Letter and Responses

We print a representative sampling of our mail—both 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.

Praise for "Praise"

Letter: August 10, 1997

Hi Norm! Just wanted to tell you I enjoyed your article on "Praise." I thought you took a unique approach with your comparisons to sporting events and political rallies. In a similar vein, itís interesting to me that many people who would be comfortable with the public display of affection between parents and children are disgusted and sickened by contemporary services where worshippers openly express their love for their Father and Older Brother by clapping or raising their hands in praise.

Since I was once one of those disgusted, Iíve given some thought as to why I felt that way. There may be as many reasons for the disgust as there are disgusted people. But in my case, I believe legalism kept me too focused on the contractual relationship I had with God and distracted me from the more intimate relationship God intended.

I hope anyone disturbed by your article will read the scriptural references again and pray for understanding. God wants them so much closer than they realize!

Marie Montieth—California

Response: Thank you for the encouragement. We have never heard of anyone who claimed to have made a scriptural study of praise and worship and concluded that only old, staid music should be used to worship the Eternal.

—NSE

The Holy Spirit Remains Unscathed

Letter: August 15, 1997

Dear Norman,

Thank you for your letter and all the literature you were kind enough to send. I regret that I donít have access to E-mail or photo copying facilities or I would offer my services. Hope it soon gets established for you to get the European mail speeded up; it is much appreciated.

I attend UCG (AIA) and for all the many criticisms and problems that come our way, there is one thing thatís obvious to those who take note, and that is the intervention and direction of the Holy Spirit in both personal and group activities and teaching and provision.

Thank God, His Spirit is beyond the scope of manís meddling—unlike the written and spoken word, which has been so distorted in many areas. Thank you for all your hard work.

Sincerely,

—A.S., England

Response: Thank you for your letter. One family is taking care of our United Kingdom subscription list, and another is taking care of the rest of Europe. See page 2 for the addresses.

We agree that the Eternal does his work with people in organizations, with people out of organizations, and with people who have not yet made up their mind. The history of religion never gives us a single group with "the truth" and a lot of other groups with error. We find numerous groups with a mixture of truth and error (yes, some big ones with nearly all error!).

—NSE

Forgot CBCG Feast Sites?, TCG?

letter: August 10, 1997

I was looking at your Festival information in the July issue of your publication on your web site and noticed that Christian Biblical Church of Godís sites are not listed.

Is this an oversight, or is there something I should know about that outfit?

Also, do you have any information about "The Churches of God" located in Texas?

—Sincerely, D. J. Fudge

Response: In most cases, we simply print information about Feast sites from whatever reliable source we find--contacting each hosting organization would take a long time. Some might need a committee or board meeting before they could "approve" of our printing their Feast information. In the case of the Christian Biblical Church of God, we did not have any reliable source, so we called their leader, Fred Coulter and he specifically asked us not to list their Feast sites, so we honored his request.

The Churches of God is a split-off from the Church of God, International. It currently has a rather loose structure--some work is done in Hawkins, Texas and some in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is now called The Church of God Outreach Ministries For more information, call their toll-free number: 800-611-8080.

—NSE

Attending Feast Again After 3 Years

Letter: August 5, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards

I appreciate very much the information contained in the materials you sent me which Iíve had opportunity to read over most. I enjoyed reading the How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans? study paper and took particular notice regarding the purpose of spiritual gifts.

I think God has been working on me for a time and toward a certain design. I have always been somewhat of an iconoclast and have frequently questioned the purpose of doctrine and logic of those in church authority. This kind of thinking has led myself to leave a main line Christian Organization, join a Sabbath Keeping Group and eventually be disfellowshipped for not blindly obeying the leaders. Now, through experience, I have greater discernment of that which is false in addition to understanding that which is corrupt. Though these experiences were difficult for my family and myself, I acknowledge the method behind the madness and believe that God has called me out for a real reason.

