We print a representative sampling of our mailboth 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.
Liked Feast Keeping Article
Letter: December 21, 1998
Got my Servants News (Sept/Oct) today and your front-page item "How Should We Keep the Feast" was right on!
My family kept the Feast for 40 years. Finally the time came when I went alone, as a pensioner. As you stated "people without friends stayed late after services hoping to find someone who would include them in their plans" I was one, and with no luck.
Again, you stated, "there was much less emphasis on making sure that everyone was able to spend a lot of time meeting other brethren" After services, I just killed time for the rest of the day. I dont shop or watch TV to any great extent, so kill time, I did and I thought, "I dont think Id enjoy the millennium if it was like this."
After the Feast, I tried to convince those in charge to make provision at future Feasts, for the single or lonely to meet somewhere in afternoon/evenings, but to no avail. Their response was "surely with all the people you know there, theres no need to be left out". Well, who wants to foist themselves on others, when they have money to spend and you dont?
Being a pensioner who couldnt really afford a motel, restaurant meals, and a bus/plane trip to the Feast, I stayed home this year. Each day I played a taped sermon from last year. In afternoons, I reviewed my Feast notes from the fifties (when we had 3 sermons daily) to see if they were still relevant.
I didnt have to kill time; seek out company, nor eat all my meals at McDonalds. I didnt go broke. So I ask, in my case, which is the proper way to keep the Feast?
I repeat, your article was right on!
Response: Thank you for your encouragement. We hope that brethren in local congregations will try to make sure that everyone they know has a way to go to the Feast. We hope that those who organize feasts will make a fellowship-hall available for long hours for those who primarily want to talk with out brethren at the Feast.
What is the proper way to keep the Feast? The Old Testament taught people to come to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices. The Feasts were kept in the New Testament, but it does not spell out exactly how. It seems that assembling with other believers would come high on the list of importance, but I certainly recommend that you ask the Eternal to show you what He wants you to do.
Making Fringes on Your Garments
Letter: June 2, 1998
I was reading my Bible and came across Numbers 15:38. What does this mean? Why did they do this and is it required today? Thank you.
Kay Rea, Indiana
This verse commands the children of Israel to make fringes on their garments so that they, a people inclined to harlotry, can remember the law (see the next two verses). If you believe that fringes will help you remember and keep the law, then wear them. It is my understanding that many of the physical rituals (including sacrifices) of the Old Testament were not taught in the New Testament: "but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God" (Rom 2:29) If circumcision is transferred to the heart, is not the "wearing of the law" transferred to its writing in our mind? "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them" (Heb 10:16). Unfortunately, many people who claim to be "New Testament Christians" have never even read the Old Testament laws showing how to live at peace with ones neighbors, so these laws are represented neither in their minds nor on their garments!
What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Letter: November 22, 1997 :
I, being new to the web am just learning of your monthly news letter. Ive enjoyed both reading your articles and hearing from various groups. It pleases me to know Gods people are still out there and that all hope is not lost. Though scattered and seemingly powerless for the moment, Gods people are alive and awakening to the evils of the day. I thank you for the reassurance.
Being a former member of the WCG for many years myself, might make my question for you seem strange. However, I would like a answer from you. My question is, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Everyone seems to declare they are preaching it. That, the gospel is what sets them apart from the others. Sometimes I believe weve used the term so much weve lost contact with what it is.
God says to seek; preach; and pray for the gospel of Christ. So, I ask you to define in length what is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
[E-mail without name]
Response: The scripture says Christ and his apostles preached the Gospel. Therefore, everything they preached, to some degree, was the Gospel. The gospel, defined at length, is Matthew 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. The scripture does not spell out sections that are "not the gospel". There are many "Gospel of" phrases in the Bible: "Gospel of the Kingdom", "Gospel of Grace", "Gospel of Christ", "Gospel of God", "Gospel of peace", etc. We are to live by "every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God".
Obviously we cannot learn all of the Bible in a daywe need to learn it piece by piece. Preachers should learn to "give meat in due season"to teach what their listeners need when they need it (Matt 24:45). When people study, they should concentrate on their personal areas of need rather than always studying obscure theological questions. However, it seems to me that if I were to create a very narrow definition of "the Gospel", it would only serve to encourage people to study and teach that little portion of the Bible that I label "important" (the Gospel) and to miss out on the other things that the Eternal has for them. "...man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Deut 8:3).
He Wants Us Following Him
Letter: February 2, 1999
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Norm Edwards,
Thanks so much for your continued work of helping Gods people. God keeps knocking down walls that the self-exalted leaders keep setting up. If God be God, follow Him and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
We do not have to have mans permission to do that, or his permission to use the gifts God gives to each of His children. We are not to look to the so-called top leaders, to give us as they see fit.
I think God continues to winnow and sift and shake up to see who will look to and follow him. We do not have to tremble and fear, and go to some man asking, "what shall I do?" I have been guilty of that in the past.
Thanks again. Enclosed is a small donation to help with postage.
Response: You are right. We do not need to ask some man "what should we do", but we each need to ask the Eternal "show us what to do".
Comments on Government Paper
Letter: January 26, 1999
Greetings to you all from Eastern Canada.
I hope things are going well for you there.
I am a seeker of Gods truth and a newcomer to the faith (baptized July 1996). I have been left somewhat disappointed and confused as a result of my involvement with church "organizations" over the past two and a half years or so. (CGI and then Global). Looking for answers and in an open frame of mind, I have just finished reading the article entitled "How Does The Eternal Govern Through Humans?" by Norman S. Edwards. I have found it extremely interesting and enlightening and would like to extend my thanks to Mr. Edwards for writing it and making it available.
I am a subscriber to the Journal and I would like to request a free copy of the November 1998 issue of your newsletter "Servants News" which you have offered to its readers. I think it is important that the apparent extra-biblical traditions that are commonplace amongst the Churches of God be questioned and held up to the scrutiny of Gods Word. If they dont stand the testwe shouldnt be adhering to themregardless of which "church leader" says we should. It is amazing how much we can take for granted! [literature request omitted]
May we seek Gods guidance in all things and be receptive to His lead, trusting in our Savior to administer and build His Church. God with God.
Response: For years, the WCG taught that members were in training to serve under Christ in the Millennium. Some actually said that we had to obey humans in imperfect government so that Christ could be sure that we will obey His perfect government. Everyone was encouraged to obey the person "over them". Use of the Bible in personnel and business matters was almost non-existent. Now that I think about it, is not that the way that most government and big-business employees are trained? Are not most wars and atrocities committed by men and women who will simply obey the person "above them" rather than think about what is morally or Biblically right?
Not in Kingdom Unless Forgive GTA
Letter: January 6, 1999
I wanted to write today to request something I saw offered in your newspaper. [request omitted.]
I am with the ICG (Intercontinental Church of GodGTA) and support Garner Ted Armstrong. I realize that you have nothing good to say about him and always are negative in your attitude towards GTA.
But you fail to realize all the good work he has done in the past and the good work he is doing today. Im getting his TV program on in this area and put ads in the papers to let people know about it as well as offer a free booklet.
People here have been in the dark for so long and now they are finally going to hear the light of Gods truth.
Ted Armstrong said something very accurate and true in a sermon called "Signs to Watch" (6/22/98). He said many in the churches of God will never be in Gods Kingdom unless they overcome a major stumbling block, and that stumbling block was him.
Unless they are willing to forgive him, they will never be in the Kingdom of God. I also realize the churches of God (both members and ministers) including the PCG (Philadelphia Church of God, founded by Gerald Flurry) are afraid of Garner Ted, and their leadership wont allow their members to listen to him for a variety of reasons that I could list.
If leaders, ministers, and members of Gods true church are refused entry into Gods Kingdom for the above-mentioned reason, then they have only one person to blame for thatthemselves.
Alex Nicholson, Nova Scotia
Response: If there were nothing good to be said about Garner Ted Armstrong, he would not be a point of contentionhe would be ignored by the "Church of God" brethren. The truth of the matter is:
1) Garner Ted Armstrong preaches a lot of truth in a way that people can understand.
2) He is one of the most, possible the most gifted speakers in the Sabbatarian movement today.
3) He is a very charismatic and likeable person.
