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.
Letter: July 14, 1998
Dear Servants’ News,
I’m sending you a copy of my article that was published in The Journal. Our congregation in Tupelo, Mississippi feels strongly that there are brethren in all “organizations” of God’s churches. That’s why this green flag (or wind tunnel) can be used by all. Down South during football season many people have these flags or wind tunnels that they place on their car windows. These flags identify which team they represent. As they’re driving down the roads these flags are just waving away!
These flags that we propose to sell will cost close to $12 with the shipping and handling. They can be removed from the window when brethren arrive at their Feast site. This alleviates the problem we had in the past years about people hunting us to rob us, or whatever. They’ll be the old Feast color green with black lettering and have either FT or Feast on it, thus identifying God’s people going to the Feast. These flags are on a plastic pole that are placed on the window and held there when the window is rolled up. Send orders and money to: United Church of God, PO Box 612, Fulton, MS 38843.
— Joann Simmons, Mississippi
Response: Thanks for letting our readers know. It has been our experience that some people really like these kinds of things and others do not. Anyone who wants one can contact you directly.
Letter: July 20, 1998
I looked in vain for some constructive criticism in Mr. McCaulley’s article. None of my fellow congregants appear to view themselves as members of a congregation ruled by a corporation.
I cannot even imagine what chaos would erupt if each one individually were to be asked to vote on salaries, hiring of personnel, strategic projects, etc.
Mr. McCaulley is missing the injunction in I Cor 14:26, by offering no specific advice…alternatives…to the situation and strategy he so violently opposes. Does he no longer recognize Mr. McCullough as a fellow servant, that he (Mr. McCaulley) feels free to “beat” him? (Luke 12:45)
COG papers these days are full of scholarly advice to become “yielded to God” by people who can offer no “fool-proof” instructions, and by people who know what is wrong with all congregations but their own, and sometimes, especially their own!
We need to read something edifying, up-beat and encouraging, if there is any such thing to be found, and if there isn’t, complaining and carping and fault-finding will do little to improve it.
There is a lot of exhortation via audio tape available, too, to be “yielded to God”. Presumably the writer/publisher/speaker have achieved that admirable state. We need to be let in on the secret.
Please! If you have never personally done any of the things Mr. McCullough has been attempting to do: Get off his back! If you have had the experience, offer your experience and expertise.
I believe it’s still true that God looks on the heart! It seems none has considered looking on Mr. McCullough’s heart recently. Could it be it’s still in the right place?
P.S. As to Mr. McCullough behaving arrogantly, the twelve did not leave the more important work to serve tables. Were they exalting themselves? (Acts 6:2)
Is it certain Mr McCullough is being craven, or is he merely obeying the instructions in James 3 regarding improper use of the tongue? Does Mr. McCaulley have all this insight partly from hind sight? Does Mr. McCaulley’s “good will” include loyalty or respect? I may have to repent of the attitude I’m exhibiting now. If if develops I’m wrong, I’ll certainly “eat crow”.
— Beth Linehan, Wisconsin
Response: We received a number of letters and phone calls about Tim McCaulley's article. He received some also. Some claimed to agree completely with the article, others completely disagreed. At least one asked to stop receiving Servants News because of it. We agree with you that it offers little constructive criticism. We published it because we felt McCaulley was speaking very sincerely about very real problems. Many months ago, he was a very staunch supporter of UCG-IA. But after seeing many setbacks, and after much personal Bible study, he began to realize that the UCG-IA may not be the group that the Eternal will use to do His major work in the future. Such realizations come hard.
If McCaulley had been an isolated case, we would not have published his article. But we have heard similar expressions of frustration from many others within UCG. We know of other UCG-IA congregations that are largely in agreement-it seems that their home office tries to tell them what to do, cancels their local evangelism programs, and does little of service to the congregation. Every local congregation would like Christ to guide them. Are they letting Him guide them if they feel bound to follow a home office that they see as ineffective?
There is no doubt that McCaulley, McCullough, myself, and many others need to be closer to Christ so that we can be kinder in dealing with others, and be more constructive in our approach. It is not our place to "judge another man's servant". On the other hand, if we waited until we were perfect to speak up, we would never say anything at all! You can rest assured that we receive many articles much more negative than McCaulley's.
