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.

No "Church of God" Background

[This letter is from one of about 20 SN subscribers who have no previous Sabba tarian background, but have found us on the Internet. In most cases, these are people who do not believe corporate churches are necessary and essentially cannot be reached by them. Our goal is not to get them to "join us," but to share truth with them and hope they share it with others.]

Letter: November 11, 1997

Hello Norman,

I just received your email message. It is now Nov 11 @ 4:26pm central time.

As far as my religious background is concerned, I donít have a religion. I am a Christian. I donít have a church I go to due to the possibility of maybe moving to Denver, Colo here in the next few months. My husband though is a Lutheran by faith.

I belong to no church, or religion. Religion is made by man. Christianity is a relationship with God Jehovah!

Thank you,

—R. J.

Response: Thank you for your reply. We agree. A relationship with the Eternal and our understanding of His ways as taught in the scriptures is the most important thing. There is also a need to fellowship with others and share our knowledge with others, but we do not have to join an organization to do this. (However, we also realize that much good work has been done through organizations.)

Most of the subscribers of our publication (and the writers) were once members of the Worldwide Church of God. The teachers in that organization did well in the past in that they often emphasized Bible teaching over traditional Christianity in many areas. Unfortunately, the leadership attempted to govern the members in a hierarchical fashion similar to the Catholic church, rather than follow the Biblical instruction.

Currently, Servantsí News still often deals with issues relating to the Worldwide Church of God and the organizations that split off from it. We believe we can help these people, so we do. But we also see that we cannot spend the rest of our lives discussing men and organizations that are now dead.

It is our purpose to re-study everything, to keep the good teaching, to discard the bad, to admit that there are things we are not sure about, and to go on and learn more. We seek to work with and learn from others, and to teach Bible truth and a relationship with our Savior to those who want to hear.

—NSE

Feast-keeping in Mexico

Letter: November 12, 1997

Dear Norman:

I am glad to inform you that I can send you, again, e-mails from my PC. My address is: 110134.130@compuserve.com, you can send me any e-mails you want and you can publish it as well.

I hope you have had a very good Feast. My family and I have a very good one. We did not go to Acapulco Beach because of the bad conditions in that site due to the Pauline hurricane. It really destroyed a lot of things. We had the opportunity to go to Veracruz Beach. We had a good time. It was our first experience organizing and attending the Feast for ourselves. Finally, there were around ten of us at the Feast but we learned a lot. We do not know what will happen the next year but we are enthusiastic and with plenty of ideas. [literature request omitted.]

Best regards,

—Jose L. Jimenez, Mexico

Response: Thanks for the information. We enjoyed our Feast very much. I thought about your feast plans and the hurricane—it is good that you did not plan to open up the site to visitors this year as we once discussed. I am glad that you are showing how it is possible for a small group of people to keep the Feast together with little previous experience.

—NSE

Enjoyed Ohio Feast

Letter: November 6, 1997

Dear Brother Norm,

Thank you for your efforts in putting on an enjoyable feast. I donít think I have ever said, "This was the best feast ever," but I will say that I have never had a better one. I also enjoyed meeting you and your family, although I only wish we could have spent more time together. Well, maybe next time we will.

Enclosed is a small donation for you to use as you see fit. I hope to continue to support those like you who are giving so much of yourself for the church at large.

Your friend in Christ,

—Kevin Pomaville, Michigan

Response: We hope to spend more time with you next year at the Feast.

—NSE

 

Is This Discovery for Real?

Letter: October 12, 1997

In a recent copy of the local Sydney BI [British Israel] magazine "The Kingdom Herald", an article from the "Kingdom Tidings" was reprinted which in turn was based on an article in The Guardian, "Vindication of the Bible Record: 4,000 year spectacular unearthed in Syria".

According to the article 15,000 clay tablets have been recently unearthed at Tell-Mardikh, with names such as Esau, Abraham, David; creation story, flood; pagan gods such as Dagon, etc. It also quotes a Dr. David Freedman, an archaeologist from Michigan University.

If anyone has the original article from either the Kingdom Tidings or the Guardian, could they please contact me. Or if you know where I might be able to access them, please advise me.

Thanks,

—Craig White, GPO Box 864,

Sydney, NSW 2001 Australia

Response: If this find turns out to be genuine, this will be a great help in preaching to those who doubt the Bible. If anyone had any solid information on this, we would appreciate hearing about it as well as Craig White.

—NSE

Church History Gives Todayís Answer

Letter: January 11, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards:

I have just read the letter from Mr. Wheatley in your latest "Servants News" [December 1996]. This brings me to a problem that many people seem to have and I think I can offer a solution. The problem is this "hang-up" on church government. The solution: letís look at church history.

I have been reading Mr. HWAís booklet "Where is the True Church?" On pages 12,13,14 Mr. A. explains how the church is a spiritual organism. Even he saw it back then for what it is. Then he discusses what the true gospel is, and I believe most of your readers know what that is. Then Mr. A. goes on to say on pages 16 & 17, "He (Satan) deceived certain humans into seeking to destroy the church from within.... He caused some within the church to turn to a false and counterfeit gospel." (Sound familiar?) Then Mr. A. says, "Thus, from false brethren within the church, Satan succeeded finally in deceiving even the vast majority in the Church. He succeeded in turning this majority into a growing false and counterfeit church."

