After months spent in mountains and deserts, examining and highlighting half a dozen new Bibles, the real pattern of “truth” became clear. Now, the question was: what do I do about this?
I returned to the Mojave Desert at Joshua Tree National Park again. I determined to spend a week in prayer and meditation. Each day I walked to quiet places where one can hear the heart beat and blood coursing through the brain. I spent the nights watching the stars begging for direction. What happened?
One voice kept repeating a single Bible verse:
“I believed, therefore, I spoke!”
This was from 2 Corinthians 4:12 where Paul quoted Psalm 116:10. Over and over this text bothered me night and day. I took this as the Lord’s direction. It was obvious. I pictured myself sitting across from the Nazarene and asking him what I was to do. And, his answer was: “What else must I say? I have already said it all to you.” It was all right there in the Gospels and in those writings of his inspired disciples.
How would I do this, in the beginning? I felt a powerful spiritual influence to write one more letter to the GB. I returned to my friend’s computer and wrote the following 19 page letter:
Mark H. Miller
(C)1997. All Rights Reserved.
This letter may not be reproduced
without written permission.
177 Riverside Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92663
2 November 1995
Governing Body – Writing Department
25 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201
GREETINGS in the spirit of 3 John 2!
I have recently returned from another 10 days in the desert wilderness of Mojave, California. As in the many days before – in mountains and deserts - I have spent night and day in deep prayer and meditation and study. On this most recent retreat I have reread the Christian Scriptures in two translations – carefully, methodically – with notations and referencing. This makes five different Bibles completely studied in the space of this summer.
As I have written in the past, this is my 40th year in the truth and my 37th as a professing brother with an “anointing” (1 Jn 2.20, 27) and as my fruitage during 17 years of full-time work bears witness; with many scores of baptized disciples (and, many scores of reactivated publishers) to my credit (I am not boasting for the Lord knows my dispensation of his talents). As I have written: it has been a tormenting three years of “investigation” (1 Pe 1.11) with prayers that amount to blood, sweat, and tears. Now, I am confident that what follows reflects that “spirit of Christ” – the Head of our Congregation of True Saints. Indeed, like a prophet of old I feel impelled by the pressure of the spirit of Jehovah to tell you what follows. I am fearless to “call out full-throated; do not hold back. Raise your voice just like a horn, and tell my people their revolt, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Is 58.1)
I have had a dream-vision (Ac 2.17) of the Lord, Jesus the Nazarene. I say this without shame or fear as if I had any pride which had to be protected. I know some say “knowledge puffs up but love builds up” (1 Co 8.1) – so I have knowledge (thanks to the “God of knowledge” – 1 Sa 2.3) and they have love, and now I will feel that love from such humble hearts.
After touring Europe – particularly Spain – seeking an appropriate place to serve where the need is great – I came to be in Heemstede, Holland. One night I was in great pain and I feared an emergency hospital visit. In desperation I prayed for God’s help: “End the pain!” I had been visited by dream after dream – burdens of the night – Biblical texts and Scriptural verses swimming in and out of my mind. I had prayed for an answer: “God,” I begged, “end my dreams and answer my questions.” Then, in the dark the Nazarene stood – tall and strong – clothed in rough clothe of vanilla, brown and black – oiled and aromatic hair to his shoulders – warm brown eyes – before moving to my side and touching me with his right hand. He comforted me with a gentle touch and said, “Keep doing what you are doing. Keep seeking. Keep asking. Keep knocking. And you will find The Way.” Then he was gone along with my pain. I am as sure of this as the one who asked, “Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” (1 Co 9.1) It matters little what jests may be made of this or what doubts may be expressed – or questions about my sanity or character. I “drew the conclusion” (Ac 16.10) this meant to continue on my course of study, research and meditation. This I continued to do.
Over the next year my answers came in brilliant clarity as I devoted every waking hour to Biblical research. Even at night my sleeping thoughts were of the Scriptures. Much of this I sent you by writing and my computer indicates upwards of 300,000 words forwarded to you. Why me? There are not many men who have the will, the ability, and the time to devote themselves so rigorously to Biblical studies. And now?
Now I have returned from my most recent isolation into the wilderness for private meditations. My conclusion? The force and pressure of the Spirit upon me pushes me to write you just once more. The message under the influence of Christ is this:
WE HAVE SINNED GRIEVOUSLY.
WE HAVE PARTED FROM CHRIST.
WE ARE IN NEED OF SERIOUS REPENTANCE –
EVEN NATIONAL REPENTANCE, AS THE “ISRAEL OF GOD”!
I am just as guilty as you in fostering error – even errors – upon trusting people. I am ashamed of the years I spent to convince people of an error and if there was some way to ask their forgiveness I would. I can only tell you what I now believe and “because I believe, therefore, I speak,” for, “we speak what we know.” (2 Co 4.13; Jn 3.11)
The error(s) began when Barbour convinced Pastor Russell of time chronologies and the doctrine of 1914 and the invisible Parousia came about. The errors continued until one of the most gross and deviate appeared when Judge Rutherford convinced others of a secondary earthly Great Multitude, thus affectedly “shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven” to five million people. (Mt 23.13)
After agonizing prayers and diligent meditations I have come to what I now believe with great confidence is the truth and I present that to you using the Seven Truths of the Lord’s Prayer as an outline:
1. WHO ARE THE SONS OF GOD?
The First Truth or Principle of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Our Father in the heavens.” (Mt 6.9) These opening words of the Nazarene’s model prayer are revolutionary, for they assert – if we utter this prayer – that we are sons, or children of God. Otherwise, no one can begin this prayer with the expression “Our Father.” It is interesting to note that of the 1,000 occurrences of the word “father” in the Hebrew Scriptures only a dozen are not secular or related to human family relationships. Of these dozen the majority deal with the Messiah. But, when it comes to the Christian Scriptures suddenly John is found using the designation “Father” over 150 times. Clearly, the coming of Messiah opened up an opportunity to become a son of God by a spiritual birth from above.
Who – or how many – could thus become “sons (or, children) of God”? Is this limited to a specific number with a secondary class having to wait 1,000 years before thus qualifying to be called sons of God? The Nazarene taught, “As many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become children of God.” (Jn 1.12) If you have “received” Christ you are a child or son of God. This is without limit as to number – or, open-ended and without limitations – otherwise it could not say “as many as” or “all” as this expression hosoi is translated elsewhere.
