Culture, Politics, Religion

Follow up to “Has the Church given up its freedom to speak?”

I just wrote such a long response comment on the previous blog post that I thought it ought to be a post in its own right, rather than to let all that typing just sit there in the comments. :) So here it is, slightly cleaned up (but not much, so please forgive any hasty spelling or syntax):


Howdy, March Hare, and you are, of course, right. I knew that nothing I would say could convince various ones who would simply move the goal posts somewhere else, but you never know who–among the actually sane–you may be able to bolster in the face of baloney. There will be those critics too lazy to actually click on the links to see that those were prominent articles in our flagship public magazine, Tomorrow’s World (the article explaining abortion as a holocaust was actually a cover story featuring an image of an unborn child, if I recall) and to research and see that the commentaries are featured on the front pages of our websites every time they are published. Apparently, calling homosexuality a perversion before God, calling abortion a modern day holocaust that will bring God’s vengeance on our people, and pointing out that the Catholic Church’s doctrines come directly from the devil and that that church is the harlot and the Protestant churches are her daughters isn’t direct enough for some folks. For some critics, one could walk up to the final Antichrist, punch him in the face on national television, and be arrested for it, and they would still say he had been too lackadaisical for failing to punch him twice (and, I might add, they would do so from the sidelines, typing in their homes from the comfort of their couch while enjoying a nice snack). [Note: In the event any of my (few) readers actually know the final Antichrist--perhaps he is your neighbor or in your bridge club--I am not advocating physical violence against the final Antichrist, neither on national television nor even on cable access channels. Also, the fact that he is the final Antichrist does not give you an excuse to cheat in Bridge if he is winning. :) ]

The pattern of such critics is pretty consistent: “They won’t preach XXXX!” “Pssst! They’re actually preaching XXXX…” “Well, they won’t preach XXXX in public!” “Pssst! They’re actually preaching XXXX in public…” “Well, they won’t preach XXXX to a large audience!” “Pssst! It actually went to their entire body of subscribers–about 400,000 individuals and households.” “Well, they won’t publicly preach XXXX very prominently!” “Pssst! They actually made XXXX their cover story this month…” “Well, they won’t make strong preaching about XXXX their cover article every single month!” “Pssst! You know they only have one cover per magazine, right?” “Look, buster, just who’s side are you on, anyway?”

They fall under the condemnation of Proverbs 11:1, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.”

Actually, it’s funny–I have never had a single problem with non-profit restrictions. Not a one. Ever. No government lackey has ever told me what I can and can’t say. In my public Tomorrow’s World presentations, in particular, I get rather forceful and heated in my condemnation of a variety of sins (and not just the sins du jour–homosexuality, abortion, etc.–but definitely including those) as well about the incompetency and lack of character in our national leaders, yet never has a man in black rushed to the front and told me to stop. Rather, the only difficulty I, personally, have ever had was motivated not by government control, but by pure, good ol’ American capitalism when one for-profit TV station banned my very first program for saying this: “Consider, as well, Americans’ morbid determination to slaughter about 1.3 million innocent children every year through the tragedy of abortion.” It had nothing to do with government but, rather, with the program director not wanting to field a lot of complaints from their viewers.

In fact–since I’m turning this comment into a “sequel post”–here’s the entire section of that telecast from my script:

God’s Word provides clear guidelines concerning sex and marriage. As Paul plainly declares in 1 Corinthians 6, “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites… will inherit the kingdom of God.” And yet our society wholeheartedly EMBRACES lifestyles of sexual activity without even the PRETENSE of restraint or moral guideline! Pornography, once shamefully relegated to dark rooms in the backs of buildings, is now mainstream – our universities are even inviting porn stars to give talks to their student body!

Consider, as well, Americans’ morbid determination to slaughter about 1.3 million innocent children every year through the tragedy of abortion – the equivalent of more than one September 11th attack PER DAY. We are so morally confused that even the idea of banning the horrific and torturous practice of “Partial Birth Abortion” in our country seems to cause ENDLESS debate!

