Category Archives: Armstrongism

What Motivated Terry Ratzmann’s Shooting Spree in the Living Church of God?

by Peter Ditzel

On March 12, 2005, 44-year-old Terry Ratzmann walked into the services of the Living Church of God. They were being held in the Sheraton Hotel near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ratzmann stood near the back of the room where he was spotted by 12-year-old Robert Geiger. The boy later described Ratzmann, whom he had known most of his life, as looking enraged, and “his eyes were real dark.” Robert also saw Ratzmann’s gun.

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Q. What does the Bible say about divorce for Christians? When is it allowed?

A. Statistics show that divorce is about as common among Bible-believing Christians as it is among the general populace. For example, a Barna Report for the United States shows that 32 percent of all born again Christians who have been married have experienced at least one divorce while 33 percent of all adults—Christian and non-Christian—who have been married have been divorced. This is alarming. While the remedy to this is complex and includes understanding what the Bible teaches about marriage, knowing what the Bible teaches about divorce can also help. So, in answering this question, my hope is that it will not only give us biblical knowledge (always a good thing) but that it will also cause couples considering divorce to think again and reconsider taking such a drastic action. Because, as we will see, most divorces granted today do not meet God’s criteria and are, in fact, not real divorces at all.

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Q. Does Jeremiah 10 describe the decorating of a Christmas tree?

A. Jeremiah 10 has often been cited as describing the decorating of a tree in a fashion similar to the decorating of Christmas trees today. Jeremiah 10:3-5 says, “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”

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Q. Aren’t biblically unsound and even cultic groups doing good in the world by promoting standards of decency and morality? Does Luke 9:49-50 say we shouldn’t forbid them?

A. Let me begin by asking my own questions: What is the commission Christ gave to His disciples? Is it to promote decency and morality? Or is it to preach the Gospel message that Jesus died to save sinners who will trust Him as their Savior?

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Q. Will the wicked really suffer eternal punishment in hell? It seems to me that the Bible may teach that they are merely executed.

A. The belief that the wicked will be executed after the resurrection is called annihilationism. Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the followers of Herbert W. Armstrong all believe this doctrine. A number of other theologians in more mainstream churches have also promoted annihilationism, or at least believed it to be a legitimate possibility based on their understanding of Scripture. Perhaps the most well known of these was the Anglican evangelical, John Stott. I believed a form of this teaching for many years when I was in the Worldwide Church of God. I no longer believe it to be the correct understanding, and I will try to briefly explain why.

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