What Is It About Arctic Circles?

Strawmen, strawmen!  Everywhere strawmen!  You would think people would be tired of illogical explanations by now!

The Sabbath paper brought up the subject of arctic circles.  Well, apparently John Elliot at UCG did learn what a bad idea it was to try to establish doctrine based upon the exceptions rather than the rules and wrote in “Greetings Brethren Letter – November 11, 2010” (and was also posted on Facebook):

Awakening to a new “day,” I looked out the window to a black sky filled with pinpoints of light above snow-covered mountains as a meteorite made a slow burn to the horizon. The long nights here in Alaska where we have been visiting are lengthening. Eventually the sun will never rise or set for an eight week period in the northern parts of this state. Living in the dark there, one loses his ability to sense when a day begins or ends. Next year, during the summer months this phenomenon will reverse itself until the sun perpetually circles overhead for two months. If you haven’t done so already, generate an opinion about how one should determine the beginning and end of Sabbaths north of the Arctic Circle.

Alaska is the largest U.S. state, yet it is sparsely populated with many towns that get isolated during seasons and weather events. A Church member living in a remote village was once its sole physician who could set the broken bones, revive the drowned, restore the nearly frozen, treat pneumonia patients, help the sick recover, etc.. If you haven’t done so already, generate an opinion on what a physician should or should not do on God’s Sabbaths.

Believe me, I have generated an opinion on what a person should and should not do on God’s Sabbath.  It is based upon the rule, not upon the exceptions.

What is it with the Arctic circle and these arguments?  What do they have to do with family literally half a world away, closer to the equator than any of the poles?  NOTHING!

I posted this to Facebook.  Let’s see if it gets deleted:

This letter is full of strawmen, which are conveniently knocked down to try to make the point.  This includes the dangerous statement:

"The real question for each of us becomes, ‘Will I submit to the authority that Christ has placed in His Church and to the Judgments He approves concerning lawful behavior’ (1 Corinthians 16:16, Hebrews 13:17)? Or, ‘Will I reject that authority and its Judgments and lean instead to my own understanding’ (1 Timothy 1:19, 1 Peter 2:7, Proverbs 3:5)? The latter mindset rapidly casts members adrift from the Church as they go in search of others whose opinions match their own."

No, those are the wrong questions.  If they were the right questions, then leaving WCG and not submitting to their judgments was an act of rebellion.

The right questions are: "Will I obey God rather than men?", "Will I work out my own salvation with fear and trempling?" and "Who will I allow to take my crown?"

While some are expecting a split to occur shortly before or shortly after next May’s GCE meeting, I’m expecting something will transpire much sooner.  It is obvious that there are some who will insist upon watering down the teachings of the Sabbath by “judgments” and “clarifications” of men.

Next month is when a judgment will be rendered about the appeal of the family from Chile.  If a purge is going to occur, I’d expect it to be before the next calendar year.  If not, then perhaps there is still a chance that sanity will prevail for a time.

Please prove me wrong.  Please.

Since things are having a habit of disappearing, please find the entire letter below.

November 11, 2010
 
Greetings Brethren,
 
Awakening to a new “day,” I looked out the window to a black sky filled with pinpoints of light above snow-covered mountains as a meteorite made a slow burn to the horizon. The long nights here in Alaska where we have been visiting are lengthening. Eventually the sun will never rise or set for an eight week period in the northern parts of this state. Living in the dark there, one loses his ability to sense when a day begins or ends. Next year, during the summer months this phenomenon will reverse itself until the sun perpetually circles overhead for two months. If you haven’t done so already, generate an opinion about how one should determine the beginning and end of Sabbaths north of the Arctic Circle.
 
Alaska is the largest U.S. state, yet it is sparsely populated with many towns that get isolated during seasons and weather events. A Church member living in a remote village was once its sole physician who could set the broken bones, revive the drowned, restore the nearly frozen, treat pneumonia patients, help the sick recover, etc..  If you haven’t done so already, generate an opinion on what a physician should or should not do on God’s Sabbaths.
 
We have members in a certain country whose government takes children of Church members who do not allow them to attend school on the Sabbath and makes them wards of the state. We have members in other counties whose children are required to take final exams on the Sabbath or holy days in order to graduate from high/secondary school. Form an opinion about what those members should do with regards to their children and the Sabbath.
 
