LETTERS & 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.
HWA and Plagiarism
Letter:January 9, 1999
You asked if any of us knew of other instances where Mr. Armstrong used other sources in his literature. Enclosed are a few pages from a 1931 book Fulfilled Prophecies That Prove the Bible (126 pages). I cannot say that there was plagiarism here, but I have often wondered if Mr. Armstrong got many of the basic ideas for his "Proof of the Bible" from this little book. If you are interested in seeing the rest of it, I would be very happy to copy it for you.
I appreciate the work you are doing in trying to unravel the earlier history of the development of the WCG doctrines and authority. Understanding that history is vital to understanding where we in the church are going today and why.
My opinion about Mr. Armstrong (if I may offer it) is that he did a marvelous job of popularizing, streamlining, putting a lot of biblical and other religious information into understandable terms, and making the information available to masses of people. However, I agree that he should have credited his sources or those who gave him the ideas. We then might have admired his synthesizing abilities.
My research in the archives of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Denver indicates that most of the basic doctrines and attitudes passed on to us from Mr. Armstrong came from that church (exceptions being the holy days and the modern identities of Israel). Is this assessment correct according to your information? But didn’t Mr. Armstrong teach a few biblical doctrines that other churches do not? Wasn’t the "spirit in man" doctrine one of these? I am unaware of this doctrine from any other source the way Mr. Armstrong taught it. In addition, are there other churches that teach about spiritual blindness?
Certainly, if Mr. Armstrong was wrong about something, we should correct it. If he didn’t give proper credit for his sources, we should find and credit them. But if he did correctly teach a doctrine that other churches have missed, we should give him credit.
—Rose Difley, Utah
Response:We can never be sure how much teaching Herbert Armstrong borrowed from others and how much he rediscovered on his own, but many of his teachings are like the Church of God 7th Day. A few are similar to the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s witnesses. See the "18 Truths" article on page 32 for more information about where his "restored" doctrines came from. Page 33 shows that the "Spirit in Man" idea has been taught by many others, though probably none in the way he taught it. That phrase only appears once in the KJV Bible—"spirit of man" appears three times. The word "spirit" appears much more often, and many Christian groups teach that we are a body with a spirit. Yes, some throw the "immortal soul concept" in there, but a significant number of Christian groups do not. They, too, have read that "the gift of God is eternal life" (Rom 6:23).
The concept of spiritual blindness is discussed by many theologians with a wide variety of ideas. (Try searching the Internet.). Herbert Armstrong was probably the primary preacher of the doctrine that the Eternal does not hold people accountable who are spiritually blind now and will offer them salvation at another time. I think this is one of the most valuable doctrinal contributions he made.
Was HWA’s Work Destroyed
Letter:January 5, 1999
Dear Mr. Edwards,
What did you mean in your last newsletter (page 36) when you said that Mr. Armstrong’s work (the WCG) was tried, caught fire, and burned?
Response:Others have asked about that statement! I am sorry if it was over-dramatic. What I meant was this:
He spent his last thirty years claiming he was the human head of the "one True Church", teaching people to follow the top-down government and to let Christ correct the man at the top if there was a problem. This concept of a "one True Church" organization failed. The Eternal did not correct the man at the top as promised. When Tkach began to change Armstrong’s doctrines, members went scurrying back to their Bibles to study doctrines that they had believed simply because Mr. Armstong taught them. Others accepted the "new truth" even though it was the opposite of the "new truth" Mr. Armstrong taught a few years later.
The WCG members clearly had been held together by Herbert Armstrong, not by a common understanding of the Bible or a uniform spirit working in them. About a third of the WCG members completely left Sabbatarian religion, about a third split among dozens of other groups, and somewhat less than a third are still in the WCG (though many there do not agree with the doctrinal changes). Dozens of individuals are claiming to be the successor to Herbert Armstrong, but the groups keep dividing. Yet, very few of the groups have the presence of mind to recognize that they are not unique, and then be willing to work with each other.
Finally,. Mr. Armstrong’s colleges, magazines, literature, broadcasts and nearly everything else that he built are now either gone or in a state of disrepair. While he often boasted about his record of growing 30% a year for 30 years, it looks like the decline of his organization may even break that record.
