* LCG News * 2006 Feast of Tabernacles Sites * Listing of Living Church of God Congregations *Sunset Times for the U.S. * News of Those Once Affiliated with the Global COG * Prayer Requests * Official Living Church of God What's New? page.
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.
06/07/06 a.m. In its latest post, COGaic writes:
News of a handful of deaths from the flu wouldn’t usually cause so much as a ripple in today’s world—unless it turned out to be the strain known as the H5N1 avian influenza, or bird flu. First recognized in 1997, the virus infected 18 people in Hong Kong, causing six deaths. Since late 2003 there have been 169 additional documented cases of the infection in humans, with 91 resulting in death. Hundreds of millions of birds—primarily poultry—have also died, either from the disease itself or through culling as a preventive measure.
So far the human cases of bird flu have been limited to China, Southeast Asia, Iraq and Turkey. Nearly every one of these people contracted the virus through direct contact with infected poultry. But scientists around the globe have warned that this virus could mutate into a strain that can be transmitted between people. Once that happens, the bird flu could spread around the world and become a pandemic within a matter of weeks: it would just take one or two infected people to board a plane headed for another continent...
The speed of travel enables an American to go on safari in Kenya, pick up the Ebola virus, fly back home to New York, pass through immigration and customs, and then spend the next few days back at work before suddenly getting sick. During the incubation period—the time between getting infected and developing clinical signs of disease—this person may expose hundreds of people to the deadly virus.
Pestilences are prophesied, but whether one will be related to the H5N1 virus remains unclear.
In his June 2006 letter, WCG's J. Tkach writes:
I’m happy to report that we have now fully completed the move of church headquarters from Pasadena to Glendora, California! While it will take several months to get everything fine-tuned, we are up and running. Here are some photos you might enjoy of our move, the Glendora office, and our open house barbeque. I know many of you have been praying about this transition, and I want to take this opportunity to let you know how much we appreciate your support and encouragement! We are all in this work of faith together, sharing the good news of love and hope in Jesus Christ with everyone we can. God has given each of us a role to play, and we need each other to do the job he has given us to do.
In many ways, this move is the welcome end of what has been a long and often frustrating process. We are greatly relieved and thankful to be at last in a smaller, less expensive facility, made even more economical by the blessing of being able to lease out part of the building to help cover expenses.
But this move marks much more than that: it marks a new beginning, a fresh start with renewed zeal in our quest
to carry out the great commission Christ has entrusted to believers everywhere.
It is sad that WCG no longer knows what the great commission is as it no longer understand's Christ's Gospel of the Kingdom.
Speaking of WCG, the past couple of emails announcing what's New in the Christian Odyssey website it has had a lot of anti-Sabbath articles (and this current issue is no exception. Instead of trying to see what the Bible really teaches about the Sabbath, it seems to wish to cloud the issue to justify its lack of Sabbath-keeping. While this is not a surprise, I am somewhat surprised that they keep doing that this late as WCG "did away with the Sabbath" over a decade ago.
06/06/06 a.m. Today, as at least two marketing types have long realized, is the calendar date of 6 6 6. Because of that, one decided to release today the new movie version of "The Omen". Of course, the Bible does not speak of 666 as a calendar date, but as the number of a man:
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666 (Revelation 13:18).
The identity of 666 is actually one of the differences between the Seventh Day Adventists and the Churches of God (please see the article SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666).
In addition to "The Omen" movie, today marks the release of the latest book in the "Left Behind" series titled The Rapture. I recently watched the 2000 movie starring Kirk Cameron titled Left Behind, which I am relatively sure was based up the series of books with that same name. However, the movie (in addition to teaching the inaccurate concept of "the rapture"--please see the LCG article The Secret Rapture - False Hope for End-Time Christians!) specifically teaches that all small children are raptured, thus spared from the tribulation. This is clearly NOT what the Bible teaches.
First, let us see who is to meet Christ in the air:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The above shows that it is those who are in the Lord will meet Him in the air (and this is actually after the great tribulation). It gives no basis that all small children will be taken up. In addition, the Bible shows that the event in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 occurs AFTER the tribulation:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:29-30).
Second, it is clear from Jesus' teachings that small children WILL go through the tribulation. If they were to be raptured at instant before the beginning of the great tribulation, Jesus would not have taught the following:
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:19-21).
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be (Mark 13:17-19).
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people (Luke 21:23).