And the United States, as a whole, CONTINUES to ignore the commandments of God – His laws, His Sabbaths, His holy days. We have ACTUALLY COME to the point where the legality of simply displaying the 10 Commandments in a public place is in question!

According to 501(c)(3) conspiracists, I apparently should have been shot dead by government snipers before I even got to finish those statements. :) And though the one station banned my program, all the other ones carried it worldwide.

Would this make a difference to those who claim we are muzzled? No. No, it wouldn’t. They would simply move the goal posts again–whatever it takes to maintain their fantasy and allow them to continue patting themselves on the back. It would be funny if it didn’t signal such horrible issues of character and, frankly, their connection to reality.

The restrictions that make television a challenge for us at times aren’t related to our being non-profit, at all, and apply equally to non-profit and for-profit, corporation and non-corporation, religious and secular television programs, alike. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy.

One final observation: Like the Apostle Paul, we have to be savvy at times in the preaching of the message. When read Acts 17 you watch Paul–so wisely, so stealthily, so brilliantly and meticulously–build his case against idolatry in Athens, it is a wonder to behold. Yet, how many of those who sit on the stands eating their nachos and popcorn criticizing those doing the Work today would jump on their blogs or Facebook pages (well, somewhat briskly shuffle toward their blogs or Facebook pages) and write, “What a spiritual sloth Paul is! Why doesn’t he cry aloud and spare not?!? Why is he not as righteous as I am? (type, type, type)

I thank God and Christ that They will be our judge. And, too–however self-deluded they may be–I fear for those who judge so readily, unrighteously, and untruthfully, with an eye toward Matthew 7:2.

So, my apologies for the long response! I really ought to copy this and turn it into its own post. :) Yes, the examples above will definitely have been a waste of time for some–those for whom no evidence is ever sufficient. But hopefully for those who are critical thinkers–who don’t just see an accusation on a website, drool a little bit, and swallow it whole–it will provide exactly the counter examples they need the next time they are attacked with goofy claims so they can say, “Uh, yeah–that’s false.”

Thanks, again, for the comment, and have a wonderful Sabbath!


That’s the end of the comment, but let me–again–invite anyone who hasn’t yet done so to register now to watch Mr. Roderick Meredith’s live worldwide online presentation about what is ahead for the world and why the things that are coming are, indeed, coming! It’s this Sunday, so the clock is ticking! You can register here: Live Online Tomorrow’s World Presentation with Mr. Roderick C. Meredith.

About Wallace G. Smith

Pastor for the Living Church of God (www.lcg.org) and a presenter on the Tomorrow's World television program (www.tomorrowsworld.org).

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Follow up to “Has the Church given up its freedom to speak?”

  1. But aren’t we yoking ourselves with Babylon if we do these things??? Huh??? Gotta paycheck dintcha? It would seem that if Christ confirmed we can use the money of the Babylonish system by stating plainly that we are to give Cesar his due, and even providing a coin for such an occasion, then….. wait, that makes too much sense…. lets get back to them dandy vacillating goal posts what like to jump about so much again, shall we!?

    Anyways….

    Happy Sabbath!
    Deano

    Posted by Gedii | February 8, 2013, 9:53 pm
  2. I know this isn’t the only pair of tricks listed in The Scribes’ and Pharisees’ Guide to Total Holiness, but confusing what one personally values with what God values is at the very heart of “the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees” – and the other trick is that people who are quicker to make that mistake in value judgment than others are also quicker to get into self-deceptive judgments based on logical frameworks as well. I know, ’cause I R 1 (and that’s why I’ve never trusted, as a Christian, either my value judgments or my logical judgments any farther than I could throw the Big Mo).

    Thanks again for another helpful post. Don’t think such posts are a waste of time, ’cause they ain’t. :D It’s nice to read something SANE once in a while.

