|Live Services||A Tale of Two Brothers|
|Q&A||Q: Does the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates believe in and practice hierarchical government?|
A Tale of Two Brothers
Norbert Link will give the sermon this Sabbath, April 26, 2003. The sermon is titled, “A Tale of Two Brothers.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
Hopefully everyone has had a meaningful Passover season and has come out of it with a “high hand” as it were.
But what now? We have started the count down to Pentecost. Is there anything that we can be doing or should be doing?
Now is the time to go from strength to strength by letting the impetus of these past feast days vault us towards the next one.
We have a great opportunity to be really right before God after taking the Passover. We have walked in this world and tried not to be a part of it, but we dirtied our feet. Now they are clean. During the Days of Unleavened Bread we exemplified coming out of sin by putting leaven as well as transgressions out of our lives.
There is no better time than the present to walk in the newness of life as epitomized and embodied by the last day of Unleavened Bread. The best admonition that we can follow comes from Christ and His conversation with the woman caught in adultery and the man at the pool of Bethesda…”sin no more.”
As we struggle against Satan, the world and ourselves in these days preceding the feast of Pentecost, let’s endeavor to walk the walk and to do our utmost to overcome. However, at the same time we should be realizing just how much we need God’s help and the Holy Spirit He has given us… the same Spirit that He gave on Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago.
This Week in the News
SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE ARAB WORLD
In our two last Updates, we brought you special reports from Europe and the United States, pertaining to Iraq. Those reports showed the different view points as to the war with Iraq, but they also demonstrated the accuracy of Biblical prophecy as to these last days.
One key prophecy for the end time has to do with the formation of an Arabic power bloc, under the leadership of a “Savior” or “Mahdi,” calling for a “Jihad” or “holy war.” This Muslim Savior is referred to in Scripture as the “king of the south.”
This current report contains direct quotes from Arabic newspapers, quotes that were summarized and published by “Der Spiegel Online,” as well as interviews with Arab politicians. This report will show the desire of many Arab countries to rule themselves, without interference from other powers. We will also learn that the war with Iraq has increased anti-American feelings, and that this trend will continue, the longer the United States stays in the region. There are already mass demonstrations and mass religious pilgrimages in Iraq, demanding the formation of a Muslim state in Iraq, and the withdrawal of the United States.
The press and politicians in the U.S. describe these demonstrations as the “ability to freely express” one’s opinion and religion, which freedom had long been suppressed under Saddam. It is also alleged that these mass demonstrations are only staged and of a temporary nature. However, these religious and political mass demonstrations and expressions show, in reality, that the war with Iraq has opened a Pandora’s Box that will not be easily closed.
We would also like to clarify that we, of course, do not necessarily agree with the opinions and “facts” presented in the quotes contained in this report.
-Azzam Tawfiq Abu al-Saud, Al-Quds (Palestinian), March 25, 2003:
Jerusalem. Who Will Lose This War?
The first loser in this war is the rule of international law. The United States and Britain have introduced a war into the world with no justification… In the absence of logic, a dangerous precedent has been set. The precedent is ludicrous to the point of allowing any nation to make war on another merely because the leader of one country does not like the eye color of the leader of the other.
The second loser in this war is democracy, which is premised on respect for the people’s opinion. Everywhere the people have said no to war. And yet the U.S. leadership hasn’t acknowledged the opinion of even its own people. And so we have lost democracy as a political principle. In democracy, elected representatives are supposed to manifest the will of the people-not vice versa, as we are currently seeing.
The third loser is the collective group of mothers, wives, and children who are losing their sons, husbands, and fathers in this war. This war will bring about the ruin of beloved souls, whose destruction is without recompense…
The fourth loser is the earth and those who live on it, be they humans or animals. War spreads pollutants, corrupting the air with sand and dangerous fumes that spew forth from war machines. Add to this the smoke of fires resulting from the exploding targets of the guns of war. Lastly, the air is clouded with the putrid odor emitted from the corpses of killed soldiers and innocent civilians.