Further down he states, "Soon the curtain was wrung down on historic records of the Church. It evidenced the fact that a vigorous cooperative and systematic effort was made to destroy historic records of church happenings of the next hundred years. It was the ĎLost Centuryí in Church history." And a few paragraphs down He states, "But, as the vast majority of professing Christians apostatized, they held only to a gospel about Christ." (Are we re-living history or what?)

So, what is my point?? God has seldom worked through a big corporate entity. (Only once that I know of.) The church was allowed to be scattered. ("How can this be, we have this great work to do?")Throughout history the church has been scattered by and large. Even Jesus referred to it as a little flock. With the exception of recent history, when was the church ever a big corporate entity with government from the top down? And isnít it prophesied to be scattered, persecuted and the brethren would be dragged into courts and put to death? Now, while hierarchal government served a purpose during Mr. A.ís reign it was not the norm. I repeat, it was not the norm. And we are all aware of the abuses of that form of government.

And please note, God did not put the church back on track nor did He kill every leader in the apostate church, nor did He seek out a strong leader to take over the reigns of the church.

How many years after did any leaders come along? And when they did come along, by that time the original brethren were either dead from old age or scattered permanently.

Is their salvation flawed because they didnít or more likely couldnít seek out a corporate entity or stay with an entity that kept the name but legally separated? I donít believe so.

I feel we should look at the overall history of the church and come to a conclusion, instead of looking at just the last fifty years and thinking we have all the truth and all the answers.

Maybe we should all look at this scattering as a blessing in disguise and work within the situation instead of forcing something that in all likelihood is not Godís will. If corporate church was Godís will, donít we all really believe that God is big and strong enough to have stopped the false brethren if He wanted. We would all answer yes, but the Almighty, in His wisdom has seen fit to scatter us.

Letís not argue with God. Letís stop looking to men for guidance. In essence thatís what we do when we seek out a leader. During the last several years in the WCG my thinking was slowly but surely changing to believe that God wants us to make our own decisions based on His truth and our relationship with Him and not, I repeat not, on the truth as someone else perceives it or on our relationship with the minister or the deacon or whoever. This is one of the reasons, I believe, many of us have or nearly have shipwrecked our faith.

Thank you for the wonderful job you do.

Sincerely

—Jason C. Darrow

Response: Thank you for your excellent explanation. Many groups teach that a person must understand and believe their list of doctrines in order to be saved. But when we ask them if they know of others who have believed their same doctrines through history, they agree that there is not such a group.

—NSE

Likes SN Articles on UCG

Letter: November 24, 1997

Servantsí News,

[Literature requested omitted]

We appreciated the articles relating to UCG particularly "a Lamentation for the UCG-AIA" and "The Insoluble DilemmaÖ." We do not believe that doctrine is the real issue. Many of us were hoping for a release from ministerial control/congregational dependency style of administration with more of an emphasis on the individual maturing in his or her relationship with God. This is definitely not happening. Weíve been pushed out of our local UCG congregation (not exactly forced out) because of our views and the disapproval of our participation in The Journal. We are presently attending an independent Sabbatarian church. We plan to support several endeavors including yours as we have the means.

Thank you. —B. & S.S., Missouri

Response: Our hope is that everyone will find a place where they can grow as the Eternal intends them to grow.

—NSE

UCG-AIA Needs Lamentation

Letter: November 18, 1997

Dear Norm:

Just finished reading the Sept/Oct Ď97 issue of SN and believe that your use of the word Lamentation had to be inspired. It can apply to all the Churches of God which we have and are experiencing.

It would be good if all your readership would take a little time to read the book of Lamentations in their Bible and see if they can see themselves in it, as a type. Asking God for the eyes to see would be a good method to begin this study. As they read they might take note of: "...for the Lord has caused her (Jerusalem) grief because of the multitudes of her transgressions." Also note the discussion of her princes; and the "little ones," as well as how "...she remembers all her precious things that were from days of old..." and how her enemies have swallowed her up, and how she has gone into captivity.

This book laments all the problems with His chosen vessels, but it also gives them hope. In chapter three, beginning in verse 19, it begins to tell us, among other things, that, "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him" (v 25). And also admonishes us, "Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord" (v 40; NAS).

Many have lost their first love of seeking God, as it has been and continues to be, obscured in a multitude of confusing directions. (You are correct when you say there are a lot of options available now.) Some seek for the "old" ways and the comfort they had then. Others seek for something else different and exciting, in their new found freedom. But Jeremiah is trying to focus our attention on repentance and back on seeking God. If there is a major sin in organized religion, placing other gods before Him must surely be it. Please donít misunderstand, Iím not teaching "anti-organization," but only trying to help others cut through the fog of the enemy that seems to surround so many believers. Identifying these false gods is not easy because we have grown so comfortable with them, but we must learn to identify them if we are to "...return to the Lord!"

I believe it is foundational in this process of obtaining the faith once delivered to the saints. We should be careful in this area, and not assume that we have been previously taught this faith, although I believe that most of us who have had the WCG experience have touched, and only touched on it in the past.

So, "What should we be doing?" "What is our priority in our lives today?" "What is the will of God for us today?"

Get to know God!!! "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day" (Jn 6:14). We must first come to truly behold Him, and then we can believe in Him. This "knowing" is much more than knowledge about Him—most have this—but it is a process of coming into a oneness of nature with Him.

In Paulís letter to the Philippians, he tells us all of the importance of this specific focus to get to know the Son of God; "...I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." (Phil 3:8-11). Notice his wording is designed to demonstrate it is a process, and it is the process of salvation for all believers.

