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04/25/06 a.m. CEM's Ron Dart announced:

We need your help. Recently, we lost a few of our daily stations due to what appears to be an organized effort to get the Born to Win program off the air. It is amazing how small minded some religious people can be and how intolerant of views that differ with their own. We never ask people to change their present religious affiliation, nor do we even hint that they should leave their church. We feel our role is to promote a biblical world-view in society at large, and help people take a fresh look at the Bible.

Radio stations are generally not charitable institutions, and they are somewhat vulnerable to outside pressure. Smaller radio stations especially can be intimidated if they think they will lose audience and revenues. This is where we could use your help. Our first request is that you pray about the matter. So far, God has given us an open door, and we ask you to join us in praying that He will keep it open. But as faith without works is dead, there may be something else you can do. From time to time, you can call or write the station where you hear the program and tell them how much the program means to you. Just as radio stations are vulnerable to negative pressure, they are also influenced by positive responses. They need to know you are listening and that you want the program to continue...

The amount of time left to make much of an impact on radio or television through COG-type broadcasts is undoubtedly limited. That, combined with the increasing trend to label more of the truth as some form of hate speech, will also dampen those efforts.

This does NOT mean that we are just to wait around until the two witnesses come formally on the scene. Notice that Jesus taught,

Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together (John 4:35-36).

An article of related interest may be Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?

Here are two news reports about the Euro:

LONDON (Reuters) - The euro's bid to become an alternative world reserve currency received another vote of confidence this week as more central banks diversify away from dollars, boosting the region's government bonds. The euro hit a seven-month high above $1.24, while euro zone government bonds rallied on Monday after Qatar's central bank told Reuters it has been buying euros in the market and could keep building its euro holdings until they make up 40 percent of its $4.5-billion reserves.

Last Friday Sweden's central bank became the first among the developed economies to announce a major reserves shift, saying it had raised its euro holdings to 50 percent of its $20 billion-plus reserves from 37 percent and cut dollar holdings to 20 percent from 37 percent.  http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=reutersEdge&storyid=2006-04-24T140207Z_01_L24647620_RTRUKOC_0_US-MARKETS-EURO-RESERVES.xml&imageid=&cap=

Prominent Belgian economist Paul de Grauwe has argued the euro is bound to collapse in 10 to 20 years as there is no clear progress towards a political union in Europe.

Professor De Grauwe from the Catholic University of Leuven, advocated the creation of the common currency in the 1990s but his forthcoming research paper will present evidence of the euro's risks for the future, news agency AFP reports.

"A political union is the logical end-point of a currency union," Mr De Grauwe told Belgian weekly, The Business, adding "The monetary union will collapse ... not next year, but on a time frame of 10 or 20 years. There is not a single monetary union which survived without political union. They have all collapsed."

Economists point out that the common currency was established with the view to creating more jobs, higher growth and lower prices, but the current situation is far less optimistic.

Growth is around two percent a year in the 12-member eurozone and high unemployment - above 8 percent – remains.

These problems relate to the poor record of individual member states in pursuing reforms to improve economic performance, but the EU has little powers to sanction them for failing to do so.

"If political union fails to materialise, then in the long term the euro area cannot continue to exist," argues Mr De Grauwe.

The Belgian economist is not the only expert to raise the issue.

The same point was made at last week's hearing of a new member of the European Central Bank's board, German Bundesbank's vice president Jurgen Stark.

"The EU currently is in a critical phase," Mr Stark told MEPs on Tuesday (15 April), adding "I am concerned about these trends because monetary union ... needs a common political foundation and a political commitment to function smoothly."

From a physical perspective, the reason that the US dollar has not collapsed appears to be that the US economy continues to grow at a much faster rate than that of the EU. However, US debts are increasing at such a fast pace that it is probably impossible for the US to grow itself out of its current debts. Thus, governments have been in a quandry about what to do, though many have increased Euro reserves, perhaps based on the belief (that those of us in the COG also tend to hold) that it is more likely that the EU will be able to put itself together than the US will.

04/24/06 a.m. Christianity Today now reports:

Turning Point
The Crowning of Charlemagne
By Patrick Henry Reardon

Few moments in world history proved to be of greater significance than what transpired in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on Christmas Day in the year 800.

All eyes in the basilica that day were fixed on an unusually tall, very energetic, and powerfully built man of 58, a Frankish king named Charles, as he knelt devoutly before the tomb of the Apostle Peter. Just as he was beginning to rise after his prayer, Charles was approached by the Bishop of Rome, Pope Leo III, who set a crown on his head and dramatically announced, "Charles Augustus, crowned great and peace-giving emperor of the Romans, life and victory!"

