Letters

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.

Human "Government of God"

Letter: May 1996

Norm:

Thanks for mailing me the articles on How Does The Eternal Govern Through Humans & Assembling on the Sabbath.

I am very interested in the info you write about concerning the errors/bias of the King James Version and how the translation was bent to fit certain biases of that day.

What translation—if any—have you found that tries to correct some of these problems???

Also, are you familiar with the book "The Open Church"?

Thanks.

—Tim Campbell

Response: I am sorry to take so long to answer this ancient e-mail.

Some translations do a much better job of the non-biblical doctrine of ordination than others. The King James, believe it or not, is the worst—with 13 different Greek words translated "ordain," each done so only in a minority of cases (all of the Greek words are usually translated as something else). Young's Literal Translation is the best I have found for this subject. The English word "ordain" (and its variants) only appear 3 times (Acts 10:42; 17:26; 17:31), always translated from the Greek "horizo". The word is never used in connection with a fallible human. The common "Christian" doctrine of "ordination" of ministers and deacons would be impossible to substantiate from Young's Literal Translation.

Both the Young's Literal Translation and the Darby Bible completely avoid the word "deacon." They translate the Greek "diakonos" as either servant, minister, or ministrant—much better than artificially inventing the office of "deacon" as the King James does.

Yes, I am familiar with The Open Church by James Rutz (available from Christian book-stores or The Seed Sowers, PO Box 3424, Auburn, Maine 04212-3424). Many of its principles are good, though I cannot say I support everything in the book.

—NSE

Poem About Giving People Time

Letter: September 24, 1997

Marleen,

Here is the saying I mentioned to you on the phone.

"Flowers unfold slowly and gently, bit by bit in the sunshine, and a soul, too, must never be pushed or driven, but unfolds in its own perfect timing, to reveal its true wonder and beauty."

By The Findhom Community, The Findhom Garden, Harper Colophon Books, 1975.

—Darleen, Michigan

Response: While this is an analogy and not a scripture, its point is very good. The Bible says we can understand the Eternal from His creation (Rom 1:20). Very few things on the Earth are perfect or complete right away. They take time to grow. Not everything grows at once: some early, some late, some fast, some slow—each as our Creator designed. We must be tolerant of our brethren who may not have the same growth path as ourselves.

—NSE

Article on Praising God

Letter: September 9, 1997

Dear Marleen,

[Personal section omitted]

I enjoyed the cartoon in the last Servants’ News on "praise" –the point is well made! When you have Sabbath Services, what do you do to remedy the situation without creating a "pentecostal" type atmosphere? How do you create reverence and respect with real enthusiasm?

—Canada

Response: The problems with behavior in "pentecostal" and "charismatic" congregations are fundamentally the same as the problems with behavior in traditional "Church of God" congregations. They are two-fold: they lack understanding of what the Bible says about services, and they believe there is a certain "righteous" or "holy" way to act in a worship service and that everyone ought to act that way.

In the "Church of God" congregations, a person attending a service was expected to dress exceptionally well, to come early, sing staid hymns, say nothing during services, take notes during services, require their children to play silently or sleep on the floor and socialize pleasantly before and after services without bringing up any doctrinal issues that might conflict with Headquarters doctrine. Yet it was all too common to find a "Church of God" member outside of services who dressed poorly, was late for appointments, listened to wild music, never read his church notes, let his children run wild, cursed and fought with other brethren or avoided them altogether. We can see that the people thought they were being righteous by living up to a certain standard during services which was not really a part of their lives. Some of the above standards are good, but some were unbiblical. We are commanded to sing joyously before the Eternal—which is difficult to do with many staid hymns. We are required to "prove all things" and hear a matter before we answer it—that is hard to do when "headquarters" says "do not talk about it." The example of the New Testament shows questions being asked in services. 1 Corinthians 14 details all manner of member participation—almost none of which is allowed in typical "Church of God" services.

The "charismatic" congregations have the same two problems, they just have different parts wrong. They tend to sing lively music, hear messages with which they may interact, give testimonies, move or dance to the music, verbally repent of sin, cry, laugh, speak in tongues, prophesy, heal others, kneel at their altars, go out of control emotionally, and even fall over backwards and remain unconscious. The first four items mentioned are permissible for everyone in services—they are operating on truth. There is no admonition against repenting, crying, or laughing in services, but our emotions should be genuine. When people do it just because others are doing it, it is another falsehood. Speaking in other languages, prophecy, and healing are spiritual gifts—not everyone has them. Charismatic congregations seem to have far too many people pretending to have these gifts, rather than the real thing. We also find clear lack of Bible understanding: there is no command to build physical altars other than at the temple in Jerusalem; the spirit of God is the spirit of a "sound mind" (2Tim 1:7); "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1Cor 14:32); and there is no biblical example of someone falling over backward who is worshiping the Eternal. There is no doubt in my mind that some Charismatic members, humbly seeking to "hear from the Lord" actually do. There is also no doubt in my mind that some seeking "an experience" actually hear from demons. We cannot know how many people there are that fall into each category.

The solution to the problems of both the "Church of God" groups and the Charismatics is simple to understand, but difficult to implement. Each has some Bible error, but we should not reject the Bible truth held by the other group because of it. It is possible to have joyful, vibrant music, sermons with questions, decency and order, and people speaking with a language or prophecy from the Eternal without losing emotional control or having people fall over backwards. Are there any congregations that operate this way? There are some. We, at Servants’ News are doing our best to encourage them. But we, and most of our readers, have a long way to go.

—NSE

Nature of Christ
Deliberately Ambiguous

Letter: August 13, 1997

Dear Friends,

John Sash’s letter of July 1997 Servants’ News prompted me to write.

It seems that many of us at this time are pondering "the nature of God." There seems to be several prevalent ideas among the brethren.

Some feel that Christ is the God of the O.T., and can cite scriptures to prove it. Some feel that the Father is the God of the O.T., and can cite scriptures to prove it. Some feel that Christ existed eternally with the Father, and can cite scriptures to prove this.

Yet, others feel that Christ was created first by the Father, and then he (Christ) created all things. Guess what? These people can also cite scriptures to prove this.

And so it goes with countless other doctrines. People can disagree on many doctrines and cite scriptures out of the same Bible to back up their beliefs.

Why is this so? My own personal opinion is that God (Yahweh) has a purpose for this.

Let’s just suppose for a moment that one person or one "group" had total and perfect knowledge. What would happen? We would have imperfect humans with understanding on God’s level. We would be like God, only still human! How dangerous!

His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are higher than ours, for a reason! We see through a glass darkly, for a reason!

Perhaps it is not in our best interest to have complete understanding of "the nature of God", or the calendar, or any other issue.

