repent of sins that boost their self-esteem and thereby make them feel good. The virulent sin of racism does boost the self-esteem of racists, and that sin has been rampant in America from the very beginning. The majority of Americans, including those in the churches of God, have been adversely affected by that sin whether they choose to admit it or not. It is therefore very hard for Americans, especially those who are so-called "whites", to understand how great a sin is the racist belief in white supremacy; and it is very hard for them to comprehend the enormity of the evils that racism has caused. Racism along with the serving of mammon have been America's great and systemic sins. American Church of God preachers should have been incessantly lifting up their voices like trumpets and telling people to repent of racism and to bring forth fruit that indicates repentance. But when it comes to racism, especially when it comes to white supremacy, the trumpet has usually been silent, or at best has only given an anemic and uncertain sound. Why? Because many churches of God have in them persons with racist beliefs and racist attitudes who are unable to see how great is the sin of racism in themselves and in the world. And also because many of the churches of God teach Anglo-Israelism as religious dogma, and the very spirit of Anglo-Israelism is a spirit of racism. One might ask, "How can anyone rightly say that the spirit of Anglo-Israelism is a spirit of racism?" The answer is this: any religious doctrine that (1) emphasizes race more than grace, (2) emphasizes alleged differences between the so-called races rather than our common humanity as descendants of Adam made in the image of God, (3) emphasizes skin color and racial purity more than righteousness and moral purity, (4) insists or implies that one race is innately superior to others, and (5) makes almost an idol of whiteness, is a doctrine that evinces a spirit of racism. And one can find all of those things in writings expounding Anglo-Israelism. I know that those church of God people who have faith in Anglo-Israelism insist that there is nothing racist about that teaching, and I have no illusions that anything I say will shake their faith in Anglo-Israelism. But it is not by accident that the most violent and hate filled racist groups in America today are "Identity Christians" who love Anglo-Israelism. The teachings of Anglo-Israelism, unlike the teachings of Jesus Christ, do not have to be perverted and misinterpreted to be acceptable to white supremacists. If Anglo-Israelism was an anti-racist doctrine that unequivocally condemned white supremacy, one would not find it being enthusiastically embraced by white supremacists and white racist hate groups, in an attempt to prove their racist beliefs are supported by the Holy Bible. "By their fruits you shall know them!"
Response: I have certainly known people who have believed all five of the problems you mention with British-Israelism. However, my understanding has never been that salvation was any more or less available to a person based on their race, nor was race ever imputed as righteousness.
There are plenty of other people who have taken true Bible doctrines and perverted them: The "elect", the 144,000, the "Philadelphia era", and numerous other classifications have been used to single out some group of people as being more righteous than all of the others. Just because these passages have been greatly misused does not mean that they do not have a right application. Similarly, I believe history and scripture show where modern Israel is todayand those people who are modern-day Israel ought to be setting a righteous example to the rest of the world rather than patting themselves on the back and saying "I'm thankful that I'm not like other men..." (Luke 18:10-14).
Letter: The Australian "Friends of the Sabbath" were apparently unable to see that the sin of racism is as wicked as the sin of witchcraft or the sin of idolatry.
William Washington, Ohio
Response: Those of us planning conferences should make some effort to understand the beliefs of the speakers we invite, but we cannot do this perfectly. As 1Timothy 5:4 states, "Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later." If Dan Gayman stayed away from his racist doctrines, many of his other doctrines are similar to ours. We would certainly not invite him to speak at any of our gatherings as long as he publicly holds this doctrine.
Servants' News wrote to Dan Gayman, (Church of Israel, Schell City, Missouri) and received a reply dated March 13, 1997:
Gayman: "I have, and continue to teach that all races are the distinct creation of God, each with their own unique mark of God's ownership upon them, and each having their own place and function to fill in God's plan for this earth. I do not believe that all races are descended from Adam, because to believe this would be to endorse evolutionary humanism which I reject in total. We teach that God has a plan for all of his creation, whatever their racial composition, and that as to form and function they are uniquely different, one from another."
SN Comment: These sound like nice words, but they mean that some races are little different than the animals that the Eternal created. We have not done all of our research yet, but it seems that Gayman believes that Adam and Eve, being two, could not have three races within themselves. But since each person has two completely different sets of chromosomes, Adam and Eve could have had four races within their genes. People who breed animals know that over many years a great number of varieties can be bred from just a few distinct, healthy parent animals.
Gayman: "We believe that all Jews are descended from the house of Judah excepting those who are called the synagogue of Satan as in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9, which are obviously connected to John 8:44 and 1John 3:12."
SN Comment: This is the point where we need to spend some time in investigation. For example, John 8:44 says: "You [Jews] are of your father the devil..." The Satan's seed doctrine takes this very literally. But do they also take Matthew 16:23 literally where Christ "turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan!"? If so, then Peter is Satan. It gets more confusing when we read Luke 22:3 "Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve." Was this Peter (who was Satan) entering into Judas? Then what happened to Peter (and Satan) when Judas died?
Apparently they use 1 John 3:10-12 to prove that the children of Cain are children of the Devil. However, if we start in verse 8 we find that whoever commits sin is of the Devil. Well, all of us have sinned (Rom 3:23). And we were all letting the Devil work in us when we sinned. And, just like Peter, we repent after Satan uses us, and Satan leaves. We would hope that it will become obvious to others that these scriptures are not talking about physical children of the devil, but people who are allowing the devil to work in them.
Some of Gayman's literature had these statements:
Gayman: "We believe that Biblical, genetic Israel in Jesus Christ is the Church, identified among the Anglo, Saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian, Germanic and kindred people of the world."
"We believe that election is by race, and salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ."
SN Comment: There is no question here that Gayman believes salvation is available only to certain races. Beside being contrary to multiple scriptures on the subject, this also opens up the question of what percentage of the "savable races" would a person need to be in order to be eligible for salvation? The answer cannot be 100%, because the scriptures do record a few gentiles mixed in with Israelite blood lines. So, wherever someone sets the percentage, there will be cases where people are not quite sure of the racial identity of great grandpa so-and-so and therefore may not know if they are "savable or not." Or do some of these groups believe they have the right to "decide" whether certain individuals hare "savable" or just sort of "animals."
It all sounds scary!
It all sounds wrong!
We hope to write on the subject after we study it in depth.
Return to index