    Posted by John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) | February 9, 2013, 1:43 am
  3. In my youth I went to a comedy club to listen to Timothy Leary and heard him explain why all that you are lead to believe about the moon is wrong and that it is actually made of green cheese. What made that topic humorous to all of us hearing his thoughts, was they were arranged and being explained in such a way that it was utterly believable. That man was very adept at putting ideas together and moving scientifically established goal posts in a persuasive way to convince his audience against everything that made sense.

    However some other topics are not funny.

    The way I see it, the apostle Paul also crossed paths with someone who was adept at moving the goal posts too. It was the time when Sergius Paulus wanted to hear the word of God from Paul, there was also a false prophet named Bar-Jesus whose propositions opposed the word Paul had for Sergius.

    Paul labelled that man as, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?”

    I would say it takes a LOT of hard work to counter those who make claims about 501(c)(3) that aren’t true and when push comes to shove, it’s God who opens the eyes of a person. Remembering Sergius was described as an intelligent man, critically minded or not.

    I thank you for your effort Wallace.

    Posted by Norbert | February 9, 2013, 8:45 am
  4. Wally, there are some of us out here in cyber land that are members of the Church that just want to sincerely know if it is wrong for a church organization to be filed and therefore be in a contract via 501c(3). We care about obeying God and are committed to obeying His Commandments, including the first one. To me this is a legitimate question, just like any other concern that members may have on unclear and controversial subjects. Wanting to keep the commandments is not a “pet sin”, just like the Apostles met to debate a controversial issue that came up in the Church in their day (Acts 15:1-2). They debated without name calling and ridiculing the side they didn’t agree with.
    It seems like you and the other commentators are making fun of Christians who want to keep the Commandments zealously and who want to “examine the Scriptures to see if these things are so”. Are we not to “prove all things”? With all the satire and saying bad things about the messengers of a particular side to this debate, it is difficult to follow your path in a ‘keep-to-the facts” type of reasoning and why it is or isn’t alright to be in a 501c(3) agreement with the United States Government.

    A point you are making is that LCG says anything it wants to about the issues of our day and because you are not being called on the carpet for doing so that it must be legal to do so. Have you read through the 501c(3) information brochure to actually see what it has to say? I have and it is obvious to me that it is impossible to comply with all their rules and regulations… not for what they are saying but how they say it. The rules are so unclear, ambiguous, “according to reasonable” according to “legal public policy” “you can but not too much” that the definitions of what is right and wrong are according to what their definitions are and those definitions are not clearly stated.
    Examples:

    “that prohibited inurnment does not include reasonable (what would reasonable be according to whose definitions?) payments for services rendered, payments that further tax-exempt purposes, or payments made for the fair market value of real or personal property.”

    “In general, no organization, including a church, may
    qualify for IRC section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial
    part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation
    (commonly known as lobbying). An IRC section 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.”

    What exactly is “too much”, and I know we say we don’t lobby but in a sense we do. Lobbying is influencing and that’s what we do when give messages for our hearers to “Repent and believe the Gospel and to follow God, obey Him.” And, by their implied privileged right and it seems to be their policy, they can define terms and activities in any way they like, they can say that that is a form of “lobbying” can they not?
    There are many other examples that I could list. I encourage you to read the manual for yourself and you will see the many, many statements that are so ambiguous that there is no way for the reader to correctly understand exactly what they determine as infringing on their rules. It is IRS linguistic bable that takes a IRS Agent to explain the law. (And it has been my experience that even they do not know!)

    How can we be in an agreement and compliance with such a confusing and dictatorial document and let it have dominion over the Church of God? And what I hear you saying is that to do what the Church does and says and not get into trouble with the 501c(3) regulators is like a person speeding and because an officer, that may be in the area, sees it and chooses to not pull that person over and give them a ticket, it must therefore be legal to speed? Do you see the illogic of this reasoning? Being in a 501c(3) contract you vow to comply with all their rules and regulations and if you are not doing that you are breaking your word.
    Numbers 30:2 (KJV)
    “If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.”

