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Monday, February 23, 2009

New Covenant Sabbath

Since I discontinued association with my former COG on August 23rd, 2008, I have heard much ado about the Sabbath. It is THE sacred cow of Armstrongism. Well, I need to talk frankly about the Sabbath.

I see that "Sabbath" means "do nothing" to some groups... in exact opposition of what God wants.

(MATT. 11: 28-29) 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

'Rest', as you can see here, is for the soul in the NT, not the rear-end. Working or not working is not what the Christian concentrates on. Being laden isn't with a physical burden.

(HEB. 3: 18-19) 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The rest is not physical rest, but something to be 'entered into' by those who follow Christ. It requires faith! Almost no faith whatsoever is required to rest from physical work. It is plain to see, physical work and obedience through physical rest are not being spoken of here.

(HEB. 4: 1) Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

The rest is a promise from God. Do we need a promise from God to sit? (Some do. But I mean in general?) The answer is no. 
For instance, and of great importance, the rest being spoken of can be fallen short of. How do you 'fall short' of physical rest? By not resting fully enough? Hardly! I once "rested" from physical work in a pool on the weekly Sabbath at the Feast of Tabernacles in Tucson Arizona. The heat was unbearable. My friends and I decided we would sit in the cool water and rest. Everyone else sat in the heat with all their fine clothes on because they were too afraid it might be too close to "work", and by extension, a sin. (The looks I got must have been similar to those Jesus got when He and his disciples went through the fields.) My friends and I weren't swimming, or even horse playing, we were sitting and talking. We were doing the same thing hundreds of other people were doing, only we were in a pool in the heat of the day. When the sun went down, everyone else got in too. Now, what Spiritual benefit do you suppose those people had by exposing themselves to the hot desert sun and sweating for hours? Not one bit!

We are talking about physical matters when we talk about physical rest. Sin is spiritual. Some would say, "It is because people aren't keeping the Sabbath in their heart. They secretly desire to break it and only keep it grudgingly." So let me get this straight. It's not only warming a chair on the 7th day of the week that counts, but HOW you warm that chair? I disagree. Although, this answer does start down the road to understanding! (It just fails to continue thereon.) 
The problem IS with the heart! That much is absolutely correct. Only, the fork in the road presented is physical rest from work vs. spiritual rest from sin, and the COGs take the path of physical rest. With the physically-oriented mind, that is the logical path, I'll admit. But it neglects to take into account the verses I've just presented which clearly and plainly show the rest is not physical after all. Therefore the true path is not to physical rest, but spiritual rest. It begins in the heart, and it ends in the heart, not with the rump.

How very often did I hear, and parrot, "Have a relaxing Sabbath!" Think about this for a moment. Of what benefit to the world is inactivity? Whom have you benefited? Have you not several hours of rest each day? Does not the Biblical day begin at evening, and therefore is not physical rest one of the very first things you do each day? Whom, besides yourself, does this truly benefit? Can you share Christ while you lie still and silent? Can you inspire others through your relaxing? Can you preach the gospel in snoring? What good comes of it?

(PRO. 6: 6-11) 6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, 8 provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— 11 so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.

Consider the ant, you sluggard! While you rest on your laurels in slothful inactivity every 7th day, what good have you done? Whom have you fed? Whom have you lifted up? When Christ asks you why you didn't do as He asked but chose to spend every 7th day holding still, will you tell Him "I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground" (MATT. 25: 25)?

(PRO. 24: 30-34) 30 I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; 31 and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. 32 When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; 34 so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.

So, those who rest their backsides every 7th day in idle uselessness, thinking you keep the law, consider the ant you sluggard, because it clearly states unless you keep every last stitch of the law you have only managed to estrange yourself from Christ. Physical rest won't heal that breach. But those who rest your souls in Christ, enjoy your peace every day, while it is called "today". The Lord will come to His temple, which you are, and your soul will have true rest --- daily.

Why do you keep the Sabbath? 
The number one explanation I've heard is "It's the 4th Commandment." Let's briefly look at that, starting by asking "Is the Old Covenant still in force?" Of course your answer would be "no", or at least I hope it would be. So, let's clarify with, "What was the Old Covenant?"