So why, then, do we not support this "teacher of truth"? Because the Bible gives clear instructions on who should be leaders in His Church in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The Eternal wants to be represented by people who "walk the walk", not just "talk the talk". If these Bible chapters do not apply to Garner Ted Armstrong, we would like to know why they are even in the Bible? Does someone have to be a mass murderer or a professional gangster in order to be disqualified as a Church leader? Or can these people claim repentance and go on preaching?
The truth is the reputation of Garner Ted Armstrong will be forever known through Geraldo Riveras TV Show and many articles written with firsthand testimony. It is widely accepted that he has "a bad report from without". He has not openly admitted what he did, but continually lied to cover it up, including lying directly to me (See Dec 1997 article, Feb 1996 letters section and July 1997 news section of Servants News).
Will people be kept out of the kingdom because they have not forgiven Garner Ted Armstrong? This is possible. The "unforgiving" and the "sexually immoral" are mentioned together in Romans 1:28-32. I forgive Garner Ted Armstrong for lying to me and for bringing a bad name to Sabbatarian Bible teachers.. I hope others have forgiven him also. But the Eternal does not need any one teacher so badly that He must ignore His own instructions in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
Truth is not learned from only one source as so many of us have been taught. We could all learn a lesson from J. Vernon McGee, a man with a radio ministry called Through the Bible based in Pasadena, California. He reached the point where he felt indispensable, that listeners needed him to teach them. Later, he found out he had cancer and realized that his ministry could end soon. He was greatly humbled during all the treatments and prayers of others on his behalf. After he recovered, he realized that God did not "need him" so badly.
Norman and Marleen Edwards
Eating Shrimp or Mushrooms
Letter: January 19, 1999
Thank you very much for the subscription to Servants News, which I find both interesting and entertaining(!). I have followed the Worldwide Church of God since the 1980s, and never cease to wonder, at all that has occurred within that organization within such a short period of time. Your publication has opened my eyes to many other things going on within the off-shoots from the original organization. It seems that as doctrinal and organizational changes continue to accelerate, the momentum of these changes causes the people in these groups to fly apart.
I have several questions which are not extremely urgent but which have been bothering me for some time. I read some time ago (I do not recall where) that we should not eat mushrooms because they do not fall within the group of "green plants" given for food. (Gen 1:30 and Gen 9:3). I assume that "green plants" refers to plants which produce chlorophyll, a key component in the photosynthesis process which drives the plant metabolism. Photosynthesis uses solar energy to liberate the oxygen that we breathe from water molecules. The remaining hydrogen from the water molecules becomes part of the sugar molecules that supply energy to our bodies. Chlorophyll is truly a wonder of creation, but should plants not containing chlorophyll be rejected as food? Mushrooms, for example, are excellent sources of many important nutrients and good substitutes for or complements to meat in many dishes. To my knowledge, mushrooms are not identified specifically in Leviticus as a food that we should not eat. Do you have any more specific information relating to whether we should eat mushrooms?
Also, I am curious whether shrimp should be excluded from the diet. Three times Leviticus 11 states that "fins and scales" are requirements for edible fish. Leviticus calls living things in the water which do not have fins and scales "abhorrent". To my knowledge, shrimp have scales, but do not have dorsal fins. Also, they have the same general body structure as the crawfish and lobster, which are definitely not edible because they have no scales. Therefore, it appears that shrimp are not edible, however I have read in the Jerusalem Post of special jumbo shrimp being imported to Israel for feast celebrations. Personally, I believe that shrimp should be left as food for our depleted maritime fish populations, which is what I assume the Creator intended them for.
Do you know of a reference on edible foods written from the biblical perspective? I would like to obtain one, if it exists, and I am sure there are many people who would also be interested. I am very interested in this subject because the more I learn about the Creators directives, the more I can see that they are part of a comprehensive plan to make our lives the best that they can be.
[Literature request deleted]
Thank you again for your efforts in pre -paring and distributing the Servants News, which I believe, fills an important need.
Jeff Blaney, Georgia
Response: Thanks for your questions. I do not have an authoritative reference to exactly which foods are clean and which are not. I have read several in the past. Giving and Sharing (888-687-5191) has one available. After a while, one learns about enough good foods to eat that when some uncertain, obscure fish or bird is offered for food, it is easier to simply not eat it than it is to do more investigation. I certainly agree with your conclusion that shrimp is not clean.
I have heard the argument that mushrooms should not be eaten because they are not "green plants" or because they are not an "herb that yields seed" (Gen 1:29). I think it is important to realize that the Bible never talks about clean or unclean plants in the way it talks about meats. The Bible mentions "green plants", which is the usual color of plants, but does not specifically say "plants must be green to eat them". The grain used in offerings was dried grain which is no longer green. Other plants, such as purple cabbage, never are green, but are very similar in content to green cabbage. Technically speaking, mushrooms have spores instead of seedsbut, I do not believe that Genesis was trying to make a distinction between spores and seeds. I think the meaning of Genesis 1:29 is that we should not eat plants that are not healthy enough to reproduce. The fact that some mushrooms are poisonous does not mean we should eat none of them, some green plants are poisonous (tomato leaves, potato leaves, castor beans, etc.). We are sending you Steven Collins paper on clean meats.
Ezekiel 34 Applies To Ministers
Letter: February 1, 1999
Hello Mr. Edwards,
The various Church organizations keep on dividing and subdividing as witnessed by the latest in Global thus adding to the prophecy of Daniel that the power (unity) of the Holy People would be completely shattered (NKJ).
It seems like the higher echelon of the ministry in these various organizations are the ones doing the scattering, as they try to gain power for themselves. When you set up a church like a worldly corporation structure, you can expect the same results, coups, takeovers, back-stabbing, slander, malice, deceit as each tries for the CEO position. In turn, the CEO fires or demotes any who pose a threat to his sovereignty as he wants to maintain his position of rulership.
In this struggle for power by the upper echelon ministers, the people become like pawns in a chess game or soldiers (GIs) in war games, theyre expendable, as long as there is enough left to support the Kings and their agenda (doing the work) it seems the carnage will continue.
Many have assumed Ezekiel 34 applied to worldly ministers. Read it in context with our situation today. Could it apply to Gods church today with the breakup of WWCG? It may or may not apply, but it sure fits some calling themselves shepherds today.
Response: The expressions "My flock" and "My sheep" appear numerous times in Ezekiel 34. These are obviously the Eternals people. The "bad shepherding" in this prophecy is not set in any specific time or placeit applies to all bad shepherding throughout history. (The setting up of David as prince is probably Millennial.) I am often amazed at how prophetic teachers try to show that there is a specific fulfillment for nearly all propheciesand then also try to show that most prophecies are going to be fulfilled in their life-times. Did not the Eternal prophesy anything for other generations?
While many of these ministers have good intentions, their mistaken ideas of the need for a big corporation to "do the work" does lead to the political maneuvering that you describe. One of the sad fruits of this is that the leaders of todays organizations are mostly those who are the best politicians. Men in organizations who are gifted as teachers or pastors are often kept "in the background" lest all the people find out and demand these gifted people as leaders.
Let us not forget the encouraging aspects of Ezekiel 34: "And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats" (v17). This seems remarkably similar to Christs judgment "as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats" in Matt 25:31-46. We can count on Christ to reward people for every good work, and to justly deal with those who misused others for their own political goals. Some of those judgments may be coming sooner rather than later as church organizations fracture to the point that they can no longer pay men who know no other job than that of a corporate minister.
Compare Armstrong/Meredith Start
Letter: March 29, 1999
Your presentation of statistics in your latest SN about 45 (no previous contact) baptisms and 500 (previous contact) baptisms is misleading.
If you compare the first 5 years of the Radio Church of God to the first 5 years of Global, I believe the numbers would probably be in Globals favor.
It took Mr. Armstrong years of broadcasting before thousands and thousands were called, but his perseverance (one of the Seven Laws of Success) paid off.
Do an objective comparison with the Radio Church of God and the first 5 years of Global! You might be surprised!
Response: Actually, your proposed comparison of the Global Church of God and the Radio Church of God baptisms would be misleading. Herbert Armstrong started his ministry in the depression, with only himself and his wife to work, a few tiny radio stations, and a hand-made magazine. Mr. Armstrong was just coming to a knowledge of many Bible truths and had no one to help him.
