Newsletter 58, December, 2000
Women of God | Rachel Oaks Preston | Emma Runcorn | Women God Has Used | Women’s Role in the Church | Women’s Resources | The Christian and Rock Music | Video: 666 and the Mark | Incredible History of God’s True Church | True History of the Early Christian Church | Be in Good Health! | Health and Healing Resources | Have You Been Sold a Different Gospel?
Women have always contributed a great deal to the spiritual life of the Church and the Work of God. Our Giving & Sharing ministry is much more effective due to the work of women co-workers. Over the years, women have carefully proofread our articles and Newsletters.
Women typists have greatly assisted us to retypeset out-of-print books so that we could thus bring them back into circulation. Many have helped, including Carole Billigmeier, Cheryl Nichols, and Santa Fe Parton. Kathy Puliafico has provided invaluable research assistance, plus my wife Shirley and our daughters have helped in many ways. Wanda Lewis is the right arm of Earl Lewis, our Bookstore Manager in Missouri. These and many more women of God continue to serve the Church and the spreading of the Gospel.
In this issue of the Giving & Sharing Newsletter, we highlight women of God. Two women in particular illustrate the proper role of women in the Church. Rachel Oakes Preston and Emma Runcorn changed the course of history. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude, and should all follow their fine example. Women and men can take heart by these fine examples, which show how God uses the willing individual to further His Work.
Far from being spectators, women of God are often movers and shakers. Today’s Sabbath-keepers of the Adventist/Church of God tradition, owe their existence to a woman of God who spoke the right words at a critical time.
Rachel (Harris) Oakes Preston (1809-1868), had a great influence on the Sabbatarian movement. She was a Seventh Day Baptist who persuaded a group of Adventists to accept the Sabbath and thus to become in that sense, the first Seventh-day Adventists. Born in Vernon, Vermont, she first joined the Methodist Church, then joined the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Verona, Oneida County, New York, in about 1837. Later she moved to Washington, New Hampshire, to be near her daughter, Delight Oakes, who taught school there. When Mrs. Rachel Oakes, a widow, sought to introduce the Sabbath to the company of Adventists in the Christian Church there, she found them so engrossed in preparation for the coming of the Lord, which they erroneously thought would occur in 1844, that they paid little attention to her Seventh Day Baptist literature.
She did eventually gain as a convert, Frederick Wheeler, a Methodist Adventist preacher who followed the prophetic teachings of William Miller. One Sunday while conducting the communion service for the Christian congregation, he remarked that all who confess communion with Christ in such a service as this “should be ready to obey God and keep His commandments in all things.” Later Mrs. Oakes told him that she had almost risen in the service to tell him that he had better push back the communion table and put the communion cloth back over it until he was willing to keep all the commandments of God, including the fourth. Knowing she was a Seventh Day Baptist, Wheeler thus began serious thinking and earnest study.
It did not matter to Wheeler if a woman had corrected him. The Truth of the Bible was more important to him than pride. Not long after Rachel’s admonition, in March, 1844, as he later related, he began to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. After the Great Disappointment in October, 1844, during a Sunday service in the Washington church, William Farnsworth stated publicly that he was convinced that the seventh day of the week was the Sabbath, and that he had decided to keep it. He was immediately followed by his brother Cyrus (who became the husband of Rachel’s daughter Delight), and several others. Thus it was that the first little Sabbatarian Adventist group came into being. The group met for the Sabbath in various homes until 1863, when the Christian Church passed into their hands. Later, Rachel married a man named Preston. — Adapted from the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 1149, 1976. Review and Herald Publishing Association.