The fifth losers are the warmongers themselves, who are destroying civilization and wasting money and resources… These are the greatest losers.
-Faleh al-Tawil, Al-Ra’i (pro-Jordanian-government), March 22, 2003:
History Is Repeating Itself
Hulegu and his Mongol hordes attacked this land before in order to destroy Baghdad. Hulegu accomplished its destruction and in the process created an empire that ruled over a great portion of the world. The empire he built stretched from China as far west as the eastern reaches of Europe, including Moscow.
Hulegu approached Baghdad after his complete victories over armies to the north and south. In March 1258, he sent an announcement to the Caliph al-Mustasim saying: “We exhort you to throw down your swords and surrender Baghdad. Tear down your forts and fill in your trenches. We will send to you someone who will verify your dominion and certify your acknowledgment of our command. If not, we will teach you a lesson and bring war upon you and kill you in our manner.”
And today, we have heard the same request and in perhaps the same exact words used by Bush to the Iraqi leadership. This all occurred in the same month of March, precisely 775 years after the Mongols’ history-changing and devastating massacre of Baghdad.
-Batir Muhammad Ali Wardam, Al-Dustour (pro-Jordanian government), March 23, 2003.
This War Isn’t the Crusades
It could be said that the war on Iraq is a war of imperialism, oil, or even right-wing Zionist interests, but it is absolutely not a crusaders’ war. The evidence for this is that all the major figures of the Christian faith in the world, especially in light of the leadership of the Pope and Vatican, have vigorously stood against the war. Furthermore, the great majority of the leaders of Christian nations, especially Russia, France, and Germany, have taken strong positions against the war in a manner much more effective than the actions of Islamic nations. And let us not forget that millions of Christian demonstrators have flooded the streets of the cities of the world rejecting war-and their numbers have been greater than the amount of Muslims who have demonstrated. Even in the United States, all of the churches and different denominations that are not in coalition with the evangelical-Zionist lobby have united in opposition to the war. And in addition to that, a large number of moderate Jews have been active against the war.
The announcements issued by many Islamic organizations and fronts that describe the war on Iraq as an American-Zionist “Crusade” threaten to transform many friends to enemies and puts all of us exactly in the clutches of those Americans and Israelis who aim to create a war of civilizations between Islam and Christianity to serve the interests of Israel.
This war on Iraq isn’t the last, rather it is possible that we may call it the “War of Iraq First,” which will be followed by other wars against other nations of the region and organizations that have not climbed into bed with American policies.
“Okaz,” a Saudi-Arabian paper, states in its editorial that “it is our duty to call on all countries to guarantee the Iraqi people their right of self determination without Western guardianship or pseudo-protection.” … The Egyptian paper, “al-Ahram,” states, “All Arab countries have to involve themselves internationally to prevent more bloodshed for our Iraqi brothers. We must strengthen the worldwide opposition against American politics… To be or not to be – that is the question for the Arabs in these fateful times.” … The English-speaking “Jordan Times” addresses a different topic: “Many articles have discussed the American interests in Iraq, but only few have noted the Israeli dimensions in this war.” (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 8, 2003).