In the movie version titled "Left Behind", all small children (and not just nursing babies, lest any raise that as an argument) were raptured. But this is clearly not what the Bible teaches. Those interested in God's protection from the Great Tribulation may wish to read the article There is a Place of Protection for Philadelphians, Why it May Be Petra. Those interested in God's plan for babies, small children, and others who are not true Christians who die may wish to read the article Hope of Salvation: How the COG Differs from Protestantism.
06/05/06 a.m. Do even Protestant scholars understand that Justin Martyr knew that there were Christians who kept the law when he was opposed to it? Well the obvious answer is yes. The Distance Learning page of Wheaton College Graduate School states this on that subject:
The description of the divisions among Hebrew Christianity given in the second century Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew by Justin Martyr (d. ca. A.D. 165)  brings us to the close of our survey. It deserves separate, extended treatment by itself. It confirms the continuing existence of Jewish Christianity and provides valuable information about the status and beliefs of Jewish Christians. We will also focus on what Justin reveals about divisions among Hebrew Christians.
The Dialogue reveals a number of divisions among Jewish Christians caused by differences of opinion about Christology and Torah (Law). (1) Justin refers to those "of our race [i.e., Christians], who admit that He [Jesus] is Messiah, while holding him to be man of men" (chap. 47). Trypho clarifies that they believe Jesus "to have been a man, and to have been appointed by election, and then to have become Messiah" (chap. 45). Evidently these Jewish Christians who were a part of the Larger Church. They accepted the view, frequently affirmed by Justin, that Jesus is the Messiah, the pre-existent, virgin born, Son of God (cf. chaps. 43, 48). Also presumably they with Justin, rejecting the Law as having present relevance, did not observe its provisions. They (a) believe Jesus is the Messiah, the pre-existent, virgin born, Son of God; (b) reject the Law as having present relevance, and do not observe its provisions;  (c) for there sake the nation was not completely destroyed."Jesus (chaps. 43, 48).
(3) A third group of second century Jewish Christians affirmed that: (a) Jesus is the Messiah of God who was crucified, the absolute Judge of all to whom belongs the everlasting kingdom; (b) recognize that the Law contributes nothing to righteousness but at the same time wish to observe the institutions of Torah (cf. chaps. 46, 47). Justin does "not approved"  of this group try to persuade others, particularly Gentile Christians, to observe the Law. 
Justin also speaks of (4) Hebrew Christians who "through weak-mindedness,"  keep the Law but do not seek to persuade others to do so. Justin believes that these will be saved and that other Christians "ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren" (chap. 47). However, he acknowledges that there were some Christians who believed that these Hebrew Christians who observed the Law without attempting to compel others to do so would not be saved and refused to have Christian fellowship with them.
Thus Justin confirms that Jewish Christianity existed into the second century. His description of some of the same sort of divisions which are evident in the Book of Acts supports a continuity with the pre-AD 70 church. He shows that in addition to Jewish Christians whose Christology was not acceptable to Church as a whole, there were also those whose belief about Jesus was in harmony with Christianity as a whole. Furthermore, he confirms that the place and role of the Jewish law in Christianity was, for several (but not all) Jewish groups, was a matter of continuing concern (Scott JJ. GLIMPSES OF JEWISH CHRISTIANITY FROM THE END OF ACTS TO JUSTIN MARTYR (A.D. 62-150). Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL 60187, 3/18/98; corrected 1/11/99;http://www.wheaton.edu/DistanceLearning/Post-70.htm 6/5/06).
I have added the above to my article Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate?
I have been writing for a long time that there were two groups in Ephesus, one faithful and one who became the mainstream. The above account shows that even Protestant scholars admit that Justin taught there were two groups: one faithful to the law, and one not (the one of Sunday-keeping Justin). Those who have not read it, should really consider reading the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome.
UCG's Jim Tuck reported:
The Washington Post reported: “Iran, apparently anticipating an American invasion, has quietly been restructuring its
military and testing a new military doctrine that calls for a decentralized, Iraqi-style guerrilla campaign against an invading force...
At the same time, a European military attache in Tehran told The Washington Times that the Revolutionary Guard is moving away
from a joint command with the ordinary army and taking a more prominent role in controlling Iran's often porous borders, even as it
makes each of Iran's border provinces autonomous in the event of war.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he was not aware of any improvement of Iran's military
capabilities, but noted that if such developments are taking place, people in the U.S. government are watching.
Defense analysts said it makes sense for the Iranian regime to give the impression of upgrading and modernizing its military, but they
questioned the need to prepare for guerrilla-type warfare because a full-blown U.S. invasion is not likely...”
