Saturday, 26 May 2007

Dougie Mans the Ramparts


Mention "wild claims, unsubstantiated statements, false information, antiquated arguments, risky assumptions, open ridicule and erroneous conclusions" in the same breath as the LCG's Tomorrow's World mag, and you might think someone had finally wised up.

Alas, no. The words are those of Douglas Winnail in an article (May-June) entitled Religion Under Fire! where Dougie lets rip on the subject of those evil atheists and liberal Bible scholars - which he appears to confuse - in an unintentionally hilarious hissy-fit.

In Dougie's sights are Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. On the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend he cuddles up to British theologian Alister McGrath, the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and even Josh McDowell. Whether any of these worthies would enjoy the sweaty embrace of Winnail's fringe sect is another matter!

For someone who comes from a long-line of intemperate and irreverent pulpit-pounders (HWA, GTA, Rod...) it seems a little curious when Winnail accuses Dawkins of an "intemperate and irreverent manner." Maybe he sleeps through his own sermons? He then quotes Dawkins' portrayal of the Old Testament deity as "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleaner... homophobic, racist... malevolent bully... psychotic delinquent..."
Well, that's not how I'd describe the God of the Hebrew Bible, but it certainly fits some of his Charlotte-based latter-day servants. Many of us can remember sermons that bemoaned the non-extermination of indigenous peoples who stood in "Israel's" path to empire. Intemperate? Undoubtedly, but not as intemperate as Rod Meredith's characteristic stream-of-consciousness foot-in-mouth sermon deviations. And just think back to all those cheap shots COG ministers have taken over the years at rival churches, Protestantism, Catholicism and the Jesus of popular piety. Winnail and his good buddies are past-masters of the art.

Predictably it's all another example of prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, according to Dougie. In the Last Days scoffers will come. In an accompanying article ("Prophecy Comes Alive: Scoffers in the Last Days!") the LCG heavyweight grows expansive on this theme. Move over ye demons of atheism and make room for wicked Dr. James Tabor, "revisionist scholars" and the Q source. Dougie lets fly at these threateners of cultic comfort with some surprising rhetoric. Take this reference for example: "apocryphal writings - never accepted by the Church..."

Church? Which church? The Catholic Church? If so, why is Dougie bothered? How relevant is it to LCG whether or not "the Church" accepted or rejected anything? If the reference is to the mist-shrouded, putative apostolic Church of God, then where, dear Doug, is there any proof that it either prescribed or proscribed any particular books as canonical? The fact is, whether Doug likes it or not, that the early church used the Septuagint (LXX) which is much closer to the Orthodox and Catholic canons than his truncated New King James Version. It's also a fact that those pesky proto-Catholics decided what was going into the New Testament, not the Sabbath-keeping Jewish Christians he fantasises continuity with.

There is a counter-case to be made against the new wave of "evangelical atheists", but Winnail is doing nobody a favor by lobbing a custard pie into his own face by such ludicrous apologetics. His fulmination against genuine scholarship is an even bigger joke. It's probably a very good thing that almost nobody outside the LCG will bother to read these articles.

80 comments:

Stan said...

Winnail's quote best fits the leading evangelist of the WCG, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong:

"jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser… homophobic, racist… malevolent bully… psychotic delinquent… the monster of the Bible"

DennisDiehl said...

Well, just finished Dr. DW's article. I believe I now understand why after emailing me to have lunch, and I asked if he had read anything I had written, he never wrote back.....

The days of just an organizationally acceptable explanation of the meaning of the Bible and certainly a "ask your minister" approach are long over.

Hey, "In the last days, knowledge shall be increased..." Prophecy comes alive! Who knew!

Corky said...

Hey, "In the last days, knowledge shall be increased..." Prophecy comes alive! Who knew!

Heh heh, hey I did, Dennis. I read in Acts 2:17 about the "last days" and their receiving of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent guiding them into the knowledge of all the truth as promised in (John 16:13).

I reckon that fulfilled Daniel's prophecy of increased knowledge as well as Joel's prophecy of those "last days".

Makes one wonder though, if those were the "last days", what are these days we are living in?

abesanchez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
generalpayne said...