(DEU. 4: 13) So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

The 10 Commandments were the Old Covenant! So when you say "The Old Covenant is gone", you must include the 10 Commandments which framed it! So when Christ says "If you love Me, keep My Commandments" (JOHN 14: 15) it is not speaking of the 10 Commandments at all (not according to the old physical, shadowy keeping of law anyhow). 
Too much for you to bear? Let me also give you this which Paul had given us.
Romans 7: 1-4 and I COR. 7: 39 both spell it out quite clearly through an example of marriage. When a spouse dies, the covenant that bound them is nullified. Christ, being the first party to the Old Covenant, died, thus nullifying that agreement - and the 10 Commandments that framed it! There is no reasoning around this fact. There are but two options: ignore Bible truth to blaze on in your opinion anyhow, or accept this. 
And don't think to haul out yet another saying of Mr. Armstrong's, "The only Commandment anyone has a problem with is the 4th!" Because I guarantee you that very saying, which ensnared me and many others in the past, in fact works completely against you. I would ask you the same question; what problem do you have with the 4th Commandment? What I mean is, why do you see the other 9 have been magnified, but not this one? Murder is in the heart long before the act thus it is spiritual, adultery is in the heart long before the act thus it is spiritual, covetousness is in the heart long before any outward show appears therefore it is spiritual, circumcision is of the heart, sacrifices are of the heart, etc, etc -- but we, in our misunderstanding and legalism, clung to the idea that only the 4th Commandment has made it into the New Covenant absolutely unchanged and unmagnified. We patted ourselves on the back so very often saying the rest of the world does not understand. The joke was on us, because it was we who did not understand. It would appear the only Commandment the COGs have a problem with is the 4th!

(GAL. 4: 21-25) 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—

And what happened on Mt. Sinai? The giving of the 10 Commandments. This fully applies to the Sabbath!! And the point is of utmost importance. Taking the wrong stance and trusting in your own keeping of the law could very well cost you everything! 
(GAL. 5: 4) You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 
But closely note the very next thing Paul writes. What does he emphasize?
(GAL. 5: 5) For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith

The number two explanation I've heard is, "God rested on the 7th day of creation; the Sabbath was from the beginning." Review the entirety of Hebrews 4. God rested when the works were finished - not just 'on the seventh day', but when the work was finished. This was symbolic. God offered rest to those in the Exodus, who every last one learned to physically rest every 7th day or they were removed, but yet they were not allowed to enter "that rest". Joshua took them into the Promised Land, but even those ones, who were idle every 7th day, still did not enter "the rest". Therefore, as the author of Hebrews rightly concludes, there remains a rest to be entered into. This is not a 7th day sluggishness, or certainly "that rest" would have been attained by those people. God spoke of another day. As in the beginning, Christ said "it is finished" (JOHN 19: 30), and now He rests from that work. He came to save all mankind, and the work of opening salvation is complete. Right now there is a rest, attainable in faith. We can enter this rest when we cease our works... carnal works. It is a spiritual rest --- a rest for the soul.

When was the last time you asked "Why do I keep the Sabbath?" It's not so simple as "It's the 4th Commandment" or "God rested on the 7th day of creation." The Bible tells us specifically why the Sabbath was instituted:

(DEU. 5: 15) And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Maybe the correct question is "When was the last time you were enslaved in Egypt and brought out from there?" If you see yourself as being Spiritual Israel, and Christ brought you out from the Egypt of sin, then why do you insist on a physical Sabbath? It is contrary to the very theology you espouse. Our rest is in Christ. Our rest is Christ. "For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (MATT. 12: 8). And what is that rest?

(MATT. 12: 12) Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath

But, do we do good only one day each week? No! There is the carnality of mind coming through again. Not one day a week, but each day! When we enter the rest, through faith, which is to do good and put away evil, we do it at all times. There is no special day of the week when it is better to do good or worse to do evil. The rest of Christ is entered in to. When we enter, we are there! Just as we are the temple of God's Spirit and Christ enters into it. It's not a rest for the body. Consider the ant! No, it is a rest for the soul, just as Matthew 11: 29 says it is!

Therefore Paul says:
(COL. 2: 11-17) 11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Don't let anyone judge you that you aren't keeping the Sabbath correctly when you keep it in Spirit and truth, as it was intended. They will come after you with their words and condemn you in that you aren't sitting and being useless like they are. But be bold, knowing the work of salvation is complete, and knowing the rest is open to you.