Home Fellowships Fulfill Needs
Letter:February 11, 1999
Dear Servants’ News
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your recent mailing. Do you and your family still attend one of the COG organizations or are you independent?
My wife and I attend the UCG-IA, but by reading the governmental problems in the "organizational churches", I am beginning to get frustrated. It seems to me, although I have no personal experience in the "home fellowships", that the Spirit is moving more freely in these. Is this your opinion also?
I’ve recently read some quotes from people in these fellowships (LRCOG’s) and they seem to believe that the Spirit is less "quenched" and their gifts are more utilized than when they were in either a hierarchical or non-hierarchical organization. Is this your impression also? God bless all of you at Servants’ News.
Response:Home fellowships can be places of fellowship, edification, learning, and worship. However, they are not immune to personality problems, nor are they immune to false doctrines. If you have a place to meet that is peaceful and a generally congenial group to work with, it can be a profound and edifying experience. On the other hand, it is what you make it. If people cooperate together and give their talents to the good of the group, (not expecting to just sit back and be served), it will be beneficial and worthwhile.
We usually attend with a small independent fellowship group, but also visit some corporate groups. Sharing knowledge and interacting is valuable with all. We meet in different places, as opposed to only one location. Different people contribute to the group according to their gifts (abilities), whether it be music, research, or preparing the physical meeting place.
—Norman & Marleen Edwards
Split Till There’s Splinters
Letter:April 20, 1998
[This was a message sent to the LikeMinds Internet list.]
Two small congregations in Prestonsburg, Kentucky share the same hall. I believe the CGI pastor does the dealing with the Comfort Suites and rents the hall for the entire day. UCG-IA then pays half the rent and uses the room for their services. The CGI congregation has under 10 people attending. The UCG-IA has under 20 in attendance. UCG-IA meets at 11:00 am and CGI meets 2:30 pm. I sometimes visit the CGI congregation. The CGI people wait in their cars outside the hall until the UCG-IA people leave. Since I am suspended from UCG-IA, I did the same, but fellowshipped with a friend out in the parking lot. When I was a member of UCG-IA, we would attend both services. In Prestonsburg, the churches of David Hulme and GTA also hold services. I am not sure what happened to the WCG congregation which used to be there. According to my 1993 Rand McNally Road Atlas, Prestonsburg has a population of approximately 4,000.
—John [not Dave] Havir
Response:Would it not be much more sensible for all the Prestonburg brethren to meet in one local congregation, not controlled by any national group? The total cost of hall rental and other expenses would be greatly reduced. Children could fellowship with others their own age. It could be a unified group where new believers could be nurtured. Either local evangelism, or contributions to mass evangelism would be possible. As it is now, how could any new person come to any one of these small groups with its extremely minor differences from the others and believe that it is the Church of God?
Offerings Given "Forever"?
Letter:January 16, 1999
In the November 1999 SN (p30), you said "The offerings mentioned in Deut 16:16 were animals to be sacrificed. In verse 17 it is a "gift" that’s to be given. In Lev 23:9-38 it shows a gift (firstfruits) was to be given to the priest at each harvest (three times a year). I may be wrong to believe HWA had a reason to teach this. If so, I must misunderstand Lev 23:41, the word "forever" to me would include our time now. Would you explain your reasoning on this for me?
I believe the true ministers today are spiritual Levites because of Jeremiah 33:21 and because there will be priests in the millennium.
My goal is to get it right! I can see things clearly only after I look at all sides of an issue. Thanks for helping me do that.
Response:Thank you for your sincere questions. The answers are largely Bible translation issues. When we see the word "gift" we often think of money or something wrapped in pretty paper with a ribbon. Yet it is also used to refer to offerings given in the Temple. I did make a mistake by saying "animal sacrifices". These offerings could be grain or drink offerings as well. These various offerings are described in Leviticus chapters 1-7. The Temple did not have an un-ending need for money as do most modern church organizations. Their needs were provided by the "shekel of the sanctuary" (Ex 30:11-16).