Although I a certainly no fan of LCG or DW I thought the article was actually quite good. Either the bible is true and correct or it isn't. The reason Richard Dawkins makes such an easy target out of Christianity is that there are too many people that invent their own imaginary friend, name him Jebus (what Homer Simpsons calls Jesus when he can't remember) and make up their own method for worshiping him. I would choose Darwin over Jebus any day of the week.

BambooBends said...

Ug! You'd think after 70 something years of Armstrongism, they might be finally expanding their concept of God just a little....

Dougie needs to visit http://www.morwood.org

I never could figure out what it is about Atheists that threatens a preacher.

Infidelity is not disbelief, its teaching something one does not believe and practice oneself.

DennisDiehl said...

Dr. W says:

"Harris cites scriptural examples out of context and then claims the teachings of the Bible are "muddled and contradictory"

Every scripture that contradicts someone else's point is considered "quoted out of context."

Dr. W:

"He states that "the gospels contradict one another" (ibid., p. 58), yet he fails to mention that the gospels are complementary accounts of events written by different authors—in which we would expect some difference in details."

Here we have the "it's like four different people viewing a car crash" idea. It simply is not so however, unless you'd feel good about one saying it was a car, one a bus, one an airplane and one asking, "what accident?"

Also when one says something is contradictory, it is unlikely they will then turn around and say they are complimentary.

Dr. W says:

"He claims New Testament writers made the events of Jesus’ life conform to Old Testament prophecies"

Many do and Matthew's "and thus it was fulfilled" statements show how this was done in the style of Midrash. A concept foreign to most Western Bible readers. Amazingly accurate prophecies are accurate because they are either written after the facts such as Daniel 11 or not so much history prophecied, but "prophecy historized." It's just the way it is.

Alister McGrath was very popular theologian with WCG in their flip over to Evangelical Christianity. I suspect Dr. W is using the books and tapes we were all sent by McGrath to convince us.

Here are a few examples of how the Gospels are NOT like a four different people from whom we would expect a few minor differences. Can inerrancy have even a few of those?

...When Jesus needed a donkey to ride on into Jerusalem, Mark 11:2-7 and Luke 19:30-35 say that Jesus intructed the disciples to bring one animal. In Matthew 21:2-6, they are told to bring two, And in John 12:14 Jesus doesn't tell anyone to go get one, he does it himself. Which is it?

Mark 11:15-17, Matthew 21:12-13 and Luke 19:45-46 say that overturning the tables of the Moneychangers occurred at the end of Jesus ministry, just before he was arrested. But John 2: 13-16 says it happened much earlier in at the very beginning of Jesus ministry. That's not a minor mistake is it? Which is it? Was on a practice run to see what would happen?

Mark 14:30 tells us that Peter would deny Jesus before the cock crowed twice. Why then does Matthew 26:34, Luke 22:34 and John 13:38 tell us that Peter would deny Jesus before the cock crowed at all? Since Jesus is the one doing the prediction, just what did he predict? When it finally happened, Mark 14:72 says the cock crowed twice. Matthew 26:74 said it was once, and both Luke and John don't mention any cock crowing. What happened?

Tip of the iceberg. Sorry for a longer posting here. I would suspect that the works cited in the article were NOT read in full but merely culled for the nasties to make the point of the article. I can't imagine not reading Letter to a Christain Nation or Dawkins, even as a minster, and not having am moment or two of pause...

T, L & F … said...

I remember when I had a certain gentleman and his wife, along with a deacon and his wife, all WCG members, for dinner. During the course of the meal the gentleman started spouting that all of the Native Americans should have been eliminated and other racist hatred. The deacon just rolled his eyes at me, as if saying anything would only be a waste. What a pantywaist! I calmly informed the offending guest that if he did not cease and desist, he could we be asked to leave. The deacon was appalled that I would do such a thing. He acted as if I should be afraid of the Furies.

Looking back, WCG should have been listed under the Christian Identity Movement, most of the ministers either were, or had been trained to be, racist. "Mystery of the Ages" is one of the most racist books imaginable and "American and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy" is not far behind.

And don't let me get started on gender …

When one considers what the Apostle wrote, that there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female … we are all only who is looking out of our eyes--the package the eye holes are part of is nothing.

DennisDiehl said...