We’d never have to keep on learning or seeking Him and His will for our lives. I don’t think we’d be very humble.

Remember how superior those of us in WCG felt because we were "the only true church" and had "the truth?" Sure, we "preached the gospel" and "did a work", but we were told not to develop a relationship with those in "the world", and not even help them on the Sabbath in many cases.

We felt we had it made. We were made to feel better than others because we had "the truth." The Father wants us to be constantly seeking Him and ever learning. He wants us to realize that we need to totally depend on Him.

It’s only natural for us to want to understand His nature, and all doctrine. But perhaps, as a loving Father, He is saying "Not yet, my child." Would you, as a parent, want your 6 year old to know everything you do? No, of course not. We are still children, and will be so until the resurrection.

I enjoy reading and listening to all the different ideas that the brethren have on doctrine, but I know that I will never have all truth or understanding until the resurrection.

Until that time I will keep on studying, learning, and giving others freedom to their own opinions, as long as they are trying to be biblical and pleasing the Father.

Love SN!

Sincerely,

—Leona Urbanek, Illinois

Response: Your letter is excellent. Some people may reject your idea, claiming that "God is not the author of confusion." Yet, look at Genesis 11:6-7: "And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." God obviously allows us to be confused sometimes for our own good. Had he not confused men’s speech at Babel, they might have developed globe-destroying weapons before the "time of the end."

Undoubtedly, what was originally written in the Bible about the nature of Christ and the Father is all true, but we just have a hard time putting it together. Also, it is possible that a few verses have been corrupted by scribes who thought they knew better. If the Eternal has allowed this corruption and given us no way to find it, then He will not hold us responsible. I can find no Scripture that states we will be judged on our knowledge of Christ’s nature. Most righteous men of the Old Testament apparently knew almost nothing about Him. John the Baptist did not seem to know—he asked Christ if He were the One or if they should wait for another.

The important things in scripture, such as loving the Eternal and our neighbor as ourselves are repeated multiple times and are abundantly clear. The 10 commandments are clear. The role of our Savior in our salvation is clear. A person reading the Bible with no knowledge of traditional Christianity would never conclude that Sunday was the day of worship—nor would they conclude they should celebrate Christmas and Easter.

We, as believers, need to place much more emphasis on doing the things that are clear, and avoiding strife and divisions over issues that are less clear. Thanks again for your letter.

—NSE

A Covenant With Your Eyes

Letter: September 1997

Summer is shedding time. Clothes are shed without a second thought. Few seem to be concerned. I am!

You must live "in the world." The big question is, are we "of the world" (John 17: 11,14)? It reminds us of camouflage, the ability to be "of" the background so as to escape notice. Many "Christians" do just that—blend in with the world and become "of" the world. Women "of the world" wear shorts, halters, or go bra-less and frequent public swimming pools where they are met by the gazes…of men "of the world."

It was Job who said, "I have made a covenant with my eyes: how then could I gaze at a virgin?" (Job 31:1). Why the agreement with his eyes? Job knew that where the eyes linger, the heart soon follows (verse 7). That which catches the eye, often snares the heart and "out of the heart come…adulteries, fornications…" Matt 15:19.20.

Jesus said, "Everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matt 5:27-30.

Men, these are our passages. Other verses talk to the ladies about modesty. To be sure, women should make covenants, if not with their eyes…with their bodies, and dress with reverence for God…Even, should they not, much of the corruption in the world by lust (2Pet 1:4) would vanish if more men would make this covenant with their eyes.

Frankly, such a covenant will keep us away from public pools and away from magazines, etc. which exist for the purpose of lust and sexual arousal. A covenant with your eyes? Are you man enough to do it?

written by S. Bobbitt

submitted by C. Bartch

Response: I completely agree with your concept here, though I think it applies to both sexes. Both men and women need to make "covenants with their eyes" not to look at other people to lust after them. If they are having difficulty with lusting, then they may need to avoid certain TV, movies, magazines, beaches, swimming pools and other things that are causing them to lust. But they need to individually examine themselves and determine what is causing the problem. Bible teachers should not lay out a bunch of rules regarding what is "alright" for a believer to do and where it is "alright" to go. If a person is bringing an evil name upon his congregation by frequenting "adult" movies or stores, then the congregation must deal with him as in 1 Corinthians 5. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can stop believers from lusting by making a set of rules. A person who wants to lust will simply find a way to lust that is within "the rules" or develop a clever way to secretly violate those rules.

We also agree that men and women should make a "covenant with their wardrobe" and not to dress in a sexually provocative manner. Some may object to this, raising the question, "Shouldn’t I be free to dress as I want, and if someone lusts after me, isn’t it their fault?" Others may ask "How can a person know they are dressing in a provocative manner?" The most common excuse I have heard is: "I do not want to dress provocatively, but I am simply trying to "dress according to the current style." The issue is further complicated by the fact that there is no agreement on what is provocative among various cultures: In some Arab cultures, a woman without a veil is considered provocative. Other cultures require that arms and legs be covered. Some jungle-dwelling tribes require that only a loin-cloth be worn—for both men and women.

Again, the answer to these questions does not lie in trying to specify a "righteous dress code." What is needed, is for people to understand the problems with dressing provocatively. Women who do so are much more likely to be attacked by molesters, rapists, and murderers. I personally know someone who survived such an attack, then concluded on her own that she needed to drastically change her style of dress. Men can have a similar problem. They need to avoid provocative dress in order to avoid the type of woman described in Proverbs 5.

Furthermore, single people really hurt themselves when they dress "sexy", thinking it will help them find a good mate. Often, all they do is attract someone who "wants to mess around", not someone who wants a life-long commitment. Even if a marriage does occur, lust is a terrible basis for a marriage. People seeking a marriage partner should look for someone with similar religious beliefs and compatible interests and goals. Few marriages fail because one person does not look "sexy" enough for the other. Lots of them fail because people were infatuated by appearance and their infatuation caused them to overlook serious problems with character and commitment.

Now that you understand why you should not dress to provoke lust in others, how do you do it? Obviously, tight or skimpy clothes tend to attract others’ attention. Some styles or brands of clothing are simply considered "sexy" by most people. Avoid them. If being currently fashionable is important to you, wear styles and brands that are considered current, but not "sexy". Some do exist. The ultimate way a person should judge how they are dressing is by the attention they attract. If you receive whistles, exclamations or sexually oriented comments from people who do not even know you, you need to drastically change to attract less attention. If you receive such comments from people who do know you, you should still change to some degree. This does not mean that you need to be "wall flower" or unfriendly. It means that when you meet people, they should want to look at your face and talk to you, not primarily look at your clothes or your body.

