I like The Journal. It has the ability to treat important issues that affect the Churches of God with fairness and depth. That's an important counter-balance to the less than objective sources online - whether the various sect websites, Bob Thiel's blog, or - yes, it's true - even the one-eyed rants that crop up here on AW.
But along with the good stuff, there are features in The Journal that would drive the sanest person nuts. Take this month's cover story on a new ministry called "Lamp Fire" for example.
Lamp Fire is the brainchild of a troika that includes high-profile BI apologist Steven Collins. Their calling is to spread the good word "to inform the nations of the modern house of Israel about their heritage and warm them [sic] about the prophecies affecting them" via video.
Frankly, I'm not sure what if any relevant qualifications Mr Collins brings to this task. I know he's written a number of obscure books which gather dust on the shelves of the BI bookshop in Auckland. I also believe Fred Coulter is impressed by his research, though that is probably very faint praise.
But more seriously, Lamp Fire has "invited JOURNAL readers and others to consider making tax-deductible (in the U.S.A.) donations to help kick off the project."
Uh huh? The Gospel of fictive racial origins? My money? Yeah, right!
Then there's a long article by the aforesaid Mr Collins on the inside pages where he defends the idea of a "6,000-year period in prophetic calculations." It contains statements like "Until they [Adam and Eve] sinned, the entire physical world was perfect..."
Oh really? Nature has been "red in tooth and claw" since well before the first mammals (let alone humans) appeared on the face of Planet Earth. The food chain involves pain and suffering, and it always has. ADAM DIDN'T DO IT! In fact, Adam couldn't do it.
Perfect? No ice ages before Adam? No volcanoes erupting? No extinction of species? No predation by carnivores? Maybe somebody should take this up with the Discovery Channel!
But Mr Collins has a well-stocked battery of inerrant proof-texts, all to be taken literally, and who can argue against that when all you have at hand is facts? I guess if you can believe that, then it's no great stretch to imagine that the citizens of Milwaukee are Manassehites.
As to when it'll all end, Mr Collins reassures us: "At this juncture I’ll state that I agree with Mr. Nelte that Christ’s return should not be expected before 2010. We are already in 2007, and the prophesied 3 1⁄2-year ministry of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3) has not yet begun, so it appears that the end of this age will not occur until 2011 or later."
Let me go on record here. Christ isn't returning in 2010. Or 2011. How about 2012? Nope. In fact, there's about as much chance of Christ returning in my lifetime or yours as Portugal has of winning this year's Rugby World Cup. Of course Mr Collins has given himself wiggle room by saying "or later." This is the famous "Dankenbring maneuver" (or have I got that confused with the more popular "Meredith maneuver"?)
You can read the Lamp Fire item, and peruse the front and back pages of the latest Journal issue here.