When Rod Meredith started the Global Church of God, he had access to dozens of ministers and thousands of members who were already taught by the Worldwide Church of God. He had tithes and offerings pouring in from all over the world. Within six months of starting, he had over a dozen full-time workers, a monthly newsletter, a radio broadcast on numerous stations, and dozens of local churches and video groups. I know because I was there from the beginning. I brought my writing and computer skills to the GCG, just like so many other WCG members brought their skill to the GCG. Mr. Meredith readily acknowledged this.
Herbert Armstrong had some Church of God Seventh Day members who helped him, but they had almost no background in "doing a big work". I do not know exactly how many baptisms Herbert Armstrong performed in his first five years. However, the amount of money and skilled people available to Mr. Armstrong was almost "nothing" in comparison to what Mr. Meredith had when he started the GCG.
Why was the GCG, with all the years of experience and skill, unable to produce so much more than Herbert Armstrongs early ministry? I believe it was because Herbert Armstrong was willing to answer public questionswhatever people wanted to askwhen he started. He spoke to people in their own language and answered the questions that they had. He may have given some wrong answers at times, but at least he was not afraid to answer. Today, most leaders of church of God organizations will not publicly answer questions because they know that there are some questions that they cannot answer. Therefore, they are seen by many as teachers of a "dead mans doctrines", rather than as a living Bible-teaching ministry.
Loving Attitude, Not Organization
Letter: March 27, 1999
Dear Norman Edwards
I refer to the article about Church of GodAIC moving to isolation in the December 1998 issue of Servants News [page 8].The person who told you he had concerns over the ministry of COG-AIC sounds like he could easily be a member of the congregation I attend. Our pastor says the UCG literature is not inspired by God and that there are evil spirits at work in the writing (he said that some time ago just about the time we left UCG). Some of the members of the congregation are very much against the other Churches as well, and when 4 of us visited UCG they regarded us as visiting the enemy and being disloyal. There are a few here who regard anything to do with UCG as supporting something wrong.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with attending another church group so long as they have the basics right and a good attitude. It is my understanding that the PCG, for example, does not like people from other groups attending so I wont go there. But I have been made very welcome when visiting GCG in Belgium and UCG in Bricket Wood, England (at the site of the former Ambassador College). I also have attended Churches of God UK who are associated with CEM. I found nothing wrong in any of these groups, all I saw were Gods people trying to do right, they were friendly and warm, and the attitude was good, better than that of some in COG-AIC.
What I find strange in this is that whenever I hear David Hulmes preaching or read his writings, his attitude is very good, his teachings very helpful and true, yet there are those who claim to be a part of the church he administers who do otherwise. Could it be that with some, attending church is nothing more than an intellectual exercise? I think David Hulme has it right, but the local ministers and some members have yet to catch the vision.
I dont mind whether our local congregation is with COG-AIC, UCG, GCG or CEM, so long as we have an open attitude to people, a loving and caring attitude. We need to build bridges between the different church groups rather than run down the others because they dont happen to agree at least 99% or more with us.
David King, London [name withheld]
Response: I have heard similar thinking from others. If we cannot get along with other groups that are 99% similar, how can we ever expect to teach others who may start much further away doctrinally.
Many have also noticed an apparent discrepancy between a church organizations official policies and the way they are treated in a congregation: the organization claims that visiting other groups is O.K., but those who do so are relieved of duties in their local congregation. Part of this can probably be attributed to "over zealous" or maybe even "dictatorial" local leaders who know that one of the best things they can do to please their headquarters is to keep their attendance figures high. What might happen if members "visited another group and liked it"? They might leaveand others might find out and they might leave. Therefore, punishments are handed out to those who visit to completely discourage the practice.
The second reason for this headquarters/local congregation discrepancy sounds more sinister, but has happened to me more than once, and I have heard of it happening to others. The full concept is explained in the famous historical book "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli. In brief, leaders have a tendency to want to maintain a kind, loving, "good guy" image, and have others do their dirty work for them. I know of specific cases where a church organization leader decided to disfellowship someone, but then ordered the lowest ranking local minister to do the disfellowshipping without letting it be known who gave the order. In some cases, people never were unable to find out who decided to disfellowship them and why. It seems that most leaders who do this are not intending to be "bad", but feel that they must do it "to protect the Work".
Probably, the leaders (and nearly all of us members) need a lot more faith that the Eternals work can be done with His methods: we can tell the truth, confess our faults to others, admit we have been wrong in the past, admit we "dont know" on some questions, etc., and still get his work done. We do not need to sin to make His Work look better.
Look at Fruits of Church Leadership
Letter: December 14, 1998
Thanks again for another great issue of Servants News. Im sure by now you have heard of the recent firing of Rod Meredith from Global. How ironic that the very ones Rod Meredith termed "Gods true ministers" have been the very ones to oust him. If memory serves, all the "ministers" who came with Global were the ones with the "fire in their bellies". And wasnt Global the most "reliable branch" of Gods Church? Now he calls them dissidents.
Several areas have had their local battles with ministers in recent times only to be told they were to obey their ministers. The people were not allowed to go over their ministers heads, but were forced either to submit or leave. Yet, what did those at headquarters do? They disagreed with Rod Meredith, who hired them in the first place, and fired him. More of "do as I say, dont do as I do".
How often have we been told by leaders to look at the fruits to know who is of God? As I look at the fruits of the leaders in the organizations, I see many things.
Fruits of the Ministers
First of all, I see men who wouldnt hit a lick at a snake living off many poor people. I see soft, tender hands held out for money as hard, rough, calloused hands turn it over to them. (When a living thing lives and feeds off another living thing, we call it a parasite).
I see power plays, politics and greed among those who are fighting to be in control. I see childishness as they play a spiritual game of "king of the hill". I see lack of cooperation and spiritual tug of war. And they dare to call those of us who have withdrawn from their organizations chaotic.
If anyone has ears to hear and eyes to see, its not hard to see who is in confusion, chaos and anarchy. Who has caused it? The leadersthe so-called "ministers"! Can this be denied?
Probably most of the members of Global were fairly content and were willing to give and take with each other in order to fellowship and do a combined work. But, alas, the leaders once more became disruptive and chaotic and disagreeable. So now, once more the people must choose whom they will follow. Once more, they will split in order to follow the one or ones they must decide God is truly with.
The members would be more than content to let differences alone in order to fellowship and live in peace. But, the leaders will not allow it. There is too much power and too much money in the hands of little men with too much human nature. And they claim to be servants of God? God forbid that we would have to be subject for eternity to the likes of their rule.
Fruits of Spirit and Flesh Compared
The fruits we are to look for are "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance". Gal 5:22-23.
The fruits of the flesh are "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and the like. . .they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God". Gal 5:19-21.
Now which set of fruits do we see as we observe the leadership in the organizations? Let the words of Gal 5:19-23 give the answer.
Is this judgment against obedience to God? Did He not say, "by their fruits you shall know them"? Of necessity, the fruits must be discerned.
Is there love shown among the leadership? Where is the joy, peace, and gentleness? One "minister" recently was asked not to participate in a church family weekend. Why? They didnt say but he was not of their organization. Were they afraid he would taint them? Most of the leaders would rather the members in their groups would not go church hopping. Why? Are they afraid of losing control?
Too much of the fruits of the flesh are, and have been evident in this amazing, elite little clique called, improperly, the ministry.
What Would Jesus Do?
If Jesus were on the earth today in human form, what would he say about all of this? Thats an easy question to answer. It seems like he had to deal with the same attitude among his disciples. His address to them (and should be to us) is found in Matt 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, and Luke 22:25-27.
Matthew 20:25 "You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you (but it is so and has been so among the hierarchy of religions) but whosoever will be great among you let him be your servant (as minister should read). And whosoever shall be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto (served) but to minister (serve) and to give his life a ransom for many".
Jesus was a true servant. He was not a parasite who lived high while those He served lived low. He did not exercise dominion and authority over his disciples as these scriptures attest. They should also make people think twice about the husband having rights from God to exercise authority and dominion over his wife. But thats another story.
Luke 22:25-27 This scripture adds a little more depth to Jesus words to his striving disciples concerning who was to be the greatest: "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But you shall not be so, but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger and he that is chief as he that does serve. For whether is greater, he that sits at meat or he that serves? Is it not he that sits at meat? But I am among you as he that serves".
