Letters and Responses

We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print. We include our response to each letter in this type-style. We have selected a title for each letter for easy reference. If writers supply their own title, we will be happy to use it.

Year 2000 Computer Failures

Letter: February 25, 1998

I get your Servants' News and cannot express my thanks for this.I am disabled and cannot attend services so I read and study a lot.

Thank you Norman Edwards for the needed front page story you did on Failing Computer Systems.This is the first I have actually heard about it in detail.Then in The Journal came Drury Sylvester's article along with web sites to see and study. I have already sent copies out to people. Some snicker at it, but that is O K. I am trying to help them.

[literature request omitted]

I, for one, truly appreciate all you and your staff do to help feed us who have been in this mix-up of confusion since leaving WWCG . Thanks so much.


—Ruthann Monroe, Arizona

Response: We will try to have more information in future issues on the probable failure of numerous computers in the year 2000. We have come to realize that numerous failures will take place in the later months of 1999. Why? Many industries will realize that they will have a disaster if they do not repair their software before 2000, so they will rush to implement new software before that time. They will not have time to thoroughly test it—it may contain other problems and difficulties not related to dates


SN Too Soft on Leadership?

Letter: February 4, 1998

I wrote to you several days ago suggesting that maybe you're being a little soft on certain people who put themselves over the brethren. After reading the "Non-revelation" article, I realize now that I may have spoken a little prematurely.

I don't know if you realize how truly liberating your articles (and this whole concept of openness) can be! From your perspective (pretty much an elder as far as I can tell) you can see how a closed forum can stifle even a mature group of Christians. But do you understand the plight of the "little ones" in Christ?

Do you know how many "little ones" gave up because the proper nurturing, caring environment did not exist! They knew something was wrong, but (unlike yourself) could not quite put the pieces together. In the end they left in frustration, blaming themselves for their apparent failure.

At least with your faith, and good study habits, you've effectively weathered the previous storms. But what of all of those (you must know many) who left the faith, and were never quite able to put it all together? God provided the "sheep," and we let so many go astray!

Please keep up your labor of love! And don't ever forget the "little ones".

With sincere appreciation,

—J. S.

Response: Thank you for your letter. We could not find you on our mailing list, so we concluded that you are one of our growing circle of Internet readers.

I started Servants' News because I realized that there were so many brethren who were being thrust out or who could not accept the various Sabbatarian church organizations. I worked for those organizations most of my life in technical areas, but never was an ordained "minister" or "elder." My understanding of the Biblical meaning of "elder" was an older, wiser, person to whom others looked for leadership. I am in my 40's now, so I imagine that I would qualify.

Thank you for your encouragement.


Unleavened Bread Questions

Letter: September 15, 1998

Dear Norman Edwards,

[Literature request omitted.]

Some of my friends that were in the WCG were put out in 1993. They have studied very diligently and say we don't have to put out leavening anymore; that the Messiah is our unleavened bread now (as it says in I Cor 5:7-8). They say we can eat a carload of unleavened bread and it won't take away our sins. We must pray to the Messiah for He is our unleavened bread now.

I feel we have to eat unleavened bread until the Messiah's second coming. What is your finding on this? I would appreciate to have this explained.

I really enjoy Servants' News and thank you for all your efforts. I am enclosing an offering for your work.

—H.S., Minnesota

Response: Your friends were right about unleavened bread not taking our sins away. There scripture does not say it does. Eating unleavened bread is a symbol of taking Christ into ourselves—one we need to review every year. Is eating unleavened bread for a week each spring necessary for salvation? We have no indication that Abel, Enoch, Noah or even Abraham did this, yet the scripture lists them as righteous men.

However, Christ told Peter that unless He washed his feet, that he would have "no part in Him" (John 13:7-9). Paul placed great importance on taking the symbols of bread and wine (1Cor 11:26-28). The value of learning the lesson of unleavened bread, and its value in teaching children and new converts is so great, that I do not want to ask, "Is it required for Salvation?" No priesthood, temple, or animal sacrifices are required to observe this Old Testament command.

Obviously, though, a person should not be so concerned with removing leaven from his house that he fails to examine himself, too. We do not believe that the Eternal evaluates our life by how much leaven he finds in our toaster, books, floors, and walls of our houses. He is much more interested in the hearts of His people. But as long as we believe we need to remember to examine ourselves, the days of unleavened bread will be a continual physical reminder to seek our Savior.


Holy Days, Sabbaths in Perspective

Letter: February 2, 1998

Dear Norman Edwards,

I think it very important to touch on an issue that concerns all God's people in our tradition. It is the matter of God's Holy Days and Sabbaths. There is a truth waiting to be discovered—whether they are valid Christian practices. Some people believe they were part of an Old Covenant package and therefore no longer important. Others cling to the belief that they are commanded by God for true Christians today. And then there's the issue of the New Covenant. It seems the Holy Days were burdens and represented "bondage" according to Joseph W. Tkach and now Joseph Tkach, Jr. What is the truth? What truths do two opposing views share?

Well, we can all agree that the Ten Commandments are greater than the Holy Days themselves, yes? I think so! And that is where the answer lies! That we have failed to grasp the significance of this fact, only serves to illustrate that God has been working until now to "perfect" us all. We have all been guilty of idolatry!! Yes, Idolatry! We worshiped the Holy Days and Sabbaths, and our knowledge of them, to the exclusion of God the Father and Christ the Son. Yes, they were bondage to us because we didn't worship God more!!

Our knowledge was "incomplete." It still is as long as we fail to realize that God is greater than the Sabbath and Holy Days. It is not enough to acknowledge that the Sabbaths and Holy Days point to Christ, as some are doing.. Christ comes first! Then, we can all keep the Sabbaths and Holy Days in their proper perspectives, and then they become necessary. We made them a means to salvation, rather than Christ. Rather, we should recognize that we are saved by faith in Christ, and therefore we keep the Holy Days as tools for salvation, not as ends in themselves or as pointers to Christ. Can we all comprehend this fact? I hope every minister reading this will realize this. Until we repent of idolizing the Jewish festivals, rather than keeping them in perspective as we do the Ten Commandments, we will be in bondage. Worldwide Church of God was right on this point, but wrong to criticize others who clung to these festivals. There needs to be proper judgments executed in God's Church before God can restore it and put it back on the right track for a more effective witness to the world. God speed that day!

—PC, England

Response: I think what you are saying is true in the case of some, probably quite a few, people. The experience of many in the WCG was keeping the Sabbath, Holy Days, and many other things so that "God would like them." We should do good works because the spirit of Christ is in us. On the other hand, if a person is struggling with himself and not yet ready to come to Christ, that person would be best off if he tired to keep the Sabbath, used that day to study the Bible, and learned what the Eternal expects of him. If he tries to do it on his own, and then realize that he of himself does not measure up to the righteous standard of scripture, he will hopefully see his need for a Savior.

