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07/19/06 a.m. CGG posted the following news item this morning:
...in a 236-187 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has rejected a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage, thereby ending congressional debate on the issue for this year. The vote over a proposal to amend the Constitution of the United States to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman fell 47 votes shy of the two-thirds majority required to advance the amendment. The vote on H.J.Res 88 comes only six weeks after the Senate likewise defeated the amendment in a decisive vote. Conservative and pro-family leaders are expressing bitter disappointment over the outcome of this bid to protect traditional marriage, and many are predicting that the majority of Americans will be expressing similar feelings at the polls in November...
While we in the COGs deplore the societal decay in the USA, we do not believe that voting is the solution. An article of possible interest may be Should a Christian Vote?
One of the doctrines that greatly separates the COGs from the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and the Protestants, is that the COGs hold a Binitarian View. Most of those outside of the COGs that call themselves Christian insist upon a trinitarian view. But even scholars of the main religions that claim to be trinitarian admit that the trinity was not a provable view among Early Christianity.
As late as the end of the second century and the beginning of the third, Roman Bishops still were not trinitarian as now understood--at least two bishops at that time tolerated Sabellianism. Notice what one scholar wrote:
Sabellius taught the strict unity of the godhead: "one Person (hypostasis), three names." God is hyiopater, Son-Father. The different names Father, Son, and Spirit, merely describe different forms of revelation; the Son revealed the Father as a ray reveals the sun. Now the Son has returned to heaven, and God reveals himself as the Holy Spirit...Despite these flaws, Sabelliansim seems to have won the adherence of two bishops of Rome, Victor and Zephyrinus (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 103).
If the doctrine of the trinity is so critical to being a "Christian" than why did not even the Roman bishops misunderstand it so much?
Anyway, the trinity was not formally adopted until after this 325 A.D. the Council of Nicea. It was finally adopted at the Council of Constantipole in 381--though many in the Roman and Orthodox Church believed in versions of it prior to this--but even in 381 it was not exactly the same trinity teaching as now understood. In spite of this, however, the trinity is considered to be so important that The Catholic Encyclopedia states:
The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion (The Blessed Trinity, 1912).
Yet in the early third century, the bishop of Rome (Zephyrinus) would not make a decision about the trinity as the nature of God. How central to the Christian religion could a doctrine, not fully embraced until a later date, actually be?
Similarly, notice this contradictory statement from a Protestant theologian:
The doctrine of the Trinity is fundamental for the Christian faith, even though the doctrine was not clearly formulated and generally accepted by an ecumenical council until the fourth century..The Council of Chalcedon, the decisions of which were reaffirmed at the Trullanum of 680-681, gave us the formulation of Christological doctrine we now call orthodox. Why did it take over two centuries for debate to cease on a topic, only to leave us with what was already said in 451?...Is it possible to say that Chalcedon politics created theology? There can be no doubt that political factors played a role, and a very important one...The formula for laying the trinitarian and Christological controversies to rest was spelled out at Chalcedon in 451, although it took more than two centuries to accomplish this goal (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 127,192-193,194).
Anything that was truly "fundamental for the Christian faith" must have been clear and accepted by the true church from the first century. This fact alone demonstrates the fallacy of the trinity.
A bishop of the Orthodox Church also confirmed the trinity's late acceptance:
...the councils defined once and for all the Church's teaching upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith -- the Trinity and the Incarnation. All Christians agree in regarding these things as 'mysteries' which lie beyond human understanding and language...the first two, held in the fourth century...formulated the doctrine of the Trinity...The work of Nicea was taken up by the second Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in 381. This council expanded and adapted the Nicene Creed, developing in particular that teaching upon the Holy Spirit, whom it affirmed to be God even as the Father and the Son are God...It was the supreme achievement of St. Athanasius of Alexandria to draw out the full implications of the key word in the Nicene Cred: homoousios, one in essence or substance, consubstantial. Complementary to his work was that of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Saints...(died 394). While Athanasius emphasized the unity of God -- Father and Son are one in essence (ousia) - the Cappadocians stressed God's threeness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons (hypostasis) (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp. 20-23).