    Wouldn’t it be better to not vow at all than to vow and not keep it? (Deu. 23:21-23)

    Jesus and the Apostles never went to Herod or Pontius Pilot to get “permission” to preach the Gospel or to heal or to teach. They just went out and did it and suffered the consequences. It is not recorded anywhere that Elijah filed for permission to let him rebuke Kings, false teachers, and the people. Would calling fire down on a captain and his soldiers be allowed according to 501c(3) regulations? I don’t think so. You may laugh at that, but it is prophesied to happen again.

    Jesus said to call no man your master. Yes, we are to obey the laws of the land and to render to Caesar the things that be Caesar’s, but that does not include rendering to him the authority over the Church.

    My question is to all the Church groups is?

    “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” I Kings 18:21 (KJV)

    Please make up your minds. We cannot serve two Masters.

    P.S. I am only commenting on your post about this subject because I think it is an important subject and I care about God’s Church

    Posted by Constance Lynn Belanger | February 9, 2013, 12:44 pm
  5. Greetings, Ms. Belanger —

    Thanks for writing! My apologies for the delay in approving your comment. My family and I visited two different congregations today and then I directed a Spokesman Club meeting tonight.

    I hope that what few readers I get out here will read your comment carefully, as well as this response, as it may answer a lot of questions and expose some of the mistaken thinking out there.

    To respond most clearly, I think it will be helpful for me to quote specific statements you make and then to give my response. I will try to make the difference between what you say and my response as clear as possible by making your comments bold and italic. Hopefully that will do the trick. So, here we go!

    “Wally, there are some of us out here in cyber land that are members of the Church that just want to sincerely know if it is wrong for a church organization to be filed and therefore be in a contract via 501c(3).”

    I agree. This post was not necessarily directed at those who were wondering about the topic, but was, rather, a response to those who have said such abusive, baseless, and accusatory things about those they disagree with, demonstrating that the things they claim have no basis in fact or experience whatsoever. For those who simply have a question about the matter — wonderful! Questions are good, but only if we are willing to actually hear the answer and look at real evidence.

    (By the way: You seem to indicate here that you “just want to sincerely know” and if you are, indeed, sincerely asking, I am glad. No harsh words are intended toward those who are simply confused about the facts and looking for answers. At the same time, I have to say that the rest of your comment doesn’t read like someone who “wants to know”; rather, it reads like someone who has already decided. Still, I do hope your mind is open to the possibility that your understanding is a little off on these things.)

    “We care about obeying God and are committed to obeying His Commandments, including the first one.”

    Good! Me, too. :)

    “To me this is a legitimate question, just like any other concern that members may have on unclear and controversial subjects.”

    While I would say that it is only “unclear” or “controversial” to some due to the inaccurate misinformation some few have spread, I agree: Someone can legitimately ask if tax-exempt regulations prevent the Church from doing its job or prevent us from “obey[ing] God rather than men.” I have no issue with questions. I love sincerely asked questions! I do, however, have an issue with those who give false and misleading answers to sincerely asked questions. And I do have an issue with those who persist in giving false and misleading answers even after their error has been made as plain as humanly possible to them.

    “…the Apostles met to debate a controversial issue that came up in the Church in their day (Acts 15:1-2). They debated without name calling and ridiculing the side they didn’t agree with.”

    I agree that the Apostles came together to decide a controversial issue in the Church and that they discussed the matter without name-calling or ridicule. Agreed. At the same time, after the issue had been decided by those God appointed to make such decisions, when those who disagreed with the matter continued to harass other members of the Church about it, the Apostle Paul called such individuals “dogs” and “the mutilation” and “accursed” and expressed in his frustration that he wished they would go castrate themselves. At least a little harsher than I have been, no?