I personally believe that the Eternal allowed the breakup of the WCG and now many of its splinter groups because He wants people who are looking directly to Him, not to an ordination or corporation. We pray that He will guide each person through the difficult times ahead and help each to understand the particular circumstances that are happening to them.
Tim McCaulley may be contacted at PO Box 8441, Jacksonville, FL 32239-0441; 904-743-9811.
Letter: July 13, 1998
I just have to share with you a miracle that happened in our UCG-IA Oshkosh, Wisconsin, church.
While on a bike trip with members of the Church, Dave Schneiderhan had a flat tire and was thrown from his bike and injured his shoulder. He was taken to the emergency hospital to ensure there were no broken bones. After taking X-rays, they detected a growth in his shoulder and had him return twice during the week for more X-rays, two CT scans, and a bone scan. He was told there was a tumor in his shoulder that looked as if it had eaten part of the bone. Scary stuff, eh? They wanted to do a biopsy immediately. Dave decided he wanted a second opinion, so he went to a different hospital that had brand new equipment. He had another battery of doctors and duplication tests. The doctors at this hospital concurred that he had a growth and would need surgery. It didn’t look good.
We went to visit the Schneiderhans a week after the accident. They told us they were going to go to Mayo Clinic. Dave had been anointed and said he could accept having an operation, but he feared cancer. He and his wife had faith and we assured them God could make that tumor physically disappear. We were all praying for them when they left to go to Mayo. They brought their X-rays with them, but the doctor, of course, decided they needed new X-rays and tests. You’re right—no more tumor! Dave inquired of the doctors, “What about the X-rays that show a tumor? You can point to it.” The doctors had no comment other than “The X-rays look grainy.”
There’s no question in our mind. We know who to thank for this miracle. God is not slack in His promises.
— Ken Omick, Wisconsin
Response: Thank you for sharing your story. This is what I like to refer to as a "quiet miracle". You are convinced it is a miracle, but the doctors who witnessed it are not asking to join your fellowship or write a paper on it for their medical journal. They are willing to attribute it to poor x-rays, and go on about their business. It is a blessing that the Eternal provides these miracles for those who trust Him. Someday, He may provide more "attention-getting" miracles, such as the man healed in Acts 3:6 about which even the enemies of the church said: "For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it" (Acts 4:16).
Letter: July 16, 1998
Dear Servants’ News,
Enclosed is a little to help pay for the service you do in producing Servants’ News. I once thought of discontinuing it as I found little agreement but I’ve found that some of what I thought wasn’t based on as much fact as I thought. So, now I find I’m in more agreement with what you write.
Besides you and The Journal are both valuable sources of information and understanding of what is occurring in the scattered church of God so I hope you can continue to produce it.
I reference to your response on page 18 of June 98 issue under Real Heresies. You say some find errors in the Bible. There are errors in the Bible—there are errors in translation and most important errors in our understanding of the meaning of the Bible. But there are no errors in the Bible as it was originally written as it is the inspired word of God. To me it seems proof that anyone who claims the Bible is not all the inspired word of God is to deny God and therefore not a follower of Him.
After all the Bible does say that no one can call Jesus the Lord except by the Spirit, (I Cor 12:3) and the same verse basically says that to say Jesus, and therefore His word is in error, is not of God. So, this should make it easy to see where these people are coming from.
Response: When speaking of “Bible error”, we need to realize that there are three types of errors that people talk about:
1) Translation errors—the English Bible does not say the same things as the original Hebrew or Greek.
2) Copying errors—alterations made during the process of copying the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. These could be intentional or accidental.
3) Errors in the original writing. When there is no reason to think errors #1 and #2 affect a passage, then we have to ask, “Is the original writing a mistake?”
Before we say the “Word of God” cannot possibly have a mistake, we need to realize that the original writings of the Bible itself fall into several categories:
a) Direct quotations of the Eternal or Christ. If people reject these words, they indeed are rejecting the Eternal.
b) History of what people said and did. We have the words of righteous men, evil men and even the words of Satan in the Bible. Satan lied to Eve, and the Bible clearly declares Satan a liar. But there are cases when men said or did things upon which the Bible does not give the Eternal’s opinion. For example, was Jethro’s advice to Moses to choose rulers of 1000s, 100s, 50s and 10s good or bad? (Ex 18.) Was it later replaced by other types of government? (Num 11:16-17, Deut 16:18-20.) Were Jethro’s commands “the Word of God” or could they be error?
c) Clear statements of opinion. There are a few places in the Scriptures that are clearly labeled opinion. One example is Paul’s instruction to avoid marriage (1Cor 7:25-35). Paul gave this instruction believing that Christ would return soon. Obviously, if it was followed throughout history, believers would never have any children. But Paul also says those who do marry “have not sinned”. It is possible that these instructions are the Eternal’s will, but only for a specific time and place.