Our Messiah specifically defines what eternal life is in Jn 17:3; "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent." Does anyone want eternal life? Then, get to know the Son of God and you will also know His Father, for they are one.

Sad to say, that in over 30 years in the Church of God, I have not seen this matter being taught to any great extent. It has not been completely hidden, but taught only by a few, who by the grace of God, have cut through the fog of the enemy, and have been blessed to see the light on this all important subject.

A focus on doctrine separates people. Right doctrine is important, but it is not life, and life is the goal. Jesus Christ is life! (Jn 14:6.) His blood justifies and reconciles us, but we are to gain salvation by His life being manifested in us (Rom 5:10; 8:11; 2Cor 4:11).

I would like to humbly offer a challenge to all disciples of Christ who read this letter to SN: Dedicate some serious time to study and searching the Scriptures, prayer and meditation, on this subject of getting to personally know our Savior, and then share your thoughts with as many as you can. "Come now and let us reason together..." (Isa 1:18). True unity between believers can only be found in this knowledge; that is In His Name. —Jerry Laws

Response: The originally-planned title for that article was "sighing and crying for UCG," but the scripture that uses the terms "sigh and cry" is talking about "abominations" in Israel—I felt that using that word would be offensive—the Eternal has not specifically told me to call other people or things abominations, so I probably ought to avoid rendering such judgements. Pam Dewey suggested "Lamentation." I did not study the book in relationship to the current state of affairs, but I see how some of it does apply.

It seemed like ancient Israel was always longing for the good times, acting like they were thinking this: "We are the Eternalís chosen people, we have the Eternalís temple, He protects us from our enemies, so now let us stop worrying and learn some of those fun Canaanite practices." Similarly, people in the WCG seemed to act like this was their life plan: "We are specially called of the Eternal, we are in His one True Church, we are going to a place of safety while everyone else goes to the tribulation, so now let us stop worrying and concentrate on having fun like the rest of the world does."

The truth of the matter is that both they and we need to seek the Eternal. We need to make the big and small decisions of our lives based on our prayers and understanding of what the Eternal expects of us. The big decisions are: where we go to school, where we go to work, where we fellowship for services, who we marry, who our friends are, etc. The small decisions are what we decide to do each day.

We do not claim to have mastered this yet, but we are beginning to see where we need to go.

—NSE

Old Ways Not Godís Way

Letter: November 13, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards,

I am reading your article on UCG and find it interesting that many do question if it was God who "allowed WCG to go astray." It is, also, interesting that God asks the same question (Isa 42:24) and answers it. He also tells why this came about.

For those who pray for "unity," I can assure you—there will be "unity"—but not in the way we hope for (Ezek. 20:32-38). The "unity" we hope for will only come in God after we turn our hearts back to Him and seek His face and the truth (Isa 55:6-7; 2Chron 15:2). Christ will not follow us. We must follow Him and be found in Him or we will be rejected as "naked" (Rev 16:15).

Our salvation does not depend on where men are—or an organization—but on where we are in Christ. It is not what we do that counts. It is what Christ does in us that really counts.

The reason UCG has not "produced anything substantial" is because it is not of God. Neither were the "inventions" of HWA. God is not interested in our "inventions" (Psa 99:8 and 106:29,39). He is interested in our hearts.

For the same reason "tried and true methods no longer work." They are not of God.

If we practice Sabbath "benchwarming" and do our own thing, are we not just as the Protestants as Sunday "benchwarmers" who do their own thing? If the religion we practice is not of God – it is of no value. —Myra Mcqueen, Texas

Response: Itís not enough to be with a group that has the truth, we have to individually do the truth. Many of the scribes and Pharisees of Christís day knew nearly all the truth that was generally available at that time. They just did not always do it!

—NSE

Kansas City Clarification

Letter: November 18, 1997

In reference to your article on the churches that have separated from UCG-AIA, I found the section on Kansas City quite accurate.

There is one small item of clarification, however. Gerald Weston was always up front with me personally regarding his intentions. I believe him when he tells me that he did not intend to affiliate with the the Global Church of God prior to his separation from WCG, and that this decision came later after he determined that what he called "the mystery group" (which later became United) was not going to be according to his liking. His error, in my opinion, was in making the decision for the entire congregation without consulting with us first.

One point to keep in mind: There was never a board in the period before KC associated with Global, so there was never a board to communicate with. I was never privy to conversations some say they had with him where he promised not to affiliate before discussing it with the congregation. He might have promised and he might not have—I canít prove it either way because I wasnít there. I believe those who told you this were being honest because they are honest people. I just canít prove it either way.

He did communicate with the deacons and elders immediately upon his return from San Diego, telling us he had made up his mind and he was going to go with Global, and we were welcome to go with him if we wished.

I know Mr. Weston well, and I believe his decision to affiliate with Global was based on his belief that it would be in the best interest of the congregation. The problem was announcing the following Sabbath that "next week weíll be meeting here as a Global congregation." But we all make mistakes.

While I disagree with that decision, I have no doubt that his heart was in the right place. Indeed, he and I have had the opportunity to discuss the history of the past few years, and those discussions confirm what I state here.

Those days were turbulent and emotional times, and I am sure that all of us would have handled the situation differently if we had to do it over. I certainly made my share of mistakes in March/April 1995, and for that reason feel uncomfortable pointing my finger at a friend who perhaps did things differently than I would have had I been in his shoes.

