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01/24/07 a.m. In the February 2007 edition of PCG's Philadelphia Trumpet is the following excerpt from Stephen Flurry's book:

The day Mr. Armstrong died, Mike Feazell and Mike Rasmussen, who both worked for Mr. Tkach, “went up to my office and took all my files out of my drawers,” Aaron Dean remembers. He said, “I got called by Brenda Yale and Donna—the secretary up there—and they were crying. And they said, ‘What’s going on? They’re treating us like criminals.’”

Bob Herrington, one of Mr. Armstrong’s four nurses, remembers well his first encounter with the new administration. As Mr. Armstrong’s primary nighttime caregiver, Herrington lived in an apartment adjacent to Mr. Armstrong’s home. He was at Mr. Armstrong’s bedside the morning he died. And, according to Herrington, “I was evicted before the day was through. Somebody came over to me and said, ‘We have important people coming to town—we’re going to need that apartment.’” Herrington wouldn’t reveal who told him to leave, but whoever it was also insisted that Herrington not attend the funeral, so as not to attract the attention of the press. So, a few days after Mr. Armstrong died, Bob Herrington packed his things and moved to Texas.

According to Aaron Dean, these incidents highlight one of the first promises made to Mr. Armstrong that Tkach broke. Mr. Armstrong wanted his staff to assist Mr. Tkach, not Tkach’s staff. But contrary to the assurances he had given to his predecessor, Mr. Tkach (or perhaps his staff) made it clear on January 16 that, despite Mr. Armstrong’s warnings, Tkach’s staff was coming with him.

So the above shows that manuevers against HWA's staff began the day (and probably prior to that) HWA died. Stephen Flurry also reports how some of the Tkach staff (like Michael Feazell, J. Tkach, Jr., Bernard Schnippert) were moved in:

Feazell had been a friend of the Tkach family for a number of years. He met Tkach’s son, Joe. Jr., at Imperial High School in 1967, where both of them were attending as tenth graders. They later attended Ambassador College together in Pasadena and graduated together in 1973. During the summer months of his college years, Feazell even lived with the Tkaches. In many ways, Joe Sr. was like a father to him.

For a period of seven years at Church Administration (late 1979 to early 1986), Mr. Feazell assisted Tkach Sr., maintaining consistent communication with the wcg ministry in organizing the Ministerial Refreshing Program, ministerial transfers and ministerial assignments for the Feast of Tabernacles.

When Mr. Tkach became pastor general in 1986, Mr. Feazell continued serving as his personal assistant, but focused instead on preparing Tkach Sr.’s articles and sermons...

Between 1978 and 1986, Joe Jr. lived in relative obscurity within the Phoenix East congregation as a local elder. He married for a second time in 1980. He was employed as a social worker until 1984, and then worked for Intel until 1986.

After his father succeeded Mr. Armstrong in January 1986, Joe Jr. began a sharp ascent up the wcg hierarchy. His father appointed him assistant director of Church Administration in August 1986, where he worked for Larry Salyer. (Salyer had replaced Tkach Sr. as head of Church Administration once Tkach became pastor general.)

Eight months after moving to Pasadena, in April 1987, Mr. Tkach Sr. raised his son to the rank of pastor. Later that year, in November, Joe Jr. was again promoted. Tkach Sr. decided to reorganize Church Administration into two branches—the U.S. ministry and the international ministry, with Joe Jr. in charge of the former and Larry Salyer the latter, effectively making Salyer the assistant to Joe Jr. Thus, in a matter of 15 short months, Joseph Tkach Jr. went from being a non-salaried, local church elder—the lowest-ranking spiritual office in the wcg—to the pastor-ranked director over the wcg’s ministry. This meteoric ascent put him in charge of approximately 1,200 wcg ministers in less than a year and a half...

Bernard Schnippert, another college friend of Joe Jr.’s, graduated from ac in 1971...In 1977, he returned to work in Pasadena as an assistant to Dr. Robert Kuhn, where he was responsible for coordinating the Systematic Theology Project (stp)...Bernie Schnippert somehow escaped the stp fallout and remained within the wcg. He spent the next eight years sequestered in a small congregation in Las Vegas, before getting a call from headquarters in April 1987. He was offered a position in Pasadena assisting Dexter Faulkner in Editorial Services. His primary title was that of international booklet director. A few months after his arrival at Pasadena, on August 1, Mr. Tkach raised Mr. Schnippert to the rank of pastor. The following month, Mr. Tkach made this remarkable announcement in the Pastor General’s Report: “As God grants greater and greater impact to the World Tomorrow television program, the Plain Truth magazine and our other publications, both in the United States and internationally, I have come to see the vital necessity of establishing thorough coordination among the four crucial and closely interrelated departments of Mail Processing, Editorial Services, Publishing Services and Television Production.” To that end, Mr. Tkach selected Bernie Schnippert to fill the newly created position of director of Media Operations...Thus, the man who coordinated the Systematic Theology Project in 1977 was now director of all the church’s media operations nine years later—just a year and a half after the death of Herbert Armstrong...

