Friday, 19 January 2007

Comfort Zones: Meant to be Broken

I've taken the title above from an article in the current GN addressed to young adults. The writer, Debbie Whitlark, reflects on a month-long solo backpacking trip through Europe, and her musings are worth repeating.

"In both physical and spiritual matters, people often meet every challenge - and thus every opportunity - with a well practiced list of excuses for why they will avoid the issue or why they will only expect a mediocre performance from themselves. But fears are conquered only through action, and they are only intensified by avoidance."

"We should remember that every challenge in life is a priceless opportunity to grow. We should not ask God to take away the problem while reciting a long list of explanations as to why we won't be able to overcome the challenge at hand. Instead we can confidently trust that God will see us through the trial, not always lift it from us."

"But growth cannot occur within familiar, comfortable territory. We must choose to keep discovering and expanding what we are capable of, rather than always staying within a comfort zone that would insulate us not only from nominal failure, but also from real success."

Debbie is talking in the context of physical challenges and embracing opportunities. I'd like to suggest that there's also a real application here to the way we think, the questions we ask, and the security blanket we cling to in the area of belief. The Churches of God constitute a "comfort zone" for many of us, and no wonder considering the trauma of the past several years. Moreso as we've seen institutions we trusted go belly-up, and leaders we admired betray their ideals, the tendency has been to cluster together for protection and reassurance in even smaller communities. We talk among ourselves and reinforce each other by steering away from the trauma that has pulled families apart and destroyed symbols that we valued. Some of us are literally living out our faith in fear.

"For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice..." (2 Tim. 1:9 NRSV)

Years ago I was invited to hear Desmond Ford speak while has was visiting Auckland. Ford, an Australian theologian who had risen to prominence in Seventh-day Adventism, had recently parted ways with his church. I was one of the very few non SDAs in the hall that day, and to be honest I remember very little of what was said except for one piece of counsel from the good doctor which made a vivid impression.

"You don't have to read my books," Ford explained, "but you do have to read! People who read grow, those who don't won't. Don't settle down and get too comfortable. Don't be afraid to ask questions. And never be afraid to keep reading and thinking."
Of course, I'm paraphrasing, but it's how I remember it, and I walked back to my car that day with a feeling of liberation. So many of us are downright fearful about finding out about things that might upset our applecart of beliefs. We avoid certain books because they might not say what we want them to, we avoid taking a class because our pet theories might be threatened, we attack the beliefs of others because we can't stand the thought that they might actually have some legitimacy and value.

As Debbie says, comfort zones are meant to be broken. But you don't need to go backpacking in the Swiss Alps to make the breakthrough. It's the unique glory of our humanity to ask tough questions and face down the fear, to learn and to grow. If our faith means something more than Linus' security blanket, why shouldn't we wade out into deeper waters, push the boundaries and embrace some of those questions that fear shuns?


Dennis said...

Nicely put Gavin and a question well worth repeating over and over as people process their original experience with WCG, no matter where they ended up.

I know I have said it before, but it bears repeating in this context. When you outgrow your box you will experience a terrible loss of security and most of your friends. It is then you have two choices. One can keep moving and expect to generally go it alone while those in the box you leave try very hard to keep you in it. It is liberating but it may entail a transition full of anxiety and a new kind of loneliness. OR, you can get back in the box you are trying to leave, feel a lot safer, please the tribe and probably be on antidepressants the rest of your life. Oh and expect to be duplistic as well when you have the chance because being out of the box is what you really want and won't explore.

New information is scary. I was comfortable a long time in WCG as a Pastor. Then I wasn't and didn't know what to do about it. I thought I could "educate" the membership and bring them up to a higher level of thinking, both biblical and in the use of their common sense when it came to processing the thoughts and demands of others who claimed to have special knowledge in religion. Didn't work so well. Most adherents to the COG movement are sincere but unable or unwilling to think for themselves. Witness those who sit in rapt attention evidently, while Dave Pack convinces them hour after self centered hour that he is special and they are here to support the special one. They come back week after week! Brain dead.

I have gone from true believer and Pastor to skeptic who believes, currently, that humans might just be born right the first time and the "isms" are meant merely to control the herd for the benefit of the few. I don't believe the Bible is inspired anymore. I don't believe the OT represents an accurate account of what really happend and nor does the New. I can tell you it is not comfortable, but it is liberating, in spite of the fact that just saying that is to invite a "well, you'll not feel so liberated when you take a swim in the lake of fire." That's fine for someone else to believe along with a hundred other required truths backed on Bible verses cobbled together in a string to make them yield their hard to be understood truths. To me, it is simply not a problem and I don't worry about it one bit.

My comfort zone came to an end as a WCG pastor when I read John Spong's Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. The man simply hit on everything I always wondered about but was literally afraid to ask or think. I wrote to thank him and he wrote back and said..."I'm glad you enjoyed the book...if you are a Pastor, you won't survive." Prophecy comes alive! And I have been eternally grateful for John Spong's own out of the comfort zone attitude on many Biblical topics ever since.

One cannot walk without leaning forward and going off balance. To be balanced is to be frozen in place. Walking ahead is little but a coordinated controlled crash that somehow works out and progress is made. I would encourage anyone to identify and examine your discomfort zones, questions and gut feelings and find out why they won't go away. Who knows, you might make some forward progress in form of a well coordinated and graceful controlled crash...

Carolyn said...

I've known Debbie Whitlark since before she was born. Congrats, Debbie, on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and kudos to your parents, Fred and Sue, and your teachers! If only all our young people could express themselves and the thoughts in their minds!

Anonymous said... A new yahoo group which hopes to discuss more than the mundane. WCGers, past and present welcome, as is any Sabbatarian

Anonymous said...

A quote on the topic from Mark Twain.

"The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them."

Anonymous said...

To Dennis and others of course.

First, I miss your eZine letters, hope you get back to that soon. I consider myself to be pretty well read, I have a lot of books, get a few from the library now and then, read a lot of these posts and really learn much about us humans from them.

Yet, I still believe in God and keep to the traditions of the CoGs for the most part and mainly because I have not disproven them to myself and have had a lot of prayers answered in my life specifically, I mean really specifically. For one to come to pass may be a coincidence, but a multitude of them for me especially when I have been in need.

One time I was seeking something I really needed, and I read the scripture in Romans that said he who cried out to the Lord would be heard. I did just that, and within a couple of hours, in fact, just after that for the person who contacted me a couple of hours later, my much needed prayer was answered and the blessing for me was immediate and long lasting. I was in dire straits, within a few hours it was over, and a few months later, it was far gone.

Not to say that I have not had hard times since, but I really believe there is a real God who looks after me. I have had some ministers in the CoGs actually scoff, and I stand in their face and ask them to prove to me that my prayers have not been answered. My failings have come when I no longer relied on Him and became a little too self reliant.

The issue here for me is that my foundation is Christ and the scriptures. The Apostles and the Prophets with Jesus being the chief corner stone, not just a man who decided to do his own thing.

I attend one of the groups, yet see that as a stop gap feeling there is something else that will happen eventually. I do not feel I am holding on just with nowhere to go though.

I believe that what Herbert Armstrong taught was a lot of truth, but with his spin and he possibly being extremely self motivated. Like he bought the truth and really did 'sell' it like an advertiser would.

Many of these start up CoGs are there because there is money to be made, tithe dollars can secure a pretty good income if someone knows how to have the books done in their favor.

There are so many believers that are not the true ones you discuss, but ones who really work to understand the scriptures and read and study and have real deep discourse about it.

So many have been dissabused though through the various machinations of management in the organization. If you thought like Armstrong said you should, someone would smack you down and ridicule you. Really, we were cultish in our approach and we really did attempt to control peoples minds instead of inspiring them to be better and better all the time.

Yet, when you read some of the literature it was there to follow, just not always practiced. As I mentioned in an earlier post that Dennis responded to, there were a few ministers who were sincere.

Some out of something, what can you call it, when they were ultra right wingers who really did not believe what they taught and were liberals as the WCG of old would say. What would bring someone to do such a thing? Really, how could someone kick people out of the church for things they did not believe in, then turn when the time came to say they never believed it, ever?