Where would Jesus be if He were physically here today? Among us, busy serving us! He certainly would not be in the middle of all the squabbling, fighting, and bickering. If He would not be in it physically, what makes us think Hes there in spirit?
Do Ministers Serve or Rule?
If all these "ministers" in all these organizations had the same desire to serve as Jesus did, there would be peace, love and joy present. No one would desire to exercise lordship and authority over anyone. There would be cooperation even if everyone didnt understand everything alike. Yet we see "the kings of the Gentiles" alive and well in the "leadership" of the various organizations who claim to be the churches of God.
We must judge the fruits. Next time someone says these words to prove their group and its leader is of God, I will ask them to compare their fruits to those listed in Galatians and to the words of Jesus in Matt 20:25, Mark 10:42 and Luke 22:25.
Thanks again for Servants News. I look forward to each issue.
Tawanda Ray, Alabama
Response: Your letter does a good job of describing the modern day manifestations of an age-old religious problem: People want to prove that their group is the "right group" so that they can be "right" before God simply by being in their group. Yet the Bible says nothing about favorable judgment for being in the "right group", but much about judgment for what we do with our lives.
Working Together Yes, Merger No
Letter: December 21, 1998
There have been unofficial talks by senior ministers of UCG-AIA and Global working together or getting together. A). Working together, and B). Merging UCG-AIA and the remnant of Global. Beneficial or not?
My opinion on this is brethren fellowshipping together and joint socials are good; exchanges of ministers is good; also joint services also can be good. Joint booklets are good. Getting the work out together, yes this is a good example. To outsiders and peaceful fellowships, why should brethren always be separated? We need more of this.
But, merging to one governance, I feel would be negative. Why? 1) There would be arguments about which way forward. 2) Many members came to be associated with these bodies because they liked the governance of that particular body. Examples: Indianapolis for many UCG people and Globals original booklet on government, for some Global people.
Therefore forcing a different style of governance upon them would cause unrest upon brethren, and arguments We would see a number leaving and going to [other groups?] and some disbanding our basic doctrines altogether.
Working together: Yes, Merger: No.
David & Anne Young, Scotland
Response: You have well explained the difference between unity and "ecumenicism". The ecumenical movement seeks to unify religions from the "top down"leaders negotiate over governance and doctrine, and craft a policy whereby two or more groups can work together. The followers in individual groups are often bewildered: The other church groups that used to be their enemy are now their friend. Unity is the practice of individuals willing to accept that the Eternal may be working with others even though their practices and beliefs may vary.
We have also heard of merger talks between the Global Church of God and the UCG-IA, but the situation brings up a number of problems. If members have been highly discouraged from attending each others services for 4 years, how can it suddenly by alright for them to merge? Will the groups go over their past tapes and literature to remove all of the negative comments they made about each other? What about members who were "relieved of duties" for attending the other group? Will their duties now be restored?
The deciding factors will probably be economic and political realities. The GCG is saddled with debt and expensive long-term paymentsit is running out of money to pay its staff and ministry. They own the rights to all the World-Ahead magazines, TV programs, and the GCGs literature. But most of that prominently features Rod Mereditha man whom they no longer want to promote. Most of this literature is of little value to either the GCG or the UCG-IA. The UCG-IA would have to run it all through their literature approval process in order to use it. The UCG-IA is financially stable, but had to cut many ministers back to 1/2 or 3/4 salary in order to remain so. Would its elders vote to take on other ministers or high-paid headquarters staff? Probably not. Furthermore, the UCG-IA would need to modify its constitution in order to merge with the GCG or to place GCG leaders on their board.
From a physical stand-point, the most sensible thing is for the GCG to merge back with the LCG (Meredith) so that all of their literature can be used again. That would essentially be an admission that the GCG was wrong to vote out Dr. Meredithbut it might be easier for the GCG leaders to do that than to let the GCG go bankrupt. If the latter happens, individual GCG ministers with large congregations (that can pay a ministers salary and more) will either join UCG-IA, other groups or become independent.
The whole process would be much less traumatic if there were no controlling "church organizations", but stable local congregations which worked together to produce literature and TV programs. May Christ grant understanding of this situation to each member who is seeking Him.
Learned Much Since Leaving WCG
Letter: January 7, 1999
Enclosed is a small donation to help with the cost of putting out Servants News.
My husband and I left Worldwide Church of God in January of 1995 and attended with Global. Then when in November Global split, we havent gone with either group. We still meet with the same small group but we are all of like mindwe dont want to go with either Global or Living Church of God.
We understand that Gods church is not a corporation. So far, we are listening to tapes of sermons given by Harold Smith in Washington, and the local men give sermonettes and do the rest of the service.
We like Servants News and the fact that you try to be fair in your assessment of what has happened and is still happening.
We have learned so much new truth since leaving Worldwide and can see Gods hand in many different groups of His people.
Thank you for all the work you, your wife, and staff do to help Gods people.
Response: Thank you for your encouraging letter. We hope that some corporate church leaders will read it and listen. When I worked for the GCG, we would occasionally get letters like yoursinterested in God but not the corporations. We (including myself) would usually say something like "theyre in rebellion against Gods government" or "they dont want to do a Work" or "God is no longer using them". I hope that these leaders can learn to see beyond their own current organization.
We also hope that independent believers will not forget that they still have significant work to do, even though they are no longer being badgered to give or participate in church programs. They do not need to rely on a man to tell them, but they do need to ask the Eternal to show them.
Open Letter to GCG/LCG
Letter: January 3, 1999
An open letter to both the Global & Living Churches of God:
Ive read all the letters (the garbage) from both sides, and Im really not impressed. Neither seems to have a Christian attitude, its just "he said", "she said"like a bunch of little kids. Wheres the humility that one would expect from the very ones that we are looking to for spiritual guidance?? Anybody with an ounce of brains can see the politics involved in this whole thing.
I see what I feel is a problem that really needs to be addressed, and the sooner the better (my opinion). That of the understanding of the word "work". I think the real problem here is not totally one of Government, but one of which direction the Church should be headed! By this I mean, do we "Try" to preach the Gospel to the world (a sick and dying world, one that God does "not" care about at this time) or prepare the Church to be acceptable as the Bride of Christ??
Most (even some ministers) still think of the word "Work", in the way that it was pounded into us under Mr. Armstrong, to Preach the Gospel in all the World to the end. Where in scripture does it say this? This is not possible!! Maybe we really need to look into what Truly constitutes the Workwhat the "Work" is at this time, the end Timewhat the Church should be doing at this timewhere we are in time!
Mr. Armstrong, ushered in the Phila delphia Era. The Philadelphia Era was given an open door according to Rev 3:7. In 1981, I think the March issue of the WN, Mr. Armstrong stated something like: I think when I die, the work that God called me to do will be finished. God gave Mr. Armstrong an "Open Door" to go to (in) the World and Preach, Proclaim, and Publish, the Gospel, Rev. 3:8. In verse 7, it states "he (God) that opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens". Obviously showing that there will be a time when "He" (God) will open a Door which no one (man or otherwise) can shut, (this was the time while under Mr. Armstrongs leadership) the other side of the coin is that God (can) will close that Door and no "man" can reopen it. At Mr. Armstrongs death that Door was closed, and man, no matter how much he tries, will not reopen it. That door "is" closed!
The Fruits produced by the Church since his death is proof enough. 13 yrs, multiple millions of dollars spent on radio and T.V., with what as a result? 45 or so people called, that had no previous contact with Gods Church! How many have been lost? At Mr. Armstrongs death the Church (body of Christ) was approximately 135,000+ strong, now 13 yrs later, the body (in all the off-shoots) may be as high as 30,000,+, this is a loss of over 100,000 people. Does this sound like an open Door? Does this sound like God is blessing the Church? Does this look like it is bearing fruit? I think not!
The Philadelphian "Church"?, during the Laodicean Era, has a different "work" to do! I think some of the Churches, splinter groups, right now are just spinning their wheels trying to reopen that doortrying to regain the membership they once had instead of moving on with the job at hand, which should be preparing the Church to be the Bride of Christ.