When Big Sandy reopened in 1981, Dr. Ward returned to his previous position of academic dean, serving under Leon Walker, the deputy chancellor. Ward held that position until late 1987 when Tkach Sr. called him. At the time, Dr. Ward had been working under Rod Meredith, the deputy chancellor at Big Sandy. At the Pasadena campus, Raymond McNair was the deputy chancellor. When Mr. Tkach appointed Dr. Ward to the position of vice chancellor over both campuses in 1987, he became Meredith’s and McNair’s superior...So, in less than two years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, Don Ward was president of Ambassador College, Bernie Schnippert headed all the media operations, Joe Tkach Jr. was in charge of the ministry and Michael Feazell was the pastor general’s executive assistant and ghost writer.

Another personality who would figure prominently in the new administration was Greg Albrecht, who was dean of students at ac Pasadena throughout the 1980s. In 1990, Bernie Schnippert moved Albrecht into Editorial Services, where he would later be given charge of the church’s flagship magazine, the Plain Truth.

All five of these scholars were made evangelists after Mr. Armstrong died in 1986...

Weeks after Mr. Tkach catapulted Dr. Ward to vice chancellor over the colleges, ahead of Mr. Meredith and Mr. McNair, Tkach shipped McNair to the New Zealand regional office.

We won’t take space to elaborate on a number of other examples, like Richard Ames, Herman Hoeh, Ellis La Ravia, Leroy Neff and Gerald Waterhouse—but suffice it to say that all of these men, who were prominent evangelists at the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death, faded from view and settled into much less significant roles once Mr. Tkach stepped into office and brought up his staff.

PCG received a variety of documents as the result of the legal discovery in its lawsuit with WCG and the above is somewhat based upon that.

Yesterday, the Catholic News Service reported the following:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A donation to the Vatican by a U.S. businessman enabled Pope Benedict XVI to peruse a few pages of the oldest existing copy of the Gospel of St. Luke and one of the oldest copies of the Gospel of St. John. The Catholic businessman, Frank J. Hanna III, and his family were present in the pope's library Jan. 22 when Pope Benedict got his first look at pages from the famous Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV...

The Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV, handwritten in Greek around the year 200, contains "about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John," Cardinal Tauran explained.

"With this new precious papyrus, the library of the pope possesses the most ancient witness of the Gospel of Luke and among the most ancient of the Gospel of John," he said...

Before the Bodmer documents were discovered in Egypt in 1952, it said, biblical scholars relied on references to the Gospels in the writings of the early church theologians to assert that by the year 100 the Christian community had accepted only four Gospels as inspired texts.

The Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV, containing the last two Gospels, the newspaper said, provides concrete evidence that the four Gospels were circulating among Christian communities as a complete set by the year 200, although the twin papyrus containing the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark has not been found. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0700433.htm

The early evidence does support the idea that the original church did know what the books of the Bible, including the New Testament were. An article of related interest may be The New Testament Canon - From the Bible Itself.

01/23/07 a.m. UCG's WN&P arrived last night. In it, Darris McNeely wrote:

I recently read a book that surveys the history of what it calls "the most controversial book in the Bible." The book's catchy title, A History of the End of the World, caught my eye at my local bookstore. The biblical book it describes is Revelation.

Now this is just another of the many hundreds of books that have been written in recent years about Revelation. And as usual, the author, Jonathan Kirsch, does not truly understand the book and draws many faulty conclusions about its message. Notice what is said in the book's last paragraph. "On one point…we all seem to agree: somehow and someday, sooner or later, whether by the hand of God or the hand of humankind or the mindless workings of the cosmos, the earth itself and all living things upon it will pass away. Ultimately, we are compelled to decide for ourselves how to make sense of our lives as we continue to wait—as men and women have always waited—for the world to end on time" (p. 256).

How depressing! Why do people misread the book and mistakenly conclude it describes the "end of the world"? Revelation does not describe the end of the world. Rather it describes the conclusion of the age of man on this planet in terms that offer the only message of hope found anywhere.

I would add that there is a lot of death and destruction in Revelation, but as HWA often said, at the end of the book, we win.

The lead article in WN&P was also by Darris McNeely and it states:

Could it happen again?

The true Church of God has many beliefs similar to those of the Jewish people. Does the return of anti-Semitism portend an eruption of violence against this group as well? It is interesting to see what Bible prophecy says about this. In Revelation 12 is the story of a woman who gives birth to a Child and is subsequently persecuted by a dragon. The woman represents the people of God from the time of ancient Israel to the spiritual Church of God founded by Jesus Christ. The dragon is a symbol of Satan the devil who has always opposed the work and plan of God through the ages...

The last verse of Revelation 12 shows us what to watch for in the future. "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (verse 17).

Here is a prophecy of violent persecution on a group who keeps God's law and faithfully follows the deepest teachings of Christ. This persecution goes beyond one ethnic group to attack a spiritual group bound together by the Holy Spirit as the Church of God. A time is coming when the world will witness a different type of Holocaust than that seen last century in Europe.

At the heart of such persecution is man's animosity toward God. Anti-Semitism is merely an expression of mankind's hatred of God and anything that reminds man of what God requires of His creation.

