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08/11/06 a.m. Believe it or not, this is what UCG posted yesterday from its official COE meeting: 

Charles Melear stated that the Holiday Inn Eastgate has again been contracted as the site of the annual GCE meeting, which will take place May 5-7, 2007...

Jim Franks pointed out that funding and making the GCE equally accessible to elders is always a major challenge. He also emphasized that the Council should clarify goals and purposes for the conference. The business meeting is a legal requirement and, since so many elders are in attendance, it seemed natural to include an educational opportunity. But, he said, we need to have a larger view of what we want to accomplish in the workshops, compared to other venues that include workshops and seminars (such as regional conferences and family weekends)...

After the initial round of comments, discussion focused on the frequency of the meetings and the possibility of restructuring the official business meeting, so that a conference would be more focused on meeting other needs of the ministry.

Mr. McCullough: The Council should clearly communicate the purpose of a conference so elders can prepare, study and give more thought to it.

Mr. Franks: Mr. McCullough's point has been part of the discussion about the GCE meetings from the beginning. Is the annual GCE a business meeting or an educational conference? Maybe we should consider a separate business meeting, which could be conducted electronically, and then have a separate educational conference for elders. Separating the business and voting aspects would remove some of the tension and allow for a more relaxed and productive educational session.

Mr. Dick: It's important to balance the educational and social aspects of the conference. The format we have now for the annual GCE is a response to elders' comments that they didn't come all the way to Cincinnati just to vote. The social aspects are important, but there also needs to be structure.

Mr. Register: Exit surveys consistently indicate that the top two reasons elders attend the GCE are for fellowship and social time with fellow elders and for the workshops and seminars. Participation in the business meeting is a distant third.

Mr. Dick: The real issue might be that elders and wives need contact with each other. Educational seminars provide a valuable opportunity to come together.

Mr. Thompson: Personal contact is intangible and subjective, but very important. The planning process should include some elders who don't have as much contact with the home office, since having the opportunity to come to Cincinnati is more special to them.

Mr. Kubik: When people get together it helps them to share a vision—to exhort one another to good works. The GCE helps boost morale. Nonsalaried elders are a powerful element in the Church, and we should not minimize our support for them. Less frequent conferences would be better if they are more effective.

Mr. Salyer: If there is a conference separate from the business meeting, we should still continue to have international reports and keynote speeches—which help to unify and motivate the elders. The long-term planning decisions should consider the value of regional conferences compared to a major ministerial conference.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Mr. Dick asked Mr. Pinelli to coordinate the effort of creating a broad-based task force representing a cross section of the elders with various points of view, to explore the options and make recommendations to the Council for future meetings of the GCE. (Henson, Don. United Church of God, an International Association. Council of Elders Meeting Report. August 7, 2006 - Cincinnati, OH)

After all these years, one would think UCG would understand its form of governance, but the above discussion shows that its leaders and elders do not care much for how it is.  And that UCG GCE meeting is more of an expensive social gathering than an important aspect of UCG's governance for most attendees.  For almost every year since it formed, UCG has spent more money on administration and governance than it has to publicly proclaim the gospel.

The COE meeting also reported:

Mr. Dick summarized that the comments in the previous strategic planning discussion focused on four fundamental areas:

  1. The internal, spiritual health of the organization.
  2. Developing manpower and using existing manpower.
  3. Preaching the gospel, fulfilling the commission—with passion, focus, determination, urgency, etc.
  4. Relationships among Sabbatarian groups.

The Council confirmed that it still believes these are the most important strategic issues the Church faces at this time.

A number of comments were offered about the need for energy, enthusiasm, zeal and support on behalf of church pastors, which would result in the members sharing and expressing that enthusiasm and zeal.  

It is interesting that UCG is somewhat suggesting again that it is lukewarm, although this time this seems to be directed toward its pastors.

This brings to mind four articles:

The Laodicean Church Era was predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present.
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.

Are the Laodiceans the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees?
Discusses similarities of the Sadducees and Pharisees to various COGs in this end-time.
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?

08/10/06 a.m. ACD's Brian Knowles posted:

Make no mistake about it: the West is in a war for its own survival. Western civilization is under relentless attack from a deadly enemy – Islamo-Facism. The latest fronts to be opened up in this ongoing conflagration are in Lebanon, and in Gaza. In both cases, these are areas Israel once occupied and then vacated. Once Israel was out, the forces of darkness moved in to fill the vacuum, interpreting Israel’s withdrawal as a victory for themselves. Hezbollah moved into Lebanon, beginning six years ago. Hamas filled the power vacuum left when Israel left that area, and the corrupt, weak, Fatah party was unable to withstand them. Hamas competes with Fatah for power in the various Palestinian territories.

Israel is finding it rough going in Southern Lebanon...

Although ACD has other parts wrong later in that article, the last statement above is certainly correct. These events suggest that the King of the South may be forming.

CBCG correctly reported:

The Da Vinci Code’s claim of a massive “cover-up”by the Orthodox Church is patently false. But there is a very real “conspiracy” taking place in Orthodox Christianity! Here’s the truth you’ve never been told! 

      Millions are intrigued by The Da Vinci Code’s claim that the Catholic Church has for centuries hidden the truth about Jesus—that He married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child by her. Thinking Bible students can see right through these blatant falsehoods.

     Amazingly, however, the vast majority of mainstream Christians have been blinded when it comes to the real conspiracy taking place in the Orthodox Church. Orthodox leaders are indeed hiding vital truth from their followers—but how and why?

     While The Da Vinci Code is a fabrication, Satan the devil is real—and has for centuries used Orthodox “Christianity” to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9) by hiding the truth about God’s plan for mankind.