Graduation ceremonies often occur on Sabbaths, as do weddings and funerals of family members who are not in our Church. Some non-Church families hold their family’s reunions only in connection with religious holidays. The proper timing of the observances of the Passover and Pentecost can seem uncertain from Scripture. Accepting or rejecting calendar postponements would impact the dates of the Feasts by a whole month. Dining out on the Sabbath involves work by those who cook and serve. Taxes paid by members in certain countries alleviate all of the needs intended to be covered by third tithe. Contractors often require that construction work on members’ homes and Church buildings continue on Saturdays. Some fish have scales during only a portion of their lives.  Bank interest and rental profits are earned every hour of every day of the week.  Some drugs, vitamins, minerals, food additives, gelatins, etc. include trace elements and byproducts derived from glands or shells of unclean animals. If you haven’t done so already, form an opinion about the right thing to do in all the above situations.
 
God commands His people to keep His commandments, statutes and Judgments (Deuteronomy:26:16This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul., Leviticus:19:37Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD.). They overshadow every aspect of our lives, yet are not specific in their application to every modern-occurring circumstance. Each new epoch of time gets filled with unique circumstances containing a myriad of complexity that is altered by changing conditions that are caused by locale, governments, authorities, conflicting laws, seasons, time zones, speed and direction of travel, International Dateline, global operations, Arctic and Antarctic Circles, spacecraft orbiting Earth, travel in space, climate, weather, migrations, economies, religious tolerance, wars, developing technologies, industry, labor-saving devices, private and commercial transportation, refueling, mediums of communication, advertising, sources of heat and power, conveniences, structures of business, automated vending machines, robotic machinery, automated processes, intra-day international commerce, military support personnel and suppliers, banking, compounding daily interest, international monetary instruments, stock exchanges, government bonds, mutual funds, communal acquisitions and ownership, national holidays, traditional holidays, holiday bonuses and gifts, taxes, fees, overhead, uniforms, socialization, grooming, clothing styles, accessories, designs, piercings, tattoos, aging, diseases, health complications, medical practitioners, types of treatments, medicines, surgeries, discoveries of new species, genetic alterations, gender modification, changing music, modern works of art, carved images, restructured Church organization, governance modifications, authorities, selection, assignments, positions and ranks of the ordained, format of services, aspects of prayer and fasting, etc., etc..  If you haven’t done so already, form an opinion about each of the above.
 
While you may feel that you have a clear view of such matters from your perspective, complexities involved with them multiply as one moves across eras, generations, cultures, geographic locations, politics, inventions, regulations, health, age, etc.. For that reason, God established the process of making Judgments regarding how His Church members are to keep His laws in unique circumstances.
"Judgments" are decisions handed down by judges to explain, broaden or narrow the application of existing law… He instructs all judges who are responsible for making judgments not specifically covered in the Torah: "In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes . . ." (Ezekiel:44:24And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.). He also tells them: "You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor" (Leviticus:19:15Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.). Taken together, God’s laws, statutes and judgments lay the foundation for a righteous society and the administrative procedures needed to govern it.”
(UCG Booklet: The New Covenant, God’s Laws Statutes and Judgments).
 
Making judgments on how the Law of God can be, or should be applied in unique situations is to be performed only by those to whom God has assigned that responsibility. God made some Judgments for the Israelites in combination with their impending entry into the Promised Land (Exodus:21:1Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.). Those were written down partly as an example to future Judgment-makers to whom He would assign that responsibility (Ezekiel:44:24And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.). With the inception of the New Covenant came a change of who He authorized for Church leadership (Hebrews:7:12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.) including the transfer of responsibility for making Judgments. 
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew:16:19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.).
 
What were your opinions about how God’s laws should be kept in the situations mentioned above? When we understand that the decisions about each of them are to be made by those to whom Christ gave the responsibility, our opinions become irrelevant. Judgments have been made for individual members who have been impacted by nearly all the above issues at one time or another in Church history. Ministers, including the Apostle Paul, Herbert W. Armstrong, Councils, and others assigned that task, have sought God’s will in such matters using His Word.  Yet, members’ responses to and opinions about those Judgments sometimes do not recognize their validity. Yet, God’s thoughts are high above our own (Isaiah:55:9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.) and our opinions don’t compare to His.
How unsearchable are His Judgments and His ways past finding out!  "FOR WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD? OR WHO HAS BECOME HIS COUNSELOR" (Romans:11:33-34[33]O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out![34]For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?)?
 