The law given at Sinai embodies what God expects of humanity. And the age-long hatred of the Jews reflects humanity's deep-seated feeling against the commandments of God.

It is true that the world, as influenced by Satan, truly hates many of God's ways. It is also true that a time of terrible persecution and trial will come. Some will be protected, however. An article of related interest may be There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra

Speaking of prophecy, PCG's Gerald Flurry announced that the latest book by his son, is fulfilling prophecy as he wrote:

Raising the Ruins draws on all the material we obtained in the court battle to expose what happened to the Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong died...Habakkuk...Several biblical prophecies show that the WCG must be exposed. God says it will happen...My son's book is an important part of that prophesied exposure.

While Stephen Flurry's book has some items of historical interest (as well as some distortions), I do not believe it fulfills prophecy the way that Gerald Flurry is suggesting. This is simply another one of the Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God.

01/22/07 a.m. CG7, Jerusalem posted:

2007 has come and many as usual have made resolutions, many will be broken few will be achieved; it's the normal trend of the world. True believers can't but ponder the pace at which things transpire these days: last month was 2006, soon we would be preparing for the Lord's Supper and then the year would end again. We must make a conscious effort to ensure the accomplishment of our daily goals; time passes by so quickly and we can't but wonder how did God achieve it? He said He would shorten these days for the elect's sake but how? There are still twenty four hours in a day but some how, time zooms by. This is a time of serious introspection, where we have been and where we are now. What have we accomplished as a body and individually for the LORD, are you satisfied with the growth you have made and the things you have accomplished in and for the LORD? Is the church progressing in the way of the LORD?

I read its 40 points of doctrine brochure (which is apparently produced by a Brooklyn affiliated) this morning, and other than the fact that it does not appear to specifically teach that Jesus is God (it is sort of vague there), forbidding all alcohol, its comments about "the third angel's message", and a couple of other points, the doctrines are basically consistent with COG teachings (and the "the third angel's message" is consistent with old CG7 practices).

While most in CG7 are affiliated with the Denver-based group led by Whaid Rose, there are other CG7 groups (CG7 Meridian comes to mind as another). And while they tend to have similar beliefs, CG7 Meridian is not as Protestant as CG7 Denver (although it does not accept Church Eras).

Since I mentioned Roman Catholic-related delusions yesterday, I thought that this would be a good time to cite and comment on a recent letter from Pope Benedict XVI about Sunday. Here are a couple of excerpts:

From the very outset, this has been a stable element in the perception of the mystery of Sunday: "The Word", Origen affirms, "has moved the feast of the Sabbath to the day on which the light was produced and has given us as an image of true repose, Sunday, the day of salvation, the first day of the light in which the Savior of the world, after completing all his work with men and after conquering death, crossed the threshold of Heaven, surpassing the creation of the six days and receiving the blessed Sabbath and rest in God" (Comment on Psalm 91)...

Sunday was not chosen by the Christian community but by the Apostles, and indeed by Christ himself, who on that day, "the first day of the week", rose and appeared to the disciples (Benedict XVI. Papal Letter to Cardinal Arinze. January 9, 2007. Zenit.org).

I would challenge anyone to show any statement from Jesus ("The Word") that even hints that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday--as such a statement does not exist except in the imaginations of heretics like Origen. Nor does the Pontiff cite one scripture that says that Jesus changed the date (the comments about Jesus supposedly rising on the first day of the week are dealt with in the article Sunday and Christianity).

Furthermore, any rational person who reads Psalm 91 would realize that it is discussing protection from God and is not in any way advocating a Sunday rest--and although it does use the terms shadow and night, it never once discussed light--so there is no support at all in Psalm 91 for Origen's false conclusion, other than perhaps his own twisted logic.

Perhaps I should add that the Pope does know that the Bible teaches that the seventh day is the sabbath, as he previously stated:

"Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God" (Exodus 20:8-9). The sabbath is a holy day, that is, a day consecrated to God on which man understands better the meaning of his life and his work. It can therefore be said that the biblical teaching on work is crowned by the commandment of rest. (Benedict XVI. Homily of March 19, 2006, Vatican City. Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

Notice that he called this the biblical teaching. And the biblical teaching is that the seventh day is the sabbath. That is what Pope Benedict XVI should be endorsing, not Sunday.

01/21/07 a.m. I have noted that some who were once affiliated with the COG, but who became Roman Catholic are under the delusion that the Roman Catholic Church, but not the COG, somehow has been the faithful church since the beginning (yes, J.O., I am including you in that). These individuals, and those like them, appear to wish to ignore the facts of history. Even leading Roman Catholic scholars know that there were no early bishops of Rome, and that what most accept as early Roman Catholic history simply is not true.

Here is a quote from one such scholar, who is a Roman Catholic priest and professor of theology at Notre Dame:

ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome's first bishop. Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142-ca. 155) did the Roman Church have a monoepiscopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). Those who Catholic tradition lists as Peter's immediate successors (Linus, Anacletus, Clement, et al.) did not function as the one bishop of Rome (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.25).

Those interested in learning more of the truth should read the article What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History?