     In what is easily one of the greatest conspiracies of all time, it is well documented how subtle forces from the world of paganism were allowed—with the full approval of the Orthodox Church—to systematically replace the seventh-day Sabbath and annual holy days of God with counterfeit holidays born of the occult.

More information can be found in the article The Da Vinci Code: Some Good, Lots Bad. I noticed this morning that still is discussing the Da Vinci Code, but since it promotes Sunday and pagan holidays, it missed the truth as well. Some articles of related interest may be:

Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question.
Valentine's Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine's Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen?
Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? How clearly endorsed Sunday?

Perhaps I should add that there are Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Churches of God, with holy days among the many differences.

08/09/06 a.m. In his latest newsletter, SDA S. Bacchiocchi reports:

As students of Bible prophecy, we need to ask: How does the Moslem religious, military, and demographic expansion fits into the endtime conflict over worship graphically portrayed in Revelation 13? Our Adventist tendency has been to place all our eggs in the basket of the papacy. But, it is becoming increasingly evident that for the past 14 centuries Islam has been and still is today a Satanic agency that plays an important role in promoting false worship through coercive methods.

The prophetic role of Islam in the final showdown, can hardly be ignored (ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 153.
"The Pre-Advent Judgment - Part I").

We in the COGs have not ignored either the papacy or the role of Islam. Islamic peoples are mentioned in the article Is There A Future King of the South?

He also reported:

The truth is that our Adventist church would not be here today, had it not been for the prophetic guidance of Ellen White. She played a leading role in shaping our message and mission. For example, we noted in the newsletter no. 150 the role of Ellen White in leading our church to accept the Doctrine of the Trinity (ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 153."The Pre-Advent Judgment - Part I").

Or, as we in the COGs might say, prophetic mis-guidance (please see the article SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666). And this is a problem today--many are listening to incorrect teachers as they have ears that are more itching (II Timothy 4:3) than desirous of the truth. (The trinity is also not true--please see the article Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?--the appendix discusses the SDAs.)

Speaking of prophets, PCG leader and self-proclaimed prophet Gerald Flurry wrote:

But realize also the positive side of this—there is a voice out there warning our people. The Philadelphia Church of God is the only voice telling the world what is going to happen (Flurry G. From the Editor: Where Are We Now in Prophecy? Philadelphia Trumpet, November 2001).

PCG teaches that Iran is the king of the South (please see the article Is There A Future King of the South?). That is not what HWA's WCG taught. On the other hand, RCG states that the king of the South must be Ethiopia (see same article), while LCG teaches that it is an Arab-Moslem confederation; and UCG has speculated on both what PCG teaches and LCG teaches (please see article Is There A Future King of the South? or UCG and LCG differences).

While HWA originally felt that way in the 1930s. HWA clearly corrected this by 1972. Notice the following From HWA's Middle East in Prophecy booklet:

Here is verse 5: "And the king of the south [Egypt] shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion"...Syria's ruler, the king of the north, at this time was Antiochus II, called Theos. His wife was named Laodice. And, says Rawlinson's Ancient History, page 251, "Her influence ... engaged him in a war with Ptolemy Philadelphus [king of the south], B.C. 260, which is terminated, B.C. 252, by a marriage between Antiochus and Bernice, Ptolemy's daughter"...Verse 25 — Rawlinson, pages 255-256, says, "Threatened with war by the ministers of Ptolemy Philometor [now king of the south], who claim Coele-Syria and Palestine as the dowry of Cleopatra, the late queen-mother, Antiochus marches against Egypt ... B.C. 171" (pp. 277-278)...Who is today the "king of the south"? It cannot be the king of Egypt, for in 31 B.C. Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire, swallowed up by the king of the north. Today Egypt is a republic ruled by native Arabs. It has no king of its own...Since that time, the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica says (article "Ethiopia") Egypt and Ethiopia were two or three times under the same government. Thus, the two were as one land. And the only portion of that land of the "king of the south" that remained independent until the 20th century is Ethiopia!...(observe that after its conquest by Mussolini, Ethiopia is not again referred to as the king of the south).

Thus, HWA and others taught that Egypt was the king of the South, that Egypt and Ethiopia had been under the same government at times, and that after Mussolini's conquest that Ethiopia is not again referred to as the king of the South.

Those who claim to follow HWA's teachings and ignore the Bible and HWA's corrections are doomed to be deceived. The more I look into this, the more I see that most who are in the COGs simply do not clearly understand who the Bible AND HWA's WCG taught would be the Future King of the South.

08/08/06 a.m. COGaic's David Hulme recently posted:

The latest round of Middle East violence on the border between Israel and Lebanon is yet one more demonstration of the need for peace based on focused understanding and appreciation of the differences between the antagonists. Whether it's Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO or Israel, none of the immediate parties will achieve lasting peace without recognition of an unavoidable truth: identity and ideology matter to everyone. That's because from an early age identity is something we establish, maintain and extend in our search for psychological security. Then ideology soon comes along to tie together the loose ends of identity formation, as Erik Erikson—the father of modern identity studies—would say. He saw identity and ideology as two sides of the same coin. Take away a person's identity, and he or she will set about its recreation. There can be no attempt to destroy identity that will not produce further conflict. What is happening in southern Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank is an attempt by all parties to destroy the Other's identity.

The above was actually written to promote his latest book, which has been titled "Identity, Ideology, and the Future of Jerusalem" and is to be for sale at Amazon September 3rd. It would be nice if COGaic would be more open and clear about its own identity, ideology, and future as in those respects it is perhaps the most secretive of the COGs. An article of related interest may be Teachings of the Church of God, aic. Right after I posted certain information about COGaic, they "clammed up" more and restricted more access to its internet.