If this doctrine were originally part of the true Christian Church, it would seem that this would be a charge laid against true Christians (such as Stephen, Peter, and Paul in the Book of Acts)--but it never was. And of course, as even most Roman and Orthodox Catholics admit, the term trinity is not mentioned in the Bible. And their scholars know that it was not universally accepted among those groups until at least the fourth century--and perhaps not until truly accepted by them (as now understood) until the late seventh century!
Two articles of related interest may be Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? and Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.
07/18/06 a.m. This morning, AOL News reported:
PANGANDARAN, Indonesia (July 18) - Tearful parents searched for missing children Tuesday, and soldiers dug through the debris of homes flattened by the second tsunami to hit Indonesia in as many years. Well over 300 people were killed and more than 160 others were missing...The area hit by Monday's disaster was spared by the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami, and many residents said they did not even feel the 7.7-magnitude undersea quake that unleashed the 6-foot-high wall of water. But some recognized the danger when they saw the ocean recede and fled to higher ground, screaming "Tsunami! Tsunami!" A black wave shot to shore a half hour later, witnesses said, sending boats, cars and motorbikes crashing into resorts and fishing villages. The water reached 300 yards inland. The death toll rose to at least 327, and it was expected to go higher. "We are still finding many bodies. Many are stuck in the ruins of the houses," said local police chief Syamsuddin Janieb. He said at least 181 people were killed and 85 missing in the Pangandaran area alone. Most of those killed were Indonesians, but a Pakistani, Swede and three Dutch nationals were among the dead, Janieb and consulate officials said. At least 23,000 people fled their homes, either because they were destroyed or in fear of another tsunami, so accounting for the 160 missing could take time...
This must be a horrific ordeal for the Indonesians. Prophecy shows that islands will have more serious problems than this in the future, however, but that God has not forgotten those on islands. An article of possible interest may be Islands and Bible Prophecy.
In his latest commentary, LCG's Gary Ehman states:The eyes of the world are once again riveted to the escalating fighting and chaos erupting in the Middle East. As expected, the tiny nation of Israel once more finds itself fighting a war on both physical and political fronts.
The complete commentary can be found at http://www.lcg.org/cgi-bin/tw/commentary/tw-comm.cgi?action=view_comm
The more I watch what is happening in the Middle East, the more I wonder if Israel will hit back so hard this time that the Arabs will ask the EU to get involved in a more significant way than it has in recent history.
It has been a while since I reported about the UCG split that calls itself ntevangelism. That group did essentially what I suspected it would--it started with a semi-bang but seems to have somewhat fizzled. For example, although it used to have a monthly/semi-monthly publication called "Faith Networks", the last issue was February 2006. Speaking of that publication, nte states:
Our regular contributors include Dave Antion, Allie Dart, Ron Dart, Pam Dewey, Bill Jacobs, Jim O'Brien, Joan Osborn, Wendy Pack, Bill Stough, Scarlett Stough and Guy Swenson.
07/17/06 a.m. This morning at CEM's borntowin home page was the following statement:
Look For Ronald L. Dart on ebay!
The above was a link within CEM that brings one to a CEM page that states:
Look for bargains on albums and books simply by searching for Ronald L. Dart. You can bid, Buy Now or go to the store. Pay using PayPal, money order, cashier's check or personal check. Check it out now, our auctions usually end on Sunday nights.
The finances of some COGs must be somewhat strained. Free information on CEM can be found in the article Christian Educational Ministries
Regarding the situation in the Middle East now, Zenit reports that the following concerning Pope Benedict XVI's message yesterday:
Benedict XVI appealed to all local Churches to pray for peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East...
"Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement," he exhorted.
While the Bible does say to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), we in the COGs believe that we are only to pray to God. Thus, once again, there is a mixture of good and evil being taught from the current Vatican.
07/16/06 a.m. The United News arrived yesterday and had the following item:
For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, the unrestricted income of UCGIA was just over $21.4 million, which is 5.5 percent more than was budgeted. That strength in income, coupled with total expenses of $20.5 million (1 percent more than budgeted), resulted in a surplus of slightly less than $1 million for the fiscal year.
UCG Canada reported the following in its latest update:
The first half of the year has been exciting in many different ways...The Beyond Today television program has brought in 111 responses to date. Ninety-four of the responses were from new people requesting a GN subscription. Another 30 responses came from the Beyond Today website (www.beyondtoday.tv).