We cannot make a thorough study of Bible “contradictions” and “errors” here, but the above points should help us realize that the Bible is a complex book with many writers and speakers. We cannot rashly say “it is 100% inspired Word of God”. It is the Word that the Eternal wants us to have. It contains His truth for us to learn, mistakes for us to avoid, and uncertain parts for us to study and understand.
Letter: July 10 1998
Hello Norm and Servants’ News Staff,
Thank you for your service of providing thought provoking and insightful information. Please continue and you don’t need to change a thing.
God has led you to provide this service. Now we have a choice to read or not. God has shaken and He is moving. Are we, those who have come out of hierarchical bondage, still awake or are we being lulled to sleep again? I think, if one does read, he or she will not want to go to sleep again.
Thanks again and God bless your efforts.
— Marcia Chambers, Texas
Response: It seems some people leave one group, only to go join another. Others stray down some narrow doctrinal path. But overall, it is a wonderful time to be out of the church organizations. There are many places one may attend Sabbath services and go to the Feast. This was not so 10 to 20 years ago.
Letter: June 10, 1998
Dear Mr. Edwards
I read with much interest the reprinted article from the Feb 1939 Good News about Mr. Armstrong’s understanding of the governance of the Church. Do you also have an article by him that shows when and why he changed his mind? As we well know, the latter years of his life he felt God’s government for the Church was a radically different idea than that he proposed in the above mentioned article. Thanks for any help you can share to shed some light on this divisive subject.
— Regina Wilson, Ohio
Response: When Herbert Armstrong moved his base of operations to Pasadena in the 1940s, he had trouble keeping the loyalty of the brethren that he left behind in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the leaders of the congregations there broke away from Armstrong for a variety of reasons—partly good and partly bad. But if a “leaving leader” claimed he was being led by the Holy Spirit, and his congregation believed him, there was little Armstrong could do to keep the money from that congregation coming to Pasadena. At some time, Armstrong wrote that he was “confused” on the subject of “church government”. In the early 1950s, Herman Hoeh and Rod Meredith began to write articles on hierarchical government. Armstrong accepted these articles and gradually began to preach it more and more throughout the 50’s. Hierarchical government became the way of life in the WCG in the 60’s, and by the 70’s Armstrong preached that the message of the Bible was “government”.
Letter: July 10, 1998
Dear Norman, Tim, Jeanice, Marleen, Missi, Lee, Jon, Ann, George, and Pam,
My…with ten people you would think someone would have time to study major keys of scripture. Yahweh is his name. Yahshua is his son. And the New Moon in Jerusalem which is Yahweh’s headquarters sets the Feasts. Quite simple.
My husband and I did not need any written material. Although our computer made it faster for us to weed out and find truth. Anyone can do it. It takes discernment…an exercise people do not do. There are many excuses. The most frequent is “time”. Oh well…we believe if you and your group feel led to teach or convey your beliefs to others then you should know what you teach. You and your group are only adding confusion to these truth seekers and maybe delay their growth. Remember…you are held accountable.
I have been reading Servants’ News for quite some time and for the longest time you guys have not understood why the names are important and the New Moon in Jerusalem. Lack of discernment and misuse of time are your stumblingblocks. As brethren, it is my duty to write. I have to get this off my shoulders. Now you are totally responsible for all your actions, because you have been told. Now obedience to Yahweh is at hand and is up to all of you. The reader of this letter is responsible to getting this to everyone in the group and is held accountable.
— Rina Burch, Georgia
Response: There are actually only three people who regularly work on Servants’ News: Norman & Marleen Edwards and Pam Dewey. The others all have some kind of full-time work, and serve primarily by proof-reading and editing articles just before they go to press. The only letters they see are the ones printed here.