Their website actually states:

In order to access the site you will need to logon with your username and password. If you do not have a username and password, please email us to request access. In your email, please give us your name, where you reside. We do not need your complete address but it would be helpful to know your city, state or province, postal code and country. If you are not a current member or supporter please let us know how you found us and your interest in accessing our site.
Thank you.

UCG posted the following regarding its latest COE meeting:

Leon Walker, chairman of the Doctrine Committee, presented three proposed amendments to the Fundamental Beliefs section of the UCG Constitution for Council consideration.

Mr. Walker first reviewed the process for the Council's consideration of proposed amendments to the Fundamental Beliefs. The proposed amendments were sent by the Amendment Committee to the Council's Doctrine Committee. The Doctrine Committee reviewed the proposed amendments in order to make a recommendation whether the Council should support them. The next step in the process is for the Council to discuss the proposals and then each Council member is to determine whether he supports the proposed amendments. Those who support the amendment would write a statement of support and those who do not would prepare a statement of concern. If the proposed amendments are not supported by any Council members, a statement of concern is to be written explaining the objections. Gerald Seelig, Council secretary, will then forward the proposed amendments with the Doctrine Committee's recommendation and statement of concern to the General Conference of Elders, which will have 30 days to consider the proposed amendments.

Mr. Walker had e-mailed the proposed amendments to the Council so they would be familiar with them in order to determine whether they supported the proposals.

In this case, the Doctrine Committee recommended against support of any of the three proposed amendments. Mr. Walker explained the Doctrine Committee's decision and opened the matter to Council discussion. After discussion, the Council voted on whether to support the proposed amendments. The Council voted unanimously to not support any of the proposals. Mr. Walker will write a draft of the statements of concern for each and seek input from the rest of the Council in finalizing the statements. Mr. Seelig will forward the completed statements of concern to the Amendment Committee.

Historically, Leon Walker has been frustrated by how the above process seems not to accomplish anything. Some of his comments are in the article on The Differences Between UCG and LCG.

On other matters, I noticed that AW decided to somewhat spoof my education, and leave out the fact that I have studied theology. Some information on my education is in the link Who is COGwriter?

(Personal to GR: I lost your email address, so this comment will need to be public. In a private email, you specifically promised me that you would NOT post one of the subjects that you did. Why you violated your word to me is a question you should ask yourself. Think about it.)

08/07/06 a.m. In its latest mini-series, COGUK (a CGOM affiliate) reports:

Can man become God?

...there's an almost universal belief that man has two basic elements - body and soul, the physical and the spiritual. The body will die (we can prove that) but the soul is immortal (we must take that as unproven)
 ...the origin of the soul is variously understood. For some it is passed from generation to generation. Others believe each soul originates uniquely at conception or at birth. Yet others conceive of a 'store' of souls in heaven ready to inhabit each new-born 
...the Christian Scriptures, however, tell us that the 'soul' can die (Ezekiel 18:20). The 'soul' (Hebrew nephesh) is simply all that is our physical life force: mental, emotional, physical ('the soul is in the blood' (Leviticus 17:11) - and upon death it ceases to have a conscious existence. Until, that is, supernaturally resurrected is this almost universal belief in an 'immortal soul' that underlies the human ideas of immortality 
...the teaching of the Christian Scriptures, however, is that '[God] only has immortality' (I Timothy 6:16). Immortality - 'Godness' - implies existence from eternity past until eternity in the future: '...the same yesterday, today and forever' (Hebrews 13:8). 'God is spirit' (John 4:24) - holy Spirit is mortal. For humans immortality is a state we 'put on' (I Corinthians 15:53), something we 'seek for' (Romans 2:7), something 'brought to light by the Gospel' (II Timothy 1:10) sum, man born of woman is mortal, and does not have within him any inherent divinity. We don't have immortality and we don't inherit it from our parents. It's not in human beings to live beyond the grave. live for ever we must therefore depend upon an external power - upon God. And He has indeed provided a path for us to become immortal. So how do we attain to immortality - the goal to which we aspire? Just how is immortality revealed by 'the Gospel'? 
...there is but one way. The Gospel  message is: 'Repent and be baptized, each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:38). Turn to God's way of life, be baptized, be cleansed from sin (through the sacrificial death of Jesus) - and you will be given immortality. Only by the implanted Spirit of God can we live forever. It is by means of a resurrection from among the dead to spirit (non-corporeal) life (I Corinthians 15: 51-54)

A couple of related articles are at the Early Christianity page. Such as Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? and What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?

Interestingly, even though there is disagreement about immortality, the idea of becoming God is an area where the Orthodox Church and the COG agree. Note the following:

Becoming God

Orthodox: "St. Athanasius summed up the purpose of the Incarnation by saying, 'God became human that we might made God' " (Ware, p.21).

"...we are God's 'offspring' (Acts xvii, 28), His kin...we will become 'like' God, we will acquire divine likeness; In the words of John Damascene...To acquire the likeness is to be deified, it is to become a 'second god', a god by grace'. 'I said, you are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High' (Psalm lxxxi, 6; cf John x, 34-35)" (Ware, p. 219).

"Such, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, is the final goal at which every Christian must attain: to become god, to obtain theosis, 'deification' or 'divinization'. For Orthodoxy our salvation and redemption mean our deification...deification is not something reserved for a select few initiates, but is something intended for all alike. The Orthodox Church believes this is the normal goal of every Christian without exception. Certainly we shall only be deified on the Last Day; but for each of us the process of divinization must begin here and now in this present life" (Ware, p.231,236).

