Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Journal mailout

The September-December Journal has rolled off the presses. The front cover might perhaps be described as ecumenical, with articles about the late Samuele Bacchiocchi, and a major feature about COG7's Robert Coulter, who visited the Big Sandy church in November. The Q&A transcript following Coulter's address is eye opening. For those who want to know how the WCG and COG7 fit together historically this is a fascinating resource.

Ken Westby reviews James Tabor's Restoring Abrahamic Faith. Frankly, he's a lot more generous about it than I was prepared to be. While directing some very gentle criticism toward the end, Westby also writes, "I love the book and use it as a devotional guide, meditating and praying along with the many important scriptures he has artistically assembled." Ken really needs to get out more often! My abortive attempt at a review last year may yet resurface. [Update: it's now posted over at Otagosh]

There's an essay on the calendar which includes a chart labelled "God's 19-year time cycle of new moon conjunctions." I'm not prepared to read it until all the sharp objects in the house are locked away. I did notice two of author William Neely's concluding sentences however: "God's calendar is precise, living and permanent. It is carved in the heavens!"

Uh huh...

Check out the front and back pages online.

Following up on the previous post, the Waldheim prophecy appeared in Willie Dankenbring's Prophecy Flash.


Undatable said...

Since I only read the front and back pages of the Journal, I didn't have the opportunity to not read the 19-year cycle essay.

Along with Church Eras and the Place of Safety, I remember GTA dismissed the use of 19-year cycles as another hat trick in Hoeh's Improbable History.

Ron Dart, in an appendix to his book on the Holydays, The Thread, makes no claim that the calendar was revealled. More recently, he said he thought the calendar happened to be the one the Hebrews were using when they left Egypt.

Like Bill Cosby's Noah, "What's a cubit?", Ron wrote there is no record of Moses asking, "What's a month?".

Byker Bob said...

I guess the Journal is cool. It's just irksome sometimes that they appear to give credibility and additional publicity to some of the people we recognize as being extremists, or kooks.

But, to each their own.


Anonymous said...

Too bad that, according to most COGs, Bacchiocchi would not be fit for the kingdom because he wasn't truly converted. He was "almost there" with the sabbath, but lacked the 18 truths, blah, blah, blah.
Am I right? Am I right? Come on, you know I am right.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Sometime toward the end of last year our local Rabbi was drawing a comparison between the Roman calendar and the presently calculated calendar used in the mainstream Jewish world. He said, "Our calendar is based on 19 year cycles."

The Jewish calendar is essentially lunar/solar, but 12 lunar months are 11 days shorter than a solar year, so an extra month is added 7 times per 19 year cycle. And there is no doubt that the sun, earth and moon are in the same relative positions every 19 years. There is no reason to dismiss 19 year cycles as folly. Judaism 101 has an attractive primer on the calendar at The subject of 19 year cycles is broached there.

It seems to me that your faith once had one foot in Judaism, and when you noticed the bath water was soiled, baby got tossed too. I'm not saying your church should have been Jewish. Quite to the contrary, there was no need for that. But there was and is a Noahide system for non-Jews, derived from the Torah, and unquestionably the source of James' decision that non-Jews needn't convert to Judaism. Paul, a Pharisee, would also have taught from that perspective.

It would have served you better to have asked why Herbert Armstrong felt so drawn to Jewish ways, and to have gone forward from that point rather than to have gotten stuck in his rut, or to have pitched the whole thing in frustration. He was certainly on to something he didn’t quite understand, and died before the search ended. Have you no one who could have carried on from there?

Purple Hymnal said...

"Following up on the previous post, the Waldheim prophecy appeared in Willie Dankenbring's Prophecy Flash."

I knew it was Wacky Willie all along. Hah! Vindication is mine!!!

Well, that, or mortification, that I not only remember reading Prophecy Flush, I remember its content as well. :-( I gotta find a better use for my grey matter.....