If it was not for Rachel Oakes Preston’s godly admonition, you and I might not be keeping the Sabbath today! Either through Rachel Oakes or Wheeler, an Advent believer in nearby East Weare, New Hampshire, accepted the Sabbath in August, 1844. His name was Thomas M. Preble. He wrote an article in defense of the Sabbath, which appeared in the Adventist paper Hope of Israel, published in Portland, Maine, on February 28, 1845. In the article, Preble stated that the Pope, as the little horn of Daniel 7:25, had changed times and laws, and “all who keep the first day for the Sabbath are Pope’s Sunday keepers and God’s Sabbath breakers.” Preble’s article was read by Joseph Bates, a leading Adventist preacher since 1839, and a former sea captain. In May, 1845, Bates traveled to Washington, New Hampshire to check out this group’s teaching on the Sabbath. He stayed up all night with Wheeler discussing the Sabbath. Bates left the next morning and returned to his home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, where a fellow Adventist asked him, “Captain Bates, what’s the news?” Bates gave this immortal reply: “The news is that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord our God” (for much more detail, see Six Papers on the History of the Church of God, by Richard C. Nickels, $14 donation from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849). All this from a woman determined to spread the Sabbath Truth. And, the rest, as they say, is history!
Her influence on Sabbath-keepers today is enormous. This woman of God is of special importance to us in the Church of God. Until now, we did not even know her first name. Why is she so important? In the fall of 1926, according to The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, religious controversy entered the family of Herbert and Loma Armstrong. Armstrong writes, “we had been visiting my parents in Salem [Oregon]. My wife had become acquainted with an elderly neighbor lady, Mrs. Ora Runcorn. Mrs. Runcorn was an avid student of the Bible.
“Before our marriage my wife had been quite interested in Bible study. She had been for years an active Methodist. . . . But all of Mrs. Armstrong’s active interest in things Biblical was reawakened when she became acquainted with Mrs. Runcorn. One day Mrs. Runcorn gave her a ‘Bible study’. She asked my wife to turn to a certain passage and read it. Then a second, then a third, and so on for about an hour. Mrs. Runcorn made no comment — gave no explanation or argument — just asked my wife to read aloud a series of Biblical passages.
“Why!” exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong in amazement, “do all these Scriptures say that I’ve been keeping the wrong day as the Sabbath all my life?”
“Well, do they?” asked Mrs. Runcorn. “Don’t ask me whether you have been wrong — you shouldn’t believe what any person tells you, but only what God tells you through the Bible. What does He tell you, there? What do you see there with your own eyes?”
“Why, it’s as plain as anything could be!” exclaimed Mrs. Armstrong. “Why, this is a wonderful discovery. I must rush back to tell my husband the good news. I know he’ll be overjoyed!”
“A minute or so later, Mrs. Armstrong came running into my parents’ home, with the ‘good news’.
“My jaw dropped!
“This was the worst news I had ever heard! My wife gone into religious fanaticism!
“Have you gone CRAZY?” I asked, incredulously.
“Of course not! I was never more sure of anything in my life,” responded my wife with enthusiasm. . . .
“But,” I still contended, “Isn’t the Bible the very source of the teaching of all these Christian churches? And they do all agree on observing Sunday! I’m sure the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt keep Sunday’.
“Well, does it?” smiled my wife, handing me a Bible. “Show it to me, if it does — and I’ll do what it says.”
Mrs. Armstrong goaded Herbert into studying the issue of Sunday versus the Sabbath, and after six months of diligent study trying to prove his wife wrong, Herbert Armstrong surrendered to God, was baptized, and came to consider Mr. and Mrs. Runcorn the Armstrong’s “spiritual parents.” Through the Runcorns, Armstrong became acquainted with the Church of God in Salem, and nearby Jefferson, Oregon. (See Autobiography, pages 261-264, 281.) Armstrong began to preach to the Church of God people, was ordained as an elder, and in 1934 began radio broadcasting, which led to the formation of the Radio Church of God (later renamed Worldwide Church of God). Emma Runcorn, the elderly lady next door to Armstrong’s parents, was instrumental in leading thousands to God!
Armstrong’s Autobiography shows that Mrs. Runcorn’s husband was O. J. Runcorn, and HWA refers to her as Mrs. Ora Runcorn. HWA also mentions the Runcorn’s son, Fern, who was on the school board for Eldreage School, north of Salem.