“Riyadh,” a Saudi-Arabian paper, does not expect a peaceful future, but talks about “the wars after Saddam. After a short interruption, the real battle will begin between America and the Iraqis, who are all alone. America is now trying to get what it always wanted – and that is mainly to secure the oil.” (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 9, 2003)
The English-speaking “Jordan Times” pronounces, “To stabilize and secure the region, Iraq has to be ruled by Iraqis. The United States have not won peace, and they will never win peace. They need to withdraw, the earlier the better… The Jordanian paper “al-Dustour” asks its readers whether they believe that other nations will be attacked as well. In excess of 81% believe this.” (D
er Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 10, 2003)
The Lybian paper, “al-Jamahiriya,” states, “Whether he [Saddam] is dead or not – an Arabic regime that was founded on hypocrisy and aggression… had to disappear.”… The Egyptian paper, “al-Ahram,” cites President Mubarek, demanding of America and Great Britain “‘to stabilize the situation in Iraq as soon as possible… What has happened has taught us many lessons. The Arab world has to develop itself.'” (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 11, 2003)
“Al-Hayat,” which appears in London, states, “Washington’s allegation to free Iraq has quickly changed to occupation. Occupation always comes from the outside, while liberation always comes from the inside.”… The Syrian daily, “Teshreen,” reports that Jack Straw, British foreign minister, had called his Syrian colleague, Faruq Shara. The paper continues that “the British government rejects the American accusations and will continue a dialogue with Syria.” (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 12, 2003)
“Okaz,” a Saudi-Arabian paper, states that “there are at least ten reasons why the Americans want to attack Syria, and the most important reasons are those related to Israel.” “Riyadh,” a Saudi-Arabian paper, reports that “Saudi Arabia supports its Syrian brother against the threats obviously originating from Israel.” Even Kuwait is supporting Syria… The English speaking “Jordan Times” sets forth several reasons why an attack on Syria would be illegal (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 15, 2003)
“al-Rai-al-Aam,” a daily from Kuwait, publishes the following statement from the foreign minister of Qatar: “‘These threats [against Syria] must cease. We hope that the Americans and British will have direct talks with Syria in order to remove any differences. We distinctively condemn any attack on the security of Syria.” (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 16, 2003)
“al-Dustour,” a paper from Jordan, states, “The real fight of the Iraqis against the occupants begins now. That is why the Arab peoples must support the Iraqis.”…”Ash-Shaab,” a paper from Egypt, proclaims, “Now is not the time for tears, but for Jihad, Jihad, Jihad, following the way of God. We assure you that we will beat the attackers on Abraham’s soil, under the condition that we all rise and fight them.” The Libyan papers “an-Nahar” and “as-Safir” report about pamphlets that have appeared in Afghan refugee camps in North Pakistan, calling for Jihad against American troops and the Afghan government. (Der Spiegel Online, Arabische Presseschau, April 17, 2003).
Interview with Amr Moussa, General Secretary of the Arab League:
“Foreign armies are in Iraq – there is only one expression to describe this: Occupation… The Americans are strangers in Iraq. The Iraqis do not tolerate a foreign occupation…Europe is friendly toward the Arab world. It needs to participate in the restoration of Iraq. The United Nations should carry out the main task… The war against Iraq does not serve as an example as to how to achieve democracy. The threats against Syria do not help either. One cannot order democracy. Democracy has to develop within the population… If Syria is attacked, other countries will follow. That will bring about a disastrous chain reaction: Violence, military action, aggression. This would be very dangerous – not only for the Middle East, but also for the Mediterranean region.”
(Bild Online, April 19, 2003)
In 1918 it is estimated that over 20 million people died from a worldwide influenza epidemic. Now world health officials shudder with the bleak potential of a devastating pandemic known as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
At this point there is no specific cure for SARS which is transmitted by the Corona virus. “In Toronto, Canada, where 15 people have died, hospital staff in SARS wards are now wearing double gloves and full face shields as concerns grow that the protective gear used previously did not guard them sufficiently (msnbc.com – 4/23/2003). This same article states: “…studies by Hong Kong researchers showed the SARS virus can survive for at least 24 hours on a surface coughed on or touched by a victim, longer than the three hours some had previously thought.”
Newscasts are now warning of severe economic consequences as multiple cases of SARS have caused the World Health Organization to announce that travelers should avoid Beijing and Toronto. Scientists are also now noting that SARS is mutating. Possible vaccines may not be able to keep up with this deadly infection.
On April 24, 2003, Bild Online quoted Dr. Patrick Dickson, one of the leading medical experts in Europe, saying that SARS could become more dangerous than AIDS, since the virus is transmitted so rapidly. He stated that within the last 15 to 20 years, 80 million people died of AIDS. Bild Online also published this frightening statistic: In China, the Corona virus has infected 2,300 people. In Canada, 7000 people are under quarantine. Worldwide, the virus infected 4000 people, and so far, at least 251 have died.
