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

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

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

12/01/06 a.m. Yesterday, Zenit.org reported the following:

ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the Common Declaration signed today by Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, at the end of the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Phanar, Istanbul.

* * *

Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I

"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Ps 117:24)

This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God's work, and in a certain sense his gift. We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion. This commitment comes from the Lord's will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a sign and an encouragement to us to share the same sentiments and the same attitudes of fraternity, cooperation and communion in charity and truth. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare the great day of the re-establishment of full unity, whenever and however God wills it. Then we shall truly be able to rejoice and be glad.

It has been a stated goal of the current pontiff to unify with the Orthodox--the eastern leg of the ancient Roman Empire (and apparently represented by one of the legs and/or feet of the image in the Book of Daniel). Although there are Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Churches of God, the Orthodox have much more in common with the Romans, as can be seen in the aforementioned link.

In the December 2006 edition of CG7's Bible Advocate, in an article titled What If It Really Is ‘The End’? Whether it is or not, here’s how to prepare the right way, Dianne E. Butts wrote:

At times world events can send me spinning into an intriguing game of “What if?” What if this is it? What if we’re nearing the end times? What if we’re in the end times?!

What if we did find ourselves thrust into that “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21)? Should we cash in our investments and pay off our houses so if the government runs amuck, it can’t take them away?  Should we buy some land in the country so we could grow our own food? Should we run out and purchase a generator? Fuel? Radios, batteries, blankets? Seed to grow food? A water purification system?

What about weapons?

Should I take the advice given to the Christians of Judea in Matthew 24:16 and flee to the mountains? Or should I throw faith in the face of fear and book a flight to Israel for a front-row view of the action?

In case God’s Word might suddenly become limited or illegal, maybe I should bury a Bible in my backyard.

If I knew the world was in, or would soon be immersed in, the prophesied Great Tribulation, what would I do?...

While it is not wrong to prepare in practical ways for possible hard times, my game of “What if?” challenges me to tend to my spiritual health. There’s nothing like a crisis to help us get our priorities straight. Can I feel the pressure of the coming crisis? Do I truly believe Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:7 “Behold, I am coming soon!”? We may not know the actual date of Jesus’ return, but one thing is for certain: We are about two thousand years closer to it than we were when John penned those words.

Any way I look at it, time is short; there’s none to waste. So what should I be doing?

I should be using every moment wisely by diligently studying and preparing to wield my weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). I should be feeding on the Bread of Life so that I’m nourished and strong. I should be gulping down the Living Water and passing it on to others.

Whether Jesus comes back next week, next month, or the next millennium, aren’t these the things I should be doing anyway?

While Ms. Butts is correct that true Christians should study the word of God, she neglected to mention that in the Bible, Jesus specifically teaches:

And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath (Matthew 24:20-21 NKJV).

The understanding of biblical prophecy has never been a strong point of CG7, nor have I seen anything in the CG7 literature about a place of safety, like Petra. It does not appear that fleeing to a place in the wilderness (see Revelation 12:14) to be protected (see Revelation 3:10) are being taught in CG7. More on CG7 can be found in the article titled Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings.

The hits to the cogwriter.com website for November 2006 were more than double those of November 2005. This is probably because more without a COG background have been visiting the site and looking at the articles at the Early Christianity page. Perhaps I should comment here that Alexa rankings do seem to be a bit peculiar, because although this site had 70% less hits in May 2006 than November 2006, the Alexa ranking for COGwriter in May 2006 was 278,946, compared to 507,903 this morning (this may be related to the fact that since Alexa uses a three-month scale, and the cogwriter.com site drops a bit during the FOT, plus more visiting internet shopping during November or simply how Alexa ranks). Although my one week ranking this morning was 303,980, my hits for the past week are no higher than for the other weeks in November--so there are apparently factors other than hits involved. But even based upon Alexa-rankings, the COGwriter.com site seems to be the most popular pro-COG news and history site on the web.