Those who have actually studied the true history of early Christianity are aware of the following undisputed facts:

  1. Catholic-approved sources admit that those Sabbath and Holy Day observing Christians in the Jerusalem area into the second century were faithful Christians.
  2. Catholic-approved sources admit that those Holy Day keeping Christians in the region of Asia Minor under the Apostle John's, and then Polycarp's leadership (until at least the late second century) were true and faithful Christians.
  3. There is no historical record that the faithful Christians in those areas considered that those that did away with the Sabbath or changed the biblical Holy Days were faithful Christians (actually, the opposite is apparent in Polycrates' letter to Bishop Victor--no matter how the anti-COG types want to try to spin it--and the same is true from the writings of Ignatius).
  4. Justin Martyr made it clear that there were two groups of Christians in Asia Minor. One was a group that kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days (such as those affiliated with Polycarp) and they would not intimately associate with him, and his group that kept Sunday but did not keep the Holy Days.
  5. Justin Martyr did not approve of the Sabbath-observing Christians who expected the Gentiles to keep it too, as Justin said this about them, "I in like manner do not approve of them" (Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 47).
  6. Justin Martyr also made one or more statements which show that he condemned those who hold to at least one common Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant doctrine as not Christian. He specifically stated about those, "who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians" (Dialogue. Chapter 80). And while some may wish to argue that they believe in some type of resurrection, nearly all Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants believe that their souls go to heaven upon death--and thus were condemned by Justin..
  7. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox,, and most Protestants consider that Justin Martyr was a saint or at least a true Christian.
  8. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox,, and most Protestants consider that Polycarp of Smyrna was a saint or at least a true Christian.
  9. Polycarp kept the biblical Passover and tried to persuade the Romans not to switch to Sunday.
  10. People in Asia Minor kept the seventh-day Sabbath and the biblical Passover in that region for centuries after Jesus died.

Furthermore, it is sad that those who accept Justin also tend to accept Irenaeus as a true Christian. Both Justin and Irenaeus are considered to be heretics by the Living Church of God. LCG, for example, has published the following statements:

Notice: "Justin Martyr occupies a central position in the history of Christian thought of the second century.… Justin also molded the thinking of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons" (Chadwick, p. 79). Though Justin became a professing Christian in Ephesus, he "did not understand this to mean the abandonment of his philosophical inquiries, nor even the renunciation of all that he had learnt from Platonism" (p. 75)...

Irenaeus, heavily influenced by Justin, also preserved bits and pieces of the Truth in spite of conforming to Roman practices...

Yet, when Irenaeus came to Rome, he readily adapted to the Roman practices of observing ...Easter...

Irenaeus, though he departed from much of Polycarp’s teaching, maintained a lifelong admiration for Polycarp as a great man of God...

And while Irenaeus did get some correct understanding, he made so many errors that I believe that Irenaeus was the most dangerous heretic. The following was recently added to the article Irenaeus: The Most Dangerous Heretic?:

Prophetic Errors

In addition to the doctrinal errors that Irenaeus promoted through his writings and attempt at unifying under Roman Catholicism, the one category of his errors that will wreak havoc upon the world is his prophetic misunderstandings.

Irenaeus wrote:

Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God's legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book IV, Chapter 16, Verse 2).

For Enoch, when he pleased God, was translated in the same body in which he did please Him, thus pointing out by anticipation the translation of the just. Elijah, too, was caught up [when he was yet] in the substance of the [natural] form; thus exhibiting in prophecy the assumption of those who are spiritual, and that nothing stood in the way of their body being translated and caught up. For by means of the very same hands through which they were moulded at the beginning, did they receive this translation and assumption...If, however, any one imagine it impossible that men should survive for such a length of time, and that Elias was not caught up in the flesh, but that his flesh was consumed in the fiery chariot, let him consider that Jonah, when he had been cast into the deep, and swallowed down into the whale's belly, was by the command of God again thrown out safe upon the land (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book V, Chapter 5, Verses 1-2).

The truth is that Enoch and Elijah are dead and are not preserved to be the final witnesses. By perpetuating a Jewish misunderstanding of what occurred, Irenaeus has helped set the stage for massive delusion.

Specifically notice the following that is claimed to have been written by Irenaeus:

The disciples of the apostles say (from oral tradition) that they (Elias and Henoch) whose living bodies were taken up from this world have been placed in an earthly paradise where they will remain until the end of the world (as quoted in Birch D.A. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. 466).

The facts are, just like Irenaeus was wrong about his position about Peter and Paul founding the Church of Rome allegedly derived a tradition from the apostles, that if he actually wrote the above, he is clearly wrong about that it came from any true disciples of the apostles.

Sadly, many Catholics believe the above statements from and possibly from Irenaeus (which were later confirmed by writers such as Catholic saints Ephraem, John Damascene, and Hildegard), and this is one of the reasons that many of the Roman Catholics will be deceived about the real two witnesses and will not believe their message.

Many Roman Catholics believe that Enoch (whose name they often spell Henoch) and Elijah will not appear until after the discovery of the ark of the covenant (ibid, p. 509), hence they simply will not be able to discern the true witnesses from God-- as improper interpretation of prophecies (partially began by Irenaeus) will deceive them.