In light of what is happening with the greater congregation of believers, Iíve got to believe that there is something to more to do with the body. I can grasp the information available and do the best I can on my own. However, there is certainly something lacking and Iíve found that to being independent though safe lacks the synergy and benefit of a congregation. Especially when looking for some assistance to recognize, develop and capitalize on my spiritual gifts, I would honor the advice given to me by sincere elders. In light of the Parable of the Talents, Iím ultimately responsible for the fruit I would or would not bare. This weighs heavy on my heart as I see the world growing darker.

We havenít attended a Feast of Tabernacles outside my immediate family for three years now. Primarily due to reasons I have sited above. However, I desire to attend the feast and to gather with those who are interested in living in accordance with the true government of God.

We live in south central Indiana and I have noted the Ohio feast site at Burr Oak State Park. I would like to attend, but I guess I donít really know what to expect.

Sincerely,

Douglas Clausman—DC, Indiana

Response: We are glad that the paper on government was a help to you. Also, we are happy that you are able to attend the Feast this year. The biggest differences you will probably notice are: you will be able to ask questions of the speakers , you will be able to read scriptures in services, there will be more singing, there will be less people telling you what to do or think, and not everyone there will have the same opinion about every doctrine. We look forward to seeing you.

—NSE

Unhappy With United Church of God

Letter: August July 31,1997

Dear Norm;

Just a little donation to help you do the work that the Servantsí News requires. Sure do enjoy reading them and the other articles we received. Keep up the good work. Hope you and your family are well. God bless you and help you.

Several of us here who attend United are very upset with the present administration and in Victoria in the south end of the Island, about 35 brethren left United for the same reasons. And as we gather, there are other areas having the same problems here in Canada.

Letís pray that His Kingdom wonít be much longer and our true Shepherd will soon return.

With Brotherly Love,

Gina & Henk Vandergeest—Canada

Response: We say "amen" to your prayer for the return of the true Shepherd, but we remind you that He is also working now! We believe that brethren now are directly seeking the Eternal, Christ and His Word more than they ever have in the past 30 years or longer. Even though difficulties arise when friends are separated, those who truly seek the Eternal will continue to have love for each other in this life, and in the Millennium to come.

—NSE

Is Non-tithing Breaking
the Eighth Commandment?

Letter: July 23, 1997

Dear Sir:

We would like to request your booklet on "How To Give to the Eternal"!

In the newest booklet from the Global Church, "The 10 Commandments", in it, it refers to not paying your tithes—as breaking of the 8th Commandment. We really feel we need to study the subject on tithing again.

I believe that this is the first time I have seen it connected to the 8th Commandment.

Sincerely,

—California

Response: We will gladly send you the booklet which should answer this question in detail. But for a quick answer, consider this: Paul told the Ephesians "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Yet he clearly says that he provided for his own needs by working (Acts 20:34-35; 18:3, 1Thes 2:9, 2Thes 3:8-9). If Paul was not teaching them to tithe to him to preach the Gospel, was he teaching them to steal? We do not think so.

Malachi 3:8 talks about people robbing God in tithes and offerings. Verses 10-11 show that the tithes were on food given to the Levites and Priests. But both Old and New Testament show that everyone is responsible for giving offerings.

There is no doubt that the Eternal blesses people for giving in a right spirit. But there is much doubt about church organizations that demand a certain amount of money from their members--there is no New Testament example of this, nor is there any proof that Levitical tithes transferred to the "ministry."

—NSE

Comments on Men vs. Women

Letter: August 3, 1997

Dear Sir or Madam,

I received my July 1997 issue of Servantsí News on Friday (August 1). That evening, I flipped through the issue and the article "Men vs. Women?" caught my eye. I must admit that if I hadnít seen Eric Trowbridgeís letter in print in your publication (which I trust), I would never have believed that someone could be so Ďmessed upí in his or her view of women. It saddens me because I suspect that Eric must have experienced one or more bad relationships with women to cause him to feel that women are so inferior as a group.