The word "forever" in Leviticus 23:41 is translated from the Hebrew owlam, (Strong’s #05769). It does not mean "eternally", but more like "to the end of an era", or "to the end of the age". When a man becomes a permanent servant, "his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever [owlam]". Obviously, the man stops serving when he is dead. Other laws show that his children do not become servants for eternity. Also, "In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel" (Ex 27:21). Did Aaron and his sons keep serving outside the tabernacle after Solomon build the temple? Does the Eternal hold descendants of Aaron responsible for not serving today when there is no tabernacle or temple? To answer your questions, are we still responsible to give offerings of Deut 16:16-17 when there is no temple, Levites, or priests to receive them?
Jeremiah 33:20-21 says "Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers."
I can see you would conclude that the above verse indicates that there must be Levites and priests serving forever and that they have been replaced by ministers now. Part of the difficulty is with the word "minster". Today, we usually think of a "minister" as someone ordained to a religious office. The Hebrew word sharath (Strongs’ #08334) means "a servant"—usually a more educated one. Joseph was a sharath to Potiphar (Gen 39:4). The Greek diakonos (often translated "servant", "minister" or "deacon" has a similar meaning). There is not one instance of someone being "ordained" to become a "minister". I will send you a copy of How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans? which explains this in detail. I believe the Jeremiah 33 scripture is fulfilled by British royalty who are descendents of David. Those serving the Queen are called "her majesty’s ministers"—educated servants—fitting the Biblical definition. Some of these ministers have the last names of Levi, Aaron, Cohen, Kaplan and others clearly traceable to Levitical familes.
These things fulfill the physical promises to David. I understand that there will again be a physical temple in the Millennium and that the descendants of Levi will again serve. Today, the body of Christ is the spiritual temple, and all believers are the priests (2Cor 6:16, 1Pet 2:5,9). If we tried to extend the Levitical system into the Church, we would find everyone able to receive tithes and no one to pay them. The New Testament contains numerous references to how the preaching of the Gospel was financed.. I am sending you a copy of How Do We Give To the Eternal? which explains these scriptures.
Letter:January 11, 1999
Hello Norm and Marleen,
Bentonville United Church of God is having Y2K classes now, thanks to your eye-opening articles last year. There is much to learn and do. [Write for "year 2000" computer crisis information published in the Dec 1997 issue of Servants’ News].
Thanks for all the good you are doing all along with Servants’ News.
—Lois Gordon, Arkansas
Response:I am glad that the article was helpful to you. We no longer plan to produce a Y2K packet because so much information is now available from other sources. We are publishing many of those sources in this issue’s Shelter in the Word. It is important to work with a community of people to plan for and work through any difficulties.
Don’t Blame HWA
January 26, 1999
Hello Norm and Staff,
Here is a little bit to help in publishing good and real spiritual works (truth). Some not so good though. We’re all still human aren’t we?
I sort of get a kick out of some letters—putting blame on HWA and his troops for causing all their problems. They have a brain. They brought on their own problems. Had they searched the scriptures on their knees seeking the Father fervently, which HWA told us to do, they would not have been brain washed.
Then there’s the idol worshippers, who still believe HWA did no wrong and are still following his teachers, idolizing them. Would you call them vicars?
I enjoy much of the literature. Thanks for trying to help.
Response:The Bible is a big book, it was originally written to people who lived thousands of years ago and spoke a different language. We all have to rely on translators, and to a lesser degree we have to rely on historians who tell us something about the people and the customs to whom the books were written. If this is all relied on the "experts" for, we would not have too much difficulty.
But some of the Bible is also difficult to understand by its own admission (Matt 13:14; 2Pet 3:16). Also, people have a tendancy to let others do difficult work for them, rather than studying themselves. And finally, there is a human tendency to want to look to a "person whom God is using", (who obviously has a good relationship with God) rather than for each individual to look directly to God. It is these problems that affected people (including myself) who put too much trust in Herbert Armstrong.
His teaching of the Sabbath, clean meats, repentance, baptism, and other doctrines were very biblical—in a way that many other church group’s teachings are not. Unfortunately, Mr. Armstrong was the only one that many of us knew who taught these things. Once we saw these truths, it was easy to accept his other teachings without going to the same effort to study them. His hierarchical government was never taught until after a person was baptized, and many of us stopped checking so diligently at that point.