If one is a true believer, are these the true deceiver? There were some who stayed and acted like they were a part of the conservative comeback after the 70s who just lurked in the ministry and for some reason would look for those who believed like them. One person admitted to being a camelion to others, that while he stood and taught he did not believe any of it.

This is what many got caught up into along with the power plays hurting those like Dennis and others who sincerely believed.

If you think outside the box or research stuff you are labeled a maverick or you are bragging or some such thing. This is pretty sick stuff when you think about it. It is like these controllers were afraid of people who believed God and not man.

One down side to this and other blog sites is the tendency to go too far in ridiculing the beliefs of others. There is too much attacking of Armstrong and the ism he developed and not enough real thoughtful dialog. We all experienced something rather rare. As much as Armstrong may have been a self seeking person, we really did have quite a world view. We had glasses we saw the world through yet did see much more than most in the western world.

If were not for answered prayer and many of them, where I needed God so much in my life, I would probably me more with you all then with the church of God. I do believe the strong Armstrongist view has a lot of holes, but many of the things that he got from other sources have some strong points difficult for me to disprove.

As Dennis says, 'new information is scary.' But someone with a strong foundation of proven and tested beliefs uses it to bulster the truth and to reprove his or her beliefs where they are wanting.

We can as believers in the church of God strain of belief think for ourselves, even the scriptures talks about iron sharpening iron. Sadly, too many who were to be clay in the Master Potters hands were treated like Silly Putty by puny, insecure mortal men who were either self serving or willing to deceive.

Dennis, write some more on your blog.

A confidential friend.

Anonymous said...

We should remember that every challenge in life is a priceless opportunity to grow.

But . . . why should we grow?? This is a serious question from a 30 year ex member.

Anonymous said...

To a confidential friend,

2 Thessalonians chapter 3, verses 6 through 15; followed by 2
Corinthians chapter 11, verses 7 through 15

By his practice of laboring with his hands while proclaiming the
kingdom of God, the Apostle Paul established the precedent for
how "Christian ministry" should be accomplished. Yes, Paul
acknowledged that he was a legal recipient of the tithes and
offerings of those to whom he proclaimed the kingdom, but as Jesus
was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matt 3:15), Paul did not
take tithes from either the fellowship at Corinth or the fellowship
at Thessalonica. The Apostle Paul's proclaiming the kingdom while
working with his hands in the economy of the day models how endtime
Christian ministry will be accomplished.

The Apostle Paul did not refuse support when he was in need, but
credits the brothers who came from Macedonia for supplying his need.
Thus, it is not wrong for a Christian ministry to accept support; it
is wrong for any ministry to ask for, or expect support … what about
Jesus saying that a person doesn't have because he or she doesn't
ask? This asking is of God, who, by drawing the person from the
world, has obligated Himself to provide the needs of the person.
Why would a person or a ministry ask those who struggle to feed
themselves as they do for support? Why would this person or ministry
not ask God, who placed the person in ministry? And here is the
problem: God has not placed most Christian teachers or ministers or
pastors in the social positions they occupy. They are usurpers. And
the Apostle Paul, to undermine their claims that they, too, have been
called by God into ministry, says that they are to work on the same
terms as he works (2 Cor 11:12). If they will not, they are false
apostles, deceitful workmen, ministers of Satan (vv. 13-15); for if
they were called to proclaim the kingdom of God, then God would
supply their needs.

It's a matter of faith and obedience. Continue your walk of faith, you're on the right track.

Anonymous said...

If you think outside the box or research stuff you are labeled a maverick or you are bragging or some such thing.

Isn't it odd that out of all the major COG groups, it may be Meredith's which finally breaks the mold of cultic "education" for its ministers and members, and pushes them out of their "comfort zones"?

Boy was I surprised when I learned Meredith had asked former AC executive Dr. Michael Germano to prepare to administer a "Living University" that will seek accreditation and function like a real school, not just a "cult Bible camp" like UCG's ABC or PCG's HWAC.

But that's not all. Anyone who doubts that LCG is moving away from old Armstrongist rigidity ought to look at the "Living Leadership Course" that was sent to the LCG ministry last year. It's full of pointers to excellent non-COG source material, and any LCG member who takes it seriously will either have to soften his approach to Armstrongism, or else leave for one of the hard-core Armstrongist cults.

I find it hard to believe Meredith of all people is doing all this, but the evidence of the Living Leadership Course and of LCG's openness to Dr. Germano -- a serious scholar who has held many opinions completely disagreeing with previous core LCG beliefs -- makes it clear LCG isn't content to just parrot old WCG teachings.

Of course, once LCG ministers and members start getting a taste of what it's like to think for themselves, and they start emulating Professor Germano, I wonder whether they will stay around to transform LCG, or whether they will wise up and leave their LCG "comfort zone" instead?

Gordon Feil said...

Years ago, as a young man (or an old boy) I postulated that information about the universe is like a jigsaw puzzle in which each piece could be fitted to numerous pieces without us knowing if the connections were really correct. Each of us is only given a few pieces and we try to make a coherant picture. We join one piece to another, using only the pieces we have, of course. Without the benefit of the missing pieces we do not know if the picture we are forming is as reflective of reality as it appears. Now, if the pieces you have been granted are all adjoining pieces from the same part of the puzzle, you can form a picture that bears some resemblance to reality, but if you have only a smattering of pieces from here and there, you join pieces to others that you ought not to, and you form a misshapen picture.

Reading is about getting more pieces and being able to have more options in this matter of joing pieces.

Many of us forget that it was reading that got us into the COG in the first place. In the COGs we need people who are willing to search for new pieces and reassemble the puzzle. Anyone who never disagrees with themselves nor challenges their own beliefs is not growing in knowledge.

Dennis said...

Anon...actually I agree with much of your own observations. I am not oblivious to spirituality, which from my perspective comes from inside a man and does not depend on holding traditional beliefs for the sake of doing so or belonging. Belonging is very comforting and since not belonging, I have learned what alone feels like to be sure.

Churches strive to make people RELIGIOUS but not spiritual. Again, from my perspective, Religion is what someone else pours into your head, is fixed and cannot be changed from the bottom up. It only gets changed from the top down and only when those at the top find some personal benefit to do so. Everyone else is just a complier, keeps their own views to themselves or has to decide whether it is worth it to speak up. Groups are not meant to promote growth in understanding.

Recently at the urging a friend who said I'd love his men's group because it was so open and scientific and free to talk, I saw it all unfold again. I went, feeling a need for some "guy" contact and stimulation with others. Very quickly some guy just took over the meeting, began telling everyone how it all was in the Bible and what was expected of all. I said, "that's the minister" and of course was right. It was same old stuff and I guess one man's "freedom to talk" in a group, was my Gitmo..ha.

Churches are meant to promote sameness. They thrive on sameness even if it's the same wrong thing.

Concerning prayer...I prayed my soul out in college to end up where I could be the most encouraging and helpful..of course I went into the ministry. In hindsite, was that an answer to prayer or just me? Looking back, it seems like just me. On the other hand, I could not be here if I had not been there, so perhaps my idea of when I would be more encouraging to the church was misunderstood by me. Unlike Dave Pack and Gerry Flurry, God has not chosen to spend my time talking personally with me about these things.

I do know a few "miracles" account for why I am still here. As a student I arranged at my expense to spend a summer in Idaho helping the minister freebies. I hated L.A. Got my flight and then was approached the night before leaving by a man who offered me a job on campus for the summer. He asked me just to try it one night. I did, since in those days an airline ticket was like a bus ticket and could be used anytime with arrangements. I hated the job, quit in one night, missed my flight at 8 am and it was hit by a fighter jet over LA with predictable results...Sooo here I am. I have a few more of those..ha.

I haven't been writing new articles because I am compiling what is appropriate into a possible book, though I know nothing about the "how to publish" yet. "From Pastor to Bastard" seemed harsh, so now it might be "Born Right the First Time?" just picked up my "Prophets, Apostles and Mental Illness" article even though missed putting my name and ezines on it. That was my fault.

While cheeky at times, which is just my anger over Religion and the whole WCG experience expressing itself, I am a very easy going, live and let live person. Perhaps I wrote this script for the experience in some way, so it's all good afterall. That is more comforting to me than "you screwed up." :) Everyone is where they are in what they can see or not see at the time they are there. That's why I don't participate in the scripture throwing matches that sometimes pop up on the site as one tries to prove to the other that they know where more to find stuff in the Bible for their cause. Jared noted well as others that the Bible can and is a source that uniquely is capable of promoting all positions on just about all questions. Being a Bible reader is not the same as being a Bible perceiver...