On the other hand, some Evangelical congregations (and the WCG?) fall into the ditch on the other side of the road. They teach people to seek Christ, but teach so little about what He taught, and what the Old Testament says, that a "new believer" often has no idea of what His Savior expects of him.


HaShem Does Not Share Glory

Letter: January 28, 1998

Delete me from your mailing list.

I have proved to myself that Jesus is not the Messiah. That the NT is not inspired scripture. That the Messiah is yet to come.

Therefore, I don't think a 2,000 year old dead man can do anything for me. HaShem [means "the Name" in Hebrew—Jews say this rather than pronounce the name] says that He is God and there is no other, that He will share His glory with no one. His statements to that effect leaves out any god-man.

I wish you well in your search for HaShem.


—James F. Swanson

Response: Your reaction is understandable for people who have been taught "law" for many years and have never had a relationship with Yeshua (Jesus) nor witnessed powerful working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. For those who have received miracles praying in the name of Yeshua, (Jesus) it is difficult for them to suddenly decide that He does not exist.

Does HaShem not share His glory? One of the first things the Bible records is that he made a garden on the Earth and gave dominion over it to Adam and Eve. Then he gave them a tree that would give them eternal life—one of his very attributes. Notice, also, Psalm 110:

1A Psalm of David. The Lord ["HaShem"] said to my Lord [ Adonai—"master"], "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." 2The Lord ["HaShem"] shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! 3Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. 4The Lord ["HaShem"] has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." 5The Lord [ Adonai] is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. 6He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries. 7He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; Therefore He shall lift up the head.

This Psalm is quite obviously a conversation between HaShem and someone else very powerful—a high priest who has the power of judgment over the most powerful men. There are other similar Tanakh passages that one could study.

You must admit that the center of worship described in the Tanakh is the temple—which HaShem has not caused to be rebuilt for 1928 years. Did He provide another means of worship before He allowed the temple to be destroyed?

If you make an effort to live by the teaching of the Tanakh, you will certainly be blessed for it. But it is hard to find a promise in it to all mankind for forgiveness of all sin, eternal life, and the power of the Holy Spirit.



Our Roots are in Christ

Letter: January 29, 1998

Mr. Edwards,

I am reading your answer to the letter from MK about the temple. Most do not seem to understand that the physical temple puts God in one place and back under the Old Covenant with the sacrificial system under the Levites. We have to realize that the whole purpose and direction of the Old Covenant was to bring us to the New.

When we can be under the blood of Christ for protection—do we want to go back to animals? It is like saying we want to be immortal like Christ—but we want to stay in a physical body.

God's whole purpose and plan for His people didn't begin with Gen 1:26. It began long before that with Christ being "crucified from the foundations of the earth" and with the "stones of fire" in Ezek 28:14-16 that Satan was allowed to work with. These were taken from the Rock (Isa 51:1). Satan could not continue to work with them because of sin (Ezek 28:16). So, God promises to redeem them from his influence (Micah 4:10).

Peter calls us "lively stones" (I Pet 2:5) and we are closely related to that chief corner-stone (Psa 118 and Mark 12: 10-11) Our "God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). And we are His building (Eph 2:20-22).

This is one of the main reasons we are not called "adopted" but actual children of God (I John 3:1) and "inhabitants of the Rock" (Isa 42:11). Remember "the flesh profits nothing"—no matter what our genetic make-up is.

If you really are looking for roots, they are truly in Christ.

—Myra McQueen, Texas

Response: There is no doubt that salvation is complete in Christ without a physical temple. After all, if the Temple were rebuilt today and everyone converted to Judaism, how could five billion offer all the sacrifices and go through all of the purification rituals mentioned in the Old Testament? However, our Father is merciful. To those who are blinded to the New Covenant and are still trying to live under the Old, He may well grant them a temple in the end time—to see the difficulty with that system and to see the real temple, which is the Body of Christ.


Men Vs Women Article

Letter: September 12, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards,

[Paragraph on another subject deleted.]

I feel so sorry for that gentleman.(refers to article in July 1997 Servants' News, page 21.) If he has a wife, I indeed have great sympathy for her. They will never have the closeness that my husband and I have. He lacks respect for the female and without respect he can never appreciate our intrinsic qualities. Sir, I would recommend that you spend the money for the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, (by John Gray, Ph.D., Harper Perennial.) You and your wife will never be sorry. I became aware of the book several years back and recommend it to everyone. I overheard a lady say that if she had read that book before she had divorced her husband, she never would have divorced him. That is how powerful the knowledge it contains is. The educational system of this world does not give us this knowledge.

I can go that man one better for I feel the worst thing that happened to men was the education of women! When we became educated we found out we weren't stupid…Let us return to the age when all we were taught was music, sewing, art, and household management, if that. Maybe his wife has more intelligence than he has and has pushed him into this untenable position of running women down in order to make men qualified. Please get that book sir, for you will then understand the differences in the sexes and that God has put differences there for a purpose. Viva la difference!

Because God is aware that the sexes are different, He has told man to love his wife because this is the hardest thing a male can do. It is hard for him to love a woman the way a woman needs to be loved, unconditionally; to love her for herself and not just for what she can do for him. This, sir, is the other secret to leadership. First respect her and then love her without reservation and she will follow you anywhere. God tells women to submit because this is the hardest thing that they can do and until we are given the respect and the love which we need, in big 'deposits'—well, he has told us in great detail what will happen if you don't…

Out of one Servants' News I received pleasure from knowledge and upsetting emotions from a man who sees the world as it is instead of the world the way God meant it to be. Get your world straightened out sir, while you still can. You are only responsible for you and yours. Your attitude is in great need of adjusting before there can be true happiness there.

—EV, Florida

Response: I agree with your overall message. Both husband and wife must realize that they are being judged on what kind of a spouse they are, not on what they can get their spouse to be.


Comments on Sacred Names

Letter: February 11, 1998

Dear Norm,

My wife and I were quite interested in your answer to "MV, Minnesota", concerning the Sacred Names in your last issue of Servants' News. We would also point out the danger or futility of this kind of legalistic doctrine by referring to Matt 25:31-46. Obviously, these folks were being rewarded for practicing acts of compassion rather than reliance on a technical pronouncing of Ha Shem, the Name. These weightier matters of the law—caring for the widow, orphans and stranger –with love and compassion are always a supremacy or priority over the instruction (Law).

Our Messiah, Jesus, in every case that I'm aware of, always referred to the Eternal, Everlasting King and Creator of the universe as "my Father" (Abba) or "our heavenly Father."

