Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1
When defending the practice of God's people seeking out unbelievers on the Sabbath and contracting them to prepare their meals, Mr. Ritenbaugh claims that Herbert W. Armstrong had already decided this issue. Here is how he made this assertion.
"Now in our day only Herbert Armstrong was an apostle. Herbert Armstrong occasionally ate out on the Sabbath, and he set the policy for the Worldwide Church of God that permitted it.
"The point is this: God used Herbert Armstrong, an apostle, to establish the pattern on this issue in this era of the church of God, not Art Braidic and Dennis Fischer...
"This complicated Babylonish system has created situations that require a new discernment of God's Word on this subject. Herbert Armstrong made that discernment for the church of God in this era."
Note From Blow the Trumpet
Contrary to Mr. Ritenbaugh's claim, Mr. Armstrong NEVER formally addressed this issue. At no time did he commission a study on it, nor did he articulate an official church position regarding Sabbath dining. Even David C. Pack of the Restored Church of God, who also advocates going to restaurants on the Sabbath, had the intellectual honesty to concede that Mr. Armstrong NEVER published a position on this issue.
"In researching Mr. Armstrong’s member/co-worker letters and literature, dating back to 1947, nothing was found in reference to whether Christians should avoid eating at restaurants on the Sabbath—either for or against." (DINING OUT ON THE SABBATH—WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH?)
This is NOT to suggest that we are claiming Mr. Armstrong did not dine out on the Sabbath, for indeed he did. We are also not afraid to state that by doing so, he gave his tacit approval of this practice. Our point is that he never researched this issue. Therefore, to suggest that he spoke with force on it, and rendered a doctrinal position regarding it, is simply NOT TRUE.
However, there is a greater point underlying this issue. The fact of the matter is that this debate is NOT about Mr. Armstrong, and we are convinced that he would totally agree with this assessment. The issue of Sabbath behavior is about God's law and the Biblical record.
Furthermore, for Mr. Ritenbaugh to suggest that Mr. Armstrong is the last word on church doctrine represents rank HYPOCRACY! Even he doesn't believe this. If he did he wouldn't employ a method for calculating Pentecost that goes contrary to the one espoused by Mr. Armstrong. By the way, that decision was researched and formally announced.
Note From Blow the Trumpet
A Final Thought
For Mr. Ritenbaugh to assert that this issue has already been decided by Mr. Armstrong is utter nonsense. Furthermore, such a claim dishonors the very man he claims to respect. Here’s a news flash for Mr. Ritenbaugh: Mr. Armstrong was not perfect. This is a fact that even he was more than willing to admit. His invocation of “Don’t believe me; believe your Bible!” was not some marketing ploy. It was real. This great man saw the Bible as trumping him 100% of the time. His words declare to all who were affected by him to prove all things through the scriptures. That is exactly what Messrs. Braidic and Fischer have done.
Here is something for all of God's people to ponder: Is it possible that Mr. Armstrong never addressed Sabbath dining because this issue belongs to the last era of God’s church? Furthermore, will we truly honor the memory of the greatest servant of God in his generation by blowing the dust off our Bible and letting God’s wisdom fall where it may?
Finally, our suggestion to Mr. Ritenbaugh is to trust God’s word on this—not some convoluted argument that claims: “Mr. Armstrong has spoken forcefully on this and Fischer and Braidic should just shut up.” Such an approach is totally antithetical to the scriptures and contradicts everything Mr. Armstrong stood for.
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