We realize that teachers are accountable for what they teach. That is why we do not teach doctrines that we cannot prove to our satisfaction. We are glad that you spend so much time studying the Bible. But we are responsible for what we know, not for what you know. I cannot say to Christ in the judgement, “I taught these doctrines because Rina Burch warned me that I had to teach them.” If you present some truth to me that I can biblically or historically verify, then I am responsible for it. But your letter did not contain one scripture. We receive hundreds of letters warning us to teach this or that doctrine. I cannot study them all, or even read them all. I pray for the Eternal to show me what is most important to study, and I study those subjects with the time I have.
Letter: July 10, 1998
Dear Servants’ News,
Why don’t you compile a list of the people that choose to use the names that we may contact each other and basically “go on with things?”
Also, how do I get a copy of LRCOG people that we may visit? Also Feast sites of Name users? Your help is appreciated. Also, do you accept donations?
— Rina Burch, Georgia
Response: We have received papers giving over a dozen different versions of the Father and Son’s names. Some sacred names groups do not believe you have the Holy Spirit unless you are in their group. A few “names” groups are paramilitary or racist. Some people believe the use of the Names is necessary for salvation, others do not. It would be too difficult for us to keep track of all of the “sacred name” individuals and groups—we do not know which of our subscribers use the Names and which do not. Also, we do not know which of the above type of groups you would find acceptable to fellowship with.
There is a list of three Sacred Name Feast sites in this issue—they will be able to tell you about many other Sacred Name believers. We will send you a copy of the Living Room Church of God directory. Yes, we gratefully accept donations.
Letter: July 9, 1998
I’ve been able to get lots of materials into the prison through the chaplain. He’s been thankful and most helpful. There has been one thing on my mind lately. How are we to be joyful? I’m afraid that where we attend services we are too orderly. I’m not judging, please don’t misunderstand. I’m thirsty for the whole word of God.
Lately, all our sermons seem to be on prophecy. I don’t claim to understand everything about prophecy, but I do feel I know what to watch for. When a person is fairly new, he/she needs living lessons. I’ve read most all the literature I’ve received and the daily living lessons are good. I’d just like to hear them from our teacher. Why do most groups focus on just one subject?
Why do some of the groups focus on the old Worldwide? Don’t they realize those people had the truth and they have been begged for many years to return? Why aren’t they looking for that one lost sheep that had never heard the true gospel? I’d never suggest completely abandoning the members of the old Worldwide. Just not putting all their efforts into beating a dead horse.
Guess what I found out on my own? Sabbath-keepers are not the strange ones or weird ones. It’s so easy to talk to people. We are set apart and blessed. I refuse to believe anymore that other people are misled or miseducated. They always respond so positively. I never push but I am very honest. They’ll come back with statements like I didn’t know or I’d like to read that etc…
I had wrestled with the problem if individuals were supposed to be witnesses or not. If we’re silent and strange, how could that possibly reflect what Christ expects us to do? Let’s face the truth. In this day and age with all the evils to tempt people in this world. Money, power, sex, crooked government. How could a few quite good people reach anyone? I’m sure no one would be impressed enough to seek God or not even open their Bible by watching my living example. In their eyes all the would see would be a poor clean hard working family. They would be wondering where are the benefits? All they could possibly see were the hardships. If I didn’t offer them something, a word or a booklet or a tape, how could they ever see past my being just a poor hard working person? For the real rewards. I believe God calls who He will. But He also accepts those who ask, repent and are baptized.
Didn’t Jesus leave us with a work to do? Or just the leaders of organizations?
Not everyone will accept the true gospel. They aren’t supposed to. Rest assured none will if they aren’t reached by other people. God will put His Holy Spirit to work on His that truly want the truth.
I’m sorry I write so poorly. I’d love to have some of these questions answered. I’d like to know if anyone else has ever felt like I do. I’d welcome their comments.
— SM, Mississippi
Response: You are right. Church groups tend to focus on one or a few subjects—usually getting and keeping members, not helping them to grow. Christ told His followers that they were to be “lights”, so others could see. When the church at Jerusalem was scattered, they went everywhere preaching the Gospel (Acts 8:1,2) and they were effective (Acts 11:19). The government article at the end of this Servants’ News covers the scriptures showing that each member should develop the spiritual gifts that Christ gives them.