The Eternal is not mocked. If people try to dress or act as "sexy" as the Bible allows, they will reap what they sow. We should want to live a life pleasing to the Eternal because His way is good for us, not because He makes us do it.

—NSE

Unbelievable Men Vs. Women

Letter: August 14, 1997

Dear Norman and Marleen,

I finally finished reading the article "Men vs. Women? No, Men & Women Together!" (July 1997 SN) and must speak out about how I felt while reading it. Almost every time I read the letter portion, my stomach would turn and I would shake my head in disbelief that I hope some not most Christian men can actually think and believe this way. If it wasn’t for the response portion, I do not think I could have finished the article.

If women are the way these two men describe them to be—God help us! If men are the way these two men think—God help us! If women believe men think this way—God help us!

I wonder if these two men are married and have two good, obedient, submissive women at their sides. If so, I would like to read an article by these two women telling their story, and how much they love and adore their loving husbands who’s mindset of women are the way they describe.

I am not married, but I know my mother is not like this, I know my sisters are not like this and I hope that if I ever get married it would be with a woman that will lovingly submit to my loving, godly authority, but will not submit to my evil, satanic human nature of totalitarian rulership.

I want my wife to be an independent thinker, not one who would wait for me to command her to do everything she needs to do so as to be under my submission.

I thank God that He has given me grace and loves me enough not to think of me as these two men think of women and to still love me even when I do not fully submit to Him because of my human weaknesses that not only do I have but all humans—including women.

As long as we are humans, we cannot obtain a true marriage relationship with our mates because of our human nature that wars against us. The true marriage will come when we marry Christ, the perfect mate.

For now, we should be thankful God made us male and female and He said, "It was very good!!" And whatever God makes "very good" let no man say it is "very bad" for then we know not what we speak of.

May God help both men and women to become true Christians obedient to Him in every way, for when we obey God, there won’t be a need to tell our wives to submit, for they have already learned to submit to God. And there won’t be a need to tell men to love their wives for they have already learned to love God. Love, not submission, is the fulfilling of the law.

Sincerely,

—Mr. Angel Gonzalez, New Jersey

Response: We published the article because we realized that many people do not believe that some men actually think that way. Also, we hoped to offer correction to men who do think that way.

It should be helpful to anyone who has a woman friend with a husband like that. If she tells you a story about her husband that is hard to believe, you can now realize that it might be true. Obviously, you would need additional proof to be sure.

We do not mean to single out men by this article—there are greatly deceived women, also. Proverbs 5 gives one description. We might have an article on the subject in a future issue.

—NSE

Men and Women Together!

Letter: September 22, 1997

Dear Norm,

When reading the letters in Servants’ News (Men and Women), I had to write to ask, are they single people? If not, I feel their married life cannot be very happy.

I love my husband and he loves me. We live as one. Sometimes, he makes the decisions and sometimes I do. It is give and take.

When we go on holiday or the Feast, we look at how much money we have. My husband usually picks two places, then gives me the chance. We make up our minds, then we go. Every other time its somewhere I have never been; each time we go seems to be better than the last.

In our house, it’s give and take. We are too busy helping and caring for one another. We never have time to think who is the weaker or who should submit. We are one in God. (Mind you, I would say I was the weaker, but never get a chance to think about it. I trust my husband would say the same.) If I am out on my own, I tell my husband all about it, because I want to share it with him and vice versa.

May this letter help some people.

—United Kingdom

Response: We hope that it does help some people. When individuals have an emphasis on living a righteous life and serving others, it matters little who is the strongest or most competent.

—NSE

What Year is it Really?

Letter: September 15, 1997

Dear Editor,

Thanks for the excellent publication, the Servants’ News, which allows the scattered brethren an opportunity to express and share their thoughts with one another and to learn from one another.

Since there is a great interest among many brethren about the end of the age, and the coming of the Son of Man again to rule the earth and since there is a tendency to count times and years leading up to His Second Coming, by what calendar are we counting times? Surely not the Roman Calendar!

God originally gave as His calendar, and the Jews had it to determine the annual holy days and festivals. Why should it be any different now? The question I would like to ask is this: What year are we in, according to the Hebrew Calendar? Because if Christ’s coming in the 6000th year, we are not there yet, are we? The Hebrew Calendar is different, containing an extra month every so often; I don’t know the details. Then we are all younger, and we counted time wrongly. All the people in the Bible must have counted their ages according to the Hebrew Calendar. Can you answer these questions please? Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

—Paul Christophy, United Kingdom

Response: This is quite a good question. Fortunately, nearly all calendar systems base their "year" on the revolution of the earth around the sun, which always takes the same length of time. A year is equal to 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46.069 seconds. The figure used in the calculated Hebrew calendar was about 7 minutes longer than that, so the holy days are celebrated, on average, about 4.5 days later each thousand years, but no years have been "lost" because of this error.

The Jewish calendar contains 13 months in 7 out of 19 years. In 19 years, there will be 235 months. The average length of a Jewish month is about 29.53 days. By multiplying 235 by 29.53, we get 6940 days.

Our standard Gregorian calendar has 12 months every year, so in 19 years there are 228 months. The average length of our month is 30.44 days. By multiplying 228 by 30.44,we also get 6940 days!

We can see that after nineteen years, the calendars will come out the same. (This is where some interpreters of prophecy get the 19-year cycle—not directly from the Bible.)

With this past Feast of Trumpets, the Hebrew calendar began year 5758. The traditional talmudic interpretation is that Adam was born in year one. If this is true, then we have 242 more years to go until the end of the 6000 year period. However, many people dispute the Talmud’s dating. Some say the calendar began a couple hundred years after Adam. Others feel that it is missing years since Adam.

Most people agree that we have an accurate chronology of the past 2000 years, but the further we go backward before this date, the more difficult things become. The question is, what date B.C. was Adam created. Some say 4000, some say 4004 (which means our 6000 years ends right now). Others say about 3970 which neatly puts our Savior’s ministry at the end of 4000 years, and gives us about 34 more years until the end of 6000 years. Unfortunately, we have not seen any chronology of the world that was not based on a certain amount of assumption, speculation, or unverifiable evidence.

The entire emphasis of Scripture is not on calculating the return of our Messiah and getting ready just before He comes. We could die any time—our next waking thoughts would be facing him. The Bible tells us that we need to be ready now! "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing (Matt 24:44-46).

—NSE

History and the Jewish Calendar

Letter: March 9, 1997

Mr. Edwards,

I thoroughly enjoyed your summary essay on the calendar which appeared in the first issue of "The Journal." It seems that we share like sentiments upon the matter.

