d COG News: Emphasizing News of Interest to those Once in the Worldwide Church of God
"For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you" (I Corinthians 11:19).

* LCG News *  LCG 2006 Feast of Tabernacles' Information * Listing of Living Church of God Congregations *Sunset Times for the U.S. *  News of Those Once Affiliated with the Global COG * Prayer Requests

Click Here for the COGwriter Home Page which has articles on various sabbatarian Churches of God (COGs) and articles supporting beliefs of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God.

09/30/06 a.m. SDA Samuel Bacchiocci reported:

This newsletter comes to you with considerable delay, not because I was secretly "raptured" away (as someone suggested), but because I devoted the past three weeks to complete the powerpoint lecture entitled CRACKING THE DA VINCI CODE. This has been a major project on which I have worked on and off for the past 5 months...

I am looking forward with eager anticipation to see the edited version of the lecture...

You may be wondering, why would a Church Historian like me, invest much time and money in examining a novel? The answer is simple. The DVC is much more than a novel.  It is a social phenomenon that is shattering the faith of millions of Christians by blatantly attacking the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. In many ways this is a blasphemious and sacrelegious novel that insults God, Christ, the Gospels, the Bible, and fundamental Christian teachings.
The problem with the  DVC is that it is fiction presented as fact.

Instead of waiting for his video, some may find the article The Da Vinci Code: Some Good, Most Bad of interest.

Last night ICG's Mark Armstrong reported:

Here in Tyler we’re looking forward to the onset of the Sabbath day, and the day of Atonement on Monday.  And the following Sabbath marks the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Yes, we are in the Fall Holy Day season!

Articles of related interest may include:

Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?
The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians "The Day of Atonement". Does it have any relevance for Christians today?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians?
Last Great Day study paper Was Jesus speaking about the 7th or 8th day of the Feast in John 7:37? UCG says the 7th, but what does the Bible teach? This extensive paper reviews UCG's LGD study paper and includes comments as to where it erred.
Holy Days
This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2012, with their Roman calendar dates.

COGaic is announcing:

Go on location to the picturesque Greek island of Patmos. Visit Western Turkey and see the ancient cities of the seven churches addressed in Revelation. Along the way, your host, Dr. David Hulme, will explore this much misunderstood book and its original time and place.

The book of Revelation paints a detailed picture of a time of unparalleled destruction and catastrophe coming upon the earth. Its terrifying images have haunted every generation in western society for almost two thousand years. But Revelation also contains a powerful message of hope. It is well known that the story ends with worldwide peace, as ultimate good conquers ultimate evil and a new age of global peace and prosperity begins. And for the time between now and then, John’s words offer hope and invaluable insight. Within his letters to the seven churches the way to peace of mind in an uncertain and fearful age is laid out. Here is the source of strength and encouragement to overcome the greatest of all challenges.

To learn more about the Message to the Seven Churches, click here and fill out the order form.

Actually, since COGaic does not clearly teach church eras, more pertinent information would be found in the following articles:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1585 A.D.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1585 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
7. The Laodicean Church Era was predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present

09/29/06 a.m. The Euro Observer reported:

Berlin takes over the EU presidency in January and supports a revival of the EU constitution but has so far been lukewarm about the proposals being touted in some capitals.

Last week, chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that she did not want to pick out parts of the document, appearing to reject ideas by French centre-right presidential contender Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian prime minister Romano Prodi.

The 'mini-treaty' idea had found favour in some quarters because it could get around a major political stumbling bloc in that it may only need to be approved by national parliaments, sidestepping unpredictable French voters.

However, Mrs Merkel also re-opened a can of political worms by resurrecting the idea that there should be a reference to God in the constitution.

The 'God debate' during original negotiations on the EU charter was long and bitter with the document eventually emerging without a reference to Christianity.

Berlin's position has left some analysts wondering whether it is possible to keep the whole document alive as well as reopening difficult issues like the religious heritage question.  http://euobserver.com/9/22527

On a related note, CEG reported the following storyr:

The EUObserver reported on September 22, 2006:

"Angry Muslim reaction to the Pope's recent remarks on Islam has seen some centre-right MEPs make a last-minute attempt to insert a paragraph condemning the Muslim outcry into a major report on Turkey's EU accession progress... But with [the] draft version of the report already ruffling feathers in Ankara, EPP-ED deputies opted to prevent further controversy by refraining from a reference to the protests in the Muslim world on the Pope's speech. Instead, they only filed a comment that welcomes the Pope's planned November visit to Turkey."