Irenaeus also misunderstood about Antichrist. Look at some of what he wrote:

And not only by the particulars already mentioned, but also by means of the events which shall occur in the time of Antichrist is it shown that he, being an apostate and a robber, is anxious to be adored as God; and that, although a mere slave, he wishes himself to be proclaimed as a king. For he (Antichrist) being endued with all the power of the devil, shall come, not as a righteous king, nor as a legitimate king, [i.e., one] in subjection to God, but an impious, unjust, and lawless one; as an apostate, iniquitous and murderous; as a robber, concentrating in himself [all] satanic apostasy, and setting aside idols to persuade [men] that he himself is God, raising up himself as the only idol, having in himself the multifarious errors of the other idols (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book V, Chapter 5, Verses 1).

Antichrist will not come destroying idols (though ultimately he will betray the Roman Catholic Church). Perhaps because of this statement from Irenaeus, the following inaccurate prophecy from Dionysus of Luxembourg (died 1682) claimed to be about Antichrist will probably become accepted in some Roman Catholic circles (parenthetical statements mine):

Antichrist will be an iconoclast. Most in the world will adore him. He will teach that the Christian (Catholic) religion is false, confiscation of Christian (Catholic) property is legal, Saturday is to be observed instead of Sunday, and he will change the ten commandments...He will read people's minds, raise the dead, reward his followers, and punish the rest (Conner Edward. Prophecy for Today, 4th ed. TAN Books, Rockford (IL) 1984, p.85).

The truth is that Antichrist will accept idols (iconoclasts abolish idols) originally embrace Catholicism, originally practice Sunday worship, and accept the Roman Catholic numbering of the ten commandments. The Bible does not teach that the Antichrist will read people's minds or raise the dead (although it mentions one who was healed of a deadly wound, Revelation 13:12).

Jesus, after His return, will abolish idols (Isaiah 2:17-18; Ezekiel 30:13), will insist on the Saturday Sabbath (Hebrews 4:4,9), and will correctly number and enforce the keeping of the ten commandments after His return (Revelation 22:14-15). He will, of course, be able to read people's minds (I Corinthians 3:20), will raise the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16), reward His followers (Matthew 16:27), and punish the rest (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 22:15).

When Christ comes, it appears that statements at least partially based upon Irenaeus' writings (and those of other traditions/private prophecies) may deceive many.

Irenaeus is clearly one of the most dangerous heretics, even in these end times.

Those who would like to read documented evidence about what really happened to the faithful church should read the following articles:

Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3

01/20/07 a.m. Do the SDAs believe in the trinity? While the main body of SDAs do, there are groups who claim that they are more faithful and do not.

Here are some comments from FH in an email I received yesterday about this (I have not retyped it and have not attempted to correct any typos):

I read with interest your article regarding the differences between Ellen White and Herbert Armstrong. One thing that I would ask you to consider updating is your belief that Ellen White led the Adventist church to its acceptance of the trithestic trinity doctrine. This is simply not true. Your sources, Gerhard Pfandl, Sam Bacchiocchi and Dr. Jerry Moon, are all part of the organizational group that is trying to convince the church that Ellen White became trinitarian. This is not the case, and these "scholars" have re-written church history, twisted quotes and supplied misinformation to the church at large to continue this charade in order to give a reason for the acceptance of the tritheistic trinity doctrine.
    The historic Adventist church, which does still exist, does not believe in the trinity. We believe that "to us there is but One God, the Father, of whom are all things and we in Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we in Him". The historic chgurch was never "bitarian", but rather believed that the Father is the One true God and that Jesus Christ was His divine Son and God by inheritance.

I will comment that my point that the SDA Church (the main one) teaches the trinity, is of course, sadly true. We in the Church of God differ from the SDAs and do not consider Ellen White a prophetess (this is discussed in the article The Sardis Church Era). Some of the differences are in the article SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.

FH sent a paper titled We Have Nothing to Fear for the Future, Except…A Response to Dr. Jerry Moon’s Overview of The Trinity Debates By Final Reformation Ministries which includes the following statements (which were also copied and not corrected):

What has come as an even bigger surprise is that our doctrine concerning the personality of God and of Christ came under heavy assualt shortly after Ellen White's death, and was changed unofficially in 1931, and then officially in 1946 and reaffirmed in 1980; each time claiming the support of the writings of Ellen White and Spirit of Prophecy.

More surprisingly, many are just finding out in the 21st century that Ellen White's and other Adventist authors writings were altered to substantiate this change of doctrine...

Story One begins with the pioneer Adventists and their history of Arian, or semi-Arian beliefs. Among those in the know and educated on Seventh-day Adventist history, there is no disagreement on this...

I will label Dr. Moon’s comments as Moon and my response as Response.

Moon--- In 1963 Erwin R. Gane broke new ground with his M. A. thesis arguing that most of the leaders among early Seventh-day Adventists held an antitrinitarian view of the Godhead, but that Ellen G. White was an exception. In Gane’s words, she was “a trinitarian monotheist.” Gane did not attempt to trace the history of the change from rejection to acceptance of trinitarianism, nor did he address in detail the role of Ellen White’s role in that change, but he set the stage for other investigators to further his work.  