The real question for each of us becomes, “Will I submit to the authority that Christ has placed in His Church and to the Judgments He approves concerning lawful behavior” (1 Corinthians:16:16That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth., Hebrews:13:17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.)? Or, “Will I reject that authority and its Judgments and lean instead to my own understanding” (1 Timothy:1:19Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:, 1 Peter:2:7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,, Proverbs:3:5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.)? The latter mindset rapidly casts members adrift from the Church as they go in search of others whose opinions match their own.
 
While we should have great concern for proper obedience of God’s laws, our own understanding does not compare to that of God whose laws against murder and human sacrifice did not preclude His Judgment that Abram should sacrifice his son (Genesis:22:2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.), nor that He should offer up His own Son (John:3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life., Hebrews:11:17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,). Through obedience to those Judgments, both demonstrated submission to the will of God (Genesis:22:12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me., Luke:22:42Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.) and became “Fathers” of the faithful (Galatians:3:7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham., Philippians:2:8-9[8]And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.[9]Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:).  Those Judgments in unique circumstances stand in stark contrast to those of wolves who would sanction violations of God’s Law (Romans:1:32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.). False teachers will be in the Church (Matthew:7:15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.), so you remain responsible to insure that you follow only the directives of teachers who have the fruits of Christ’s true ministry (John:10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:). There is never an excuse for anyone following permissive, self-promoting, or divisive “judgments” made by wolves (Philippians:2:12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.).  Proper Judgments will always promote the keeping of the spiritual intent of the Law, which is obedience to God and love for Him and one’s neighbor (Mark:12:33And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.), while working around unique complexities that require godly wisdom for decision-making (1 Kings:3:28And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment., Mark:2:25-28[25]And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?[26]How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?[27]And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:[28]Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.).
 
It is the Church’s responsibility to make Judgments under the umbrella of God’s Law when unique circumstances create complex issues.  Some have written demanding my opinion about a business operation in another hemisphere to see if our opinions match. While such a matter needs to have a Judgment made by the Church, it needs to be made by those to whom Christ has assigned that responsibility. And whatever the God-inspired judgment is, Christ will bind it in heaven as the appropriate thing to do in their circumstance at that moment in time. Afterwards, any opinion, including mine, that runs contrary to that Judgment will be in opposition to that which is bound on High (Matthew:18:18Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.). Consequently, opinions which run contrary to the Church’s Judgments become irrelevant and insubordinate (Titus:1:9-11[9]Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.[10]For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:[11]Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.). 
 
To summarize, due to ever-changing complex situations of human life, God established the process of making “Judgments.” They are sometimes made for individual circumstances, sometimes become broader policy, sometimes remain in force, and sometimes change with varying circumstances (Acts:15:29That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well., 1 Corinthians:8:4As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.). But the crucial factor is that God approves the Judgments made by those He appoints to make them. In such matters, other opinions are rebellious to what God has approved. In this age of criticism of leadership and lack of submission to authority, our mentality can gravitate to that of society’s and be in conflict with God (Romans:8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.). Scripture warns us to have no association with such (2 Timothy:3:1-5[1]This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.[2]For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,[3]Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,[4]Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;[5]Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.). 
 
The appropriate Church leaders have studied various situations and rendered Council-approved Judgments, some of which are posted online at http://members.ucg.org/content/study-papers. Equally as important as these directives are, is our submission to them. How highly we value our own personal opinions correlates directly with who God will select to participate in what the Sabbath Day forecasts – His Kingdom (Matthew:7:21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.).
 
Be diligent to be known by God as one who is submissive in performing His will (John:12:26If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.) and one who is a productive member of Christ’s Body (Ephesians:4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.). Diligence in doing so will bear godly fruit for the Kingdom (2 Peter:1:10-11[10]Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:[11]For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.) and you will enter His eternal “Rest” (Hebrews:4:11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.).
 