Paul agrees with the Nazarene in this matter. He writes, (using hosoi) “For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons.” (Ro 8.14) If you are led by the spirit of God, then you are a son of God. Further, Paul writes, “ ... those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8.28) If you love God, you are also called of God. (Compare Js 2.5 and 1 Jn 4.7) Further, “Everyone having faith may have righteousness” (or, justified). (Ro 10.4) If you have faith you have been justified for righteousness. Further, if you “belong to Christ” you have a heavenly reward and are part of the Seed of Abraham. (1 Co 15.23; Ga 3.29) Are you “in union with Christ”? Then you are “a new creation.” (2 Co 5.17) If you “keep on enduring trial” you will have the (heavenly) crown of life. (Js 1.12) Do you “practice righteousness”? Then you are “born from above.” (1 Jn 2.29) Do you “believe Jesus is the Christ”? Then you have been “born from above.” (1 Jn 5.1)
How can one not see the Bible was written to the “saints” who will inherit the heavenly kingdom? How could the Father inspire the Scriptures for this “end of the age” (Mt 24.3; 1 Co 10.11) and ignore five million people? For every letter is addressed to the “saints.” Did God not know five million persons would not be among the saints but is some kind of secondary earthly class of a so-called Great Multitude? Would He not include them in his loving embrace? But, someone will ask: “What about the ‘other sheep’?”
John 10.16 and its mention of “other sheep” could not be pointed to as proof that there is a secondary earthly class of Christians unless the proposition had already been proved. This could not be done by pointing to prophetic parallels or shadows such as Jehu and Jehonadab unless the foundation had been solidly laid.
Is this foundation discovered in the “sheep” and “goats” parable? No. A reading of Matthew 24.45 will show four parables involving two types of Christians living at the time Christ returns in his Parousia: faithful and wicked, wise and foolish, industrious and slack, loving and unloving – all referring to the same class or type of Christians at the time of the Son of Man’s arrival. Nor are the “brothers” mentioned in the parable of the sheep and goats a third class. These are similar to the “domestics” of Matthew 24.45 – that is, the fellow members of the household of faith of the sheep class. Of itself, the parable of the sheep and goats proves nothing regarding a secondary earthly class with paradise hopes. This leaves one “proof text” upon which this whole idea rests: Revelation 7.9-17.
An examination of this vision would show that the “great crowd” are those Christian saints who are “living” (1 Th 4.17; Jn 11.25, 26) at the time of Christ’s return following the Great Tribulation. John is in heaven when he sees them. Consider nearly a dozen reasons why the “great crowd” are Gentile saints with heavenly hopes.
1. The “great crowd” are “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” – the same language referring to the saints in 5.9, 10.
2. The “great crowd” are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb” which places them in heaven. A study of enopion as it is used in Revelation will demonstrate it is virtually always used with reference to heaven. Note that right in the context of the discussion of the “great crowd” the elders in verse 11 are in heaven “before the throne.” The only other mention of a “great crowd” in Revelation is seen at 19.1.
3. The “great crowd” are “dressed in white robes” and this is the Greek stole. Vines, Thayers, Strongs, and Colin Brown all use this word to refer to the garments of kings and priests, arguing that this group belongs to the royal heavenly congregation of saints. If this were not enough 22.14 – in the same language of 7.14 – says that such ones gain entry into the heavenly New Jerusalem. The reference to white garments or robes virtually always applies to the saints in Revelation as a check of a concordance will show.
4. The “great crowd” hold “palm branches” strongly suggesting they are spiritual Jews – or, saints – assembled at a heavenly Festival of Booths or Ingathering.
5. The “great crowd” “come out of the great tribulation” and thus must be the same as “your people” of Daniel 12.1 and the “elect” of Matthew 24.21, 22, 31. “The great tribulation” is a 3 1/2 period of affliction and persecution visited upon the “living” saints by the Beast as Daniel 7.25 and 12.7 show. (1 Th 4.17; Re 11.2; 12.14, 17; 13.5-7; Lk 21.24) The length of the “appointed times of the Gentiles” is 3 1/2, not seven. (Lk 21.24; Dn 12.7; Re 11.2) This is further demonstrated in the small scale, original fulfillment upon the fleshly people of God from 66 to 70 – exactly 3 1/3 years as reported by Josephus. It is interesting that John is asked about “the great crowd” and not about the 144,000 in chapter 7. One would think his interest would be peaked by the vision of the 144,000 – unless he knew who this group was, whereas he does not understand who the “great crowd” are.
6. The “great crowd” “render sacred service day and night” and this is an expression very much associated with the Jews and temple work. (Le 8.35; Lk 2.37; Re 4.8; Ac 24.14)
7. The “great crowd” are seen “in his temple” and thus must be in heaven. In Revelation the “temple” and related matters are always seen in heaven. (3.12; 11.1, 2, 19; 14.15, 17) The Greek word here is naos as pointed out in the Revelation Climax book, page 124, paragraph 14. How one could make the editorial error regarding this word in that citation is surprising; for any check of Strongs, Vines, Thayers, or Colin Brown will show naos is strictly related to the sanctuary proper with its two holy compartments. Had the heavenly voice used heiron instead it would have made a plausible argument. (Note: heiron is the word used of Jesus in the Gospels and the apostles in Acts when their activity takes them into the “temple” area.)
But, naos is used with care to show where the “great crowd” actually stand – in heaven. The argument that the “great crowd” are in the Court of the Gentiles or the temple “courtyard” is without foundation. In Revelation itself the word “courtyard” appears but once in 11.2 and there it is clearly “outside the temple.”
8. God “spreads his tent over” the “great crowd.” Colin Brown shows this to mean God has taken up protective heavenly residence with this group. The need for this is because of their deliverance out of the Great Affliction by being “snatched” into heaven as those “living” saints at the time of Christ’s return or arrival. (1 Th 4.17)
9. Isaiah 49.10 is quoted and applied to the “great crowd.” An examination of this verse and its context – very pastoral and sheeplike – will show two things: a) the Gentile “other sheep” (Jn 10.16; Is 56.8; Mt 10.6; 15.24) as God’s Elect are under discussion and this is the same ethnic group Paul mentions in Ephesians 2.12, 13 who come from “far off” as members of the saintly Temple. (Ep 2.19-22) b) Paul happens to quote from this context when he references Isaiah 49.8 (in the same paragraph of the NWT) and applies it to the Corinthian Gentile saints at 2 Corinthians 6.2. The use of this allusion to Isaiah makes the bias in favor of Gentile saints and not a non-saintly secondary group with a earthly hope.
10. The “great crowd” are “guided to fountains of waters of life” (GRK pegas) an expression highly reminiscent of the “fountains” in the LXX of Genesis 2 of which Jesus himself refers when speaking of the heavenly “paradise of God” at 2.7.
11. “God will wipe out of every tear from their eyes” – that is, the eyes of the “great crowd.” This is a clear allusion to Isaiah 25.8. At first one may be tempted to apply this to the earth. But that is not how Paul applies it under inspiration at 1 Corinthians 15.54! His use of Isaiah 25.8 is limited to the gaining of immortality in the heavenly kingdom, something strictly applied to the saints.
Does the parallel occurrence at 21.3 apply to the earthly millions who will live under Messiah’s rule? It would not appear so upon close examination. In 21.3 God “tents” (GRK skene as at 7.15) with “men” (see KIT literal) and these are “his people.” The language of verse 3 is straight out of Leviticus 26.12 and Ezekiel 37.27 (Compare 2 Co 8.16; He 8.10) which has confined application to the Israel of God with its body of saints – Jew and Gentile. Now, it is these “people” who have Isaiah 25.8 applied to them; and, Paul gives the inspired application at 1 Corinthians 15.54 to those gaining immorality within the New Jerusalem. So, it is more likely that 21.3, 4 has a much closer tie to the Christian body of saints who gain heavenly life, rather than earth’s teeming millions living in Paradise.
This examination of 7.9-17 argues strictly for an application to those “saints” alive when Christ returns and who are delivered as a body from the Great Affliction at the end of 3 1/2 years of harassment and persecution. Thus, “the great crowd” is precisely the same as “we the living” of 1 Thessalonians 4.17. (Jn 11.25, 26) Or, “the Elect” of Matthew 24.20, 21, 29. Or, the “changed” of 1 Corinthians 15.51, 52.
If the “great crowd” were some kind of secondary earthly class associated with the saints – let us say five million accompanying a small group of 8,000 – why is there a complete silence elsewhere in Revelation regarding such a group. When opportunity is before John or the apocalyptic angel to mention such an enormous group – compared to the saints – why is there such silence? For example, in 12.10 it is “our brothers” who come off victorious against Satan? Why not mention the multitude of so-called Other Sheep also? Are they not victorious? And, when Satan – in his rage – “went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus” why does he not also wage war against five million associated members? Are they not also observing the commandments of God and have the work of witnessing? Indeed, in nearly every chapter of Revelation there is such an opportunity and it is completely missed by the angel and John. Could it be there is no such group?
Additionally, such opportunities exist in Jesus’ words and the letters of the apostles. But, not once is there a single reference or allusion to such a secondary group of Christians. (Mt 24.20, 21) There is only “one hope” (Ep 4.4; 1.3, 4; 2.6) among all true Christians and that hope is heavenly.
Thus, on the matter of this first principle of the Nazarene in the Lord’s Prayer, only those Christians who are “born from above” may address God as “Father” in all truth and sincerity. (Compare Ro 8.14-7 and 1 Jn 3.2, 3)
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF GOD’S NAME
The Second Principle or Truth: God is not without a name and that is Yehowah (or, European, Jehovah). This name occurs nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. It was used in the words o Moses and the Prophets and appears in every day language. There is no question the Name must be held sacred and all that the Name stands for or characterizes is to be treated as Holy.
However, with the coming of Messiah there is a strong shift in emphasis according to the purpose of God. Another name takes front and center and by God’s own will is to be “honored even as the Father is honored.” (Jn 5.23; Ph 2.9, 10) Whereas Isaiah uses the Name 512 times, John in all of his writings uses it only 9 times. (All in quotations) It is in John that the Nazarene prays, “I have made your Name known to the men you gave me.” (17.6) In this prayer Jesus mentions the “name” 4 times but never makes use of Jehovah when clear opportunity is present. Indeed, in can be emphatically stated that Jesus never used the divine name outside of a quotation from the Hebrew Scriptures. When we come to the last apostolic letters by the year 100 it is completely missing from John’s epistles.
Does this reflect the “pure language” which should obtain among modern day saints? It would seem so. It has pleased God to do things in this manner and still ultimately sanctify his Great Name by means of His Son. It is true the Gentile believers were a “people for His Name” (Ac 15.14-17) but no where is “Jehovah” used as part of an identifying designation for early Christians. They could not at all be classed as Jehovists in this strict sense. They were identified by the name of Jesus as “Christians.” (Ac 11.26; 26.28; 1 Pe 4.16) Until God in his wisdom wishes to “divinely style” (Ac 11.26 KIT) another name to identify His saints, they should be known simply as Christians. Jesus foretold his Elect would be hated on “account of my name” (Mt 24.9) and not his Father’s name. Such a terrible tribulation which will occur during the Great Affliction will be on behalf of the name Jesus and not Jehovah.
The over emphasis of Jehovah has led to the common belief that we do not believe in Jesus. An erroneous perception, true, but one nevertheless fostered by the replacement of Jesus with Jehovah as the prime emphasis – something the apostolic writings did not do. It turns out to be the other way round and such should still be the case in the “pure language” of God’s people today. (Zp 3.9)
3. WHAT IS THE “KINGDOM” AND WHEN WILL IT “COME”?
The Third Principle or Truth of the Nazarene is the “mystery” regarding the “kingdom.” The word “kingdom” appears many dozens of times in the word of the Nazarene. A study of a concordance will locate these. But, one cannot have a “kingdom” without a “king” and it is God’s good will to appoint his Only Son to such a position. When did the Father do this?
The Christian Scriptures are abundantly clear – in direct reference and in quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures – that this enthronement took place when Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at God’s right hand. (Mt 22.44; 26.64; Mk 12.36; 14.62; Lk 20.42; 26.69; Ac 2.33, 34; 5.31; 7.55, 56; 8.34; Ep 1.20; Co 3.1; He 3.13; 8.1; 10.12; 12.2; 1 Pe 3.22; Re 3.21) These texts listed in the footnote all combine in a conflate two texts: Psalm 110.1 and Daniel 7.13. Paul also comments on this combination in 1 Corinthians 15.25 – “Christ must rule (compare “rule” with “wait” in He 10.12, 13) until God has put all enemies under his feet” – and Hebrews 2.8, 9 – “For in that God subjected all things to him he left nothing that is not subject to him. Now, though, we do not yet see all things in subjection to him but we behold Jesus crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death.” Christ does not ascend to heaven “waiting” to rule. He ascends to heaven to begin his rule and then he waits until all things are under his dominion. How much power does he receive when he is enthroned in heaven upon his ascension? Read Ephesians 1.20-23 and see. It could hardly be more all-encompassing or total than what is described there.