Response- It is clear to many honest scholars that Ellen White was at no time in her Adventist life a trinitarian of any kind...

Moon- Further evidence that this was so appeared two years later in 1892, when Pacific Press published a pamphlet titled “The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity,” by Samuel T. Spear. The pamphlet corrected two prevailing misconceptions of the Trinity doctrine, showing that it “is not a system of tri-theism, or the doctrine of three Gods, but it is the doctrine of one God subsisting and acting in three persons, with the qualification that the term ‘person’ . . . is not, when used in this relation, to be understood in any sense that would make it inconsistent with the unity of the Godhead.”

Response- While this book by Mr. Spear (no relation to Adventist Ron Spear) used the word “Trinity” it also taught subordinationism, (that is, that Christ was not co-equal with the Father) a teaching that trinitarians reject wholesale. It should also be considered that this book was not written by a Seventh day Adventist, but was published by Pacific Press for an outside author, a fact that Moon neglects to include.

Moon-- Desire of Ages contained equally uncompromising statements regarding the deity of the Holy Spirit. Repeatedly, Desire of Ages employed the personal pronoun “he” in referring to the Holy Spirit, climaxing with the impressive statement, “The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this, the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. . . . Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power” (emphasis supplied).

Response- While it is true that Ellen White used the term “third person of the Godhead”, it must be understood that she did not mean this term as used by trinitarians, as witnessed by her many “anti-trinitarian” statements about the Holy Spirit in the very same book.

Moon-- Evidence that at least a portion of church leadership recognized the Desire of Ages statements as removing the objections to a biblical doctrine of the Trinity is a summary of Adventist beliefs that F. M. Wilcox published in the Review and Herald in 1913, during Ellen White’s lifetime, and on the same page with an article by Ellen White, where she would surely have been aware of it. The editor of the denomination’s most influential periodical, Wilcox wrote that “Seventh-day Adventists believe,— 1. In the divine Trinity. This Trinity consists of the eternal Father, . . . the Lord Jesus Christ, . . . [and] the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.”

Response-- Ellen White, in her weak and feeble state in 1913, did not necessarily know about this, and had she known she likely would have said something...

Response-- Unfortunately, Moon has already admitted that the trinity as outlined in Seventh-day Adventists Believe has unmistakeable Nicene and Athanasian language and influence in various parts. We also have the confession of the Adventist representative to the World Council of Churches that says Adventists are in official agreement with the trinity doctrine as spelled out in the Nicene-Constantinian and Athanasian Creeds, the two documents that Moon is trying to distance himself from.

Hence the above SDA-related "group" believes that the modern SDA scholars have changed, twisted, and/or misquoted Ellen White on this subject. But that the main SDA Church clearly has embraced the unbiblical doctrine of the trinity.

Onother matters, a review of the statistics from Google-type searches shows that after the word Cogwriter, the number one phrase that has brought people to the cogwriter.com site was:

ronald weinland

The article concerning him, Brief Article on Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God, is also becoming a popular article at this site.

The following news item has been popular in secular websites the past couple of days:

The Weather Channel Mess

January 18, 2007By James Spann (meteorologist at ABC 33/40 Birmingham) Well, well. Some “climate expert” on “The Weather Channel” wants to take away AMS certification from those of us who believe the recent “global warming” is a natural process. So much for “tolerance”, huh? 

I have been in operational meteorology since 1978, and I know dozens and dozens of broadcast meteorologists all over the country. Our big job: look at a large volume of raw data and come up with a public weather forecast for the next seven days. I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype.

On sort of a related note, last night ICG's Mark Armstrong wrote:

Greetings from Tyler,

            This global warming is really starting to get to us down here!  Tyler virtually shut down day before yesterday.  There were dozens of accidents on adjacent highways and on Interstate 20 with eighteen wheelers overturned and vehicles smashed.  But I know conditions have been even worse elsewhere, as much of the country has seen the effects of an arctic cold front. 

Well, while it has also been much colder than normal where I live, it was much warmer than normal when I visited the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. While the Weather Channel and various meterologists debate whether or not humans have been the primary cause of global warming, I for one do not make light of the fact that it is occurring. FWIW, I have personally visited glaciers in Alaska and have witnessed the reality of glacial melting.

And while HOW MUCH human burning natural resources have CONTRIBUTED to global warming is a subject of debate, the FACT is that THERE IS GLOBAL WARMING and humans certainly have contributed to it. How that may play into prophetic events, such as famine and the prophesied scourages is not clear as of yet, but certainly changes in global weather patterns would be expected to contribute to food shortages and other forms of chaos. An booklet of possible interest may be Who Controls the Weather?

AOL News had the following story this morning:

Clinton to Enter Presidential Race


NEW YORK (Jan. 20) - Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will embark on a widely anticipated campaign for the White House Saturday, a former first lady intent on becoming the nation's first female president...

With millions in the bank, a vast network of supporters and top status in nearly every poll of Democratic contenders, Clinton has launched the most viable effort by a female candidate to capture the White House.