We are all here to learn and our rate of learning is tied to our need to learn and the consequences we perceive we will face if we express what we feel we have learned. Most people like this don't do well in groups.

If everyone were conservative, cautious and compliant, the human race would make no progress...

Dennis said...

PS Just opened some mail..

"Be warned God does move in mysterious ways His wonder too perform

Be careful NOT to make fun of the Almighty God

Kind regards as God is Love, I know so as he lives inside my heart

John Ch 3 Vs 16 may help YOU"

I rest my case....

Anonymous said...

Well written piece Gavin.

The whole WCG transformation began when the leading ministers began reading books (volumes upon volumes) by those outside of the Sabbatarian movement.

I remember hearing from the pulpit many times growing up WCG that we were not allowed to read religious material except what the church put out otherwise we could be "led astray".

AW fan said...

Speaking of comfort zones . . . does anyone remember the tabloid version of The Plain Truth that came out briefly circa 1976? Finances forced rethinking. It was a major departure from the Time magazine wannabe look. Subscribers were even invited to pay for their subscriptions. Yet another innovation was the inclusion of humorist Art Buchwald's column in each issue. I'm reminded of all this with Mr. Buchwald's passing earlier this week. (See for an obit.)

Byker Bob said...

I remember the tabloid version. It didn't last long at all, as it was of dubious quality and durability.

By way of comment, there are varying degrees of Armstrongites. There are some who are just plain parrots, aka "the dumb sheep", who have lost the ability to do any type of meaningful thinking. However, I've encountered some who do read outside materials, who do analyze and think, yet stick with some of the core doctrines like the sabbath, holydays, and clean and unclean meats. Which is fine. Jews seem to be happy, and they've been observant of such things for millennia.

I don't think any of us object to deep thinkers, regardless of what their religious persuasion might happen to be. It's the passive types who idolize HWA as "God's Apostle" and blindly allow the ministers to do their thinking for them whom we find to be somewhat wanting (to use a kindly description). You can show such people plain evidence that what they were taught was in error, because only the supportive portions of a historical reference were provided to "prove" an Armstrongist position, yet they will be incapable of making any changes because to do so would be to go against official church position. Even the church luminaries (Dr. Thiel certainly comes to mind) have exhibited this type of perplexing behavior.

During my tenure in WCG, I recall hearing "But, Mr. Armstrong says..." used as the sole and ultimate authority for so many beliefs, practices, and even opinions. I can only assume that the past tense of this quotation is still very popular in the ACOGs.


AW fan said...

One of the "anonymous" posters mentioned Mike Germano (former Ambassador academic dean) being asked to help establish an accredited university for RCM's LCG.

I asked an LCG pastor friend for his comments.

His response: "No way, José. Where DO you hear these things? It's an elementary point of logic that everything built on a false assumption is false. This jerk, whomever he is, is welcome to his prejudicial approach, but I'm welcome to choose to ignore him & his ilk. Not worth my time. . . .
No LU. Leadership Course innocuous. No story, despite hopes to contrary."

Perhaps "Anonymous" can verify the accuracy of his sources?

Anonymous said...

To Byker Bob,

You said, "yet stick with some of the core doctrines like the sabbath, holydays, and clean and unclean meats."

How Sir do you answer the following: Is Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever? Then if so, why would we not continue to keep core doctrines?

Neotherm said...

Comfort Zone has a lot to do with why people are still clinging to Armstrongism. They have selected the God they are comfortable with and the religious philsophy they are comfortable with. They are not the Chosen but the Choosers, each creating a solemn fiction about how he or she did not join "the church" but was placed in it. For most of these surreptitious joiners, spinning a yarn about how they were placed in "the church" is there first exercise in malforming the truth.

Comfort Zone is what it is all about.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

dennis said....

"If everyone were conservative, cautious and compliant, the human race would make no progress... "

Dennis, you hit the nail on the head with this comment. Whether someone believes the scripture in some sort of fashion of the WCG or all other sorts of beliefs, it takes a differing view to make a better whole.

The point here to be taken is that the ministry usually did not know a lot of the Bible and when faced with not knowing to answer something would use his authority to put someone in his or her place.

They really did want yellow pencils, even though they would claim vociferously that they did not.

When you said that 'churches promote sameness' at first blush that would be true when it came to much of the old WCG. The church is the people, and people are different, unique, no way anyone can help that. The problem is the ministry and the organizers of the corporate entities demand and almost require sameness and more aptly, conformity to their standards, not the standards written about in the scriptures.

Imagine what it would be like if the humanity was taken out of the churches, all of them, from the RCC to the WCG and everyone in between, and imagine that true godliness and Christlikeness were to reign. Someone could be godly and Christ like and be different, hey, he had 12 Apostles and then Paul and Barnabas and they needed a council to come to an agreement since there was difference of view.

The consistent personality persists in the ministry of the churches of God. They do not really accept anyone in their fold who has a different view and approach and almost all of the elders want a profile to be like a manager, not a servant. Anyone outside that mold does not measure up. Sameness leads to conformity and only when the feet vote does the leadership start thinking or go on the warpath.

Dennis said also that, 'the churches strive to make people RELIGIOUS and not spiritual.'

You also mention the funnel in the head. That is funny, because Armstrong always talked about education being that way, if you all remember. After all of the talking about thinking, we had to leave our minds at the door most of the time with a hole in the head and a funnel in it.

I think the reason we church of God Mavericks were labelled all the time is because we did think and see things and believed what we read originally even when it did not square with the practice. THIMK on a piece of paper on the man's desk to help him to remember to Think. Again, he said, think about what you are doing while you are doing it. So, really, he talked about modeling a thinking lifestyle, which, would in essence lead one to develop his or her gifts and view.

May you could entitle your book: "From Pastor to Pasture. Finding peace and release outide of religion."

Dennis also said "Groups are not meant to promote growth in understanding." Yet Dennis, there are learning organizations, as they call it, in the business world that promote and manage people with newer and better understanding of what is their core technology. Working for one of them is like working at a university, where the management, many PhDs, are not afraid about who knows something they do not, they actually sit and talk and test and teach each other on what they know without fear. It is just great. The bigger problem with the church of old is that these guys were afraid of someone who read their Bibles and were attempting to be knowledgeable.

Dennis, I feel I can say this for many on this blog that we are glad you missed that flight and are still here with us. You teach us a lot about ourselves.

The Bible can be interpreted in so many ways to color things the way a person wants us to see it. Additionally, then we have various versions where you can pick and choose and refine to your liking what meaning you want to get. Armstrong used to call it a puzzle, now the pieces fit differently or not at all, especially with the versions and then the theological view.

One thing I remember hearing when the trinity was being introduced on tapes sent from Bible Studies in Pasadena. I think it was the Greek guy who said that this three in one was a theological not a Biblical arguement. No wonder no one agrees. At least in the Theological world, a differing view is usually considered just that. Like the men on Mars Hill said to Paul, we would like to hear more about that.

The best thing we can all do is listen and not condemn or cajole someone for where they are. Instead of conformity, maybe we could get to informedity. I guess I can get cheeky to.

A confidential friend....

Anonymous said...

Neo, maybe you could reread what Gavin said and the spirit in which he said it.

How you wrote your opinion would make most either want to bite back at you or go back into the comfort zone. Ouch.

Byker Bob said...

To anonymous 9:46: My studies have taken me beyond the Bible to its origins. I still consider it to be an incredible literary work, but believe in Jesus only as an exemplary literary figure. Generally speaking, characters in books do remain the same yesterday, today, and forever, so I guess I can agree with your quotation.


Anonymous 666 said...

The following is a piece of nastiness dedicated to those who have become mediocre in their rut of staying in the comfort zone of "the core religion" of Herbert Armstrong:

Perhaps the first thing to challenge yourself on is how to reconcile that Herbert Armstrong was a false prophet but somehow brought us "the truth".

Or maybe you just don't go far enough in your religion. Consider, if you eat out on the Sabbath that maybe you are breaking the Fourth Commandment.