One point of interest from the oral tradition of the Jews is that they believe the Ten Words (Commandments) were spoken by God and heard throughout the whole world in seventy different languages.

Rather than requiring a technical pronunciation, the Greatest Commandment, The SH'MA, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One" (Deut 6:4 and Mark 12:28) is in marked contrast—focusing on first loving God, then loving our neighbor. We would encourage MV and associates that "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

We are told in Rev 19:12-16 that He had a name written and no man knew His name but He, Himself. Then, in typical Hebrew idiomatic style, it says the name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. If anyone is interested, we have a Feast of Tabernacles cassette tape available free of charge on the subject. (Write Omega Praise Fellowship, PO Box 1742, Rogue River, OR 97537; ask for Elijah's Mantle and Love One Another tapes.)

We love the work that Servants' News and also Hebrew Roots are doing! Baruch Ha Shem (Bless the Name). Psalms 130.

May Our Heavenly Father richly bless you and yours.

—Bob & Deirdre Salmon, Oregon

Response: Thanks a lot. We hope this letter helps MV and other readers.


What About Spiritual Gifts?

Letter: November 28, 1997

Dear Mr. Edwards,

A friend has been passing on to me your publication Servants' News and I found some articles of great interest there. I suppose those with a Worldwide Church of God background (which is mine) are bound to find common points of interest. We do tend to think very much alike, even though we may have left our former "fold".

I have also seen publications produced by others who have also left Worldwide. One of these, Awake! Awake! is written in England, mainly by Malcolm Heap. You may know of his work. While he and you have a lot in common in your approach and writing, he goes into the area of spiritual gifts in a much deeper way than anyone else I know from our background.

We have always been taught in the Churches of God that the gifts of the Spirit other believers claim (such as in the Pentecostal and charismatic churches) are all bogus. H. W. Armstrong didn't display any of these charismatic gifts, and turned our minds against them. However, since being out of Worldwide I have taken a closer look and found that there is much to commend these other believers in this regard. They cannot all be bogus, or the devil is getting more credit than God. Hundreds, or even thousands are healed at big evangelistic campaigns, not just in America, but around the world. And upon investigation, many of these are completely medically verifiable. Of course, there are always the gray areas where healings are disputed and some even faked, but there is enough incontrovertible evidence to show many, if not most, are genuine.

Since being released from the oppression of Worldwide small-mindedness, I have learned to respect these groups who champion spiritual gifts, because these gifts demonstrate the active, living, real power of Jesus, alive in our midst, not just a person who died 2,000 years ago.

Do you think you could include some articles on these gifts in your paper? I know they are relatively new and radical to us from our background, but I do feel that so many people could be helped to find a new depth in their worship through the acceptance of these things. And you have done so much already to deepen our formerly shallow worship.

Thank you for all your efforts. May God continue to bless you and those working with you towards the complete maturing of the body.

Yours sincerely,

—TF, California

Response: We certainly pray that the Eternal will grant the powerful spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament. We are aware of the publication that you mention and many other groups. Unfortunately, we have seen very little that seemed verifiably miraculous and scriptural. (The scriptures never mention people falling over backwards and/or becoming unconscious during a healing, but that is standard fare for many charismatic groups.) It is one thing to hear the testimonies of people associated with a group or read their literature, it is another thing to read their financial records and find that they pay actors and stunt-men for healing campaigns. We do hope to write more articles in the future. —NSE

Persecution of Christians

Letter: September 25,1997

Dear Mr. Norm Edwards & Servants' News,

Researchers have found that more Christians are being killed now in the latter part of the twentieth century then Christians were being killed in the first century when the New Testament was written. Christians are being made into slaves, they are being killed because they are Christian. They are being beaten, jailed, and Christians are being persecuted in many other ways, also.

All of America should know about the persecution of Christians, today. Enclosed with this letter, is a magazine on this subject. The people who persecute people who believe in Jesus don't care if "Christians" go to church on Saturday or Sunday.

I go to church on Saturday. Please enjoy the Feast this year. With Christ,

—LC, Illinois

Response: We have read several articles on persecution of Christians in other countries and have no doubt that some of it is real. A number of groups solicit contributions to help these people, but we have not had time to investigate how much they are actually helping real people in trouble. We do not like to be overly cynical, but our own experience and reading indicates that over half of all charities spend only a tiny percentage of their intake on the cause they claim to support. If you know someone who has thoroughly investigated persecuted Christians, we would like an article.


Preaching to Imprisoned Spirits?

Letter: January 25, 1998

Dear Norman Edwards:

Occasionally in my studies, I run across writings of difficult understanding which I had previously just passed over as "not important enough to search out." Now I believe that since it is there, it is important. Could you please shed some light that might help me to understand 1 Peter 3:18-20. I've read the passage in several translations, including the following (JNT):

He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit: and in this form He went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach [Noah], when God waited patiently during the building of the ark...

Also, I thought I had asked to be added to your mailing list after the Wagoner Seminar "In the Footsteps of Messiah", but since I haven't received Servants' News, I'm not sure if I requested it. I would like to receive this publication.


—Sylvia June

Response: I agree with your method of passing over some scriptures that seem less important to our lives—saving them for later study while we attend to the most important things. The passage you quoted, 2Pet 3:18-20 shows us some of the other functions that our Savior performs. It indicates that He preached to "spirits in prison" that disobeyed during the time of Noah. Some have said that this is a reference to wicked spirits that were called "sons of God" in Genesis 6:4: "There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown." This opens the door for all sorts of speculation about these "men of renown" being the origin of the various Greek and Roman gods as well as other Mythology. I do not know of any way to prove that this must be or must not be true.

The main thing that I learn from this scripture is that there is a diversity of activities in the spirit world. They receive punishments and restrictions now, and will also in the future. Please notice the following verses:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them (Job 1:6). [The first two chapters of Job show that Satan has much power in this world, but only within the limits that the Eternal allows it.]

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia [an evil spirit] withstood me [an angel] twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia (Dan 10:13).

Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (1Cor 6:3.)

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (2Pet 2:4-9).

These scriptures show that the Eternal is dealing with the spirit world according to his own time schedule and that we ought to see that He judges sin both in spirit beings and people. Also, we can see from Eph 6:10-19 that we fight "against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" and therefore need to "take up the whole armor of God" in order to fight against these evil forces. —NSE

Trans-organization Doctrinal Journal

Letter: December 21, 1997

For a long time I wanted to see a publication that was truly detailed and scholarly discussing the doctrines, history and archaeology—from a Church of God perspective. Some years ago when the Reviews You Can Use came out, I thought that it would lead to something really academic and detailed. Unfortunately it never did reach the standards or breadth one would have liked.