If you take nothing else away from this, then take this one point: make your keeping of the 4th commandment about spending time following Christ as opposed to wasting time resting the flesh. Work on the Sabbath, work your butt off! But work to do good. Do as much good as you can! Don't sit there uselessly wondering if you've been inactive enough to please God. God is not the God of the dead, who are all inactive, but of the living! Do as much good as you possibly can. 

If you read I John 2: 3-4 and see "[Old Covenant] 10 Commandments", this is a mistake. Do a word study on "commandments", you'll see just what I mean. It does not refer to the 10 Commandments at all, but rather all that Jesus commands. You could say that includes the 10 Commandments... if you conveniently set asside all I've said here. Let me show you from John's hand what commandment John was referring to:

(I JOHN 4: 21) And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

John spoke a great deal about love. Love! This is the fulfillment of the whole law (ROM. 13: 8).

24 comments:

xHWA said...

I would also suggest that anyone who is interested in more about the Sabbath also take the time to read "Justin Martyr's Dialogue With Trypho".

It really is amazing how Justin answered regarding the Sabbath.

Purple Hymnal said...

So do you agree with mainstream Christians, and you go with the commandments from the sermon on the mount instead?

If yes, then why even bother with the old testament at all? That's the thing I never could understand. Not that I believe the bible jigsaw theory anymore (even though I did believe it once).

I just don't get why mainstream Christians keep the Old Testament in their Bibles, when they are for the most part anti-Judaism, if not outright anti-Semitic.

After all, you wouldn't have to argue about the New Testament doing away with the Old Testament, if you had never had the Old Testament at all.......

Or maybe I'll just never understand. :-(

xHWA said...

Hi PH! Good questions.

I do believe the Bible is one book. I do believe all scripture is good for instruction, etc. For example I do believe the Old Testament contains many things that help us understand the details of what NOT to do. The OT is inspirational and a very good read. A person can get by with just the NT and live a fabulous Christian life, but to really get into the details of who Christ is, what He has done for us, why we need His sacrifice, etc, I think one needs the both Testaments.

However, my beef is with the Old Covenant, not the Old Testament. The Old Covenant is what was replaced. Not just slightly modified, but wholly and completely replaced. When HWA says the 10 Commandments were brought forward, there is no evidence for that in light of what we see happening in the Gospels and Epistles. To make HWA's theories work one has to twist and contort everything.

If one sees there is such a thing as the 10 Commandments for Christianity (their faith is between them and God), they should understand the 10 are not the old 10 from Sinai, but a new 10. There may even be resemblance between the two sets, but they are not the same. The Old Covenant was all shadow; the New all substance. A shadow may resemble that which casts it, but they are not the same. I think HWA totally missed the mark in insisting the 4th Commandment was carried forward identical to its old form. I think it skates on such thin ice that I want nothing to do with it. Paul is absolutely clear in what comes of turning to legalism.

I think you bring up a good point, mainstream Christianity's hostility towards the Old Testament. I think that stems from early hostility between Christians and "Judaisers". There is no need to abandon the Old Testament. I think that's unfortunate. I feel the answer lies in a balanced view of both Testaments (not Covenants). Humans tend to act like a pendulum - swinging from one extreme to the other as we move towards balance. The Catholics at one time swung to the extreme in one way, being hostile to the Old Testament. HWA swung the opposite way and tried to make us all terrible Jews. His approach was not balanced or rooted in the Gospel. His ridiculous British-Isrelism led him to think we are all Israelites and therefore everything in the Old Testament directly applies to us. (By "we" and "us" I mean, of course, white Anglo-Saxons.) To be quite blunt, in my opinion, HWA's gospel and Christ's Gospel are not the same.

Purple Hymnal said...

"However, my beef is with the Old Covenant, not the Old Testament. The Old Covenant is what was replaced."

Ummmmmmmm......the "old covenant" comes from the "old testament"..... ?? No old testament, no old covenant.

"When HWA says the 10 Commandments were brought forward, there is no evidence for that in light of what we see happening in the Gospels and Epistles. To make HWA's theories work one has to twist and contort everything."

Right, agreed, which is where the bible jigsaw "theology" took effect. For us, at least. Which was so much bunk.