COG: "'Will true Christians literally become God at the resurrection? That is, literal members of the God family, born into that family at the resurrection? In other words, born sons of God, lessor in rank than the Father and the Son. Is God's purpose to reproduce himself?' ANSWER. Yes, God is now reproducing himself in the process called spiritual salvation" (McNair, Raymond. Personal Correspondence. GCG, September 27, 1995; p:4).

"How can you not be filled with ALL of the 'fullness of God' and not be God?" "This is the final fulfillment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--the ultimate Good News--that man can be born into the God Kingdom, the God-level of existence" (Meredith, Roderick C. Your Ultimate Destiny. Booklet. LCG, 1996; p:33)

"God’s purpose is that He is reproducing Himself and that those converted, ultimately, become full members of the Family of God, under the authority of the Father and the Son (1 John 3:1-3). They will share divine glory in the resurrection" (Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs. LCG, 2004).

"God is reproducing Himself...we will not be a lessor form of existence...He put His very divine nature in the process of reproducing Himself...that is why we are alive. That is the ultimate purpose of our existence" (Meredith R.C. Last Great Day Sermon. Clearwater, Florida, 20051025).

The above is from the article Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Church of God

For some strange reason, xCG's Gary Scott (usually one of the more careful one there) posted:

Some days ago, Dr. Robert Thiel wrote,

Notice that the Muslims think that the EU is there only hope. Once Israel comes to this inaccurate conclusion, and to some degree it will (though not necessarily for this crisis) the stage will be set for the fulfillment of various prophecies in Daniel 9 and 11...

Bottom line, these guys know they’ve hit the jack pot. They don’t have to do much of anything except tell their poor followers the same thing ad nauseum and the money comes rolling in.

So where does that leave Mr. Thiel? Well, naturally he’s not an XCG leader (though he does give sermonettes, so we can assume he’s at least a deacon), and he does have something to lose for prematurely shouting “The end is here!”

Two points:
1) I do not work for any church, hence what I write regarding prophetic fulfillment has nothing to do with money (actually, I have refused it the few times it has been offered to me)--COG critics simply cannot leave the money issue alone. I simply am trying to show some of how prophetic events are coming together so people will realize that they are coming to pass. The fact that my writing strives for accuracy should not, in my opinion, be a subject of criticism.
2) No, I have not been ordained as a deacon or an elder.

08/06/06 a.m. While Billy Graham may be the most highly respected Protestant leader of the past couple of decades, we in the COGs are not Protestant and never have endorsed him. In an article that is being published in Newsweek with a date 10 days out, it gives some of the reasons why:

Though flocks of the faithful have lionized Graham, turning his crusades into epic events, his books into best sellers and even his house into a shrine, he remains contradictory and controversial.

One of the most formidable figures in the 2,000-year story of Christian evangelism, he is the first to tell you he is far from perfect. He was caught on tape exchanging anti-Semitic remarks with Richard Nixon, and he allowed himself to be used as an occasional political prop in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon years, bestowing benediction on the presidents with whom he golfed, prayed and embraced—often as photographers clicked away. Such images have long led critics to dismiss Graham as a name-dropping, theologically naive showman...

The new interviews with NEWSWEEK, however, reveal a more intriguing figure than either his followers or his critics might assume. He is an evangelist still unequivocally committed to the Gospel, but increasingly thinks God's ways and means are veiled from human eyes and wrapped in mystery. "There are many things that I don't understand," he says. He does not believe that Christians need to take every verse of the Bible literally; "sincere Christians," he says, "can disagree about the details of Scripture and theology—absolutely."...

"I'm not a literalist in the sense that every single jot and tittle is from the Lord," Graham says. "This is a little difference in my thinking through the years." He has, then, moved from seeing every word of Scripture as literally accurate to believing that parts of the Bible are figurative—a journey that began in 1949, when a friend challenged his belief in inerrancy during a conference in southern California's San Bernardino Mountains. Troubled, Graham wandered into the woods one night, put his Bible on a stump and said, "Lord, I don't understand all that is in this book, I can't explain it all, but I accept it by faith as your divine word."...

Belief in mystery is crucial to the Gospel Graham has preached for so long...

Belief in truth and the love of God is crucial to the COGs. Billy Graham seems to have a lot in common with Martin Luther, a man who also made anti-semitic remarks and who did not actually believe in his public cry of Sola Scriptura. Another article of possible interest may be Hope of Salvation: How the COGs Differ from Protestantism.

On the world news front, LCG reported:

Israel, U.S. Facing a New Arab Unity. As fighting continues in Lebanon, Arab public opinion is heating up, causing governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries to shift from criticizing Hezbollah to denouncing Israel as the aggressor in the conflict. Many other citizens seem to be putting aside Shiite-Sunni hatreds, refocusing their energies against the Jewish state. The cry chanted in the street outside Cairo’s Istqama Mosque on Friday was: “Oh Sunni! Oh, Shiite! Let’s fight the Jews,” and “The Jews and the Americans are killing our brothers in Lebanon!” (Yahoo News, Associated Press, July 28, 2006). When Hagar was fleeing from her mistress, an angel of the LORD appeared to her and prophesied the kind of life the child she would bear Abraham would have, “He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him…” (Genesis 16:12). Ishmael became the father of today’s Arab peoples living in the Middle East. This war-like tendency and hatred of Israel will ultimately prepare the way for a King of the South described in Daniel 11:40-45. 

This type of unity will make it such that the King of the South can come together.

08/05/06 a.m. PCG had this interesting article on economic news:

The European Union just broke another record. Unemployment in the 12 nations that use the euro fell to its lowest level since the EU’s statistical agency started keeping records in 1998. Although this may be good news for Europeans, it may not be so good for Americans.

