While Exhibit A covered an official paper on the subject of the Sabbath that was withdrawn, Exhibit B covers much more serious material. The “Sabbath Paper” as it has become known was not only withdrawn but apologized for from Dennis Luker.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
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,
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.