I have therefore been wondering if someone would be interested in commencing a real journal that goes into detail on the truths of God's Word. It does not have to be free, but could have a subscription price. My feeling is that such a journal would assist mightily in proving our views on a host of issues and educate the ministry and members, arming them with the information to counter the heresies and infiltrators who would lead us back into spiritual captivity.

I merely mention this as a means to stimulate discussion and some thought and hope that one of you (or a group of you) would be willing to undertake such a journal—and don't forget to let me know when it is published as I would want to subscribe! But I am afraid I do not have the time to do it.

Here are some suggested articles:

1. History of doctrinal change in the WCG 1934-1974

2. The missing link in the history of the Church of God 1800-1850

3. Proof of the born again doctrine

4. Col 2:14

5. Israel identity proof

6. The canonisation of the Bible

7. Bible principles on abortion, race, euthanasia, surrogacy and articles on archaeology, ancient history, book reviews, prophecy and so forth.

Someone please go for it! The Churches of God are desperate for true in-depth educational material. Our material is terribly shallow and watered-down at the moment and another generation is emerging that, if trends continue, will take us back down the road of WCG in a few years—the signs are clear for those with eyes to see.

What do you think?

—Craig White, Australia,craig@triode.net.au

Response: We think this would be a wonderful idea. I think a lot of people would learn from it. However, before it could be a success, the various church organizations would have to get away from the idea that "we are the church of God because nearly all of our doctrines are right." If such a journal were open to scholarly, well-thought-out papers from all of a congregation's membership (or even multiple Sabbatarian groups), I think many of the leaders would be amazed to find out that things they thought they had "proved" had no real basis.

As a brief example, consider Deuter onomy 16:16 which is used as the basis for taking up Holy Day offerings seven times a year—an utterly vital element in the budget of most Church of God groups. Deuter onomy 16:16 was used as a proof text for this practice, even though nearly every translation says "three times in a year" and specifically names the three feasts. In order to justify the practice of seven offerings per year, Ambassador College and numerous ministers taught that Deuteronomy 16:16 should be translated "Three seasons in a year."

What would happen, if someone submitted a paper to your proposed scholarly journal showing that the Hebrew pa-am translated "times" here means essentially "occurrences" and is never translated "seasons" anywhere in the Bible? Would the church organizations make a change based on truth, that was written up by "only a member"? It might be difficult for the organizations to simply ignore the minister's journal entry.

We think the idea of a doctrinal journal would be great, though we do not have time to do it. If someone does decide to do it in a reasonable fashion, we will certainly help promote it.


Seeking a "1st Century" Fellowship

Letter: August 11, 1997

Dear Norman,

We would like to ask your advice on how to go about contacting other brethren in the hopes of having fellowship with others of like mind (we don't have a computer). We are meeting with some brethren now who have recently left other WCG split off organizations. They are nice people and we really like them, but they are still pretty much in the old straight jacket mode of conducting Sabbath Services. By this I mean: Sing 2 songs; have only one opening prayer by a man; listen to a tape by a former WCG minister (fall asleep during tape); one more song; closing prayer; and maybe a prayer request. Then everyone talks about what happened the rest of the week and not about God and no discussion over the sermon we've just heard. There, the Sabbath duty has been done.

We would like to find or form a more Bible centered-first century fellowship group. I think the old way (WCG) is dead and non-edifying and feel frustrated in waiting for others to notice that something is very wrong. I know people learn at different speeds and are at different levels of understanding, but how long must people have their minds crammed full of the doctrines of men before the Spirit of God can lead them? Must people be taught a distorted view of the foundation of salvation before they can be "lead into all truth" (1John 2;27)?

We recently heard a taped sermon by a Global minister (although this is not a Global congregation) He gave a long tedious sermon in which he angrily contradicted some scriptures (1John 2:27, 1Pet 2:5 to name a few) and then proceeded in brow-beating and badgering other brethren. By this, I mean talking about what some people do and believe now and how bad and rebellious they are. And if you do A, B, and C, then you are like those bad people and won't be in the kingdom of God etc. A typical fear and manipulation sermon. And no one seems to notice. If we are supposed to be following Christ, then why aren't we looking at His words and example and taking it in instead of talking and listening about how bad we are or how others are wrong? I feel this situation is very stifling of the Spirit and destructive. Is there anybody else out there? There, I've vented.

Also we would really like to find an open "Spirit of God"-led feast this year. Please no more credentialed yes-men, but active participation of the brethren. We would really appreciate any advice and information you could give us.

Keep up the good work and God bless. Thanks. —Canada

Response: You can use our Scattered Brethren Contact service to write people on our mailing list in your area (see SN November 1997). But this is no guarantee that you will find a "first century" congregation among them. If you desire this kind of fellowship, you may have to ask the Eternal to use you to inspire it in other people. You may be able to share your enthusiasm with Sabbatarians, or you may have to share it with others that have never had the Bible explained to them before.

May the Eternal bless you in your quest.


Qualifications of Overseers

Letter: February 1, 1998

If one reads correctly as Paul states [in 1 Timothy 3], if a man seeks to be a Bishop he seeks a good work. Two of the requirements laid out by Paul are that he has raised children and provided for his family. Then Paul makes the statement: How then can he raise up the church of God?

Which brings up another question: Can someone raise up a church without having done these first? The honest and truthful answer should be what?


Response: While Paul does mention a few more qualifications than you mention, you appear to be right about the main point: A man should not be an overseer (KJV says "bishop") unless he is successful in raising a family. The term "overseer" certainly applies to anyone who is responsible for overseeing one or more congregation—though he may be called a "minister," "pastor," "elder," etc. Unfortunately, many such overseers claim that their family life is "their own business." This is not what Paul taught.

The problem seems to come from the idea of training "ministers" in a college. Students typically graduate in their early 20's with much technical knowledge, but little life experience. They may be placed in charge of a congregation before they have raised any children at all. The overseer practices on his congregation, then uses his experience to raise his family. This is the opposite of the way it should be. There is nothing wrong with teaching the Bible in college. Those so trained can teach classes and assist other overseers. But a young person should not be placed in charge of a congregation.


Hierarchy in 1 Corinthians 12?

Letter: January 20, 1998

Hello Norman,

Thanks for the one issue of Servants' News you sent me. Quite interesting and quite an eye opener. Most of the stuff we were simply never told in Worldwide.

Concerning the church government issue what do you make of I Corinthians 12:28-30? Does this imply a hierarchy of apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.? Do the words first, second , third, etc mean rank or timing?

—South Africa

Response: Notice 1 Corinthians 12:28-30:

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

The Greek words for "first," "second," and "third" have similar meanings to the English words. They do not necessarily imply first in time, rank, place, importance or any particular area. I believe that Paul is giving the overall importance here. However, a time sequence is also possible: Christ chose the apostles, then it may be that he later chose prophets and teachers. Which ever view you adopt, you must realize that these are "spiritual gifts" (as verse 30 says), not "positions in an organization." We can see this by reading the New Testament and seeing that some people received a variety of gifts: some teachers were also prophets (Acts 15:32), some Apostles spoke in tongues (1Cor 14:18). A variety of apostles, prophets, and teachers performed healings and miracles, or administered things. These are clearly not "offices."

Do apostles, prophets, and teachers form a hierarchy? Our understanding of a hierarchy is a structure where the person at the top appoints those below himself, directs their work, and, if necessary, removes them from the hierarchy. Do we have any biblical example of an apostle appointing a prophet or directing the prophet what to prophesy? Did Paul "fire" Agabus when he gave him a negative prophecy? (Acts 21:10-15). Do we find prophets appointing and directing teachers? Do teachers appoint and direct miracle workers, healers, helpers, administrators, and tongue speakers? If these verses are a description of a human hierarchy, why are administrators nearly at the "bottom"? Why don't the apostles in the various organizations today appoint some prophets so we can hear the will of the Eternal? Why don't the teachers in these groups appoint some healers to cure the sick people and some miracle workers to catch fish with gold coins inside so they can finance a "big work"?

The only reason why we believe some of these verses could be about human hierarchies is because we have heard the idea so much from people we trusted. Anyone who had no previous idea of what these verses meant would never conclude that this is a hierarchy. Rather, these are gifts that the Eternal, as He chose, gave to people. The fact that few people among us have these gifts means that we have a ways to go to be ready to receive them. (If people within hierarchies received these gifts, would they use them as proof that they are the "one true church?"


Prediction of CGI/UCG Merger?

Letter: January 21, 1998

With David Hulme's Presidency terminated, I do hope that a few of the others who are too hierarchical have their wings clipped too.

Hulme wrote a letter which he read to the home office stating that he would take this to the General Conference - this apparently led to his being voted out 10-1. But this would be very divisive due to the roughly even Right vs Moderate-(and small liberal) split in votes.

If he were making a stand against apostasy and watering-down our doctrines, I would support him; but this seems like an ambition thing. And also going contrary to the original intent and spirit of UCG.

In fact, only the Council of Elders can select the President, so even if the 3 persons coming up for re-election were replaced with Hulme supporters (which I very much doubt), he would still only muster 5 votes (including his own). My personal wish is to see persons such as Kubik, Ward and McCullough in as Chairman and President.

Perhaps now with GTA out of the way and now Hulme, we might see co-operation between UCG and CGI? Will God remove other leaders of other Churches of God to bring about co-operation?

I am continually shocked by the abuses still going on in UCG and Pinnelli not doing a thing about them. Let's hope that we will now see UCG move toward its original positions as clearly stated in 1995, but gradually being dismissed or not appearing in our materials over the last 18 months or so.

—Craig White, UCG member, Australia


Response: If I would have replied to this letter when you sent it, I would have said that I do not think there is much chance for UCG and CGI to work together. Nevertheless, it looks like it is now a possibility. [See p 21 of this issue]. I think this merger would be good for both of them.

I do not know who would make the best president for UCG. Even if every man interested in the job were to write an extensive list of how he intended to do the job, it would still be hard to know what he would actually do. (One need only study politicians promises before elections and what they do afterward to see there is often little similarity.) I think the selection of the 12th apostle in Acts chapter 1 is a good example of how to do it: prayerfully set down some qualifications and see who matches them. If it is not clear who is most qualified, then cast lots.

I believe that anyone who thinks that they "must be" the president of a group without some clear revelation from the Eternal is taking too much upon themselves. We have never heard of Hulme putting forward any such evidence. Being the leader of such an organization is a difficult job. If I were voted out, I would gladly accept it; the Eternal would voted me back if He wanted me there.


No Perfect Church Government

Letter: February 26, 1998

Greetings Mr. Edwards:

Yes, I would like to receive the Servants' News. I remember reading some of your articles in the newspaper "In Transition" which seemed to be balanced and logical.

All of the splinter groups seem to have problem of some sort, but the major one is government. Frankly I don't believe the Government has ever been perfect in the church from the apostolic Church till now for the simple reason we're all imperfect people and we're influenced by the untrustworthy society we live in today.

I departed the WWCOG in Nov. 1994 when I saw it was obvious the leadership of the wwcog were going toward a Protestant based theology. I have been attending the Global Church since Dec. 1994, although it has problems so do all the other groups so I can't see jumping from one group to another. Its like Frank Nelte wrote in an article, "all of these splinter groups are just a refuge in the storm of the apostasy".

All of the leaders of the splinter groups like to think they picked up the Mantle dropped by Mr. Armstrong. It reminds me when we were kids,we used to play cowboys and indians if you were an indian everybody wanted to be the chief and nobody wanted to be an indian, so it is today, my way is right and yours is wrong.

I would say when the Messiah returns all of us will be reprimanded for playing our little games. I would like to know if this E-Mail address is your private one if I wanted to ask a personal question sometime?

Please Send the Sept. issue of Servants' News if available.


Response: Thank you for your letter. I will send you the two previous issues of Servants' News. Also, I am including a short package of information about my relationship with the Global Church of God (it might answer some of your questions.)

My e-mail is private. The messages come to me personally. Sometimes, especially with long literature requests, I simply print them for others to handle.

I agree with your analysis of the various WCG splinter groups. It is a mistake to run from one to another based on how many booklets, TV programs, or other activities they have at the moment. Doctrinal comparison is also not worthwhile: There is much more difference between HWA doctrines in the 30's and HWA doctrines in the 80's than there is difference between the various organizations. The primary reasonable reason for going to a new organization is being asked to leave the last one (or at least being persecuted by it).

The biggest problem with all of the various organizations is their failure to recognize people in other organizations as brethren. The problem is not that they hate people in other groups, but that to admit that they are one of many groups would remove their ability to say that "their decisions are God's decisions." The organizations would have to answer questions and make demands of people based on scriptural principles—not simply from their own authority.

We appreciate your comments. We believe brethren are better off meeting with a hierarchical organization than simply staying home every Sabbath. We hope the organizations will see their difficulties and make changes.