Religion will play a role in the EU. The Pope's comments which inflammed Moslems may have been directed towards European politicians to tell them that it is time to reference the Catholic Church somehow in the constitution. Also, it may have been intended to stop Turkey from entering the EU. An article of possible interest may be Europa and the Beast.

09/28/06 a.m. CG7 reported:

Deciphering ‘The Da Vinci Code’: Fact or Fiction?

It’s the buzz at Starbucks, in carpools, around the office water cooler, and, well, practically anywhere people get together. It’s Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, a bestselling novel that mixes the mysteries of art history with theological cover-ups. The book has all the ingredients of a good mystery: engaging characters, intriguing plot, and page-turning suspense.

But it has a strong dose of controversy as well.

The novel’s disclaimer at the front states that all its historical elements are accurate, when in reality they are not. Among other things, the book calls into question . . .

Christ’s deity. According to Brown’s “facts,” Jesus was understood to be a mere mortal by early Christians, until the Council of Nicaea convened in a.d. 325. There the Roman church adopted His divinity by a narrow vote, under heavily politicized conditions.

The arly church absolutely did teach that Jesus was God in the first and second centuries--the fact that Catholics had a debate in the fourth century has no bearing on the truth (some may be interested in learning more about the History of Early Christianity). Two articles of related interest may be Jesus is God, But Was Made Man and The Da Vinci Code?

Interestingly, Zenit, the Vatican supporting news service, posted the following yesterday:

As we know, eight days later, Jesus again appears to his disciples and on this occasion Thomas is present. And Jesus says to him: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).

Thomas reacts with the most splendid profession of faith of the New Testament: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

Thus even the Catholics realize that Jesus was called God in the original New Testament writings. However, the Roman Catholics have a couple of different views (the public one and the true historical one) on history--this is documented in the article What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History?

09/27/06 a.m. CEM's Ron Dart recently posted:

Sometimes we have to fall back on the Spirit and ask God to see and know our need. We can come into the Father’s presence in complete silence, and yet be in prayer. And then there is this, in concluding Jesus’ instructions on prayer:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15).

There is not a word here about waiting for those men to repent. Your job is to forgive. The repentance is for God to bring about. Our job is to let it go.

On other matters, I have apparently been marked by RCG and my repentance to support RCG essentially is now publicly being asked for. I briefly discuss this "marking" at the Former GCG News page

09/26/06 a.m. The SDA's are noticing that in the area of military service, they are perhaps changing doctrine. Notice this from Adventist News Network (official news agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church) - Sept 22, 2006:

Is the Adventist Stance on Noncombatancy Shifting?

Where have all the Desmond Dosses gone?  Epitomizing the traditional position advocated by Seventh-day Adventists during wartime, Doss was a World War II United States Army medic who refused to carry a weapon, yet earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for single-handedly rescuing 75 wounded soldiers amid a blitz of enemy bullets on the island of Okinawa, Japan.

Ever since the Adventist church's beginnings, its official statements and members' behavior have generally reflected an equal commitment to nonviolence.

But today, an estimated 7,500 Adventists serve in the United States military.

And virtually all of them are enlisted as combatants...

But, he points out, "Prior to the 1970s, the thought of a practicing church member volunteering for a combat role in the military would have been inconceivable to the vast majority of Adventists."  Not so anymore...

Above all, Councell says, it is unfair to single out the issue of noncombatancy. He views slackening attitudes toward active combat as a symptom of a larger issue: a general shift in the values climate of Adventism, reflecting current socio-cultural trends...

At a recent press conference in Cameroon, Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Adventist world church, remarked that "using weapons is an inhumane solution to situations that can be solved. There is a better way to live together and that is to co-exist rather than war."

"We must prayerfully and principally seek moral and spiritual counsel regarding this issue," advises Councell. "There is room for differences of opinion and viewpoint. We are all finite individuals and situations are often imposed upon us." But that doesn't change our core commitment to the well-being of humanity, he adds.