Anyway, below are the top ten visited non-news/quiz pages for COGwriter during November 2006:

  1. Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group, led by David Pack, 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. What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
  4. Some Similarities and Differences Between the Orthodox Church and the Churches of God Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
  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. Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate? Justin is considered one of the first Christian theologians and scholars. But did he support a Gnostic version of Christianity? Do you know what he taught about souls going to heaven upon death?
  7. 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.
  8. Polycarp of Smyrna Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught?
  9. Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation?
  10. Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings Nearly all COG's I am aware of trace their history through this group. Do you know much about them?

Most of those articles were updated last month, so if you have not read them (or it has been some time since you have), you may wish to.

BTW, number 11 was Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism? and number 12 was Brief Article on Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God This is Ronald Weinland's group. He claims to be one of the two witnesses.

11/30/06 a.m. In his latest newsletter, CBCG's Fred Coulter stated:

Today, in America, many Protestant “Christian Evangelicals” and Catholics are working together in an attempt to elect politicians who have “conservative moral values” like their own—in the hope that such politicians will bring about a better government and a more law abiding society. However, such actions can never bring about a lasting change for good because the values embraced by both voters and politicians are not truly God’s values as defined in His Word. Rather, their values are derived from man’s definition of good and evil. What happens all too often to politicians, elected or appointed? Though they profess to have high moral values, power, money and sex tend to corrupt them as well. Such is the history of the nations, governments and religions of the world—as well as those of the Bible.

Contrary to what people often think, government per se is not the problem; the problem is the people who run the government and those who elect them—the voters! For example, while there are many people today who are against abortion, the majority is in favor of abortion. This was recently made clear in the state of North Dakota when a measure to outlaw abortion was voted down by the people. Likewise, in California, as well as in other states, measures that would require a 48-hour waiting period in which to notify parents that their daughters were planning an abortion were voted down. As a result, the killing of the most innocent of all human beings will continue unabated. Since abortion was made “legal” in the USA, 47 million of the most innocent and helpless human beings have been killed in the womb.

An article of possibly related interest may be Should a Christian Vote?

Last night on the news, Colin Powell stated that he felt that a civil war is what is occurring in Iraq and that is how the news media should portray it. Several years back, the late John Ogwyn (of LCG) stated in a commentary titled What Lies Ahead for Iraq?:

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.
     What’s going on in today’s world news is setting the stage for the final fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

And events are proving John Ogwyn correct.

11/29/06 p.m. Pope Benedict has been in Turkey this week.  Notice a news piece yesterday about how one priest is describing his meeting with the Eastern Orthodox

The exchange of visits between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is a "gesture of love," says Father Giovanni Cereti (Zenit.org 11/28/06).  

This pontiff has repeatedly made it clear that he wants the Eastern Orthodox as part of his flock, so gesture of love is not quite how I would describe it.  It appears to be an attempt to show some respect to the Eastern Orthodox, so that they will continue to dialog with the Vatican.

In addition to meeting with the Eastern Orthodox, the Pontiff is meeting with certain Muslims and there are various protests, at least partially due to his comments about Islam on September 12, 2006.  In an article by CGG's Richard T. Ritenbaugh
titled What Is the Pope Up To?, his explanation is: 

In his remarks to invitees to a meeting at his summer residence near Rome on September 25, the Pope regretted that his comments offended Muslims, yet he went on to explain briefly that Christians and Muslims "must learn to work together . . . to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence."

A reading of his Regensburg speech makes it plain that this was his intention all along. Notice this passage:

The [Byzantine Emperor Manuel Paleologos II, a Christian] must have known that Sura 2,256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." . . . But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Quran, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, . . . he addresses his interlocutor . . . on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death. . . ."

Here he introduces his real subject, the relationship of reason and faith in religion. Muslim extremists—and frankly most Muslims period—have abandoned reason in their wholehearted devotion to Islam, and the result has been conflict, destruction, and death. On the other side, Western Christianity has rejected faith in favor of rationalism, producing cultural relativism and an essentially godless society. Benedict's speech was designed to steer a course toward the future between the two extremes.