With Christian love and concern,
 
John Elliott
Pastor, “Central” Arizona
Senior Pastor, East Africa
 
P.S. See the letter from the president of UCGIA located here

0 Comments

  1. This post is directly related to your previous one on Dave Pack. Many people in UCG sense something is wrong and his claims will resound with some who wonder about the UCG drift which seems to reinforced with this letter

  2. I have learned that John Elliot was one of the authors of that "Sabbath paper". It makes sense now. What doesn't make sense is why he didn't learn anything from the first go-round on this.

    Amazingly, it took no less than 5 writers to muck it up.

    You know what they say about a camel, right? It was a horse designed by a committee.

  3. Let me just ask this question of anyone–John Eliot included; according to John Elliot and his letter–if I have understood it correctly–If the powers that be "in charge" in UCG were to decide that HWA had it right in the first place regarding Pentecost; that it was to be on Monday–does that mean we are all to abandon the truth of Scripture and submit to the "church leaders" and keep it on Monday? Whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven sort of thing? what say you? (I prefer to obey God rather than men–as John C. stated.)

    The editor

  4. Standing up for the truth does require making judgments from time to time but they should always be made for what God says–never justifying it from our perspective. For example, I never took the SATs on Saturday and my wife refused to take her final exams on Saturday and had to redo a whole semester because she received a zero. (She was educated in a foreign country). John Eliot's arguments lead down a slippery slope. I pray for peace and discernment and wisdom as we all go forward. May the Kingdom come soon.

  5. Anonymous wrote: "John Eliot's arguments lead down a slippery slope."

    That's my take on it, too. Others seem to disagree with me. If his point is that the Church has the right to make certain judgments, then he is correct. In fact, everyone within their sphere of influence has a right to make judgments every day. However, no matter who it is, those judgments must be within the Law.

    Could he be saying that? I don't know. If so, then why state it in this manner? It just does not read that way to me, no matter how many times I read it. The overall tone seems to me to be softening us up for a judgment that many will not like.

    For example: "But the crucial factor is that God approves the Judgments made by those He appoints to make them. In such matters, other opinions are rebellious to what God has approved."

    That seems like a pretty cut and dried statement to me. Did he assume we would understand that "as long as those Judgments are within the Law"? Because if this was supposed to be a clear and concise communication of this, it is not.

  6. Dear Sir,

    May we please know who are the other 4 writers of the "Sabbath Paper"?

  7. @Anonymous: If I knew, I would say. The information was volunteered to me, so I didn't press it.

    I think it was volunteered only because I guessed John Elliot had something to do with it. When you write every day, you notice that people write in styles, and it is sometimes hard to miss when someone writes a certain way.

  8. Dear Sir,

    Have you listened to Mr. Elliott's sermon "The Love Of God In You"?

    http://phoenix-east.ucg.org/sermon/love-god-you

    At about the 30 min mark it is my understanding that he is saying that the Ten Commandments are not love.

  9. @Anonymous: I have not had time to listen to the entire sermon, but I at least tried to get some context.

    Actually, I think he says something along the lines of the Ten Commandments not being the embodiment of love. If taken out of context, this is a big deal, but even just prior to that statement, Elliot says, "This might shock you."

    He goes on to say, though, that all the Law and prophets, which obviously includes the Ten Commandments, hangs on the 2 great commandments of love.

    His point is that you cannot say you love someone just because you didn't steal from them today. Love is more than not killing a person. The Ten Commandments are physical rules given to a physical people, and they are just the starting point rather than the end point.

    At any rate, that is my understanding based upon what little I listened to. I don't know if or when I'll have a chance to listen to the entire thing, though.

  10. The Artic Circle question is akin to those asking Christ which one of the 7 husbands that died would have the woman as a wife in the kingdom.

    It's a question whose sole purpose is to marginalize truth.

  11. I notice though we have even gone beyond the artic but now we are mentioning traveling spacecraft. Yep, how do I keep the sabbath when I happen to be orbiting earth? What's next Mars?

    Contractors requiring that they work on your building during the Sabbath? I'm not a construction expert but I've heard a few with the experience who say that is nonsense.

    Granted, there are some things in keeping the law of God that can require a "good faith" (I'm beginning to hate phrase as much as "paradigm")but those are far between. Most things are either explicitly addressed or can be reasonably deduced by rightly dividing the word of God to glean applicable principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *