We accomplished something today. One of the drivers came early, and we had a nice conversation about a few of his views. He says that his father was a preacher who believed if you weren’t a part of his church then you were condemned to hell forever, which he himself does not believe. There were several other issues he had concerns about such as use of musical instruments that he had questions on, but was willing to change his mind if he could find proof in the scriptures. I complimented him on his willingness to go to the Scriptures as his authority. Based upon the doctrinal questions at hand I guessed that his background is Church of Christ, which he said he would not verify until after the study.
I began the formal study today with John 13 and footwashing, covering such topics as the meaning of this, that Jesus washed Judas’ feet, that Peter refused, and that none of the disciples would get off their horses and wash each others' feet at that time. I asked if there were any others there who performed this ceremony, and the lady driver said that she had, and we were able to discuss the emotions and lessons we have learned from this.
The driver I mention in the first paragraph wanted to discuss Acts 2, and he read part of the chapter and asked about the speaking in tongues, pointing out that the people were hearing definitely meaningful languages. Are tongues therefore really languages? We went through this verse by verse and talked about how the miracle was as much in the hearing as the speaking. One of the guests today pointed out that this symbolically reversed the curse of Babel, where languages were all confused. At Pentecost, rather than confusion, everyone heard and understood.
He then read the rest of Acts 2 and asked whether baptism is required for salvation, to which I asked why wouldn’t someone want to be baptized. The lady driver talked about how baptism pictures the burial and resurrection of Christ and how we are symbolically killing the old man and are resurrected to newness of life. We turned to Romans 6 and spent some time there.
The first driver then began to ask questions about the Holy Spirit. “What” is it? (Note the use of the pronoun “what” as opposed to “who”.) So I turned to the other drivers again and asked them, “How would you answer him?” whereupon the lady said that the Holy Spirit is God’s power. I then opened the discussion of what the Holy Spirit does and how it changes lives and opens understanding. It was a good, non-trinitarian discussion that offended no one.
I took this opening to talk about Pentecost and do a brief introduction to the Holy Days—“What is Pentecost?”—turning to Leviticus 23.
Finally, the first driver had never heard of the thousand year reign of Christ, so we reviewed the millennial scriptures in Revelation and some in the prophets of the Old Testament and he wants to learn more about this.
Now for the interesting part. Since the Bible Study was over, I asked the first driver what denominational background he was, reminding him that he said he would tell me afterwards. No surprise that he said, “Church of Christ,” but then he said to me, “And you are either Church of Christ or Church of God.” I answered in the affirmative, whereupon the lady driver said, “I’m in the Worldwide Church of God.”
Minutes later I found her down in the store and talked to her for some time. She was born into the WCG, and she and her parents have accepted (or so she says) all the changes. The hard thing for her was the loss of so many friends. “We were like family,” she said, and now those who departed from the WCG want nothing to do with her. I told her to make an effort to get back in touch with them. Further disappointing her is a sister and brother-in-law who became so disenchanted with the changes that they left religion all together. My hope was to impress upon her that someone can hold fast to the basic historical church of God teachings and at the same time reject the cult-like attributes of the WCG. She understood that the exclusivism and control issues were at the heart of the problem there, but I’m not sure that people can bifurcate these cult-like aspects from the truth that WCG had. I think it was interesting that she was right with me on the various subjects we discussed today without missing a beat. So it’s still in her head. She took a Ron Dart tape from my stash, and I suggested she get in touch with CEM.
Sure glad I went today.
[While I disagree with many of the WCG’s doctrinal changes, one good very valuable change is that they are much more tolerant of their members attending other services and Bible studies—such as the Truckers Bible Study. No matter how “mixed up” a person’s doctrine may be, if they are willing to study with an open mind and listen to a variety of teachers, and pray for the Spirit to guide them, there is hope that they will learn truth. Whereas someone who has a lot of truth, but listens to only one source, will rarely ever grow beyond the knowledge of that one source. — NSE]
We had a productive study today with our five guests. The theme today was “The Things that Make for Peace”, taking off on Luke 19:41–44, where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and laments that the people of his day did not know the things that would make for peace. What are the things that make for peace? That’s a pertinent question for the city that has not known peace, indeed for a world that does not know peace.
The people of that day did not recognize their “day of visitation”, that the Messiah was in their midst, but there is more to it. We reviewed Isaiah 59 and Isaiah 48:17–19, which show that God’s laws make for peace, specifically His commandments.
Further study in Genesis 2–4 shows that most of the Commandments can be found early in man’s history long before Moses, and that they are God’s rules for making things go well. They all understand that the Law of God is important and has not been done away, but at the same time the concept of grace was not minimized. We had a nice discussion on how these issues interrelate.
September 11 seems to still be on people’s minds, and we talked some about how God might very well have been trying to wake us up, and to some extent that has happened. One of the drivers was in the New York area when the planes hit, and it was obvious that this had a profound effect upon her. Some things are not important to her anymore, and she can see clearly the passing nature of temporal things.
One driver floated the theory that the United States has been blessed because of the promise to Abraham, that whoever would bless his descendants would be blessed and whoever cursed them would be cursed. Since the US is the only true friend the State of Israel has, God has kept his promise to us.
It was good to go this morning and once again give these people a chance to talk and discuss, and also to share with them some of the truths of the Bible.
This morning we had five guests and covered some rather basic subjects, which is sometimes is all that’s needed. Like anyone else, these people need to have a place to go to get grounded once again. It is not always necessary to reveal great new theological insights. Providing a place to gather with open Bibles and open discussion is often enough.
Among the discussions today was an exchange with one of the truckers who is French Canadian by heritage, but now lives not far from Toronto. Many years back he converted from Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism, and he related the persecution that resulted from this change and the fact that many who converted in those days were forced to leave Quebec, where the Catholic church apparently had some political power. While I could understand his sentiments toward Catholicism, he and I had an interesting discussion about this because I after all am a former Catholic but experienced no such persecution. He made the point that the separatist movement in Quebec is primarily religious driven as opposed to politically driven, and I have no way knowing if that is true. My point is a different one. I believe Scripture shows that any time church and state get in bed together, both are corrupted. That's the lesson in my mind of history and of Revelation 17. In fact, history shows that Protestantism aligned with the state can be just as corrupt and intolerant. Look at Henry VIII as an example, and not just him but the intolerance and persecution in many Protestant countries during the Reformation.
The prohibition against the establishment of a state religion in our First Amendment was intended as a safeguard against such abuses, and it has worked well. The Founding Fathers knew their history and acted accordingly.
At the end of the study, one of the drivers asked me to write down all the scriptures we covered so that he could study them later. He and his wife also took Bibles with them.
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri
[The Founding Fathers were indeed wise when they prevented the USA from establishing a state religion. What they never imagined would happen was that their statements would be used to attempt to remove all mention of God from public life. The numerous prayers and references to God by the President, the Congress and courts in the 1700s show that the Founding Fathers had no intention of leaving God and the Bible out of the government—they just wanted to leave specific denominations and their hierarchies of our government. — NSE]