A final point: Since those times almost 3 years ago, Gerald Weston still acts much like the pastor for people who used to be in his church. I can cite some interesting examples, but many of those are very private and were done not to be seen of men.

—Lenny Cacchio, Lees Summit, Missouri

Response: Thank you for your clarification. Some people were shocked to find that they were suddenly in a Global Church of God, but we see how it would be hard for Gerald Weston to deal with his congregation directly. Since both ministers and members were trained in "top down" leadership for so long, it is easy to see why events unfolded as they did. Some members were probably expecting God to guide their pastor to make the decision for them—an open discussion of which group to associate with may well have caused them to drop out altogether, concluding that God was "not in that decision."

—NSE

Finished Listening to UCG Troubles

Letter: November 14, 1997

Dear Norman Edwards,

Over the course of almost a year now we have been receiving the Servantsí News, and we have enjoyed reading some of it. I really enjoyed your articles on marriage and marriage & divorce, the calendar and other articles that brought out Biblical principles.

However, upon receiving the Sept/Oct 1997 issue, we no longer wish to receive Servantsí News and ask that you remove our name from your mailing list.

In this day and age it is hard to follow the admonition of Phil 4:8: "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, are honest, are just, are pure, are lovely, are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Upon reading portions of the Sept/Oct 1997 issue we found much negative, potentially divisive information being passed on to Godís people.

As a servant of God with the newspaper you have, you are in a position of great influence...and it can be for good or it can be bad. It is our opinion that the Sept/Oct 1997 issue is full of gossip, fault finding, and innuendo. No Church of God organization has been perfect yet, and neither will any in the human future be perfect. There will be delays, mistakes, hurt feelings, wrongs done, etc. God has placed us here on Earth to learn from these experiences, some of which can be very bad experiences. We are here to learn patience, compassion, understanding, mercy, judgement and faith. We are to help our brother when we are able and it is not for us to go around badmouthing and backbiting anybody, especially not Godís people, our fellow brethren, even if they are wrong, and even if every word we say is true. We are to help our brother get up when he is down, not push him down when he may be staggering.

Some of the things you say in the referred to issue are true, some are not. There are times when wisdom leads a person to not say things that are true because to say them would cause offense, distrust, character assassination, division and contention. To say those true things would not build or create anything good.

Here are some scriptures that I think bear serious thought in reference to this issue: Prov. 29:22: "An angry man stirs up strife and a furious man abounds in transgression." Prov 28:25: "He that is of a proud heart stirs up strife:..." Prov 26:20: "Where no wood is, there the fire goes out; so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." Prov 22:10: "Cast out the scorner and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease." (That is why we no longer wish to subscribe, because of the scorn that we found rampant in this issue of the Servantsí News. Godís people have gone through so much strife and trouble and pain. Why canít people be left to go where God leads them without someone causing doubt and division???) Prov 10:20 "The tongue of the righteous mans is as choice silver;..." Prov 12:18: "There is that babbleth like the piercings of a sword; but the tongue of the wise is health." Prov 15:2: "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright:..." Prov 15:4: "Gentleness of tongue is a tree of life;..." 1Pet 3:10: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile."

Satan is so set on destroying us. He is so full of vengeance and wrath and hate. He is exceptionally negative and destructive. Godís people need you to write wholesome, positive, instructive articles that build them up. They need you to search the Bible and help teach them how to grow in the weightier matters of the law...judgement, mercy and faith. Please leave the tearing down of people, ministers, churches, and congregations to Satan. He doesnít need any help to do what he is doing.

We are disappointed and we regretfully ask that our name, be removed from your mailing list. We do not wish to receive any more issues.

Sincerely, —M. & L. R, Wisconsin

Response: Thank you for your letter. We will remove your name from our mailing list as you requested.

We realize that some brethren are served very well by the UCG-AIA or other organizations. They are happy with their local congregations and ministers, and they wish others could be the same. But many believe there are serious biblical problems with their organizations or congregations. The memo we print from John Anderson in the November, 1997 issue is proof that the UCG-AIA home office knows there are serious difficulties. Believe it or not, every time we decide to print articles about what is happening in specific organizations, we wish we could be teaching a Bible topic instead. So why do we print such articles? Why do we not stick to "Bible topics"?

We believe that part of our service is helping people deal with the problems they are experiencing right now. Our effort was not to condemn people or organizations, but to help others understand what is happening and to help them look to the Eternal for his solution. Our sympathy is with your feelings. It would be nice if we could simply put our differences aside and concentrate on spiritual issues. But in reality, how do we do that? Do we achieve unity by unquestionably following whoever claims to be in charge of us? Most of our readers have learned from experience with the Worldwide Church of God that the Eternal does not always correct the leaders "from the top." Sometimes he leaves it up to local congregations or individuals to decide with whom they will fellowship and to whom they will contribute.

The Bible makes it clear that members sometimes have to "try" leaders to see if they are true or false (Rev 2:2). We have two chapters giving qualifications of leaders (1Tim 3, Tit 1). How much responsibility for determining the right course of action rests on individuals, how much on congregations, how much on recognized leaders? It would be simple if the Eternal would miraculously reveal His will to us in a way that all believers would understand. But He has not. He has left us to seek His will and study His word.

That is most of the substance of the controversy at UCG. Exactly who is responsible for determining what is essential doctrine, what is the format of local services, where and how should the Gospel be preached, who should lead groups, etc? Many people have honest and sincere disagreement on these issues. Ignoring them will not make them go away.