I first became aware of the problem of postponements a number of years ago. My family would try to attend feast days with the CGI, but they were somewhat lax in getting the necessary information to us in a timely manner. I began to keep a record of the feast days in my locker at work, and calculated them each year when my vacation schedule had to be turned in. I simply went with the 29 and 30 day months for several years with everything falling into place quite nicely until about the fourth year. Then I ran into a problem: my dates came up a day short of the Jewish calendar, and it had nothing to do with the intercalary month. So it is, that I was introduced to calendar manipulations.

But I really accepted that concept and made the decision to go with the Jewish calendar at that time. As far as the calendar goes, I am of the opinion that it is impossible to come up with one that will satisfy everyone. Therefore, it is to our benefit to learn to accept each other in spite of those differences. It is futile to pretend that you have the only true calendar, but nonetheless, that attitude seems to prevail among certain of our brethren.

It is also probable that the spiritual principle found in Romans 14 can have other applications. We like to point out that this chapter refers to food and fasting, and forget that the basic plea for tolerance and understanding which Paul advocates may transcend the particular matter of fasting on specific days.

It is an intriguing concept to look for modern events happening on significant days of the Jewish calendar. I can’t help you much there, but I do have an interesting addition on the arrival of General Allenby in 1917. The following is from "Next Year in Jerusalem," (pp 146,147) by Robert Goldston:

"Early in the morning of the ninth, when the last Turk had departed, houses, caves, cellars and hovels discharged their occupants who rushed into the streets with excited shouts of triumph and relief. Mothers, sons, fathers and daughters, with all their kinfolk, fell on each other’s necks, sobbing and laughing with joy at the deliverance. Exactly two thousand and eight-two years ago to this day, in 165 B.C., when Judas Maccabeus recaptured the temple from the Seleucids, similar scenes must have been enacted…[Both were on Kislev 24 by the Jewish calendar, a day of restoration prophesied in Haggai 2:10,18.]

"On December eleventh, the commander-in-chief, accompanied by representatives of the Allies, made his formal entrance into Jerusalem

"The historic Jaffa Gate was opened, after years of disuse, for the purpose and he was thus enabled to pass into the Holy City…When the time came for the great and simple act of the solemn entry of General Allenby into Jerusalem…the inhabitants mustered courage to gather in a great crowd…Many wept for joy, priests were seen to embrace one another, but there were no theatricalities…The General entered the city on foot and left it on foot, and throughout the ceremony no Allied flag was flown, while naturally no enemy flags were visible.

"A proclamation announcing that order would be maintained in all the hallowed sites oft the three great religions, which were to be guarded and preserved for free use of worshippers, was read in English, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, and Italian, from the terrace of the entrance to the citadel below the Tower of David. When this was done, the chief notables and ecclesiastics of the different communities who had remained in Jerusalem were presented to General Allenby. After this brief ceremony the commander-in-chief left the city by the Jaffa Gate

"After General Allenby had entered Jerusalem modestly on foot, many of the Arab rulers recalled their cherished prophecy-He who shall save Jerusalem and exalt her among the nations will enter the city on foot, and his name will be ‘God, the Prophet’-Allah Nebi"! (from Major Raymond Savage’s "Allenby of Armageddon"

It seems that God enjoys the little details that clue us into the fact that something relevant is happening; even to the name of the general to march into Jerusalem. Now either he influenced this man’s entire life to be in that position at that time, or He foresaw that a man of that name would perform that deed, and inspired the Arab rulers to prophesy as much. Or is it just coincidence! Of course, General Allenby only typically fulfilled that role, but it is fascinating nonetheless.

I suspect that you will discover a number of interesting such "coincidences" as you probe into the relevance of historical events with the Jewish calendar. You should easily have enough for a good-sized article. Perhaps a book. I would be interested in how events in American history would appear in that format: July 4,1776; the ratification of the Constitution, etc. Please keep us informed of your progress. Or, if there is no connection, that would be useful to know as well.

Thanks again for a very balanced article which I believe correctly advises us to be non-judgmental in these matters.

—John Cady, New York

Response: Thank you very much for this interesting answer relating to the question in our article Biblical Calendar Basics. We agree completely with your idea of toleration on issues that are not simply understood from the Bible. We would not go as far as saying that the Biblical calendar is "unknowable," but we can say that it is not clearly spelled out and that many hours of research are required for most people to reach any kind of workable conclusion.

We would like to do more research on significant events and when they occurred on various calendars, but our time is limited and it may be quite a long time before we get to it. We have had a few other letters sent to use with information along this line. If one of our readers would like to be a central clearing house for such information, verifying and organizing it, we would be happy to send it to them.

—NSE

Early HWA Information

Letter: June 4, 1997

Dear Norm,

You started a good thing-keep it up. Will send a card-we lost ours.

My wife and I go back to the Radio Church of God. Baptized in 1963. Dean Blackwell ordained me a deacon in 1966, and elder in 1969.

In 1993, I wrote the Church of God Seventh Day (CG7) in Denver to learn of HWA’s affiliation with them. I also corresponded with John Kiesz before he died. John informed me that much of HWA’s autobiography was incorrect. I learned this 30 years too late. It is important to know something about the origin of what you dedicate your life to! I’m sorry I didn’t check up on HWA sooner.

Going back to 1926 helped me to allow God’s spirit to lead me to understand what Paul meant by the yoke of bondage. Many people still worship HWA as much as Catholics do the "virgin" Mary.

It was a CG7’s minister’s wife who convinced Loma Armstrong to keep the Sabbath. She convinced Herbert. Herbert was a good advertising man. I believe God wanted him to promote the Church of God Seventh day, but Herbert was more interested in promoting himself. He wanted his own magazine by 1929 (see his autobiography). He claims he started the Radio Church of God and the Plain Truth magazine in 1934. Well, I met a lady at Kansas City CG7 visiting from Oregon. She moved to Oregon in 1934. In 1934-35-36-and 37, her church pastor in the CG7 was Herbert W. Armstrong. His autobiography will not state this fact! During 1933,34,35,36, he wrote articles stating that he was holding up the western front for the Church of God Seventh Day. Herbert W. Armstrong "stole" as many people from CG7 as he could. You reap what you sow. As a result, dozens took as many as they could when they left WCG. His 1939 government article was in protest to CG7 revoking his credentials in 1938 for his stubborn rebellion. (If HWA had submitted to to the CG7’s church government, there could not have been 50 splits off his organization.)

The Radio Church of God was not founded on the Rock (Christ). It was founded on the advertising talent of HWA. It probably needed to be dismantled, so when Joe Tkach dropped the Sabbath, God stepped back to watch it fall apart.