Since Britain and Israel had their first female prime ministers, I have suspected that the USA probably would have a female president some day (though not necessarily Hillary Clinton). Recall that Isaiah warned:

As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths (Isaiah 3:12).

On an unrelated note, the following news item was of interest:

Is the Vatican a Rogue State?

Spiegel - Jan 19, 2007 The top crime neighborhood in the world isn't in Sao Paulo or Lagos. It's not the Bronx in New York, or even Wedding in Berlin. It's the small city ruled by Pope Benedict XVI, which apparently sees more criminal cases per capita than any other part of the world.The Vatican's attorney general Nicola Picardi released the astounding statistic at the start of 2007: The tiny nation's justice department in 2006 had to contend with 341 civil and 486 criminal cases. In a population of 492, that measures out to 1.5 cases per person -- twenty times the corresponding rate in Italy.

By this measurement at least, crime is soaring in the Vatican in spite of a security force that would put a police state to shame. The seat of the Catholic Church has one Swiss guard for every four citizens, not to mention museum guards and police assigned to the Vatican by Italy.

Picardi did say that most criminal cases were matters of pickpocketing or purse-snatching. The rest amounted to other petty crimes like fraud and forgery -- committed not by kleptomaniacal nuns but by a handful of black sheep among the 18 million pilgrims and tourists who visit St. Peter's Cathedral, St. Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums every year. About 90 percent of these crimes go unpunished, which is not a measure of Christian mercy but a sign of the perpetrators' favorite method of escape. They can break for the border -- a few meters away -- to Italy.

Anyway, no I do not consider that the Vatican is a rogue state regarding petty crime. I have never been bothered by crime the four times I have been to the Vatican. But I simply thought the above item was interesting.

1/19/07 a.m. I have finally added another doctrinal article to the History of Early Christianity page. Here is some of what it states:

Infant Baptism is Simply a Tradition of Men

There are many admitted traditions that the Catholics and others follow, including infant baptism.

Origen, a third century Alexandrian who was later condemned as a heretic by the Roman Church, was one of the first to declare that infant baptism was a tradition (many odd traditions were claimed to have apostolic origin in Alexandria--see the article Apostolic Succession).

Some Catholic-accepted leaders raised questions about infant baptism. If infant baptism was strongly encouraged by the Bible, it is not likely Tertullian would have written (late second/early third century):

But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be administered...God's approbation sends sure premonitory tokens before it; every " petition " may both deceive and be deceived. And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children...The Lord does indeed say, "Forbid them not to come unto me." Let them "come," then, while they are growing up; let them "come" while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the "remission of sins?...If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation (Tertullian. On Baptism, Chapter 18. Translated by S. Thelwall).

Infants are incapable of possessing a sound faith. Hence it is clear that infant baptism was not widely understood to be a biblically encouraged practice as late as the beginning of the third century.

Also notice what Gregory Nazianzen taught:

Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses...But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration (Oration 40:
The Oration on Holy Baptism, Chapter XXVIII. Preached at Constantinople Jan. 6, 381).

In other words, unless some child was about to die, even into the late fourth century, baptism of infants and small children was not a universal practice, nor requirement. And actually what was still advocated is that the person (even if a small child) should be able to "be able to listen and to answer something about" baptism.

The Catholic Encyclopedia clearly admits that infant baptism was a practice that eventually became customary--in other words it was not part of the original faith. Notice:

Further, when infant baptism became customary, confirmation was not administered until the child had attained the use of reason. This is the present practice, though there is considerable latitude as to the precise age (Scannell T.B. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney. Confirmation. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Perhaps it should be mentioned here that "confirmation" did not become an issue until after infant baptism was accepted. Notice this admission:

Before the time of Tertullian the Fathers do not make any explicit mention of confirmation as distinct from baptism. The fact that the two sacraments were conferred together may account for this silence (Scannell T.B. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney. Confirmation. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Actually, since baptism was not done for infants, there was no need to have a separate confirmation. Nor does the Bible anywhere explicitly teach about the need for properly baptized individuals to be later confirmed. The idea of a separate confirmation is clearly another tradition of men--and is not even truly claimed to be a "tradition for the apostles" by any early writer.

The Eastern Orthodox admit that infant baptism is not based upon scripture:

I myself must admit that I did not always feel comfortable about the Orthodox Church baptizing infants. I asked myself several other questions as well: "How can an infant 'believe and be baptized'?" "Where in Scripture does it show an infant being baptized?" (Bajis J. Infant Baptism. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/en/our faith/articles/article7067.asp 8/21/05).