"If one sees there is such a thing as the 10 Commandments for Christianity (their faith is between them and God), they should understand the 10 are not the old 10 from Sinai, but a new 10."

As the Skeptic's Annotated Bible notes of the sermon on the mount (Matt. 19:18): "Jesus lists the "ten commandments," but his list has only six, and the sixth is not one of the ten. The commandments given by Jesus are secular, not religious, in nature."

"I think you bring up a good point, mainstream Christianity's hostility towards the Old Testament. I think that stems from early hostility between Christians and "Judaisers"."

And modern hostilities between Christians and Jews. Seems like most of it's coming squarely from the Christian camp, though. Well, OK, maybe with the exception of the Jews For Judaism website, an apologetics site against Christian evangelism......But that's the only anti-Christian Jewish polemic I can think of, off the top of my head.

Anti-Semitic polemic? A simple Google search will garner you millions of hits.

There is definitely something wrong with that picture..........

"I feel the answer lies in a balanced view of both Testaments (not Covenants)."

Balance is good. I like balance. :-) We may disagree on where the fulcrum exactly is (I see the texts as allegorical whereas you see them as inerrant), but I try and find a balance, too.

"To be quite blunt, in my opinion, HWA's gospel and Christ's Gospel are not the same."

The main difference between Armstrongist gospel and Christian gospel is that bad old bugabear, "I do not come to preach Christ, I come to preach his Gospel!" (Pardon me while I puke.) But that stems from the "god-as-god-is-god-we're-all-a-god-family-if-we're-called" lunacy to begin with.

Armstrong did get one thing right however: Christian gospel is solely preaching "Christ", not the teachings that are said to be his, not even all of the sayings that were attributed to "him"! (Cf., the Gospel of Thomas for an example.) The only thing a mainstream Christian has to do is believe is that a man lived and died long ago at Jerusalem. That's it.

That's it?!

See, this is why I say that we were never Christians. At least not how the term was meant in the rest of the world that we were cut off from.

Corky said...

That was a really good post xHWA, it's pretty simple really. I don't see why Sabbatarians don't get it.

Your message to PH is adequate but not satisfactory, because Jesus not only fulfilled the law but also the prophets.

Therefore, a Christian really doesn't need the old covenant/testament - at all.

At the time it was said that the scriptures were profitable for instruction etc. - the old testament scripture was all they had.

After the New Testament Canon was complete the old is only good for reference.

xHWA said...

"Ummmmmmmm......the "old covenant" comes from the "old testament"..... ?? No old testament, no old covenant."

Correct. But the opposite is not true. No 'old covenant' still 'old testament' left over.

"The only thing a mainstream Christian has to do is believe is that a man lived and died long ago at Jerusalem. That's it."

Well, I'd say it's a bit more complicated than just that. I mean, love and have faith. Don't forget the love. It's an active thing.

"See, this is why I say that we were never Christians."

Wow. Even though I would tend to agree, it still feels bad.

xHWA said...

"Your message to PH is adequate but not satisfactory,"

Corky - this is the part where I would be expected to take great offense, and run my mouth off at you, etc. But strangely enough I agree with your assessment.
In my defense, I left my response vague on purpose.

I don't think a Christian needs the Old Testament to be a good Christian. I just think it's a great source of deeper instruction. Like I said, mainly for what NOT to do.

Did Jesus fulfill it all like you said? You betcha! I agree there too. But to me that's a good reason to read the OT. How do we know what He fulfilled if we don't read it? It deepens my faith. Maybe not for everyone.

"After the New Testament Canon was complete the old is only good for reference." I mostly agree. Reference for some, inspiration for others. The sad part is how it's a continual source of trouble, confusion, and pain when the wrong hands (like HWA's) get hold of it.

Purple Hymnal said...

Correct. But the opposite is not true. No 'old covenant' still 'old testament' left over."

Hm. OK, that's fair, I guess.

"The only thing a mainstream Christian has to do is believe is that a man lived and died long ago at Jerusalem. That's it."

Well, I'd say it's a bit more complicated than just that. I mean, love and have faith. Don't forget the love. It's an active thing."


That a whole lot of "professing Christians" (Wow, we actually used that term, and it's still kicking around in my head.....) don't seem to demonstrate, IMO, because they go more with my version than yours.