LCG reported the following in its latest update (see LCG News page):
Kinnear Penman reports from New Zealand: We continue receiving good responses to the programme on Prime TV. A total of 468 calls were received in June; of these, 222 (47%) were from first time callers. A total of 964 mail items were posted...
As of this week, we are 31 percent above last year at the same time for TV response in the United States and Canada.—Wayne Pyle
America Will Soon Go Broke! Because of its economic indebtedness, America has lost the ability to direct its own future. Foreign bankers and governments control the money and oil needed to power an energy-dependent and debt-riddled nation. The Bible warns, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). The U.S. borrows more than $2 billion daily to fund its government at home and its global military operations. In 2006, Americans will buy $810 billion more in goods and services than they will sell overseas. To compensate, the government just prints more money, putting the nation in danger of drastic inflation (Weiss Research, Money and Markets, July 3, 2006). With the declining dollar comes a decrease in its purchasing power. Thankfully for the U.S., nations holding dollars have not foreclosed on them yet, knowing that doing so too quickly would destroy the value of the currency they possess. Treasuries around the world are slowly diversifying out of dollars, and into gold, euros and other more financially stable options. So far, the decline has been relatively slow, but America is becoming “hated among nations” (Matthew 24:9). At some point, if a country with large dollar holdings decides that the planet would be better off without the U.S., it can “pull the trigger” and quickly bring about America’s economic destruction.
A Return to Ancient European Roots? As Finland takes the reigns of the EU presidency for the next six months, it will begin “weekly news bulletins in Latin on the special EU presidency web site.” A Finnish Latin scholar observed, “I hope that all EU documents are soon translated into Latin which is such a clear language.” The editor of the Finnish presidency Web site stated, “Using Latin is a way of paying tribute to European civilization and it serves to remind people of European society’s roots, stretching back to ancient times.” The Vatican is currently the only other European entity publicly publishing in Latin (The Guardian, July 3, 2006). Students of history will remember that three primary tools for maintaining unity in the Roman Empire of old were: a common currency, a common language and a single emperor. The latest version of the Roman Empire, as some are calling the EU, already has a common currency. Will it opt for a common language too? Remember that it was also a common language that united the ancient world at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). The Bible also reveals that a single emperor or leader, complete with the emperor cult of the ancient Caesars, is yet to come (Daniel 11:36-40).
The last two items are consistent with the COG understanding of prophecy. The US will be brought down and the EU will strengthen, as well as be tied into the Vatican (Europa, the Beast, and Revelation).
Speaking of news with potential prophetic fulfillment, AOL reported the following:
ALBANY, N.Y. (July 15) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has more than $22 million for her re-election run against two little-known New York Republicans, raising the possibility of plenty of leftover cash for a potential White House bid...
The Clinton filing was the latest show of strength by the front-runner in the polls among the potential 2008 Democratic presidential contenders. Any money she doesn't use for her re-election race can be used in a presidential race.
What is the prophetic tie-in? Notice Isaiah 3:12:
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...
Ever since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister in the UK, I have suspected that the USA would also have a woman ultimately as its top leader (it has had women on the Supreme Court for some time now).
07/15/06 a.m. Last night I received a letter from Legacy Institute's Leon Sexton that stated the following:
He calls us to His Church so that we can go and preach the Gospel...
God does not call us and set us apart for personal salvation only. He called us in this Church Age so that we could be holy instruments in His hands to SAVE OTHERS!
While the above is basically true, most that will be saved will be saved later (please see the article Hope of Salvation). Sadly, many once in WCG have acted like they have forgotten the proper priorities of the church. Three articles of related interest may be:
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and HWA expect from evangelists?
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
This morning, I received the following from ICG's Mark Armstrong:
For thirty-five years the U.S. has supported Israel, but at the same time reigned the country in from ever really taking off the gloves and defeating their enemies. Now their enemies are our enemies. The Islamic nations have used the time to build up arsenals and to brainwash two generations with an all-consuming hatred of Israel and the United States. Now the fires are raging, the world (and the Vatican) is condemning Israel while the U.S. once again tries to play the cards of diplomacy. Are you seeing a solution to any of this?