When I was in public school, I had a natural ability in Mathematics. I do not consider myself an exception—I feel there are a lot of women that excel in Mathematics or other sciences. It is possible that a higher percentage of men in general excel in math/science compared to women, but there are a lot of women that have excellent math skills. But one must wonder if part of this higher percentage in men with good math skills might not be environmental and not an innate ability that more men have than women. The reason I say this is because while in public school, I was discouraged on several occasions from developing my math abilities. A high school counselor tried to encourage me to take a sewing class instead of Trigonometry. I took the Trig class (and my mother taught me how to sew at home).

In spite of being discouraged to pursue the areas of Mathematics/Science, I have a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree—both with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. When I was taking my Mathematics classes for both degrees, the majority of my classmates were female. When I was working on my Masters Degree, I had a teaching fellowship, as did 5 of my other classmates. These fellowships were awarded to the Ďbetterí students. We were paid to teach two undergraduate classes in Mathematics while working on our Masters Degree. All 6 of the fellowship students were female. There were 2 male students that took graduate classes towards a Masters Degree at the same time I was working on mine, but they did not have a fellowship. In the Computer Science classes that I took (both undergraduate and graduate level), the majority of the pupils were female as well.

After obtaining my Masters Degree, I taught at the college level for 13 years. Very rarely did the number of male students in any of my classes exceed the female students. Typically, there was almost an even number of males to females. Looking back on those 13 years of teaching, I can remember several outstanding male students, but I can also remember several outstanding female students.

I retired from teaching to stay at home and raise our 4 children. I enjoyed my time teaching, as I now enjoy my time at home with my children. When I was pursuing my degrees and teaching, this was with my husbandís approval. When we decided to have children, we decided it best for me to retire and stay at home with the children. I do not consider myself an exception to the female race—I think many of us women try very hard to do things pleasing to our husbands.

I found many of the statements that Eric made in his letter offensive to women in general. Eric states that "womenís Ďgullible natureí is the reason they are not to teach," and Adamís sin was letting his wife teach him." Sounds to me like Adam was the gullible one! Eric states that "girls suffer more from low self esteem than boys" which I donít doubt is true, but what is the source of that? The woman has been considered (until recent times) more like property than as a person. What about the men in the Old Testament having more than one wife? What do you suppose the Ďolderí wife felt like when the husband took another wife, much younger and prettier? I am sure she felt like an object that is old and rejected and put on the back shelf.

And what about Ericís statement that Ďanorexiaí is almost a feminine problem. While he is incorrect that is is almost exclusively a female problem (I have known several men that were anorexic), we must address why this is a major problem with girls/women? Our society thinks a man with a little extra weight around the middle can still be attractive. But let a woman put on a few extra pounds and she is obese and a glutton. My husband notices overweight women, but doesnít seem to notice men that are proportionally as overweight. Why is that? Because allowances are made by our society with respect to how a man looks as he ages, but no allowances are made with regards to a womanís appearance.

I could continue in this way, quoting Ericís letter and responding, but I would waste too much of my time typing (and too much of your time having to read this lengthy epistle!). Thanks for an interesting newsletter.

Sincerely,

Helen Casey, Texas

Response: We largely agree with your letter. Our reading of various research indicates that there are considerably more men in math and science schools and jobs. Your experience with more women may be unique to the school where you taught, or possibly because women students tend to choose women teachers.

Human Engineering Laboratories concluded that many math and science aptitudes are carried on the "X" chromosome, but are recessive genes. Since men only have one "X" chromosome, about 50% of the men have the aptitude. But since women have two "X" chromosomes, they must have the math/science genes in both of them in order to have the aptitudes. This explains why about 25% of women have these aptitudes. The Eternal could have designed women so that they would never have these abilities, but He did not! If He gave these abilities to 25% of women, He certainly expects them to use them where possible.