In the 1900 census records for Marion County, Oregon, there is a listing for Ora J. and Emma L. Runcorn. At that time, they were living in Salem, Oregon. Ora J. is listed as male and the head of the family. He was age 36, and was born in April of 1864 in Wisconsin. They had been married for 14 years. His parents were both born in England. He is listed as a day laborer who rents his home. His wife, Emma L. Runcorn, was born in February of 1865 and was age 35. They had two children. She was born in Wisconsin. Her father was born in New York, her mother in New Jersey. Fern P. is listed as their son. He was born in October 1, 1886, in Wisconsin. Molly S. was listed as born in May of 1888, and is age 12. She was born in Wisconsin (See Marion County Census records for 1900, ED #136, Sheet 1, lines 40-43).
The 1920 census had no listing for an O. J. or Ora Runcorn, but it did list Fern, born in Wisconsin, as being 33 years old, employed as a baggage man for S. P. Rye Co. His wife, M. Lucille, was aged 22 and a homemaker. They had, at that time, a son named Robert E., who was six months old as of January 1920. (See Marion County, Oregon Census Records for 1920, ED # 346, Sheet 15, lines 37-39).
Emma Spees (Speese or Speece) Runcorn married Ora J. Runcorn in 1886. Her parents were: Silas Spees and Elizabeth Shover. Her brothers and sisters were: Will, Addison, Martha, and George. Her grandparents were John Spees and Martha Slater.
Both Ora and Emma were listed in the Salem City Directory for 1935. Neither were listed in the 1938/39 directory. The 1936/37 directory is missing. It appears that they died in the late 1930s. We have not yet been able to obtain a photo of Emma Runcorn, but in the Kingdom of God, we look forward to visiting with the “elderly lady next door.”
— research by Kathy Puliafico
The Bible is replete with examples of women whom God has used to further His work. In the New Testament, we are first introduced to Mary, the righteous mother of Jesus. She was highly favored by God, blessed among women, and for this she was selected to be the mother of the Son of God, Luke 1:26-28. Anna the old prophetess, a widow, served God with fastings and prayers in the temple night and day, Luke 2:36-38. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women ministered unto Jesus with their substance, being intimately involved in His ministry, Luke 8:1-3. Lydia of Thyatira, a seller of purple cloth, worshipped God, and became instrumental in Paul’s preaching in Philippi, Acts 16:14-40. Priscilla (Prisca) and her husband Aquila, were an effective husband and wife gospel team who helped Paul, and hosted a Church in their house, Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; I Corinthians 16:19. Phoebe was a servant (diakonia) of the Church, Romans 16:1-2. Likewise, Martha was cumbered about with much serving (diakonia), Luke 10:40. John in his second epistle addresses “the elect lady and her children,” II John 1. Philip the deacon and evangelist had four virgin daughters who prophesied, Acts 21:8-9. Timothy’s mother Eunice and grandmother Lois taught him to have faith in God, II Timothy 1:5; Acts 16:1. Women were an integral part of the ministry (service) of the New Testament Church, Acts 1:13-14.
In the Old Testament, Sarah is an example of faith, Hebrews 11:11. Miriam, sister of Moses, was a prophetess, and she led the women of Israel to sing praises to God at the defeat of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea, Exodus 15:20-21. Deborah was a judge of Israel and a prophetess, Judges 4:4-5. Israel came to Deborah for judgment, for decisions. She gave the word of the Lord to Barak, who would not go to battle unless Deborah was with him, verses 6-9. It is obvious from scripture that Deborah’s righteous civil and spiritual leadership over all Israel was an anomaly. That does not take away from Deborah’s righteous character and the fact that the Eternal used her mightily. God chooses whomsoever He wills to deliver His messages to His people. While there were some prophetesses in Israel, God was just as much against false women prophetesses as He was against false men prophets, Ezekiel 13:1, 17. The widow of Zarephath sustained Elijah, and her dead son was revived, I Kings 17:8-24. The Shunammite woman constrained the prophet Elisha to eat and stay at her house. Her faith in God resulted in Elisha’s resurrection of her dead son, II Kings 4:8-37. These two mothers were examples of faith, Hebrews 11:35. Huldah the prophetess gave God’s word to the priest Hilkiah, who forwarded it on to Josiah. As a result, Josiah made a covenant with God and reinstituted the Passover feast in Judah and the remnant of Israel, II Kings 22 and II Chronicles 34. Certainly, the Almighty used Huldah in a powerful way!