Don't Be Soft on Bad Leaders

Letter: January 29, 1998

I believe we are being too soft on the people whom the Bible would probably term pharisees and Nicolaitons. Sometimes it is necessary to speak the truth boldly! By enforcing as scriptural topics such as church government, tithing and how to "feed the flock", these "blind guides" put stumbling blocks in the way of many "little ones" who are most likely being called by our Father in heaven. I believe that many throughout the years have suffered real spiritual loss as a result of the "heavy loads" these "descendants of those who murdered the prophets" placed on us. There is no secret doctrine. If God is for us, is there any false doctrine that can overcome us in an open discussion? So why all the disfellowshipping?

These "priests of God" are only truly capable of judging what is on the "outside of the cup." It is the responsibility of the individual with the help of God, to clean the inside! I believe that our Savior longed to strengthen His church as we gathered together, but His efforts were thwarted by this brood of vipers, snakes and hypocrites who strained out of the church the gnats which bothered them while not focusing on the preeminence of our personal relationship with our Creator! It is more important to be right with God than to please man!

Is it any wonder that the "house is left to you desolate"? I believe that we will continue to have a stumbling block between us and our Savior until we learn to accept the truth without prejudice towards the messenger (Matt 23:39)!

Thank you!

—John Solomon

Response: Everything you have said is probably true in regard to some leaders. There have certainly been many people offended by men claiming to be servants of God while binding heavy burdens that they will not lift. The difficulty is that we cannot condemn every "minister" in a church organization as evil without knowing his heart. For years, I would have told anyone that the Bible teaches "hierarchical government." Why? Because my study consisted of reading the few scriptures that someone taught me that appeared to support hierarchical government. When I studied the matter for myself, I realized what the scriptures really said. Was I an "evil person" when I had not yet studied the matter? No, I was just an ignorant person in that area of study. Similarly, we probably find ministers in organizations whose view is like any one of the following:

1. A minister was awed by all the Bible truth taught by his organization, and was diligent to follow his organization's advice not to listen to "other sources." Whenever he had questions about his organization's doctrines he asked its doctrinal department. If he never received an answer, he assumed that the organization was too busy with many more important things. If he received an answer which did not seem to agree with other Bible scriptures, he assumed that the headquarters had many more-knowledgeable people who studied the matter, so he always gave the organization the benefit of the doubt and assumed that they were right. When he was asked to disfellowship people for reasons that he did not understand, he assumed that the person put out was probably guilty of some wicked sin that headquarters did not want to mention, so he put them out. If the disfellowshipped tried to explain their situation to him, he assumed they were crafty liars, so he did not listen to their story. In short, this minister never compromised his understanding of Scripture or his conscience, he was simply naive.

2. Another minister spent time studying his Bible, reading doctrinal papers not produced by his headquarters, and listened to the stories of people whom he was asked to disfellowship. He believed that his organization was often biblically sound in its decisions, but that sometimes they were wrong. However, he was convinced that the Bible supported the authority of church government and that God would "back up" the decision of his Church leaders even if it was unbiblical or unjust. Therefore, he carried out the orders given to him—even the ones that he believed were wrong. Unfortunately, this minister never made an extensive study to see what the Bible says about church authority. He would have liked to make such a study, but realized that if he could not prove all-encompassing church authority, then he would not have a reason for doing some of the things that he had to do to keep his job.

3. This minister was enamored with "church authority" long before he was "ordained." He gave powerful sermonettes on obeying the ministry and was quick to inform ministers whenever he heard about someone who spoke against the church leadership. After being "ordained," he was always asking his superiors if they were pleased with his performance—and he made doubly sure that those "under him" were doing as instructed. When his superiors mentioned people who had created some kind of problem in the congregation, this minister would have his trusted friends keep a close watch on them—often he could find a reason to disfellowship the problem people—making some of his superiors even happier with him. This minister has been raised in rank several times and was hoping to "make evangelist" before he retired. He could hardly wait for the kingdom where he assumed that he would be given a great rank indeed. He hoped that one day his children would come back under church authority so he could command them to repent and be baptized—his children had all left his church completely when they were old enough to leave home. They cited his personal sins as why they left. "What right do these children have to question the actions of someone with my rank?" he wondered.

4. This minister tried to study the Bible and live by every word of it. He was always open to those who disagreed with him—whether members or other ministers. Several times his study showed him major doctrines where his organization was in error. When he asked them about it, they told him that the church had the right to make doctrinal decisions. When he asked how the church could contradict the Bible, they told him that it was not his place to ask these questions. When he told them that he could not teach the organization's doctrines that were in conflict with the Bible, they at first threatened him, but when they saw that he would not back down, they told him that maybe the doctrinal committee might accept his study someday, and that he could continue to believe them as long as he did not share them with others and cause trouble. The organization also let him know that they were keeping him because he had a reputation as a servant of the people, but that they could not give more responsibility to men who were not team players. Several times this minister felt like quitting the organization, but he knew that most of his congregation was so steeped in "church government" and "one true organization" doctrine that nearly all would stay with the organization. He realized that his replacement would probably be far worse than himself—so he stayed on, serving and teaching those truths he held in common with the organization.

There are many other profiles of ministerial thought besides these—and probably every possible combination. Some are righteous, some are unknowingly ignorant of the Bible, some do not care what it says once "headquarters" has made a pronouncement, etc. etc. Some may operate under one profile, but claim to operate under another. This is why there will be a righteous judgment in the end when Christ will judge the secret things of men (Rom 2:16). A great many people will probably try to talk about the many great works they did, the many people that they converted to righteousness, etc. I think there will be a lot of surprises.

However, I think that we would make a mistake to say that all leaders in church organizations are evil. We would really make a mistake to say that all "independent church leaders" are good—a number of people claiming to be church leaders show up in independent congregations simply because they are welcomed there but have been rejected everywhere else.

Those who support the evil things in hierarchical governments will be judged for it. Those who do it knowingly will be judged more harshly (Luke 12:47-48). Those who push independence simply to get a following after themselves will be judged also.

We ought to be slow to judge others' motives; (ministers are to judge themselves) but quick to avoid practicing the things that we understand to be wrong.


Non-Revelation 2 & 3

Letter: January 2, 1998

Greetings to the SN & readers:

The Non-revelation article from SN Vol.3 No.7 (Sept/Oct 1997) is successful and a challenge. The normal reader must get now what the Bible does not say.

It's right that sometimes it's better to speak with cynicism and sarcasm about the Bible instead of letting the people leave in a wrong attitude.

Thank you for the SN I receive every month. Thank you to the staff.

—Alexander Gonska, Cologne, Germany

Response: Thank you for sharing your opinion. It seems that most people found the article helpful.


Look into Biblical Government!

Letter: November 26, 1997

Dear Norman:

After being lent a copy of the latest Servants' News by a friend in one of the independent churches, I felt I should write to let you know that I found it rather sad that you should devote so much of your time and effort into denigrating the efforts of organizations such as the United Church of God.