While we should not blame Herbert Armstrong for our lack of study, he, a teacher, will be judged for what he taught (Matt 18:6; James 3:1). We do not have to judge him now, but any who would teach now must be very careful not to repeat his mistakes! We will be judged for it if we do!
Leaving the SDA Hierarchy
Letter:July 11, 1996
Thanks for your good response. I am looking forward to your newsletters.
I was brought up Presbyterian in New Zealand. My minister told me when I was in my early teens that the Bible was a book of myths and legends. I refused to be confirmed and stopped attending church a year or so later. But I was still looking for God. As a result of a motor-racing accident, I came face to face with death and was motivated to attend an evangelistic series presented by an SDA Evangelist (not presented as such). I was convinced by his exposition of Prophecy that the Bible is true. I took nearly a year to study the Sabbath issue and decided it was Biblical.
My family (Presbyterians) were scandalized. I went to Avondale College in Australia and graduated with a BA (Theology). I was an Adventist minister for 29 years and served in four countries in various capacities - evangelist, ministerial director, pastor, college professor.
During my first year in the ministry, (1968) I found that things were not as I had thought. The political manipulation and fear used by administrators to control pastors became apparent. The Lord led me to a knowledge of the Gospel of grace (after I had a doctoral degree—showing that scholarship is not where it is at) in 1977. In 1980, I had an experience with the Holy Spirit, and began to seek to leave Adventism. But I was convicted on the Sabbath and where does one go? I remained an Adventist pastor and returned to the USA where I thought the attitudes of Administrators were less legalistic.
In 1994, the Holy Spirit graced my ministry with many healings. The local church was thrilled by the Spirit’s ministry (exceptions: a doctor and college professor). I was already "under a cloud" as Adventist administrators say, for my grace and Gospel teachings. The healings were too much for them. They put me out of the ministry, not even allowing me to speak to the committee that fired me.
The Lord miraculously called me back into an independent ministry with several groups of Gospel Sabbatarians across the State of New York. Most are ex-SDAs who believe in the Gospel of Grace as well as in the ministry and power of the Holy Spirit for these last days. We have had enough of authoritarian religious organizations who protect their own identity and power at the expense of allowing their people to relate directly with God. We in no way seek to begin another denomination by networking with Sabbatarians. I detect a similar attitude in you.
My initial assessment of the Armstrong movement—as you describe it—is they have "thrown the baby out with the bathwater". Sabbath is both a creation and redemption motif. We keep Sabbath because it is biblical (so did the apostles) and it is a sign of righteousness by faith. We rest, having ceased from our own labors for salvation, not only in Christ, but also on the Sabbath -God’s Holy Day. The Sabbath is both a sign and a seal of Righteousness by Faith. It is the fruit of obedience, not the labor of works.
May the Lord bless you and your group. Can you share what happened with you over the Armstrong split?
—Eoin Giller, Clifton Park, New York
Response:Thanks for telling us about your background. The current leaders of the WCG rejected most of Mr. Armstrong’s truth along with his error. The major difference between the WCG now and most Protestant groups is that the WCG has services on both Saturday and Sunday in many places. When they drop their Saturday services, they will be little different than any other group. We are sending you the Servants’ News back issues so you can see what happened to us.
Why Are You Attacking HWA?
Letter:January 18, 1999
You are not concerned with the Truth of the Bible but only with your own truth or what you consider to be ‘truth’. Before me is the November issue (1998) of Servants’ News. It would appear that you are having a change of heart, may be what you write about Armstrong is just a prelude to more realistic views on the Bible and the Truths that YHWH reveals in the end-time.
The trend seems to be against the beliefs and teachings of Armstrong. You always had a good feeling for trends and you pick up this anti-Armstrong trend which serves your purpose, to lash out at Armstrong, a servant who never did you any harm but only good. When I read the title I got a little hot under the collar, and I asked myself, ‘why kick a dead horse’?