April saw an important shift within the global economy: Japanese and European consumers and companies, for the first time in years, had started spending again. The March 20 Wall Street Journal explained the significance of this shift (emphasis ours):

[T]he re-emergence of spending in those nations has implications far beyond financial markets. For one thing, it means that the world might be less dependent on the American consumer, whose willingness to borrow and spend has been a primary driver of world growth for the past five years.

European and Asian consumption replacing that of the U.S. could have huge implications for Americans, because if China, Japan and other exporting countries no longer depend on the U.S. consumer to purchase their goods, they won’t need to buy U.S. Treasuries to prop up the dollar...

Today, however, as the Wall Street Journal implied, it looks like Europe is finally starting to rise from years of slow economic growth. Unfortunately for America, if Europeans really do replace the U.S. as the consumers of choice, it could mean that support for the dollar may start drying up—and that probably means higher interest rates, a weaker dollar, or both. Since so much of America’s economy in recent years has been based on rising housing prices and consumer spending, that is not good news for the U.S. economy.

Even though PCG has a lot of unusual, unique, and in my opinion, non-COG teachings, PCG is basically correct on the above. The US has set itself up for a massive economic disaster as all COG and most fringe-COG groups have stated. And it is the EU, and not China, that is poised to take the USA's place as the world's economic driver.

More on PCG can, of course, be found in the article Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God.

CBCG's Fred Coulter wrote:

We are currently witnessing a new Arab-Israeli war. This one is different, however, in that the Jews have not been attacked as in the past by another nation, but by the terrorist militias of Hezbollah and Hamas. This latest conflict suggests that a shift in the power of terrorist organizations is taking place—away from the greatly weakened Al Queda and the Sunni Moslems directed by Ben Laden, and toward Hezbollah and Hamas, both dominated and directed by the Shiite Moslems of Iran and Syria...

This current conflict is far from the last war that will be fought by the Jews against terrorists or the surrounding Arab nations. Prophetically speaking, there are many things that must yet take place before the end comes. Daniel 11 tells us that there must first be a “king of the north” and a “king of the south” before the conflict can take place that begins the great tribulation. Exactly how and when they will come on the world scene we don’t know. This is why we are to heed Jesus’ warning to not get caught up in the cares of this life and this world. We must always be ready by continually praying and watching on a daily basis.

CBCG seems to be correct on the above.

On a related note, this morning ICG's Mark Armstrong reported:

You must be as uneasy as I am as you watch the Middle East crisis escalate with no end in sight.  Even the diplomats are fully aware that a cease-fire at this point will not accomplish anything.  War is inevitable, and it may turn out to be a much bigger war than anyone wants to contemplate.


The Arab world is inflamed.  Despite the hopeful sign of Saudi and Jordanian criticism of Hezbollah actions in the early days of the conflict, they’ve changed their tune as their populations have become enraged watching al Jazeera coverage from the south of Beirut.  The monarchs are fearful of their own people, and are now chiming in with support for Hezbollah.  The entire region is boiling with hatred for Israel, hatred for the United States...


Israel is in grave danger.  The United States is in danger as well.  But based on the clear scenario spelled out in Bible prophecy, we know the stage is not yet set for Armageddon.  Things are, however, falling rapidly into place and there may be some mighty violent upheavals between now and then.


The Arab world is uniting.  Animosity between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is taking a back seat while hatred of Israel and the U.S. burns hot.  The perceived weakness displayed by flying rockets two weeks after Israel set out to put a stop to it, and the pitiful display of U.S. attempts at diplomacy has the Muslim world believing they can prevail.


 There are calls for a peacekeeping force (of Europeans!) to be brought into southern Lebanon to create a buffer zone between the north of Israel and Beirut.  The “disarming of Hezbollah” would look to the casual observer to be impossible, as their arms are hidden in schools, homes, apartments, mosques and hospitals.  Getting European troops involved at all is of great concern due to the fact that Bible prophecy predicts that the final act of this tragedy will see Europe provoked against the Muslim world militarily.

The history of Europe and its views towards true religion confirms biblical prophecy as well (please see the article Europa and the Beast of Revelation, as does a formation of unity among the Moslems, please see the article The King of The South).


WCG'S John Halford wrote:

Our church headquarters finally moved from the location that had been home base for nearly 60 years. It is rather sad in some ways, although most of the people I know who work at HQ were ready to move. Those acres of California that used to be Ambassador College will always have a special significance?particularly to those of us who went to college there.

Some people felt it was terribly wrong to sell what they considered a ?holy place.? Although the church campus may have a traditional and a nostalgic significance, it was not a ?holy? place. Neither is the new church office building, or any building we may occupy temporarily.

Since it takes God's presence to make something holy, I certainly agree that WCG's new church office building or any other building WCG occupies should not be considered as holy.

08/04/06 a.m. The Pasadena Star News reported:

PASADENA - One of Pasadena's largest residential projects has cleared another major hurdle on the way to construction, despite protests from a determined residents' association.

The board of zoning appeals on Tuesday unanimously upheld approval of the 820-unit Westgate development, certifying an environmental impact report (EIR) that concluded the project would have little effect on neighborhood streets.

After the vote, board chair Guadalupe Flores said developer Sares-Regis' voluntary agreement to pay about $2million in new fees was an acceptable trade-off for additional car trips the project will bring.

"The fact that the applicant was willing to pay - for me it was good enough," Flores said. "At least that establishes their intent."

The EIR was first approved by a city zoning officer, but pulled for review by the appeals board when residents from the West Pasadena Residents' Association claimed that traffic congestion caused by the project was grossly underplayed in the document.