"See, this is why I say that we were never Christians."

"Wow. Even though I would tend to agree, it still feels bad."


Sorry. :-(

"The sad part is how it's a continual source of trouble, confusion, and pain when the wrong hands (like HWA's) get hold of it."

Or when the more fundy of the fundamentalists get hold of it. I.e., the ones who bomb abortion clinics ("I'm pro-life, so I'm gonna kill a whole buncha people fer gawd!!" Yeah no that makes perfect sense right?! :-P), etcetera, etcetera, I'm sure you can think of some other examples besides the CoGs.

xHWA said...

That a whole lot of "professing Christians" (Wow, we actually used that term, and it's still kicking around in my head.....)"

Oh man, watch out! You're using Herb-speak! ;P lol

All joking aside, I assert that a "Christian" is a person who follows Christ. After all, He did say "follow Me". If a person isn't following Him (I don't mean perfectly; nobody's perfect) then how can they call themselves "Christian"?

"...don't seem to demonstrate, IMO, because they go more with my version than yours."

Yeah. :( I observe the same thing.

I have hope, though!

Purple Hymnal said...

Would you look at that: I can't tell if Bobboleh Thiel is actually agreeing with the CoG7 or not. He didn't even put in his usual pitch for the LCG this time!

Horror of horrors, Thielology for Dummies is promoting the reading of worldly literature from the Sardis era church!! What would Spanky say if he knew?!?!

xHWA said...

Nice find, PH.

You know what gives me a chuckle? Take Fred Coulter for example. He says three things came forward into the New Covenant: the 10 Commandments, meats, and tithes. Well, you can easily find people in the COG7 who would agree. So.... why are they the "Dead Era" again?

Looks like we have a dilemma on our hands.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Well, you can easily find people in the COG7 who would agree." [with 10 commandments/meats laws]

What still blows my mind is that you can easily find people in the COG7 who disagree about these things --- but they still manage to stay in the same church with each other!!

That's the real head-scratcher.

xHWA said...

Odd you should mention that, PH. I've been dealing with that in my own home.


Hey!....... you were referring to me all along, weren't you?! ;P

Purple Hymnal said...

"Odd you should mention that, PH. I've been dealing with that in my own home.

Hey!....... you were referring to me all along, weren't you?! ;P"


Ah, busted. ;-) So, come on, dish the dirt: Are CoG7 really really really OK with having a congregation made up of members that span a spectrum of belief, instead of a "unified" set of people-bots?

I still don't see how they can reconcile that; you would think they would be at each other's throats, weekly! Or at least stabbing each other in the back, for a chance at the kingdom, the way we used to......

Seriously. How DOES it work? I know you've touched on the topic off-blog with me briefly, but I think it would be good for a post here. Kind of shake loose the preconceived idea that any given congregation has to be shiny happy people who all get along.

(Great now I'm gonna have that REM song stuck in my head. :-P)

The thing that doesn't make sense to me, personally, is why any believer would want to attend a group where there would be others in conflict or sometimes even direct opposition to their own beliefs......How does something like that even look, "on the ground" as it were?

Do you tiptoe on eggshells around each other? Do you just not discuss religion, outside of sitting and listening to the sermons?

Enquiring minds want to know! ;-)

xHWA said...

Well, PH, it's pretty simple, really, I.....
Oh, it would appear we are out of time!

xHWA said...

Seriously, though.

Each COG7 congregation is independent. They are a confederation (or conference) of local churches, so to speak. I can't speak for them all.
So, with that in mind, there is no set list of "truths" or any such thing that anyone must adhere to in the COG7. The two guidelines are love God, love your neighbor - in that order. So long as one can do that, they're following all the requirements. I read the Bible Advocate also, and I love to see the stories of people who admit their deep and personal faults. That's something the Plain Truth would never have tolerated. And it's incredible.

The COG7 used to be very much like the old WCG: legalistic, closed, works over faith. Now, they are much more like the new WCG: faith over works, open, teaching they were mistaken about legalism. It is a culture shock to me. I went expecting another COG, and I found what really amounts to 7th Day Baptists. But I stay because I have never felt so inspired.

There are people there who tithe, people there who follow meats laws, etc. We all respect each other. I know what it's like to keep those things, so I relate. Some are probably secretly uncomfortable with my differences (I am just speculating about that), but they have never ever been anything to my family but welcoming and friendly. I don't push my liberty on them, and they don't push their tradition on me.

