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A New Christian and the WWCG

A new Christian and newbie to the Internet posted a couple of questions in "alt.christnet" and a couple of other Newsgroups. I posted and e-mailed him a reply. We then exchanged e-mail one time after that. Below is the exchange starting with my first e-mail to him, with a few modifications for inclusion here. The new Christian's comments are in black enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


You ask what the definitions of the following words are: fundamentalist, universalist, evangelist.

The term "fundamentalist" originated in the early 1900's from a series of books titled, The Fundamentals, edited by R.A. Torry. The books were designed to defend the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith over and against liberal theology which denied these teachings.

Unfortunately, over time, the term has taken on other connotations so as to indicate those who are "close-minded" - legalistic and the like. Thus it is often used in a derogatory manner (see for instance, the use of the term "fundies" often in Newsgroups).

Given these connotations, the term "evangelical" is now used. It means basically the same thing that fundamental originally did, but with an emphasis on evangelism (i.e. preaching the Gospel, or evangel in Greek).

Personally, I prefer the term "essentials of the faith" to describe the fundamental or most important doctrines of the Christian faith. For a discussion and list of what I believe these doctrines are, see the following article on my ministry's Web site: Essentials of the Faith.

An universalist believes that everyone will eventually be saved. Some go to the extreme of saying that even Satan will be saved.

As for how Newsgroups are supposed to work, my replies are interspersed between your questions. Your comments have a > before them while my comments do not.

If someone response to what I have said without deleting you comments, your comments will have >> in front of them and mine will have >, and so on.

At least that's the way it's supposed to work. But some browsers enable responder to use different symbols (like :) or no symbol at all. And sometimes things just get messed up for who knows what reason.

I hope the above is helpful.

If you have any further questions in regards to the Christian faith, you're welcome to check out my ministry's Web site. It is dedicated to explaining and defending the Christian faith. Also, feel free to e-mail me. I may be able to answer your Internet questions also.

>Thanks for the response. Sorry it took so long to get back...kid's are on summer vacation (never a moment's peace). By the way your website is EXCELLENT! I spent a few hours there last night….

I have another question for you. I got this book " Mystery of the Ages" from the library. It's by Herbert W. Armstrong. Anyway, I started reading it and some of the stuff in there didn't sound like it followed with scripture.<

You bet it doesn't follow Scripture! The book was written by Herbert W. Armstrong. He founded the World Wide Church of God. It publishes the Plain Truth magazine. This group was long considered a cult by most counter-cult researchers.

But, since Armstrong's death a few years ago, there's been major changes in the group. They have renounced most of Armstrong's teachings, including most of what is in that book. In other words, the group that published the book came to realize it was heresy and have now renounced it.

The group is now supposedly more evangelical. I recently read an issue of the Plain Truth. What I read seemed sound. But I have my doubts and wouldn't recommend the WWCG till they get things worked out.

>There's one part where it says that Melchisedec who had existed from eternity- "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life: but made like unto the Son of God: abideth a priest continually" Heb 7:3. First of all, I don't understand this at all, how can this be?

Then Armstrong goes on to say "Melchisedec and Jesus Christ are one and the same person."<

The writer of Hebrews is using Melchizedek as a type of Christ. There is no reason to suppose he was actually the Son. But Armstrong taught that he was.

>A few chapters later he says that the family of the God Kingdom "is composed, now, of God the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son and many begotten humans who already, NOW, are begotten sons of God (Rom. 8:14, 16; 1John 3:2), forming the church of God. He proposes that in the time of John 1:1 "Long before anything else existed, there did exist two Supreme Beings, immortal who had always existed."

The Melchidesec being one and the same with Jesus didn't sit right with me at all. And I could be wrong but it seems to me when Romans 8:14 says "those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" I don't believe it means begotten sons of God. Also, when Amstrong says only two Supreme Beings exist....where does that leave the Trinity?<

Armstrong taught that God was a "family" CURRENTLY composed of two Persons, the Father and the Son. But the family would eventually grow because humans would be exalted to godhood and join this divine family (somewhat like Mormons).

He taught the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force (like Jehovah’s Witnesses). Definitely not Biblical!

>ANYWAY.....I quit reading the book as being new to the faith I don't want to read anything that I'm not sure about.<

Good!

>Can you help? Have you ever read this book or heard of this author?<

I hope the above is helpful.

>Thanks again.....I feel like I'm imposing but there's SO MUCH to learn and I really don't have anyone I can ask.

God Bless!
"Peanut"<

Feel free to ask anytime.

I know how you feel. I can remember years back when I first started studying the Christian faith. It can be difficult. There are some excellent books out there, and some books that are, well, not so good.

At the end of some my articles are reading lists for suggestions for books to read. You might want to check some of them out. Of course, the most important thing to read right now is the Bible.

You might want to contact the first two book clubs listed on the following page on my Web site. The books they offer are generally very worthwhile. A good Bible PC program would be helpful too and they offer that also. See Christian Books and Software Sites.

God bless.
Gary Z.

Follow-Up

>Gary,

I would encourage you to visit our site at www.WCG.org . I am a member of the Worldwide Church of God and recently I read an exchange on your site about Herbert W. Armstrong's book Mystery of the Ages. Very flawed book indeed.

I agreed with most of what you said excepting the part where you said you did not recommend the WCG. You know God used the WCG to bring me to Salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

You may have read our magazine and maybe to you it "seemed sound" but have you visited our website, read our statement of beliefs, did you know that we are members of the National Association of Evangelical Churches? We are as mainstream in the Body as whatever church you may attend.

The Holy Spirit has done something in our fellowship that does not make us any more important or significant than any other part of the Body but it is of the Holy Spirit not men. And it was miraculously profound.

Please research us more before you pass judgment about God's ability to use us to advance His Kingdom.

Your site overall was very informative and helpful I will most likely return. Keep up the good work and God Bless.

By the Lion's Mane (Rev. 5:5),
Bill
1/17/02<

The exchange you are referring to was written a few years ago in response to a question by a new Christian. My hesitancy in regards to the WCG was that at the time it was soon after the "change" that occurred in the WCG after Armstrong's death. And I felt that such an atmosphere of turmoil would not be appropriate for a new Christian.

But I am glad to hear that the WCG is on stronger footing now. And I will check out their site when I get the time.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site in August 1997.
The follow-up was added February 4, 2002.

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