The association, which has fought for a decade to limit development on the former Ambassador College campus, said the city's traffic consultant ignored data and used flawed numbers that allow for higher traffic counts on local streets and lower levels of service at intersections.

"Standards have been changed for this project," said Fred Zepeda, the newly installed president of the WPRA, during Tuesday night's meeting. "We need to know what the real impacts are."

Zepeda told the board developers should scale down the residential component to help mitigate traffic. "There are alternatives. They could build less units. I know that hurts," he said.

About 100 residents, both for and against the project on the western edge of Old Pasadena, lined opposite sides of the Little Theatre at the Pasadena Center waiting for the board's decision.

Those in support of the project included representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the neighboring Friendship Baptist Church and a small contingent of residents who felt that the project - which includes 110affordable units, would bring minorities into the community.

The area that was once AC, other than the Auditorium, is looking less like the old WCG headquarters.

UCG's John Ross Schroeder reported:

Your life will eventually be affected by events in Israel and the Middle East. This would be true even if you could not locate Lebanon, Gaza and Israel on a world map. This would be true even if you have absolutely no interest in current affairs. Important aspects of your future will be determined by what will occur in this volatile part of the world.

The focus is Lebanon

As we go to press, the focus of the political world is on tiny Lebanon, a victim nation that continues to be a battleground over issues not really its own.

The current crisis was begun in southern Israel by Hamas kidnapping an Israeli soldier, following almost a year of Hamas regularly raining down rockets on southern Israel after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza...

An axis of hatred—not peace

The whole Middle East is now rife with violent hot spots. Any one of several unresolved issues could escalate into disastrous conflagrations. God says through one of His prophets that He would "make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it" (Zechariah 12:3). God clearly states that Jerusalem, and thus the surrounding area, would be an unsolvable riddle that would exhaust the world community.

But diplomats, world leaders and even theologians don't really grasp the message of the Bible. In the Olivet Prophecy, far from foreseeing a successfully negotiated peace, Jesus instead saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies at the time of the end (Luke 21:20).

Eventually Israel will become subject to a European-centered superpower (the "king of the North") who will invade the Holy Land as a result of a "push" by the "king of the South" (possibly an Islamic group of peoples) as explained in Daniel 11:40-45.

Actually, the King of the South is more than possibly an Islamic group of peoples, the old WCG taught and the current LCG teaches that it will be a group of Islamic peoples--please the article titled The King of the South. But he is totally correct that "diplomats, world leaders and even theologians don't really grasp the message of the Bible."

On the news last night, I saw two top US generals, one of whom was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the highest ranking military official in the US) admit that the situation in Iraq could develop into a civil war. About two years ago, I recall LCG's late John Ogwyn stating that he felt that Iraq would split into three pieces--his words may have been prophetic:

What lies ahead for Iraq? The United States, as we went into Iraq at the beginning of the war, stated that the objective was that Iraq would become a bastion of peace and democracy in the Middle East. Well, my friends, it hasn’t worked out that way at all, has it? We’ve got all sorts of problems that are going on, and here we are on the verge of turning Iraq over to the Iraqis—that’s what we say we are going to do. What are we going to have as a result of that? Is it going to be a unified country? Is there going to be peace? Is there going to be democracy? Absolutely not! ...

The nation of Iraq really consists of three primary regions, three primary groups. There is an interesting article in a recent Wall Street Journal that talks about the future of Iraq and it focused on the Kurds in the north. The Kurds have been more secular in their approach, and the Kurdish population, the Wall Street Journal mentioned, is showing little interest in converging with the rest of the country. And this strong, independent streak could hamper efforts to bring Iraq under one central government. The Kurds have pulled even closer together, and turmoil to the south has hardened their determination to set up bulwarks against Iraq’s ethnic Arab majority. The Kurdish leadership has vowed that the region will remain part of Iraq, but only if it’s granted autonomy from the central government. In fact, there is a great deal of sentiment for full independence that appears to be rising. About half the population in the north has already signed a petition demanding a referendum on Kurdish independence.

You see, Iraq has three roughly defined regions developing on their own paths. The south is under the sway of Shiite Muslim clerics, many of whom want to form an Islamic state. The Sunni Muslims in the center are increasingly influenced by members of the former regime—many of them Arab nationalists. And in the north there is the desire for Kurdish autonomy at the very least—and, most likely, Kurdish independence. In fact, the longer an effective central government is delayed, the longer the country’s three regions will continue on their diverging trajectories. Some have called this "the calm before the storm."

Now, my friends, did you realize this is actually mentioned in Bible prophecy? It’s interesting when you look in the book of Revelation, chapter 9, as well as Revelation chapter 16, and you find that the Euphrates River plays a major part in future prophecies. Anciently, the Euphrates River was the boundary between the Parthian Empire to the east and the Roman Empire to the west. That was the state of things in the first century when John was writing. Today, if you look at a map, the Euphrates River isn’t a boundary between anything. It just sort of goes down through the middle of Iraq. Yet in Revelation 9:14, we are told that when the sixth trumpet blows, the angels that have been bound in the great River Euphrates are loosed. And in Revelation 16, we find that when the sixth vial is poured out, the River Euphrates is dried up and the kings of the east move across—indicating that the Euphrates is a boundary between east and west.

My friends, if you look at a map and you look these three ethnic groups, you realize that as Iraq moves toward disintegration into three major components, you will find that the Euphrates River is going to emerge as a boundary. That is the natural boundary there, and very likely we are going to see, in the time ahead, the disintegration of Iraq—and ultimately the emergence of the Euphrates River as a prominent boundary just as indicated in the book of Revelation.

The situation in Lebanon is not the only potential fulfillment of biblical prophecy in current world events. You can click here for the complete commentary by John Ogwyn.