Bamboo_bends said...

Ron Dart, in an appendix to his book on the Holydays, The Thread, makes no claim that the calendar was revealled. More recently, he said he thought the calendar happened to be the one the Hebrews were using when they left Egypt.

......could that be because the term "Moses" was a common appellation among the leaders of Egypt?

Moses brought the tech toys with him, cause you know they never would have murmored against Moses if they didn't have Calendars handy to know how long they were walking around....

Then there's that killer electrical capacitor called the ark that gets charged up off of hot desert winds....just the stuff to spook the crowds into submission.......ZAP! Someone built a replica of that thing and it started sparking customers of a large American shopping mall...

Oh, deacon...don't touch that without this rubber glove!

Corky said...

Does the Bible say that God invented the Hebrew calendar?

If God invented it, why is there a month named "Tammuz" after the pagan god/man?

It's also interesting that the Hebrew calendar corresponds with the Babylonian calendar of the Jewish exile.

Maybe the Jews taught the Babylonians about months, days and years?

I kind of doubt that though, because the Babylonians were into history, astrology and astronomy long before there were ever any Jews either known or heard of.

Purple Hymnal said...

A Jewish evangelical? Now I really have seen it all. Only on AW.....This church, it messed us up, man. I mean it seriously, seriously, Messed Us Up.

Anonymous said...

Corky - Does the Bible say that God invented the Hebrew calendar?

No, nor the Mayan calendar, of which Bob T is appears so fond.

But lack of suitable proof texts has never deterred the ardent COGer from embellishing something with superlatives.

I think Ron was setting a scenario in which Abraham could have left Chaldea with knowledge of their calendar. That would explain the resemblance. Pagan names are picked up during the captivity, I guess it was more interesting than saying Abib, month 2, month 3, ...

Dennis said...

I got myself a Jewish Holyday Calendar Watch.

On Passover the alarm is a bleeting sheep all day.

All during Unleavened Bread it flattens out from the size of a quarter to the size of a half dollar. On the last day, it inflates to normal size

On Pentecost there are only 50 seconds in a minute and 50 minutes in an hour. It also clicks back and forth between Sunday and Monday as if it is confused.

On Atonement it slows waaaaaaay down and the it plays the sound of a bubbling fountain all day. The alarm for the end of the day goes off fifteen minutes early and then plays the sounds of laughter.

On Trumpets the face clouds up and the whole thing takes on a gloomy look. The first seven hours are marked by pictures of plagues, the next of vials and the last seven hours show various trumpet plagues.
The last two and half hours it plays "It Won't Be Long Now" and then there is silence for about a half hour or so. Then it plays the Hallelujah Chorus

During the Feast of Tabernacles it turns green, orange and red depending. The alarms only work except during 10 and 12, 2:30 and 5:30 and shows a little calculator for expenses all day and night. It also calculates Holy Day offerings based on what is left each day and then adds 25% to it.

At the end of the feast it plays "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" and then slows waaaaay down again for the trip home.

It was only $19/month for 42 months, and comes with the appropriate conversion kits for Easter and Christmas. It is salt water resistant should you take an annual 'Cruise for Jesus' in the Fall.

Dennis said...

oh I forgot....

There is the Deacon/Elder model that is a bit cheaper and the hours are marked by kissy sounds. The alarm goes off every time the Pastor strays from the truth and automatically dials 1-800-423-4444

The Pastor Edition is the Dumbass Edition. The alarms go off every few years and tell him to sell his home, inform his kids, move and then it laughs and then flashes the scripture about obeying those that have rule over you.

The Evangelist Edition, and there aren't many, flashes pictures of all God's faithful in Hebrews 11 and then leaves a space for you to put your own picture. It also comes with instructions on incorporating your own church as often as necessary.

The Apostle Edition is pure gold with a Steuben Crystal. It has no alarms and you can set the rate of time passing as you wish. The calendar part, that has a beautiful picture of Jesus returning can be adjusted accordingly as well.

The last Edition, and there are only two is platinum, bulletproof, bomb resistant and detects poisons in your food. It also has charts on karate moves. It only has a warranty for 3 1/2 years however or 1260 days, whichever comes first, and again, can be adjusted as needed. It, sadly and of course, is the Two Witness Editions and comes in a his and hers version. They are still in the box and aren't expected to sell in the foreseeable future.

At least 40 bids so far have come in for these two priceless gems.

Anonymous said...

I know it's not popular to quote scripture anymore, but bear with me for a minute. We all came from a scripture quoting church, so we sure have had to listen to a lot of it.

Read these scriptures and think about it: Mat. 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:1, Ex. 12:18, and Ezek. 45:21. These scriptures clearly state that the 1st day of unleavened bread is the passover day. Ex. 12:18 tells us to eat unleavened bread UNTIL the 21st. It does not include the 21st. That is a total of 7 days.

How wrong have we been on this, as well as tithing, the timing of the holy days, the calendar, ect. ect.

Fred Coulter claims that we should not eat leavened bread on the passover day, so with his plan we would keep 8 days of unleavened bread. How wrong is that?

Anonymous said...

"God's calendar is precise".

What a hoot! "God's" calendar tries to fit lunar months into a solar year. They don't fit evenly, so intercalary months are used to create "years" of 12- and 13- months at staggered intervals.

A "precise" calendar would have regular, even intervals. For example, 7 days to a week, 7 weeks to a month or 7 months to a year. Unfortunately, there is no such thing in nature.

There are 365.242190 days in a year. That's not an exact number, I just chose to stop there. An infinite number of digits could be added.

The moon orbits the earth, on average, every 27.3 days, but depending on various conditions some months are over 28 days and some are under 27. The phases of the moon are on approximately a 29.5-day cycle. Not the same. Why?

The fact is, nothing to do with the calendar is "precise" or exact. Each measurement is different from all other measurements and no measurement is an exact multiple of anything. And each measurement varies with each repetition. Not all days are the same length. Not all months are the same.

The current calendar is the best calendar modern man has been able to devise to approximately reflect the movements of the Earth, Sun and Moon. The so-called "God's" calendar is the best calendar bronze-age man was able to devise. I'll stick with the new technology, thank you.

Mr. Scribe said...

Purple Hymnal said...

A Jewish evangelical? Now I really have seen it all. Only on AW.....This church, it messed us up, man. I mean it seriously, seriously, Messed Us Up.....
True indeed but way past the point where the "shrinks" should have been called in!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:09 --

In those times in Israel, I don't think you would find leavened bread on the Passover.

To quote from a sermon by John Halford (pre-1986) "The Jews would have been de-leavening their houses since Purim". An exaggeration, but strict observers of the Days of Unleavened Bread wouldn't wait until the last minute to clear out the yeast.

Mr. Scribe said...

Dennis said...

I got myself a Jewish Holyday Calendar Watch.

On Passover the alarm is a bleeting sheep all day.

Well Dennis, you cannot come even close to what I got for Christmas!

SmilinJackSprat said...

Anon 2:09, if you check your Hebrew and I believe Greek also, you'll see that the Passover is a lamb.

One selects, tethers, watches, slaughters, roasts and eats the Passover. The word also refers to a day, sort of, and even to the entire unleavened period. When someone asks me "What day is the Passover?," they usually mean the first Seder, but one never knows for sure until they explain.

The Passover is the one thing we don't include in Passover celebrations any more. All we retain now of the actual Pesach is the word, Passover. At the Seder we eat a vegetable dipped in salt, bitter herbs, matza, a hardboiled egg, Hillel sandwiches, haroset, a nice meal -- all the typical goodies and yuckies EXCEPT the Passover.