I find the Church of God Seventh Day to be a real haven. I hope thousands of people will learn more about this organization. It is not "dead" as I once believed. HWA learned the basics about the Sabbath and millennium here. I remember one booklet from CG7 that he took credit for. He was not known for giving but taking. That’s why he taught the give/get principle. (The more you give, the more I get).

[personal information and several paragraphs about a completely different subject deleted.]

Your brother in Christ,

—Arlo Gieselman, Missouri

Response: We agree with nearly your entire letter. A few things we see differently: We are not sure that Herbert Armstrong was called to make the Church of God Seventh Day great, but more to show that the Eternal was great. The Church of God Seventh Day is not nearly as "dead" as the WCG claimed it was, but it has its difficulties, too. Because the CG7 does not have a strong central government, congregations vary greatly (like they do in Revelation 2 & 3). We personally know of congregations that are very small and have no outreach type of ministry at all. Some CG7 congregations have largely accepted the Trinity, eating unclean meats, heaven and hell, and other doctrines we do not accept.

On the other hand, there are many Church of God Seventh Day congregations that are full of life and many of our readers would enjoy attending. These congregations have good messages, good music, and preach the Gospel in their communities. Some keep the holy days We highly recommend that brethren at least visit any nearby CG7 congregation.

We agree that far too much emphasis was placed on Herbert Armstrong in the Worldwide Church of God, though we never heard of anyone praying to him as Catholics pray to Mary. It used to sound nice to say we ought to "honor God’s servant" or "honor the man who God is working through." But the reality of the situation was that people began to believe that anything he said was somehow approved by the Eternal—even if it apparently conflicted with scripture. It should have been obvious to people from books such as 1975 In Prophecy and other literature that Herbert Armstrong’s Statements were not all inspired. Once we saw that, we should have been wise enough to realize that we need to check everything he said. I have to acknowledge that I did not have such wisdom at that time—I went along with many others.

The booklet you are referring to is Has Time Been Lost? The Worldwide Church of God published it under its own copyright for many years. The Church of God Seventh Day published it also. At one point, the WCG threatened to sue CG7 if they would not stop publishing it. The CG7 responded with documents showing that they were publishing the booklet as far back as the 1920’s.

Herbert Armstrong copied most of the information and some text for The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy from J. H. Allen’s Judah’s Scepter and Joseph’s Birthright without giving him credit. We hope to produce a paper on this in the future. It is especially difficult when we see that Herbert Armstrong promoted these works as his own.

We have also spoken with John Kiez and others who knew Herbert Armstrong in his early years. They paint him as a zealous man, but one with many faults. It was a serious mistake for him to take so much credit and glory to himself. I have read David Robinson’s The Tangled Web which makes many serious allegations against Herbert Armstrong. I have first-hand knowledge of some of the events in the book and independent confirmation of other events from trusted friends. I know of nothing in the book that is untrue, though the most serious problems he discusses have so few living witnesses (zero in some cases) that I cannot prove them one way or the other.

On the other hand, we must say that Herbert Armstrong did much to teach true doctrines to many people—doctrines that many "Christians" did not want to hear. Furthermore, the Eternal worked directly with many people who were first exposed to Bible truth through Armstrong's writings. God never works through perfect humans, because there are not any. That is why we should not place our confidence in any man.

We are sending you a copy of Richard Nickels’ brief biography of Herbert Armstrong. We believe it is a relatively fair presentation, stating both the good and the bad.

It is most important, we believe, that everyone must realize that until the resurrection, Herbert Armstrong will never write another booklet or give another sermon—he served the Eternal in a unique way, but that service is over and the Eternal has allowed Armstrong’s organization to be largely dismantled. We have learned from Herbert Armstrong, but now we are left with our Bible, our Savior, and our Father in Heaven—we ought to be about His business!

—NSE

Questions on Christianity

Letter: July 18, 1997

Servants’ News,

1. Since there were so many savior gods who claimed to be born of a virgin, God’s son, healed the sick, raised the dead, and were themselves resurrected from the dead, why do Christians think that Christ was somehow unique from the other christs?

Response: Where are the ancient copies of the writings by or about those other savior gods? What was their righteous teaching? Who followed them? Who prays in their name now, and receives miracles? Jesus (or Yeshua) of Nazareth is certainly unique in that his teaching has been the foundation of the most prosperous, powerful, and generous nations that the world has ever seen.

Letter continues: 2. Since blood atonement is not the only atonement for sins, why didn’t Jesus just take a bag of flour to the Romans and let them beat and crucify it? Flour was allowed in the Old Testament for atonement.

Response: Genesis 9:6 tells us that when a man’s blood is shed (he was sinned against), the shedding of the sinner’s blood is required. Flour was offered either along with other sacrifices or as a small token sacrifice—an animal, whose blood would be shed, was required for any significant sacrifice. But was the system of animal sacrifices the Eternal’s plan from the beginning? No.

For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices (Jer 7:22).

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings (Hos 6:6).

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering (Ps 51:16).

Furthermore, we find that the Eternal did not always accept the burnt offerings of people who were sinning. They were a teaching tool, not a "deal" with the Eternal where if they made a sacrifice, he was utterly bound to forgive their sin. The sacrifices continued throughout Judah’s history, yet He let them go into captivity. Notice Isa 1:11-15 and:

Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings (Amos 5:5)

The story of the Eternal telling Abraham to sacrifice his only son, a son whom had done nothing to deserve death, is a clear prophecy of the need for a guiltless human Savior to be a sacrifice.

Letter continues: 3. Many pagan early mystery religions had bread (body of God) and wine (blood of God) ceremonies. They also had baptisms for the remission of sins, long before Jesus ever came. They also preached the ‘Kingdom of God and Heaven’. So why do Christians think they are doing something special in baptism or Christ’s Passover ceremony? It’s not different than pagan ceremonies.

Response: Today, we can find numerous groups mixing the teaching of the Old Testament, New Testament, or both with all manner of other religious ideas. Jewish tradition indicates that bread and wine ceremonies go back to Abraham and Melchisedek (Gen 14:18). Immersing oneself in water (baptism) is found many places in the Hebrew Scriptures. There were numerous Old Testament promises for a kingdom ruled by the Eternal. The true worship of the Eternal certainly became mixed up with false religions (2 Kings 17:27-29). We have no way to know how many other times this happened prior to this scripture. We should not at all be surprised to find other ancient religions copying practices given by the Eternal.

Letter continues: 4. Although Paul seems nice, he admits to using deceit to get his followers. Rom 3:7, 2Cor 12:16, 1Cor 9:20-23. Paul also teaches many Gnostic ideas: like celibacy is better than marriage, women should be quiet in church, that this evil world needs a savior God (a messenger from heaven with hidden truths from God, most men can’t understand).