The above basically confirms common-sense--Iran has been watching Iraq and realizes that they probably need to follow the pattern of Iraqi--resistance in order to survive an invasion from the West.
06/04/06 a.m. LCG's
Normally, three-day weekends take a big bite out of our response, but, all things considered, it looks like we came through okay this Memorial-Day weekend. We aired program 269, ‘The Power of God in History,’ which was first aired eight weeks ago. This program offers How God Intervenes in World Affairs (GIW). From Thursday through Monday, we received 1,869 phone calls, and we are expecting the final count to go over 2,000. This week’s response is virtually matching the first airing’s response of 2,074 replies. For a second airing, mitigated further by a three-day weekend, this is an exceptional response… The responses to the two airings of program 269 are the two highest TV responses we have received from the GIW booklet since it began being offered on the telecast in October 2002… Thanks to the addition of our new satellite coverage over the U.K. and Europe on The Gospel Channel, as well as our new and more efficient call-center in England, we received 329 phone calls last week in response to program 274, ‘Who Is the Beast of Revelation?’ This is a new record for our response. U.K.
G&S's home page continues to state:
Richard C. Nickels, President of Giving & Sharing, is battling a life-threatening illness. We appreciate your understanding and prayers.
We plan to continue updating Giving & Sharing’s website, www.giveshare.org, as well as the online publication of “Church of God News.”
Yet, the last issue of "Church of God News" is from January 2006--hence apparently that was wishful thinking on G&S's behalf. I have often found the G&S site to have certain historically useful information.
The ten most popular articles at the COGwriter site for May 2006 were:
1. 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?
2. Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
3. History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church?
4. Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise.
5. Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Churches of God Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
6. Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God Simply calling oneself 'Philadelphia' does not make one so (see Revelation 3:7-9). This article provides quotes from this group which claims to be faithful.
7. 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.
8. 15 Accusations and Truthful Responses About Herbert Armstrong He, even after his death, keeps being improperly maligned--here is the truth on these matters.
9. Polycarp of Smyrna Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor.
10. Church of God, Seventh Day Nearly all COG's I am aware of trace their history through this group. Do you know much about them?
The above list suggests to me that there has been an increase of non-COGers reading my articles as only three of them (for various reasons) would be mainly read by those with COG affiliation (4,8,10). FWIW, I provided updates to most of those top ten articles last month as well, so if you have not read them (or read them lately), you may still find them to be of interest.
I was surprised, however, that my new article The Da Vinci Code, was not in the above list for May.
UCG even posted on Friday that "Christians Must Prepare for The Da Vinci Code". Thus, perhaps more should read the article The Da Vinci Code.
Speaking of UCG, it just reported that its internet visits were up in April as a result of google ads and other programs.
On Friday, I received the June-July edition of PCG's Philadelphia Trumpet. This particular issue contains more pages than usual and calls itself a "Special Issue". Thus far, I have not determined why (as it does not seem different in content than prior editions), but perhaps there will be something of interest in it that I will cite here by the time I finish it.
Regarding Gavin Rumney and xCG, there were some comments at xCG that I thought I would share here. The first ones are from Jared Olar:
Bob Thiel does quote from various sources, including primary sources and assorted secondary and tertiary sources of varying quality. But a formal bibliography would indeed be helpful...
Thiel is begging two important questions: 1) Which “Bible”? Most Christians don’t use the same canon or preferred translation(s) of the Bible as Thiel. 2) Is the interpretation of “the Bible” that Thiel happens to prefer at this moment in time identical to “the Bible”? That is, is it possible for someone to believe the Bible is authoritative without being a Meredithite Armstrongist like Thiel? Why, yes it is!
I wish to say that I do appreciate that Jared Olar (who, although he commonly inaccurately writes about my writings, actually seems to have read many of them now) decided to state the obvious truth about them in that first quote above.
Now Jared already knew the answer to the first question he raised in those quotes, but I will answer it here anyway. As my articles on the Old Testament Canon and The New Testament Canon demonstrate, I am referring to the 66 books of the Bible, and do not accept the so-called deuterocanonical books that Roman Catholics also do.
Regarding the second question, yes as I have written before, there are true Christians, including perhaps some Philadelphians, who are not part of the Living Church of God. More information can be found in the articles The Sardis Church Era, The Philadelphia Church Era and The Laodicean Church Era.
And Gavin Rumney posted:
I had a look at the references in the article Bob alluded to. Most are very old – 1846-1912 – out of copyright online resources that reflect the state of knowledge at that time...