Or what about keeping the New Moon? Herbert Armstrong used to have a Bible Study on the New Moon and then gave it up. If you are so all-fired about the religion, why don't you go the full route and take off work on every New Moon? And while you are at it, you should probably keep the full time of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread away from home at "the place where God chooses"!

A good place to go, if you want this extremism is:

In their own words: "We keep all of the terms of the Covenant except for the physical blood sacrifices and first covenant temple system (Heb. 7:27; Heb. 10:1ff; ) as we now are the sacrifices (Rom. 12:1; 1Pet. 2:1-5)."

You just aren't devout enough unless you keep all the terms of the Covenant except the sacrifices and the temple system [Problem alert: Since there is no temple system, there is no way to give tithes!].

And for you proponents of British Israelism -- you are a pathetic shadow of what you should be!!! Just consider Abraham's Legacy:

Let's not hear screams and howls! You are just cowards! You are too entrenched in your comfort zone. You'll never get into the Kingdom that way!

Just remember, "Comfort Zones: Meant to be Broken". Along with any vestige of sanity which might not have been already expunged.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 666,

You said __Herbert Armstrong was a false prophet but somehow brought us "the truth".__
Before I ever heard of HWA, I sat each Sunday in the Episcopal church, listening to and responding to the service, chanting back that I would keep each of the Commandments, including the Sabbath. I was 9 years old when I asked my teacher if we still kept the Sabbath. He said, no, we kept the first day of the week instead. My 9-year old brain “knew” that was wrong. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I began keeping the Sabbath; my mother wanted to wait until my stepdad came along—I said no, we had to do it now if we believed it was to be kept. We started out with the SDAs, went to COG7thDay and ended up with HWA. I agree with you, he is a false prophet, his prophecies have not come to pass, and his work is burned up.

__if you eat out on the Sabbath that maybe you are breaking the Fourth Commandment.__
I do not eat out on the Sabbath.

__Or what about keeping the New Moon? Herbert Armstrong used to have a Bible Study on the New Moon and then gave it up. If you are so all-fired about the religion, why don't you go the full route and take off work on every New Moon?__
Most of Paul’s epistles are written to Gentiles who did not keep the law but ran with friends to riotous living. In Eph 5:1 Paul admonishes Gentiles to be imitators of God. God is holy and tells us how to be holy as He is Lev 19:2-37 [basically a list of how to love God by being obedient and some everyday rules on how to actually love your neighbor]. Now that Paul is writing to Gentiles on how to love God and neighbor, he goes on to say to these same Gentiles, not to let their Gentile ex-friends in Col 2:16 judge them by what they are now doing—not eating blood, not eating meat sacrificed to an idol, keeping the festivals of God, New Moon celebrations [which sometimes lasted 3 days, and included celebratory meals, but not holy convocations], Sabbaths and not running to riotous behavior and sexual sins. Paul admonishes Peter in Gal 2:11-16 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Peter also has been teaching Gentiles to live like Jews. How did Jews live? Sabbath keepers, eaters of only clean meats, not eaters of blood, didn’t consort with temple prostitutes …

__And while you are at it, you should probably keep the full time of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread away from home at "the place where God chooses"!__
"For wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." --Matthew 18:20. [All] Feasts should be kept locally—going away is an option, but not necessarily justified.

As to the covenant …

On the plains of Moab, the Lord commanded Moses to make an additional covenant with Israel-a second covenant-besides the covenant made at Horeb [i.e., Sinai]. The covenant made at Horeb is the only covenant usually recognized by Bible students, but this Horeb covenant was ratified by blood (Exod 24:5-8). Thus, this is a temporary covenant, and a copy of a heavenly [or spiritual] covenant that will be ratified with a better sacrifice (Heb 9:23 . this is one of the concepts that needs remembered when moving from physical to spiritual).

The second covenant was ratified by a song (Deu chap 32) and not with blood; thus, it is a heavenly covenant.

The fault found with the Horeb covenant wasn't with the covenant, but with the people (Heb 8:7-8 cf. Jer 31:31-33; Heb 8:8-12). Israel was not yet born of Spirit.

The Horeb covenant remained in effect (Deu 5:2-5) when this second Moab covenant was made with Israel-nothing in this second covenant negates the terms of the Horeb covenant, made not just with the adults who died in the wilderness, but also with their descendants . Deuteronomy is not the second giving of the Law as too many teach, but the second covenant made with srael, a covenant made in addition to the temporary Horeb covenant, which will be abolished at Calvary, because Israel kills the Covenanter, the Logos born as the man Jesus, as a wife might kill her husband. The Horeb covenant ends when the laws of God are written on hearts and placed in minds, the definition of spiritual circumcision. This happened when ten Apostles receive of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22) on the afternoon of the day of Jesus' resurrection.

The writer of the book of Hebrews merely says that in "speaking of a new covenant, he [the Lord] makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Heb 8:13). The intent seems to be that until the temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the Horeb covenant remained as a fossil as some physically circumcised Israelites continued to receive spiritual circumcision through professing that Jesus is Lord and believing that the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 10:9). This is what's apparently seen when Paul returns to Jerusalem (Acts 21:17-36). The fullness of natural Israelites who were to be born of Spirit had not yet been reached until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. The door then closed on natural Israel and will not be opened again until the Tribulation begins, which does not mean that no natural Israelite became a spiritual Israelite. Rather, this means that the sanctified status of natural Israel ended ["sanctified" used as Paul used the concept in regards to the children of Believers].

In Deuteronomy 29:10-15, the second covenant is made with everyone standing before the Lord, including children, wives, and sojourners-this echoes what Paul writes in Gal 3:28, where there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, free nor bond in Christ Jesus. And this second covenant is given to establish Israel as God's people that He might be the nation's God as He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the covenant is made with those who were not then standing before the Lord, so future generations are made a party to this covenant.

The terms of this second covenant are straightforward: when [not "if"] the blessing and the cursing happen to Israel, and Israel finds itself in a far land, if Israel will in that far land turn to God-which will require an act of faith-and will begin to obey His voice in all that He commanded Israel on this day on the plains of Moab, loving God with the nation's hearts and minds [nephesh, which can be equally translated as mind as it usually is as soul], God will bring Israel back to the Promised Land and will give to the nation and its children circumcised hearts (Deu 30:1-6) . here is the first promise of spiritual circumcision, and it comes to Israel through an act of faith when the nation is in a far land. This is also the first prophecy addressing foreign captivity and Israel's return to Judea.

Moses continues, saying that the terms of this second covenant has Israel obeying the voice of the Lord, and keeping His commandments and his statutes that are written in this book of the Law, this book being Deuteronomy (Deu 30:10). So this second covenant is not dependent in any way on the Horeb covenant, and this second covenant doesn't include animal sacrifices, but hinges on an act of faith.

Again, the second covenant is made with a mixed people, circumcised and uncircumcised. It is made with Israel outside of the Promised Land. And it promises circumcised hearts for the act of faith of returning to God and keeping His commandments and statutes.

The Apostle Paul calls this second covenant "the righteousness based on faith" (cf. Rom 10:6-8; Deu 30:11-14):

When the seven endtime years begin, the Israel of today, a spiritual nation, will be empowered by or filled with the Holy Spirit in the manner
foreshadowed by what happened on Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. This
empowerment by the Holy Spirit will liberate Israel from indwelling sin of the type Paul described in Romans 7:7-25. This liberation will reveal the Son of Man (Luke 17:30), Christ Jesus. Disciples today form the Body of Christ, this Body covered or clothed by the garment of Christ's righteousness (this is the proper understanding of Grace). Christ Jesus is the uncovered Head. Thus, when the Son of Man is revealed, both the presently uncovered Head and the presently covered Body will be revealed, meaning that the garment of Grace will be stripped away through the empowerment of disciples by the Holy Spirit.

Again, at a second Passover liberation of Israel, bondage to indwelling sin in the flesh of every disciple will end through empowerment by the Holy Spirit. If a disciple-who will then have neither sin nor death dwelling in his or her flesh-returns to sin, the disciple will have committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This blasphemy will not be forgiven, for the disciple will then have no covering for sin except his or her obedience. But with no sin or lawlessness dwelling in the person, the disciple will have no excuse for transgressing the commandments of God other than he or she valued his or her fleshly body more than he or she valued obedience to God (Matt 10:24-28).