That Christ begins his rule upon his heavenly ascension in 33 A.D. is verified by considering Peter’s use of the Second Psalm at Acts 4.25-27 when he quotes and gives strict and limited application of Psalm 2.1, 2 to the year 33. A further part of this context in Psalm 2, verses 4-6 has Jehovah responding to the Gentile attack on Messiah in 33 with the words, “At that time (33 AD) Jehovah will speak to them in his anger: ‘I have installed my king upon Zion.’” This makes it clear the establishment of Christ’s kingdom begins when he ascends to heaven in 33 AD and not some date far into the future by 19 centuries.
Additionally, a consideration of Daniel 7.13 places the beginning of Messiah’s rule in the year 33 AD. This famous verse reads: “With the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming, and to the Ancient of Days he gained access and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him were given rulership and dignity and kingdom.” One may ask: when is it the Son of man comes on clouds – to whom or where does he come? Clearly he ascends to heaven in clouds to appear before God as described in Acts 1.6-11 and thus Christ the Son of Man began to rule as Daniel 7.13 foretold upon his ascension in the year 33 AD. But, there may well be two aspects to this matter.
When one examines Daniel 7 carefully a puzzling matter appears. After the vision of the four beasts, Daniel sees another vision in verse 9-14 of Messiah’s ascension to heavenly rulership. Then, Daniel is “distressed” and approaches the visionary angel for more “reliable information.” The angel gives a brief synopses in verses 17, 18 but in these passages he does not mention the Son of man. Rather, he mentions “saints of the Most High will receive the Kingdom.” Why would the angel do this when the subject in verse 13 is a singular human being, or, a Son of Man? Now suddenly a corporate body is transposed for the single person. This is repeated in verse 22 when “the definite time arrived that the saints took possession of the kingdom.” (see also verse 27) This saintly possession or inheritance (1 Co 15.50) could only happen upon the promised return of Christ when he comes to gather home his Elect. (Mt 24.30; 2 Th 2.1) Thus, we can look at these two aspects or phases of Daniel 7.13 and the kingdom in this manner: in the first aspect the Son of man ascends in the atmospheric clouds alone to enter the throne room of the Almighty as describe in Revelation chapter 5. He then begins his rule with the limited subjects of his own Church. (Co 1.13) But, Christ promised to return at John 14.1-3 and the subject of his Second Coming or Arrival – his Parousia or Presence – is a major theme in virtually all of the apostolic letters.
The Son of God once existed in heaven. He came to earth as sent by the Father. He promised to come back with clouds to gather his followers. He ascended or returned to heaven in clouds the first time in 33 AD (the first aspect or phase “a”). He will return (Ac 3.20, 21) as promised, gather his saints and for the second time ascend to heaven in clouds – but this time with the whole body of the “people who are the saints of the Most High” (Dn 7.27) – including “the great crowd” of Revelation 7.9-17. This will mark a special phase (aspect or phase “b”) of his rule when the complete body of the Church is in heaven to begin the 1,000-year reign described in Revelation chapter 20.
So, on the one hand Jesus could tell the Jewish high priest, “You will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt 26.64) – meaning this priest would not die before Daniel 7.13 was actually fulfilled – and at the same time speak of a yet future moment when, “the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mt 24.30) There are the two aspects here. This subtle manner of Daniel 7.13-27 – with t aspects – is also used by Jesus himself in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 when he answers the question of the apostles with two phases or aspects.
In summary on this point: Christ begins or takes up full and complete rulership with all the authority Ephesians 1.20-23 describes in the year 33 AD. From then on to wait – while he rules over the domain of his Church – until that moment following the Great Tribulation when he returns to gather his saints in heavenly assembly. In this manner, “Thy kingdom come.” (Mt 24.29-31; Mk 13.24-27; Lk 21.25-28; 2 Th 2.1; 1 Th 4.15-17; 1 Co 15.50-52; Jn 11.25, 26)
However, while looking at this subject of the kingdom it is good to note these two aspects in another matter. Jesus uses the word “kingdom” in two primary ways: the Son’s kingdom and the Father’s kingdom. (Mt 13.41, 43) In his parables regarding “the mysteries of the kingdom of the heaven” (Mt 13.11) he compares his kingdom to a mustard grain, to leaven, to a field sown with weeds and wheat, and to a dragnet. What does he mean in these parables by “kingdom of the heavens”? Since this kingdom actually has within it “weeds” (Mt 13.38) and “persons doing lawlessness” (Mt 13.41) as well as “wicked” (Mt 13.49) and “unsuitable ones” (Mt 13.48), this “kingdom” is clearly the realm of professing Christians – the Church – or Christendom (Christ’s kingdom) in which all – ALL – Christians have existed throughout the centuries up to this moment. Judging from the parable of the sower in the field, the wheat and weeds will dwell together until the “harvest” – that moment of judgment when Christ returns to gather his Elect into heavenly assembly.
This field over-run with weeds – this dragnet in the sea – this fermented loaf of bread – is now the Realm of Heaven over which Christ holds sway – “though, now, we do not see all things subject to him” (He 2.8). All – all – professing Christians are within this. None have yet been separated out into a private and elitist group of purified Christians! No matter where one goes, one will find ferment and weeds.
In the parable of the “leaven” Jesus is careful to mention “three” flour measures that “a woman” (possibly indicating some female influence on the body of Christian men – Re 2.20) took and mixed until the whole was fermented. Check this word “leaven” and see that Jesus uses it only with reference to three groups: Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians. (Mt 16.6, 11, 12; Mk 8.15; Lk 12.1; 1 Co 5.6-8) These three well reflect major attitudes which have corrupted every Christian sect among the thousands that make up the Realm of Heaven. None are exempt. The Pharisees represent such a disposition of extreme conservatism with its self-righteous and judgmental criticism; a lover of rules and more rules; an elitist attitude of superiority which wishes to form a select and holier group among the multitude of lesser persons. The Sadducees, a liberal attitude – with a token front – doubting many things spiritual; a physical group operating with political ambitions – and the jealousies and strife which attend it – who function as lords over the flock. The clergy attitude personified. Few Christian groups are without this clergy-laity distinction – even some who decry such a power structure but adopt the same attitudes under deceptive titles. This all is a deplorable state; but, one the Lord foreknew and predicted in his parables. (Compare also Mt 7.21-23) His inspired apostles which followed also wrote of these conditions within “the kingdom of the heavens” and the ultimate “falling away” or “apostasy.” (Mt 13.24-30, 36-43; Ac 20.29, 30; 1 Co 1.10; 11.19; 2 Co 11.13-15; Ph 1.15-18; 2 Th 2.3-12; 1 Tm 4.1-3; 2 Tm 3.1-5; 2 Pe 2.1-22; 1 Jn 2.18-26; Jude 4-23) What then shall we say about all of this?
Weeds infest every corner of this fermented “kingdom of the heavens” and there remain only a “few” (Re 3.4) among the “wheat” – no matter where they may be scattered in Christendom – whether Jehovah’s Witnesses – whether Baptists – whether Mormons – whether Catholics – etc., etc., etc. Of course, each “sect” (1 Co 11.19) claims for itself an original purity as if it were the only true religion. The “only true religion” is an abstraction which exists among those few and scattered “wheat” who continue in the primary commandment: faith in the Son of God and love of others, including one’s enemies. (1 Jn 3.23; Lk 6.32-36) Faith and love. Faith and love are the defining elements that mark the wheat no matter where they may be. This “faith” will move one to “speak” (2 Co 4.12, 13); and, this “love” will move one to positive action, seeking the highest good of others. (1 Co 13.4-7; Ro 12.17-21) There are not many of these kind of people around. But they are there and of one thing we can be confident: “The Lord knows those who belong to Him.” (2 Tm 2.19)
We wait for the Son from heaven – for he will come in great glory with his angels and separate these two groups. That is the lesson of his parables from Matthew 24.45 to 25.46. There will be faithful slaves, wise virgins, talented laborers, and sheeplike righteous – all among the saints at the moment of Christ’s revelation and manifestation. It is then “we will all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” (1 Co 4.4, 5; 2 Co 5.10)
On this later mater – the return of Christ – it is fitting to consider two questions: 1) the manner of our Lord’s return; and, 2) the time of it. Simply put, we ask: does Jesus return visibly or invisibly? The fact Jesus was “put to death in the flesh and made alive in the spirit”(1 Pe 3.18) and sacrificed his fleshly or physical body once for all time (1 Co 15.46, 47, 50; He 9.11, 12, 26) does not mean he will not come in some manner appearing a) to his disciples; and, b) to the world. After all Jesus made it very clear, “They will see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mk 13.26; Mt 24.30; Lk 21.27) That John understood this, he writes: “Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him (the Jews).” (Re 1.7) This view of the returning Christ will not be a sight of his sacrificed body – but in some manner God will reveal or manifest him to the entire planet. It is interesting to note Paul’s conviction at 1 Corinthians 9.1 and 15.8 and then read the several accounts in Acts. Paul only saw a blinding light and heard a voice (Ac 9.3-7; 22.6-11; 26.12-18) – and to Paul this was the same as “seeing” the Lord.
That the disciples living at the time of Jesus’ return could expect to literally see the Son of man is shown by Hebrews 9.28 and 1 John 3.2, “He will be made visible to the ones earnestly awaiting him. ... When he is made manifest we shall see him just as he is.” (KIT literal) Acts 1.6-11 makes this clearly understandable and no one can read this without realizing that the disciples would have expected a visible Christ to return to gather them home.
How this “sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven” (Mt 24.30) is unknown but the results will be the same as if “seeing” the Arrival of the King. Since Christ’s parousia (Arrival) follows the tribulation and the celestial darkness, any such “sign” appearing in heaven (where lightning is seen and where clouds float) will be impressive indeed. Also, it seems, quite fitting.
Does a discussion of the Greek word parousia change matters? Not in the slightest. It is simple: Jesus was on earth once and then he left. He promised to return. When he left he was absent. When he returns he will be present with his saints. This is his parousia or “arrival.” The word parousia is used only three times by Jesus and only in Matthew. But, the word group “come” and “arrive” mean the same thing; and, so commentaries on the word show the same. He comes to be present with his saints.
Paul includes the two – the parousia and the gathering – in one breath at 2 Thessalonians 2.1. Additionally, the other uses by Paul often include the literal phrase “in the presence of” as the KIT literally has it in 1 Corinthians 15.23, 1 Thessalonians 2.19, and 3.13. (See also 1 John 2.29 in KIT literal)
The other question: Can we know the time of Christ’s parousia or arrival? This is made abundantly clear by Jesus himself. Read Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. How can anyone not see that it is impossible to work out the date of Christ’s parousia. Jesus even warns in Luke 21.8 (in the context of the question regarding his parousia): “Look out that you are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying ... ‘The due time has approached.’ DO NOT GO AFTER THEM.” This is exactly what brother Russell did when he went after Barbour. And, this was his error.
1914 and Daniel chapter 4? Nine times the word “interpretation” occurs in the fourth chapter of Daniel. It ought to be clear that the tree vision was fulfilled completely upon Nebuchadnezzar and there is no underlying secondary meaning or interpretation. This holds true in the face of a complete absence of any allusions to or quotations of this portion in the Christian Scriptures. The “time of the Gentiles” at Luke 21.24 are 3 1/2 and not seven. Two texts prove that: Daniel 12.1, 7 and Revelation 11.2. An adjustment in the understanding of the word “generation” will not stave off the error of 1914. 1914 is not consistent with what has gone above on the subject of the parousia of Christ. It is not consistent with the warning of Jesus, “No man knows the day and hour.” If you have the “day and hour” – you have the year.
Regarding the “kingdom” there is one final thing: the first resurrection and rapture. There are really only two texts upon which to draw conclusions. They are 1 Corinthians 15.50-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17. Both are given as under special revelation in a mystery. But, Jesus may have hinted at this in John 11.25, 26: “He that believes in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living (1 Th 4.16) and believes in me will never die at all.” Who are the “living” who will never die? Paul’s texts mentioned above answer this.