Response:I did not write these articles about Herbert Armstrong because of any "trend" but because I had been studying his writings and continued to find difficulty with them. After seeing the numerous scriptural problems with his government and tithing teaching, I began to look into his prophetic teachings and other teachings. About the same time, his works began to be available to study on CD-ROM and the Internet. I was amazed to discover how he taught that Christ was coming very soon for 50 years—and how he nearly always linked that teaching to the need to give to his organization. These letters had not affected me so much when I received them one at a time. During the 1970’s, I was a student, so I could not give much if I wanted to. During the 1980’s, the appeals for funds were less frantic and often. I thought these things were necessary because we were getting close to the end of the millennium. I was amazed to find that frantic appeals had been the standard fare for 50 years.
I would not say that Armstrong never did me any harm. He taught me much truth, but he also taught me to rely on a church corporation for truth and guidance rather than on the Holy Spirit and my own Bible study. I am not angry at him, because I voluntarily let him do it.
Letter:You were a diligent student at AC and you supported Armstrong to the hilt and until the bitter end, 1992. You never opened your mouth when you were employed by the WWCOG and even at that time you must have known that most of what he taught was not Biblical. But you did not want to endanger your fancy salary and hung in there until it became embarrassing when you quit to start your own ministry and carried on teaching the ‘truths’ of Armstrong. But now you consider the time has come to turn against Armstrong who is in the grave and can no longer defend himself. You will hurt a lot of people with your forthcoming negative comment, many will hate you for it. Again, why kick a dead horse?
Response:I feel embarassed, but no I did not understand the unbiblical teachings of Herbert Armstrong while I worked for the WCG. I would have explained hierarchical government just like Mr. Armstrong or Rod Meredith. People who openly challenged such doctrines quickly disappeared from headquarters jobs. At the time, I thought that was the right thing to do with "dissidents". I worked many more hours than required for the WCG because I believed in what it was doing at the time. I was a mainframe computer programmer for the WCG and numerous times turned down job offers for more money than I was getting there.
If no one were still following Mr. Arm strong’s teaching and methods, we would not write these Servants’ News articles. But many groups are still following. I do not believe we can be effective in teaching others until we see ourselves as "Bible believers", not former-Armstrong-followers.
Letter:You may argue that the truth has to be told. Yes, indeed, I do share this belief, but why now, why so many years after his death? You never raised your voice against Armstrong and the WWCOG when you were still in his employ. During all the years of the existence of Servants’ News you hardly ever mentioned anything against Armstrong but now you consider it opportune to go along with the rest, all those who have doubted "Armstrongism" over a long period of time. You jump on the bandwagon of the anti Armstrong pack. I was never an Armstrong admirer or adherer, YHWH showed me early on that I should not follow men but Him only.
Response:I am glad that you came to this understanding much sooner than I did. Since leaving the WCG, I have met many others who have come to see Mr. Armstrong’s difficulties. Some tried to show them to me, other were patient knowing that I would some day discover them. We have received letters about Mr. Armstrong since Servants’ News began (notice some of the dates in the last issue). Since the Eternal has given me this opportunity to help teach others, I try to teach what I believe is the most important. A lot of former WCG members are frustrated because they are trying to rebuild on Herbert Armstrong’s old foundation and it is not working. They (like I had to) need to realize that a Herbert Armstrong foundation and a Christ foundation are not the same thing. I hope these articles will show them what the Armstrong foundation really is, and then we can move on to talking about building on Christ as a foundation.
Letter:For all you know, Armstrong was YHWH’s anointed. So why kill him a second time? Even David had the good sense not to kill Saul because he was YHWH’s anointed. YHWH raised up Saul to make him king and he may have raised up Armstrong to make many see that the Sabbath is YHWH’s Holy Day and to become aware of the coming Kingdom of YHWH. Finally Armstrong blew it just like Saul did. Saul’s kingdom was taken away from him and so also Armstrong lost his church which imploded because YHWH was fed up with that church which pretended to be the ‘Church of God’ but nobody has been able to show me so far what is ‘of God" and what ‘church’ means. A name used by all denominations of this world to prove that they are not ‘of God’, but of Satan the Devil. It is high time that those who believe in YHWH’s Holy Day and the future Kingdom of YHWH should realize that they are members of the ‘Spiritual Ecclesia of YHWH’ or the ‘Spiritual Assembly of YHWH’ which name will set us apart from all other false religions of this world.
But I doubt whether this will ever be brought about before the return of Yashua ha’Messchiach and ‘we can see Him as He is’.
