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The following letters were posted on this Web site in July 1996.
Dear Gary: Your latest issue of Darkness to Light newsletter is great. In fact, I liked it so much that I sent my copy to a friend. Would you please send me an extra copy to replace the one I gave away? I would really appreciate it. Thanks & God bless you.
Yours in Christ, T.S.; Sewanne, TN
Response: The letter writer was sent a replacement issue. But rather than giving your copy away, if you know someone you think will benefit from reading Darkness to Light, send us their name and address and we will start a free subscription for them. We will also extend your subscription by one issue for each name sent (limit 15). Unless directed otherwise, your name will not be mentioned.
Dear Gary: My name is _______ , and I am an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois. My cellmate subscribes to the Darkness to Light newsletter, and he afforded me the opportunity to read his issues. I find the newsletter to be well written, informative, and spiritually uplifting.
He suggested that I write to you for a subscription to the newsletter, as he may be transferred to a different facility in the near future (I hope not; we discuss many of your articles at length and I would miss this fellowship!).
I was also wondering if you could send me a copy of Darkness to Light Collection. It contains many subjects that I would like to learn more about. I would also like to get a copy of the Differences Between Bible Versions; but I feel like I've asked for too much already. Obviously, I would purchase these from you, but under the circumstances I find myself in "financial straits." Thank you very much, and may God keep you all! T.W.; Menard, IL
P.S. We were wondering if you could further enlighten us as to what "Calvinism" is?
Response: The writer's requests were filled free of charge. And I continually praise God for how He is using this newsletter in various prisons across the USA. As for the question on Calvinism, a complete answer would require an entire article, or two. For now, I will simply say that the primary idea behind Calvinism is God is sovereign in the salvation of His people (Matt 1:21; 11:27; John 6:37-45; 10:25-30; Rom 8:28-39).
This idea is in contrast to Arminianism, which teaches human "free-will" is the ultimate determinate factor in people's salvation (but see John 1:11-13; 15:16; Acts 13:48; 16:14). And see the next letter for more on the subject of Calvinism.
All of the chapters of my book Differences Between Bible Versions are now posted on this Web site. They are listed at Bible Versions Controversy.
Hi Gary: The concerns of Scott Busbee (Correspondence on Calvinism) can be answered without necessarily entering the topic of lapsarianism. When Mr. Busbee asks, "How could God create one man and say 'I love you; Heaven is yours' and then create another and doom him to Hell'?" We may simply reply that:
(1) He is not taking into account the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin. We all are constituted guilty sinners because of the Fall, and therefore we all deserve God's punishment even "before" we ever start sinning [Psalm 51:5].
(2) He is not taking into account the fact that God's grace is really undeserved. It's amazing grace we are talking about! [Titus 3:3-7]
(3) He is raising the very objection that Paul said one could raise against his own theology (see Romans 9). The fact that in raising that objection he takes side with Paul's (imaginary?) opponents proves conclusively that his (Mr. Busbee's) complaints about Calvinism are unwarranted.
As for God's grace being then "not fair", I would answer Mr. Busbee that Yes, God's grace is not fair! Do we want God to be fair and just? Then we all would be damned. The point that needs to be stressed here is that God's mercy in election is "not" a form of justice, but a form of "non"-justice, albeit a good one! (See e.g. R.C. Sproul's Chosen By God for this point).
Keep up the good work. In Him, G.M.; Finland
Response: As I was first reading the above letter, I was thinking the writer's comments sounded like R.C. Sproul's in his book, Chosen by God. And then I get to the last sentence and see him recommending it!
In any case, the writer's comments are right on. Nothing would be more scary than for God to be "just" with me. Praise Him for His grace! (Rom 3:10-28; 7:14-8:1; Eph 2:1-10).
I am a Bible college student doing a research paper on the Problem of Evil in the Christian Worldview. Can you point me to some info? J.M., Thanks :)
Response: The best treatment on the subject of the "problem of evil" I have seen can be found in the last chapter of Gordon Clark's book Religion, Reason and Revelation. The title of the chapter is "God and Evil." I believe the chapter is now also available as a separate booklet. The book can be ordered from the book clubs listed at Christian Books and Software Sites.
If you call yourself "Reepicheep" and refer to Francis Schaeffer, you can't be far wrong (IMHO). But it would be nice for your site to include a description of who Gary F. Zeolla is. One can't be sure about strangers these days....
Salutations / Best regards, V.S.; Switzerland
Comment: "Reepicheep" is the handle I use when participating in Internet Chat Rooms and Newsgroups. You'd be surprised how many people recognize it. I even received e-mail from a guy in New Zealand exclaiming, *Another C.S. Lewis fan!*
For those who don't know, the allusion comes from The Chronicles of Narnia. This seven book, Christian fantasy series by C.S. Lewis was originally written for children; but many have read it as adults and found it interesting. If you read it, the most important thing to remember is Aslan the Lion is a type of Christ.
Reepicheep was my favorite character in the series. He was a very brave and noble, two-foot tall, talking mouse. He was the only one brave enough to face "Dark Island" - where your dreams come true. Sounds appealing until you find out by "dreams" it is referring to dreams you have at night, which includes your nightmares!
As for posting some personal information on DTL's Web site, unlike the multitudes who have posted "Vanity Pages" on the Web, I'm not real keen on opening up my life to the whole world; but I did decided to add some basic, biographical information (see Who Am I?).
You have a nicely laid out, informative Web site. Walking worthily, M.D.; Toronto, Canada
Gary F. Zeolla: Thank you for the Darkness to Light Web site. I only looked at the Church of God of Prophecy article, and it was quite informative. It pretty well squared with my brief experience with a man from the Church of God of Prophecy near Tacoma, WA. The length of the article I thought was appropriate for the WWW. It isn't easy to say something worthwhile over the Internet, as I am learning from some of the religion Newsgroups.
Maybe you can get some info on a shadowy group called "The Two-by-Two's" which I have heard is one of the largest cults in the country, but hardly anything is known about them because of their loose organization. L. S.
Response: The only information I have on the "Two-by-Two's" is a small booklet I picked up quite a while ago titled "A Cunning Cult." I'm not sure where I got it; but the address on the back is:
A Religion Analysis Service Publication
2708 E. Lake St., Suite 231
Minneapolis, MN 55406
According to the booklet, the group is very legalistic and denies, at least in practice, salvation by faith alone. It advocates separation from those outside of the group, including family.
The group has no official name other than "Christian." So they have been dubbed for convenience by others as Two-by-Two's (from their practice of witnessing in two's like JWs). They are also known as the Cooneyites (from their founder I believe), Black Stockings (from clothes they wear), The Way (not to be confused with The Way International), and Go Preachers.
The following Web site provides additional information on this group: The Church Without a Name.
I have found your Web pages, to be highly informative and interesting. You have hit upon an area [Bible Versions Controversy] that I have recently delved into and one that is important for Christians to understand.
Thank you for your insightful pages. Humbly, Philip
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The above letters were published in Darkness to Light
and posted on this Web site in 1996.
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