Now the way most seem to read the statement in Matt 24:14 is "to preach the Gospel to the whole World". Ive heard this time and time again, even from H.Q., but thats not what it says. It says, "in" all the world!! (KJV) There is no way possible, to preach the Gospel "to" the whole World, it cant physically be done. Scripture backs this up.
First you have a scripture that states "a famine of the word" (Amos 8:11). How can you have famine of the word if the gospel is preached till Christ returns? Then you have the Two Witnesses. They too, will be doing a end time work, "not" the Church. Matt 24:14 will not even be completed by the two witnesses, as it wont be complete until after the 7th Trump! Scripture goes on to say (Rev. 10:11) that an Angel will prophesy again before, peoples, nations, and kings. Showing that an Angel at the very end will also be doing the "Work", again "not" the Church. God will not allow the Church to do something (work) He (God) has scheduled for an Angel, the two witnesses or anyone else. With this in mind how is it possible for the Church to be doing the "Work" like it was being done by Mr. Armstrong, to the very return of Jesus Christ?? Matt 24:14 really reads "and this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached "in" all the world (not "to" all the world) for a witness in all nations!"end of thought. Then it goes on to say, "after" some period (possibly years) of time, "then the end will come".
Its very obvious that the 50 some odd years that God used Mr. Armstrong to preach in the World, was through this open Door, and then it was closed, at his death! And no matter how hard Man (or who-ever) tries, it will not be reopened. Theres no reason to reopen it, the Gospel was taken (by Mr. Armstrong) around the world (for the first time). Thats all Matt 24:14 says "preached in all the world", not "to" all the world, which again, is a physical impossibility. How about all of those who died before Christ, and all the 3rd World nations now in our time, that will never hear the Truth, or the Gospel?? Theres no way that Matt 24:14 can mean that the Church will preach the Gospel to the whole World, or till Christ returns!!
Now this is not to say that the Church shouldnt be doing a Work, it should be warning the Ezekiel warning, and "most" importantly, "feeding the flock"!! I feel the Church (the Body of Christ) at this time should be getting itself ready to be the bride of Christ!! This is the "work" the Philadelphians should be doing at this time! Mr. Armstrong told us many times"I laid the foundation, now you build on it", he also said that we should be getting the spots and wrinkles out, out of what?? You only get spots and wrinkles in clothing. If we are told we are to be the bride of Christ, it is very obvious that the Spots and Wrinkles are in the Wedding Gown. We the Church (the Body of Christ) need to be getting these Spots and Wrinkles out!
Did Christ baby-sit the people or did He tell it like it was?? The people of His day either accepted what He had to say or walked away. If the Ministry keeps showing (telling) the people what to do, and when to do it, leading them by the hand so to speak, they will never be able to see whats really going on. There are still people in Gods Church, both in Living and Global, that dont know why they left the WCG, they are just following men. Let the chips fall where they may. When is the Church (ministry) going to quite treating us like a bunch of babies. "Wheres the Beef?" We need meat, not milk! For example, we go to the Feast every year and spend 2/3 of the days being told why we are there. Then Christian living Sermons. Then they lie to us about the conditions of the Churches so as not to offend the $$s. Arent we adults? Do we need to be treated with kid gloves? I think not! If there are people in the Church that cant handle the Truth, or whats going on, "so be it", then they better grow up or move on. If they dont know why they are here, they dont belong here! There are "no" corporations in Gods eyes, only those who have His Holy spirit and are part of the spiritual body of Christ!
The solid "Bible based" people who (are becoming fewer and fewer) do read the scriptures and discern the Truth and can easily see the error in what the Shepherds are trying to do in both the Global and the Living, and the other COGs.
These Churches, GCG, LCG, are (by their childish antics) losing those who are not well grounded in the real understanding of Gods Truth. This "is" the fault of those Shepherds, those who are to busy playing politics, "I want to lead", "No, I want to", from both sides, the Brethren are the ones who are getting the short end of the stick!
Wake up people before its to late!! You people need to make a decision as to where "you are"not which group to belong to! Its time you stand up for yourselves.
Response: We completely agree with your observations on the lack of success of the various COGs. We also agree that Christ has the plan to preach to Gospel to the worldno man or organization has that job.
We would hope that most Church of God brethren would realize that the Eternal is not greatly blessing big work efforts, but is, in some places, drawing people to congregations where they have friends and relatives. The worst thing about many of these local congregations is that there are so many sermons and so much debate about loyalty and government, that people actually leave because there is no spiritual food for either the long-time member or the new believer.
We disagree with your interpretation of Revelation 3, claiming that Herbert Armstrong's organizations were the "Philadelphia church". It is characterized by brotherly love and having a "little strength". Mr. Armstrong probably had more money and media power concentrated in one place than any other Sabbatarian group. From the 1950s onward, the organization was not characterized by brotherly love, but by the false concept that Mr. Armstrong was head of the government of God on earth and anyone who disagreed with his decision was disagreeing with God and should be put out of the church and was forever lost if they did not repent and come back.
Nevertheless, we agree that Mr. Armstrongs mission has not fallen to any successor. Mr. Tkach, whom he named, reversed many of Mr. Armstrong's doctrines and none of the other groups is growing anywhere near the way the WCG did. None of the others who claim to be his successor are doing a similar work. We believe that no one should try to repeat Mr. Armstrong's work. His prophetic mistakes, and his non-biblical badgering of co-workers for more money are mistakes that all of us should know to avoid.
We hope those in the Church of God groups will read your letter and learn. We have talked to dozens of people who decided to drop out of both when the GCG/LCG split.
Comments on HWA Issue
Letter: December 30, 1998
Hello Again Norman Edwards and Staff:
Its been awhile since I last wrote to Servants News, but after reading your latest publication of Nov. 98, I decided to write to you again to "thank you" for finally giving me something to read in your publication that actually took Herbert Armstrong to task on some of his erroneous writings and teachings, etc. Now that your publication has "opened the door" to your readership concerning the obvious, maybe now you will consider publishing the articles and letters and testimony etc. of those in your readership, whose lives have been messed up royally because of the wrong teachings of HWA. How about it Norm?
Was Herbert W. Armstrong the Elijah of Malachi 4:5? Anyone with just half-a-brain knows that HWA was no Elijah! Only the naïve and the brain-dead think that he was! I asked Garner Ted Armstrong at a Feast site one year, if he thought that his Dad was the Elijah of Mal 4:5? His answer to me was, "absolutely not"! He then went on to say: that his Dad was "on the most expensive autograph hunt in all the world, and that he definitely was not the Elijah of Malachi 4:5"! (I already knew it, but it was sure good to hear others say it, especially his own son!)
Was Herbert W. Armstrong an apostle? Again, anyone who studies even a little knows that HWA was no apostle! The definition of an apostle is "one who is sent". To be an apostle, one had to have been "sent by Christ" personally. The apostles that are mentioned in the scriptures were all sent personally by Christ. All others are fakes and frauds. A "real apostle" named Paul, said in 2Cor 11:13 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ". Christ tells us at the end of Rev 2:2, "and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars". Isnt it about time that people stop lying about Herbert Armstrong being an apostle, or the Elijah to come? Isnt it about time that the "idolizers" of HWA wake up and smell the coffee, and stop spreading that nonsense?
Also, was Herbert Armstrong a false prophet? Indeed he was. He made over 100 prophecies before 1975, and not one of them came true! Does that make him a false prophet? It certainly does! God says that we can tell a true prophet from a false one, if the thing that he prophesies about comes to pass or not! Due to the fact that all of HWAs prophecies failed, then I can conclude without a shadow of a doubt, that the man was indeed a "false prophet"!
Was Herbert Armstrong a true minister of God, or was he a wolf in sheeps clothing? I know that I am not going to make many friends by saying this, but I personally believe that the man was indeed a wolf in sheeps clothing. The main reason that I feel that way is simple. In Matthew 7:15, Christ said this: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves". Verse 16 says, "You shall know them by their fruits".