"Great" he was indeed, and that Latin adjective, magnus, was eventually assumed into the name by which he has been best known, Charlemagne. For the first time in more than three centuries, and with the blessing of the Church, Rome once again had a Western emperor.

The diadem set on the head of Charles that day crowned likewise the many and colossal achievements of his career. Since becoming King of the Franks in 768, Charles had unified and reorganized most of Western Europe, using his sword to accomplish the first task and his considerable executive skills to bring about the second...

Three aspects of Charlemagne's influence live on.

Renaissance man
First, he was the father of Europe. Although the political unity Charlemagne imposed on the greater part of that continent did not outlive him, the cultural unity of Europe did...

Second, in crowning Charlemagne the papacy was tacitly admitting its need for political support in order to provide adequate pastoring to Western Europe. If the papacy strengthened Charlemagne's hand, Charlemagne did no less for the papacy. Indeed, just two days before his coronation as emperor, Charlemagne had presided at the trial that found Pope Leo innocent of charges brought against him by enemies in Rome...

Third, Charlemagne was no great friend of the Christian East. In conquering the Lombards in northern Italy, in fact, he fought the armies of Byzantium, and in claiming to be the Emperor of Rome, he assumed a title always held by the emperors at Constantinople.

The author of the above seems to argue elsewhere that Europe needs someone like this to "re-Christianize" Europe. We in the COGs see Charlemagne as one of the prophesied resurrections of the Roman Empire. We also believe that events like the pope's crowning of Charlemagne help prove that Rome is the one "With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication" (Revelation 17:2).

An article of related interest may be Europa and the Beast.

04/23/06 a.m. The Church of God (Jamie McNab) posted:

Although the Church of God lost much truth over the centuries, it seems that they generally held on to the truth of the Passover, or Lord's Supper. During some eras of the Church they also kept the Holy Days. For example, Lesson 52 of the Bible Correspondence Course, referring to the Thyatira era in the late 1500's, gives a history of the brethren in Transylvania, saying, "They also kept all the annual Sabbaths or holy days. They kept the true Passover with unleavened bread... Their civil New Year was the Feast of Trumpets".

Let us ask: What calendar did the Church of God use during these nearly 2,000 years?

The only calendar available to them is the calendar that we accept today -- the Hebrew calendar!

In our generation, for nearly seventy years, most of the Church of God has followed the Hebrew calendar, during which time God has given us many blessings, and much fruit has been borne.

Whilst the "novelty" of the other calendars can prove quite a fascination, and they can initially appear plausible, the end result seems to be just more division among God's people.

I will simply comment that I agree. The groups I tend to refer to as "calendar groups" do not have historical evidence that the true COG calculated the calendar the way most of them now do. As LCG and others have stated, a calculated calendar was what was used during Jesus' time, and throughout the history of the COGs.

Nisan 14, based upon the calculated Hebrew calendar, for example, is what was kept throughout history. Information about the history of the COG can be found in the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3.

UCM announced:

This years conference wilL be held at the Fairfield Inn in Fultondale, Al. This is just beyond Birmingham on I65 N. The address is 1795 Morris Ave., Fultondale, Al. 35068. Phone 205-849-8484. Please be sure to tell them that you are with United Christian Ministries - Christian Women's Conference.

Ray Wooten founded UCM after he left UCG. As far as I can tell, UCM's main work is to have this annual women's conference (always held towards the end of July) and to guest lecture at other congregations.

04/22/06 a.m. We have made a couple of small changes at the COGwriter home page. One small change is that the initial word COGWRITER is in the color teal (it was aqua before). Many people seem to not know how to pronounce my name, and since it is pronounced the same as the color teal, I thought that by making that small change, people will have a slight reminder of its correct pronunciation.

More historical citation are being added to the historical articles.

In addition to the Paulicians, during the time of Pergamos, there were some faithful in areas such as Scotland. Here is a report from the period 549-1049:

The term Culdee has been improperly applied to the whole Keltic church, and a superior purity has been claimed for it.

There is no doubt that the Columban or the Keltic church of Scotland, as well as the early Irish and the early British churches, differed in many points from the mediaeval and modern church of Rome, and represent a simpler and yet a very active missionary type of Christianity.

The leading peculiarities of the ancient Keltic church, as distinct from the Roman, are:

1. Independence of the Pope. Iona was its Rome, and the Abbot of Iona, and afterwards of Dunkeld, though a mere Presbyter, ruled all Scotland.

2. Monasticism ruling supreme, but mixed with secular life, and not bound by vows of celibacy; while in the Roman church the monastic system was subordinated to the hierarchy of the secular clergy.