Out of the more than 70 references I noted down maybe 12 (to err on the side of generosity) that might be taken seriously in an undergraduate course in church history.
Actually, I also quote the Bible a lot, but perhaps that is too old for some too take seriously. Perhaps I should add here that I have studied graduate and post-graduate level church history, although I doubt that will change Gavin Rumney's view of my writings.
Anyway, my point is that I rely on the Bible, my articles are highly documented, and even my critics admit that. The fact that they choose to discount certain references, not wish to accept scriptural evidence, and wish to belittle some of the scholarly sources I cite does not change the truth.
06/03/06 a.m. Yesterday CGG posted:
Today, among those still professing to be Christian, doctrinal confusion abounds. While three-quarters of Americans are associated with Christianity, only half consider themselves absolutely committed to the Christian faith. Less than half of Americans strongly believe the Bible is totally accurate in all its teachings—and these figures are far higher than in the rest of the Western world! With so little commitment on earth to the truth of God, it is hardly surprising there is so much misunderstanding and disagreement over the basic message that our Savior brought from the Father—the gospel.
"Just believe on the name of Jesus, and you'll be saved" is a common message of professing Christian ministers and Sunday morning "gospel programs"—even though Jesus Himself said one must believe the gospel to be saved (Mark 1:15). Others say the gospel is that God sent His Son to die for our sins. Still others condense it all down to a trite "Jesus loves you" that fits nicely on bumper stickers—and believe they are spreading the "good news"!
It is certainly true that belief in Jesus Christ is the major requirement of salvation—although more is required than just intellectual agreement. It is also true that God did indeed send His Son to pay the penalty of our sins, and, yes, God certainly does love us. But not one of these common sentiments is the true "good news" message that Jesus Christ brought! At best, these statements are each only a portion of the gospel message.
Nowhere does the Bible say the gospel is that Jesus Christ came to die for our sins!
One major area where the COGs differ from Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox is the explanation of what the gospel actually is. An article of historical interest may be The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church.
On other matters, now that I am back in the USA, I see that xCG has spent a fair amount of space attacking me, and that this morning they even have a new quote from Gavin Rumney's revised site. Gavin Rumney ran the popular anti-COG Ambassador Watch website, until he shut it down in December, but I always felt that he would be back.
Anyway, here is the main quote that Gavin and xCG have posted about my Early Christianity writings:
My challenge to Bob is to provide a bibliography for his site. Books he has actually read and consulted. Then we’ll all be in a better position to discuss his ideas.
xCG seems to devote much of its website to discuss (actually attacking normally) my ideas and writings. And Gavin Rumney once wrote that the existence of the COGwriter site was a major factor in him developing his own site. Thus, history shows that the above quote is absurd. The anti-COGers do act like there is enough materials in my writings to discuss them.
My articles contain references of some of what I have read, enough so that the anti-COGers seem to focus a lot on them (so much so, that my writings are often the primary thing these people seem to discuss at their websites).
As I posted here many months ago, I have read all the books of the Bible and nearly all the non-gnostic early "Christian" writings prior to the third century--thus I believe I have read about every primary reference source available (though normally in English as my Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is not sufficient to read those writings as originally written). Plus I have read many other books, including those written by scholars of various theologies--which I consider essentially as sometimes useful for explanations (or in the case of many of them, they are primary references for the beliefs of certain church groups). It would take too long and serve no purpose to list all of the books in one place (those looking for a short list, however, can read through the references, for example, at the end of my article Location of the Early Church).
My articles, as any who read them can tell, are highly documented. The plain truth is that those at the anti-COG sites do not accept the Bible as truly authoritative--thus we do not have common ground.
Of course, it really does not matter much what the anti-COGers choose to believe about what I write. They have never appeared to me to be like the Bereans--they do not seem to have "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
As far as references, my articles remain highly researched and do normally list many of the works I have used. Here is my written position about references (as cited at my Early Christianity page):
Unlike "The Da Vinci Code", this site teaches that the Bible is the only source of doctrine; but similarly, this site also accepts that there are early historical writings (some of which have been preserved better than others), which can give clues about how the early church understood the Bible.
This site also provides definitions, timelines, and other basic information for those who are truly interested in the truth about the real Christian Church--a group which was never intended to be large--as Jesus taught, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
My challenge to all that are not in the COG is to read and believe what is written in the Bible. Only then will we truly have common ground.
06/02/06 a.m. Good morning. I am now back in the USA.