I have already concluded that he was a false prophet, and I have also concluded that he taught much error, and I have also concluded that the fruits of what he taught, has done some very serious spiritual damage to the people who followed him in those teachings. So, common sense tells me that the man was not a true minister of God. A false prophet, and a false minister, are one in the same, from what I read in 2Cor 11:13-15. The Apostle Paul says that false apostles, and deceitful workers, transform themselves into the apostles of Christ. And that Satan himself transforms into an angel of light, and that Satans ministers also, "transform themselves into the ministers of righteousness", etc. So, its very simple to figure out who is of Christ, and who is of Satan, if we examine the fruits of that person!
When I examine the overall fruits of Herbert W. Armstrong, I see some pretty rotten fruits in not only his doctrines, but also in his personal lifestyle. So, I conclude without any reservations at all, that he was indeed a wolf in sheeps clothing that Christ warned us to watch out for! I know that I will make a lot of people mad who "idolize" him, but the truth is the truth, and the facts are the facts, and the words of Christ are the words of Christ. So, dont get mad at me, I am only repeating those words!
I have plenty of proof that some of his doctrines and beliefs were totally wrong. And I have plenty of proof that his lifestyle was anything but Godly. I am not his final judge, nor do I want to be. I am simply following the words of Christ, when he tells us to look out for the wolves in sheeps clothing and expose them for what they really are. By exposing them, we save other sheep from being chewed up by them! Christ tells all of us to "beware" of them, and thats exactly what I plan on doing from now on! I would rather be called "a wolf hunter", than be called "a dead sheep"!
Sincerely with love,
Glen (Wolf Hunter) Myers, Florida
1047 Iroquois St; Clearwater, Fla. 33755
Note To Readers: Glen Myers continues to send us articles, which, for multiple reasons, we decline to print. You may write him directly if you are interested.
Response: I agree that it is very difficult to believe that Herbert Armstrong was the man who will "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal 4:5-6) when he died completely estranged from his familyhe had not seen them for years.
The scripture certainly gives no promise that Christ would continue to appoint apostles. A few scriptures indicate that a few others were recognized as apostles after the twelve and Paul, so I do not think we can dogmatically say that "there are no more apostles". Barnabas (Acts 14:14) James (Gal 1:19) were called apostles, and depending on ones understanding of the Greek, Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25) and Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7) might be, also. Nevertheless, I do not know of any other apostles and do not see that Herbert Armstrong had the signs and wonders of an apostle (2Cor 12:12).
We have not tried to make an exhaustive list of Mr. Armstrongs propheciesbut there might well be 100 false ones before 1975 as you have said. On the other hand, he did have some that did come true. He did say that the Berlin wall would come down and Germany would re-unite. He did say that the USA would not go to war with Russia. The most dangerous prophet is not one who has all false prophecies, but one who has some true and some false prophecies. That prophet is likely to have a following, especially if he down-plays his "prophetic error". The Bible teaches that if any of a prophets predictions do not come to pass, that we should not heed him (Deut 18:22).
Was Herbert Armstrong a false minister, a "wolf in sheeps clothing"? I cannot make that judgment. He claimed to be seeking the Eternal most of his life. He taught much truth to millions. Yet he also taught error, and at times, seemed very far away from God. The Eternal will look upon his heart and judge him. But whatever his judgment, Herbert Armstrong is clearly not worthy of our adoration, nor should he be the foundation for future preaching of the Gospel.
Seek Gods Forgiveness on HWA
Letter: April 9, 1999
Thank you for forwarding copies of Servants News.
However, with receipt of the December 1998 issue, I would like my name removed from your mailing list.
Devoting so much time and effort ("a physically and emotionally draining experience"!) to attacking Mr. Armstrong has revealed so much about you and your character, that I fear for you, and hope that you will repent and seek Gods forgiveness.
Response: You have brought up a good point which we had to think about. How will the Eternal judge us for what we have printed about Herbert Armstrong? We are well aware of this scripture:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matt 7:1-2, NIV).
We realized that we had to deal with Herbert Armstrong in a way that we would want the Eternal to deal with us. We did our best to tell the truth about Herbert Armstrong. Most of what we said was quoting his own writings. If he prophesied many things that did not come to pass in the name of God, does the Eternal want us to tell the truth about it, or to pretend like it never happened? If Mr. Armstrong wrote 98 letters asking his readers to send in their widows mites, should we pretend that he simply relied on God for his money? Does the Eternal require that people hide the clear public truth about His servants so they can "look better"? The Bible I read mentions many of the mistakes of the servants of the Eternal.
Of the "complaint" letters we have received, almost none have shown us any inaccurate information that we have printedmost simply want us not to write on the subject at all. We have heard many unprovable accusations about Herbert Armstrong which we will not print. We would not mind being judged with the same judgment we are judging Mr. Armstrong. All issues of Servants News are still available. We do not have any false prophecy or demands for money in them that we are embarrassed about. We have grown somewhat in our doctrinal understandingwe would write some articles differently today. However, we never claimed that our understanding of the Bible was necessary for salvation. Because Herbert Armstrong claimed to be the Apostle through whom Christ put doctrine in His Church, his doctrinal errors are a much bigger problem.
In summary, I do not fear to be judged in the manner I have "judged" Herbert Armstrong. I have presented and analyzed the facts from his writings. I would not mind someone doing the same to my writings. I am far more concerned that the Eternal judge me for having an understanding of His way from the Bible, but not applying it enough in my own life. Many times, I have misjudged, not listened to, or yelled at my wife or childrensometimes while working on a Bible article. I have also wasted time on irrelevant pursuits. I have dwelt on thoughts that I know are wrong. This demonstrates a lack of continual prayer and seeking of the Holy Spirit. It is all sin! It is just not apparent to most people. But the Bible teaches:
...casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2Cor 10:5).
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matt 12:36).
For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil (Eccl 12:14).
The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them (1Tim 5:24)
We do not know how the Eternal compares private sins and public sins. He teaches us that people with major public sins should not be congregational leaders (1Tim 3; Titus 1) and sometimes not even allowed to attend (1Cor 5). Because he wrote so much, a big part of Mr. Armstrongs life was very public. The Eternal expects us to use wisdomto use the information available to us.
I hope that everyone, everywhere will see the public and private sin in their lives, repent and change. There will be no way to hide the truth from the Eternal. Pointing out the sins of others does not make anyone more righteous. However, we felt it was necessary to go through the "physically and emotionally draining experience" of analyzing Herbert Armstrongs own public writings to help others avoid more sin by basing their Biblical understanding too much on a man and not enough on Christ and His Word!
Did HWA Baptize into Organization?
Letter: March 23, 1999
I found a couple of mistakes in your articles about HWA:
1. You said, "one branch [of the CG7], based in Meridian, Idaho, officially teaches Holy Day observance." The Meridian Group has never taught the Holy Days. The Caldwell, Idaho group, founded in early 1950s, does teach the Holy Days. You have probably confused these two groups. Certainly this is an honest mistake.
2. You said, "The WCG ministers never baptized anyone unless the person agreed that the WCG was the true church." Whoa! This one is a big whopper! Myself, my wife, and many other people can call you on this big fib. A fundamental teaching of the Worldwide Church of God was that the Church is a spiritual organism. I knew this very clearly, because I studied intently for eight years before I was baptized in 1969. At my baptism, I emphatically did not believe the WCG was the true church, because the WCG is an organization. I discussed this with the ministers just moments before my baptism, and of course they agreed with me, because this is the Biblical teaching, and what the WCG taught. I was baptized into Christ, into the spiritual Church of God, by Al Dennis, a WCG pastor.
I was not baptized into an organization. What church were you baptized into? You also said, "They regularly disfellowshipped people for studying the writings of other Bible teachers." Many homes I entered of people in the Church had writings of other Bible teachers, and they excitedly showed this information to any church member such as myself, and we discussed this literature from other groups, during and after Sabbath services.
Norm, you must have been in a different church than I was. This openness was true in 1969, and from old time members that I have personally discussed such matters, it was true in 1939, 1949, 1959, etc. In fact, the old time members, almost unanimously, were the most open, diligent, sincere, Bible students one could find. They did not slavishly support the WCG or HWA. They studied much literature outside of the Church, whether from Sabbath-keepers or not. They knew of other Sabbath-keepers, and had contact with them, often regularly. Yet they were dedicated supporters of the WCG. These are the people that I modeled my spiritual life after. When the McGills and Helms are right down the road in the CG7, and will tell you that HWA had plenty of faults in his early days, it kept things honest.