Response: All of your problem scriptures can be cleared up by reading the context. Paul is speaking sarcastically in Rom 3:7; He says, "I am using a human argument" (NIV). In 2 Cor 12:16 he is also using sarcasm—the previous and next verses show how much he sacrificed for the Corinthians. If you read 1Cor 9:19, you see that Paul "became all things to all men" to serve them as they were willing to be served, not to trick them. Paul never taught that celibacy was better than marriage, rather he said it was his gift. When he advised people not to marry, he made it very clear that it was his idea, and said that they were not sinning by marrying. The Greek for "silent" refers to a quieted crowd—women should not be chattering among themselves during the service (if you have spent a lot of time in "mother’s rooms" of large congregations, you will know that this can be a problem). If this world does not need a Savior, then what does it need? If everyone sacrificed an animal or beat a bag of flour right now, would it suddenly be a better place? The nation of Israel had all of the laws of the Eternal and his direct guidance through the high priests and prophets—and they failed as a nation. We need the nature of the Eternal within us. I do not know of any place where Paul taught that salvation depends on difficult, secret knowledge.

Letter continues: Paul, like Gnostics, feel there are two laws: one of flesh, one of spirit. Paul acts like Satan and God are at odds (not an OT teaching at all).

Response: Our Old Testament shows the Eternal and Satan "at odds." The very name Satan means "adversary" in Hebrew. Read the book of Job. There Satan is obviously allowed only to do what the Eternal lets him, but makes Job as miserable as he possible can. When the Eternal decides to restore Job’s family and wealth, did he send Satan to do that good deed. No, He had to do it Himself. I cannot find one case in the Hebrew Scriptures where Satan does a positive, kind work!

Letter continues: And Ebionites claim Paul was a liar and they followed Christ and were led by James. The question—how do Christians come to trust a man who never saw Christ in life, who claimed to see visions (not unlike Christians today) and who didn’t lead all Christians like the NT seems to say?

—Jill Phillips, Texas

Response: The Eternal said that He usually speaks to men in dreams and visions (Num 12:6). The Bible has dozens of examples of such communication—Paul is not at all unusual. The New Testament and modern congregations are full of examples of factions forming among believers. The very passage you quoted above (2Cor 12) is about people who were no longer listening to Paul. We should not be at all surprised that the Ebionites may have accepted some New Testament teachers and rejected others. We have many factions today that only accept certain parts of the Old or New Testaments.

You have also sent us long lists of books that are against Christianity and promised to find more if that was not enough. We could use the Internet to download a list of Books supporting Christianity, Atheism, Buddhism, Communism or other ideologies. Is the one with the longest book list the truth?

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1Cor 2:4-5).

Paul did not say his words were the ultimate proof of his belief in Christ, but it was the Power of the Eternal. If you have never experienced His power to deliver us from sin and to live a righteous life, we encourage you to repent of your sins and ask for that power. If you do not believe His forgiveness and power are necessary or possible, then by all means do the best you can to live a righteous life from your understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. Do good works, set a good example. But before you try to convince others that the New Testament is wrong, I recommend that you spend a lot more time studying the entire Bible, and pray for wisdom and understanding, so you do not make the rather obvious mistakes as above.

—NSE

Myron Martin Sabbath-Start Studies

We have received nearly 100 pages of letters and articles from Myron Martin that attempt to show that the Sabbath begins at sunrise. Several issues or a large separate document would be required to communicate all of this information to our readers. We disagree with much of it, so, we feel we would need to write many pages to refute those parts.

We have exchanged a couple of letters with Myron Martin, showing him where we believe he is wrong. We have not taken time to respond to every point that he has made because of the sheer volume of them. On the other hand, he attempted to refute only a fraction of the few of the points that we made to him, and we do agree with most of his responses. The following is an excerpt from his last letter:

Excerpt From Letter: Can you deny that my writings prompted the article by Herb Solinsky? [SN July 1997, p 3.] My main point, Norm, is that my opinion should not be suppressed because you disagree with it, let your readers make up their own minds, otherwise you are usurping the function of the Holy Spirit, to convict people of the truth.

—Myron Martin

Patriots of the Kingdom

PO Box 20004 CDO

Concord, Ontario L4K 4T1

Canada.

Response: Herb Solinsky began doing his research on the beginning and ending of a Biblical day many years ago in connection with calendar studies. He mentioned it to us at the Feast in 1996. Several people have sent us writings on the issue of when a day begins, so Herb began working on his article in May or June.

We believe it is possible to understand generally when to observe a Sabbath from just a few scriptures (Lev 23:32, Neh 13:19, Luke 4:31-40—realizing that people thought they had to wait until after the Sabbath to carry the sick—John 5:10). But the issue becomes more complex when you take a clear scripture like Leviticus 23:32 and claim it applies to only the length of time we fast, not to the length of the Sabbath: "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath." If we look into the meaning of the Hebrew for "celebrate" it is the word shabbath, with the stem qual. This form of the word is always translated as "rest" or "cease" [from working]. There is no question in our mind that the Hebrew is talking about the time we rest, not specifying a time for fasting that is different than the time for resting.

It would take hundreds of hours and dozens of pages to answer all what we believe are faulty arguments. This issue is now nearly as complex as the Passover issue. Actually, the two are inter-related—a whole new set of Passover theories are possible if one believes that the fourteenth of Nisan began and ended at sunrise. One or more fairly large books would be required to cover everything. We would like to write such books, but do not see how we will have time in the next five years.

Furthermore, we believe there are many issues more important than this. When I am judged, and are asked why I kept an evening-to-evening Sabbath, I plan to cite the above three scriptures. If our Savior introduces many other complex scriptures to show that I was wrong, I can honestly repent and change. This is very different than doctrines such as Sunday-keeping or the Trinity for which there is virtually no valid scriptural support. Nearly all of the scriptures that talk about how we will be judged, refer to basic issues: did we help the poor, treat our brothers fairly, speak truthfully and acknowledge our Savior?

If I am deceived on the timing of the Sabbath and if your teaching is correct, I am confident that the Eternal will make a way for you to distribute it. I do not believe that I can, "usurp the work of the Holy Spirit." Anyone who feels led to learn more about a Sabbath that begins at sunrise can write to your address, above.

This Servants’ News issue was delayed several days simply because of the time taken to study and respond to your material. For now, I intend to postpone studies in this area in order to deal with other more vital issues.

—NSE

Answer to Stolen Truth Letter

Letter: August 5, 1997

Dear Norm:

Greetings from Pasadena, where the thermometer hit 109 yesterday. I am writing you this brief note since you said you would welcome a response to Glen Myers’ letter which you printed in Servants’ News. I appreciate your offer and have decided that I should respond, rather than simply ignore the matter and let it rest, lest some of your readers " assume" that the accusations Glen made were true. So I thank you for letting me set the record straight.

