UCG View of the Sabbath, Exhibit B

While Exhibit A covered an official paper on the subject of the Sabbath that was withdrawn, Exhibit B covers much more serious material.  The “Sabbath Paper” as it has become known was not only withdrawn but apologized for from Dennis Luker.  However, instead of acknowledging a mistake, John Elliot took it upon himself to go beyond mere defense of the paper and posted this blog article that pretty much makes the case that rejecting any judgment rendered by a council of men is the same as rejecting a judgment from God, even if it were to contradict Scripture:

Judgments Concerning Keeping the Sabbath

NOTE: To view the biblical passages in the following message, move the cursor over each scripture. [This is a copy so that will not work. – John D]

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:26:16, Leviticus:19:37). 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:44:24). 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:19:15). 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:21:1). Those were written down partly as an example to future Judgment-makers to whom He would assign that responsibility (Ezekiel:44:24). With the inception of the New Covenant came a change of who He authorized for Church leadership (Hebrews:7:12) 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:16:19).

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:55:9) 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)?

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.

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:22:2), nor that He should offer up His own Son (John:3:16, Hebrews:11:17). Through obedience to those Judgments, both demonstrated submission to the will of God (Genesis:22:12, Luke:22:42) and became “Fathers” of the faithful (Galatians:3:7, Philippians:2:8-9).  Those Judgments in unique circumstances stand in stark contrast to those of wolves who would sanction violations of God’s Law (Romans:1:32). False teachers will be in the Church (Matthew:7:15), so you remain responsible to insure that you follow only the directives of teachers who have the fruits of Christ’s true ministry (John:10:27). There is never an excuse for anyone following permissive, self-promoting, or divisive “judgments” made by wolves (Philippians:2:12).  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:12:33), while working around unique complexities that require godly wisdom for decision-making (1 Kings:3:28, Mark:2:25-28).

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:18:18). Consequently, opinions which run contrary to the Church’s Judgments become irrelevant and insubordinate (Titus:1:9-11). 

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:15:29, 1 Corinthians:8:4). 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:8:7). Scripture warns us to have no association with such (2 Timothy:3:1-5). 

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:7:21).

Be diligent to be known by God as one who is submissive in performing His will (John:12:26) and one who is a productive member of Christ’s Body (Ephesians:4:16). Diligence in doing so will bear godly fruit for the Kingdom (2 Peter:1:10-11) and you will enter His eternal “Rest” (Hebrews:4:11).

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

After reading the above, I have to ask you, dear reader, what is the difference between following the judgments of men in charge of UCG and following the judgments of men in charge of the Catholic Church? Apparently, not a great deal.


  1. maiuuislandgirl

    I went to John Elliott’s church site and downloaded some of his sermons concerning the Sabbath, ten commandments, law of God etc. to get a flavor for where his mindset is concerning those things are and frankly I have come to two conclusions..either this man is totally deceived by satan or he is deliberately twisting scriptures to advance his ” main stream ” agenda. He neglects to mention all of the priests like (example:) Samuel and Elli’s sons who profaned the tabernacle with their behavior and earned the death penalty..the long list of kings who were in charge and caused Isreal and Judea to go into captivity because of their wrong leadership practices. Are we to blindly follow just because leaders tell we should? haven’t we learned the lesson from WW yet? Paul said ” follow me as I follow Christ” not follow me because I’m a minister! All of us are responsible for our own salvation..that means always asking God for spiritual discernment. God’s Spirit in us is like warning light that flashes when we hear or see something that “just doesn’t fit” If we pray about it God will give us “eyes and ears” to “really understand” what is going on. I find it interesting that in WW, brethren were the first to question what they were hearing ( with a few ministers) but this time around 2/3’s of the pastors stood up and said ” there is a wrong spirit @ home office” I for one always “overlay ALL of God’s word ” over behavior and attitudes and what is spoken to see if it matches..if it doesn’t it is not in keeping with God’s way of life..the scripture I keep in the back of my mine is Matt24:22″ if it were possible even the very elect would be deceived”..we must be always on guard to sift through everything we hear or see against God’s word, because there is a great falling away that is prophecied that is speaking of God’s church not the world. ” don’t let anyone take your crown” was the admonishment of Christ to the Philidelphia church which to me means this is and will be our challenge for this era

  2. To be fair, he does give the following Christ over men lip service:

    “False teachers will be in the Church (Matthew:7:15), so you remain responsible to insure that you follow only the directives of teachers who have the fruits of Christ’s true ministry (John:10:27). There is never an excuse for anyone following permissive, self-promoting, or divisive “judgments” made by wolves (Philippians:2:12). 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:12:33), while working around unique complexities that require godly wisdom for decision-making (1 Kings:3:28, Mark:2:25-28).