And he believes that commitment sometimes demands action. "We have a moral obligation to defend the innocent and helpless, and if you neglect that I think you have shirked your Christian duty. However, [chaplains] are not advocating killing or the use of weapons and force. Killing during wartime may be necessary in some instances, but that doesn't mean it doesn't leave scars. It does." source: http://news.adventist.org/data/2006/08/1158929606/index.html.en

The SDAs continue to distance themselves from COG doctrines and are more and more a Protestant sect (the COGs are NOT Protestant).

Two articles of related interest may be Military Service and the COGs and SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666

09/25/06 a.m. I recently have been re-reading the book History of the Seventh Day Church of God by the late Richard Nickels and found the following statements to be of interest:

Where are the evangelists, the religious writers, the hard working dedicated people who care enough about the Truth of God they know to share it with others? They are watching television or engaging in other frivolous pursuits, while continuing to show up for Sabbath services or annual religious meetings. These Sabbath-keepers today are doing little to spread the gospel to the world. I am glad many people cared enough to help me come along the road to Truth with literature, fellowship and prayers. But so many today frankly don't care any more!

If the Church only realized the sad shape it is in, it might do something about it. But we are like a frog in a pan of lukewarm water. The frog doesn't notice as the temperature is gradually increased, degree by degree, until finally he is cooked to death.

I would answer the above by saying that the answer to the first question is that they are either in the group that places its top priority on proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness, which is LCG (two articles of related interest may be There are Many COGs, Why Support the Living Church of God and Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?) or they have a different work: The Laodicean Church Era was predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present.

09/24/06 a.m. Yesterday, I received an e-mail titled A summary of why only Herbert W Armstrong can be The Endtime Elijah from Geoffrey R. Neilson of South Africa. The summary was quite long and most of it has nothing to do with supposedly proving why only HWA could be the Elijah (the first 1/3 was essentially why there would be an Elijah after John the Baptist--Geoffrey R. Neilson essentially has that right).

Anyway here is some of the summary (for brevity's sake, I left out those that do not really claim HWA is Elijah--but have tried to address G. Neilson's strongest supporting statements):

With God all things are possible. 

First of all G. Neilson is correct that with God all things are possible. However, that includes that fact that one of the two witnesses could be the final Elijah.

Let's simply show how G. Neilson and others err on many of the above statements--I will try to address the points in the order G. Neilson listed them.