    And let me be clear in the event that I have miscommunicated. I don’t have a problem with someone disagreeing with me on this matter, at all. I have an issue with lies, distortion, misinformation, and false accusations. If someone completely disagrees with me but who at least respects my position on the matter, behaves in a civil manner, doesn’t spread lies in his disagreement, and has the ability to avoid unrighteous judgment of others in his disagreement, I respect that completely. If you are such a reasonable person, then I have no ill will toward you at all, and I respect your right to hold a different opinion without my judgment if you respect the right of many others to disagree with you, as well, without your judgment on them. But for those not as reasonable as you may be, God says that to the froward He will show himself froward (Psalm 18:26), and I don’t see a need to apologize for doing the same.

    “With all the satire and saying bad things about the messengers of a particular side…”

    The few I’ve heard have not acted like “messengers.” They have been accusers, spreaders of falsehood, and unwilling to even consider an ounce of evidence (out of the many pounds provided) that they are wrong. Had they simply been expressing an opinion without making wild, nasty, and unfounded accusations, things could have been different. And, in truth, I’ve tried to be pleasant and friendly, and it was spat back at me. Re: Psalm 18:26. You have good advice, but I suspect that you have greater need to share it with the conspiracists. I prefer to be nice. :)

    “A point you are making is that LCG says anything it wants to about the issues of our day and because you are not being called on the carpet for doing so that it must be legal to do so.”

    Actually, not really. The proof is in the actual understanding of the tax exemption regulations. The fact that we are, indeed, able to preach strongly on such topics (and have done so for more than half-a-century) is simply evidence that such understanding of the regulations is accurate. It would be weaker, perhaps, if there was at least a shred of evidence to the opposite conclusion. That there is none is telling. Undeniable facts are undeniable facts.

    “Have you read through the 501c(3) information brochure to actually see what it has to say?”

    Actually, yes, I have. And I find it much clearer than you do (including the two samples you included, especially taken in their contexts), though I respect your right to disagree.

    “I know we say we don’t lobby but in a sense we do.”

    Ah, Ms. Belanger, there’s a key! You say, “in a sense we do” and that’s the problem. In the sense clearly communicated by the nature of the regulations, no we don’t. Not at all.

    No one reads these things in such a sense as you suggest, yet reading things in such a vague, unnatural sense is what is required to support these unfounded theories. When we read them as they are written they are much clearer, and they don’t support the allegations made about them. You later ask whether or not the IRS can claim that saying “repent and follow God” is lobbying, and the answer is “No, not really. No they can’t.” If the government ever does begin to make such twisted and unnatural decisions, then believe me: being 501(c)(3) or not, or using a corporation or not, isn’t going to make any difference whatsoever, because we’re all in trouble.

    “I encourage you to read the manual for yourself.”

    Again, I have read the brochure, and thanks. This isn’t my first rodeo. :)

    “And what I hear you saying is that to do what the Church does and says and not get into trouble with the 501c(3) regulators is like a person speeding and because an officer, that may be in the area, sees it and chooses to not pull that person over and give them a ticket, it must therefore be legal to speed?”

    Not quite, though I can see why you would interpret things that way. Rather, to use your analogy, it’s like me and a friend looking at a speed limit sign that says “50 MPH” while he says, “Hey, I know it says ’50MPH’ but that’s not true, because they will arrest you if you go over 25 MPH. Then, he and I get in a car and drive 147 times down the road, in front of the police at 50 MPH without getting pulled over. Let me return the favor: Do you see the illogic of his continuing to hold his position in light of the abundance of evidence? If he says, “Well, the cop is just too lazy this week,” then he’s the one committing the fallacy of “special pleading”, not me.

    And whether you see the speeding analogy your way or mine, we’d both have to agree that the last half-century of evidence wonderfully fits the idea that the conspiracy theories are wrong and doesn’t fit the idea that they are right, at all. Of course, some may think that 50-plus years of evidence isn’t enough. I would disagree.

    “Being in a 501c(3) contract you vow to comply with all their rules and regulations and if you are not doing that you are breaking your word.”

    While I would say that phrases like “501c(3) contract” fall short of reflecting what is going on here (there is no such “contract”–rather, our activities fit the regulation description, and we are simply saying so), at the same time that isn’t relevant to your point. Rather, the point is that if the government suddenly begins radically reinterpreting their regulations and applying it radically differently than has been the precedent for well more than half-a-century, then it is they who have broken faith, not us — quite the reverse of your assertion.

    “Jesus and the Apostles never went to Herod or Pontius Pilot to get ‘permission’ to preach the Gospel or to heal or to teach”

    Right. And we haven’t either.

    “It is not recorded anywhere that Elijah filed for permission to let him rebuke Kings, false teachers, and the people.”

    Right. And I certainly didn’t ask for the President’s permission to call his stem cell decision vomitous, either.

    “Yes, we are to obey the laws of the land and to render to Caesar the things that be Caesar’s, but that does not include rendering to him the authority over the Church.”

    Agreed. But who has rendered Caesar authority over the Church? That’s the whole point. A few conspiracy-minded folks claim it’s been done. Their evidence? Exactly zero. In fact, all the evidence says the exact opposite.

    Those who claim that the authority of the Church has been somehow given to Caesar need to stop claiming and start proving. And the amount of evidence they have to disprove is growing fast…

    So, to conclude, even though you seemed to indicate that you have already answered the question for yourself, I truly do hope that, instead, you are still questioning and are open to the evidence. I truly don’t mind sincere people who have questions — they’re my favorite sort of people! :) But those who accuse and slander others with falsehoods and misinformation with no regard for the truth or any real evidence at all I have no tolerance for. This post, to some large extent, reflects a rebuke on the latter sort. I do hope, indeed, that you are of the former sort.

    Thanks again for writing! I know I responded with a lot, but I thought your comment offered a great chance to answer a lot of questions.

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | February 10, 2013, 2:27 am
  6. Until recently, I too, never thought twice about the Church groups being filed as an 501c(3) and then it was brought to my attention by Christian friends that I converse with and am in fellowship with that see this topic from a different angle and explained why they believe what they do. Then I started questioning it myself and wanted to look into it more thoroughly to see what the Biblical perspective would be. Paul said to prove all things, which we as Christians need to do for anything that we think we know or believe in so we can rightly apply it in our lives. So when I said we “just sincerly want to know” I was speaking for myself just recently (and I still do want to know more and learn my point was more along the line this it’s sincere questioning not just for sake of wanting to argue and try to prove who is right over this) and for others that I am in contact with who are also questioning why are the groups filed as 501c3’s with the government. I believe this kind of questioning and seeking answers is necessary to grow as Christians and seek deeper understanding in everything we believe, whether its things we believed from the past that were never really proved or that God may be revealing to us as to something we need to change (Acts 17:30). I have read other Commentators’ posts that are just as sincere in their position regarding not being filed and then I read your position as to why you believe their position is some kind of conspiracy and that it is a good thing to be filed. It is good to look at both sides and then do our thinking for ourselves after careful prayer and study.You, yourself, said that the posts were mainly in response to others who had questions . This tells me that, yes, there are those of us who are questioning the different stances, hopefully, in a mature and courteous way. So by commenting on this particular issue I hope to bring this to the attention of those who may be reading your Blog, and that yes, this is a very important subject that needs to be addressed by those who do want to obey God in all things. And as I think you know, this could have very detrimental ramifications for the groups.

    When I was pondering this challenge to my prior beliefs and why it could be wrong, it brought back memories of when I was a finance officer at a large United Methodist church years ago, when I was not in God’s church. I am much more familiar with the ambiguities of the rules and regulations in the 501c(3) manual than just casual reading it as I had to refer to it constantly, as it was my responsibility to make sure that the church did the bookkeeping and the payroll as precise and legally as I could from the 501c(3)interpretations of the laws for withholding, specific detailed expense accounts, ministerial spending accounts, health insurance expense accounts, when a minister was considered an employee and/or when to consider him a contractor and how to treat their payroll taxes accordingly, fundraising, etc. It was a nightmare! I had two of the most highly professional accountants, who had accounting firms of their own, on my Finance Committee who offered their consulting services to me whenever I needed their advice, and even they could not understand the proper procedures in some cases. They had to refer me to a Church Tax Specialist to get answers. It took hours and hours to figure some of the laws out even with him and then I was still not completely sure. I was weighed down with the burden of not really knowing if I was doing something “right” or not being in “compliance”. So I know, somewhat, from experience that the laws are not all that clear and easy to comply with and how it makes conscientious officers of a church organization feel guilty just trying to carry out their responsibilities. Along with the Scriptures that I am studying that pertain to this subject, I bring this perspective from my own experience as well.