More Pfun if you like:

Why does Matthew 19:28 say that all Twelve Disciples would sit on Thrones in the Kingdom of God and Judas was surely among this number. I mean by the time Matthew wrote the book, he would know about how Judas messed up and didn't make it wouldn't he?

Concerning these thirty pieces of silver as the payment to Judas for betraying Jesus. Did Judas throw it down at the Priests as Matthew 27:6-8 says, and walks away, or did he buy some land as we read in Acts 1:18? And why did Mark, Luke and John not know this story? I could ask why Matthew's “thus it was fulfilled” in Matthew 27:9-10 was attributed to Jeremiah but is really from Zechariah 11:12-13, but we all know how Matthew thinks by now about rummaging around in the Old Testament to find quotes that make up his story.

Why if Judas betrayed Jesus once, and Peter denied Jesus three times, does Peter get forgiven, reinstated and made Pope, or whatever and Judas goes to hell for all eternity or whatever? Is it just because Peter did not hang himself too, or fall down so that his guts burst out?

Ok, just who, what kind of and how many men did the women find at the tomb? Mark 16:5 meet one young man at the tomb. Matthew 28:2 says an bright shiny Angel arrives causing the earthquake and opening the tomb and sits on the stone. Luke 24:3-4 says that the women enter the tomb and two men appear either inside or outside the tomb. And in John 20:12 the women don’t enter but find two shiny Angels sitting inside. Now come on, they can’t be one man, two men, one Angel, two shiny Angels, inside, outside, sitting or standing can they? There seems to be a problem here with both counting and perceiving men from Angels. Can’t be all of the above and if I saw an Angel, I would not just forget and call him a man.

Why in Luke 1:18-20 does the Angel make the old husband of Elizabeth unable to speak for not believing that he would have a son? Seems like a normal thing not to believe at his age. And yet, in Luke 1: 34 Mary tells the Angel she can't believe that she will have Jesus the King because she doesn't even have a husband. At least Zechariah had an old wife. Yet, the angel doesn't make her mute for not believing him. Do you think the Angel had a quota on how many people a day he could make blind and mute?

In Matthew 1:19-22 an Angel gives the all clear to go back home, to Bethlehem and the house, I assume. But then Joseph finds an even more evil bastard lives there so has another dream to head to Nazareth where it was evidently safer. Did the Angel screw up and send them into harms way and God had to give Joseph a dream to save them from the Angel not knowing what was going on in Judea? Don't they have briefings for Angels for stuff like this?

Ok, nuff of that! Sitting here at work and it's quiet..I'll be quiet now :)

DennisDiehl said...

Corky said...
"But, as I said_____ is an expert on what all atheists are like - he knew one,"

now that's funny..

DennisDiehl said...

a friend just said..." and yeah, that one Christian I met, that pretty much did it for me." :)

Corky said...

Well, we all know that the priesthood will defend their books and their make believe gods down to the last - it's how they make their living.

The facts be damned, faith is what counts. The scoffers in the last days were the scoffers in the time those epistles were written asking "where is the promise of his coming".

Yep, those 2nd generation christians were waking up to the fact that "since the fathers fell asleep everything continues as in the beginning" of the christian religion.

That's how John knew that it was "the last time" and Peter knew that "the end of all things is at hand", because there were "scoffers walking after their own lusts.

In other words, they quit the church and were getting on with their lives, having figured out that it had all been a pack of lies.

Anonymous said...

An old friend once said that he knew we would be in the last days when Volvo makes a curvaceous car...Well they aren't as boxy as they used to be but I wouldn't call them curvaceous yet. We are all safe for now :)

sxlvn said...

looking for truth!

Reality said...

Hi,

Hope this doesn't post twice. The blog did not recognize me and then would not allow me to sign in as new since I already exist :)

From Dennis Diehl:

"Ok, just who, what kind of and how many men did the women find at the tomb? Mark 16:5 meet one young man at the tomb. Matthew 28:2 says an bright shiny Angel arrives causing the earthquake and opening the tomb and sits on the stone. Luke 24:3-4 says that the women enter the tomb and two men appear either inside or outside the tomb. And in John 20:12 the women don’t enter but find two shiny Angels sitting inside. Now come on, they can’t be one man, two men, one Angel, two shiny Angels, inside, outside, sitting or standing can they? There seems to be a problem here with both counting and perceiving men from Angels. Can’t be all of the above and if I saw an Angel, I would not just forget and call him a man."