Lives will again be given as lives were given when God liberated natural Israel from physical bondage to Pharaoh (Isa 43:3-4, note verse 4). And so many lives will be given [firstborns not covered by the Passover blood of the Lamb of God] that the world is plunged into utter chaos-into the seven endtime years of tribulation. And when these years begin, the man of perdition, the little horn of the head of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, will emerge and attempt to change times and the law (Dan 7:25). The saints will be delivered into this man of perdition's hand, and it will now take an act of faith to keep the commandments, especially the Sabbath.

Observant Judaism will not give up the Sabbath. Therefore, the Observant Jew who through faith keeps the commandments and who professes that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9) will stand on the same theological ground as the disciple who keeps the precepts of the law. The disciple has been spiritually circumcised and is now empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Observant Jew, under the terms of the Moab covenant, who by faith professes that Jesus is Lord will receive spiritual circumcision, empowerment, and the promise of salvation.

Now, go to Ezekiel 36, especially verses 24 through 28 (read the entire chapter) and Ezekiel chapter 20, verses 34 through 38.

The nation of Israel that God returns to Judea will have circumcised hearts under the second covenant, the covenant Moses made with Israel, and the
covenant to which better promises were added when its mediator became Christ Jesus.

The scriptural evidence for a second Passover is in Jeremiah, chapter 16, verses 14-15, and in chapter 23, verses 7-8; in Isaiah 43 (you need to realize that in Hebraic poetics, the first presentation of a thought is physical, the second presentation is spiritual, or the first is of the hand and the second is of the heart; thus, verse 3 is physical, while verse 4 is spiritual), and in Isaiah 11:11; and in typological exegesis, where what is presented in Scripture forms the shadow and copy of the heavenly Book of Life, in which the lives of disciples are epistles written not with ink but with Spirit on hearts (2 Cor 3:3).

When the seven endtime years begin, physically-circumcised Israel will again be gathered to God-the fullness of the Gentiles [prior to when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all flesh] will have come to God (Rom 11:25).

Now, what Israel doesn't want to hear: when the mixed nation [i.e.,
circumcised and uncircumcised] crossed the Jordan on the 10th day of the first month, God selected Israel as His Passover Lamb (Exod 12:3). But all of Israel was blemished until the Logos came as the man Jesus. However, when the seven endtime years begin and Israel is liberated from indwelling sin-and when Observant Jews are, by faith, born empowered by Spirit-Israel will become the acceptable sacrificial Lamb of God, the Body of the Lamb already slain. Except for the 144,000 all of natural Israel will be slain. Except for the remnant (Rev 12:17), all of the disciples who begin the Tribulation will be slain either physically or spiritually. The remnant are those disciples who keep the commandments and have the spirit of prophecy (add Rev 19:10 to Rev 12:17). Only they and the 144,000 spiritual virgins (Rev 14:1-5) from Observant Judaism will physically cross from the first half of the Tribulation into the second half.

Some of natural Israel needed to have returned to ancient Judea prior to when the seven endtime years begin so that Scripture could be fulfilled concerning the split Mount of Olives (Zech 14:3-4), through which the 144,000 escape. But the return of this portion of natural Israel is not anticipated in Scripture, but is assumed.

__You just aren't devout enough unless you keep all the terms of the Covenant except the sacrifices and the temple system.__
There are no sacrifices required in the keeping of the second covenant that Christ mediates.

__[Problem alert: Since there is no temple system, there is no way to give tithes!].__
Do you really want to answer to God why you withhold tithes and offerings? Matt 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you
tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier
matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These
[weightier matters of the law] you ought to have done, without
neglecting the others [tithe].

__And for you proponents of British Israelism -- you are a pathetic shadow of what you should be!!!__
Unless your Bible contains prophecies mine does not, the formation of the modern State of Israel is not a fulfillment of biblical prophecies … endtime Israel is not the modern nation of Israel, nor is it America and Britain as British Israelites hold. The Apostle Paul wrote (without vowel pointing),
ean oun j akrobustia ta dikaiwmata tou nomou fulassj, ouci j akrobustia autou eiv
peritomjn logioqjsetai: kai krinei j ek fusewv akrobuustia, ton nomon telousa, se ton
dia grammatov kai peritomjv parabatjn nomou; ou gar o en tw fanerw 'Ioudaiov estin
oude j en tw fanerw en sarki peritomj all o en tw krptw 'Ioudaiov, kai peritomj kardiav en pneumati, ou grammati ou o epainov ouk ex anqrwpwn all ek tou Qeou
A literal rendering of the above into English would be,
If, then, the uncircumcised the ordinances of the law keeps, (will) not the uncircumcision of him for circumcision be counted? And will judge the by nature uncircumcision the law keeping you the through letter and circumcision transgressor of law? not for the (one) apparent a Jew is, nor (is) the apparent in flesh circumcision, but the (one) in private Jew (is) and circumcision (is) of heart, in spirit, not in letter; of whom the praise (is) not from men, but from God.
A readable rendering is offered by the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible:
So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Rom 2:26-29)
Thus, according to the Apostle Paul, Israel is a spiritually circumcised nation, making endtime Israel that portion of the Christian Church that has been born of Spirit and has by faith cleansed their hearts (Acts 15:9)
The Apostle Peter wrote to the “elect exiles of the dispersion” (1 Pet 1:1), “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:9-10). And this holy nation that was once not a people, but has become the firstfruits of God is the endtime nation of Israel, which will be recovered from the North Country, the representation of death.

Respectfully, Anonymous

Richard said...

As I go through the O.T. in the UCG Bible Reading Program, "new moons" keep coming up 'oer and 'oer.

And I wonder why the BRP does not explain why UCG (or most other COG's) do not keep them.

Kathleen Kakacek said...

Here's a book that put me outside my comfort zone: Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Anyone out there read it yet?

Anonymous said...

"And I wonder why the BRP does not explain why UCG (or most other COG's) do not keep them."

brave anonymous poster said...

arguments put forth by anonymous666 show the obvious, that he has no understanding at all.

we shouldn't be surprised by that, however.....John 6:44 explains it quite well.

those that do not understand will always "throw off" on us, try to catch us in a contradiction, and generally try to make us look foolish, and maybe in their own minds they succeed.

that second resurrection, the one they don't belive in, will be their opportunity to understand the things we do now.

Praise God!

Anonymous 666 said...

"arguments put forth by anonymous666 show the obvious, that he has no understanding at all."

Not so obvious after all: The original posting was satire and poor brave anonymous poster missed it. Perhaps it has something to do with Psalms 111:10. It's funny to find someone so clueless.

Actually, I think that Respectfully anonymous did a terrific job of answering my non questions. Congrats.

Now let us move on to the Postponements and leave behind the Mouse the Roared. Yes, the Eternal Church of God with its "A Sabbath Test" has fomented unhappy criticism in its wake from such as Living and Restored. Even United was disturbed by the booklet and the challenge posed over at and "requested" that Dennis Fischer remove material while the UCG "examined" their position. Talk about breaking a comfort zone. How some little outfit can have such a tremendous impact is a complete mystery, unless of course you don't discount the supernatural and / or coincidences in the Universe.

Before we proceed, let me say that I never said I believe in keeping the New Moons [I don't] or support not eating out on the Sabbath or British Israelism [I don't]. It's just that Armstrongism has become so indentured to its comfort zones that it needs a few challenges to shake loose a little truth in what seems to be an otherwise fact free environment.

People should have caught on to the mention of the Assembly of Eloah as being the follow on to the CCg and that the website of the Legacy of Abraham was written by James Dailley, formerly the second in command at CCg before Wade Ewart Cox kicked him out and he became integral to AoE, but it seems that most posters are blissfully unaware and go on without checking references, remaining as it were, within their own comfort zones of the ruts they dug for themselves decades ago. Times are changing and few are taking notice. Your first clue should have been that I was using the most extreme as an extreme for an example.

So if Armstrongists really want to leave their comfort zones, they should start studying the Hebrew Calendar issue. Oh, people have said that they will look at it some time, but they never do. It's too hard.