Response:I do not understand why you are glad to have knowledge of the need to not rely on Herbert Armstrong, but do not want that knowledge shared with others. I think it is important for them to learn it. I am aware that some etymologists trace "church" and "God" to pagan words, but the New Testament that we have preserved uses the Greek Theos for YHWH and ecclesia is also used for a pagan assembly (Acts 19:32). The Bible uses tartaroo (place of the wicked dead) from Greek mythology. Christ said that his disciples would be identified by love (John 13:35), not by the language they speak. There are groups that use the name YHWH, but do not believe in Yashuah (Jesus). There are groups who use the name that believe most of mankind are "subhumans" without the capability of eternal salvation. It is clear that the Father and Son do have specific names, and when they return, I will use whatever name in whatever langauge they want us to use.
Letter:So carry on with your diatribe against YHWH’s anointed, I am sure He will not be pleased but will hold it against you.
Response:Again, I do not understand why you do not want me to help people rely directly on the Eternal when that is what you do. The Old Testament tells of many kings who were anointed—and tells of many of their sins. Our effort is to patiently tell a truth that is not generally known. How can the Eternal hold that against me? I do not believe that the Eternal needs me to "lie" for Him so His servants can look better than they really are. We need to praise our Father in heaven and Christ, the true Head of all believers, rather than continue to build up men who claimed to be things that they were not.
Which Pope Is the Antichrist?
Howdy from Texas! I do hope that you and your family are doing well.
I just want to respond to something that was said in the "Religious and World News" section of the latest Servant’s News:
"Few believe that the current pope, John Paul II, is the ‘antichrist’, but they wonder if his successor will be a much more evil man. As a matter of fact, John Paul II himself wonders if his successor will be an evil man. More than once he has mentioned the old Catholic prophecy that there would be 265 popes, the last of which would be evil. John Paul is number 264."
My answer to this is: why not John Paul II? The fact that many "Christians" don’t expect him to be the one is a red flag in itself. And the bigger red flag is the fact that he himself is warning about the next one. WHY would he be doing this? Is YHVH using him to warn us or the world? I find that very hard to believe. Why would He do such a thing? Or is there something else going on here?
Just stop and think of this great end-time deception:
Everyone is expecting (because of their lying false prophets) an "evil" man, who "claims to be God" and leads some kind of a "world religion", to persecute "Christians" and "the church". Throw in a old demonic-inspired prophecy that has been true up until this moment ("It’s been true for centuries, so there has to be one more pope!").
Now have an old, frail pope on the scene who believes in this and wants to get the church prepared. A man who has been around for 20 years and is admired, respected, and loved around the world (except by the NWO elite); who has good character and stands up for what is good and right, the family, the cross and God, and says a number of things that even we have a hard time disagreeing with.
So what we have is a setup for a mass deception that may even fool some of those who shouldn’t be fooled. My advice is to watch him carefully and listen to what he says attentively. Don’t be distracted by all the NWO smoke and mirrors (aka: Israel’s collapsing attempt at world gov’t), but watch for the rising of the one and only: The holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (and no, it’s not the EU)!
That’s all I have for now. Take care and keep pluggin’ away,
Michael Turner, Plano, TX
Response:I would not say that John Paul could not be the Antichrist, but so far he does not fit the pattern. Most evil dictators pretend to go to church and "be good" while making a trail of serious offences for which there somehow was not quite enough evidence to convict them. I do appreciate your caution against claiming the NWO (New World Order—a largely secret conspiracy of polititions and business men from many nations) is about to take over the world and that a leader from them would be the Antichrist. I think there are such groups that would like to take over, but even they are divided and have a long way to go. Our prayers should be to do what God wants us to do now, and pray for understanding of what to do in the future.
Study Info If You Are Interested
You never printed the information that I requested to be offered for people to exercise their personal responsibility to "prove all things" in the process, denying me the insights and research of others....
[partial paragraph omitted]
You constanty present yourself as open-minded and accepting, advocate tolerance of people who believe differently on some issues than our personal views. In my case you seem to have a double standard and total lack of tolerance.