3. Bishops without dioceses and jurisdiction and succession.

4. Celebration of the time of Easter.

5. Form of the tonsure.

It has also been asserted, that the Kelts or Culdees were opposed to auricular confession, the worship of saints, and images, purgatory, transubstantiation, the seven sacraments...(Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998).

And where did this church come from? Well, it logically, did not come from Rome, but from the Smyrnaeans (the prior Church era) in Asia Minor and Palestine. According to A.N. Dugger, Dr. T.V. Moore noted:

"The type of Christianity which first was favored, then raised to leadership by Constantine was that of the Roman Papacy. But this was not the type of Christianity that first penetrated Syria, northern Italy, southern France, and Great Britain. The ancient records of the first believers in Christ in those parts, disclose a Christianity which is not Roman but apostolic. These lands were first penetrated by missionaries, not from Rome, but from Palestine and Asia Minor. And the Greek New Testament, the Received Text, they brought with them, or its translation, was of the type from which the Protestant Bibles, as the King James in the English, and the Lutheran in German, were translated." -- Dr. T. V. Moore, The Culdee Church, chapters 3 and 4, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 25, 26.

Jesus foretold that the true church would not die out. And even non-COG historians recognize that there were parts of it throughout history. Two articles of related interest may be:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years.
What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it has an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Rome actually admits it knows about the early church.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?

On other matters, there were some problems accessing my pages today. This was a problem with the server as far as I can tell. If this type of thing recurrs in the future, please bear with it. There are no plans to remove the COGwriter page, so access difficulties are simply a quirk of this world.

04/21/06 a.m. This morning, PCG posted:

As the Trumpet has extensively written about, Iran is the driving force behind efforts to unite Arab nations and terror groups against the West. This fact, perhaps not evident to most when the Trumpet first wrote about it, is now obvious to anyone viewing the Middle East with an open mind. “The alliance that is emerging in this part of the world is a creation of Iran,” says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst. “It wants to bolster its position by allying itself with countries or groups that can temporarily enhance its regional role and influence” (ibid.)...

The formation of an axis of terror in the Middle East, led by Iran in defiance against the West, is a striking fulfillment of Bible prophecy. An article in our May Trumpet details how the ascension of Iran as the leader of the Islamic Middle East fulfills two major prophecies: 1) the rise of a “king of the south” as prophesied in Daniel 11:40; and 2) the breaking of America’s national will as prophesied in Leviticus 26:19 and demonstrated by its failure to stop Iran in its tracks.

While apparently Iran wants to rule over the Moslem nations, it is not the King of the South.

CGG's site linked to the following news article by Bill Sizemore:

Over the centuries, there have been numerous heated debates regarding the allegedly lost books of the Bible or the Apocryphal books. Some scholars have claimed that the Bible should be bigger than it is, and at least a few of the other ancient manuscripts should have been included when the Bible was canonized.

The recent discovery of the 1,600 to 1,700 year old “Gospel of Judas” manuscript has renewed this centuries old debate. Perhaps you too have wondered whether the Bible is really complete. Maybe some of the other books that were floating around out there in the first few centuries A.D. should have been included, when the Bible was canonized.

After all, when the Bible was canonized, many centuries ago, it was mere humans who decided which books would be included and which ones should be left out. There were lots of books from which to choose, and the subject was hotly debated. How do we know they got it right? Was God involved in the process? Did He work behind the scenes to make sure the right books were included?

In this column, I am going to tell you why I believe God was involved and why the men who made the decisions, which resulted in the Bible we have today, got it right. I will offer a clue that God gave some 3,500 years ago, a clue which for many will settle this question, as it has for me. But first, let’s talk a bit about the curious timing of all the attention that is being focused on the Gospel of Judas.

The Judas manuscript, believed to have been written about 300 to 400 A.D., was discovered some years ago in a cave in Egypt. The discovery was not well publicized at the time. After it was found, the Gospel of Judas disappeared from sight and for several years moved through the murky back channels of the European and Middle Eastern black market for antiquities, passing from dealer to dealer.

Then, all of a sudden, this long lost manuscript, which contradicts in major ways all four of the New Testament gospels, burst on the scene, just as the world is being inundated by a flood of Hollywood hype promoting The Da Vinci Code, a sacrilegious movie claiming that Jesus never really died and rose from the grave, as the New Testament claims, but instead lived a long life married to Mary Magdalene and even had children by her, the descendants of whom are alive today.

Of course, if the Da Vinci Code is true, then the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax and the Christian faith is meaningless. After all, the resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. There is no Christianity without the resurrection. As the Apostle Paul explains in his first letter to the church at Corinth, if Jesus did not raise from the dead, then we are all still in our sins, our faith is in vain, and we are of all men most miserable.