This church which you apparently never experienced did not just exist in the Willamette Valley. Mrs. Clem Robinson of Texas, grandmother of John Robinson of In Transition, was part of that church as well. In Texas, they studied their Bibles first, Armstrong a distant second.
Again, Norm, what church were you part of? I grant you that some people were at times baptized into an organization, either due to their own ignorance or that of the ministry who "dunked" them. Myself and many others were not. And, in 1969, I believe my experience was the general rule. Your past seems to be really hurting you, and I pray that God will help you to make a new, correct, start. Anybody who worked in Pasadena as long as you did, at the time that you did, must undoubtedly have been so scarred that it will take a miracle to undo the damage.
Norm, these statements of yours are not truthful. I havent yet read all your recent issue, but these glaring errors call into question all that you wrote. Your writings of the WCG seem to be like Job writing of what he knew little about. You need to rectify the situation.
Richard Nickels Family
Giving & Sharing, Bible Sabbath Assn
3316 Alberta Drive; Gillette, WY 82718
Response: Thanks for your letter. I have corrected the error about the Meridian Church of God 7th Day, and replaced it with Caldwell. I knew about both groups and intended to correct this error during proof-reading.
I agree that most ministers would says they are baptizing people into "the body of Christ"as they did to me. However, if one did not agree that the WCG was the one true Church where "God was working", it was my understanding that WCG ministers (in the 60s and later) were told not to baptize them. I am glad to hear that some ministers would baptize people and teach that it had nothing to do with the organization. I would be interested in hearing of any specific cases you know where someone went as far as asking for a RCG (Radio Church of God) or WCG minister to baptize them even though they told them that they would be attending with another group.
I agree that the further back in time in the RCG/WCG that one goes, the more tolerant of others it was. Also, the further one got away from headquarters, the more tolerant it was. Nevertheless, ministers of the WCG, especially those at headquarters, regularly disfellowshipped people (and commanded other members to have no fellowship with them) specifically for reading literature or attending services of other groups. This happened to meeven though the ministry admitted that I had made absolutely no effort to convince others of my views.
Richard, I agree that you and I may not have been "in the same church" in some ways. I know that there were a great many sincere, dedicated ministers and brethren in the RCG/WCG. I have met many other believers from the WCG who were "Bible first and Armstrong later" people. But if anyone preached this in a headquarters congregation, it was their last time preaching there. Can you find one place where Herbert Armstrong wrote that RCG/WCG members should practice what they understand to be truth from the Bible even if it differed from "Church teaching"?
The erroneous teaching that the WCG was the only "true Church" does not invalidate the conversion of individuals or the truth of other doctrines. However, if you read the article excerpts below, they show that the clear RCG/WCG teachings were that members were baptized into the one "True Church" and that that "True church" was the "visible organization" of the RCG/WCG. There is no room for individual understanding of the Bible. These quotes represent the teaching of the Armstrongs and the actual practice that I observed among the headquarters ministry:
HWAQuote: Should We Listen to Others? from the Good News, May 1960 by Herbert Armstrong:
Is it wrong to listen to a fellow-member who disagrees with the ministers? To attend other churches? To listen to other religious broadcasts? To admit "Jehovahs Witnesses?"
AFTER you have come to a knowledge of the TRUTH, have repented and been baptized, and by the Holy Spirit been put into the true Church of GOD, is it all right to attend some other church?
"Well," you might reply, "heres the way I look at it"
But WAIT! Stop right there!
If you have truly REPENTED, you have stopped using human reason and acting according to the way YOU look at it! If you had the faith in Christ as personal Saviour to be baptized into Him, you were accepting HIM as your Lord and Master, to obey what HE saysnot the way YOU look at it. If you have received Gods Holy Spirit, it is to lead you into all TRUTHwhich means understanding of GODS WORD, and what it instructs on all these questions, so that you know WHAT to obey....
NSE Response: The article goes on to use its own "human reason" to declare the decisions of "the Church" (Herbert Arm strongs organization) to be the decisions of God. It answers all of the initial questions with a resounding "Yes". It even has the audacity to claim that Armstrongs decision barring female members from wearing makeup was "Gods decision"which he later reversed a couple of times. Here is the concluding section entitled "Authority of the Church", which clearly states that such authority was vested in Mr. Armstrongs church organization and no other:
HWAQuote: When you repented, you repented of rebellion against God and His government. You surrendered to OBEY Gods government. And God carries out His government THROUGH HIS CHURCH!
Has God given His Church AUTHORITY to determine DOCTRINE? Yes, indeed He has.
In the Apostolic days God set up His HEADQUARTERS Church at Jerusalem. There are some matters of doctrine, or procedure, which do not appear plain to all members alike in the Scriptures. One such example was the matter of whether physical circumcision was still to be practiced. The Church at Antioch was divided, and in doubt. This could have split up the church. But they took it to the Headquarters Church at Jerusalem, where the largest number of highest ranking ministers was located.
God, through His Holy Spirit, LED THIS CHURCH to settle this doctrinal dispute GODS WAY. The decision of the Headquarters Church WAS NOT THE DECISION OF PETER AND THE APOSTLESit was the decision of GOD, as He led them to understand, and to settle it. The brethren at Antioch WERE REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THIS DECISION, and Church was kept in UNITY, all speaking the same thingand the thing inspired by GOD!
Today God has His Headquarters Church, where the largest number of highest ranking ministers are located.
One subject the members could not all see alike, or agree on, was that of women wearing lip-stick and make-up. The leading ministers of Gods Headquarters Church went into a very thorough study of this question. We had no set opinions of our own. We sought only GODS truth.
God led His Church into His TRUTH. But we did not command the women to follow OUR personal ideas, like human dictators. We rendered GODS decision, as He revealed it to His Churchand we published a long article in The GOOD NEWS, explaining fully the Scriptural teaching so that every member could see this in his or her Bible. But when the CHURCH settled it or rather when GOD settled it through His Churchthat is FINAL, unless one can bring to the Church evidence of error, and the CHURCH OFFICIALLY alters its decision.
Another example: One of MANY things the Church MUST do, where there is no definite Scriptural direction whatsoever regarding some phase of it, is this: We are COMMANDED to take the Passover. We are COMMANDED to take the wine, as well as the unleavened bread. That much is PLAIN TO ALL. But one phase of doing this which is NOT made plain in the Scripture is HOW, or by WHAT METHOD, the wine is to be passed and taken by each one.
Many will say: Since Jesus "took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves" (Luke 22:17), therefore Jesus meant to divide it into several small glasses, and each drink of it from a separate glass.
But this year at the Passover, one member declared there should be just the one great big Texas-size cup, and all 792 who took of it should have put their lips to this same big cupno matter if it took all night and all the next day to pass the one cup to so many!
In such cases, the individual member does NOT have authority to determine Gods willTHE CHURCH has authority to determine the procedure FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH!
God did not give us one absolutely plain Scripture on HOW this wine was to be divided among us. Jesus did say: "DIVIDE it among yourselves." Therefore, GOD has shown His CHURCH that, since God is not the author of confusion, and all things must be done decently and in order, that the ORDERLY way to DIVIDE the wine among 792 people is to divide it into 792 small glasses, provided specially for this very purpose. There is NO BIBLE TEACHING saying, as this man said, that all must put their mouths to the same one and only cup! Therefore, the CHURCH HAS RULED! That ruling has the AUTHORITY OF GOD! Every member is COMMANDED, by the government of GOD in His Church, to partake of the Passover as the Church has been inspired to rule. Any member is perfectly free to come to the Headquarters Church to present any reasons he may have why he thinks the Church ought to rule otherwise.
But, so long as he remains a member in the fellowship of Gods Church, he is NOT free to voice his contrary doctrine to any other members, or to do otherwise, but obey the Churchs commands, which, in such a case, ARE THE COMMANDS OF GOD! Otherwise, he is coming with a different doctrinehe is causing division, tending to stir up strife and introduce confusionand he must be MARKED, and disfellowshipped, and refused permission to be in the fellowship of any of our brethren!
This is GODS WAY of preserving UNITY! This is GODS WAY of leading us all to SPEAK THE SAME THING, and insuring that it be the very thing GOD wills, not our human will.