[a paragraph and a part omitted]
We are still open to new insights on calendar issues and wish to compare notes with other researchers... The main issue that I am concerned about presently, is determining the beginning of the year, considering the proper time for Pentecost is wheat harvest (Ex 34:22) which convinces me that nobody in this era has identified either correctly as per my enclosed article on the calendar.
—Myron Martin; Patriots of the Kingdom; PO Box 72119, Pine Valley P.O.; Woodbridge Ont. L3L 8N8; Canada
Response:I receive hundreds of pages of articles every month and cannot possibly publish them all. I am not treating you differently than others. There are other authors that I have never published who regularly send articles. I publish that which I believe is most true and beneficial to the brethren. For information that I believe is less useful, I may publish an address where it can be obtained (as I have done for you more than once). Other information is simply delayed so I can study it, and articles I believe are deceptive or mostly false, I do not include in Servants’ News at all. I do not call other people "unconverted" because they have different beliefs. I fellowship with many people with different beliefs. I do not try to stop anyone from reading other’s literature. But I do not believe I should use my resources to promote ideas that I believe to be incorrect. "Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23).
What Continues of OT Law?
Letter:January 10, 1999
Its been a while since I have written you, but I have been busy, nevertheless studying into different topics of Scripture. One topic I found interesting came about after being challenged on tithing by a member of a certain church organization. In studying the Scriptures to give him my answer, I found the principle of tithing seemed to be tightly interwoven with sacrifices and offerings and that all pertained to the temple and the Levitical priesthood. Then I questioned, what was the example of the apostles and disciples of Yahshua, during the first century, before the destruction of the temple? I found numerous accounts, especially in the Book of Acts, of the apostles and followers going daily to the temple to worship and teach. Although paying tithes and offering sacrifices is not mentioned except in the case of Paul in Acts 21, where James is advising him to take a vow (shaving his head) to demonstrate that he "walked orderly and kept the law." (vs.24). Were not offerings and sacrifices a part of the Nazarite vow (Num.6)? Therefore, did the apostles not continue to keep all of the law, including the temple laws of tithing, offerings and sacrificing animals after the death and resurrection of Yahshua? If they did not, would they not have been deemed guilty by their non-believing Jewish critics and thereby condemned by their actions as unrighteous, according to Hebrew law?
Response:You are quite right. If the apostles and other believers continued to worship at the temple, they must have continued to follow the Old Testament law as understood by the Jewish leaders of that time. The penalty for not observing the Sabbath or the Passover as prescribed was to be "cut off" from their people, which would have caused them to be rejected from the temple and most synagogues.
Letter:If my understanding of various church doctrine (including the so-called churches of God) are correct, the need to bring offerings and sacrifices to the temple ceased with the offering and sacrifice of Yahshua.. Was it not hypocritical, therefore, of the apostles to teach that there was no longer any need for animal sacrifice, and to themselves offer sacrifices? Or, is it our interpretation of Scripture that should be called into question. Did the sacrifice truly end with the death and resurrection of the Messiah, or when the temple was destroyed?
Of couse, the tithing laws were connected directly to the temple and the Levitical priesthood as well. Would the apostles and first believers not have continued in the practice of paying their tithes to the temple in accordance with the law? Or did the apostles accept tithes and offerings themselves instead? I can find no evidence that they did. I would think that any offering taken to help those in Jerusalem, would have been over and above their temple tithes. Would this system, therefore, not have ended also with the destruction of the temple, as did animal sacrifice?
Yet the religious organizations of the world, including the various churches of God, and some sacred name churches, just love that law. They have placed it above every other law in importance. Why did they so readily discard the messy ritual of animal sacrifice laws and keep the tithing law. The answer is obvious: $$$$$.
Response:There is no evidence of tithing to churches or their leaders in the New Testament or early church history. Even Jews outside the land of Israel did not tithe to the temple. Certainly, Gentiles were never expected to tithe. Yet today, churches which say that the Old Testament is "done away" will still quote the tithing laws from it.