    However, the bolded area shows where he brings that off track. He didn’t support the statement about what proper judgments will always do. In reality, proper judgments will always -uphold- God’s law. And while love for neighbors is a concern, love should not extend to allowing them to continue in sin–love for them would be to encourage them to sin no more. As well, citing the spiritual alone is a grounds for many slippery slopes (“Well, if they keep another day as the day of rest, isn’t that what God intended spiritually?”)

    As well, his entire premise is faulty. The keys given to Peter were not keys for judgments to be made. They were the keys to the Kingdom. A few years ago I heard Mr George Meeker give a sermon about this topic (in fact, I had been doing a study on it, could not understand what it did mean, asked God for help… traveled back to St. Louis for the weekend and Mr Meeker stood up to give a sermon about that very verse). Essentially, as you study the scriptures and consider what Christ actually told Peter and the context of the scriptures, what you see is that Christ was talking about the binding and loosing of people… the giving of the Holy Spirit and laying on of hands, etc. It has nothing to do with doctrines or judgments.

    And finally… this whole thing pretty much takes personal responsibility out of everything and that you should always trust and follow the ministry. For even if you have formed a (correct) opinion about something out of the scriptural basis, God hasn’t given you that understanding. He’s only given it the ministry, who will make the decisions and if you disagree, then you reject God! And if you don’t understand how their (wrong) decisions can be doctrinally sound, that’s because God’s ways are so much above your ways… but not the ministry, of course. Be a good little sheep and shut up and do what I tell you.

    And now he’s on the Council.

    He is a false teacher, a tare among the wheat, and has been elevated to the Council.

    Harsh though it may seem, I think this is just further proof that God’s blessing on the leadership of United has been completely removed. He has given them over to playing their politics and games and going after their own desires.

  3. This reminds me of the WCG when the Tkach administration took over. Lay members didn’t have the knowledge or the spiritual understanding to decide doctrine; they must rely on the ministry to lead them into all truth. To do otherwise was rebellion against God’s government. It sounded very much like the catholic teaching about the pope being the intercessor between man and God.

    And it put church members in a bind, of course. Doctrines contradicting the Bible were obviously being introduced. Yet there was a reluctance to “rebel” against God’s government. As a result, everybody sat on their hands for a long time.

  4. Wow.

    I went to his site, because a friend was asking me for information on Elliot… and I came across this blog post.


    Note the very end:

    P.S. As a shepherd of precious members, it is important that I warn you of an ongoing “scare tactic” in play whose aim is to draw you away from us. It involves an outright lie that Church leaders are secretly undermining the holiness of God’s Sabbath. My name has been among those that have been slanderously labeled as a liberal in regards to the sanctity of the Sabbath (John:15:20). An irony of this slanderous allegation is that it is my strong belief that we do not keep the Sabbath holy enough! This is because as humans our attempts to obey God all fall short of perfection (Romans:7:22-24). Nevertheless, it is our duty to strive for perfection (Matthew:5:48), and persevere in godliness in order to receive eternal life (James:1:2). Slandering those of us who are striving to be Christ-centered servant leaders (Matthew:20:26-28), who are encouraging you to imitate Christ (John:12:26, 1 Corinthians:11:1, Hebrews:6:12), is a common response to our ministry (1 Corinthians:4:12-13, 1 Peter:2:19-24)

    Which is a direct contradiction to his judgments post, still available to read on his own blog site! (http://phoenix-east.ucg.org/blog/judgments-concerning-keeping-sabbath)

    • @Andrew: Yes, he contradicts himself a lot, it seems. IMO, he is trying to have it both ways, and that won’t work.

      The irony is that no one is “slandering” him. People are just pointing out the errors in what he himself has said, has not retracted, explained or apologized for causing misunderstandings.

      If anyone thought that the previous COE was “my way or the highway”, my bet is that they are in for a real shock now.

  5. John, through stories from people that have had first hand experiences with the man, that is my understanding of who he is. His position, stances (and degree to which he holds it), style, et al change based on what will look better for John Elliot at the time.

    About a year ago, before this trouble really got fully going (they were still choosing who to pick for President), someone was telling me about a run in they had with John Elliot way back in the old Worldwide days where he gave two different Feast of Tabernacles messages–one that contradicted his previous position and stance just a few days later. What had changed was the higher-up ministers had switched locations… so he gave a message that would appeal to one minister the first day, and then came down hard on the congregation the following message in the style of the new visiting minister.

    In essence, he’s all form and no substance through-and-through.

  6. Form an opinion about what those members should do

    I am of the opinion that an elder or body of elders that are being led by the Holy Spirit should know when to give a judgement on a particular issue and when there is an issue beyond men to decide for the people.

  7. Pingback: Church of God Perspective Blog» Blog Archive » Another Look at UCG’s Newest Member on the COE