  1. The plain truth is that HWA never claimed to restore all things. He claimed to restore 18 truths to the Philadelphia era of the Church of God and proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness. While that is hugely significant, that is not the same as claiming to have restored all things. He simply did not claim for decades to have restored all things as G. Neilson now claims.
  2. G. Neilson correctly states that the Elijah was to be a prophet. Yet HWA stated, "Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new or special instruction from God--separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be (Armstrong HW. Tomorrow's World, June 1972).
  3. There is no one else in the COGs that I am aware of who now claim to be the Elijah. But whether or not there is at this time, this is a red herring argument and not proof that God does not have someone in mind now.
  4. It is not too late for one of the old-time evangelists to be the Elijah, but the fact is that none of them claim to be, this is another red herring argument--so there was no point in G. Neilson raising that as part of his "proof".
  5. His statement "The great endtime Falling Away from God's truth cannot occur, until after Elijah's greater Restoration of All Things, from which so much truth can fall"--is not not a biblically supportable claim, but is simply circular reasoning on G. Neilson's part. The scripture about falling away (2 Thes. 2:3) does not state that all things were restored before there was a major falling away. 
  6. With God all things are possible and just because G. Neilson and others may think all things have been restored does not mean that they are (one does not know what one does not know). Also, just because God may restore miracles and certain doctrinal truths, this does not mean that the truths restored by HWA have no lasting value. Truth is truth. If something was true when HWA was alive, it is still true. The fact that God may use someone else to restore more truth does not diminish what God did through HWA. The other fact is that for much of HWA's ministry he taught the Philadelphia era was Elijah--if something like that is actually the case, then it may be that there is only a little to still be restored and that HWA's restoration was part of the restoration.
  7. HWA did die over 20 years ago and he himself wrote, "Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age" (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349).  The longer it takes from the death of HWA until it is time to flee, the more likely it will be that there could be one other than HWA to fulfill the Elijah role (with another option perhaps being that the entire Philadelphia portion of the COG could be fulfilling that role).
  8. Efforts of the post-HWA COG groups to proclaim the gospel is another red herring argument, yet worse. The plain truth is that LCG reaches more people on a per member basis and has had more baptisms on a per member basis than HWA's WCG did. It is only because people like G. Neilson decide for themselves NOT to support LCG--who is THE remnant of the Philadelphia portion of the COG that LCG is not reaching as many people in total as HWA did. Laodicea means "people decide" and these Elijah heresies are one of the main issues that many people who claim to be Philadelphian have decided. He and others should read the articles There Are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God and The Philadelphia Church Era.
  9. The two witnesses are actually on the scene before they are known as the two witnesses. The fact that God may use of them during some part of his life to fulfill the Elijah role or that God may raise up someone else is certainly an option for God. I do not presume to box God in and dogmatically state that God could not somehow raise up an Elijah.
  10. Also notice what HWA actually said. In HWA’s sermon, given on the last day of Unleavened Bread in April 1985, HWA stated the following, "You know there is a prophecy about John the Baptist, while the prophecy is talking about Elijah. But if you read in {HWA apparently meant “about”} Elijah {“in Malachi”} 3 and verses 1-5, it is talking, not about someone preparing the way for Christ’s first coming, but when Christ comes to set on the throne of the earth and remove Satan. You read verse 1 and you can apply that to John the Baptist. But you read on through verses 2,3,4, and 5 and you find its talking about the second coming of Christ. The things He will do then, but He did none of those things that are in verse 2,3,4, and 5 when He came the first time. Now John the Baptist did fulfill verse 1. Even Jesus said so. Jesus said that he had come in the spirit and power of Elijah. Was he Elijah? No he wasn’t. They asked John the Baptist, ‘Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘No I am not’. He wasn’t a liar. He knew the truth. He was not Elijah. Am I Elijah? No, definitely not! Now I met Elijah. Elijah has come to me and announced that he was Elijah, but I showed him the way out of the office. I did not believe him.""
  11. On December 1, 2004, I spoke with Aaron Dean on the subject of HWA and a future Elijah (Aaron Dean had more personal contact with HWA than anyone else in his later years, though in total, not as much as RC Meredith or some of the other early leaders who I have also spoken with about this subject). Aaron Dean told me that through most of his ministry, HWA generally believed that he would be around until Christ returned. However, in the final months before he died, HWA changed his perspective on that and other issues. He (HWA) was no longer certain that he fit certain roles like he had felt earlier. And HWA, according to Aaron Dean, specifically left room that the Bible allowed that some person other than him could be the final end-time Elijah.  HWA believed that the Bible prophesied two witnesses that would perform miracles similar to Elijah, that the Philadelphia portion of the COG fulfilled at least part of the Elijah role, and that according to the Bible there could be a person other than him to fulfill the final Elijah role. And the Bible certainly does discuss Elijah-like miracles at the end which have NOT yet occurred.

Anyway, those interested in this subject may wish to read the article, "The Elijah Heresies".

One of the many issues I have with those who are more focused on why HWA in their opinion had to be the only Elijah is that they often "miss the forest for the trees". Yesterday was the Feast of Trumpets, and instead of focusing on that, G. Neilson sent out a mass email on his positions (and often inaccurate conclusions) on the Elijah matter and stated:

Article completed on the 80th Anniversary of HWA's idealized date of being activated, in the Hebrew Calendar: Trumpets 9 Sep 1926 - Trumpets 23 Sep 2006.

It is sad that many who claim to be faithful still do not get it--perhaps one day G. Neilson will get it. The focus of the Feast of Trumpets is the return of Jesus Christ, the trumpet blasts in Revelation, and the Book of Life. To switch the focus to one regarding HWA and Elijah is, in my opinion, a destructive heresy as it misleads people from focusing on what Christians should focus on (note: I do not consider that believing that HWA was the Elijah is a destructive heresy, it is only that those who insist that he only must be and refuse to support the major work to proclaim the gospel that I am referring to as they apparently never have gotten what HWA stood for). HWA personally taught to focus on the message, not a messenger.

An article that should be of interest to those in the COGs should 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?