All of them, down to the very minister himself, has told me the new faith-based direction has taught them so much that they never understood before and given them such a wonderful relationship with God like they never knew was possible... I truly believe they are learning and growing, only some still have a few old traditions they are used to. They see the old legalism for what it is and they don't condemn anyone who is in the same mode as they all used to be in nor either those in the mode where they are headed.

I think it works like this - instead of talking down about people who don't keep meats laws, for example, those who believe in it simply talk positively about the keeping of meats laws. They just choose to not be negative about things.

Is that a good explanation?

Byker Bob said...

Good discussion going on here!

I've never attended a COG-7 meeting or service. But, if I had to guess, I'd say that the differences are allowed because they realize that the Holy Spirit works from the bottom-up. One by one, people become converted and begin transformation of the heart as God's Spirit works with them. That's a whole lot different from having one megalomaniac or narcissist proclaiming that he has more of the Spirit, and that God is working exclusively through him during this era, so you'd best get in unity with him.

Oddly enough, the most religious amongst the Jews allow for considerable latitude in beliefs at any synagogue or temple. A healthy synagogue always has an abundance of debate, discussion, and difference of opinion. It's considered to be an indication of spiritual health! This is just my opinion, but I think this is the mark of spiritual security.

BB

Purple Hymnal said...

So are you saying the CoG7 is currently going through the same thing in the 21st century that WCG went through in the '90s??

If yes, it certainly sounds like they are implementing it a little better than our former church did. Also sounds like you're "the right person, in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons". ;-) (Babylon 5 reference.)

"I think it works like this - instead of talking down about people who don't keep meats laws, for example, those who believe in it simply talk positively about the keeping of meats laws. They just choose to not be negative about things."

So, then, how do you react to that? Do you try and present your side of meats laws as you have here? Or do you just bite your tongue and "if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all"?

And how do you reconcile that with being authentic to yourself and your own beliefs?

I guess it just seems to me that, if you don't share the overall beliefs as the rest of the people you're "assembling with", why would you even bother to do so? For example, if there are some in your CoG7 congregation who are uncomfortable with your freedom, why would they still attend the same church as you?

For that matter, whether it's positive or negative, why would you want to be around anyone who's preaching meats laws in the first place, regardless of the context? Doesn't that make you uncomfortable?

No, I know, it doesn't make logical sense that I can't understand why/how you manage to co-exist peacefully with others who don't share your beliefs, and yet you're all in the same church?! ??? That's why I'm trying to wrap my head around a different perspective of it.

Thanks for your input.

xHWA said...

PH,

"So are you saying the CoG7 is currently going through the same thing in the 21st century that WCG went through in the '90s??"

Yeah, I think you could relate the two. Of course, the COG7 never had that "the glorious Leader" thing going on, so certain details aren't 1:1, but I'd say it's a lot like that.
The COG7's change is a bit slower, though. And a lot less academic. By that I mean no one has argued about 'hypostasis' or any such thing.

BTW... LOVE Bab5! I need a Daffy Duck poster.

"So, then, how do you react to that? Do you try and present your side of meats laws as you have here?"

I don't hide my views, but I also don't push them on anyone. I allow them room to believe as they do until they are ready to let go of that old teaching. And if they want the details of what I believe, they can always come here and read up.
I think an important part (perhaps the most important part) to understand is that meats, even though it was taught in the past, is nothing compared to the Gospel. We all realize that meats, whether we keep them or not, is not even secondary, but tertiary at best when compared to things that really matter, like the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faith and loving one's neighbor. So, really, meats is not a big deal. It was never as big a deal as HWA made it out to be; now it's much less so.

"Or do you just bite your tongue and "if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all"?"

I must admit, it takes a bit of that. But that's life in general. I don't think that's a bad thing.
I say what I feel needs said, but I don't preach to them. And they don't preach to me. We concentrate on what we have in common, rather than what divides.

"And how do you reconcile that with being authentic to yourself and your own beliefs?"

I don't need anyone to think as I do in order to be authentic to myself. I have hope, faith, patience, and love for all of them. They will come around when they are ready.