In addition to the honest and sincere differences, there are probably mistakes and self-seeking going on in the UCG. The Bible does not ignore these issues, but addresses them head-on and encourages us to do the same in NUMEROUS places. It discusses factions, false doctrine, and personal sins:

Jesus spent much time talking about the errors of the Pharisees (Matt 16 & 23). Those who believed circumcision was necessary were a continual source of trouble for the believers—but were sometimes a help (Acts 11:2; Acts 15; Gal 2:12; Gal 5:11-12; Col 4:11, Tit 1:10).

The discussion in Revelation 2 and 3 are about church problems at that time, as well as prophetic.

In 1 Corinthians 1:11, Paul tells the Corinthians who told him about the sectarianism there (this is not gossip!), and then tells them how to avoid the problem in the rest of that chapter and in chapter 3.

1 Corinthians 5 talks about a manís personal sins and instructs the congregation what to do about it.

2 Peter 2 is an entire chapter about false teachers—the evils they do and how to recognize them.

Three entire books of the Bible are devoted largely to recognizing false brethren in the church: 2 John, 3 John and Jude. The names of someone helpful (Demetrius) and of a bad leader (Diotrephes) who was wrongly "disfellowshipping" brethren are published in 3 John.

2 Timothy 4:10-22 is a long section where Paul names specific people who have helped as well as harmed him.

We could go on to list other scriptural examples where problems in congregations were discussed. If our purpose were to "say bad things about people"—to stir up distrust and cause division, then the scriptures you listed would apply. But we were encouraging just the opposite. In numerous cases, we have left out names and avoided condemning people even when their problems seemed fairly obvious. On the last page of the lead article (page 10), we encouraged people to work together and befriend each other in spite of what happens to the various organizations. This is a great difference from the organizations, which largely teach loyalty to themselves is more important than local acquaintances and friendships.

If there is anything that we have said that was untrue, we really do want to know! We will gladly print a correction and an apology. It is difficult for us to correct errors that no one points out!

We realize that these are difficult times for everyone. When we were members of the WCG, we had a difficult time listening to those who upset our comfortable position in that organization. Some were vindictive, but some were not. Years later, we began to appreciate those who tried to patiently show us things that we did not want to see about "our organization." At some point in the future, you may appreciate the latest Servantsí News more than you do now.

—NSE

Likes our UCG Analysis, Solution?

Letter: November 15, 1997

Norm, Marleen:

Thank you for the latest issue of the Servantís News of Sept/Oct 1997. I think that in your cover article you pretty much understand what the problems are with UCG and others. The thing that eludes most of us is the solution.

I was listening to a business tape, and the CEO said that the larger the HQ staff the less "productive" the organization is, since 30-60% of the material produced is for somebody else in the same HQ. [personal sentence omitted] Although certain things can be done better in a centralized manner,—payroll, insurance, purchasing, mailing, accounting and the like—the managing of the brethrenís spiritual gifts is not one of them!

From reading the SN, Frank Nelteís papers, Journal articles by Gary F., and others we have no shortage of people who can write and explain scriptural truths. I personally like your approach to 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." (Sept.-Oct. 1997 SN p. 41) In the end, as you pointed out once, we will have to face Christ and let him know that we kept or did whatever (calendar, fellowship, tithing, Passover, preaching, teaching, understanding, etc.) the best we knew how at the time with the information we had at hand.

I liked it as well that you gave a forum to Craig White. His analyses are good. We all understand the problems, what to do about them is what we are not as clear on.

I believe that you are about the only ones to explain the "ordination" scriptures(?) in a clear and effective way. You have done much explaining of the use of Godís gifts to His people in His church for His service and others. Also the topic of doctrines, dogmas and practices. I see in these writings the making of a good article covering all the ground from the brethrenís point of view as a follow up to How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans?

Thanks for serving, keep up the good work and have a nice Sabbath!

Best regards, —BFM, Texas

Response: Thank you for your encouraging letter. We would like to publish a revised version of How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans?, but it has been difficult to find time to do it. When we do, we hope to add some of the improvements that you have suggested.

—NSE

Church Gvmt., Tithing, Nicolaitans

Letter: September 17, 1997

Dear Norm,

I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I enjoyed your two articles "How The Eternal Governs Through Humans" and "How Do We Give To The Eternal". You did a pretty thorough job on both articles. Iíve read a couple of other articles on tithing and government, but they were not as thorough as your articles.

I liked them so much I made three or four copies and passed them out to friends at church. I even recommended the articles to this UCG on-line Christian forum, that someone from church signed me up for. They are very good articles and I hope a few ministers take time to read them too.

One thing does puzzle me! When I hear tithe on your increase, to me that means to tithe on anything above your normal salary, which would be the interest on your savings, any stock dividends you may receive, inheritance, winning a lottery, or a raise in pay. Some verses in the Bible mention tithing on your increase and some seem to say on everything you own. But, I realize that tithing was instituted for the Levite and the widow and that the New Testament church was not instructed to tithe specifically but to give willingly of our own free will. It is more blessed to give then to receive.

I believe youíre doing a good work and I will contribute from time to time, and I am also going to support other ministries who are doing a similar work as yours. I am also interested in contributing to those in need. I know that UCG, in Akron, is going to help build houses for the Sabbath-keeping people in India, who recently had their homes destroyed by a storm. This is an admirable cause.

I no longer can tithe to an organization and support a large ministry that basically refuses to follow the true servant leadership outline in the pages of the Bible. The organization defeats oneís ability to grow spiritually. Members tend to focus on the organization for their spiritual knowledge instead of the Word of God.

I also found C.J. Miloshís article on Nicolaitanism to be quite interesting. But, I even found a more interesting article on Nicolaitanism on the internet. Very well written and states precisely the system of Nicolaitanism. I believe you would be interested in reading this article and if so, you can find it on the internet at www.acts17-11.com/sauthority.html. Have you written an article on Nicolaitanism? If so, I would like a copy.

On a personal note: To update you on the Akron GCG turmoil, letters were written [by upset GCG members] to Mr. Meredith, Mr. Salyer, Mr. Ogwyn, and Mr. Greer. Mr. Greer, the regional pastor, came to Akron to speak with everyone. The bottom line is Mr. Greer could see no wrong doing by the Akron minister. Now there are twelve people with their hopes dashed and nowhere to turn. They believe GCG is the only true church after the split.

The Akron minister has offered to speak with all concerned. Oh well, another case where the members have no rights and the minister has all the control.

From what I was told, even the Akron elder spoke against the Akron minister, but it had no effect on the situation. It has just left everyone very discouraged.

Your brother in Christ,

—Akron (now attending UCG)

Response: Thank you for your letter. I am glad you made copies of the articles—that is why they are in "loose-leaf" format. We realize that we will never know the name or address of many people who have benefitted from the literature we publish—and that is how it should be. The Eternal is doing the work, and He will see that each person is fed as they need to be.

The exact definition of increase that the Eternal intended is not clear to me. Genesis 47:24 indicates that increase is everything that comes to you, because it says that what is left is to be used for planting, eating, etc. However, Joseph was here inventing his own taxation system (it was 20%), not implementing the Eternalís—he may well have given a different definition of increase. Leviticus 27:32 indicates that animals were simply to be "passed under the rod" and one tenth taken as a tithe. Most have assumed that only animals born that year would pass under the rod. Certainly any animals that were eaten or taken by the king as taxes would not be there to pass under the rod, and hence would not be tithed.

We can be sure that tithing under the Old Testament was "bottom up", not "top down." People gave to the Levites, and the Levites gave to the priests, and the priests gave to Aaron. There was no definition of exactly who was to give to whom. If a Levite or priest was obviously derelict in his duty, I doubt anyone would give anything to him. How would our national taxation system work if people only paid competent local governments, and local governments supported only competent state governments, and state governments supported only competent national programs? Even with the best of intentions, church organizations that collect all of the funds in one place tend to misuse it on pet projects. It seems much more biblical for individuals to do exactly what you are doing: contribute to those who you determine are doing a biblical work. There can be many. If some seem to bear more fruit than others, you can adjust your contributions accordingly. This is in accordance with the need for each person to do lasting work (1Cor 3:13-15).

I have not written an article on Nicolaitanism. I have downloaded the one from the Website you suggested. I will read it and see if it is worth publishing.

Since I worked for the Global Church of God, I know something of how they handle their ministerial-member relationships. They really hope that their ministers will treat their members in the most fair, biblical manner possible. But they realize that that does not always happen. They believe that publicly correcting a minister would cause people to lose respect for the ministry—so even if they do listen to the member and conclude that the minister was wrong, they almost never make any kind of public apology or make any attempt at restitution. After years of this, some ministers realized that they could get away with almost anything against their congregations. The only reason this method appeared to work for so long is that people thought they were in the one true church and that being disfellowshipped would mean losing all of their friends and maybe their salvation—so they accepted unjust judgments. Now, there is another Church of God down the road to which they can go, so when they are treated unfairly, they pack up and go. I think some of the hierarchical ministers have figured this out, but certainly not all of them. If congregations would follow 1 Timothy 5:19-20 and rebuke elders "before all," the elders would be corrected and there would be respect for them.

—NSE

UCG Articles:Some Good, Some Bad

Letter: November 16, 1997

Norm-

Still up to your feisty ways, I see (I just got through reading the latest Servants News).

Are you the person to be writing a "lamentation" for UCG? As I understand it, a lamentation is a sincere lamenting. If UCG falls, you wouldn't really lament, would you?

Response: I am indeed saddened to see so many people work so hard at something that is not working and that remains on a course that cannot work.

Letter: You've probably heard that John Anderson has caused quite a stir with a letter proposing that UCG split into at least 2 groups. A local elder here has sent out copies of Anderson's letter along with Guy Swenson's (used to work in WCG Church Admin) rebuttal and his own opinions to leading members in this area. I haven't received the correspondence myself, but heard about it from a guy who loves this stuff.

Response: John Andersonís letter [reprinted in this issue] is an excellent example of evidence that UCG is not working. However, since management is not openly discussing the problems, those who see the problems feel like they are being ignored, and those who do not know about the problems are upset at the "disunity" over apparently non-existent problems.

Letter: I enjoyed my feast in the Dells, but it was a lot less enthusiastic place than last year, along with a lot fewer people in attendance. [A former UCG-AIA home office employee] and his family were there, and it was great seeing them again. [He] attends Global most of the time; he says 50 people have quit the Dallas UCG recently and joined Global. [He] is no Global fanatic; he says they attend because it's close to where they live, and the sermons are decent.

Response: Many of the groups are completely unaware of how many of their members attend their services simply because they do not know of anywhere else that is better. Members have learned not to voice such opinions over the years, but that does not mean that they are not there.