Thank you for your example of how a woman can both become educated, work in a meaningful job, and raise a family. Other women raise a family early in life, and go on to a career later. Some put their entire life into their family. Others put their entire life into a career. Our Creator likes variety. He probably could have made the Earthís eco-system work with a few dozen general-purpose insects. Instead, he made about 1,000,000 different kinds. If he took that much interest in diverse kinds of bugs, does he not have even more interest in diverse kinds of people?

—NSE

Comments on Conderís Writings

Letter: August 19, 1997

Mr. Edwards,

Thank you for your quick response to my request for literature and a holy day calendar.

Regarding Eric Snowís refutation of Conderís heresy, please send me a copy as soon as possible. I have begun a study of Conderís book myself. It was given to me by two friends (also former WCG) who said that for awhile they believed Conderís premise, but not being able to disprove it, they refuted it on faith alone!

To me, this is blind faith and not substantive. I have only begun my review, but it has been obvious from the start that Conder never fully understood the basic teachings of the COG or the Bible. He mis-states facts and teachings often.

This appears to be another sad commentary on many who were "brought up in the church." They accepted without proving for themselves what was true. Conder appears to have neither the training nor background required for proving or disproving anything. He jumps to conclusions based on inaccurate information and poor reasoning. His statement that Jesus was born in Nazareth shows his ignorance of scripture or careless editing. In either case, I submit that if "we" canít disprove his claims, the "we" as a body are the most tragic of people. We must use all our resources, all "gifts" in a joint effort on all fronts from now on. The days of allowing oneself to lie back and get spoon-fed are over!

The fact that three people I know from WCG (former members) have believed Conder should be a wake-up call. We are not as strong as we think we are!

So once again, thanks for your timely response, and please send me Mr. Snowís treatise. If I find additional refutation arguments during my study, I will surely let you know. We need all the ammo we can get!

Sincerely,

—RM, Illinois

Response: Thank you for your insight on the Conder situation. We believe that it is possible to refute his idea, that the New Testament and Jesus are phonies, by either or both methods. When brethren prayed in the name of Jesus or Yeshua many times and received direct answers, it is impossible to convince them that no one heard. This is especially true for people who were delivered from death, received miraculous healing, had lost property miraculously returned, or witnessed other great miracles. Also, we believe that a person with an honest mind looking at history will find the New Testament one of the most historically-provable documents.

Please encourage anyone you know who is interested to write for a copy of Eric Snowís paper.

—NSE

Questions on Keeping the Sabbath

Letter: August 2, 1997

Dear NSE,

I am reading your news from local congregations section in SN, July 1997. I disagree partly with your comment on the Sabbath-keepers rights—ie Sabbath-keepers should not expect others to work less desirable hours so they can keep the Sabbath.

Keeping the Sabbath does not involve insuring the rights of others not to keep it. Of course, we respect their rights, but we are not made unable to keep the Sabbath except when their right not to is reinforced. That is not a requirement in keeping Godís laws.

I am a nurse and the problem has occurred in my situation many times. It is a perceived problem for the managers who decide that my being a Sabbath-keeper is unfair to those who like to party on Saturday night.

Should I then occasionally break the Sabbath for this profit-seeking medical facility—so their party-goers have a right to do their thing? I am not saying that they do not have that right, but I am saying that I will not be there drawing a paycheck so they can hire those who want equal rights.

If all of us wanted to keep the Sabbath—whose responsibility is it to insure patient rights and care when we keep the Sabbath? (the facility)

Granted the patients must have care. If they (the patient) were in trouble, I would do that care for free—but not to profit the company. There is much paperwork and equipment care that goes into patient care. When that patient enters the hospital—the first priority is not immediate care except in the emergency room and even there they are looking for financial coverage and insurance at outstanding costs. (ie, I have seen lists where a patient paid $5 for an aspirin). The nurse must insure while sheís drawing pay and on the clock, that not only is the patient being cared for, but that the necessary charges are billed for whatever she does and uses in order to treat the patient.

Some ministers have said this is my part in being "a good neighbor." But do I shove aside the first four commandments to keep the last six?

