Letter: February 7, 1996
Dear Editors of Servants' News:
After receiving your newsletter yesterday, I read your article "New Future for CGI Congregations" and I have a couple of questions I wonder if you would answer for me?
If the sins of G. T. Armstrong are to be spoken of, is it Norman Edwards responsibility to do it?
Response: From a Biblical perspective it is the responsibility of the elders of his congregation. When a man was involved in a sexual sin, Paul instructed the congregation "when you are gathered together" to put him out (1Cor 5:4). The CGIboard of directors has obtained a copy of the video tape through the legal discovery process. They legally can remove Garner Ted Armstrong from all CGI functions. However, most of them are his long-time friends or relatives and they have not done this job. Therefore, it is left to individual congregations to decide whether they will continue to support a man who has disqualified himself from the ministry according to 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We are not attempting to make this decision for them, but to convey accurate information so they may decide themselves (indeed as many of them have).
Letter: Mr. Edwards states in the article that he and others spoke with "4 witnesses" about the subject of the contents of a tape revealing G.T. Armstrong's wrong-doings.
Does that make N. Edwards a "true" witness or judge of the matter or in anyway put him in authority to write or speak on the subject to hundreds if not thousands of people?
Response: Paul was not a direct eye-witness to the man's sin, but it was "commonly reported" (1Cor 5:1, KJV) to him. Yet, he wrote it for billions of people to read. In our present difficulty, not even G.T. Armstrong disputes that he was with Suerae Robertson on July 15, 1995 and that a video tape was made. After personally speaking with four (now five) eye-witnesses of the video tape, and finding them all in complete agreement on certain key facts, we simply reported those facts, as similar facts were reported to the Apostle Paul.
Letter: God's Word shows that the witnesses are to give testimony and then cast their "stones" first. Deut 17:7.
I believe John 8 shows a woman caught in the very act of adultery and Jesus saying, (v. 7) "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." (And these were scribes and Phariseessupposedly "law-keepers.")
Response: Servant's News will not be "casting stones." We will not be testifying in the legal proceedings against Garner Ted Armstrong nor will we be involved in any action that the Church of God, Inter national might take. Anyone involved in these processes will obviously need to see the video tape and other evidence for themselves.
In John 8, there was no mention of witnesses being present nor was the male adulterer present. To put one to death and not the other would be a great breach of justice (Lev 20:10, Deut 22:22). If only the man escaped or the witnesses refused to identify him, this would be a situation not specifically covered by the law. Deuteronomy 17:8-12 and other scriptures give authorization to make judgements not covered specifically by the law, but based upon its principles. Our understanding of our Savior's attitude here is that if we don't have enough evidence for a conviction, then we should not force itwe all need mercy at some time. We have heard stories of G. T. Armstrong's difficulties for years, but they were usually difficult to independently verify, so we have said nothing. This one is a complete case and easy to verify.
Letter: Anyone who is not an actual eyewitness is just not a "true" witness and that if he/she then speaks or writes about the incident to the detriment of another, would he/she not be called a "false witness"? Not that what he or she is saying is a lie necessarily, but that he or she is just not a witness to the incident. Does not man's "nature" show after two persons tell a story, it changes in the telling?
Also, if my memory serves me correctly, does not the Almighty Creator condemn a "false witness" as much as one who would commit adultery? Ex 20:14,16.
Response: We do not understand how you classify any witness that is not an "eye witness" as a "false witness." If that is true, then much of the Bible is a "false witness." Paul did not "eye witness" the sin of the man in 1 Corinthians 5. He was not present at the last meal with our Savior, yet he quotes his words (1Cor 11:23-26). The writer of Acts does not speak of himself as being present until Acts 16:10. Are all of these people "false witnesses"? Should these men be punished for writing about things they did not personally see? NO! A false witness is one that is falsea teller of untrue things.
Letter: My last question to you:
Where is the love that is of God? Is it to your readers? Or to G.T. Armstrong?
I wonder how our Savior would have handled the situation. Jn 8:7. Is it not strange that that Spirit that He is, is supposed to be in each of us? At least those he calls His own? The fruits do tell the story, do they not? Matt 7:20.
I'm sure you must have answers to these questions, I hope they are the right ones.
D. L., California
Response: Our Savior was very kind to individuals caught up in sin, but seeking to repent. His response to hypocritical religious leaders that pretended to be righteous was not so kind.
"Therefore, whatever they [bad religious leaders] tell you to observe, that observe and do [they can teach truth!], but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.... For you [the bad leaders] travel land and sea to win one proselyte [they do a work!], and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.... For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.... For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:3-5, 15, 25, 27).
"If you [bad leaders] were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains" (John 9:41). People who preach the truth are accountable to live by it.
Where is the love? We love Garner Ted Armstrong and want him to have eternal life. It is more important for him to personally live a righteous life than it is to preach truth to the entire world (Matt 7:21-25). Also, we love the brethren and those yet to be called. They should be taught by a teacher who lives what he preaches and does not give occasion for the unconverted to blaspheme the Eternal (2Sam 12:14).
Thank you for your letter. We are sure others had similar questions.
-Norman S. Edwards