As we watch yet another possible worldwide disaster in the making, remember that Jesus warned of these times. Luke 21, verse 11: ” ‘And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’ ” We find ourselves in the early stages of the fulfillment of the many prophecies encompassing the end of this age; however, this is just the beginning.
Q: Does the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates believe in and practice hierarchical government?
A: The answer is clearly “yes.” Our Statements of Beliefs point out that the Church of the Eternal God in the United States, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom, uphold and teach “the major doctrines” which “were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong,” unless ” any particular doctrine is proven to be wrong by the Bible.” As we all know, Mr. Armstrong clearly taught hierarchical government within the Church — that is, rule “from the top down.” He did not teach, and neither do we, that the Church is to be ruled by the lay membership, that is, rule “from the bottom up.” We clearly understand that God the Father is above all, and that Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church, is under the Father. Christ, in turn, appoints those under Him who are to serve, lead and guide the Church on a human level.
CEG’s Bylaws confirm our hierarchical structure. Article V — Governance — states, “The governance of the corporation is, after the Biblical example, hierarchical in form. The corporation is managed through a Board of Directors.” It is also regulated in our Bylaws that every Director must be, and must remain to be, a Church member of the Church of the Eternal God (CEG). In this way, CEG is set up exactly as the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) was set up under Mr. Armstrong.
CEG’s Board of Directors presently consists of the following five Directors who are all ministers: J. Edwin Pope (President, Chairman of the Board), Norbert Link (Vice-President), Dave Harris (Treasurer), Rene Messier from Canada, and Brian Gale from the United Kingdom. Mrs. Margaret Adair, widow of late Evangelist Colin Adair, although not a Director, serves as Secretary of CEG. Messrs. Pope and Link are Pastor-rank ministers. Mr. Pope, as the senior minister in CEG, has served in the ministry of the Church of God for the longest period of time, and also serves as Chairman of the Boards of CEG’s affiliates in Canada (Church of God, a Christian Fellowship) and Great Britain (Global Church of God).
Headquarters of CEG is San Diego, California, where Messrs. Pope and Link, as well as Mrs. Adair, reside.
The Board of Directors of CEG, presently consisting of all of our ministers in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, also functions in effect as, what has traditionally been referred to as a Council of Elders (COE) for doctrinal and doctrinally related matters of our Church organizations and operations worldwide.
Some have asked whether we practice “one-man rule.” If it is meant by this that one man has the absolute and arbitrary authority to establish or change doctrines, or to direct and decide unilaterally how to preach the gospel to the world and how to feed the flock, then the answer is “No.” We understand that in the past, Mr. Armstrong would have had, in theory, such authority (although he never exercised it, but rather he counseled extensively with the other ministers, before rendering a decision). We must realize that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle. He was also the only human apostle during his lifetime.
Mr. Armstrong did say, however, that if God had chosen to call a second individual as an apostle, then the structure within WCG would have had to be, by necessity, quite different. He pointed out that in the New Testament, there were several apostles, with, for instance, Peter being the apostle to the circumcision and Paul being the apostle to the uncircumcision (Compare Galatians 2:7-9: “But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcision had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas [i.e., Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”)
After Mr. Armstrong died, NO ONE in the different Church of God groups, including WCG, had been or has been established by God as an apostle. Therefore, there should not have been “one-man-rulership” after Mr. Armstrong’s death. Unfortunately, that mistake was made, however, in that Mr. Joseph W. Tkach was able to assume autocratic authority — and the result of this mistake was an unspeakable tragedy and disaster for the entire Church.