Well, looky here, all those who have faith in your vain Jewish fables: What if you are keeping the Passover on the wrong day -- two or more days late, just because you got the calendar wrong. You want to explain that to the Death Angel as he visits your house and finds your household a prime target for the wrath of God? In times past, God has winked at this and let it pass, but since judgment begins at the House of God, aren't you just a little bit worried that you might not be in the circle of His Protection because of your inattention to detail? Particularly now since this is such a visible issue?

Oh, if you really believe that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, you should really be digging into the calendar issue because your salvation may depend upon it. Read Revelation 20 very carefully. It doesn't say what Herbert Armstrong said it says, and forget the nonsense spouted by Gerald Waterhouse. No, you need to do some digging and leave your comfort zone to find out whether you start the new moon at the first opportunity or wait until "midnight" for the conjunction. And what of the Jews knowing that the Hillel II calculation puts the Spring Equinox April 6 / 7? That's scientifically wrong and you can prove it -- if you dare.

So you believe nonsense and base your salvation on it.

What sort of fool staying in your comfort zone make you anyway?

Personally, I'd settle for even a few repenting of their idolatry.

In the absence of that, I guess I'll settle for amusement provided by fools.

Anonymous said...

Au Contrair Mon Anonymous 666, I was not clueless to your satire. __The original posting was satire and poor brave anonymous poster missed it. Perhaps it has something to do with Psalms 111:10. It's funny to find someone so clueless.__

You just got my dander up and I had to disabuse anyone who might be swayed by thinking your claptrap. It's beyond me why thinking adults resort to trashing or satire instead of civilized debate or exchange of ideas when they disagree or see someone.

Beginning of Wisdom … I once heard the student body vice president at Big Sandy in 1967 tell a young woman who had a brain was unafraid to use or to ask questions, that if she were not careful, no one would want her for a wife. Her response was priceless: "God gave me this brain, Sir, and if I do not use it, I will have to answer to him, not you."


brave anonymous poster said...

oh forgive me for not catching your sense of humor!

perhaps I jumped to conclusions because I "judged a book by it's cover", that is to say, your posting handle led me to a wrong conclusion as to your motives....and, I didn't read your post carefully enough, since those are arguments I've heard sooooo many times.

Praise God anyway!

Anonymous 666 said...

"It's beyond me why thinking adults resort to trashing or satire instead of civilized debate or exchange of ideas when they disagree or see someone."

That is what you have just done. You are beyond yourself, apparently.

Apparently you did not get the full measure of what was meant: It was about comfort zones and I was challenging them -- challenging those who are so self-righteously satisfied that they do not examine the issues of BI and other such claptrap because they accept the word of a perceived "expert" without doing what the Bible says to do -- check these things out to see what is true.

The same old tired topics keep coming up again and again and the same people hold fast to their old positions without checking out the facts, secure in their comfort zones.

If you don't like my example, do go back and check Elijah with the 400 prophets of Baal. As an analogy, it's not perfect: I'm not a prophet.

Perhaps we can all wave to each other at the Lake of Fire.

Here's one for you:

If a day is as a thousand years to the Lord, then the first four days of creation would represent the first four thousand years of man. The first day of creation was during the new moon and it took four days before the sun and moon could be discerned -- they existed, but could not be discerned from one another -- even as God and Satan existed for four thousand years but not clearly seen any more than light and darkness until Jesus came. At the coming of the Son of Light came, God the Father and Satan the Devil were clearly discerned, just as the sun and moon were discerned in the fourth day of creation.

Would you care to discuss that? Or is that beyond your comfort zone?

If it is, shame on you. We should grow in grace and knowledge, not self-righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 666,

I cannot respond better to your question of a day/1000 years or the light/dark issue than the following two articles. I did not write them, but they say what I think I want to say to you.
"Concealed In the Tzimtzum:
“J” is to “P” as Stone is to Spirit [Part 1]"

"Concealed In the Tzimtzum:
“J” is to “P” as Stone is to Spirit [Part 2]"

I believe they may be the basis for the lively discussion you desire.


Anonymous 666 said...

My favorite part is:

"Although rabbinical Judaism, Muslim apologists, and Arian disciples pounce upon what Matthew records as if they were a litter of tabby cats with a church mouse,"

I can hardly wait for the third in the series.

It is nicely challenging, although Mr. Kizer's writings can be daunting for those not accustomed to his level of scholarship and are not willing to have their comfort zones challenged. Nevertheless, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but is still interesting to those of us who value knowledge for the sake of knowledge with the Inward Point of View.

This is probably not the appropriate venue for a discussion for this particular material.

The challenge is that the focus of this discussion is to challenge comfort zones of those who would be considered more "mainstream". Obviously, you are not anywhere near either the WCG or the major xcgs such as United, Living, Restored, Philadelphia. The mindset you apparently hold is not anywhere near the target of hypocrisy held by the bigger guys. Think Norman S. Edwards.

From my perspective, United doesn't understand some major things because they won't come to grips with stalking, fondling, breaking the Sabbath and other issues. Living thus far has been focussed on "better prophecy" most of which is being issued by an early false prophet of the Churches of God now in his dying days. Restored creates its own divisions within the church and is not really a part of the body of believers as long as its leader continues his narcissistic superiority of self-righteousness, obsessed with web statistics suggesting that Islamic Countries and the Pope in the Vatican are interested in what he has to say. Gerald Flurry claims he is "That Prophet", slinging his six pack over his shoulder as he goes along as Jesus in the Flesh. Certainly, people engaged in such nonsense need to be challenged.

Most of the smaller churches of God actually have a policy of not eating out on the Sabbath, not just the Eternal Church of God, but CoGMH, CoGIT, Assembly of Eloah, CCg and others. I tend to ignore the smaller CoGs in postings here except to use them as a poke into the larger xCoGs. It doesn't appear that there is any one CoG with what we could call "The Ultimate Truth". Everyone needs an attitude adjustment.

Beyond that, the churches of God should be challenged out of their comfort zone because they are supposed to be one body, one spirit. Instead, it is littered with splintered divisions who do not yield to the Will of God and continue in their particular obsessions. I doubt that Jesus Christ will honor any of this, if any of this stuff has any validity at all, which, at this time is somewhat dubious.

Meharshalalhasbaz said...

The blueprinting of our minds, or general thought methodology fits like a glove into the topic of "Comfort Zones". There is a huge difference between critical thinking, and Armstrongist thinking! Most people did not become Armstrongites based on their critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking skills: One reads or hears some new material. Immediately, one seeks to "disprove" the new, by considering the pros and cons, consulting learned scholars who present evidence to the contrary of the new material, and considering all of the implications. If one cannot disprove the new, it becomes conditional truth, subject to further evaluation, and possibly eventually being factored into the larger body of truth one has already collected. Each new bit of information is somewhat independent of the previous.

Armstrongist thinking: Mr. Armstrong was God's Apostle. What he taught us was revealed to him by God. When reading new material, we must compare it to the teachings of Mr. Armstrong to determine if it is truth. Anything which disagrees is from Satan, and we must not even consider it, or we might end up leaving God's true church, and losing our salvation. Any materials from sources independent of WCG which tend to support Mr. Armstrong are probably from honest people who recognize that truth is truth.

The illustration which I've provided above explains why it is so difficult for people with critical thinking skills to have honest and intelligent conversations with those in the Armstrongite comfort zone.

In the heat of debate, the critical thinker is going to be able to cite numerous sources for his contentions, or even doubts. The Armstrongite, however, draws on a blueprint of limited source materials, as in "Ah, but I see you haven't read Bachugliovacci! He's never been a WCG member, and is one of the most respected sabbatarian scholars!" Or, "Haven't you ever spent time at Rabbi Davidian's website? He's got some amazing facts concerning Anglo Saxon origins!"

I guess this is no different from the picking and choosing we were taught as ACOG members, but it surely does get frustrating sometimes, trying to have an honest forensic debate!

Byker Bob said...

Excellent points there, 'baz (hope you don't mind the brevity thing).

Back in the day, HWA used to entertain the intellectually inclined COGgers by turning them on to Velikovsky and Hislop, whose works have since been largely discredited. Another HWA source was Woodrow, who has actually reversed many of his previous positions, and has written a book to correct them.


Anonymous 666 said...

Armstrongist thinking is best described by
The Personal Hype Cycle and
Finagle's Law.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 666,
__Nevertheless, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but is still interesting to those of us who value knowledge for the sake of knowledge with the Inward Point of View.