I appreciate that you, like many others, have a strong antipathy to churches of God that maintain a structure, a government and do not encourage a continual doctrinal turmoil, and all are naturally free to conduct their relationship with the Eternal as they think best. I have the impression from your publication, though, that God's displeasure with any kind of government in His Church is considered so obvious that it requires no proof. May I suggest that you seriously question this assumption?

Response: No, I am not against all "church government." I am against church leaders who claim that salvation is available only or primarily in their organization—that being cast out of their organization is being cast out of the Body of Christ. I am against church government that believes it does not have to explain its actions from scripture—because they have assumed that they are "the government of God." I am against leaders who believe they are a special class of people because they were "ordained" by some other man. I am against government that operates for its own benefit, not for the service of others. Both Testaments of scripture clearly indicate that the Eternal has given people roles to govern and serve others in certain ways. I am not against any government that the Eternal has set up.

Letter continues: It may be that there is an alternative explanation as to why God withheld the Holy Spirit from converts in Samaria until Apostles from the Jerusalem church had visited them (Acts 8:14-17); why the Apostle Paul dared to interfere in the problems of the Corinthian church instead of allowing them to resolve it as an 'independent' congregation, even giving a direct instruction for one of them to be disfellowshipped (1Cor 5); why the same Apostle directed Titus to appoint elders over the churches in Crete instead of allowing them a free vote (Titus 1:5); why he gave instructions for those who were upsetting the church "to be silenced" instead of encouraging free doctrinal discussion (Titus 1:11); why doctrinal questions were referred to the Jerusalem church instead of being decided at local church level (Acts 15) etc. etc. And there is also an obvious one.

Response: It is interesting that you cannot turn to a scripture that says: "This is how you set up your church hierarchy." You can turn to examples of places that seem to fit with a typical "Church of God" government. But there are also examples that differ from the ones above. God used Ananias, not an Apostle, to lay hands on Paul and give him the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Paul, having been taught by Christ, told the Corinthian congregation what to do about the sinning man—he followed Christ's instructions in Matt 18:15-17 and told them to bring it before their congregation ("when you are gathered together"—1Cor 5:4). Paul did not disfellowship the man himself or command the "head of the Corinthian church" to do it.

Those chosen to wait on tables were selected by the congregation they served (Acts 6:3). The Greek word for "ordain" used in Acts 14:23 and 2Cor 8:19 is cheirotoneo. It meant "to vote" in classical Greek works—Young's Literal Translation translates it that way. Those who are trying to subvert others should be stopped, but Paul said he would go out of his way not to offend brethren who thought they should not eat meat (Rom 14)—Paul could have pointed out their doctrinal error and commanded them not to teach it, but he did not. The Jerusalem council was used to decide doctrine one time, but it was after much disputing (Acts 15:7). Also, the whole assembly was a part of the decision (Acts 15:22). Things worked differently in Revelation 2 & 3—a number of different doctrines being taught within a 100 mile radius. Christ did not tell John to disfellowship everyone who believed error, but He told them all to repent, and told them what would happen if they did or did not repent.

We should follow every leader that the Eternal sets up—in the area where the Eternal has given him authority. There is no doubt that people recognized the position of the early Apostles. They did not learn doctrine from Bible study, but directly from Christ. Also, they were humble men. Not a one ever claimed that "God only works through me." Today, we have many men claiming to be God's leaders on earth. Is it our job to pick out one of these men, then believe every doctrine he believes? Or are we responsible for our own understanding? We will send you two articles that may help you: How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans? and Assembling on the Sabbath.

Letter continues: I am merely suggesting that members of the UCG and other "hierarchical" organizations should not be considered Biblical illiterates who worship some human leader and are unwilling to acknowledge new truth when it is shown them. We have learned from experience, however, that 'new truth' often turns out to be 'old error', and have a strong suspicion that the current tirades on the evils of hierarchies may be just that. I myself left the WCG in 1979, in part, because I was not willing to accept a new teaching known as the primacy of Peter, regardless of how eminent the credentials of the Church leader espousing it appeared to be, and fellowshipped for many years with the CGI. This error was minor, of course, compared to what happened in the nineties. The problem, however, was not that the WCG was a hierarchy, but that one man had control over its doctrines.

Response: The term "hierarchical government" usually implies a single leader at the top." David Hulme apparently lost in his effort to become that leader in UCG. We believe, as you do, that it is a mistake for one man to have all control. It is also a mistake for a small group of men to have absolute control. The UCG has made provision to avoid this by having the Council of Elders elected by all of the Elders. However, a pastor of a UCG congregation still has near-absolute control-he can disfellowship a member for his own reasons—there is no requirement to bring the issue before the congregation (Matt 18:17), and as far as I know, there is no appeal process in place yet.

Letter continues: The United Church of God was formed in such a way as to ensure that this could not happen again, but it recognized also that God's work can be carried out in an organized and structured way, following the example given to us in Scripture. If it has not yet fulfilled the initial expectations of many, it does not deserve the treatment given to it by those who claim to be our brothers in Christ. Instead of telling your readers that UCG publications are "like trick advertisements," and that the language "either says almost nothing or something quite different than what the casual reader might assume," why not suggest they read a few themselves and form their own opinion? Those, like the Athenians, who are interested only "to tell or hear some new thing" may well be disappointed, but not those who want the basic truths of the Bible, the teachings that are to lead us to salvation. They will certainly not find any space in it devoted to criticisms of other organizations because God has not called us for this. And if they should wish to fellowship with us, they will find a warm, peaceful Sabbath environment. If visitors are not permitted to propagate their own doctrinal ideas in our congregations, it is not because we are afraid of some new truth, but because we have the New Testament instruction of what was, and what was not, permitted in the first century church (Titus 3:9-10). Our members see it not as a restriction but as a decided blessing! And those who believe that big organizations are unwilling to allow members to exercise their spiritual gifts may be surprised to learn that in our local UCG Toronto congregation, there are seven "non-elders" who regularly give sermons or sermonettes.

Response: We received many complaints about the tactics of David Hulme and associates from people within the UCG, some of them ministers. However, most of these people felt that if they publicly commented about them, they would be fired or put out of their congregations (one of the disadvantages of hierarchy that feels it can bypass the Bible procedures). I agree that it is sometimes a blessing to go to a congregation where there are no heavy discussions—you sit back and hear nice things that everyone already believes. But how and when will you learn new truth? When your organization decides they have time to teach you some? How many people does your organization hire that are devoted to studying the Bible and putting new truth before members? I was on the Global Church of God doctrinal committee. One reason I left that organization was because I realized that truth would only come to them through "the top," and the people "at the top" were too busy administrating, writing, broadcasting, etc., to study new truth—some of them actually said that. As a member of their board, I was not really free to discuss any "new truth," until the men at the top had studied it. It is three years later now, and as far as I know they still have not studied it. What is the role of John 16:13?: "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth."