At this point, the second answer to the why of the Pope's intentions comes to the fore. Upon ascending to the pontificate, Benedict dedicated himself to returning Europe to fundamental Christian values in response to increasing secularization...

Despite the violence his remarks caused, he has calculated that they were worth the turmoil so that he could gauge, not the Muslim reaction, which was predictable, but the European response. He is hoping to see a shift in attitudes toward the Catholic Church and the papacy to defend Christendom from the ongoing Islamic assault. So far—and granted, his remarks still echo across the Continent—he has seen nothing from secular Europe to give him hope.

I would disagree with that last CGG statement. There has been some reaction in secular Europe, Pontiff Benedict was defended perhaps a little more than he was publicly chastised in Europe.  This is apparently intended to set the stage for the Vatican's ultimate goals, which according to biblical prophecy, will be met to some degree.  An article of related interest may be Europa and the Beast of Revelation.

11/28/06 a.m. A few verses and comments were just added to the article about the COGs and Protestants:

The Bible makes it clear that the law of God and the commandments of God are truth and righteous, and are tied to salvation, but that the wicked are far from God's law. Notice a few verses from Psalm 119:

101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.
126 It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void. 127 Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold!
142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.
144 The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.
150 They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law.
151 You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.
152 Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
163 I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law
166 LORD, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments.
172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

While the basic Church of God view is that the commandments show love, the basic Protestant view (Tyndale not withstanding) seems to be that the law contained in the ten commandments is done away and that they (most Protestants) show love apart from the law. In the view of the Church of God, the cause of many of the problems people now experience is because they have rejected God's governance over their lives, including keeping His laws. The main Protestant view seems to be that most of the problems people have are because they live on the Earth, and that for some reason other than obeying God's commandments, paradise--which they define as being in heaven--will be better than Earth.

The entire article is available online and is titled Hope of Salvation: How the Church of God Differs from Protestantism

Speaking of Protestants, at this time of the year they follow the lead of the Roman Catholics and prepare to celebrate a non-biblical holiday that the Roman Catholics essentially named Christmas. An article of related interest may be What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

Last night, WCG announced the latest letter from J. Tkach Jr. It begins with:

“What does Jesus want for Christmas?” is the title of the cover feature in the new issue of Christian Odyssey.

It’s an intriguing question. Some people would answer that Jesus doesn’t even want his people observing Christmas, because Christmas has roots in ancient pagan festivals.

And they would miss the point.

Actually, it is WCG that misses the point. WCG prefers repackaged pagan holidays as substitutes for the Holy Days clearly laid out in the Bible. Even the Roman Catholics, who WCG and the Protestants tend to follow here, realize that they did not celebrate Christmas until 300 years after Jesus died. No historian actually believes that the Early Christians celebrated Christmas, hence it certainly was not part of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

Notice another statement that J. Jr. made in that same letter:

For believers, Christmas is one of the central worship celebrations of the year, along with Easter and Pentecost.

Let's briefly examine the above. How can Christmas be one of the central worship celebrations of the year since early Christians did not celebrate it? Christmas is not a biblically-endorsed holiday, was not celebrated by early Christians, and the practices it was based on were specifically condemned in both the Bible and by early writings of those who professed Christ.

Easter is a paganized substitute for Passover, essentially the first commanded observance in God's annual calendar (Leviticus 23). And Pentecost is another commanded observance in God's annual calendar (Leviticus 23). Hence, what J. Jr. is really saying is that his church (as well as those of the Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox), accept some version of what many consider to be "Jewish Holy Days" (actually the biblical Holy Days). They somewhat accept two biblical Holy Days as central worship celebrations, but they ignore the others (Unleavened Bread, Feast of Trumpets, Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day).

And actually, the Christmas to New Years celebration (8 days with a human holiday as the first and eighth day) is essentially a substitute for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day (8 days with a God commanded Holy Day as the first and eighth day).

Some articles of related interest may also include:

God's Holy Days:

Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles which state that this should be a local decision. Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach?
Melito's Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? This article supplies some biblical answers.
UCG and Its Unleavened Bread Study Paper What does the Bible say about eating unleavened bread for seven days? What has UCG officially said about it?
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? More Christians somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means?
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus?

The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?
The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians "The Day of Atonement". Does it have any relevance for Christians today?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians?

Man's Holidays:

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?

11/27/06 a.m. After thinking about what Ron Weinland wrote in his latest book, I noticed that he seems to be praying for the deaths of the leadership of LCG, PCG, RCG, CGG, and UCG to show that he is one of the two witnesses. Notice the string of quotes (bolding his):

This first phase of this Fifth Thunder has already begun in a very small way upon the Church of God that was scattered,
after the prophesied apostasy (2 Thes. 2)...Instead, these will stubbornly cling to their own ideas of how they believe God should teach them through their own organizations. This phase of the Fifth Thunder is one of my own choosing, which God has granted me as part of His own will and purpose for the Church (2008 - God's Final Witness, p. 92).

#5 The Fifth Thunder is death (p. 100)...

Escalating deaths in the leadership of the scattered groups will serve as a witness of who (p. 104) it is through whom God is working. It will not be done through miraculous signs of healing (p. 105)...

I have also made a petition to the ETERNAL God of Abraham. My petition is that this first phase of the Fifth Thunder be fulfilled exactly as it is written here. This request is so that scattered brethren who are asleep might be awakened and know that God has granted them the opportunity to repent and return to Him at this time. Also, it is so that they may know that I am His end-time prophet, His spokesman for the two end-time witnesses.

It will be revealed in a very short time whether I am God’s prophet or not, as well as whether scattered Church leaders are God’s ministers any longer or not. As stated in a previous chapter, either one of these is true or neither is true.

To make it absolutely clear, my petition covers more in regard to the scattered ministers. The most notable among them will be those who die toward the beginning. However, every minister who was scattered, who fails to repent early on and return to God (with me, as God’s minister, teaching them) will die during the final three and one-half years of great tribulation. They will not be in the first resurrection, and they will not see the millennial reign of God’s Kingdom on earth.

The most notable deaths early on, which are yet to come to pass, will be the two remaining television presenters in the Living (p. 107) Church of God. The sound of this thunder will be intensified by the early deaths of the leaders of the Philadelphia Church of God, the Restored Church of God and the Church of the Great God. Then, those in the largest scattered group, who think they have escaped, will be lifted up to believe that God is with them because they are so filled with pride. But, when that happens, the deaths of many in the United Church of God will begin.

How much more specific can one be to show that he is either of God, and indeed His prophet, or someone who has clearly stepped over the line to be dealt with by God in a speedy manner. Time will tell! And, you don’t have long to wait! (p. 108).

Perhaps that is not what he is saying, but he seems to be teaching that if they do not die by 2008, he (Ron Weinland) is a false prophet. Stay tuned as I suspect that I will eventually post more about why Ron Weinland is in error. I have also updated the Brief Article on Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God

Yesterday, at the anti-COG site, xCG Gary Scott posted:

Why would I be Catholic? Simple—it’s the only organization that can come close to tracing itself all the way back to the founder of the religion. It’s purely for that reason.

Sadly, I do not believe that he or others at xCG truly understand what really happened with early church history. Even Roman Catholic scholars know that they really cannot trace their history all the way back to Peter. I read the following from a prominent Roman Catholic scholar last week (any bolding mine):

The continuity between Pope and Apostle rests on traditions which stretch back almost to the very beginning of the written records of Christianity. It was already well established by the year AD 180, when the early Christian writer Irenaeus of Lyons invoked it in defence of orthodox Christianity. The Church of Rome was for him the 'great and illustrious Church' to which, 'on account of its commanding position, every church, that is the faithful everywhere, must resort'. Irenaeus thought that the Church had been 'founded and organised at Rome by the two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul,' and that its faith had been reliably passed down to posterity by an unbroken succession of bishops, the first of them chosen and consecrated by the Apostles themselves. He named the bishops who had succeeeded the Apostles, in the process providing us with the earliest surviving list of the popes--Linus, Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, and so on down to Irenaeus' contemporary and friend Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome from AD 174 to 189.

All the essential claims of the modern papacy, it might seem, are contained in this Gospel saying about the Rock, and in Irenaeus' account of the apostolic pedigree of the early bishops of Rome. Yet matters are not so simple. The popes trace their commission from Christ through Peter, yet for Irenaeus the authority of the Church at Rome came from its foundation by two Apostles, not by one, Peter and Paul not Peter alone. The tradition that Peter and Paul had been put to death at the hands of Nero in Rome about the year AD 64 was universally accepted in the second century, and by the end of that century pilgrims to Rome were being shown the 'trophies' of the Apostles, their tombs, or cenotaphs, Peter's on the Vatican Hill, and Paul's on the Via Ostiensis, outside the walls on the road to the coast. Yet on all of this the New Testament is silent. Later legend would fill out the details of Peter's life and death in Rome--his struggles with the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus, his miracles, his attempted escape from persecution in Rome, a flight from which he was turned back by a reproachful vision of Christ (the 'Quo Vadis' legend), and finally his crucifixion upside down in the Vatican Circus in the time of the Emperor Nero. These stories were to be accepted as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church--Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable acounts either of Peter's later life or of the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, whereever we turn, the solid outlines of the petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve...

Neither Paul, Acts nor any of the Gospels tells us anything direct about Peter's death, and none of them even hints that the special role of Peter could be passed on to any single 'successor'. There is, therefore, nothing directly approaching a papal theory in the pages of the New Testament (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, pp.2,6).

On the other hand, all Roman Catholic scholars I have read accept that Polycarp (a Christian leader who kept Passover and opposed Roman Catholic practices, like Easter) was appointed as a bishop by one or more of the original apostles. It is only in the COGs that had the initial Apostolic Succession that the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox claim.

Those interested in early church history may wish to visit the Early Christianity page. Two articles of possible interest also may include:

What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?

11/26/06 a.m. AW's Gavin Rumney mentioned that Ron Weinland's new book is now available. Here is some of what I have written about it:

In his second book, Ronald Weinland declares:

I am to announce, through God’s direct revelation, that I am one of those two witnesses. The other witness will be revealed to the world during the time of the great tribulation—within the final three and one-half years of man’s era (Weinland, Ronald. 2008 - God's Final Witness. Copyright © 2006 by the-end.com, inc., Cincinnati. Published October, 2006, p.16).

Although, it is most likely that the two witnesses are alive right now, and maybe we in the COGs will know who they are prior to the final 3 1/2 years, I do not believe that he is one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 (I believe his earlier writings on governance, the work, and prophecy have pretty much ruled him out).

Apparently Ron Weinland is also into a bit of allegory regarding the two witnesses (and although I may have misunderstood him, he apparently does not intend to wear any type of sackcloth or send forth fire) as he wrote:

Notice: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” (Revelation 11:3). The symbolism of “sackcloth” is given because these two will be filled with humility (Weinland, Ronald. 2008 - God's Final Witness. Copyright © 2006 by the-end.com, inc., Cincinnati. Published October, 2006, pp.21-22).

And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies, and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. They have power to shut heaven so that it does not rain in the days of their prophecy, and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Revelation 11:5-6)...

The fire proceeding out of their mouth is symbolic of the power to pronounce exacting judgments upon anyone who would do them harm (2008 - God's Final Witness, p. 89).

While it is possible that the two witnesses will not wear physical sackcloth, I strongly suspect that Revelation 11:13 is not speaking of just humility, but specifically that the clothing of the two witnesses will not be fancy--probably in contrast to the beast, who is likely to be flashy/wealthy in appearance. I also believe that they will actually perform miracles, such as fire from them devouring their enemies...

The Second Book

In January 2006 , Ron Weinland told me that he was also producing another book, which he titled God's Final Witness, which he planned to promote in late 2006 and beyond. Well, the title was slightly modified and is now called 2008 - God's Final Witness.