This is probably not the appropriate venue for a discussion for this particular material.__

Where might we discuss this type of material?


Anonymous 666 said...

I am currently challenged just to continue Reading A User's Guide to the Brain by Dr. John J. Ratey.

Anyone having any contact with any of the Churches of God could do worse than to have an exposition of neuroscience -- particularly in the area of perception.

It not only challenges comfort zones, it makes for understanding of how people come to their perceptions.

PAPioneerPal said...

Dear Anonymous 666,
Interesting you should single out__The mindset you apparently hold is not anywhere near the target of hypocrisy held by the bigger guys. Think Norman S. Edwards.__ and follow on with ___United doesn't understand some major things because they won't come to grips with stalking, fondling, breaking the Sabbath and other issues.___

Norman S. Edwards walked into Bible Study one morning in August 2004, and said out of the blue, "If one of us commits adultery, you have to forgive us." His wife quipped up, "Ah, the Garner Ted Armstrong syndrome." The rest of us at that table had to pick our jaws up off the floor. Who would have the brass _____ to ask for forgiveness in advance of such a sin? Was he, as the supposed 'college' administrator hoping to _do_ all of the coeds he hoped/hopes to get to come to Port Austin?

Dennis said...

Kind of humerous that a posting about breaking out of comfort zones has turned, for not a few commenting, into a brawl over who has the true comfort zone. The more things change the more they stay the same...

Anonymous 666 said...

And it is ironic that one of the persons who has the most credibility is one who was a minister of the Worldwide Church of God who is now an atheist.

The turn of fortunes never ceases to amaze.

Anonymous said...

Gavin, a bit off topic here, but not really.

I was under the very mistaken notion that most of your readership was comprised of more enlightened people. And there are quite a few intelligent ones here.

But looking at your poll results of late leaves me scratching my head. The polls indicate that the majority here are still Bible thumping, Saturday keeping kosherites, who won't even credit the reformed WCG (doctrinally, that is) with even having the status of a sect. I left that sorry cult over 10 years ago (after giving almost 30 years of my life to it). But the WCG certainly can no longer be classified that way.

It is not very encouraging to me, considering the wealth of information that you provide here, plus the very thought provoking articles from people like Dennis, to see these poll results. This tells me that too many of your readers are comfortable in their sand box of kooky Armstrongology. And that is sad indeed, again with all the information out there that could help them move on in their lives.

BTW, when I tried to vote in the latest poll it locked my out, saying I had already voted. This happened to me once before. But the same poll later on did let me vote! Something is wrong with their tracking cookie, me thinks.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 666,

On second thought, you're right … I did miss the REASON for your satire--I've never really liked the Devil's Advocate--but I must yield to the need for one; I just wish one were not needed so often.

And, I must confess, as well, that once my dander is up, I often speak [email] without thinking--I've been known to have my feet in my mouth almost up to my knees. I shall endeavor in the future to think before I let my fingers fly.


Gavin said...

G'day Stinger. Interesting comment. I'm happy that the readers include more than just the "enlightened" few. I'm guessing that the recent LCG posts in the wake of the Bryce thing have brought a lot of those folk here, and if they're willing to read the "liberal" stuff and engage with it, that's a good thing I think (I remember how I used to react that way too.) Like you, though, I look at some of those poll results and think OUCH!

Anonymous said...

aw fan wrote:

One of the "anonymous" posters mentioned Mike Germano (former Ambassador academic dean) being asked to help establish an accredited university for RCM's LCG.

I asked an LCG pastor friend for his comments.

His response: "No way, José. Where DO you hear these things?

This pastor friend of "aw fan" is going to feel awfully silly when he talks to any of the people who attended the singles events in Charlotte last month. RCM talked to them about LU, and Dr. Mike Germano is indeed the elder who is taking the lead role in putting it together.

Why would an LCG pastor be kept in the dark about this? And why would he consider it something so bad that he felt he had to deny it when he didn't have the facts? And how will he backtrack once he finds out the truth?

Dennis said...

Annon666 I am not atheist far as I can tell. I am fairly adept at what I no longer believe, but not willing to commit to believing anyone one thing at the moment. I tell those who ask I am "non-condemnational"

My sense of "God" is that we are ALL part of the same ONE positive thing. I believe it is benevolent, doesn't care what I eat, how I dress, which day I worship, facial hair, or the length of it on my head, and probably doesn't require to be worshipped to begin with. Something that demanded worship and did so because, "I am a jealous God," bothered me even as a Sunday school kid. Seems like a petty requirement from an insecure god. I know, "God doesn't see as you do Dennis" and "there is a way that seems right to Dennis, but it ends in death." I can live with that. The many anti learning, thinking and investigating scriptures are man made to promote conformity backed by threats, fear, guilt and shame. Levitical priests were very good at reminding people not to think for themselves and just do what they were told by the priests...sound familiar?????

Everyone's way seems right to them or they wouldn't express it. And yes, I use human reasoning because I am...ummmm, human, and that's the only kind of reasoning I have. Anyone who thinks they have the true mind of "God" and reason like God, is either delusional or lying.

I am very open to there being a creator, mind, spirit, force, energy or whatever behind the scenes. I just notice that it doesn't communicate well nor clearly if he is a he and a being as we understand being a being.

Actually I am a fan of scientifically based consciousness studies, possible reincarnation of the energy or spirit that is "us" and learning as we go.

John 9:2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned (in the past), this man or his parents, that he was BORN blind?"
3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus..."

When does one sin in space and time to end up born blind? (It would have to be before the man's birth:) Or maybe the blindness is allegory and it's spiritual,which is the gnostic perspective in most of the NT but to think this would threaten literalists.

that any God I could ever find or could find me would be one who loved investigation, encouraged consciousness, allowed for evolution, pointed to the realities of quantum physics and reminded us that we are spirit of sorts, trapped in a very limited 5 sensed, carbon based wetsuit that gets us around but has to go after so many cell divisions over about 70 years or so.

While I would prefer God to be a Goddess, I would hope it to be a good balance of both and not a single God with no partner, having engendered a son in a young human girl, betrothed to another man, by a holy spirit and not enjoying it one bit. I would also feel better if the single son, who went home to live, did not just live with the dad without the encouragement of a feminine principle for balance. I also would have preferred the disciples to actually have relationships in their lives I can identify with instead of just single guys or guys that were just dumb followers of the single guy and then defined mostly in the Epistles by, you guessed it, an unmarriageable single guy. I would have felt better if the Gospel of Peter, where Peter chides Jesus for kissing Mary too often on the lips had been included in the cannon. Nice touch when Peter asked "why do you love Mary more than us?" And Jesus said, "Why does she love me more than you do?" Real stuff!

Sorry, I blather. Don't tell Dave who said this. When his mom encouraged him to read this guy, he balked...

"The unexamined life is not worth living. ... Wisdom begins in wonder." Socrates

Dennis said...

Just a bit more...

Regarding the Bible, I have lost confidence in the literalism of the first 11 chapters of Genesis and the history of Israel as expressed. Up until about ten years ago, I had no idea how many factions were vying for attention in the OT and the politics of it all. I don't believe the perceived order of the OT is the true order.

Concerning the New Testament, I don't find the Gospels harmonious, the birth or resurrection stories of Jesus coherent, nor the style of the writing to be literal eyewitness accounts of Jesus as we have learned of him.

I find Paul to be both suspect but also the real founder of Christianity as we know it. The Jesus of Paul was not any Jesus he ever met personally and is literally a cosmic Jesus of Paul's hallucinatory experiences. When Paul says, "have I not seen the Lord" he meant in his head and in vision.

If Paul was a Pharisee, he didn't reason like one and was like no Pharisee anyone ever knew. Luke tells stories of Paul's conversion that Paul himself neither mentions and often contradicts. Luke in Acts told stories to make Paul look closer to the Jerusalem Church when in fact, they did not care for Paul, nor he for them.

The book of Revelation is probably Jewish apocolypic lit that has been adapted to Christians and we know what a mess that has made.

I have not liked this path life has taken me on necessarily. I accept it and have learned more this way than any other I suppose. It's painful, lonely and sometimes just not darn fun.