As I have mentioned here before, at some point in time, the Europeans will make some type of deal with Israel and the Vatican will have a more substantial presence in Jerusalem. World events are coming into place and do support the COG view on prophecy (Europa, the Beast, and Revelation).
This morning's New York Times reported the following about a program, titled Secrets of Revelation, that is to be on PBS tomorrow night:
The program makes another point: the Rapture, it contends, is not an ancient notion, but an eccentric departure from the Bible that gained American adherents in the 19th century. People who believe in the Rapture are sometimes called pretribulationists, because they hold that the church enjoys some kind of rapture at Jesus’ first-stage appearance, which is followed then by seven years of tribulations and finally by the official second coming". This Program...does make it clear that the Rapture is somewhat fanciful, deeply exclusionary, alarmist and never mentioned in the Bible. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/15/arts/television/15heff.html
Actually, the Bible teaches about a place of safety on the earth, for a period of 3 1/2 years. An article of possible interest may be There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra
07/14/06 a.m. Why did Cardinal Why Ratzinger chose the name of "Pope Benedict". The Catholic News Agency reported:
"He said he also chose the name because Saint Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order, is one of the patron saints of Europe. "St Benedict is therefore much venerated in Germany and in particular, in Bavaria, my native land; constituting a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe, and a strong call to the inalienable Christian roots of its culture and civilisation."" Source: http://www.cathnews.com/news/504/151.php
The above brings to mind the article Europa, the Beast, and Revelation.
The Washington Post reported:
A former UPS deliveryman was awarded more than $300,000 last week by a U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, Ark., that affirmed his right to religious accommodation to observe the Sabbath.
According to the Adventist News Network, Todd Sturgill, 41, of Springdale, Ark., had been a driver for United Parcel Service for 19 years when he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in May 2004. That July, he asked his employer if he could refrain from work on Friday evenings during the holiday delivery season. Adventists observe the Sabbath from sunset on Friday through sunset on Saturday.
Sturgill was told he would receive no accommodation, but he made arrangements with co-workers to adjust his schedule until a Friday in mid-December in 2004. On that day, after repeated requests for assistance, Sturgill was not able to complete his work before sunset. He returned to the UPS center with about 35 undelivered parcels and went home. The following Monday he was fired.
Lynnette McIntire, a UPS spokeswoman, said Sturgill's termination was upheld by a grievance panel that included UPS management and Teamsters union representatives...
The complete story is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/07/AR2006070700935.html
Those in the USA need to realize, however, that Sabbath-keepers do not always win in court.
07/13/06 a.m. In S. Bacchiochi's latest End-Time newsletter, the following is a quote from Graeme Bradford under the heading Why Early Adventists Believed in Ellen White's Prophetic Ministry?:
She saved the Church from Arianism by highlighting the true divinity of Christ and the Trinity.
Actually, she turned the Adventists from Semi-Arianism (which is a binitarian view) to a pre-Christian concept.
A discussion of how the SDA's viewed and changed their views on the Godhead is shown as Appendix A in the article titled Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?.
Also in S. Bacchiochi's latest End-Time newsletter, was the following from Graeme Bradford under the heading Awareness of Weaknesses in Ellen White's Life:
They still believed in Ellen White, even though they were also aware of weaknesses in her life. And they could have listed them as well:
1. She did have some problems in her marriage. There were times when she and her husband worked apart.116
2. She had problems with her children. She tended to favour Willie as the "good boy." James Edson, the only other of her four sons who survived to adulthood, turned away from the faith, but she won him back and he became a missionary to former slaves in the south of the United States.
3. She often became despondent over the criticism she faced. She could even doubt her own experience in Christ.117
4. She could be forgetful.118
5. She may not have always been as open about her use of other sources as she could have been.119
6. She struggled to give up eating flesh foods and live up to the health counsel she had given to others.120...
It can be unsettling for some to come to grips with the fact that there are historical inaccuracies in her writings...In other words, she is not a historian. Rather, she is giving a meaning to history. She is interpreting history for Christians. Today these historical inaccuracies are acknowledged by the White Estate; but this should not a problem for those who have a correct view of her work.158...