These were good questions. The only way I could ever make sense of the scenario where Mary is the first to see Jesus alive is for her to be heading out to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty and then seeing some of them along the way, she might have turned around and gone back toward the tomb and then met up with those disciples before she caught up to the other women again who were supposedly there with her earlier with spices. Even if so, it still doesn't make sense.

Then there is another question that I cannot resolve.

What clothing might Jesus have been wearing when Mary first imagined him to be the gardener? Maybe while it was yet dark, he borrowed the gardener's clothes since his own were no longer available - or maybe an angel brought something for him to wear, but if that were the case then I would have expected those clothes would in no way resemble gardener's garb.

Your questions along with other biblical controversies mentioned here by others, and those of Bart Ehrman cause me to look at the Bible in a much different light than I did while following the teaching of one minister or another over the years.

The oddities of the text have ceased to be so bothersome now that some are openly discussing the controversies. It is reassuring to know that I no longer need to accept stories and events as interpreted by someone claiming to be able to understand and teach due to some inside knowledge or information that is not available to the average Bible reader.

I do appreciate the lively discussion here.

Nadine

Neotherm said...

Since Dennis brings it up, I wrote the following to Corky on the previous post:

"Corky: I did not present myself as an expert on atheism. I related to you the boundaries of my experience with atheists. When you say "we" you betray a naive and primitive notion that atheists are all alike -- that is like you.
Rather egocentric.

I was just expressing my opinion in an area where I am not an expert, just as you have expressed your opinions about Christianity, an area where you clearly are not an expert."

By the way, I took one of Dennis Diehl's supposed tangles of Biblical contradictions and paradoxes and found it very easy to reconcile. Really a very simple fault in logic.

-- Neo

kscribe said...

T, L & F … said...
>>>Looking back, WCG should have been listed under the Christian Identity Movement<<<

Armstrong is used by the Aryan Nations hate group to push the idea of Aryan superiority.
Thanks Herbie, for creating more hate and division in the world.........

It took a nutcase like Adolf to kill millions. How many will follow Armstrong to the same conclusion? The answer? Quite a few...
Kscribe.

Corky said...

Neo said:
"Corky: I did not present myself as an expert on atheism. I related to you the boundaries of my experience with atheists. When you say "we" you betray a naive and primitive notion that atheists are all alike -- that is like you.
Rather egocentric."

I didn't say "we" in reference to what atheists are like, this is what I said concerning "we".

"This coming from an expert on what all atheists are like. But, in truth, our sense of what is right and wrong comes from the society in which we live and how we were raised."

When I said "our" and "we", I mean all people, not just atheists. we all get our sense of what is right and wrong from the society in which we live and from how we are raised, whether it be in the USA or in China.

If you want to compare the good people who have lived in this world with HWA and the historical atrocities of christianty and say those good people had no sense of right and wrong without the bible, go ahead but I'd like to see it proven.

DennisDiehl said...

Neo Said: "By the way, I took one of Dennis Diehl's supposed tangles of Biblical contradictions and paradoxes and found it very easy to reconcile. Really a very simple fault in logic."

Excellent work Neo...how about you go ahead and pick a few, and explain the simply fault in logic to us. The scores of theologians, historians and Bible scholars will need to correct their books and papers before the next print. Hundreds of websites will need to be updated as well.

We await...

DennisDiehl said...

Long as we're at it and having pfun...And thanks "Reality" I believe it's more important to think for oneself than muddle through.

When one can so easily explain something millions find odd or contradictory, it usually is because the explainer must have the explanation work out in their favor to keep up the inerrancy of the text and thus the whole belief.

Whenever something is "very easy to reconcile. Really a very simple fault in logic," it's not. But for them, it needs to be so simple they can't imagine why anyone would even ask such a question...Satan I suppose. These are tip of the iceberg questions that the entire text of the Bible, OT and NT provoke. One "simply" needs eyes to see them and seeking spirit that is not afraid of the implications.

sooo...