In other cases, if some company decides to do business on the Sabbath, are we supposed to respect their "rights" to break it and break it ourselves—so someone will be insured of equal rights?

Sincerely in love,

—Myra McQueen, Texas

Response: We are sorry that our comment at the end of page 13 (July 1997 SN) was not very clear. We do not mean that Sabbath-keepers should agree to work on the Sabbath so that others can have the day off. What we meant is that Sabbath-keepers should not expect the government or employers to require others to work less desirable hours in order for Sabbath-keepers to be able to keep the Sabbath. The most we can expect from human governments is that they let people practice their own religion as long as it does not interfere with others. If we accept government enforcement of special provisions for Sabbath-keepers, we may later find government enforcement of special provisions for keepers of other days—or government enforcement of provisions against Sabbath-keepers.

In the Millennium, we will have a righteous government that will make provision for everyone to keep the Sabbath. (It works fine for the Eternal to enforce religion in a government, but when men do it, you never know what religion they will end up enforcing!) Yet, there will always be some people who do need to "work" on the Sabbath, such as priests (Matt 12:5) and security forces (2 Kings 11:5). Most places where entire communities keep the Sabbath, this and other necessary work is done on an unpaid, rotating basis by a combination of professionals and volunteers. For example, if 100 men were needed to guard the temple, day and night, 400 men might be required to do the job. That would allow three shifts, time for a day off, vacations, emergencies, etc. On the Sabbath, 100 full-time men might split the three shifts with the help of 200 volunteers. That way, the full-time men would have to work only one out of every four Sabbaths.

How do we maintain essential functions on the Sabbath in our society? This becomes increasingly complicated when your goal is to give emergency care to needy people on the Sabbath, but the goal of a corporation is to make a profit on every day including the Sabbath. When God gave the command to put Sabbath breakers to death (Ex 31:14-15; 35:2), He gave it to free men who would farm their own land, and be in charge of their own lives. Much later, we find brethren who are slaves—Paul tells them to obtain freedom if possible, but not to be concerned about it (1Cor 7:21-22). Certainly, some slaves of unconverted masters had to work on the Sabbath. Paul did not require them to be killed or let their wives and children go unfed (1Tim 5:8) in order not to work on the Sabbath. Nevertheless, the Eternal certainly expected slaves to keep the entire Sabbath as much as possible—even if that meant working extra hard during the rest of the week.

Today, the Eternal expects us to do everything we reasonably can to keep the Sabbath. If we work for ourselves, we are without excuse. If we work for someone else who regularly requires us to work on the Sabbath, we need to change jobs if possible. Does the Eternal require a person to quit the first time he or she is scheduled to work on the Sabbath, or can that person find a new job first? The scripture does not give details on these decisions, but no one will fool the Eternal! "For whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom14:23).

On the other hand, most believers will go to hospitals on the Sabbath in genuine emergencies. If the Eternal allows believers to use such services, how can it be a sin for them to help provide them? Supposing a power-line falls on a major highway on the Sabbath in a small town, and only two men there know how to safely disconnect it. Should the Sabbath-keeper refuse to help and risk death or injury to people driving or walking over it? Our Savior showed that it was acceptable to do some work in genuine emergency situations (Luke 14:5). Notice that he did not say that if an ox falls into a pit on the Sabbath that the owner should pray that God will miraculously take it out! Nor did he say that the man should let the ox die knowing that God would bless him for strictly keeping the Sabbath. We believe that the Eternal accepts people who do occasional, genuine emergency work on the Sabbath if it is done to satisfy genuine human need, not to simply keep a good job. The Bible gives no answers to questions such as: What constitutes an emergency? How many hours per month can be worked? Is it all right to miss Sabbath services? Can I accept the money? These are issues that the Bible does not explain in detail—people should pray and ask for the Eternal's will in the matter. Not everyone will make the same decision.