This point is made even stronger when we read a letter written to W. W. Prescott from her secretary Clarence E Crisler. In this letter he appeals to Prescott to come to give some help in the work of Ezra (which must have been for writing the book Prophets and Kings). In this letter he makes a list of the problem areas they need help and then says at the end, "I am sure that Sister White would be specially pleased and cheered, if she could know that you were coming soon to help us over hard places."163...
Even in her day, not everyone had this idea clearly in mind and they gave her writings an authority beyond what was appropriate. This could account for the protest that Prescott made to Willie in the year that Ellen White died. "It seems to me that a large responsibility rests upon those of us who know that there are serious errors in our authorized books and yet make no special effort to correct them. The people and our average ministers trust us to furnish them with reliable statements, and they use them as sufficient authority in their sermons, but we let them go on year after year asserting things we know to be untrue. . . .
"The way your mother's writings have been handled and the false impression concerning them which is still fostered among the people have brought great perplexity and trial to me. It seems to me that what amounts to deception, though probably not intentional, has been practiced in making some of her books, and that no serious effort has been made to disabuse the minds of the people of what was known to be their wrong view concerning her writings. But it is no use to go into these matters. I have talked to you for years about them, but it brings no change. I think however that we are drifting toward a crisis which will come sooner or later and perhaps sooner. A very strong reaction has already set in."164
Adventists Should be Better Informed About Ellen White's Writings
Prescott's letter is indeed a serious one. It seems Willie White and Prescott held to the same ideas regarding how Ellen White's work was produced, their difference lay in the fact that Prescott felt Adventists should be better informed.165 What he says is hinted at in the conversation of the 1919 Bible Conference after-meeting. It seems many Adventists held to a view of verbal inspiration regarding her writings.166 J. N. Anderson asks the question, "Is it well to let our people in general to go on holding to the verbal inspiration of the Testimonies? When we do that, aren't we preparing for a crisis that will be very serious some day?"167
Some say that when she states "I saw," her words have special authority. However, we know there were times when she used these words and then quoted from the works of others. It could be that the words "I saw" or "I was shown" mean "she saw" or "was shown" through the study of books. There are even times when she uses the words of authors when describing words she had heard spoken in vision. Ron Graybill, an Associate Secretary of the White Estate, made the following comments in a series of General Conference Worships in 1981.
"Did Mrs White ever borrow when she was reporting a vision? Did she ever say 'I was shown' and then proceed to borrow? The answer to that is 'yes,' although examples of it are not very plentiful. They are quite rare. I know of only three clear and unequivocal examples." 172
In other words, some of her inaccuracies and blatant hypocrisy has long been apparent to many Adventist leaders. A couple of Ellen White's teachings are discussed in the article SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.
This week, WCG reported:
The annual festivals: If the annual festivals were required, we would have to ask how many of the customs are required. Can we say that one physical custom (unleavened bread) is still required but another physical custom (bitter herbs) is not? Or we might consider that the old covenant required not only temporary dwellings, but also homemade, substandard dwellings. Can we say that one aspect of the shelters is important, but the others are not? The Bible simply doesn’t tell us that one part of the passage is to be obeyed forever and the next part is temporary. If we are to accept one verse as authoritative, shouldn’t we accept the next verse, too? If we are to accept the weekly Sabbath, shouldn’t we also accept the biblical instructions for it, which tell us to stay home? The simple truth is that all these are not requirements under the new covenant.
WCG is trying to confuse the issue here. Jesus made it clear how we keep the New Testament Passover, and that did not include bitter herbs. The Sabbath command includes being part of a Holy convocation (Leviticus 23:1-3), hence no, we are not just to stay in our homes--plus Jesus did not stay at home on the Sabbath (nor did Paul). WCG seems to be so intentionally biblically illiterate that it is mainly relying on "red herring" arguments.
Many WCG arguments have been addressed in the article Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible?
However, instead of accepting biblical holy days, WCG has embraced practices not endorsed at all by the Bible such as Sunday, Easter, and Christmas. While we in the COGs can clearly point to scripture for what we do (even the Chinese in the 19th century, when presented with the Bible alone, realized that Saturday was the Sabbath, please see the Dr. Hoeh article The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers).
It is not only in the USA that people are losing knowledge of the Bible:
Are We Becoming Biblically Illiterate ?
