An anonymous comment recently asked if I had read the posting by Abigail Cartwright of “Review of Paper ‘Fasting, Prayer and the Will of God’”. I admitted that I had only skimmed it over once. I have since re-read it, and here are my thoughts.
First of all, the “Fasting Paper” came out about the same time as the “Sabbath Paper”, the latter which was subsequently withdrawn. Neither were very impressive papers, to put it mildly. Both evoked thoughts of, “Now, what is this about, anyhow?” and cause so many more questions than were answered. The Sabbath paper, however, overshadowed the fasting paper, mostly because the Sabbath is a core bedrock doctrine.
One difference is that the fasting paper, if it were rewritten, might be somewhat salvageable. I would be forced to ask, though, “To what end? Are there not already articles and papers on fasting?”
The problem, as I see it, is that it reads more like a justification for rescinding the move to Texas than it makes a statement on fasting. Take for example:
The elders voted in 1997 that the home office should be moved from California to less-expensive and more central Ohio. We believed that was God’s will, and subsequently fruits of the choice proved it wisely to be just that. But what about the 2007 resolution to relocate the home office to Texas, which very narrowly passed? That resolution in effect rescinded the original move to Ohio until it, in turn, was rescinded itself in 2008. If God’s will was absolutely ironclad by fasting and prayer in 1997, then how could the proposed move to Texas have been justified in 2007?
I think I haven’t commented on this paper before, because it makes my head hurt to read it. At any rate, it makes a number of assumptions, and few if any are true. Most of all, it points out that the paper really isn’t even about fasting, but rather about the move to Texas.
There are certain points in the Analysis paper that I’m just not going to investigate. The money figures either stand or they fall on their own.
One point I would like to comment on is about the call for a church-wide fast. The Analysis paper reads:
Fasting Paper: “It is important to remember that there was no official request for a church-wide fast made by the church president in his video sermon proposal for the home office move in February 2007. The only request to fast and pray was part of the regular Call and Notice packet which was sent to the General Conference of Elders that spring.”
- This is demonstrably not an accurate statement. First, the resolution to relocate was presented to the General Conference of Elders as a Council of Elders Resolution—not a resolution from the president. As an officer of the corporation, the president is permitted to put forward a resolution. Because of the magnitude of this particular resolution, it was presented to the Council of Elders during the February 2007 meetings for Council approval. The Council unanimously approved submitting the resolution to the GCE. By this action, the Council of Elders took ownership of the proposal. Since the resolution was officially submitted by the Council, it was the responsibility of the Chairman of the Council to call for prayer and fasting in advance of the GCE, not the responsibility of the president.
- And this call for fasting and prayer was made, exactly as it should have been—by the chairman of the Council of Elders. Following is the official request sent to the ministry by Council Chairman Robert Dick on April 17, 2007; which was after Call and Notice:…
Well, I don’t know if it was voted on by the COE or not. However, I will state that when the president of the church stands up and says to do something, it certainly has the appearance of an “official request”. I mean, can an “official request” only come from the COE? If that is the case, what do we need the president for?
All in all, I have to admit that I share some of the concerns that are presented in the Analysis paper. The idea that any of the church fasts were a means of invoking some sort of “sympathetic magic” is derogatory towards anyone who actually followed through on the request and fasted. The continual swipes at anyone who wanted to move to Texas are uncalled for. Such self-righteous and hurtful actions do no one any good.
Unfortunately, the “Fasting Paper” is the sort of childish communication that seems to be the status quo that comes out of Cincinnati these days. Instead of Biblical teachings, you get a series of rambling explanations and justifications for why the previous administration was wrong and the current one is right. It is an embarrassment to place on an organization’s official website. It should be remove yesterday.
Thank you for your Analysis of the Analysis.
I accidentally deleted the following comment Dom Anonymous with my fat fingers:
Most of the stuff I read coming from either side makes my head hurt! This whole thing has become nothing but a playground bully picking on the kid nobody wants to pick for baseball!!
I suppose I could read someone else's analysis — but I chose the "no-spin" route, and studied the paper on my own. Among my conclusions so far:
+ If church-wide fasts show "honor and respect for the ministry and membership," that why say later the main point of a fast to seek God's will in a matter? What if a member has a "vision" during the fast which conflicts with that of UCG leaders? Unusual prophecies happened during the book of Acts.
+ I don't know if Herbert Armstrong called church-wide fasts about things such as building new colleges and Ambassador Auditorium. The UCG paper suggests he didn't. Did he show dishonor for ministers and members at those times?
+ Several Bible heroes who fasted are cited, from Moses to Jesus. Yet none of those fasts were "church-wide" events. In fact, Moses fasted twice for 40 days — and the first one ended with Israel in a sinful uproar (Deut. 9:9, 12).
Richard wrote: "I suppose I could read someone else's analysis — but I chose the 'no-spin' route, and studied the paper on my own."
I appreciate you doing that, and I hope I didn't come across as saying it should be done any other way. I had read the "fasting paper" before reading the AC commentary (in fact, I would recommend that approach if you read the AC analysis at all). However, I was responding to a specific question.