As in the past, so in the present, the Creator uses righteous women to further His work. Loma D. Armstrong, wife of Herbert W. Armstrong, was a righteous woman instrumental in the work of the Radio (later, Worldwide) Church of God. Mrs. Armstrong counseled and personally taught many women, including my mother-in-law, Florence Whitaker. This is in line with the scriptural role of older, righteous women, that they are to teach the young women, Titus 2:3-4.
What should be the role of women in the Church today? One of the stark contrasts between the worship system that God instituted in the Old Testament Church, and pagan worship, was the absence of women priests in Israel. Pagan religions all stem from Semiramis, and usually have one or more of these elements: women priests, temple prostitutes, and female goddesses. The Roman Catholic Church today carries on these pagan traditions with its emphasis on Mary worship as the supposed “Queen of Heaven,” and its orders of nuns. The First Century Gnostics transported pagan concepts of women as spiritual leaders, into the Church, and palmed off this poisonous mixture as “true Christianity.” The Gnostic Gospel of Mary places Mary Magdalene at the foundation of Christ’s Church, rather than the Apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19-20; Matthew 16:18; Galatians 1:17-19). Women took unprecedented leadership roles in many early Gnostic sects (After Jesus, p. 131). Gnostic ideas have a stranglehold on the professing Christian Church today.
And so, today, we see a strong movement, even in the Church of God, towards full ordination of women as elders and Church leaders, breaking down all barriers. What does the Bible say about this? If we go back to the very beginning, we may be greatly surprised what God did and said. Eve, as we know, at the tempting by the serpent, took of the forbidden fruit, ate of it, and gave it to Adam, who followed her in sin, Genesis 3:1-6. We know that Eve was beguiled (cheated, outwitted, and deceived, verse 13, Amplified Bible). Adam, however, was not deceived. He knew better, but nevertheless disobeyed God, I Timothy 2:14. As a result of this sorry episode of sin, God cursed the serpent, and cursed the ground, Genesis 3:14, 17. Notice! God DID NOT curse Eve personally as He did the serpent; He did not curse Adam either. God spelled out the consequences of their sin, and provided the avenue for Adam and Eve to return to Him. The seed of the woman (the Messiah) would eventually bruise the serpent’s head (take over world rulership from Satan), verse 15. In sorrow the woman would bring forth children, “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” verse 16. Because God cursed the ground, Adam would have to toil against thistles in order to eke out a living. They would both die rather than live forever. The woman being ruled by her husband, and the man laboring with the sweat of his brow to support the family, would be the avenue for mankind to return to God.
Human nature was born in the Garden of Eden. It would be the natural inclination, desire, of the woman to dominate her husband, and it would be the natural inclination of the man to exercise authoritarian, selfish rule over his wife. What is this word, “rule”? What kind of rule does God want the husband to have over his wife? The Hebrew word for “rule” here is very significant. It is mashal, Strong’s #4910. This word, along with #4911, and #4912, means “to speak in proverbs, rule, have power and dominion, utter, give a pithy maxim or proverb,” in other words, to be a spiritual guide or ruler.
Now, I have on my desk a 12-inch ruler, a gift from the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. I use this ruler to measure things. It is a reliable guide. On it also are three rules directed to youth: Say no to drugs, stay in school, participate in sports. This ruler does not dominate me. It is a good guide. The moral rules on this ruler are good proverbs for our young people today. That is the way the husband is to rule over his wife; he is to be a spiritual guide and ruler. The same word mashal is used in Genesis 1:18, where God made the sun and moon to rule the day and the night. The book of Proverbs has many proverbs [Hebrew, mashal] of Solomon and others, Proverbs 1:1. Proverbs are teaching rules that define right and wrong. Now, some are saying today that when husbands rule their wives according to Genesis 3:16, that they are a curse to their wives. Women, the idea goes, should have nobody ruling them. They must be liberated from the curse of men ruling over them. The Bible, however, shows that men ruling their wives (being their spiritual guides) is ordained of God, is a good thing, and not a curse, but a blessing.