Please forgive my pedantry for a moment. While the Temple stood, priests assisted the people with the slaughter of their lambs. The Korban Pesach, or Passover Offering, was not kosher for Passover unless the person and his home were already unleavened, so in practical fact there had to be more than 7 unleavened days, and in Jewry that tradition still holds. This might be part of Fred Koulter's rationale.

So it can be difficult to say which day is the Passover when the Passover is an animal that goes through a lengthy cycle, being selected on the 10th and ending with its slaughter in the afternoon of the 14th and its consumption at the Seder on the evening of the 15th of Nissan (Aviv).

Anonymous said...

"God's calendar is precise".

Actually it isn't. This is just one of the lies we were told by the ignorant HWA.

The Hebrew calendar is off by one day in 216 years with the result that "at present three times in 19 years Pesach is a month late".

You won't learn this in any of the larger COGs.

Hebrew calendar

The average length of the month assumed by the calendar is correct within a fraction of a second (although individual months may be a few hours longer or shorter than average). There will thus be no significant errors from this source for a very long time. However, the assumption that 19 tropical years exactly equal 235 months is wrong, so the average length of a 19 year cycle is too long (compared with 19 tropical years) by about 0.088 days or just over 2 hours. Thus on average the calendar gets further out of step with the tropical year by roughly one day in 216 years. If the intention of the calendar is that Pesach should fall on the first full moon after the vernal equinox, this is still the case in most years. However, at present three times in 19 years Pesach is a month late by this criterion (as in 2005). Clearly, this problem will get worse over time and if the calendar is not amended, Pesach and the other festivals will progress through a complete cycle of seasons in about 79,000 years.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Anon 2:52, I beg to differ with you. Maybe Dennis too, actually. I'm bumfuzzled over your seeming preference for a computer-calculated Roman calendar, even though it makes so few references to natural events, and distorts those it uses. Not even the months are true to the moon -- although month and moon are synonymous between English and Hebrew in Bible translations.

The Hebrew calendar references Nature at every turn and makes each day, week, month, year, week of years and Jubilee year a grand event shared between man and Nature. It feels good to be in sync with our corner of the universe, and this is eminently achievable by means of what we now dub the Hebrew Calendar. You might check Josephus: Antiquities 1.3.9. People were calculating the heavens long before Hebrews showed up, and calendar knowledge was not the exclusive property of Hebrews.

Why allegiance to Rome? Constantine, a lifelong worshipper of Sol Invictus, made the Day of the Sun the weekly day of worship in his empire; we still honor his preference, if not in worship, then on our calendars and in our conversations. It was Julian who gave us the calendar that Pope Gregory revised. I think it was Gregory who moved things around so Easter wouldn't keep happening a month or so after Passover. We have them to thank for Jesus being born 4-6 years Before Christ. Why do we still buy all this nonsense?

Why shouldn't months (actually moons) begin when the first sliver of sunlight reflects so beautifully down on earth from the moon? Computers don't put us in harmony with Nature, nor does the cutesy poetry we invent to keep us in tune with out-of-tune months. "Thirty days hath September (which means 7, but we count as 9), April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except February...". Of all the fiddlefaddle! Does the moon honor our poem? Nope. Only our Roman calendars. We have the moon to mark months for us, and it’s been doing that for quite a while now. Maybe one day we’ll notice?

Dependence on the calculated Jewish calendar is a stop-gap, developed as a double-check to the observed new moons, but now used to preserve a Way of Life in exile. The Rabbinical scholars who produce Jewish calendars inherited the responsibility from Moses and Aaron when G-d told those two men, personally, this day shall be UNTO YOU the beginning of months. They’re keeping unity, best as they can, in the many worlds of Jewry. And they’re completely aware of the Karaites.

Is there any logic to having Christmas at the winter solstice? Is there something wrong with having a harvest festival in the fall, when crops are in? Can you SEE midnight when Roman days begin? Or are sunset and sunrise a little more practical? How do you feel when the Roman months named eight (OCTOber), nine (NOVEmber) and ten (DECEmber) are counted as 10, 11 and 12, simply because a couple of mathematically-challenged emperors wanted us to remember their names. On my calendar I don't want Julius and Augustus.