Pentecost is fast approaching and the following two items might be of interest:
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? More Christians somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means?
Michael's Pentecost Quiz Developed by my son Michael a few years ago.
The March 2006 edition of The Journal finally was printed while I was out of the country. And although I have not received my hard copy yet, I did receive an electronic version.
A front page story by CGI's Ian Boyne stated:
KINGSTON, Jamaica—Three hundred people, including 40 visitors, attended the Jamaican congregation’s first campaign for the year on the Sabbath of Feb. 26, when I addressed the topic “Should You Keep the Sabbath?”
A front page story by ACD's Ken Westby stated:
AUBURN, Wash.—An author with a Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College background, 6 0 - y e a r - o l d James D. Tabor, has made a name for himself in the world of biblical scholarship. His ranking among scholars is enhanced by his latest book...The Jesus Dynasty: The
Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity...I found the book an exciting read, hard to put down, one that caused me to pore over the Gospels one more time. I learned a great deal from James Tabor and found more with which to agree than disagree, which isn’t always the case with the three to four dozen books I usually read in a year. Some will wonder how I can enthusiastically recommend a book when I
strongly disagree with the some of author’s major propositions. Well, I think Dr. Tabor honestly came to his position of rejecting the supernaturality of the Christ event and truly believes he is right. I disagree and believe he is wrong. But I can say the same of a host of authors of excellent works upon which modern biblical knowledge has been built.
ACD is somewhat of a unitarian group that does not accept the Binitarian View held by those in the COGs. Dr. Tabor, who is not part of ACD, teaches religious studies at UNC, Charlotte.
An article about CGOM's annual meeting brought up some issues as CGOM had been providing some support to a CG7 ministry:
“We love the Church of God Seventh Day but we do adhere to the holy days,” Mr. Ambrose concluded.
Mr. Kieler, from the audience, commented that the CG7, “as a body,” is moving toward acceptance of a version of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Since CGOM affiliates do not preach or believe in the concept of the Trinity, he said, distribution of CGOM-approved literature that teaches against
the Trinity can clash with CG7 efforts in the same geographical areas.
Mr. Whaley noted, however, that some CG7 congregations and members do indeed observe the feast days.
It is in fact true that some within CG7 do observe the Holy Days, but it is also true that the top leadership of CG7-Denver appears to be becoming more tolerant of non-COG doctrines like the Trinity. More on CG7 can be found in the article Church of God, Seventh Day. There is also an article on CGOM for those with interest in them.
I was pleased to see the following at the back page of The Journal:
ARROYO GRANDE, Calif.— In an effort “to portray Church of God history in a more documented and detailed light,” Robert Thiel, a member of the Living Church of God, announced a “significant overhaul” to his popular COGrelated Web site, cogwriter.com. The main change is the addition of a section titled “History of Early Christianity.” The section contains information on many of the people, places and doctrines of the first- and second-century churches, Dr. Thiel said.
Dr. Thiel said part of the inspiration for his Web-site expansion was the popularity of the book and movie called The Da Vinci Code. “Since many people outside the Church of God now have views into early Christianity that seem to have been influenced by this fictionalized account,” Dr. Thiel said, “the ‘History of Early Christianity’ page is intended to be a source of documented history concerning the truth about the true Christian church.”
He named four categories of articles in the new section:
* People. The site includes articles on the first 16 “alleged bishops of Rome,” 20 or so early church leaders who “appeared to be faithful,” and even information on some of the leading “early heretics.”
* Places. The site includes text and photos concerning Ephesus, Smyrna, Athens, Rome, Corinth, Patmos, Pergamos and Rhodes. “These sites were all important to early Christianity,” he said.
* Doctrines. Dozens of articles on doctrines “that were held by the early church” are included. “These articles are based both upon
the Bible and the writings of generally pre-fourth-century theological writers.” Dr. Thiel lists the doctrines to show that many beliefs held by mainstream churches today “differ greatly from those held by the early church.”
* Historical interest. The section includes several timelines, listing information such as the names of Roman emperors, Roman bishops,
Orthodox bishops, Church of God leaders and “church eras.” Dr. Thiel has also added links to resources on the Bible and other earlychurch
writings. See www.cogwriter.com/earlychristianity.htm.
I did not know the above was in the March 2006 issue until I wrote everything above (as this was on the last page of The Journal). Anyway, if you have not been to the Early Christianity page, you may wish to check it out.
Click here for previous COG news
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Click here for the Early Christianity page
Volume 10, issue 9 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006