Isaiah 3:12 is a remarkable prophecy for today. “As for my people,” Isaiah predicts, “children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Some in the Church of God believe that this means that we will someday have a woman President who will be oppressive and immoral in her leadership, ruling harshly over us. However, did you know that the Hebrew word for “rule” in this verse is mashal, Strong’s #4910, the same word for “rule” used in Genesis 3:16! This kind of “rule” is a good thing, like the Proverbs, mashalim, are good moral rules. But, when women do this kind of rule over men, it is a curse, not a good thing. So, Isaiah 3:12 is not talking about women ruling oppressively. It is predicting that in the time of the end, near the “day of the Lord,” Isaiah 2:12, children will not obey their parents, and women likewise will abandon their God-given roles and usurp the male role of spiritual instructors. A woman pastor or elder may be a tremendously inspiring speaker, but she is violating the Law of God when she rules (spiritually instructs) men.
The Apostle Paul refers to Genesis 3:16 in I Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law [in Genesis 3:16]. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Notice that this is not Paul’s personal opinion, but also stated in the Torah law of God. It is not written just for the Corinthian Church, but “in the churches,” plural. “Speaking” is not referring to social conversation before and after services, but preaching doctrine, psalms, and revelation, verses 26-28. If a man speaks in an unknown tongue and there is no interpreter, he is to keep silent, because nobody will understand. Some believe that this episode refers to disruptive women in the Corinthian Church who were ill-mannered and spoke out of turn. This cannot be true, because this would mean that women’s liberation was a threat “in [all] the churches,” verse 34.
In I Timothy 2:11-14, Paul refers to God’s rule in Genesis, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Verses 9-10 describe the proper attire for women of God: “modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But [rather] (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Dorcas illustrates some of the good works done by women of God, Acts 9:36-42.
Those who support allowing women to become Church elders, pastors, and deacons, need to go to the most obvious scriptures of all, which destroy their non-biblical position. They explain away I Corinthians 14:34-35 and I Timothy 2:11-14 as merely the personal, biased, opinions of Paul. When Paul gives his personal opinion, he clearly states it, but nowhere in these verses does he say this. The same people who support women preachers use I Corinthians 7:6, 10, 12-15, to justify wide-open divorce and remarriage for any, all, or no reasons. Yet, Paul said he was giving his personal judgment, based on his understanding of the Scriptures. They twist these latter verses as well as the former ones. They pick, choose, and distort, the Word of God.
I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 give the job requirements for bishops (episkopos, overseers), deacons (diakonous), and elders (presbuteros) as “the husband of one wife,” “the husbands of one wife,” and “the husband of one wife,” respectively. These scriptures destroy the false idea that women can be bishops, deacons, and elders.
With this in mind, we can easily reject the false teaching of those who claim that women are not Scripturally prohibited from much [if anything] in the Church. Can women fill all the jobs listed in Ephesians 4:11-12, “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”? Is an “apostle” merely “one sent”? If so, then this would make the woman caught in the act of adultery an apostle, because Jesus told her “Go, and sin no more,” John 8:11. Jesus sent her, so she must be an apostle! No, after Judas fell by transgression, the disciples met together to name his replacement. They could not determine who should be the new twelfth Apostle, so they cast lots between two qualified men, Barsabas, and Matthias, and let God decide. Matthias was selected, and Barsabas did not become an Apostle, although he was sent by Jesus to preach the gospel. There is no record of any female evangelists or pastors in the entire New Testament. Yet some continue to claim that there is no gift that cannot be possessed by women in the Church.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:28. This leads some to believe that it makes no difference whether you are a male or female, therefore women can be preaching elders in the Church. As far as salvation goes, it is correct that it makes no difference if you are male or female. That’s what Paul means in this verse. God accepts into His family Jews and Greeks, males and females, on a completely equal status. However, there are rules (there’s that word again!) that govern human behavior. Men can only marry women; men are forbidden to have sexual relations with other men. This is defined in the Law of God. In the same way, God’s Law defines roles in the Church and family. If there are no boundaries, then one could have no objection to homosexuality.