Letter: July 3, 1998
Dear Servants’ News,
The work done by United’s people in Britain needs to move forward. Most people realize that in most countries of the world including Britain, there is limited scope for a large centralized work.
Most brethren in UCG here (those who have not been “stolen” unawares by church of “Hulme”) want to be involved in a local work within United.
United’s part in the Gospel in Britain has been stopped in the last 3 years by David Hulme and “his” ministers pretending they were behind a council government when all the time they were planning to turn the council into a “one man at the top government” even against consensus.
These underground workers wouldn’t let the Gospel get out here except by a centralized way, which has never been allowed in Britain the way they wanted it. They were just working their way to a D. Hulme takeover.
Some ministers in Britain had planned this take-over as long as 3 years ago, and maybe in USA as well. Mr. Hulme failed to achieve this when President, then after he was removed, they had no option but to criticize the council, keep council literature away from members in Britain and say how poorly D. Hulme was treated.
Now is the time to pray, get active, pray, get involved, and have faith in God, and United’s people to do our share in getting the Gospel out to Britain and the world with the structure of United to help us and join us to do it.
— David Young, Scotland
Response: We agree with your zeal to get busy and help share in getting the Gospel out. Only the Eternal and David Hulme really know how much Hulme tried to cooperate with the council and how much he tried to take over the council. I have seen others work for many years in an effort to take over a big corporation. The Eternal will not be fooled.
As far as you are concerned, there is very little to be concerned about. The Eternal will do His work through those whom He chooses in spite of corporations. See government paper at end of this issue.
Letter: April 20, 1998
Dear Norm and Marleen,
I trust you are well? I wrote this letter to the editor (regarding school children recently shooting classmates in Jonesboro, Arkansas), hoping it would plant a seed in many minds. Several friends have passed it on to parents with young children.
But it raises a question. How do we go about cleaning up movies and videos? Some teach that we are not to vote or to make an effort to clean up the world. What are your thoughts on this? Have you written an article on voting?
I somehow believe God will hold us responsible if we sit back and do nothing when we could act.
Partial birth abortion is another atrocity about which, it seems, we can’t look the other way and just wait until Christ comes to change things. If we were in the room and saw a doctor doing it, how would we act? Do nothing? I doubt it. Yet, we know it is being done down the street and on many streets of America.
Last week, I gave this article to a visitor at church from Jonesboro. I told him that the nation would likely listen to some of the Jonesboro parents more than anyone, if they would plead this cause.
Your thoughts, please?
— Lois Gordon, Arkansas
Response: Your questions are very good. The WCG usually taught people not to get involved in secular government. The Bible does not teach that world peace will come through secular governments, but it does not forbid involvement in them. On the other hand, it does not command involvement in them. There are many things that men try to solve through government that should be solved another way. This can be a complicated issue and we would like to cover it in a future article.
Letter: May 14, 1998
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Would you please explain, Psalms 81:3.
Does not the New King James translation imply that we are to observe the Feast of trumpets (the only feast day that falls on the first day of the Hebrew month) on the “full moon” phase of the Moon cycle?
We in the Church of God have been observing this Holy day (Feast of Trumpets) at the last crescent of the moon phase called the, “new moon”. My question is; Which is Right?
We truly must obey God! Please, if possible, could you clarify this scripture for me from a biblical standpoint. Thank you.
— John Strouth, North Carolina
Response: We have explained this scripture in previous answers to letters. In general, the Hebrew does not necessarily mean that the full moon is the new moon. There is fairly good historical evidence that Jesus kept the Feasts by a first crescent calendar. Many people sincerely consider the Scriptures and come up with different calendars. I do not believe that eternal salvation or reward will be largely based on one’s calendrical ability. I think justice, mercy, and faith are much more important. We are sending you our article, Biblical Calendar Basics, which covers Psalm 81:3.
Letter: July 12,1998
In reference to the recent changes made by some to meeting on Sunday instead of the Sabbath.
A primary question: How do the deceivers make such cancerous inroads on the faith and beliefs of Christians? To what state of conditions had people regressed to be so vulnerable to such an overt attack? Were their beliefs based on false premises and half truths? Were they Christians in word only—pseudo Christians?