The book is 244 pages long and explains what Ron Weinland believes he understands from God and the Bible. And although I do not agree with his timing or many of his comments, he (like nearly all others in the COGs) does at least understand that the United States will be destroyed (though we have differences on the specifics).

Here is what his other website states about it:

From now until the latter part of 2008, many prophecies are going to begin to be fulfilled, especially the Seven Thunders of the Book of Revelation, which the apostle John saw but was restricted from recording. Those thunders are revealed in this book, as well as detailed accounts of the final three and one-half years of man's self-rule on earth, which are recorded in the account of the Seventh Seal of Revelation.

Some of these prophecies concern the demise of the United States over the next two years, which will be followed by man's final world war. This last war will be the result of clashing religions and the governments they sway. Billions will die! This time will far exceed even the very worst times in all human history.

As these events unfold, the world will increasingly become aware of the authenticity of the words in this book and realize that Ronald Weinland has been sent by God as His end-time prophet.

This book is primarily directed to the people of the three major religions of the world (Islam, Judaism and Christianity), whose roots are in the God of Abraham. Ronald Weinland has been sent to all three. (http://www.the-end.com/ 11/26/06).

While I believe that Ron Weinland is sincere, I do not believe God has sent him to be one of the two witnesses.

Anyway, one of the points the book makes early on is:

The truth is, that eventually, in the United States alone, over 250 million will die. (Weinland, Ronald. 2008 - God's Final Witness. Copyright © 2006 by the-end.com, inc., Cincinnati. Published October, 2006, p.7).

The above is probably correct. I say only probably because while the Bible indicates that over 90% of Jacob will ultimately perish, the United States has so many Hispanics and other non-Israelites, that it is not biblically certain that over 250 million must die in the United States as the USA does not have 250 million Israelites--but over 200 million would seem to be biblically expected to die.

The book also states:

The False Teaching
For Judaism, the real basis of the problem and great false teaching is this: Judaism claims to truly follow the God of Abraham, but doesn’t observe Passover as God instructed in Leviticus 23, “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even (Heb. “between the evenings”–ben ha arbayim) is the Lord’s Passover” (Lev. 23:4). Instead, Judaism observes Passover after the fourteenth day, on the beginning of the fifteenth, which is the first day of Unleavened Bread—a High Day—an annual Sabbath. But God clearly says it is to be observed in the fourteenth day (2008 - God's Final Witness, p. 40).

While I agree that the Jews observe the Passover on the wrong day (please see the article on the Passover), I do not believe that that is the real basis for the inaccuracies of Judaism. The Jews rejected Jesus (biggest problem), most Jews do not even try to observe the Laws of God, and none of them are observing the sacrifices required by the Hebrew scriptures, but instead are relying on traditions of men to reason around all of those. The reliance on traditions of men is the real basis for why the Jewish religion is in error and why it misunderstands Passover, not mainly because of Passover's date as Ronald Weinland's writings suggest.

The book also states (bolding his):

Today, without exception, every theologian and scholar of the Bible is fully blind to the truths of God (2008 - God's Final Witness, p. 68).

By every, I presume he means everyone in every COG other than his as well.

Furthermore, the book states:

The most notable deaths early on, which are yet to come to pass, will be the two remaining television presenters in the Living Church of God.

The sound of this thunder will be intensified by the early deaths of the leaders of the Philadelphia Church of God, the Restored Church of God and the Church of the Great God. Then, those in the largest scattered group, who think they have escaped, will be lifted up to believe that God is with them because they are so filled with pride. But, when that happens, the deaths of many in the United Church of God will begin (2008 - God's Final Witness, p. 107-108).

Apparently he considers that since LCG is the most effective in getting its message out, it must go first, followed by those who are next in effectiveness...