Fewer Christians are reading the Bible regularly leading to ignorance of its message and meaning
July 11, 2006 - By Christina Tyson in Challenge Weekly, New Zealand
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (ANS) -- Australian Mark Strom took over as national principal of the Bible College of New Zealand in February last year. Since then he has voiced concern over falling rates of biblical literacy in this country...
Since settling in Auckland with his wife, Sue, Dr. Strom has had time to observe church life here. He gently warns against the “dumbing down” of the Church. It’s a situation that exists across the Tasman as well (and throughout much of the Western world), but as Dr. Strom’s focus is now on New Zealand it’s here that he is hoping to inspire change.
He sees part of the problem as the influence of a largely narcissistic culture that translates to a similarly self-centred attitude to Bible-reading...
Biblical illiteracy has serious implications for Christians, he warns. “We become sitting ducks for any idea that presents itself as ‘spiritual’. The centre of the Bible is Jesus, not us. Without this understanding we have no distinctive basis for discernment.
“Look at the Dan Brown Da Vinci Code stuff. How come so many believers feel threatened and offended by such historical nonsense? The answer lies in our own ignorance and lack of confidence. http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/s06070040.htm
He is certainly right about this trend. An article of related interest may be The DaVinci Code From a Church of God Perspective.
Everyone sees that EU unity has been hijacked by more than a few divisive issues. What many do not see, however, is that despite these problems, the European Union continues to take steps, albeit small, toward becoming a unified and streamlined federation of nations. Earlier this month, the EU took another step toward this goal when 22 out of the 25 member nations signed a new code of conduct that will thrust the Continent toward a common arms market.
The Trumpet reported on this new code when it was under discussion last year. Now it has been signed by most EU nations.
Under the code, which will apply to all member states except Denmark, Spain and Hungry, national defense ministries will be required to place new arms and defense tenders on a European Defense Agency notice board where European arms companies may compete for the contracts. Such a code of conduct is revolutionary in Europe, where there has traditionally been little cross-border competition for defense and arms contracts.
The new code, according to Nick Whitney, head of the European Defense Agency, will “create new opportunities for companies across Europe, strengthen our defense, technological and industrial base and offer better value for money to the armed forces and to taxpayers” (Washington Times, July 2). European arms companies, facing competition for contracts from other arms companies, will be driven to invest more time and money into developing new technologies, and to become more efficient and affordable.
The EU is slowly putting together what it needs to eventually be the significant force in world affairs.
This morning, AOL News reported:
Israel Attacks Beirut International Airport
Naval Blockade Also Imposed Over Kidnapping of Soldiers
By SAM F. GHATTAS, AP
BEIRUT, Lebanon (July 13) -- Israel intensified its attacks against Lebanon on Thursday, blasting Beirut's international airport and the southern part of the country in its heaviest air campaign against its neighbor in 24 years. Nearly three dozen civilians were killed, officials said.
The strikes on the airport, which damaged three runways, came hours before Israel imposed an air and naval blockade on Lebanon to cut off supply routes to militants.
The shockwaves from the fighting began to be felt a day after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. The escalation of violence in the Middle East pushed crude oil prices to a new intraday record of $75.88 a barrel. Western countries, Russia and the United Nations called for restraint and demanded the soldiers be released.
Israel said it was seeking to end once and for all Hezbollah's presence on Lebanon's southern border, while the guerrillas insisted they would only release the soldiers in exchange for Israel freeing Arab prisoners.
In a stark warning, the Israeli army chief said Thursday that Israel's air force is prepared to strike anywhere in Lebanon, including the capital of Beirut, if the Lebanese government fails to rein in Hezbollah guerrillas.
"We are not at war, but we are in a very high volume crisis, and we have an intention to put an end to the situation here along the northern border," Brig. Gen. Dan Halutz said in Jerusalem.
At some later point, events like the above probably will be the factor that gets the Europeans to make a deal with Israel (i.e. Daniel 9:27). At this time, I suspect that Israel will not go far enough with their retaliations to trigger this deal.
07/11/06 a.m. In his latest newsletter, CGE's Jon W. Brisby reported (bolding mine):
Our very callings are the greatest miracles of all.