"Be holy, for I am holy" And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each oneís work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear (1Pet 1:16-17).

—NSE

What Do We Call The Father?

Letter: May 23, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards,

Thank you for the series of articles on the "sacred names" in the March-April issue of Servantsí News. For some time now, I have been puzzled by the popularity of the sacred names movement among former members of the Worldwide Church of God.

In your article, you asked the question, "What is the Fatherís name?" Well, isnít His name "God the Father?" God is referred to as "Father" 250 times in the New Testament; 120 times in the gospel of John alone.

"Father" is a name that one can call God in any language, whether it is Hebrew, Greek, English, or Swahili. The expression "Abba, Father" occurs three times in the New Testament; one of them spoken by our Savior Himself. (See Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6). In these passages, God is called "Father" in two languages simultaneously. Abba is Aramaic for "father" or "papa" [and pater is Greek for father].

In Norman Arthurís article, he did a word study on the name of YHVH. I have done a similar study on the name of the "Father." The following scriptures are taken from the New King James Version:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matt 6:9 and Luke 11:2).

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19).

I have come in My Fatherís name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive (John 5:43).

Jesus answered them, ĎI told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Fatherís name, they bear witness of Me (John 10:25).

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? "Father save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father glorify your name.í Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again (John 12:27,28).

I have manifested Your [the Fatherís] name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word (John 17:6).

Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. These whom You gave Me I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (John 17:11,12).

O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them , and I in them (John 17:25, 26).

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named (Eph 3:14,15).

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Fatherís name written on their foreheads (Rev 14:1).

God the Father is called "the Father of glory," (Eph 1:17) "the Father of spirits", (Heb 12:9) "the Father of lights," (Jms 1:17) and "the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort." (2Cor 1:3).

God has many names, and to take any one of them in vain would be a violation of the third commandment. The proponents of the sacred names movement believe that we should call God by His Hebrew name. I certainly respect their decision to do that. But God knows that the majority of the worldís population does not speak Hebrew, and He has revealed many names of Himself that each of us can call Him in our own language.

Sincerely in Christ,

—Ed Randall, New Mexico

Response: Thank you for your good analysis. The very fact that the New Testament uses both names in several places indicates that both were used at that time. If only one name was used by people (whether it be Aramaic or Greek), why would any of the writers write it in two languages? But the issue is complex enough that we, like you, accept whatever names others use.

—NSE

Name Wrong, You Worship Satan?

Letter: August 14, 1997

Hello Norman Edwards,

A few months ago, we wrote to you cancelling our subscription to your magazine. Seems like you simply ignored our letter and have kept on sending your magazine to us.

Please do take note that we are not in the least interested in what Servantsí News has to say. We are no longer members of any Church of God—because worshipping God is WORSHIPPING SATAN (once you know who GOD, or THE LORD IS!). As strange as this may sound to you, you should check up on what we pointed to you the last time we wrote. HA BAAL is in the Hebrew language translated as THE LORD. All who worship THE LORD simply do what the ancient Israelites did and what hence caused them to go into captivity (i.e. BAAL WORSHIP). They turned away from worshipping the true eloah, who is none other than YAHWEH.

We are Yahwehists and do not need anything from the Churches of God. We believe in attaining salvation from Yahweh through his beloved Son, Yahushua the Messiah.

Please DO NOT IGNORE THIS MAIL and CANCEL OUR SUBSCRIPTION.

I will point you to the right direction if you truly want to obtain our creatorís TRUTH. Go to the web site "WWW.Yahweh.Org" and download whatever you find there. You may or may not find them useful.

All the Servantsí News you send us end in the same pile as any magazines that come to us from the CGs (who still refuse to cancel our subscriptions). We BURN THEM —as this is what will happen to the deity of this world (whom you serve—knowingly or unknowingly!).

—Elias R. A. Polo, Kenya

Response: Thank you very much for letting us know that you do not want to receive Servantsí News any more. We have no record of receiving your previous request to cancel. Our mail service isnít perfect--but then neither are we.