In his letter to you, Glen states: "Dankenbring has taken my article and apparently pulled a Herbert Armstrong by making everyone think that Christ revealed this new knowledge to him personally, without ever giving anyone else the credit. Please let your readers know, that William Dankenbring did not come up with this new knowledge on his own, but has taken my article and my reasons and published them in his Prophecy Flash magazine as being his own!!! Isn’t stealing against the law???"

First of all, Glen is simply incorrect. 1) I first read his letter (he calls it an article) in January,1997, which gave many apparent reasons why there seemed to be a "problem" with the traditional understanding of the chronology of the judgement and crucifixion of Christ. At the time I skimmed his letter and laid it aside, hoping to deal with it later. It reminded me of the fact that about twenty five years ago (around 1968) I wrote an article in The Good News on "Christ in the Passover", in which I quoted the Berkeley Version, or Moffatt, which said that it was about "NOON" when Pilate finally condemned Christ. Robert Boraker, head of Personal Correspondence Department in Bricket Wood, England, at that time, wrote me and inquired if this was "new understanding", since the Church then taught that John was using "Roman time" when he wrote that this event occurred "about the sixth hour" (John 19:14). At that time, I studied into the "timing problem," noted that it seemed difficult to have Jesus appearing before Annas the High Priest, then Caiaphas, during the night, then the "next morning" before the full Sanhedrin, then before Pilate the first time, who then sent him to King Herod, who sent him back to Pilate, and this last and final appearance before Pilate was thought to have been "about the sixth hour"—meaning 6:00 AM—according to the Worldwide Church of God understanding at that time. The Church (Meredith, Hoeh, etc) said John used "Roman time." However, as the pressure of many other things crowded into my time, I put this question on the back burner, and let it slide—until Glen’s letter reminded me of the apparent "problem."

In the meantime, Ray Murphy of Monrovia, California, about three years ago told me about a book he had inadvertently picked up at the Monrovia Library titled Jesus Christ our Passover, written by Victor Paul Wierwille, published by American Christian Press, The Way International, New Knoxville, Ohio 45871—a book of 527 pages length, including index. He said this fellow had some fascinating new information about Jesus’ final week. At the time, I did not read the book, but intended to get around to it later. Well, after being reminded of the "problem" in the chronology by Glen Myers’ letter, I checked with Ray, got hold of the book by Wierwille, in April of this year, and read it. It was indeed fascinating. Wierwille went through the last week of Christ, step by step, day by day, spending about one chapter on each day, showing the activities that occurred, and proved—at least to my satisfaction—that indeed, not only was there a problem with the WCG’s traditional explanation of events, but that they were WRONG—ie, John was not using Roman time at all, and Moffatt and other translations were right in saying Jesus appeared before Pilate the final time about NOON. Since He was already nailed to the stake about 9:00 AM on Nisan 14, this plainly meant He had to appear before Pilate for His final sentencing the previous DAY—at noon on Nisan 13. I considered this to be a "blockbuster" new idea. I studied the book carefully, and found that Wierwille covered the subject in a very thorough and convincing manner.

In his letter, Glen Myers had reminded me of the difficulties in thinking Jesus made all His appearances before the high priests, the full Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again, all before "6:00 AM.," Roman time. But Glen Myers only pointed out problems with the chronology, which I was already aware of. He did not bring up or refute the problems posed by the scriptures in Mark and Luke which implied that the day when Jesus told His disciples to prepare the passover was "the day of unleavened bread, when the passover was killed" (Mark 14:12;Luke 22:7). Myers did not even mention these two scriptures, which at the time I believed were the "coup de grace" for any theory that the last supper could have occurred prior to Nisan 14, the day the passover was killed.

However, in his book, Wierwille does spend a whole chapter dealing with these scriptures, and shows plainly that the Greek word for DAY here is hemera and can mean a 12-hour "day", a 24 hour day, or a general period of time, such as "the day of vengeance," "day of the Lord", or "day of adversity" etc, or even a "thousand -year day" (IIPet 3:8-10). I found this to be very exciting, a thrilling discovery, which finally "solved" the whole puzzle and every difficulty of the chronology of the "last week of Jesus Christ." That is why, in my own article on the subject in the May-June issue of Prophecy Flash, I referred to this as an earth-shaking, blockbuster, tidal wave of new truth which would shake up the conventional explanations and nonsensical reasonings which men have used, in the past, to support their erroneous theories.

Therefore, I most certainly did not "steal" any ideas from Glen Myers. In fact, in a personal letter I thanked him for reminding me of the problem with the chronology of the crucifixion, but apparently he became offended and accuses me of "stealing" his ideas. Nonsense! Most of my article was based on my own cautious and careful research, guided in no small measure by the influence of Victor Paul Wierwille’s 527 page book on that very subject. If anything, I owe a debt of gratitude to Wierwille, but the truth is, I believe GOD in heaven is the one who deserves the credit for this "new revelation" and "new understanding."

Herbert Armstrong used to say that it is ten times more difficult to unlearn an error than simply to learn "new truth". How true that is! I have found, since writing on this subject, that some people have studied it and accept it as wonderful and exciting new truth which helps them to understand and appreciate even more the pain and suffering that Christ went through, for us. Some others however, have condemned me roundly for daring to publish this, and one has even accused me of "deliberately" doing this in order to do away with the whole concept of a Nisan 14 "Last Supper", or "Passover."

It is sad how some people react to new truth, new knowledge, and how impervious and impenetrable their minds have become. Rather than being open-minded, with the faith and innocence of a child, they have become adamantine like stone, and resist the truth to the point of hurling false accusations at the "truth bringer." I personally, take no credit for this new truth. I merely lay it out there, and ask people to study it carefully, sincerely, with an objective and open mind—and not to allow the cobwebs of confusion caused by previous teachings to cloud and obscure the truth. To me, this new truth is like the crystal clear water of a mountain spring, uncontaminated and unpolluted—pure and fresh, with no ulterior motives or hidden agendas attached to it. People can accuse me of whatever they want—and some have. But the truth will win out in the end (Luke 10:21).

At any rate, I feel sorrow for Glen Myers, who seems to feel so unappreciated that he thinks he has to slap and falsely accuse some of the few friends he may have left. His overall attitude toward others seems to be so hostile, full of anger, and distrust. I pray for him, that God will help him overcome his gigantic "chip" he is caring around on his shoulder, and forget the past, and begin to stress the positive things in His relationship with God; because, although he may feel bitterly betrayed by many men, including many ministers in the past, we have all been "there", and many of us have "suffered many things, of many men." This is part of the "walk" Christ has called us to (Luke 14:26-27.). I chalk all the "past sufferings" we have gone through, in our previous associations and churches, up to "experience". As the apostle Paul wrote, "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom 5:3-5).