The last sermon I ever gave was entitled "Nothing is for nothing," and I choose to believe this will still prove true...

I smoke three cigars a year, and I think I shall go outside in the rain and do just that...

Anonymous said...

Big Sandy native Lovie Smith, who no doubt went to school with many WCG kids, is now the the first African-American to lead his team to the Super Bowl. I saw lots of Big Sandy signs being shown during the game.

jorgheinz said...

Yes,the first step to breaking out of your comfort zone is to put a comment on AW.

Yes, Worldwide was a comfort zone for many of us: all the thinking was done for us.Mind you, looking at some of the splinters today, perhaps it was a good thing the thinking was done for them.Their resources for cognitive input were/are Spartan indeed.

All need to step outside the circle, or whatever their favourite geometric construction is,and meet life at many new points.


Neotherm said...

kathleen kakacek: I read McCarthy's book. It is, like most of his writing, very dark and disturbing. He portrays what would happen if there were a "nuclear winter" leading to the extinction of all flora and fauna. Faulkner creates the same darkness in his prose. But it is honest. It is intended to be dark and it is. On the other hand, you can read a lot of pre-1995 WCG literature and get this feeling of substance when there is very little weight present. A sense of truth, when there is very little truth present.

I'll take honesty.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

new anonymous

"This pastor friend of "aw fan" is going to feel awfully silly when he talks to any of the people who attended the singles events in Charlotte last month. RCM talked to them about LU, and Dr. Mike Germano is indeed the elder who is taking the lead role in putting it together."

An LU just doesn't make sense. Who is going to teach and administer it? They only have 40 or so paid ministers. They are going to pull more from an already sparse ministy? I can't see them doing that. I doubt he's going to let laymembers run it. What about the strain on an already tight financial budget? Wouldn't that take away from the preaching of the gospel Thiel and others like to brag about.

I just don't see it happening.

Jared Olar said...

"the Gospel of Peter, where Peter chides Jesus for kissing Mary too often on the lips"

Some niggling pedantry here: I think that's the Gospel of Mary you're thinking of. It's definitely not the Gospel of Peter, which is the one that plays up Herod's role in Christ's death, and docetically shows two men hauling Jesus' lifeless (or nearly lifeless) corpse from the tomb, followed by a giant talking cross.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dennis, Byker Bob, and Anonymous 666,

One of the most important things HWA taught was not to believe him, but to blow the dust off your Bible, read it for yourself and make a decision based on what you read. Did you do that or did you just read the PT and other literature and warm a seat in church each week like dutiful little church mice? Were you able to use the Spirit of God that is given to those whom obey and, therefore, be able to discern when someone in the pulpit left off preaching truth and began preaching opinion? When he did, did you disregard what he said, even if other sheep around you couldn’t, or did you go along so as to be seen as towing the party line, hoping for that promotion to deacon or higher?

I live in my mind—don’t you? Isn’t the real you what sees outside your mind, regardless of whether your eyes are blue or brown or you now need glasses or longer arms? Can’t you look up to God and think spiritually, kicking it up a notch, instead of looking horizontally and being consumed with the physical? When I was young child my brother had a “Little Golden Book” about Digger Dan, the Steam Shovel Man [I think this is right, but I may be combining several stories] who worked behind a big fence surrounding a deep hole in which was being built a skyscraper. There were no skyscrapers where I lived then and I longed to find someone upon whose shoulders I could stand to peep through the hole in the fence so I could see this awesome building going up.

Yes, it’s lonely when you find the rug jerked out from under you and you no longer have family or friends with whom to fellowship with “like minds,” when there is no one whose shoulder you can stand on or cry on. Think how Christ felt—none of the men with whom He lived and worked for 3 years really understood a thing He said until after He was dead and buried. They actually gave up on Him and went fishing!

So the “man” who taught you and me about God and how to worship Him turned out to have feet of clay. But, not everything he taught us was wrong, or wrong headed, or dare I say “right.” When you get up in the morning and your particular face is either shaven or foundation is applied depending upon your particular plumbing, can you face yourself honestly and throw out all he taught you? HWA had “little man” syndrome and he could sell Eskimos ice cubes. Did he “sell” you on his brand of fear religion, or do you believe God means what He says about reaping what you sow? His work has proven to have been built with wood, hay and straw—it’s all splintered and burned up or blowing in the windy COGs. Did you carry around your own “yardstick” to compare yourself among yourselves so you could pat yourself on the back instead of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling? Are you building on the foundation yourself your own temple of God to house the ark of the covenant, your heart with the laws of God written on two fleshly tablets? Or have you thrown the baby out with the bathwater?

Successful people do not continue to bash their heads against brick walls, and crying over spilt milk does no one any good. Get back into the Bible, read it for yourself and let the Spirit of God breathe some life back in you. And start looking up!

And be thankful that Gavin gives us this forum …


Jared Olar said...

"One of the most important things HWA taught was not to believe him, but to blow the dust off your Bible, read it for yourself and make a decision based on what you read."

That's one of the big reasons why there are so many ex-Armstrongists -- they made the mistake of taking him at his word (though he only meant that for outsiders -- as you probably know, insiders had to submit to his divine authority and not cause division).

Byker Bob said...

Dear Anonymous 11:26 AM,

I got everything fixed years ago. Got therapy, have had a fairly good life, and have lots of friends. No bitterness, either.

I do, however, believe in doing my part to debunk scams, especially toxic ones that continue to hurt others. You see, part of continuing therapy is helping others who find themselves in the same unfortunate position that I myself was once in. It's really fun to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Armstrong only 'got' me for about a decade. In 1975, when Jesus failed to adhere to the schedule HWA tried to impose on Him, I realized we had a Deut.18:20 situation, and split the scene. If I'd known about some of the earlier false dates, I probably never would have gotten involved in the first place.

Hope you're happy. If not, be free.


Anonymous said...

An LU just doesn't make sense. Who is going to teach and administer it? They only have 40 or so paid ministers. They are going to pull more from an already sparse ministy? I can't see them doing that. I doubt he's going to let laymembers run it. What about the strain on an already tight financial budget? Wouldn't that take away from the preaching of the gospel Thiel and others like to brag about.

I just don't see it happening.

Apparently RCM disagrees with you. Remember, LU administrator Dr. Mike Germano is an expert in distance learning. As far as I understand, LU is supposed to be an "online" university.

VonHowitzer said...

Thinking outside the box, leaving comfort zones.... all nice phrases and perhaps used by us when we entered Harmstrongism.

Yes, we had the courage to blow the dust off our Bibles, search the scriptures daily, and proved all things - and yet we were duped into believing the false.

As an architect, I know that building hotel towers works best using concrete framing, not steel. Yet every so often along comes a client, thinking outside the box, that "knows" that he can make steel work. We wrestle with the question for a while - and end up building in concrete.

Give the man points for innovative spirit - deduct points for fighting a battle lost many times before.

But that's the problem with breaking comfort zones - often our own ignorance leads us into Don Quixote discipledom, fighting battles that need not be fought, triumphant in our own minds over things that do not exist, like sabbaths in new covenants and grace that only exists until the next sin.

I'm not advocating being a bunch of happy fat frogs on some lily pond that never seek change, never leave our comfort zones. All I'm saying is that movement is only the first step - the new idea needs to be tested, challenged, and refined before it should be accepted.

That's what my steel loving clients are doing - you'll note they didn't rush right out a buy a few tons of the metal. We worked out the right course of action before any action was taken. Of course, he could have just taken my word for it - but then again, one day steel may make sense and I'd be giving him bad advice.

Hypothesize. Test. Evaluate. Repeat.

Dear God, I wished I'd read something other than what WCG published during all those years. Might have found the real Comfort Zone much sooner.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 666,

You said: … My favorite part is:

"Although rabbinical Judaism, Muslim apologists, and Arian disciples pounce upon what Matthew records as if they were a litter of tabby cats with a church mouse,"

I can hardly wait for the third in the series.

It appears that the next one is up.


T, L & F … said...

Dear Anonymous 666,

You said,

This is probably not the appropriate venue for a discussion for this particular material.

"Although rabbinical Judaism, Muslim apologists, and Arian disciples pounce upon what Matthew records as if they were a litter of tabby cats with a church mouse,"

Might either of these suffice? or

T, L & F