    I think this is a subject we all need to prayerfully think about and do careful study from God’s Word. Thanks for being willing to post my comment and to address my concerns even though we are not seeing things from the same perspective (now that I have come to a different conclusion than yourself).

    Posted by Constance | February 10, 2013, 11:50 am
  7. Thanks, again, Ms. Belanger.

    I’ve sought the biblical perspective myself and have come to the conclusion that we are right on target, though I respect your right to disagree.

    I agree: questioning is just fine. Even if it is something that has been thoroughly considered, like this. Regrettably, the accusatory few I’ve spoken to aren’t really questioning, they are slandering and judging–and based on horrible misinformation at that.

    And while sincerity is important, it isn’t sufficient. Nothing wrong with looking at both sides of an issue, of course, and I know for a fact that are sincere people on both sides of the issue. However, just because someone is sincere, I can’t pretend that some of what they are saying makes sense if it doesn’t or is true if it is completely false, and I can’t ignore it if what they are saying is harming people and accusing people.

    Also, a position is not valid just because a few people hold to it despite the actual evidence, no matter how sincerely they believe it. Consequently, I feel no need to enable people to perpetuate something false just because they believe it to be true–all the more when they get nasty and accusatory about it, as the few conspiracists who brought this issue to my attention have been. (Not saying you have been, by the way. :) )

    (Another BTW: I’m glad that you have some experience doing some regulation wrangling. As a former actuary, I’ve done my share, as well. And I hope that you won’t judge someone for believing that your experience doesn’t generalize to everyone, nor that they feel what you’ve described justifies any of the “It’s a sin” position of conspiracists.)

    I’m glad, too, that you are prayerfully studying the matter, and hope that it will lead you to a different conclusion in the future. And, too, I hope your current opinion doesn’t inadvertently cause you to get sucked into the irrational and accusatory world of those so addicted to baseless conspiracy theories against all actual evidence. :)

    Thanks, again.

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | February 10, 2013, 1:25 pm
  8. Hello Again,

    Just one more point I would like to address. There will be disagreements in the Church I’m sure until Christ returns. We come from different backgrounds, generations, we tend to be at different levels in our growth, we see things through our own unique experiences, as I related to you in my last comment. We are not cookie cutter model Christians. God wants those who think, who believe what He teaches because they have proven to themselves in their heart and internalized the doctrines, because they really believe them, not just because a church leader says it’s so. That is one of the reasons we are in the scattered condition and why so many left the WCG during and after it’s implosion; many hadn’t proved fully what they had been taught. As we all are striving to have the mind of Christ and walk with Him in unity, eventually we will get to the place where we will all agree because we are in agreement with Him. Until that time it is important to be able to disagree agreeably showing courtesy and kindness even to those who vehemently oppose us. When the church leaders/members put others down, use sarcasm, call people names or lump them with negative stereotypes to discredit them, we are not following Christ’s example. The people in the world watch the COG Broadcasts but they also look at the Websites and see what we say and how we treat each other and why we keep splitting. I know this, because I have non church family members who keep tract of what is happening in the churches by what is being said to and about each other and they tell me what they think of it. It doesn’t matter to them what is being said in a Broadcast. We must show the world a better way of disagreeing by exemplifying the Scriptures that do teach us how our behavior ought to be to each other, rather than to be like the people of the world who have strife, contention, a spirit of competition and go to war. I love this song, that we sing in Church and at camp. Its Ross Jutsum’s “By This Shall All Men Know” and the text is based on John 13:34-35.