Dr. Samuel Bacchiocchi writes in his End Time Issues newsletter #22 that Christians need to take a Biblical stand against the feminist subversion of the Biblical teachings regarding marriage, family, divorce, sexual morality, homosexuality, and role distinctions. God created man and woman equal in their moral worth and spiritual status, but distinct in their biological and functional roles. In the marriage covenant of two spiritual equal human beings, man and woman, God created man to function in the servant headship role of husband/father, and women in the submissive role of wife/mother. These distinctive roles apply equally to the home and to the Church, because from a Biblical perspective, the Church is an extended spiritual family, often referred to as “the household of God,” Ephesians 2:19; I Timothy 3:15; I Peter 4:17; Galatians 6:10.
Francis Schaefer states, “If we accept the idea of equality without distinctions, we logically must accept the ideas of abortion and homosexuality. For if there are no significant distinctions between men and women, then certainly we cannot condemn homosexual relationships. And if there are no significant distinctions, this fiction can be maintained only by the use of abortion-on-demand as a means of coping with the most profound evidence that distinctions really exist,” The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, Illinois, 1995), p. 136.
Are women in the Church of God today prevented from a full, active, role in the work of the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission of spreading the gospel to the whole world, Matthew 28:19-20? By no means! In the past, Rachel Oaks Preston, Emma Runcorn, Loma Armstrong, were fully committed to God and His work. Today, righteous women are deeply involved in gospel work. Humankind is never satisfied with what God gives them. Adam and Eve had the whole Garden of Eden to enjoy, but felt stifled by the one forbidden tree. Those who support women preachers and elders in the Church today are ignorant of the Bible. They twist scripture and stomp on the Word of God. Avoid such deceitful false teachers and vain janglers. Pray for them to repent. Hate their sin, but love the sinner! Women and men: do not allow anyone to keep you from doing the work that God has called you to do!
These resources are available from: Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849. You may also order these books on the www.giveshare.org site.
The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian, 203 pp., $10 to keep, or $5 for a 30-day loan, is a book that every husband should want his wife to have. Stormie had difficulty in her own marriage until she learned that God’s way for wives to change their husbands for the better is not to berate him, but to “shut up and pray.” She shares how God has strengthened her own marriage since she began to pray for her husband in thirty key areas of his life, including his spiritual walk, his emotions, his role as father, leader, and decision-maker, his security in work and finances, his health and physical protection, and his faith and future. Do you want a closer relationship with your husband? Do you want to restore, renew, and grow in your marriage? This book can be a practical tool to help unleash the power of prayer in marriage. Nagging doesn’t work; prayer does!
All the Women of the Bible, by Herbert Lockyear, 321 pp., $20/$5, is a classic book, originally written in the 1950s. Lockyear gives an alphabetical exposition of all women named in the Bible, from Abi to Zipporah. He covers nameless Bible women, the ideal woman, gives aids for women’s groups and meetings, and more. He concludes, “May God increase the number of Christian women through whom He can draw a sin-cursed, war-weary earth nearer to Himself!”
Women Leaving the Workplace: How to Make the Transition from Work to Home, by Larry Burkett, 308 pp., $13/$5, is a how-to manual for women wishing to leave the work place and return home to teach and raise their young children. Outside influences are wreaking havoc on family values. Many wish to home school their children, but it is difficult to step down from a two-income family to a one-income family. It won’t be easy to make this transition, but this book could really help.
Feminism: Mystique or Mistake? by Diane Passno, 183 pp., $16/$5, is a critique of the modern feminist movement by one of its former strongest advocates. Now an executive Vice President for Focus on the Family, Passno says the feminist movement hurts women. As a result of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, children became devalued, and a woman’s role in bearing, nurturing, and raising children was also devalued. When career is emphasized as the only alternative for women to obtain real achievement, children and families are the losers. While not every woman can be a stay-at-home mom, many should. Scripture prescribes an honored role for women. The Lord designed men and women to be in union with each other and Himself.
The Focus on the Family Complete Book of Baby and Child Care, by Paul C. Reisser, 900 pp., $26/$5. This excellent family resource covers practical information on raising children from birth to teenage.