Letter: It is my opinion that UCG is becoming a little like Global in promoting itself. They sent out a tape by Gerald Waterhouse (it's hard to keep a good man down, I guess) where he runs all over the place like it was the early 80s—except for HWA being around of course. Mr. Waterhouse says that God does not accept the other churches, and chose UCG, apparently because of the way it was organized at Indianapolis... which we are hearing is not the way it's being run any more.

Anyway, his sermon (nearly 2 hours long) nearly gave me a headache. Among other things, Mr. Waterhouse lashed out at those who ridiculed his belief that Petra will be the place of safety, and said that any contrary belief is tantamount to disagreeing with God (where have I heard this before?)

My intuition is that UCG is trying to give the members what they want—some of that old-time WCG religion, to keep from losing more people. I kept asking myself, why would anyone believe Gerald Waterhouse today after he clearly failed to anticipate HWA's death and, even more importantly, the great apostasy in WCG?

Response: "And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him" (Deut 18:21-22). We also remember a lot of Gerald Waterhouse predictions made "with the authority of God" that did not come to pass. We lament that he is still doing this, that some people are still believing it, and that leadership still allows it. Of course, Gerald Waterhouse always had many great things to say about Armstrong, Tkach, and now his present employer. That may be another reason why he is sent to continually speak to congregations.

Letter: Back to Servantsí News—sorry, but your parody on Revelation 2-3 did not go over well with me at all. Those chapters are the last place I would look for support—or rejection—of the hierarchical form of Church government. The primary intent was to describe future conditions in the Church. Your mocking re-wording of those chapters was not useful.

Response: When many writers establish their doctrine of church government, they use scriptures about Moses or New Testament scriptures that do not clearly address the issue of how Christ rules His church. In Revelation 2 & 3 we have a clear explanation of how he does this. While these chapters may also be prophetic, John was clearly told to send those letters to churches existing at that time (Rev 1:11). He makes it very clear that Christ would reward or punish them, not a headquarters or a ministerial team of some kind. Yet, so many people today seem to believe that Christ cannot accomplish anything without a human hierarchy.

Letter: Also, I am growing increasingly restless with the HWA bashing. When you say that he took credit for the material published in the US & BC in Prophecy, exactly what statements, in his autobiography or elsewhere, are you talking about (just so we can judge for ourselves).

I recall HWA mentioning in US & BC the existence of the British Israelite beliefs of others. I have heard the work you mention as having predated HWA, has been in the public domain for many years. Is it typical, or necessary, to cite such references in new works?

I'll throw this out for argument, does Moses give credit to his sources for the ancient history in the first few chapters of Genesis?

Anyway, I hope you guys are well. You appear, obviously, to be in fighting trim, as they say.

—Illinois

Response: Someone in the publishing business sent us a very good document showing why Armstrongís work would be considered plagiarism. We plan to make it generally available. Several people have mentioned a letter sent to the brethren in the 50ís and/or 60ís where HWA denied reading the book. [If any of our readers have that letter, we would like a copy of it.] J.H. Allenís book was copyrighted in 1917—we will try to find out exactly when that expired and clearly document all of these facts in the upcoming article.

We are sending you the Biography of Herbert Armstrong by Richard Nickels, which we give away. It shows the many other cases where Herbert Armstrong borrowed (or completely copied in the case of the Has Time Been Lost? booklet) many different things. The point is, he often claimed that God had raised him up to restore truth in the end time, and the truth was, he borrowed some of what he taught from others. That does not make the truth he taught any less true. But when we understand that his voluminous writings were not all his personal study or divine inspiration, but borrowed from other people who also had truth, then we can more clearly see that we should not assume that every doctrine he taught was divinely inspired. It also should teach us that other groups, outside of the WCG and its offshoots, may have some truth.

Moses does not give the sources used to write Genesis, but since we have the Eternalís opinion of Mosesí life, we can be fairly sure that what he did was not a big sin (Deut 32:48-52 & Deut 34). We do not know the Eternalís opinion of HWAís life.

It was very difficult for us personally when we began to realize that Herbert Armstrong had serious difficulties. But what did Israelites do when they discovered that their king (yes, the one that God set in office), was partly corrupt? They did the best they could—in some cases they had to flee to Judah or even the wilderness. We came to realize that we will be judged on our own works in accordance with our understanding of the Bible.

—NSE

Correction to "No KJV-Only" Article

Letter: October 23,1997

I appreciate your article on King James Onlyism. Keep up the good work!

However, I would like to point out an error. The third paragraph contains this sentence: "Three other well-known staunch supporters of this view are Texe Marrs, Peter Drucker and William Grady." The second name in this list should be Dr. Peter Ruckman. I have no respect for the man at all, and very little for an educational institution that would grant such a buffoon an earned doctorate, but they did grant it, and he did earn it by their standards. Please correct this before the slavering hordes of KJV-Only use it to cry that they are being persecuted!

Thanks.

—Randy Ehli

Response: Thanks for your correction to this article. It was an oversight on our part. We have changed our master copies so that if we ever reprint the issue or republish the article, it will be corrected.

We have been continually amazed at groups that claim to be interested in Bible truth, but take the King James Only approach. Such an approach greatly simplifies research (when studying a passage, there is no need to check other translations or original language manuscripts), but it condemns its adherents to be forever stuck with the errors that are in the King James Version. Many people do not realize that the King James Bible was not a completely new translation, but relied heavily on the Geneva Bible (1560)—a Bible that was popular in homes, but not accepted in the churches because it contained marginal notes and did not support hierarchies very well. We believe that the KJV contains enough information for salvation—before this century, it was the only Bible version that some people ever saw. However, those who reject all other translations are setting up walls of division between themselves and those who are willing to consider other translations. In reality, it seems that the King-James-Only teaching is just another fad used by some teachers to gain and retain followers.