The Church at Eugene, Oregon, was split over a division of human opinion on HOW to count 50and on setting the right day for all the Church to assemble for the Feast of Pentecost. This split was STARTED by TWO WOMEN! Only the CHURCH has authority to determine such matters for ALL THE CHURCH. Otherwise there is confusion. Those carnal minded members who rebelled are no longer in Gods Church. But the Church of God goes joyfully on, and on, constantly GROWING, and as Gods instrument, doing the Work of God WORLD-WIDE, producing FRUIT, having Gods continued and abundant BLESSINGS!
These things, dear Brethren, we speak to you, that all may understand, and that we may be drawn closer and closer to the TRUTH, in harmony, and the SPIRIT OF GOD and GODS LOVE! Thus, and only thus, do we have Gods blessing!
NSE Response: It could not be plainer: Gods headquarters church was in Pasadena, it had authority to make decisions on what the scriptures said, and the only way to have Gods blessing is to do what Mr. Armstrong said.
This following article claims people are baptized into the "True Church," and that the "True Church" is an "organized, visible body"obviously the Radio Church of God. The several Church of God 7th Day groups or the many scattered believers could not possibly be classified as an "organized, visible body". Obviously, Mr. Armstrongs teaching is quite different than the New Testament which does not call the Church an "organized, visible body", by a "little flock" that was sometimes scattered because of persecution, and later became somewhat doctrinally diverse (Rev 2 & 3).
GTA Quote: What Is Your Obligation? from the Good News, November 1961 by Garner Ted Armstrong:
Mr.[Herbert] Armstrong and I are merely TWO of the MANY true ministers of the Almighty God, through whom He is carrying out HIS, not our, WORK!
We are ministers in a highly organized, bona-fide, registered, recognized, official, CHURCH! That Church is the TRUE CHURCH OF GOD founded by Jesus. It is NOT "Armstrongs Church." It is NOT the church of some new "method" of government, called the "Methodist" Church. It is not a church emphasizing the second "advent" of Christ and so adopting the name "Adventist." It is not the church of John the Baptist, not a church of any man, woman, or group of men and women!
It is THE CHURCH OF GOD!
You Are a Member of a CHURCH!
IF you have REALLY repented, and have been baptized according to Gods commands, then you are a member of a Church!
That Church is ORGANIZED. It has many ministers, local congregations, and its members are RESPONSIBLE for certain DIVINELY imposed OBLIGATIONS!
Among those OBLIGATIONS which God makes plain THROUGH His Church are ATTENDANCE REGULARLY, tithing, and complete and total submission to GODS government He has placed in His Church.
Jesus said, "... I will build my Church" (Mat. 16:28). HE, Jesus Christ Himself, is the HEAD of that Church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22; 5:23).
There is only ONE True Church of which Jesus is the HeadTHIS Church!
NSE Response: What does he mean by "THIS Church"? Is there any doubt that it is the RCG, his church?
GTA Quote: "There is ONE BODY [the very body of Christthe Church] and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith [body of beliefsystem of doctrineGods own TRUTH] one baptism ..." (Eph. 4:4-5).
Yes, IF you have been truly repentant, and have been duly baptized by Gods own chosen servants, God has PUT YOU INTO His own TRUE CHURCH.
NSE Response: Is not the "True Church" here the same as the "True Church" abovehis organization?
GTA Quote: "By ONE SPIRIT are we all baptized INTO ONE BODY ..." (I Cor. 12:13)
Peter said only when we REPENT and are baptized can we RECEIVE of Gods Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Paul was inspired to write, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9).
It is only through receiving of His SPIRITthe spiritual BEGETTAL to potential God-life that YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN!
ANDNOTICE ITIF YOU HAVE RECEIVED HIS SPIRIT, YOU HAVE AUTOMATICALLY BECOME A LITERAL, RESPONSIBLE MEMBER OF AN ORGANIZED, VISIBLE BODYA CHURCH!
NSE Response: There are numerous other quotes like the two above. I know of no cases where Mr. Armstrong or any other person speaking for the RCG/WCG ever publicly retracted any of these statements. As late as 1994, Rod Meredith told a person who was "baptized by the Global Church of God" that he could lose his salvation by going to another group.
Thank you for your consideration for "my healing", but I am not sure exactly what you expect the Eternal to do for me. When I worked for the WCG (1975 to 1992), for most of the time I firmly believed Herbert Armstrongs teachings that "God would correct the problems from the top". I spent very little time studying my Bible to see if the WCGs teaching on doctrines like "government" was correct. During the late 1980s and early 1990s when Joe Tkach began to change doctrines, I began to study my Bible as never beforeand have not stopped since. I feel much more dependent upon Christ and His Word today than I was during most of my WCG years. The whole purpose of these Servants News issues is to objectively study what Mr. Armstrong taught about himself and his organization and to determine if we can best serve the Eternal by identifying ourselves with Mr. Armstrongs work, or by starting afresh as Bible believers willing to teach and work with whomever will listen.
Thanks for reading the December 1998 issue. I realize that you have studied RCG/WCG history quite a bit. Please let me know if you see any other errors in the rest of the issue.
From Judaism, Seeking Bible Truth
Letter: March 9, 1999
Thanks for sending the back issues and adding me to your mailing list.
I am now Messianic Jewish. I was baptized one year ago this month. I attend a home fellowshipthe elder there came out of the Worldwide Church over 20 years ago. We observe the Sabbath, use the Hebrew Names (which I really like! (Smile!) We observe the feasts of Leviticus. 23, observe the dietary laws (Scriptural, not Rabbinic!) and we dont believe that the Messiah did away with the Law.
It was hard for me to get used to saying the Fathers Name and to distinguish Scriptural truth and law from Rabbinical teachings but I am learning! I love to study and I want to learn all I can!
Thanks for caring!
Gaylene Murphy, Kentucky
Response: Thank you for your letter. It is always encouraging to see people learning and growing in the way of our Father. Obviously, you have a Jewish background and have had to learn that there are many things that the Rabbis say that were not in the scripture. Similarly, those of us with a Worldwide Church of God background have our own traditions and doctrines some of which are not in the scriptures. Our Creator is looking for people who love Him and His word. May His Name and His Wisdom be praised forever!
I intend to print your letter as it will be good for former-WCG members to see the diversity of learning that occurs apart from their groups.
Penalized for Conducting Bible Study
Letter: March 18,1999
I grew up in the Southern Baptist church with a single parent situation. I stopped attending while in college. In 1968, after asking for a visit and receiving four from two different WCG "ministers, I started attending in Fayetteville, NC one Sabbath prior to Trumpets. Years later, I realized that God was allowing the WCGs leader to continue on his chosen path of destruction. I quit the WCG after fulfilling some obligations.
I started attending UCG when a local congregation was started in the Raleigh area. I didnt feel right speaking and asked to be taken off schedule about 2 years ago. I still attend but am not permitted to do anything that might cause local brethren to perceive me as a leader. Why? I am part of an interactive Bible study which is perceived as a "splinter church" by the local UCG pastor.
The Bible study has been in existence for almost a year. The attendance varies from as few as 2 people on one occasion to 26 last Sabbath. I believe the success of the study is because we choose topics ahead of time and everyone has the opportunity to prepare and share with the group what they have learned. We also have a time set aside for the young children (about 10 minutes) at the beginning of the study. They also have a separate study in which volunteers take turns so that the parents do not have to miss every study and it gives others an opportunity to serve. In the childrens study we are starting on the life of Christ in an attempt to teach them that they are important to God and Christ.
Most of the people that attend have ties to WCG but there are some that attend occasionally that do not. Some have come from the Church of God International and Seventh Day Adventist background. Two ladies came having heard Ron Dart. One family of five are "sacred name" people. Last week a man, woman and their teenage son came with no COG background. I personally want anyone that attends to feel welcome and take part in the study.
This is probably more than you wanted when you asked for "religious background."
NB, North Carolina
Response: I ask about religious backgrounds of new subscribers so we can better serve them. Our subscribers are as diverse as those who have attended your Bible study. I believe that studies like yours are the main area of growth of new believers for the future. Many people are seeking the Eternal and are tired of church organizations, doctrinal statements, programs, and the paraphernalia of religion. They want to simply study the Bible, know what the Eternal has to say for their lives, and do it!
Please keep up the good work!