One of the reasons for a split is simply that while they have much in common, the Sunni and Shia Muslims have certain key differences on history and prophecy. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle pointed the following out:

"There is sectarianism within the Muslim community, despite the fact that in terms of theology, we have more in common than differences," said Maha ElGenaidi, president and chief executive of the Islamic Networks Group, a San Jose nonprofit...

The distinctions between Sunnis, who make up about 85 percent of the world's Muslim population, and Shiites, who account for the other 15 percent, largely rest on the issue of who was the appropriate successor to the prophet Muhammad, who Muslims believe was the messenger of Allah, God...

Over the centuries, the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites has fueled massacres and assassinations. Some Sunni strands of thought, such as Wahhabism, consider Shiites heretics or not Muslim at all. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader recently slain in Iraq, fueled that view by declaring war on Shiites...

With regard to the successor to Muhammad, Sunnis believe the prophet did not appoint a new Muslim leader and instead wanted believers to decide. Muhammad's friend, Abu Bakr, was chosen to lead.

Shiites believe Muhammad selected his son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. Shiites believe Ali and 11 of his descendants were divinely chosen to be their leaders. Sunnis revere the 12 but do not believe they are infallible descendants of Muhammad...

Shiites believe Muhammad al-Mahdi, the 12th imam, was hidden by God and will return with Jesus for an ultimate reign of justice; he is believed to have been at the shrine before he disappeared. In retaliation, mobs attacked 27 Sunni mosques...

However, as the article points out, they do have more in common than they do have differences, they are capable of uniting against Israel (and the US, etc.).

08/03/06 a.m. While Mel Gibson tries to figure out how to get out of trouble for making anti-semitic remarks, it is of historical interest to note that the split between the true Church of God and those now considered to be mainstream/orthodox tended to have some its roots in anti-semitism. It is understood by various scholars that anti-semitism played a role in the adoption of Sunday as both a weekly day of worship and as a replacement for the biblical Passover. The second century heretic Marcion was probably also anti-semitic.

Although certain COG critics (including the latest inaccurate charge from AW) have considered that the COGs are anti-semitic, this is simply untrue. Since the Bible clearly shows that the children of Israel were divided into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel (I Kings 12:20-24), it is biblically proper to conclude that some prophecies refer to descendants of the kingdom of Judah, while others refer to descendents of Israel.

Unlike mainstream Christianity, we do not believe that the Jews who have not accepted Christ in this age are doomed forever (please see article Hope of Salvation). Like the observant Jews, we in the COGs:

  1. Keep the ten commandments
  2. Observe the seventh-day sabbath
  3. Keep the biblical holy days
  4. Keep Passover and not Easter
  5. Do not eat biblically unclean meat
  6. Value the Hebrew scriptures (AKA the Old Testament) for doctrine
  7. Do not use idols or crosses in our worship services

What is true is that the founder of Protestantism was clearly anti-semitic. Here are some quotes from an article on The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong:

Jewish People

Martin Luther wrote, "My heart is fuller of these thoughts than my tongue can tell. I have come to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God…And so I presume the men of Cologne cannot understand the Scripture, because it is necessary that such things take place to fulfill prophecy. If they are trying to stop the Jews blaspheming, they are working to prove the Bible and God liars" ("Martin Luther's to George Spalatin," from Luthers Correspondence and Other Contemporan, Letters, trans. by P. Smith (1913), Vol. 1, pp. 28-29).

Furthermore he wrote, "I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews and who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them…They are so blind and stupid that they see neither the words found in Genesis 17 nor the whole of Scripture, which mightily and explicitly condemns this lie…They are real liars and bloodhounds who have not only continually perverted and falsified all of Scripture with their mendacious glosses from the beginning until the present day. Their heart's most ardent sighing and yearning and hoping is set on the day on which they can deal with us Gentiles as they did with the Gentiles in Persia at the time of Esther…The worse a Jew is, the more arrogant he is, solely because he is a Jew — that is, a person descended from Abraham's seed, circumcised, and under the law of Moses. David and other pious Jews were not as conceited as the present-day, incorrigible Jews...I wanted to present this to us Germans so that we might see what rascals the blind Jews are and how powerfully the truth of God in our midst stands with us and against them" (Medieval Sourcebook: Martin Luther (1483-1546): On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543)

Martin Luther advised his followers, "to burn down Jewish schools and synagogues, and to throw pitch and sulphur into the flames; to destroy their homes; to confiscate their ready money in gold and silver; to take from them their sacred books, even the whole Bible; and if that did not help matters, to hunt them of the country like mad dogs" (Luther’s Works, vol. Xx, pp. 2230-2632 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.99).

On the other hand, Herbert Armstrong taught, "The fact that they are Jewish and we are not makes no difference {to how his party was treated}…In many ways I have had a deep personal interest in Jerusalem since December 1, 1968. On that date, in a formal ceremony at the palace of the late President Shazar, Ambassador College entered into this joint participation formally with Hebrew University and the Israel Archaeological Society. ‘Do you want a formal, legal contract?’ I was asked. ‘My word is good,’ I replied. ‘And I believe yours is, too, without any legal entanglements.’ That was good enough for them, and our friendship and mutual participation has grown ever since…Mayor Kollek had done a remarkable job of restoring this area. There were about four synagogues -- each in a different room in the same building -- now very modern, very bright and beautiful on the interiors. I was really impressed with all the plans Mayor Kollek told us he has in mind for renewing and re-beautifying the city of Jerusalem...On July 4 there will be a big ‘4th of July Celebration’ in Jerusalem, hosted jointly by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Teddy Kollek, and myself…We've been participating in this foundation for twelve years. A whole square in front of the main headquarters building in the newer area of Jerusalem is named ‘The Herbert W. Armstrong Square’ (Armstrong H. Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 2, 1986/1987).