Thanks again for the correction.

—NSE

Who Are You Doing Good To?

Letter: August 28, 1997

*****PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO HELP THIS LITTLE GIRL*****

Dear All,

I just received this [electronic] mail from a friend of mine in my College. Please respond to it. It will just mean employing a little bit of time and wonít cost you a penny. All it needs is the heart for you to send this mail. Please pass this mail on to everybody you know. It is the request of a little girl who will soon leave this world as she has been a victim of the terrible disease called cancer. Thank you for your effort this isnít a chain letter, but a choice for all of us to save a little girl thatís dying of a serious and fatal form of cancer.

Please send this to everyone you know...or donít know. This little girl has 6 months left to live, and as her dying wish, she wanted to send a chain letter telling everyone to live their life to fullest, since she never will. Sheíll never make it to prom, graduate from high school, or get married and have a family of her own. By you sending this to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope, because with every name that this is sent to, The American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents per name to her treatment and recovery plan. One guy sent this to 500 people !!!! So, I know that we can send it to at least 5 or 6. Come on you guys.... and if youíre too selfish to take 10-15 minutes scrolling this and forwarding it to everyone, then you are one sick person. Just think it could be you one day. Itís not even your $money$, just your time!!! Thanks.

—[name withheld]

Response: Thanks for the letter, but Iíll explain why I would not respond to it. First of all, I received this very same chain letter over 6 months ago—there is no date on the original letter, we do not know who sent it, and we do not know if the "little girl" is alive. Secondly, we do not know where she is or who she is or which office of the American Cancer Society is donating to her. Why would the American Cancer Society agree to make such a donation? How would they verify that the e-mail addresses sent in are real? There are bulk e-mail services that would gladly supply her with 333,333 real e-mail addresses for a share of the $10,000 that she would collect. It is possible that they simply want to raise Cancer awareness. But it is also possible that a private individual is putting together an e-mail list of people who would be good prospects from which to solicit cancer donations. They may sell the list or use it themselves. Sad as it may be, some "charities" keep over 90% the money they collect—calling it "expenses."

Why is someone like me who lives by support from others so pessimistic about other groups requesting donations? Because in my short life, I have seen far more charities that are primarily interested in maximizing their revenues, not in actually doing good. Those with the spirit of the Eternal in them should want to do good to those in need, but they must make sure that they are really doing something good, not just donating money or time to someone who claims to be doing good. It is much easier to send money somewhere than it is to become personally involved, but personal, caring involvement is what is needed. We need to do our good works in the name of our Creator, not pay someone else who, if they do good works, will do them in their own name.

—NSE

Male Superiority??

Letter: September 6, 1997

The letters claiming male superiority (Servants' News, July 1997) were amazing! "Army Major Big Stick" is alive and well, but is it right? I think not! One sees men (bravely hidden by masks, of course) brandishing guns, men blowing themselves up, along with innocent children, men declaring war or terrorism, and a planet in chaos run mostly by men. Whatever happened to cooperation and love?

I have heard many blame Eve but careful consideration of what occurred in the garden could put a different light on things.

First, Adam was given instructions about one fruit: Do not eat! Did Adam pass on these explicit instructions accurately? when Eve was asked what God said she related "do not eat and do not touch." The serpent replied, you shall not die (if only you touch). The parenthesis contain what should have been added and the basis of the deception—the half-truth—just as some today still control people with half-truths. Adam still had the choice to follow God's instructions and to seek counsel as to what to do. As the supposed leader he failed and then blamed Eve, just as some, over the years and today, have continually blamed Eve and accepted no responsibility for Adam's or their own actions. Blame Eve, blame women, blame womenís liberation, or anyone but themselves.

The sooner we all accept the role of women as complementing man's role in life and cooperate, then the world will be a better place. Let's face it: No women—No children—No human life on earth, and then we shall surely have died! Let's respect each other and live.

—Peter Orr, Tamworth, Australia

Response: We agree!

—NSE

Seeking Old Friends

Letter: August 9, 1997

Servantsí News,

My husband and I are still with Worldwide Church. We love the new covenant and respect all Christians as Jesus instructed. We miss the brethren who left and moved away. Verne and I are celebrating 50 years of marriage. We would be happy to hear from anyone.

Yours,

—Verne and Lori Felbinger

47744 Klamath Ave, Coursegold, CA 93614

Response: We understand that the Worldwide Church of God is encouraging its members to contact their friends who have left the WCG and share the new WCG doctrines. Whether or not you are a part of this program, we think it is a great idea for people to get together and talk—especially about the Bible. We all need practice calmly and patiently explaining our beliefs from the scriptures. It is far better for individuals to do this than it is for them to simply sit and have "truth" preached "at them."

—NSE

Thanks for the Effort

Letter: November 13, 1997

Hi Servantsí News,

Please accept this to help your efforts. I appreciate the hard work and many hours it must take to support such an undertaking. I get good food somewhere out of every one of them. Thank you all for making the effort and maintaining your commitment to serve—itís inspiring and encouraging.

—Laurie Shutte, Michigan

Response: And so is your letter!

—NSE &


Servants News November 1997 index