Women in the Church, $12/50/$5, by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, 295 pp. Scripture excludes women from serving in the headship role of elders or pastors, but includes them in the supportive ministries of the Church. The reason for this Biblical distinction derives not from the cultural conventions of the times, but from the distinct, yet complementary, roles God assigned to men and women at creation.
Music has played a lesser role in my life than in the lives of most people. I suppose that is a deficiency. I enjoy singing in Church choirs, and I enjoy classical, jazz, folk, and sometimes even opera and country music. But you would never ask me to be a music critic because I lack the qualifications.
Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi is concerned with the growing trend to bring hard rock music into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In Australia and New Zealand, he ran into a buzz saw when he objected to rock music played to accompany his lectures at SDA camps and congregations. As a result, Bacchiocchi gathered a team of music experts, and recently published a 384-page book, The Christian & Rock Music: a Study on Biblical Principles of Music. Of the fourteen chapters, Bacchiocchi wrote seven chapters, and seven were written by several others, experts in the musical field.
As has been Bacchiocchi’s habit, this book has been very poorly proofread. Typographical errors should be embarrassing to Dr. B., such as the header for every page of Chapter 7, “Biblical Princples [sic.] of Music.” It is ultimately the responsibility of the author, not his proofreader, to ensure technical accuracy for his books. Such sloppiness detracts from his scholarly qualifications and the veracity of his message.
Not being a musician himself, Bacchiocchi, nevertheless, did a credible job. His analysis is well done and the issue of what kind of music is appropriate for worship services should be discussed and analyzed. Here is Bacchiocchi’s summary of the book:
Contemporary Christian Music, known also as “Christian” rock, is fast replacing traditional music and instruments across denominational churches, including an increasing number of Seventh-day Adventist churches. In many churches today “praise bands” have replaced the choir, overheads have replaced the hymn books, synthesizers have replaced organs, and drums and guitars have taken their place in the repertoire of church music instrumentation.
These changes in church music are causing controversies and divisions in many congregations. Some see the new “pop music” as the music of Babylon, while others as the prophetic “New Song” to reach and satisfy the baby-boomers’ taste for rock music. Often the arguments generate more heat than light, reflecting personal taste or culture rather than a grasp of the Biblical principles of music.
The Christian and Rock Music: A Study of Biblical Principles of Music has two major objectives. The first is to help people understand the true nature of the various styles of rock music popular today. Special consideration is given to the problems arising from transforming rock music into a medium for Christian worship and evangelism. The second objective is to define those Biblical principles that should guide Christians in making good musical choices.
The aim of this symposium is not to dismiss all contemporary music as “rock,” because there are contemporary songs with music and words which are suitable for divine worship. Rather, the aim is to clarify how the music, words, and the manner of singing should conform to the Biblical principle of worship music.
Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, The Christian and Rock Music shows that the Bible clearly differentiates between the secular music used for social entertainment and the sacred music worthy of the worship of God. There are ample Biblical and historical evidences indicating that music and instruments associated with social entertainment, were not allowed in worship service at the Temple, synagogue, or early Church. The reason is that such music would have tempted believers to turn their place of worship into a place of entertainment, as happens in some churches today. To prevent this thing from happening, God’s people in Bible times were taught to use only the sacred music suitable for divine worship. The authors of this book believe that the same principle applies to the church today.
The Bible teaches that church music is to be God-centered, not self-centered. The notion of praising the Lord for entertainment or amusement is foreign to the Bible. Percussion instruments which stimulate people physically through a loud and relentless beat are as inappropriate for Church music today, as they were for the worship service in Bible times.
The Biblical principles of music outlined in this book are especially relevant today, when the Church and the home are being invaded by various forms of rock music which blatantly rejects the moral values and religious beliefs espoused by Christianity. At a time when the distinction between sacred and secular music is blurred, and many are promoting modified versions of secular rock music for Church use, it is important to remember the Biblical summon to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (I Chronicles 16:29; cf. Psalm 29:2, 96:9).