    A new commandment I will give,
    to magnify the way to live;
    Love each other as you do,
    with the love I’ve given you,

    And by this shall all men know,
    all around the world you’ll show,
    That you are my disciples
    you’re my sister and my brother;
    And by this shall all men know,
    ev’ry friend and ev’ry foe,
    That you are my disciples
    if you love one another.

    Not called to be luke-warm or cold,
    but zealous like the men of old;
    Do the will of God above;
    grow in his eternal love.
    I give my life for all man-kind,
    and call you at this special time;
    Do the work and feed the flock;
    build your house upon the Rock.

    Let us spread the word that the church needs to start showing more love toward one another, not in any way compromising the keeping of God’s commandments just to have unity, but to follow what he says in how we treat each other with our words and attitudes.
    Thank you,
    Constance

    Posted by Constance | February 11, 2013, 6:46 am
  9. Howdy, Ms. Belanger, and thanks for your comment. I trust that this will be the conclusion of our discussion. I apologize for responding so quickly and without thinking my words through too much, but I have a plane to catch in a few hours and much to do.

    While I appreciate what you are saying, I also see no need to back off from confronting forcefully what are destructive accusations and falsehoods when I see them, as I have already pointed out. I tried being pleasant and reasoning with these few individuals concerning their conspiracies–even devoting hours to looking up evidence for them which they were uninterested in looking up themselves–and the result was that they publicly attacked and vilified me and those I respect and love. If you want to preach about fairness, understanding, and kind words, please do so just as energetically on the websites of those who believe as you do on these “tax” matters and not just here. If you are only spending this much time here and not there, then not only are you missing the bigger target, but also it would weaken your testimony to the things you say here.

    I don’t see a lot of websites attacking others for not wanting to prove they are non-tax organizations; rather, the zealous attacking and judgment is coming from those on your side of that fence. Please be consistent and spend every bit as much time as you have here on each one of their sites, as well, even though you agree with them.

    Also, while I don’t want this to go in that direction and would like to close things here, let me say that your comments about not being “cookie cutter” Christians implies more than it should. The fact is that it is God, not His people, who put into place the ministry for the sake of unity amongst His people so that they would not fragment and differ over things like this. Ephesians 4:11-16 cannot be ignored, and too often well-written and nice-sounding statements like yours are used as an excuse for “whatever is right in my own eyes” Christianity. And the disunity that has resulted in the “right in my own eyes” approach is not pleasing to God at all.

    We can disagree with kindness and civility to be sure, but let’s not pretend that God is OK with the “I’m just going to decide for myself” attitude, no matter how nice it is dressed up. He makes it pretty clear in Scripture that He does not. Unity, too, is supposed to be a sign of our Work being God’s (John 17:20-21), and a unified, appointed, authoritative and inspired ministry is a God-ordained, necessary ingredient in that unity, ignored at our spiritual peril. Let’s not be “right in our own eyes” Christians.

    Thanks, again.

    Posted by Wallace G. Smith | February 11, 2013, 7:12 am
  10. Thanks Mr Smith for your blog. I appreciate your casual down-to-earth approach, as always. It’s interesting to read about your blog and perspecitive on how the Church deals with controversial topics, in response to the critisicm you have received. Your comments are uplifting and encouraging, as always! Mr Weston has discussed with me the difficulties of making our programming abide by the law here in Canada, where it is illegal to even quote certain ‘homophobic’ scriptures (especially on TV). We do not back down from preaching on every topic, but we are certainly cautious in how we do it, speaking in a way so that we do not offend, or purposely become known as trouble-makers. If there is a tactful way to get a message across, that is how it is done. Then again….Canadians tend to be rather non-confrontational in the first place :)

    Posted by Rachel Robichaud | February 12, 2013, 10:50 am

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