We appreciate your desire to serve Yahweh and Yahushua as you understand from the scriptures. May he bless you for your service.

We have been spending some time studying the scriptures that talk about final judgement. We found it interesting that some people were serving Yahushua and did not even know it (Matt 25:31-40). On the other hand, there were some doing mighty works in His Name, but they are evil doers (Matt 7:22-23). We have not yet found a scripture where people are judged for how well they pronounce His Name, but we are still looking!

—NSE

Former WCG Elder Turns Atheist

Letter: January 11, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards,

The December issue of the Servantsí News arrived today along with a card to be signed and returned indicating my wishes whether to continue the free subscription or not. I have enclosed it indicating I am declining your offer. (I noted earlier on the mailing label that I was sent the publication at the request of a third party).

Response: We put the note on your mailing label so that you would know another requested it. We will take you off of our mailing list right away.

Letter: In 1992, I exited from Herbert Armstrongís cult after some 30 years of involvement. I was a member for 25 years and a Local Church Elder for the last 16.

After exiting, I spent considerable time in critical thought and logical analysis with the help of the kind of people rarely met in cults like the WCG—bright people. I entered the field of free thought. It was most difficult to maneuver around in this new world as one must be free of two things which go to aid the cultís control system—the force of traditions and the tyranny of oneís own passions (Bertrand Russell). The WCG always frowned on anyone using rational analysis of their system of madness. PRAY-PAY-and OBEY were the watchwords.

Response: We sympathize with the difficulty you experienced. There were many in the WCG who took the biblical truth they had and added their own traditions and ideas to enrich themselves. They will have to answer for it some day.

Also, many WCG ministers read the Bible and saw what the Eternal expected, then tried to force their members to do it, without any particular discernment as to whether the members had the holy spirit and were doing things according to their own convictions. While they claimed to teach salvation by grace and good works through the power of the Holy Spirit and knowledge of the Bible, most WCG ministers rarely ever made any effort to understand how their members thought and why they did what they did. As long as they paid their tithes and obeyed the ministers, they were considered "good members." In most congregations, no one would ever know or care if a member of 30-years could not explain one doctrine from the Bible. But if a person came dressed in work clothes for services (in spite of James 2:2-4), or asked a question about the writings of an "outsider" (like Bertrand Russell), then they were in trouble!

The result of this method of teaching has been evident during the last ten years of the WCG breakup. Former-members have gone in nearly every possible direction. Many have desperately tried to recreate the same system in new organizations, repeating the same errors. Nevertheless, in spite of all of the mistakes made, some of us in the WCGdid establish a relationship with the Eternal and accomplished much by the power of the Holy Spirit working in them. They did learn truth there and know why they know it. Many others, such as yourself, simply went through the same motions but never did establish a living relationship with the Eternal.

Letter:I have suffered much depression over the last 4 ½ years as I reflected on my wretched, wasted life in the cult. I threw away my youth, a possible normal life, and tens of thousands of dollars in forced pursuit of Armstrongís soap bubble which eventually burst, revealing its true nature.

Response: I understand how you feel that way. Without a real relationship with God, keeping the Sabbath, paying tithes, deleavening your house and many other activities that the WCG tried to enforce are nearly meaningless. Those things never earned anyone salvation and without a spiritual understanding, they become a boring routine.

I realize now that much of the money I sent in was probably wasted and that I wasted much time following the dictates of men when I could have followed the Eternal. But just as Jesus learned obedience by suffering, so did I. I have learned the evils of putting organizations and human leaders before the Eternal and His word. I have helped many to come to this understanding and am convinced that I will never be a part of a human hierarchy again.

Letter: Each time, the Servantsí News arrived in my mailbox, my depression would increase as I reflected on so many decent people (albeit blinded) wasting so much time and money on such massively erroneous assumptions. I must now push ahead in my recovery from religious reminders of my formerly misdirected life. Hence my leaving your mailing list.