The Gospel of Judas would do the same thing The Da Vinci Code attempts to do, i.e., undermine the Biblical account. The Gospel of Judas says, “No, that’s not the way it happened at all. The Bible is wrong. Judas was the good guy.” (According to the Gospel of Judas, Judas was instructed by Jesus to betray Him so that He could accomplish His mission. Jesus supposedly told Judas that he would be greatly misunderstood and people would think ill of him for doing what Jesus wanted him to do, but that turning Him over to the priests was the right thing to do.)

We could spend a lot of time refuting the Gospel of Judas and exploring why some of the Gnostic sects of the first few centuries of the Christian era wrote and circulated some of the fallacious manuscripts they did. We could compare the Gospel of Judas with some of the other apocryphal books that were rejected when the Bible was canonized; gospels that contained fanciful stories like the one where Jesus was playing on the sea shore as a young boy and making clay birds and then bringing them to life and watching them fly away; or of the story of the Apostle Peter causing the eye of a needle to expand to make a hole large enough for a camel to pass through it, to prove that it was possible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But this is a discussion for another day.

There were reasons why the various Apocryphal books were not included in the Bible. Primarily, they were not believed to be inspired by God. http://www.newswithviews.com/Bill/sizemore40.htm

Those interested in the issue of the canon may wish to read the articles:

The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings (including Melito), that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
The New Testament Canon - From the Bible Itself This article, shows from the Bible, why the early Church knew which books were part of the Bible and which ones were not.

04/20/06 a.m. COGhomeschool's Frank Olive has basically decided because of doctrinal and other factors, that he will not be keeping over a dozen websites in a confederation called the "Affiliated Churches of God".

Speaking of websites, yesterday my son fixed the "buttons" on the COGwriter home page so that they only need to be clicked once to go to the appropriate section (the original buttons required a "double-click").

Yesterday's UK Independent reported:

When President Hu Jintao of China shakes hands with President George Bush in Washington tomorrow and gives one of his fixed grins for photographers, it will not be just another meeting between the leader of a large developing country and the chief executive of the richest nation on earth.

China is rising fast and is expected to eclipse the United States economically in the future - its gross domestic product is tipped to overtake that of America by 2045.

While Mr Bush has only given Mr Hu an hour of his time for a state lunch, the global balance of power is changing and in future meetings, the Chinese will set the timetable.

The rise of China is posing awkward questions for the US, along with the realisation that its days as the world's economic superpower are numbered.

Some analysts see America entering a period of "managed decline" not unlike that which Britain has experienced since the end of the Second World War and the end of empire. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article358568.ece

The US has declined morally for all to see. It has declined dramatically economically, though those who do not look at its debt still do not see it. If the US does not repent very soon, it cannot regain its economic strength.

A slightly related story in the Financial Times reported:

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday stepped up the pressure for far-reaching shifts in exchange rates, declaring that the dollar will have to depreciate “significantly” over the medium term if global economic imbalances are to be resolved in an orderly fashion.

In its clearest statement to date on this highly-charged subject, the IMF said it was essential that currencies in Asia and of oil exporters were allowed to appreciate as part of the required “realignment of exchange rates”. But it shied away from giving any specific figures as to the extent of appreciation required.

And in a distantly related story in the current issue of Tomorrow's World, Rod McNair writes:

Do you have an emergency plan to protect yourself and your family if a calamity strikes? In the U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Association has issued recommendations for family preparedness at home. These include simple measures such as having enough usable food and water for three to seven days (a gallon of water per person per day), adequate clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, flashlights and fresh batteries, a battery-operated radio, cash and a full tank of gasoline ("Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit," Publication L-189).

However, even more importantly, Jesus Christ revealed that spiritual preparation is the most important way to plan for disasters of any kind, including natural calamities. Ignoring this vital key will bring catastrophe to nations or individuals. Notice what Christ said when describing wise and foolish builders: "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock" (Matthew 7:24–25). While this is good, sound building advice, the real lesson is spiritual! "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (vv. 26–27).
Jesus Christ showed that the best preparation for future disasters is a close relationship with Him!

And that is true. For those interested, here is an article titled Physical Preparation Scriptures for Christians.

On other matters, I was recently asked what HWA's position was on US citizens "pledging allegiance to the flag". Here is what WCG's official position in HWA's time was:

Since the words "one nation under God" are used, we are certainly free to take this pledge. It is then understood that our allegiance is pledged only so far as we are not forced to disobey God's laws (Personal Correspondence Department. Letter 060, Worldwide Church of God, Pasadena).

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Volume 10, issue 4 COGwriter B. Thiel (c) 2006