If we had “one-man-rule” today in an unqualified way, where the “ruler” could make arbitrary and capricious decisions, which cannot be supported from the Bible and which cannot be said to be in accordance with God’s Will, we would only repeat the mistakes made within WCG after Mr. Armstrong’s death. With that rationale, all of us should have stayed in WCG, even when the unbiblical changes were introduced and taught, because we would have had to follow “that” leader, “ordained” by God, and “appointed” by Mr. Armstrong before his death. Unfortunately, many did, and some even today follow that erroneous rationale and have chosen to stay in WCG, hoping against hope that WCG, through its human leader, will change its doctrines back to the truth once and for all delivered to the saints.
When it becomes obvious that a leader is no longer leading properly, based on Biblical standards, then the Word of God shows that no true Christian should follow that individual merely because he holds an “office.” Leadership in the Church of God is for service to God’s people based upon these Biblical standards. Our check and balance in the Church of God is that given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, verse 1: “Imitate me, JUST AS I also imitate Christ.”
We have the history of the Church of God up until the present time. Jesus also made reference to that history in Revelation 2 and 3. He certainly holds all of His people accountable to follow the correct teachings in order to please the Father and to do all to the glory of Him and to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
In the early New Testament Church, there was more than just one apostle. We note that none of the apostles had autocratic one-man-rule authority. Rather, when the early Church needed to decide a doctrinal issue, they had to convene a ministerial conference, as recorded in Acts 15. It appears that all of the apostles, as well as the elders from the Headquarters Church in Jerusalem, participated at that conference (Acts 15:2, 4, 6). We find that after much dispute, the apostle Peter spoke, followed by the apostles Paul and Barnabas, followed by the apostle James. James was, of course, the half-brother of Jesus Christ (who had grown up together with Christ) and he was also at that time the apostle for the Headquarters Church in Jerusalem. From the Biblical record, we find that it was James who rendered the final decision (Acts 15:19), but it was based on a consensus of the ministry, who had been guided and led by the Holy Spirit to find the answer to the issue at hand (Acts 15:22, 25, 28; 16:4). James did not pronounce an arbitrary and capricious decision, but his judgment was inspired by the Holy Spirit, as had become manifest to the ministry and to the members (Compare also the same principle in 2 Chronicles 30:12: “Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.”).
It is also not true, as some claim, that God always works with only one man. God worked at least with Peter, Paul, James and John at the same time (compare again Galatians 2:9. Note, too, as to the function of James, besides Peter and Paul, Acts 12:17; 21:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-11; Galatians 1:18-19; Galatians 2:11-14; Jude 1). God worked with Moses, but He reserved certain responsibilities for Aaron, over which Moses had no jurisdiction. God announced these responsibilities through Moses to Aaron, but once the announcement was made, the authority and duty for these responsibilities stayed with Aaron and his descendants.
God worked with David and other kings, but these kings did not have the authority to usurp powers specifically given to the priests. King Saul was severely punished when he offered sacrifices — a task reserved to Samuel (1 Samuel 13: 8-14). King Uzziah was severely punished, too, when he entered the temple to burn incense on the altar — a task reserved for the priests (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). King David was corrected by the prophet Nathan — God obviously worked at that time with both David and Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-15).
We in the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God, the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom, and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, discuss things among ourselves, “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (compare Ephesians 5:21). We are convinced, and experience has shown, that if a person is not willing to submit to others “in the fear of God,” such a person will sooner or later cease to be a part of the organization. When we do not reach an agreement on a given point, we place the matter on hold, meditate and pray about it, and come together again for further discussion. When we decide an issue, we do it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, expecting full consensus, as was the case in Acts 15.
In the unlikely event, however, that we could not all agree on a given point, even after extended discussion, prayer, and meditation, and that the President/Chairman of the Board felt that it had to be done in a certain way, and that the rest of the ministerial Board/Council members could not point out Biblical reasons why it must not be done in that way, then we would all submit to the direction of the President as the oldest and longest-standing minister in CEG. We don’t expect this to happen, however, and if we all earnestly seek, pray for, and submit to the lead of the Holy Spirit, we will all come to agreement that will allow the kind of unity God expects of us.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom