Forty and still counting…

There are a few moments in history I can still remember vividly – the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy assassination, landing on the moon … and Pentecost 1974.

On the Sabbath before the first WCG Sunday Pentecost, we listened to a tape from Pasadena with “new truth” regarding D&R (Divorce and Remarriage) and the correct day for Pentecost. I remember GTA went over D&R, including some glaring problems he saw in hindsight with the old doctrine. After the tape was played, one local minister actually said he had some apologies to make to some people he had counseled years ago…

Then HWA explained how something had been brought to his attention regarding Pentecost. He said he contacted a Hebrew teacher about “counting from” and found his “common sense” counting of Pentecost was … well, not exactly correct. So, of course, he immediately fixed the problem, and the day changed from Monday to Sunday. “Immediately” fixed, amidst claims that for possibly ten years this issue had been a hot potato.

About a week before June 8, Bob Thiel posted the Pentecost section from HWA’s Holy Days booklet. (Does PCG hold copyright on this? If Flurry sues, just claim “fair use”.) Feeling it was time to put together a posting, I wrote a few paragraphs about the errors and assumptions HWA made in the article. Following a few days of procrastination, I noticed Bob’s June 8 Pentecost posting, and realized I wasted my time. Taking HWA’s theological framework, and expounding in more convoluted detail, I felt Bob, inadvertently perhaps, made it worse, and there was no point in trying to unscramble it.

For brevity, I’ll just say the claim that Pentecost is “the birthday of the Church” is just part of the “one true church” myth. Protestants see Acts as a “transitional” book, showing how Christianity evolved. COGs view snippets of the story in great detail while glossing over other parts – what is useful from the old system is transferred to “the Church” and the rest is tossed. But, even after the Acts 15 “conference”, Paul is still taking part in Temple worship, including a Nazarite vow, which involves animal offerings. Didn’t he read the book of Hebrews? Just joking of course; books like Hebrews and Galatians are great resources for “proof texts”.

Jews consider Shavuot (Pentecost) the day Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai. Tradition holds that on that day a voice came from Mt Sinai that was heard in “Seventy Languages” – considered the languages of all the nations. So, the “speaking in tongues” could have been viewed the same way – Peter’s zealous quoting of end-time prophecy may have been because he thought the word had gone to all nations. Not the same as hits on websites that are mostly in English.



Pentecost 1974


Of Course He Was!

Pentecost 1974 – Many weeks ago…

The other day while scanning the COG sites, I noticed Dr Thiel informing us that Pentecost will be on May 19 this year.


On a Sabbath in 1974, a combined service was held so all in our area could hear a tape from Pasadena. We were assembled together for a double dose of doctrinal correction New Truth. As I recall, GTA came up first and explained the new rules on D&R – divorce and remarriage; next, HWA told us Pentecost is on Sunday, rather than Monday. Of course, HWA tried to vindicate his long-held Aristotlian exegesis interpreting the command for counting the Omer to Shavuot by explaining the Hebrew words with English grammar. Perhaps a tale is in order.


Herb was driving through a city looking for Pentecost Lane. He read that it was off Fiftieth Avenue. Starting at what he thought was First Avenue, he reasoned Fiftieth Avenue must be 50 streets from First Avenue. So he drove along and started counting streets. Eventually he got to Fifty-first Avenue, and reckoned an unmarked alley was Pentecost Lane.


Although there were some indications that Herb was in the wrong place, he was sure he was at his intended destination. It is obvious that Herb was driving alone, because if Loma had been with him, she would have nagged, Herb, get out and ask someone for directions!


From what I remember, HWA said he consulted with someone who taught Hebrew, and, what do you know, he had been wrong was revealed new truth! In Hebrew, he learned, the word translated to from is inclusive, as in the first day from today is today, not tomorrow. So in a sense, counting 50 days from (in Hebrew) was counting 49 days from (in his logic).


Of course, there is the other matter of which day to count from. In the command “the morrow after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23) the Sabbath could been taken to mean the weekly Sabbath, or the First Day of Unleavened Bread; “the morrow” is the Day of Firstfruits, when the Wave-sheaf offering is made.

Apparently the Sadducees had taken the Sabbath to mean the weekly Sabbath, and modern rabbinic Judaism takes it to mean the First Day of Unleavened Bread.


I don’t know if HWA just assumed that Sabbath meant the weekly Sabbath, or he got that from another source. There is some additional symbolism added when taking the weekly Sabbath, as that puts the Day of Firstfruits on the Sunday after Passover. This day would then be the day of Jesus’ resurrection (assuming Saturday night) or  “Easter Sunday”.