"if you don't share the overall beliefs as the rest of the people you're "assembling with", why would you even bother to do so? For example, if there are some in your CoG7 congregation who are uncomfortable with your freedom, why would they still attend the same church as you?"

Ohhh... I'd say I stay because I like them. I feel comfortable there. I like the messages. I like to see them going through what I'm going through now.. meaning, I am putting that old legalism behind and so are they.
I honestly don't know of anyone who is uncomfortable with what I believe - I just speculate that because human nature is what it is.

"why would you want to be around anyone who's preaching meats laws in the first place, regardless of the context? Doesn't that make you uncomfortable?"

Where I am, they do not preach it. They used to, and all of the people there have been in the COG7 for several years so they had all been part of that. But now those old things are fading away. They are learning the liberty that I am learning.

"No, I know, it doesn't make logical sense that I can't understand why/how you manage to co-exist peacefully with others who don't share your beliefs, and yet you're all in the same church?! ??? That's why I'm trying to wrap my head around a different perspective of it."

Not a problem, PH. I'm happy that you're interested in my story. I think it boils down to love. If you have love, it covers a multitude of sins - so to speak. Faith, hope, and love, and humility. We're all learning. We're all growing. We are all right in some ways, and we're all wrong in some ways. I think your questions have actually helped me to appreciate them more. Thanks for that! Because I see that they are not like our old WCG - where everyone had all these pet theories and thought so highly of themselves and preached to each other all the time, and condemned each other all the time. It's really not like that in the COG7. And that's a darned good thing!

xHWA said...

Hi Bob!

"That's a whole lot different from having one megalomaniac or narcissist proclaiming that he has more of the Spirit, and that God is working exclusively through him during this era, so you'd best get in unity with him."

Oh man, yes! You said a mouthful right there!

Byker Bob said...

xHWA, I can certainly understand why you would want to attend services. I would like to participate in a local church, too, because a church community provides an outlet for Christian service, a place to take communion, and an opportunity to participate in some organized praise or worship. Those are some things which you can't get by tuning in to broadcasts on Christian radio, or TV. I do have to admit, though, as my local church, I probably would not choose any of the churches spawned by William Miller.

I'm an independent Christian, and because of my agnostic background, much of my theology is informed by science, archaeology, and history. I do find some of the TBN messages on general Christian living principles to be very inspiring, and useful in daily life. However, it would be very difficult to find a specific congregation whose doctrines I found myself in alignment with.

In my years on the blogs, I've encountered some former members of WCG that have gravitated towards the Universalist Unitarian church, but for me, UU is much too broad, and doesn't seem to stand for anything specific. As an example, Wiccans attend UU, and are also in some cases involved in the clergy, even though they do not believe in God as such.

Perhaps I should go church hopping on the weekends. It's funny. When I was agnostic, people I spoke with on the street used to invite me to their churches. It would be easy to interpret such an invite as an anonymous act of God. Since God came back for me (one of his prodigal sons), there have been none of these street invitations. In the past year, the only spiritual event I've attended was Reign Down USA, which is an organized national day of prayer for forgiveness, blessings, and our national spiritual revival. I have no problem embracing such goals, even to the extent of providing financial support to Shawn Marie, the organizer of the event.

I tend to believe that Jesus intended for us to be independent, allow His Spirit to work in and through us, and to help people wherever we see a need, or in situations where we can discern that the Holy Spirit is already working.

It's just an incredible miracle that any of us from the WCG background would be able to trust again, considering what we've been through. The important thing to remember, though, is that it wasn't God who did what was done to us. It was man, misuing the things of God.

BB

Anonymous said...

Well done. This is a keeper.

Bill Hohmann

xHWA said...

Bob,

"I do have to admit, though, as my local church, I probably would not choose any of the churches spawned by William Miller."

That's perfectly fine. You have to go where you feel comfortable. I would say the same for me as well, because William Miller, Ellen G. White, etc, all make me very uncomfortable, but I keep one thing in mind: God hates religion. I am not at the COG7 for their religion; only the fellowship. If you find a place with people you mesh with - stay! If they try to sell you religion, go. God bless and guide you, friend!

"It's just an incredible miracle that any of us from the WCG background would be able to trust again, considering what we've been through."

Darned straight, Bob. I second that.

xHWA said...

Thank you, Bill. :)