On other matters, both PCG and UCG mentioned China in their current magazines. First from UCG:

China's obscure Middle Eastern activities

China receives little news coverage concerning its activities in the Middle East. As the late Deng Xiaoping once expressed it, "China must hide brightness and nourish obscurity . . . to bide our time and build up our capabilities."

Today Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia all have significant links to China, which are viewed as a counterbalancing factor to American power and influence in the Middle East. For instance, Saudi and Iranian oil exports to China have risen sharply in the last 10 years.

Of much greater concern is a recent report in The Times that "China has sold Iran tanks, planes, artillery. . . and anti-aircraft missiles." It is also Iran's main supplier of unconventional arms and is thought by almost all monitors to be illicitly involved in supplying key elements in Iran's chemical and nuclear weapons programme . . . China has sold nuclear reactors to Algeria, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia" (Aug. 8)...

The West has many enemies, and not all of them are in the Middle East. (Sources: The Times [London], Trains (USA).)

And from PCG:

During the 1800s, the world’s powers fought for control of Africa’s resources. Today the trend continues, only this time an Eastern power is quickly becoming a major African player.

Last year, trade between China and Africa jumped 36 percent to almost $40 billion, according to official Chinese figures (Financial Times, February 23). And if the flurry of high-level Chinese visits to Africa is any indication, China’s trade with the continent is set to take another huge jump this year.

So far this year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has undertaken three African trade tours. Chinese President Hu Jintao also visited several African countries in April, while in January Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing completed an African trade trip. This November, Beijing will host a major China-Africa summit to promote trade.

This slew of activity represents China’s robust efforts to secure the raw commodities it needs for its booming manufacturing sectors. African oil and minerals have become increasingly important to China

Stephen Friedman, a senior research fellow at the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg, summarized the situation this way: “The West is very worried about China’s involvement in Africa. … Seeing a new superpower emerging is making it very uncomfortable” (Associated Press, August 8).

Yet, contrary to what many analysts believe, it is not America, but Europe that ultimately needs to fear China.

Eventually, I plan to add an article about China's prophetic importance. Some may find the following articles of interest:

China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 1: Genesis and Chinese Characters This article provides information showing that the Chinese peoples must have known about various accounts in the Book of Genesis up until their dispersion after the Tower of Babel.
China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 2: The Sabbath and Some of God's Witness in China When did Christianity first come to China? And is there early evidence that they observed the seventh day sabbath?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformattedGood News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.

Here is a brief article that someone in the media has gotten right:

Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday
Globe Gazette (Iowa) - Sept 14, 2006

Editor's Mailbag

By JOYCE PINKE, Clear Lake

Interesting article on the Sabbath on Sunday, Aug. 13. I admire those stores for closing on Sunday. And I agree with Pastor Stein about churches going more for entertainment than worshipping God. However, there is only one thing wrong: Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday.

When I was a child, I asked my mom why we went to church on Sunday when the commandment says Sabbath. She said that the Jews go on Saturday and the Christians go on Sunday.

When I grew up and looked into it, I found out that God gave the Sabbath (seventh day) to Adam and Eve and they weren’t Jews. Everyone in the Bible kept the Sabbath (Saturday). The early Christians kept the Sabbath, too.

Jesus even rested in the grave on Sabbath and rose on Sunday. When did it change and why? God the Father didn’t change it. Jesus (God the Son) didn’t change it. The disciples didn’t change it. You can’t change the Ten Commandments. They are written on stone by the finger of God himself.
Source:  http://www.globegazette.com/articles/2006/09/14/opinion/doc4508b77c05d37198375604.txt

Articles of related interest may include:

Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord's Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath
observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?

Were the Ten Commandments in Effect Before Mount Sinai? Some have said not. This article provides biblical quotes to answer this important question.
Job and the Ten Commandments Was Job written prior to Mount Sinai? Did Job know about the ten commandments? This article provides biblical answers to those questions.
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? This article quotes what Jesus actually said about them (His words are in red).
Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross? Some have said so. This article provides some biblical quotes to answer this important question.
What Did Paul Actually Teach About the Ten Commandments? Many say Paul taught against the ten commandments. Is this true? This article quotes Paul with his words in green.

Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common "traditions of men" regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law? Many believe that, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?

The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John's writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.

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Volume 10, issue 22 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006