Perhaps I should mention that Ron Weinland teaches that HWA was wrong and that Jesus did not pre-exist:

Although Mr. Armstrong understood that the Trinity was a lie, God did not give him full understanding of what was true concerning Himself and His Son, Jesus Christ. God did not fully lead him out from the pollution of the false Trinity doctrine. Mr. Armstrong still believed that Jesus Christ had eternally existed...

But there is only one eternally-existing member of Elohim and that is the ETERNAL ONE (Yahweh). Mr. Armstrong was never able to come to understand this about God. (2008 - God's Final Witness, pp. 204, 206).

And while Ron Weinland is not mentioned, an article that comes to a different, and bibically supported opposite conclusion, is Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church?.

For more about this book and other teachings of Ron Weinland read Brief Article on Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God

11/25/06 a.m. Last night ICG's Mark Armstrong reported:

America is disdained and despised by a vast majority throughout the world.  Nevertheless, we fund a world body that works tirelessly to support and defend the most virulent of our enemies.  All hope that our traditional allies will stand with us against the global Islamic jihad movement is out the window.  America has become the world’s enemy, as is demonstrated on a consistent basis at the UN and in the arms deals that are playing out on the global stage.

The November 2006 edition of United News arrived last night. Its front-page stated:

Beyond Today is currently airing on 190 cable-access TV stations and 18 radio stations accross the United States. More than 5,000 people have responded by telephone or online (Treadway Janet. Beyond Today Grows Rapidly Over Its First Year. United News, November 2006).

Almost similarly,according to the listings in its November-December 2006 edition, LCG's Tomorrow's World is now on approximately 198 television stations and 18 radio stations originating in 21 countries. Also notice:

The Revelation booklet had been offered in 14 TV airings previously and in the most recent airing last month, this booklet broke our all-tome record for a single telecast with 4,880 TV requests, and the exact same telecast back in April drew 4,762 TV responses. Overall, the Revelation booklet is our third highest-pulling booklet among our TV viewers...Thanks to this week’s TV replies, the total cumulative North American response since January 1999 is now up to 705,341, bringing the total response from all TV stations around the world to 875,874 responses. In the nearly seven years since our first year in 1999, the telecast around the world grew at an average of 57 percent per year. (Pyle Wayne. World Ahead Weekly Update. 11/02/06). 

For 2006, LCG has been averaging over 3,000 responses per week to its Tomorrow's World program, and one single broadcast brought in almost as many responses as UCG has generated all year. UCG is on a similar number of stations, but gets less than 1/20th of the responses. The fact that UCG spends little for its stations (nor does it have the coverage with its stations like LCG has) probably is a big factor in its less than hot level of responses (I have never seen UCG's Beyond Today, so will make no comment at this time on its content).

Speaking of spending, the November 2006 edition of United News also contained UCG's financial data (UCG used to provide this prior to the FOT, but changed until afterwards a year or two ago). Anyway, I have now updated the following:

Brief Financial Comparison of US Income (Both Based on Audited Statements)

For its fiscal year ending 6/30/06 UCG grossed $21,907,466. It spent 4,334,081 (19.8%) for 'public proclamation'; it spent 3,994,978 for managing its meetings and 'home office' (18.2%); and 12,507,427 (57.1%) for the field ministry/local churches/FOT/International support, and increased reserves by 1,070,980. For its fiscal year ending 12/31/05 LCG grossed 10,352,593 and spent 4,429,377 on public proclamation, 711,651 on HQ administration, 5,210,756 to 'feed the flock' and increased reserves by 809.

If you gave $100.00 to the United Church of God or the Living Church of God, here is where your money went:............................................................................United Church of God........Living Church of God
1st Commission to Proclaim the Gospel to the World.............$19.78....................................$42.79
2nd Commission to Feed the Flock (and Field Ministry).......... 57.09.....................................50.33
Headquarters/Home Office......................................................18.24...................................... 6.88
Change in Reserves..................................................................4.89....................................... 0.00 Total...................................................................................$100.00..................................$100.00

I went with LCG because of Gospel and governance. It is interesting that UCG spent about 3 times as high a percentage on governance than LCG does (and over 5 times as much in actual cash, UCG spent $3,994,978 vs. LCG's 711,651). Which form of governance is more cost-effective? Which form places the higher priority on proclaiming the Gospel? With half the income, LCG spends more in actual cash as UCG to proclaim the Gospel. LCG also produces nearly twice the number of magazines (Tomorrow's World vs. Good News) on a per member basis than UCG does. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

This and other information is included in the article Some of the Differences between the Living Church of God and the United Church of God, ia.