1 Corinthians 15.50-52 literally reads: “We shall not all die, but we shall be changed. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised, and we will be changed.” The dangling “we” can be confusing. It could mean “we” of those who are not to die, that is “the living” of Jesus’ remark. So it could read, “We of those living – who have not died – will be changed.” So there are two groups here: 1) the dead who are raised; and, 2) the living who are changed. (NOTE: there is an obvious exception to the principle of 1 Co 15.36)
Any confusion on this text is corrected by 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 for it serves as a commentary on the Corinthian verses. In 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 there are two groups – as in John 11.25, 26 – the dead and the living. (2 Tm 4.1 etc.) Paul makes it clear the dead rise first; but, right after them – “at the same time” (hama) – “the living” are “caught away.” This is literally “snatched” and is from the word harpagesometha which means to “snatch” quickly or violently as it is in Jude 23. It is similar to the Latin rapere (rape) which means to “snatch violently.” From rapere is drawn “rapture.”
The picture presented by these two texts is this: upon the return of Christ in a literal descent (Ac 3.20, 21) from heaven the dead saints will be raised in the first resurrection and this is followed in “uncut-time” (1 Co 15.52 KIT literal) by the snatching away or rapture of the living saints who have just come out of the great tribulation. This is all future. No one has been resurrect yet – all wait in Hades for that “day and hour” of Christ’s second parousia with his saints.
4. WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR THE EARTH?
The Fourth Principle or Truth in the Lord’s Prayer regards the will of God for the earth. There is no argument that God’s original purpose was for an Edenic global paradise. This is a given. Acts 17.30 and 24.15 suggest a resurrection of virtually all humankind. (1 Tm 2.4-6) It is during the 1,000-year reign of Christ and the glorified saints – who serve as kings, priests and judges (Re 1.6; 5.9, 10; 20.4-6; 1 Co 4.8) – that the world will be judged (1 Co 6.2) in conditions and circumstances conducive to conformity with righteousness. (2 Pe 3.13)
So, we know what will happen to mankind in general. But, what about those six billion persons living today? Are they doomed if they do not respond to the gospel? 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 would suggest those who cause tribulation on the saints are in great danger. Also, those who are living lives of rank corruption are liable to judgment of God. (Ro 1.24-32; 2.5-11, 15, 16; 3.6) A large portion of mankind has lived in ignorance (Ac 17.30) and has never had an opportunity to understand the will of God without the corruption and distortion of false religion or the social and peer pressure of an immoral society.
The majority of earth’s population today has never had a fair and honest opportunity at the gospel. One has only to travel to India with its one billion and China with its one billion to see two thirds of the earth living in darkness. God knows the heart and there is obviously no point in resurrecting or protecting for survival a person who will simply never learn righteousness. (Ec 8.12; Is 26.10)
Does the parable of the sheep and goat classify all mankind into two groups: one righteous destined for life and one wicked headed for everlasting destruction. (Mt 25.31-46) Not necessarily. Verse 31 has Jesus returning in glory with the angels. This is interesting. For if the saints were in heaven – even a large portion, but not all (say from 1918 onward) – then it seems unusual that this saintly group (who will be judges) are not included when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne. Can this mean verse 31 is talking about that moment just at the end of the Great Affliction upon the saints but before the resurrection and rapture?
Who, then, are the nations or Gentiles the Son separates like sheep and goats? The three parables which had preceded from Matthew 24.45 all discuss two groups: good and bad. All these apply to the saints at that time when the Lord returns or arrives. A faithful slave versus a wicked slave. Five wise virgins versus five foolish virgins. Those who used their talents and those who did not. To be consistent, the bias would seem to lean toward the sheep being the same as the faithful slaves upon the master’s return; or the five wise virgins; or, those who productively used their talents.
Who are the “brothers” of the king? A third group as a touchstone upon whom the others are judged? Jesus said, “Who is my brother but the one who does the will of God?” Likely, all this is a way of saying: how you treated your fellow “domestics” (Mt 24.45) in the household of faith is how you will be judged. When all is said and done no religious exterior will impress the King. It is basic human decency and kindness to one’s fellows that will result in a judgment of “righteous.” This is a parable illustrating the commandment of Matthew 7.2 and Luke 6.38. So, the “sheep” are the same as “the great crowd” – who are the same as “we the living” at 1 Thessalonians 4.17.
This is confirmed by the words of the King, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” The expression “inherit the kingdom” is too similar to Daniel 7.18, 22, 27 and 1 Corinthians 15.50 to be coincidental. And, the expression “from the founding of the world” too similar to Ephesians 1.4. The “sheep” are those Gentile saints who have been faithful and wise slaves up until the moment of Christ’s return in glory. So, the sheep and goats parable cannot be used to prove a last and final judgment for every human being living on earth at the time of Christ’s return.
Certainly there will be mass destruction when Babylon falls and at Armageddon. (Re chs 16-19) But, there may also be opportunity for repentance and survival by millions. (Re 7.1-3; 9.4, 14, 15 – note the “one-third” – 11.13)
God’s grand purpose will be realized in a global paradise filled with righteous human beings living eternally in a spiritual and physical Eden.
5. WHAT DID JESUS TEACH ABOUT MATERIALISM?
The Fifth Principle or Truth of the Nazarene is what he had to teach about materialism and possessions. in the Lord’s Prayer he encourages a simple life content with “daily bread.” If one is ignorant of Jesus’ teachings on possessions one has only to read the Gospel of Luke from chapter 4 through 20. In these chapters look for key words, such as: rich(es), poor, money, things, possessions, houses, land, and property. Does it not become clear that Jesus encouraged a spiritual life of simplicity – if not the complete divestiture of property?
When we examine this it is clear how Jesus lived his own life. He was no hypocrite who encouraged sacrifice on the part of his followers but who meanwhile lived in luxury. How did his own disciples respond to his example and teachings. (Mt 8.20; Lk 9.58; Mt 13.44-46; Lk 12.32, 33) Note Luke 18.28 and you have your answer. Further, the examples in Acts 2.44, 45; 4.32, 34-37 and 2 Corinthians 8.12-15 would argue for a communal equality among Christians. Indeed, there are only two instances of saving in the Christian letters and both deal with contributions or giving to others. (1 Co 16.2; Ep 4.28) Though “rich” Christians are mentioned, it is either not in a good light as in James or in the context of “orders” as to what to do with their wealth. (1 Tm 6.6-19; Js 2.1-6; 5.1-6)
If Jesus Christ made an inspection as he does among the seven lampstands of Revelation what would be his judgment of the professed people of Jehovah regarding materialism? What responsibility do modern shepherds have as role models and examples in avoiding the “love of money”? (1 Tm 3.3)
6. ARE YOU A FORGIVING PERSON?
The Sixth Principle or Truth of the Nazarene requires forgiveness of one’s fellows if one will find forgiveness from God. Forgiveness is at the very root of love for it reflects a kind and non-judgmental attitude toward others. This was a terrible problem among the Jews during Jesus’ time, just as it is among the people of God today.
There is a strong tendency not only unforgiving in individual personal matters, but also in larger area of judging those who do not share our religious and spiritual views. Since we all find ourselves in this field with so many weeds – within the fermented “whole” – it behooves us not to become so judgmental of others. It is true, many hold a belief in a trinity, or hell-fire. And this is sad from the standpoint of those who have seen the truth on these matters. But, there are many such Trinitarians who have faith in God and Christ and who maintain high moral standards and at the same time are decent to their fellows. I doubt if God will be fooled by the title “Jehovah’s Witnesses” if some elders and others act in totally unloving ways while claiming to hold all truth in pristine clarity. Not only this, but they persist in condemning anyone who is not of their religion, instead of having the attitude of Luke 6.32-36. Christ will judge these matters when he comes in his glory.
7. DELIVERANCE FROM THE WICKED ONE.
The Seventh Principle or truth taught in the Lord’s prayer is an appeal to be protected from temptation (1 Co 10.12, 13; Js 1.2-15) and delivered from the wicked one, Satan. The is an enemy of God “who walks about like a roaring lion seeking to devour” any of the Elect. (1 Pe 5.8) This presents a constant battle. (Ep 6.12-17) Not only are there individual and personal struggles (Ro 7.13-25) but there is that “warfare” (2 Co 10.3-6) within the Sower’s field – within the dragnet in the sea – within the fermented whole. (Mt 13.24-50)
Judging from these parables of the Master and the warnings of Paul, Peter, and Jude, even the professed people of Jehovah are overcome by weeds as “oppressive wolves” (Ac 20.29, 30; 2 Co 11.14, 15) and “ministers of Satan” have infiltrated to corrupt the truths of Jesus’ teaching and the pure doctrine of the apostles. If even a portion of what is presented in these pages is correct there is great ferment even among Jehovah’s people.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE, THEN?
I call on you like a prophet of God from the wilderness: each one of you of the Governing Body, stop your corporate work for two weeks – hand it to the “Given Ones” – and with your Bible, enclose yourselves in your individual rooms to meditate and study all of these matters along with intense prayers. If this is the only ark of survival then there must be a resounding return to the true God and the doctrine of Christ. (2 Jn 9, 10)
I call on you to reexamine these teachings and once affirming these to arrange for a festival of repentance in which like Daniel and Nehemiah you call all God’s people to a national readjustment.
I call on you members of the Governing Body to boldly demonstrate your humility and fearlessly tell five million people you were mistaken in some areas and are now willing to rectify these errors in a demonstration of your repentance.
This is far-reaching with unquestionably tremendous impact. But, I tell you with all the sincerity and courage I possess, I feel the pressure of the spirit of Christ as Head of the true Church, that we bear a fearsome responsibility for teaching things in error. I am as guilty as you. I brought so many people to the “truth” – in three countries. So many have looked up to me and respect me – and still do.
How have I behaved? I have been loyal to a fault. I am guileless and without deceit. For three years I have kept this to myself. Now, in the last six months I have spoken to four confidants. Even when asked questions I have never failed to direct matters to the publications. But now, my conscience under the pressure of the holy spirit, moves me to speak only that which I know to be true. “We speak what we know ... and we speak because we believe.” (Jn 3.11; 2 Co 4.12, 13
I believe two months – until January 5, 1996 – is long enough to expect an adequate response from you. I sincerely want to believe the spirit will direct you men and if given time you will come to know what is contained herein to be true. You will take the proper stand with great humility no matter the outcome. I will wait for two months and no longer. Stop what you are doing and meditate on these matters – for the sake of your own standing before God.
Is this a letter of disassociation? Absolutely not, for I still believe things can be turned around. Are the five million souls who followed us doomed? I do not believe so. We are the ones in danger – we teachers of truth. (Js 3.1, 2) Christ will judge at his Manifestation and Revelation those secrets of the heart and those who are wheat among our five million will be saved for whatever grand purpose God has for them – heaven or earth.
However, if your response is not the humble one I expect, I will not hesitate to answer anyone’s questions according to the truth I believe. I want to remain in this part of the Sower’s “field.” But, whether I do or not will be up to you. I do not fear what men can do to me. I fear Christ and his Father, Almighty God. Should you no longer want me in your midst and “unchurch” me I will accept your rejection of me and then continue to obey my Lord and work to fulfill the King’s commission to the best of my ability. I have great faith and confidence in our Lord and his God, Jehovah.
At this moment I reside in the southern California area but my cards are in Vera, Spain (English Group) where I still am on list as an elder and publisher. I have not reported in two months though I have many hours of witnessing. This also is a matter of conscience. I have not tried to locate with any particular congregation because those I have inspected are rife with lovers of money, slanderous and domineering women, and politically ambitious men who allow their jealousies to control them. I associate with only a few though I am well known as an extremely hospitable person who has spent much of my money to care and feed others. I am now very poor and must depend on the kindness of others as I am medically disabled. I continue to make shepherding visits, particularly on elderly anointed ones with whom I do not discuss any of the matters in this letter. Only four people are aware of my feelings and given that I have contained this for three years I do not believe that can be construed as trying to develop any kind of “following.”
I conclude with prayers for you as I do all my brothers – but especially for you, men I have respect for many years. I have not, nor ever will, speak evil of you. If you feel I must go my way and you yours and we part as gentlemen with a handshake as brother Russell said – then, Amen. On with our work in this field of weeds, striving to strengthen every gentle stalk of wheat so it may be fit for its place in the glorious Kingdom of the Father – where we will shine as brilliantly as the sun by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
[© 1997. All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reprinted in any manner without the written permission of the author.]
cc: Desk ET (end letter)
You will note I asked for a “response” within two months, by January 5, 1996 after which I must obey that inner urging to do exactly what Paul said faith would result in: speech. I determined not to discuss this letter with anyone for that period.