1) The so called shepherds did not ground the people in faith and trust of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Proverb 1:7, Ecc.12:13, John 14:1, II Tim. 1:13-14. Wisdom must begin here. The people were constantly brow beat into submission to the organization and its leadership. They were constantly told to “keep the law” (men’s doctrines, not the law of love), submit, obey, pay and pray, so that they may attain acceptance into the good graces of the leadership and have any opportunity to go to the place of safety.
2) False teachers caused some people to forget the true name of their God (Jer 23:27). Part of His true name is Faithful, Trustworthy, True, Loving kindness, Merciful, Patient, Kind, Gentle, Giver, Savior, Teacher, Guide, Helper, Provider, and Forgiving. But, they told the people that God’s name is hard, mean, uncaring, harsh, impatient, quick to destroy, selfish, unloving, hater, proud and unforgiving. An individual once said, “God called you to spend you not to save you.”
3) Some people’s beliefs were built on sand; doctrines of men—empty words that lead to death spiritually. They should have been founded upon sound healthy words, that give spiritual life. The words of our Lord, Jesus Christ. They accepted men’s words as truth, instead of reading the word of truth to find God’s will, and then act upon it. They never questioned “authority”, although commanded to do so by Jesus and the Apostles many times. Part of Jesus’ commandment “see that no one misleads you” (Mark 13:5); “—-be on your guard” (v 9); “Take heed, keep on the alert” (v 33); “Do not let Me find you asleep (spiritually)” (v 36); “be on the alert” (v 37).
4) Some were taught to worship false gods!
— John Akin
Response: I agree with most of what you say. During most of the Worldwide Church of God history, a person could attend for years and know almost nothing about the Bible, and no one would probably ever know or care. As long as they attended services and activities, paid their tithes, and did not cause any trouble, they were considered "good members". A person who wore old clothes, had a messy house, had noisy children or questioned a headquarters teaching was likely to get prompt attention from the local minister. But if someone couldn't name the first five books of the Old or New Testament, who would care? One exception was men who aspired to be ordained—most realized that Bible knowledge would be important for that (though probably not as important as corporate loyalty). The other exception was Spokesmen's Clubs, where men sometimes had to expound the Bible and answer false teachings. But even in these clubs, much of the emphasis was on looking and acting right—there was never an organized program to make sure that every man could could explain every fundamental doctrine by using only his Bible and a concordance.
The situation was much worse for women. Bible knowledge rarely ever was a factor in determining who would become a "deaconess". There was no equivalent of Spokesmen's Clubs for women. Indeed, a woman could attend her entire life in the WCG, never know anything about the Bible, and no one would ever know. This writer has personally heard stories of men who were "high" in Church of God organizations who admitted that their wives "never read the Bible at all". Yet, how many men left the job of religious instruction for their children primarily in the hands of their wives?
Letter: July 9, 1998
I found this article in the July 7 USA Today:
Is Year 2000 Bug a Date Problem or a Math Problem?
Although his solution doesn't work on every system menaced by the "Year 2000 problem" (in which software coded with 2-digit dates in the year fields will cause incorrect calculations when the 20th century yields to the new one), entrepreneur Allen Burgess had a breakthrough insight: "I woke up in the middle of the night and had the idea. It's not a date problem. It's a math problem. We had to find and fix the math." So Waltham, Massachusetts company Data Integrity developed a Y2K tool (called the Millennium Solution) that is being used by Citibank, Credit Suisse, First Boston, NationsBank, and the U.S. Interior Department. One part of the Millennium Solution searches for math in a software program; if a two-digit date is found to be part of the math calculation, the Millennium Solution uses a trick of addition to get the calculation to work correctly. For example, to calculate age in 01 (i.e., 2001) of a person born in 67 (i.e., 1967): 01 - 67 = minus 66. Add 50. Add 50 again. Correct answer: 34 years old.
—End of Article—
Some big hitters buy this notion, which seems a little too simple. It could work, though your experience gives you a better vantage point to evaluate that.
By the way, I thought the numerology piece in the latest SN would have been hilarious if people didn't actually believe that stuff. Here's something addressing a topic cut from the same bolt of rags as numerology:
It shows how various assassinations were predicted using the Bible Code techniques on Melville's "Moby Dick."