Even in an athestic world, of what value is a week of days named for pagan gods? The Sun, Moon, Tyr/Mars, Woden, Thor, Venus or Freyja and Saturn. Don't the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth days of the Sabbath make more sense on a planet whose Maker and Developer rested on the 7th day? For me, the day of the Sun doesn't follow Shabbes, it's the 1st day of the Sabbath, looking toward Eden, counting the days. However, as the old lady said while she kissed the cow, “Everyone to their own fancy.”

Many moons ago said...

Midnight is 12 hours past noon; you can see when the sun is directly overhead. March was at one time the first month of the year; December was the 10th month.

There are many things that had a "logical" or "reasonable" or simply traditional origin, but are forgotten like so many other things. But just because I understand doesn't mean I endorse them.

Byker Bob said...


What you say regarding the calendar(s) and nature may be true, but how do you feel about the people who live south of the Equator? One problem I have with the Hebrew "nature based" calendar is that it is Northern Hemisphere-centric. Is it a sin to live on the southern half of the earth?

The icecycle people who live amongst the polar bears certainly have challenges keeping a sunset to sunset sabbath during certain times of the year, too.


Purple Hymnal said...

"True indeed but way past the point where the "shrinks" should have been called in!"

Wonder if Wellspring would give us a large group discount?? ;-)

Purple Hymnal said...

" with his plan we would keep 8 days of unleavened bread. How wrong is that?"

Apparently keeping ANY days of unleavened bread is wrong; it's supposed to be 8 days of Passover, as a Jewish anon excoriated me for here, once upon a time.

Corky said...

Speaking of calendars, here's a problem for ya.

Jesus was born in the year of the tax, according to the gospel. That year was 6 AD and many Jews rebelled and followed Judas of Galilee in a raid on the temple garrison that same year.

Herod the king was alive when Jesus was born, according to the gospel at this same time but yet Herod died in 4 BC.

Did Herod die 10 years before Jesus was born?

It's an impossibility to be born before 4 BC and simultaneously be born in 6 AD Christians.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Byker Bob, I'm sure there are answers, but being a northern hemisphere dweller, I've never looked into it. Relatives in Australia don't seem to have any trouble with observance, partly because some aren't that observant. The pilgrimage festivals would obviously only be in Jerusalem during ideal circumstances.

Some Alaskan Jews have adopted Seattle, and other places, as sister-cities in order to observe Sabbath on a reasonable sunrise-sunset cycle. Something similar is done by Jewish astronauts in space. And people born in leap-months observe their birthdays in the main Adar during 12 month years. It's all very practical.

Byker Bob said...

SJS: One thing I always dug about my Jewish buddies was the ways in which they just really got into the sabbath. Dancing with the Torah at the Chabad, finding other Jews to do shabbas with while on vacation, and praising Baruch Hashem for each major equipment sale! It was awesome seeing this joy and love after having been so abused by the Old Covenant as an Armstrongite.

I'm not necessarily going anywhere with this, but just wanted you to know that I'm not prejudiced. I've always got a lot of questions about everything, though. While the atheists always overuse the concept of "objective thinking", I personally believe that this can also appropriately be used within the confines of spirituality and beliefs. Jewish people as a group generally recognize the health of being able to question things. That actually turns out to be quite a recommendation!


Anonymous said...

The feast days seemed less incongruous in the southern hemisphere than other season-related events. I still remember returning to the office on a sweltering December afternoon in Sydney as Muzak played Winter Wonderland.

Anonymous said...

The following text (John 4:20-23) may help with the Sabbath/feast observances in non-Palestine latitudes:

"Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.
Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know: for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers".

We are not tied to places ('where God places His Name')but to observance at appropriate times.

Anonymous said...