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that infant baptism and other practices are simply based upon tradition:

The designation of unwritten Divine traditions was not always given all the clearness desirable especially in early times; however Catholic controversialists soon proved to the Protestants that to be logical and consistent they must admit unwritten traditions as revealed. Otherwise by what right did they rest on Sunday and not on Saturday? How could they regard infant baptism as valid, or baptism by infusion? How could they permit the taking of an oath, since Christ had commanded that we swear not at all? The Quakers were more logical in refusing all oaths, the Anabaptists in re-baptizing adults, the Sabbatarians in resting on Saturday. (Bainvel J. Transcribed by Tomas Hancil. Tradition and Living Magisterium. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is true that most of the traditions mentioned above are practices that most in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches accept. Since those traditions do contradict the biblical accounts (and even The Catholic Encyclopedia admitted that on most of them), those practices should be rejected and should not be part of the traditions of either of those groups. This rejection is consistent with the previously cited writing by Irenaeus, who is accepted as a Saint by the Catholics, the Orthodox supporters, and many of the Protestants. It is also consistent with the Sola Scriptura position publicly taken by Martin Luther and most of the Protestant followers. Most importantly, rejecting those practices is consistent with the teachings of Jesus that we are not to accept the traditions of men above the commands or other words of God.

It is of interest to note that those in the Churches of God (which are not Protestant--though there are some Protestants who use the name Church of God) do rest on Saturday instead of Sunday, do not regard infant baptism as valid, do not baptize by infusion, do refuse swearing by oath, do only baptize adults, nor do they hold to a long list of non-biblical doctrinal traditions that most in those groups hold.

The above is in the article Baptism and the Early Church which is also available at the History of Early Christianity page.

UCG reported:

Good Works Project: Dental Care for brethren and training for dentists in Rwanda

Last year Dr. Greg Swartz, a dentist by profession who is also a non-salaried elder of the United Church of God, volunteered to provide dental care free of charge for our Church brethren in Rwanda. He treated approximately 40 people at the Centre Hospitalier de Kigali Hospital, mostly Church brethren, but also including some especially difficult cases referred to him by other dentists.

This morning, LCG reported:

Christianity in Europe: “European bishops are urging for the inclusion of a reference to Christianity in the EU’s 50 year anniversary [of the Treaty of Rome] declaration next year, after they failed to get ‘God’ included in the shelved EU constitution.” The bishops recently released a document calling for the inclusion of Christian wording in the document to be released in March. The Germans now hold the reigns of both the EU and the G-8, and Chancellor Merkel has expressed the need to include God in the EU Constitution (EU Observer, December 19, 2006). The next six months should prove interesting for Europe and the EU. The Pope recently sent a letter that reaffirms the importance of Sunday for all Christians. He closed his letter by invoking the “motherly protection of Mary Most Holy” (Zenit.org, January 9, 2007). Revelation 17 reminds us that at the time of the end, a great mother church will “ride” or powerfully influence the Beast power. It will be interesting to watch how the Catholic church, the historic religious influence in Europe, achieves a more visible and influential role in Europe.

On other matters, the COGwriter site has been re-indexed. Searches should be more complete.

The previous search ignored many articles on the History of Early Christianity page. Plus it ignored news posts (it should now include the more recent news posts from this page).

01/18/07 a.m. Zenit reported this translation of comments made by Pope Benedict XVI yesterday:

Tomorrow begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which I shall close personally in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls next Jan. 25, with the celebration of vespers, to which representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial communities of Rome have also been invited...

I have observed how profound the desire for unity is during meetings I have held with several representatives of the Churches and ecclesial communities in the course of these years, and in a moving way in the recent visit to ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul, Turkey...

This "unity" week thus begins today.

While history clearly shows that the Roman Catholic leaders have instigated persecution against those affiliated with the true Church of God, it is clear from the actions and words of this pontiff that he is intent upon bringing the Eastern Orthodox (whose leading patriarch is in Istanbul) into the unity of the Roman faith (this is consistent with prophecies from the Roman Church, see article on Europa and the Beast).

If the Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and others would hold to the true teachings originally observed by the Church, efforts towards unity would be likely to bear positive fruit. However, as documented at the History of Early Christianity page, those groups clearly do not agree with many of the practices and teachings of the early Church.

AP had a small story about PCG's college:

College survives with church partnership 

Associated Press - Jan 13, 2007

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) - A college near this north Oklahoma County suburb continues to produce graduates thanks to a unique partnership with its students and a church.

Students at Herbert W. Armstrong College must work 20 or more hours a week for the college or its benefactor, the Philadelphia Church of God.

At the church and college campus north of Edmond, 45 students grow vegetables, staff offices, clean buildings and process mail. The Philadelphia Church of God sends out 2 million pieces of literature each year to supporters and those curious about the unorthodox denomination.

Students pay $4,000 upfront to attend the college, which has no accreditation and offers no formal degrees.

"It's a double benefit," said college President Stephen Flurry. "We bring students a balanced, morally upright education. The church benefits from the student work program."

Students earn two or four-year "diplomas" that college leaders say demonstrate mastery in liberal arts and theology. The first class of four-year students graduated last year.

Nine of the 13 graduates were hired by the church or college. A few have found outside jobs as administrative assistants.

The old Ambassador College was highly subsidized by WCG (but it did offer formal degrees). It is not uncommon for religious schools to receive financing from their affiliated church.

Click here for previous COG news (includes comments rebutting accusations against HWA and plagiarism, Unitarian vs. Binitarian historical claims, CG7's latest, COGaic's internet performance, the early observance of the Ten Commandments, SDAs and Christmas, COG magazine statistics, etc.)

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Volume 10, issue 34 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2007