— David Ruppert, Michigan
Response: There are a number of companies with various computer programs that will help with the year 2000 problem. Allen Burgess’ idea will certainly solve some problems, but cannot be considered a breakthrough. The difficulty is that there are so many programming languages and hardware that one solution will not fit everything. For example, some types of date arithmetic simply do not accept negative values—they will either give a false positive value or "crash" (stop working) if they are given a problem that results in a negative value. Also, some human must check all of the "fix-ups" made by Burgess' program to be sure that it is really dates that it is fixing. What would happen if his program accidentally "fixed" another program that was calculating temperatures—which sometimes are supposed to be negative?
Finally, this is only one part of date problems. Supposing a computer program was checking to see if people were at least 18 years of age. It might start with the current year (say 01—standing for 2001), then subtract 18 to calculate a “reference year” Burgess' fix-up program might change the answer to 83 (correct). Then the computer goes about comparing birth years of people to see if they are less than this reference year, which would make them older than 18. Somebody born in 73 (28 years old) is accepted, because 73 is less than or equal to 83. Somebody born in 91 (10 years old) is not accepted because 91 is greater than 83. However, somebody born in 00 (17 years old) is accepted because 00 is less than 83, but that is not what the program was supposed to do. Burgess’ fix-up has failed in this case. As the current year becomes later and later, this program will fail for more and more age groups.
Burgess’ fix-up does nothing to help locate imbedded computer chips or help determine what software might be defective. The only way to get out of year 2000 problems is to change every important program and then test it. Automated "computer tools" can help, but blindly trusting them to fix everything will certainly guarantee that some problems will remain.
The numerology site looks interesting. I hope to look at it sometime.
Letter: July 5, 1998
If recent letters to the editor are any indication, at least some of your readers are beginning to come around. I would like to follow up on some recent comments in context with the identity of the woman depicted in the 12th chapter of Revelation.
If we are to allow the Scriptures to interpret themselves then Isaiah identifies her as (spiritual) Zion, with the Kingdom's First Fruits shown issuing forth from her womb in composite birth at the last (seventh) Trumpet. (compare Revelation 11:15 through 12:1-5 with Isaiah 66:7-9)
Who is end time Zion, and more importantly, where does she abide today? Certainly not with Judah! (see Matthew 21:43) The Scriptures indicate she resides with Joseph! (compare Genesis 37:9 with Revelation 12:1)
Notice the marked contrast between the spiritual works of end time Zion and the (parallel) physical works of Judah. (compare Joel 2:32 with Joel 3:1) Physical Jerusalem and the (coming) physical Temple therein are not identical with spiritual Jerusalem and the (coming) "remnant" Temple work therein.
Since Joseph is destined to predominate over his brother nations (stars) in establishment of the coming millennial Kingdom and spiritual Zion is destined to abide with Joseph, it follows that the nations of Ephraim and Manasseh must abide as one peoples, or more specifically as a "vast multitude" in the midst of Earth.
In accordance with Jacob's blessing (Genesis 48) Ephraim was destined to become greater than his brother, as a company of nation states. The United States of America fulfills that requirement as a company of 50 nation states. By way of contrast, Manasseh (Canada) abides to the north and is indeed the lesser nation.
Zion's crown of 12 stars represent a coming "United Federation of Israel", who are destined to rule over end time Zion, with Joseph dominating as host nation. (by way of example, compare this coming prophetic union with the present United Nations based in New York)
When will these events begin to unfold? Zechariah reveals the (former) spiritual works of Israel, whose foundations were set forth by our forefathers, will be called into remembrance by the Lord of Hosts about the time the second horseman of the apocalypse concludes his ride. (compare Zechariah 1:7-12 with Revelation 6:3-4) Contrary to popular belief, the four horsemen are a tightly knit and closely related series of events which are shortly destined to come to pass.
At that time, the Lord of Hosts will commission a "measure" (of understanding) concerning the depth and scope of spiritual Jerusalem in preparation for the spiritual works that are ultimately destined to conclude with an establishment of the coming millennial Kingdom. (Zechariah 2:1-6)
After this coming preliminary "measure", He will then begin to call spiritual Zion forth in Exodus from present day civilization (namely out of spiritual Babylon) in preparation for the works that will follow. (Zechariah 2:7-13)
By way of contrast, compare these Scriptures with the distorted parallel perspectives formerly taught by Armstrong, and currently subscribed to by many splinter groups.
Of a truth it is said the most dangerous lie is one which most nearly approximates the truth.