But in the context of the kind of miracles manifested in the first-century, like Ananias and Sapphira being struck dead by the word of Peter (Acts 5:5, 10), prison doors being opened by angels (Acts 5:19), Philip being translated before the eyes of the eunuch (Acts 8:39), the bite of a deadly viper having no ill effect upon Paul (Acts 28:5), and dead people being resurrected back to life (Acts 20:9–12), we have not seen such miracles to date in the work God has done in this age.
Likewise, Mr. Herbert Armstrong confirmed that God has not chosen to raise up any prophets in our time—individuals with the commission to reveal details about coming events. Yes, we have had prophets in terms of inspired servants who have "prophesied" the Truth for our hearing. But no individual in this age has ever demonstrated the gift to reveal names, dates, places, and events to transpire in the future. All who have presumed such gifts have been shown foolish by the failure of their prophecies—bonafide proof they were not sent by God.
What do we say then? Is the fact we have seen no great miracles or newly confirmed prophecies in our time—as manifested in the first century—evidence we are not the legitimate Church of God? Not at all. Many have made such a conclusion, however. They assume all of these gifts must be present in every age, and at every time, or it is not the work of God. So they conger up miracles and prophesies to try and provide confirmation for the religious works they embrace. But all of that has only proven to be an empty charade.
No, brethren, the gifts we have been given by God are substantial proof that He performed a great work through the ministry of Herbert Armstrong in this age. The priceless nature of that revealed Truth—especially as it has changed our lives for the better—is the best proof of the legitimacy of that work. No other religion pulls together the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation and shows without contradiction how God is working to offer salvation to mankind. Obedience to those laws as we were taught brings absolute blessings to those who keep them in faith. And all that we have seen transpire in that church over seventy years is a direct fulfillment of those prophesies God gave for the end time.
The fact is, according to God's own purpose, He has not chosen to use great miracles and works of prophets in our age thus far. That does not trouble us. We know both of those tools will become very prominent in His dealings with man before long. When God sets His hand to recover spiritual Israel (the apostate peoples) out of her filth, and when He begins to perform that warning work to the nations in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ, those alive will see the great manifestations of power that were extant in the first-century work of God. In relation to man's tenure on this earth, that time is not far removed.
I pretty much agree with CGE on those points. We in LCG believe that as we get closer to the end, the type of miracles that occurred in the first century, will occur again. Miracles may be the main aspect of the Ephesus Church era that have not yet been restored to the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God.
The view on miracles is one of the many differences between UCG and LCG.
As documented on the Early Christianity page, we in the Churches of God can document our beliefs from both the Bible and the early church, as well as document that many of the positions of the "mainstream churches" (such as Sunday, the Trinity, Christmas, and Easter) were NOT held by the early church. We can also demonstrate the existence of our beliefs by peoples throughout history (please see the articles The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 and Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome).
Last night, both CGG and Christianity Today reported a version of the following story:
The General Synod approved the concept of women bishops as "theologically justified" by 288 votes to 119. Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will address the Synod on Monday to support setting up a legislative group to tackle the issue. A significant number of traditionalists in the Church are against the moves.
The decision followed a two-and-a-half-hour debate led by Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu at the University of York. Dr Sentamu called for the Synod to "welcome and affirm" the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate was consistent with the faith of the church.
"I must pay tribute to Anglican women who have been tested for nearly 90 years," he said. "They have kept the faith and remained loyal to the Church of England." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5160184.stm
Let me simply state that there is NO historical evidence that there were any female bishops in the Bible or the early Church, they were men (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13). However, women did have important roles both during Christ's minstry and afterwards. An article of possible interest might be Women and the New Testament Church.
In regards to yesterday's post about COGaic, I received the following email:
I have watched the entire COGaic DVD video entitled "Message to the Seven Churches" (43 minutes) and I didn't see a single reference to church eras. Mr. Hulme described all of the messages in terms of the historical context and the meaning for all Christians today.
That is what I expected as it is consistent with David Hulme's earlier position on this matter (the article Church of God, an International Community specifically contains quotes from its official sources that suggest that COGaic does not teach church eras).
Those truly interested in the churches of Revelation 2 & 3 may wish to read the following articles:
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present
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
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Volume 10, issue 14 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006