The Christian and Rock Music is a most timely book for today. It clearly delineates the issues and provides Biblical answers to the problems which have caused so many Christians to stumble. For concerned Christians, this book may well be a musical survival kit in our compromising society. This ends Dr. B.’s summary.
Coming from a Worldwide Church of God background through 1975, I was musically deprived. Even today, Church of God groups sing old or new songs with little feeling, little variety, basically to be endured rather than enjoyed. Music should be a sermon in song, stimulating to the singer, respectful to the Creator, and filled with love and praise. In many congregations, it is difficult even to get a pianist to play our old music. I can see why some want to go to the opposite ditch and bring in rock music to the Church. I believe the answer to our musical famine is not to bring rock music into the Church, and not to continue in our musical doldrums.
Those who have musical talent need to stimulate us to express ourselves in musical praise and worship of our Master. Sharon See, of the Springdale, Arkansas, Church of God, has been one such individual. Her sterling example of bringing good music to the Feast of Tabernacles at Lake Texoma, Oklahoma, has brought joy to many of us who attended the Festival with her.
The Church needs musically-talented individuals to record Christian music for distribution, and provide music and sing-alongs for Festivals, Sabbaths sermons, and special occasions. Step forward and serve! Let us know if we can help you distribute your Christian music.
If you study the subject of music in the Bible, you will be amazed at how great a part music plays in the worship of God. See our article, “Yahweh is My Strength, My Song, My Salvation,” Study No. 42, which we hope to reprint in a future newsletter, or view it on our website at www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/042.song.html.
Bacchiocchi has recently raised prices on all his books to $20 retail. You may order a copy of The Christian and Rock Music from Giving & Sharing for a suggested donation of $12.50. Or, borrow for a 30-day loan for $5.
I was a little skeptical at the title of the James Arrabito video: “666 and the Mark.” I thought, “Oh no, not another wild prophetic speculation sermon.” However, I was more than pleasantly surprised. SDA James Arrabito presents a two-hour masterpiece. Step by step, he shows how the practices of the Roman Catholic Church came directly from paganism. His pictures from the great museums show artifacts of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, which demonstrate a striking similarity to statues and art from the Vatican, Westminster Abbey, and other Catholic and Protestant cathedrals. Sun worship and sex worship are common to all pagan religions, and were directly copied by Catholic-professing Christians. The VHS NTSC video, 666 and the Mark is a fascinating aide to the study of Babylonian religious practices today. Order for a suggested donation of $20 from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849. Or, borrow for 14-days for $5.
In 1984, Worldwide Church of God member, Ivor C. Fletcher, of Bristol, England, wrote an excellent comprehensive history of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God, covering the entire period from the First to the Twentieth Centuries. With Mr. Fletcher’s permission, we distribute this book to those who treasure Church History. The entire book is available online at www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/. Or, you may order a 136-page retypeset photocopy for a suggested donation of $12 from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
Here are some of the topics covered by this excellent book: Did Jesus Visit Britain? The Glastonbury Story, Paul the Apostle in Britain, The Great Conspiracy, Simon Magus and his “Christian” Church, Who was the first Bishop of Rome? “The Lost Century,” The Legend of King Lucius, A Light in the Dark Ages, The Church in the Wilderness, Pergamos — an Era of Martyrs, The Work of Peter Waldo, The Amazing Life of Shem Acher, The Life and Times of Stephen Mumford, The Message Taken to Kings.
Ivor Fletcher is an excellent writer, and I am sure you will enjoy this book.
Now Revealed, The True History of the Early Christian Church, by Ronald D. Kelly, is now available on the Internet at www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/. Or, you may order an 81-page photocopy for a suggested donation of $7.50 from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
This is a well-written textbook on early Church history. There is a chronology of events in the Early Church, a list of Roman Emperors of the period, and Appendix of glossary of Church history terms. The chapters include: The Romans Build an Empire; Trade, Travel, and Communications; Moral Degeneracy in the Empire; Judea, the Springboard; Christ, the Prophesied Messiah; Christ, the Desire of Nations; The Message Christ Brought; The Beginning of Church History; The Great Conspiracy.
We highly recommend this excellent resource.
— written by Richard C. Nickels