Sincerely,

—William F. Dankenbring

PO Box 292, Altadena, CA 91003

Response: Thank you for giving your perspective on this issue. I think it is a good example of how we all need to communicate more effectively. Matthew 18 tells us "go to our brother" first before complaining about difficulties in a public way. When we get an idea or a lot of information from a single source, we should give credit.

It is good that you mentioned your source was a book by Victor Paul Wierwille. That way, people can check him out, and find that he was the leader of a hierarchical, controlling cult-like group called "The Way" (not to be confused with The Way newsletter published by Jack Lane). The Way has some similarities to the Worldwide Church of God in that it has done a lot of teaching of right Bible principles and rejected some erroneous mainstream Christian doctrine. But, it also considered itself the one true church and disfellowshipped members who did not thoroughly support headquarters. Of interest, we had someone visit our Sabbath service that used to work at the Headquarters of The Way, but left to form independent fellowships after seeing the corruption in the organization. We have two separate witnesses that they have a "doctrine" that permits their high-level leaders to have sex with other men’s wives. That does not automatically make Victor Paul Wierwille’s teaching false, but it does at least make me wonder whether he was seeking for truth, or simply seeking for distinctive doctrine to keep his followers from straying into other organizations.

The idea that Jesus’ Last Supper was more than one day before his death was something I never considered before. I learned some things from your article and found it marginally plausible. Reading it caused me to think of other possibilities—such as: is it possible that Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) are describing a different "supper" than John? (Most of the events described by John are not in the Synoptics and vice versa. However, such a theory would require a 24-hour break somewhere in the middle of John 13 or our Savior identifying Judas as the betrayer on two separate nights.)

Nevertheless, I cannot accept the conclusions in your article. The major scriptural problem solved by your thesis is the meaning of "the sixth hour" mentioned in John 19:14. But your theory creates many more scriptural problems. Below, I list the major difficulties I found with the article by page number:

page 3: I failed to see how the article was a "bombshell" that would "completely change your life." It is Biblical research with some impact on practice and doctrine. Your writings showing that the Passover was not kept early on the 14th have much more impact than this does—they change the time that people actually observe the Passover. For those who believe in a late-14th Passover, it really matters little whether His last supper was one, two, or more days before the Passover. They still keep the Passover at the same time. Both you and I understand from 1 Corinthians 11 that bread and wine can be taken "when you come together as a church" (verse 18). Since no specific time or frequency is set by the Bible for this partaking of bread and wine, it is hard to imagine our Savior condemning it on any specific day if it is done with the proper attitude.

Pages 13-14. Your article stated "it would seem LUDICROUS to BEGIN preparation for the Passover as Late as Nisan 14", and also stated "this ‘preparation’ also took at least four or five hours". How is there any difficulty with doing half a day’s work in one day? The original Passover was prepared in haste—that is why the bread was unleavened. This is not a valid reason to say our Savior must have told them to prepare for the Passover days in advance.

Pages 15-16. The Bible is not clear exactly which days some events occurred. Some of the dates that you set are simply assumptions.

Page 20. Your article states that they ate the last supper in Bethany, yet the room that they were told to eat in is described as "in the city" (Matt 26:18). The Greek for "city" is polis (from which we get "metropolis") which tends to refer to a larger place. This is demonstrated in Matthew 21:17 where both with words "city" and "Bethany" are used—the "city" there is obviously Jerusalem. Also, your explanation of John 18:1 is difficult. It shows that Jesus went from the last supper over the Kidron valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. It is most likely that he went from Jerusalem, eastward to the garden. Your explanation that they crossed the Kidron twice is hard to accept as it would be a much longer route and we would have to ask "why did John write about one crossing but not the other?" Your other explanation, that the Garden of Gethsemane might be on the west side of the Kidron is also difficult as the wall of Jerusalem borders the west side of the Kidron for over a mile—a garden inside a walled city would not be a quiet place to retreat and pray, and there is essentially no room for one outside the wall.

Pages 23-25. Your article describes numerous events as taking longer than they need to. Also, you state that Pilate would not get up or hold court before sun-up. Pilate’s job and life depended on his maintaining order in Jerusalem. Passover was the time when most trouble occurred. Dealing with a man who some claimed to be a Jewish king or Messiah would be his top priority.

Pages 33-34. The idea that our Savior suffered for 40 hours may sound good to numerologists, but no specific prophecy says that. Furthermore, claiming that Jesus was beaten by Romans for 21 hours is completely contrary to John 18:28-36. It unquestionably says that Pilate did not want to kill Jesus, either before or after the scourging. He wanted to "chastise Him and let Him go" (Luke 23:22). Does it make any sense that Pilate would send Jesus to be beaten for 21 hours and survive? Further, Mark 15:44 states: "Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time." How could Pilate be amazed if he had ordered a 21-hour beating? It is obvious that Pilate ordered the scourging, crown of thorns, mocking, etc. to make Jesus look like a harmless pitiful person to which the crowd would say "He can’t do anything" and they would then not mind letting Him go. Furthermore, John 18:28 specifically says that Jews did not want to enter the Praetorium so they would not be defiled so they could eat the Passover. If this was more than a day before the Passover, they would have been able to enter the Praetorium and just be unclean until evening (according to my understanding of their cleanliness laws). Also, Pilate spoke to a crowd before and after the scourging. Are we to believe that the crowd stayed and slept there for 21 hours? Why were there no instructions given to them to come back and see if He was still alive tomorrow? Furthermore, it is just unreasonable to conclude that all four gospel writers give such a detailed description of all the events and do not even mention our Savior surviving a 21-hour beating without a broken bone. These 21 hours would have elapsed within a single sentence in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15.

Bill, I found some of the other news items and articles in the letter very interesting and helpful. I encourage you to continue your study and writing, but I also encourage you to write more from the perspective of "is this scenario possible" rather than your title Huge Tidal Wave of New Truth Smashes Icons of Error and Assumption! Jesus’ Last Week on Earth Revealed! Our Messiah is the one who reveals things (Rev 1:1). You did not claim that He revealed this to you, but that it was your own understanding of the Bible based largely on Wierwille’s book. It will not hurt you to say that some or all of this article was a mistake. The "seven churches" in Revelation 2 and 3 did not have perfect doctrine, yet they were all His congregations. The hundreds of Sabbatarian groups today do not have perfect doctrine. I do not have perfect doctrine. But we will not be judged by the perfection of doctrine that our group holds. We will be judged by what we individually do with what we have been given.

Shalom. —NSE


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