11/24/06 a.m. In its latest online commentary titled, The Author of Terrorism, UCG's Jerold Aust correctly stated:

Recently Fox News ran a shocking television documentary about extremist Islamic terrorist groups titled Obsession. Other television specials on similar topics have also been aired on other networks. CNN Headline News recently aired Exposed: the Extremist Agenda. The Discovery Channel aired Iran: The Most Dangerous Nation. All three aired in mid-November 2006...

The Bible clearly identifies the single most influential author of terrorism. He is unseen, spiritual in nature. He is the one the Bible identifies as the god of this world, Satan the devil. He is the evil, unseen power that manipulates hostile human attitudes. When we know why he is so eager to instigate those destructive attitudes, we can know why terrorism has so often erupted throughout human history.

Satan is not just a figment of human imagination. He was once a trusted arch-angel named Lucifer (Ezekiel 28). He became Satan the destroyer because he turned against God and tried to throw Him off His throne (Isaiah 14). This apparently took place soon after God made known His great plan to create for Himself a family of sons and daughters from and through weak human beings.

The Bible reveals that since Satan could not overthrow God he set himself against God's creation, in particular His creation of human beings. He knew that human beings were created to become the children of God, younger brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus, who one day would "judge angels" (Hebrews 2:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:3).

Satan's jealousy overcame him. He became the great Accuser, the Adversary of God—which are the respective meanings of "devil" and "Satan." His slanderous influence is the fundamental reason we have terrorism today. He is the primary, hidden architect of all terrorist activities.

Terrorism is only one aspect of his destructive sway on human behavior. Since God won't allow Satan to destroy mankind directly, he is attempting to destroy humanity by influencing us to destroy ourselves.

Some with a COG background, believe that terrorism is a reason for true Christians to ignore the New Testament and fight.

Yesterday, CEM's Ron Dart posted:

I saw some satellite images, shot at night over the Korean peninsula, which made me think long and hard about it. What the dictator of North Korea has accomplished since the war could just as easily have been the picture of South Korea. We can talk endlessly about the evils of war, but one does have to look at results when all is said and done. The images below are night time satellite views of the Korean peninsula. Do you see any difference at all between north and south? I am anti-war, too, but I believe there is a time to fight...On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for what it means to be free. (Dart, Ronald L. Anti-War. http://www.rondart.com/. November 23, 2006).

Ron Dart is one of very few affiliated with the COGs who does believe that Christians can serve in the military and fight.

Previously, he also stated:

Paul was surely a citizen of God's Kingdom, but he did not hesitate to demand his rights as a Roman citizen. We don't hesitate to demand our rights as American citizens, but how can we exercise our rights while we avoid our responsibilities? Our country is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We have, just as God said, judges and officers in all our gates. Why should we, as saints, decline to serve as judges and officers? Who is better able to sit on a jury and judge God's people?..I am persuaded that it is not only permissible for a Christian to serve on a jury if called; it is an obligation. I think God will hold us accountable for responsible government in our communities at least to the extent of doing what we can...We should clean out that rat's nest called the Taliban and avenge the murder of our citizens. For us as individuals to turn the other cheek, we need a government that will take up our cause and defend us. This is not vengeance taken with a spiteful heart. It is justice, and it is right. We should have done it a long time ago (Dart, Ron. Take a new, hard look at vengeance. The Journal. 10/31/01).

When later specifically asked about this subject, Ron Dart responded,

A Christian could serve in the military (email from Ron Dart to TW 6/7/02).

An article of interest may be Military Service and the COGs.

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Volume 10, issue 28 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006