Letter:We know that the practice of animal sacrifice is to be restored in the millenium, and I am sure that we all have puzzled with the question, "If Yahshua’s sacrifice ended the need for animal sacrifice, why is it to be restored in the future?" Well, the question I have for you and all the readers of the Servants’ News is, "Who was it that brought an end to sacrifice and offering? Yahshua or Satan?" The answer can be found in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 9: "26And after the 62 weeks the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the price of the people (Satan) who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27Then he (Satan) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week: but in the middle of the week he (Satan) shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering."
Yahweh [the Eternal] would have certainly had to allow Satan to do this, else he would not have been able to. Yet, allow it He did. Why? Did it have anything to do with Yahshua’s sacrifice, or was it because of the disbelief of the main body of Jews?
Response:Matthew 23:29-39 shows that destruction came upon Jerusalem because of the sins of many throughout the years, but that the particular generation at that time was very evil. Numerous other scriptures show that the body of Christ is the Temple (1Cor 3:16; 2Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21-22; Heb 3:6; 1Pet 2:5). Herbrews 9 and 10 show the limitations of the animal sacrifices—they were reminders of sin, but not able to cleanse people from sin.
Letter:What were the earliest Gentile believers taught. Were they not found by Paul, already in the synagogues, keeping the Sabbath and learning ALL the law of Moses? Of course, unless they were proselyte Jews, they would not have been allowed in the temple anyways. However, that is exactly what they were in there studying to be. Did Paul teach them contrary to this law? Would it not have been named among the accusations later brought against him by the Jews, if he did? In his defense Paul declares;
Acts 25:8: "Neither agaist the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all."
Was Paul lying to save his own neck? Or was he telling the truth?
Response:Paul continued to live according to this manner, but he never taught Gentiles to live as Jews or taught that it was required for salvation (Gal 2:14). He taught that the sacrifice of Christ was superior to all law-keeping and custom: "...If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ".
Letter:Conclusion: Christianity has brought us a long way from the original followers of Yahshua, They worshipped and taught in a Jewish temple, and/or in Jewish synagogues. They strickly observed all the laws of Yahweh and likewise taught that they should all be obeyed. Even the law of circumcision, which was called into question in Acts 15, was only set aside as a pre-requisite for Gentile fellowship with believers. As James declares in Vs. 21, " For Moses has throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath". They were already going to the synagogues learning the law of Moses. It was therefore hoped that when they were taught the law of Moses, they would submit themselves to circumcision, as did all the Prosylite Jews. In fact, in the beginning of the next chapter (16), Paul is circumcising Timothy. Why would he do this if circumcision was no longer required? He would have had to have been the worst type of hypocrite.
Response:Jesus taught his followers that they would be put out of the synagogues (John 16:2). With only a couple of exceptions, the epistles almost always refer to brethren meeting in houses. While learning the law of Moses is important, numerous scriptures make it clear that Gentiles were not expected to keep the national aspects and those that required a priesthood. Paul did not circumcise Timothy because he was teaching circumcision of Gentiles. He did it so he would not offend Jews: "Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek" (Acts 16:3).
Letter:The temple laws have been set aside temporarily because there is no temple. There also is no Levitical priesthood. If the sacrificial laws, pertaining to the templeand the priesthood, have been haulted, then so have the tithing laws. When the temple is restored, these laws will be re-instated. Anyone previous to this, who teaches that they have been given authority to accept tithes or (if the case may be), offerings and sacrifices as well, He is a fraud, a liar and a thief, for he does so outside of the law.
I hope I have kept this brief enough for you to print in your publication and look forward to any direct discussion of the matter with you or any of your readers. Please feel free to give out my name and e-mail/postal address.
—Gary Primo; 11 Elm St.; RR3; Fenelon Falls, Ont. Canada K0M 1N0;
Response:I agree that tithing pertains to a complete national system where the Eternal gave people land, a three-fold blessing in the sixth year and provided the priesthood and Levitical functions in exchange for tithes, firstfruits, and many other offerings. No scripture teaches that tithing has been transferred from the Levites to the church or ministry. I believe that the temple will be restored along with tithing for those in the land of Israel. However, at that time, it will be clear to everyone that all these things "are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ". The system that the Eternal gave to Israel will continue as an example to all nations who will, from time to time, go up to Jerusalem to see it (Zech 14:16). But it will not be practical nor necessary for people living all over the globe to offer the sacrifices required in the existing Old Testament law.