During this two month period there were several elders who wanted to help me. I met with a former Gilead graduate from Holland, George Weygan, and another old friend from the Writing Department, Timothy Wilson. I would only share with them that I had deep-seated problems that were serious enough to give me cause for doubt. If there were legitimate answers to my questions, Brooklyn would have them. I said I trusted the GB to do so. I have no doubt that my friends thought the GB could clarify the matters. I told them after January 5 I would send them a copy of my letter if they wanted it. They assured me they did. The Gilead graduate told me: “Don’t you realize that many JWs are just looking for an excuse to quit?” I responded: “Is God fooled by this?”
There were numerous elders and others who were trying to get hold of me regarding rumors spreading about apostasy. I refused to return their calls because in no way did I want to hurt their feelings or harm their faith. I think I went out of my way to not behave as an “apostate.”
Other elders tried to reach me through close friends. Some of these admitted hearing and repeating the rumors I had already been disfellowshipped. Another called me, a man I had studied with and “brought into the truth.” He accused my daughter-in-law and her sister of having started the rumor at an assembly.
Not only were rumors spreading but one particular elder, my brother-in-law was now “stalking” me by parking his vehicle nearby an apartment I used. He had been seen parking by two others, Liz and Pete Soto, waiting in this location and stalking the residence. I had already been judged, sentenced and executed by the JW slander-mill. I became very concerned about a few close friends who might come under criticism for just being seen with me. This began to happen with one family who was accused of harboring a child-molester! The whole affair was completely out of control.
I did know how the “organization operated” and if it could be shown I had spoken to another about these matters I could be disfellowshipped. At this time I had no idea I could be excommunicated for even asking the wrong questions, or expressing a thought at variance with Brooklyn, to Brooklyn.
Two months passed without any “response” to my letter. My faith in the Watchtower version of the “faithful and discreet slave class” was now completely shattered. I determined to send a copy of my letter to the GB to about a dozen family members and friends: my wife, my sons, two brother-in-laws, my mother, my sister, and the rest close friends. This group was about equally divided. I sent the copy of the GB letter sealed in a separate envelope along with a cover letter. This is the cover letter which cautions reading the enclosed envelope.
Had I wanted to spread this idea, I would have sent it, or something else, to the scores of people I had studied with, or to many congregation elders who respected me. I would have privately met and had a Biblical debate with friends or family to convince them.
I have no idea how many of those who received the letter actually read it. I know some did not. Those who did read it would be responsible to “report wrongdoing” on my part. Whether any did I do not know. I knew my days were numbered. Had I written a letter of disassociation it would have forced some close friends and family to openly reject me or suffer excommunication themselves. I knew they were not prepared for such an event. I had determined never to discuss my beliefs unless someone was sincere and not trying to entrap me.
When answering questions I employed the same method. I never answered a question. I would supply a list of texts that would answer the question. There were several people who did ask me these questions. I met with pioneers and elders who had raised questions and who knew I had been accused in the JW slander-mill. They demonstrated enough sincerity that I agreed to answer any questions they had. I knew this deviation on my part would meet with great sadness and much confusion. This pained me greatly but there was nothing for it but to continue on the course now before me.
I had noticed the reactions of people varied when they discovered the JW error. Some were extremely embittered that the religion they had trusted was wrong. Some of these wanted to show up at JW conventions wearing placards saying “RELIGION IS A SNARE AND A RACKET,” just as JWs had done years before. Others embarked onto the Internet with considerable hate. Still others wanted to throw the baby out with the wash: if JWs are wrong, then all faiths must be wrong.
I was more sure than ever that God had sent His Son and “the truth was in Jesus.” Christ had foretold his church would become filled with weeds. The foretold great “apostasy” was reflected in Christendom as well as the JW organization. To me it was if we were still in the Dark Ages religiously speaking and the Inquisition was going on in another form.
During this period of exile I resumed contact with my scholarly friend in Oregon, Andrew Foss. We agreed almost completely on most points. At this time I had my x-JW Jewish friend from Spain, Julian, rooming with me as a guest. I could have been disfellowshipped for that hospitality to a needy friend alone in a foreign country. We had decided to tackle the Bible’s last book, Revelation. We knew we had to take a brand new look at it.
We enlarged chapters of the NWT of Revelation so that one chapter was on one large page and we posted these on the walls of my apartment. We spent days reviewing the chapters. It took 22 days, working night and day, to rough out a new perspective unaffected by the JW filter, or that of Christendom, for that matter. We were to learn later that this independent examination agreed with many of the thoughts of scholars throughout the centuries. Others did not.
These notes were later to be incorporated in the book Nazarene Apocalypse! In conjunction with my friend, Andrew Foss in Oregon, we also began to work on a new translation of the Sermon on the Mount with footnotes. The result was the small work, The Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings.127 This good and dear friend was to be disfellowshipped also. We marshaled his own exhaustive knowledge of Hebrew and Greek along with his staggering library of thousands of volumes.
|127||MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS. I read this work once a month to keep in touch with the Nazarene’s essential teachings. I encourage the same and then concerted efforts to live up to it.|
That summer of 1996 I escaped by returning to an old love: cycling. Bicycle touring, to be exact. I drove north and then bicycled different sections of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Northern California. I ended the trip with a long stay in one of my favorite spots on earth, Yosemite. I made several hikes to old spots filled with old history. I knew quite well I was not getting younger and my health was not optimistic. The day would come soon enough when I would no longer revisit these places. I had written most of Across Infinity in Yosemite and I had a multitude of memories with friends and family there. Climbing memories. Cycling memories. Backpacking memories. There was a black and white picture of me when I was sixteen reading a beloved copy of the King James Version at a camp site near Camp Curry.
One may wonder how I cared for myself without work and being disabled. During this time my son helped me greatly as did friends. Out of the blue Canon of Australia purchased the licensing rights to one-hundred of my photos as part of a marketing campaign of royalty-free photography. This allowed me a free summer to write and think.
Now correspondence with my old friend in Spain, Ralph Slaney, the British presiding elder of the English Group, was to lead to an ongoing letter-writing discussion of Biblical points. It was now he confessed he had thought himself “one of the anointed” but had been afraid to declare himself because of reaction. Time and many letters passed when it became apparent he had independently reached conclusions similar to my own. This fine man was confronted with the dilemma of confessing openly he was “born again.” Soon, he and his family became disillusioned with the Society and he wrote me accordingly.
A small group was beginning to gather for weekly Bible study and discussion. I was now corresponding with different ones and traveling a few days to discuss the Bible with others. I began to prepare a Newsletter and settled upon the designation Nazarene Saints.
Nazarene Commentary 2000©
Mark Heber Miller
©2000 All Rights Reserved