As I only read the Journal's free pages, I found Robert Coulter's comments appearing on COGwriter interesting.

Basically, during HWA's time with CG7 (I know HWA makes some claims that he was a CG7 minister, but not a member) there were a few concepts being tossed around. CG7 seemed to be very tolerant of different opinion, and the Bible Advocate's editorial policy was not restricted to CG7 accepted doctrines. To name a few, when one is "born again", church eras, Dugger and Dodd's doubtful church history. The point was that HWA picked up these things while they were being discussed, and later CG7 rejected them.

There is also a mention of CG7's request to stop calling them "Sardis". Bob explains why he continues to refer to WCG's predecessor as "dead", despite its continued existance and estimated 400,000 members.

Byker Bob said...

Branding COG-7 as being Sardis, or dead, is an example of religious slander, in my opinion. It's just one of those not so laughable misnomers, like calling WCG "Philadelphian", when there was really no exceptional amount of brotherly love there. Legalism was probably the most noticeable characteristic of WCG and its leaders.

HWA couldn't get COG-7 to accept and officialize his pet beliefs and theories, they disfellowshipped him and pulled his ministerial credential, so he branded them as dead. It was spiteful, uncalled for, and probably stunted that church's growth.

I don't believe in church eras. I do believe that the seven churches portrayed general attitudes, each of which can be present in individual members at any given point in history.


Anonymous said...

The fabricated history made the seven churhces into a 'zodiac' and the names became labels: we're Philadelphia, the other splinters are Laodicean.

In the WCG report on BI, HWA's detailed recordkeeping was self-incriminating of plagiarism. I wonder what would have happened if his rewrite of Allen's book, or his proposed book on evolution had become best sellers? Or if he had been able to convince CG7 to keep these fringe doctrines?

And don't call me Sardis!

Anonymous said...

I once asked Dr. Hoeh where he got the idea of church eras, since there is no statement to that effect in the opening chapters of Revelation.

He answered that while he was working on a history of the church and had his papers all around him on the floor, something in one of those papers caught his eye. He noticed an obvious parallel between a historical statement and the description of one of the churches. From that first insight he began to notice similar parallels throughout his research. What he had learned from research convinced him that the postal route from Ephesus to Laodicea in Asia Minor was indicative of church progress down through the centuries. He seemed completely candid and spontaneous, not dreaming up a bogus answer for my benefit.

Whether or not there is anything to church eras -- which I personally reject for other reasons -- I'm convinced that the motivation for his booklet on the seven churches was sincere. It was a spontaneous observation and not something he dreamed up to support an Armstrong opinion.

Anonymous said...

While not questioning Dr Hoeh's honesty, we know that HWA's idea of God revealling something to him often meant reading it an earlier book. John Kiesz explained that regarding an article he saw HWA writing, based on something they each read in the Bible Advocate. The actual Church Eras conjecture can be traced back to William Miller.

A little comment on "proofs" - Peter Waldo's church was said to be in the Thyatira era, the fourth church. The old Bible Correspondence Course shows a logo of the Waldensian Church - this is also in Dave Pack's True Church booklet. At the top of the logo appear seven stars, in a symmetric arc, and in the center of the image is a candle. The fact that the candle is under the fourth star (seven stars, so #4 is in the middle) is a "proof" that the church knew it was in the Thyatira era. [Of course, if they thought they were the fourth era, they couldn't claim to be the end time church.]

Anonymous said...

I must admit that I find all of the "Sardis", "Laodicean", and other name-throwing among Herbie's splintery realm rather amusing.

As I do all the "I've got the Holy Spirit so I understand the Truth!" and all the "No, I'VE got the Holy Spirit so I REALLY understand the Truth better than you!" replies to that.

Funny, how those who are engaged in such childishness often accuse people who criticize those who have left Herbdom of "sandbox-tactics", when it is really them who haven't made it out out of their kindergarten sandbox.