— Joseph L. Coman
Response: Thank you for your letter. You have a different view of prophecy than Herbert Armstrong's view. We see nothing wrong with that, especially since Armstrong often made specific predictions that did not come to pass as he said it did. However, your first paragraph sounds as if coming to understand prophecy is the same as coming to agree with you. You give some scriptures for some of your points, but give no proof for the very dogmatic statement "the four horsemen are a tightly knit and closely related series of events which are shortly destined to come to pass".
We would like to know what authority you believe you have for your prophetic understanding. Have you had a miraculous revelation from the Eternal? Do you believe He has just specifically given you understanding? Or do you believe that there is only one possible correct understanding of the scripture? And if so, how many other people do you know who have come to your exact understanding completely on their own?
We are not against studying prophecy at all. However, we are now a little more careful before we accept someone's understanding. An understanding from the Eternal will hold up to questioning and will not have to be continually modified to fit the latest world news.
[Note to SN readers: Coman and I exchanged several more e-mail messages after this where Coman explained why he believes his personal unique understanding of prophecy is correct. I challenged one (though I could have challenged more) point of his prophetic teaching: the idea that there are two groups of people: the “elect” (Matt 24:31 & other places) and the “very elect” (Matt 24:24). I showed how the term “very elect” is a misleading translation of the Greek, and how nearly every other translation simply says “even the elect”. First Coman claimed my analysis of the verse was wrong, but later indicated that his understanding was correct, even if this verse did not confirm it. Eventually, he sent me a message saying that he would not respond to any more of my e-mails.
I leave this question to our readers to think about. Suppose you had spent hundreds of hours studying prophecy, felt you had a great understanding of it, and were beginning to teach it to others. If someone were able to point out one definite mistake in your understanding, would you want to hear more from that person, or would you drive them away? Another way to ask the same question: What is more important, to make your understanding as correct as possible, or to go on thinking that you never make a mistake?
One other thought to ponder: It is fairly easy to apply rigorous standards of biblical proof to a prophecy teacher whom we know little about. It is much more difficult to apply those standards to one whom we have trusted in and/or supported for many years.
Letter: June 6, 1998
I've never written before but I do want to thank you for sending me your Vol.4 N0 3 edition. The title "UCGIA Letter to Big Sandy Shows True Colors" really hit home.
My wife and I were in the audience at the auditorium in Pasadena for Atonement in '79. Before services began, Tkach Sr. with Blackwell at his side, came on stage to announce, to our shock & surprise, the disfellowshipment of Fred Coulter. During his diatribe, he referred to Fred Coulter in all but filthy, language. At that moment, we realized the path that WWCG was taking.
We had to ask: "Is this the type of treatment that's afforded a true minister of God"? It was this same "showmanship" that has led me to turn down a deaconship in WWCG and our leaving the church.
It is ironic that your title "UCGIA Letter to Big Sandy Shows True Colors" is the same "opening" that Tkach Sr. used to open his diatribe against Fred Coulter.
You are probably asking “What does this article have to do with the disfellowshipment of Fred Coulter?” It is this: The same people that were in power in WCG, at the time of this incident, are the same people that now are in the hierarchy of UCGIA. Those of you that are still clinging to United Church of God-AIA, ask yourselves "Where is the loyalty, the unity and trust that a person expects from his/her church hierarchy?”
Those of you that have read this far, remember Philippians 2:12 which reads: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” and think on this scripture. Does it apply to you?
— DD, AZ
Response: You have brought up many good points. The WCG usually ignored or maligned every minister whom they put out—good or bad. They would never read the departing minister’s resignation letter, give his phone or address, or make any other effort that would allow the departing minister to tell his side of the story. Some ministers did leave simply seeking a following after themselves. Others, such as Fred Coulter, had very legitimate complaints against the WCG. While I do not agree with everything he teaches, Fred Coulter certainly has provided a much deeper level of study than was typically available in the WCG. He also provided a place to fellowship for people who were put out of the WCG.
We felt the UCG-IA’s approach to the brethren was wrong, so we explained exactly why—in the hope that they will change it. However, we did print their entire letter in order to make sure that their side of the story is available to our readers. It is not our purpose to judge anyone; Christ will do that. But for now, brethren must make decisions about which “church leaders” and congregations they will fellowship with and serve.