I am now an atheist in the sense I do not believe in a god or gods. Through much struggle I am gaining back a measure of self-respect and peace. I had these things in some measure years ago, prior to being ensnared by "The World Tomorrow" broadcast as presented by the master liar/playboy/whore-master, [name withheld]. I will curse forever that sad day back in 1962.

Response: I do not think you have fully thought out life with no God. I will not answer you from the Bible which you do not believe, but from hard, cold logic. You say you will "curse forever that sad day?" Without God, you will do nothing "forever"—you will die, rot in a grave, and be forgotten in less than 100 years. Furthermore, how are you any more important than any other plant, fish or insect that happens to be alive right now? Without God, there are no moral standards that you or anyone else need follow. What is wrong with a man committing adultery—with your wife or daughter? Many governments will not prosecute this act if it is between consenting adults. What is wrong with someone lying on TV if they can get rich from it? That is easier than working! Furthermore, what is wrong with violating human laws—even committing murder—if you are sure you can escape prosecution by the state? What is wrong with one nation annihilating another nation to gain their wealth? There are plenty of Satanists, mobsters, and politicians who operate with exactly these philosophies. I can tell them with the authority of God that they are sinning and will have to account for it—I could ask God for deliverance if they threaten me or my family. You have only your own authority to say they are wrong, and for protection you must either look to yourself (take up martial arts, weapons, etc.) or become a servant to some more powerful human or organization.

Today, you are fortunate. You live in a country that officially places a high value on human life (because its founders were Bible-believers). But tomorrow, that might not be so. Do you believe that educated, thinking men have progressed beyond the barbarism I describe? A great many highly educated artists, philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and others served Adolf Hitler willingly—a regime that attempted to obliterate whole nations and that routinely killed off its own people when they became too old or sick to be productive. We could find many similar examples throughout history. Without God, you have no basis for saying any of this is wrong.

Letter: I hope you will publish this letter and if you do, please spare me the usual appended "response" with the standard biblical phrases and "isnít it a shame" platitudes. Iíve said the same things in the past when some of my friends wised up years ago.

In the assumption you will publish this letter, I am tempted to list some of the writings which set me free, but Iíll leave those recommendations for any contacts from your readers who might have the courage and healthy curiosity to ask larger questions of life which do not appear in your journal.

In closing, I do thank you for the past issues of the SN as they helped me further understand the sad human condition.

Sincerely,

—New Hampshire

Response: We do not think your approach "is a shame" at all. You are being honest. Apparently, you have never felt or seen the power of the Eternal working in your life and you are honest enough to admit it. Following WCG rules never put Godís spirit in anyone. You are in a much better condition than ministers who are not sure there is a God, but continue preaching because it is the only job they know. If you continue to live a moral life—follow most of Godís laws even though you do not believe in Him, you will probably be better off than someone who claims to know God, but does not have His spirit. If, on the other hand, you follow your atheistic views to their ultimate conclusion—that you can do whatever you want as long as you "donít get caught," your life will be indeed miserable.

But I would guess that you believe that man is quite capable of writing his own standards of morality, and that you will adopt the philosophy of some brilliant person who wrote one of the books that "set you free." Since you will not hear the Bible, you will have a chance to see the fruit of human systems for yourself. You will certainly come into conflict with people who have values different than yours—and you will learn that the strongest man usually wins—not the one with the "most brilliant" standards.

I think your new-found freedom is a positive thing for you now. At some point, I believe you will learn why you need God. It may occur sooner, or it may not occur until you are older and near death and you ask yourself the questions: "What did my life mean, anyway?" "Am I about to be forgotten forever in an endless stream of pointless history?" If you remained in an organization where you thought you "already had God," there is little chance you would ever truly repent and receive His spirit. But as you navigate the treacherous waters of human philosophies, you will come to see the need for God in your life—not a need for human organizations—but a need to understand and obey the true Creator of the universe.

—NSE &

Return to August 97 index.