Dixon Cartwright has released the latest issue of The Journal, one that is sure to have high interest value for members and friends of the UCG, with major items and a comprehensive interview following recent developments at the elders' conference. For those who belong to one of the major derivative groups from WCG/GCI, the existence of an independent, objective and professional news source such as this is a huge asset, and hopefully one they avail themselves of.
Two other items particularly caught my eye. One is an essay by Dianne McDonnell, reacting to an earlier article by Sheila Graham. Mrs Graham is a prominent member of WCG/GCI, and a women's advocate within that group. Mrs McDonnell is the sole female pastor in the COG splinter tradition, serving the independent Church of God - Dallas/Fort Worth.
If Mrs McDonnell's pastorate is thought of as progressive, given her position, this doesn't seem to flow through into theology. McDonnell takes Graham to task for suggesting that Bible texts can be used to justify contradictory positions.
Brethren, that is just not true. The Bible can be bent and twisted and hammered and taken out of context to look as if it is saying something it is not. But, if you take each verse in context and check a difficult passage carefully back to the Greek words with some good software, you can stand solid on Bible verses.
When you find two verses that seem to contradict each other, one of the verses has been badly translated or is being misunderstood in some way. The Bible does not contradict the Bible when rightly understood. Beliefs that aren’t Bible-based are just the traditions of men.
Nor is McDonnell particularly enamored with Paul.
Obviously the WCG (now known officially as Grace Communion International, or GCI) is mired in the writings of Paul, as are many Protestants. The apostle Peter says of Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand,” and then he warns about people who distort Paul’s words “to their own destruction” in 2 Peter 3:16. Jude reveals the presence among Christians of “godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (verse 4).
If you've ever wondered what happened to Ross Jutsum, perhaps WCG's most gifted musical talent, there's a substantial article by the editor that covers his story. There's a wonderful quote from Herman Hoeh who, when first hearing Jutsum's Strine accent, remarked: “Young man, you do realize that Australia is a cultural vacuum?”
Perceptive fellow that Hoeh, and four million New Zealanders saith "amen."
There's a download of the first and last pages available free at http://www.thejournal.org/issues/issue135/jf053109.pdf