Notice that while Martin Luther condemned the Jews and wanted their destruction, Herbert Armstrong praised them, helped them for many years, and even was honored by them when they named something in Jerusalem after him. I also believe some park may have also once been named after him as well.

Notice the following news item that was posted in Indonesia this morning:

With the continuing Israeli strikes on civilian areas in Lebanon, the Indonesian public and government are pressuring international organizations to ensure an immediate cease-fire.The country's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, appealed Wednesday to the European Union (EU) to demand that Israel and its main supporter the U.S. stop the indiscriminate bombardment of Lebanon. Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said Wednesday the 30-million-member organization had sent an official letter to the EU requesting an immediate cease-fire in the region. "The United Nations is not effective anymore. We are putting our hopes in the European Union to press for an immediate cease-fire because we believe they still have a commitment and conscience to stop the killings of innocent civilians," Din told The Jakarta Post.

EU foreign ministers are now in the middle of talks in Brussels to reach an immediate truce between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon even as fighting escalates.

Notice that the Muslims think that the EU is their only hope. Once Israel comes to this inaccurate conclusion, and to some degree it will (though not necessarily for this crisis) the stage will be set for the fulfillment of various prophecies in Daniel 9 and 11.

Because of the current situation, I decided to update my article on Europa and the Beast of Revelation this morning an add some prophetic items I have mentioned on previous news pages.

08/02/06 a.m. In the past few days, I have received emails from a couple of different people who did not provide their correct email address (this is an intentional alteration of deception on their part). And while this does happen from time to time, perhaps this time a few comments to everyone might be of value.

Please understand that I:

  1. Normally delete those emails without opening them
  2. Have no respect for that type of behavior, hence consider any comments irrelevant
  3. Consider that no true Christian would actually do that, or if they did would repent, for this bearing of false witness

It somewhat astounds me how many false Christians there are still among those who claim to be part of the COG--though I should not be too surprised as Jesus warned about this (see Revelation 3:9).

If you want to send me any legitimate comments (no impersonal or religious spam please), please include a subject, use a real email address, and preferable provide your name (I normally do not take unsigned emails that seriously). My email address remains

Yesterday, I did not have time to post the top ten most popular COGwriter articles for July 2006. So, without further delay, here they are:

  1. Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise.
  2. History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
  6. Christian Educational Ministries Ron Dart's confederation (not a church), with its own differences.
  7. Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation?
  8. Polycarp of Smyrna Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor.
  9. Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
  10. SDA/COG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 The COG is NOT part of the Seventh Day Adventists. This article explains two prophetic differences, the trinity, and differences in approaching doctrine.

This is the first time that the RCG article was this popular. This is also the first month since I have kept track of the top ten that so many of the top ten viewed articles had to do with differences between so many groups. I updated most of those articles last month, so if you have not read them in the past few weeks, most have had additional information added to them. I even updated the article on RCG again this morning and updated links that were no longer active.

Speaking of differences, three biblically-based articles of related interest might Unity: Which COG for You?, Attending the Church of Choice, and There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God?

08/01/06 a.m. AOL had the following AP item this morning:

HAVANA (Aug. 1) - An operation forced Fidel Castro to temporarily cede power to his brother for the first time in 47 years, abruptly ushering in a period of uncertainty in the communist island as the severity of his illness remained unknown...

Castro, less than two weeks away from his 80th birthday, did not appear on the live television broadcast Monday night in which his secretary read a letter from the Cuban leader. Castro's message said he underwent surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from a heavy travel and work schedule related to recent trips to Argentina and eastern Cuba...

The calm delivery of the announcement appeared to signal that there would be an orderly succession should Fidel become permanently incapacitated.

Cuban exiles celebrated in the streets of Miami, but Havana's streets were quiet overnight as Cubans awaited further word on Castro's condition.

Fidel Castro cannot hold on to power forever. I suspect that after his departure there will be a few shifts not only in Cuba, but in all of Latin America.

UCG Canada's Anthony Wasilkof reported:

As events in the Middle East heat up, people all around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about what it all portends not just for that region but for the whole earth. A prophecy in Zechariah warns: "I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it will happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it." There is no doubt that we live in momentous times.

He is correct.

I just updated the article at the Early Christianity page titled Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings. Here is some of what I added to it:

While Protestants tend to blast Roman Catholics for relying on traditions of men above the Bible, the simple truth is that Protestant scholars not only realize that Protestants do this, they actually teach that relying on human traditions is more important than the Bible. Look at this admission from the Protestant scholar and theologian H. Brown:

Although classical theology is certainly not without its problems, historically it is almost always the case that the appeal to the Bible alone...leads to the reemergence of ancient heresies...The Reformation began with the slogan "To the sources!" and sought to deal a fatal blow to the place of church tradition in shaping life and faith...Despite their efforts not to be influenced by the authority of tradition, each of the major Reformation churches found itself borrowing from the past and building up a traditionalism of its own (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 335,350-351).

It should be noted that the above is not limited to one Protestant scholar, even Martin Luther truly did not believe in rallying cry sola scriptura (an article of related interest may be Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).

The reality is the fact that Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics accept tradition, they call many biblical practices that were enjoined upon and practiced by the early New Testament church, heresies. But if practices were original and based upon the Bible, can they logically be called heresies?

Are not the heretics, those that changed the teachings of the Bible in favor of traditions of men?

The entire article is available by clicking on the title Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings

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Volume 10, issue 16 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006