We are happy to see that the UCG is allowing a wide variety of people to speak. This is a good start. Would they allow a man like Philip, chosen to wait on tables (Acts 6:5), to conduct a major evangelistic campaign? (Acts 8:40—There are many cities in the 70 miles from Azotus to Caesarea.)

Letter ends: I have no great expectations that you will publish this letter, but I hope you will at least give it some thought, and consider if the articles referred to are really helping God's people everywhere to "come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

Your brother in Christ,

—Kevin Ford, Canada

Response: Our goal is learning and teaching truth. We welcome letters that oppose what we teach (though we do not have time to answer people who write very long articles that we consider erroneous, or that send in multiple letters that say essentially the same thing). If we cannot answer difficult questions, then we need to stop or change our teaching. We realize that teachers will receive a stricter judgment (Jams 1:3). Does your organization publish brief letters that show scriptures that appear to be in conflict with its teaching?


The Myth of "One Man Rule"

Letter: December 12, 1997

Dear Norman Edwards and Servants' News Family,

As always, I enjoy receiving the Servants' News. Though I don't always agree with everything written, I do always learn something!

I am amazed at what is going on in the corporate churches such as the UCG-AIA. Much time and resources are spent trying to keep the selfish, abusive hierarchical systems going. Some men seem hell-bent to control and manipulate others. Take their money away and see how long they are willing to "serve."

There are many "lay members" who serve each other year after year with no financial compensation whereas some who still favor the hierarchy and have "ordination papers" require lots of money and "respect" from the members they are supposed to be serving.

The leaders of these organizations preach sole authority from God and become quite abusive in tongue concerning those who don't follow them. Because of "organization" and supposedly government of such, the people are split. The leaders have done this and we the followers have had to choose which leader we would follow. I have heard this one man rule till I am sick.

When Jesus sent his apostles out to teach and witness to the world, who was the one man ruling? They had no phone, computer; or fax systems. If one was in charge, how did he keep control of the other eleven? They were spread out spanning the whole world. Was one man in charge of the whole operation, or was it Jesus who said He worked with them and confirmed their word?

In David's time as king, who was the one man? Was it David as King or Nathan as prophet. If David was, why did God speak to Nathan? If Nathan was, why did he (David) dare do the things he did in his kingly "authority"?

In Elijah's day, who was the one man? King Ahab, the monarch, or Elijah the prophet? King Ahab was evil, Elijah was God's servant. Yet neither knew about the 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. How could Elijah be "over" these people that he did not know existed? Who ruled them?

During Saul's reign, who was the one-man? Prior to Saul's anointing, God was their king. He spoke through Samuel. The people rejected God their king--not Samuel. So who was in charge? The king or the prophet? If Saul was, how dare Samuel speak so "presumptuously' to the king. If Samuel was already ruling as the one man, why did Israel cry out for a king (like the nations around them)? Samuel was not ruling them, as he only conveyed to them what God spoke. God was the "one man" then as He is now.

There were other prophets throughout all this history as well. Who was "head prophet"?

The New Testament is full of examples that totally go against the hierarchy rule with one lone man at the top. Acts is an excellent source to prove this. Throughout the accounts in Acts, we read of the Apostles, disciples and prophets (and prophetesses) interacting with each other. No one was in charge of the others. Sometimes there was harmony and peace and sometimes there was dissension and debate.

The example of Paul openly rebuking Peter before them all: How would that go over in today's churches? What would have happened if any minister had walked up to HWA at the Feast and openly showed where he (HWA) was wrong to separate families because of his D & R understanding?

Whom did God use in anointing Paul so he could see? A simple disciple whom God spoke through.

The four daughters of Philip prophesied to Paul as did other prophets. If Paul was in charge, why did God not speak just to him? Why a prophet?

Can we see someone going to any of the men who claim to be the "one man in charge" today and telling them God has spoken to him a message for them? Many have dispelled the idea of prophets (or prophetesses) in today's church calling it jokingly a "non-prophet" organization. Wonder why? Could it be that admitting that if God worked through and spoke through an individual other than the one man (i.e. HWA) it would take away the sole authority and relinquish control from the man at the top? As such, the whole hierarchical empire would crumble, for who would govern and control these prophets (and prophetesses)?

Consider Deborah. This account is a big thorn in the flesh for the male dominated hierarchy. She was a prophetess who judged Israel for forty years during which Israel had peace. God spoke through her to Israel. When she chided Barak for not going into battle, it was because God had already given instructions through Deborah as to how to conquer their enemies who were oppressing them. She had to spell it out a second time. Even then Barak refused to go except she go with him.

The account of Deborah has been virtually dismissed among the hierarchical churches. It's been explained away by saying that a woman was used in this capacity only because no man of courage could be found throughout all of Israel. Are we to believe that Almighty God could not have raised up a man in forty years that could judge and prophesy to Israel? If He could speak through a jackass, He could surely speak through any man He so desired.

The truth is, God works through whomsoever He wills, and His desire at that time and place was Deborah—a woman.

So, during her time and service as a judge and prophetess, who was the one "man" in charge?

If Elijah, Nathan, and Samuel were in charge in their day, then we must conclude that Deborah was { in charge} in her day.

Too many of the women of today's churches have been silenced and emotionally beaten into submission not only to their husbands but to all men. As hard as it is to imagine a man ("laymember") being accepted in the hierarchical circles as a prophet, it would be entirely unacceptable for a woman to be recognized as a prophetess. This would undermine the whole male-dominated system. Yet, God has done it in the past.

Why is it so hard for men to recognize that God works through the individual members of His church? His spirit rules. He has repeatedly warned us not to put our trust in mortal man. Yet this is what the hierarchical pyramid demands. They have much to lose, and they are losing, as the many letters and articles in Servants' News (and other media) attest.

I feel very strongly that many people are being freed from this bondage. Yet, others desire this rule over them. And, as history concludes, if they desire this rule, God will let them have it. If we desire this king we shall have the king for there are those who are more than willing to step into that role. If we do desire this rule, then we need to be informed by God's warning what we should expect the consequences to be. I Samuel 8.

And we also should take I Samuel 12:12-17 into consideration as well.

For those who do not feel that HWA was in effect a "king" over us, I suggest they peruse some of the old literature of the Worldwide Church of God concerning government and authority. His own literature compares him to a dictator (howbeit a "benevolent" one) and to the Pope. Those statements alone should give pause for thought.


—Tawanda Ray, Alabama &