Mark 16:8 tells us that the women left the tomb afraid and didn’t say anything to anyone and then the original Gospel of Mark ends. Where is the ending? Also, Matthew 28:6-8 says the women ran away with “great joy,” which sounds to me like Matthew felt a need to correct Mark. Luke 24: 9-12 says they went and told the disciples, contradicting Mark and John 20:1-2 says Mary told the disciples that the body was stolen which contradicts the “great joy” of Matthew. What gives? Sounds to me like the women ran away afraid with great joy telling no one but then everyone that the body was stolen? Help me out

How many blind men besought Jesus? Matthew 20:30 says Two blind men sought healing, but in Luke 18:35-38, only one blind man did. Do you think that maybe Luke just didn’t see the other one..ha! Or maybe Luke was deaf and didn’t hear the story right. Ok, just kidding. We need to lighten up here! But I’d remember if it was two or just one since I have a brother that is blind.


Wow, this is good one for you. In Matthew 27:51-53 we see Jesus dies on the cross and there is a great earthquake. If it was this big, how did the city and the temple survive intact as it said the “rocks split.” That's a big quake! The curtain of the Temple tore from top to bottom as well. I would think if a curtain could tear that would mean the walls holding it up separated, but the temple seemed fine. Besides, no one else seems to notice this event in the the other Gospels or in history.

A bit more philosophical:

How is it such a big sacrifice for Jesus to die if he knows that in a short time he is God again? And how is Jesus death such a sacrifice on God's part knowing that in a very short time He gets his son Jesus back? I have buried a lot of children that are still dead and the parents would not grieve so much if they knew they'd see them again in a mere three days after death. It seems like going through the motions if Jesus and God knew all this, but not a real sacrifice. Doesn't a real sacrifice stay dead? Now that's real to me if Jesus stayed dead and did not get to be back with God, for us. Now that would be amazing, but he's just dead for a short time and then back in business. Maybe it's me.

Speaking of swords. Did Jesus, in Matthew 26:52 tell them that “he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword” and get rid of the things, or did Jesus tell them, as in Luke 22:36-38 to buy swords? And of course, Mark and John don't seem to be into weapons at all.


Speaking of swords. Did Jesus, in Matthew 26:52 tell them that “he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword” and get rid of the things, or did Jesus tell them, as in Luke 22:36-38 to buy swords? And of course, Mark and John don't seem to be into weapons at all.

Why , in the Gospel of John , in chapters 7 and 8 is there this big argument of how Jesus is a born of fornication (8:41) and Jesus tells a story about a woman taken in adultery and forgiven (8:1) which lies right between a big argument over knowing that Jesus is from Galilee and not Bethlehem as the scripture says? (7:41) and Jesus exploding and telling them they are all sons of the devil. Wow, seems not everyone knew anything about what Matthew and Luke had to say about Jesus birth!

DennisDiehl said...

"Reality"

One last thought...

To me..the Gospel accounts are not literally true, not eyewitness accounts, not probably written by the names assigned to them at a later date and in the style of both Midrash and even the astro-theological theme of the SUN/Son's journey through the 12 signs of the Zodiac beginning and ending at the Winter Solstice (Xmas). The Template for the Gospel Story is one that tells the story of all previous Godmen (Osiris, Mithras, Dionysius and assorted others.) Like the story of Noah's flood not being original to the Bible but rather Sumerian stories before it, the Gospels are cobbled together to tell as story where perhaps even the facts of just who Jesus was are actually not available. It's why Matthew reached back into the OT to find meaning for Jesus in OT texts. He did it flagrantly and not all that well.

In John's gospel it is obvious they never heard Jesus was from "bethlehem" and only figured he was born of fornication. Somehow, the amazing events of Matthew and Luke's birth narratives never got around all that much in John's community. Mark's Mary seems to have missed her own part in the story as she and Jesus brothers came down once to retrieve him home for being "insane." This is because Mark never heard, nor did Paul anything about Jesus miraculous birth. Those stories were added later to give an amazing man an amazing childhood. Common practice.

What most do is take the texts and then try to figure out how to make them coherent. So we say things like, "they could have done this," and "when they did this, this could have happened, and then they did that." Of course we can do this to our personal satisfaction, but it is still not so.

In WCG and all fundamentalist schools, students are taught "Harmony of the Gospels" in this mentality. Rod Meredith, who taught my Haromony of Gospels class never saw ONE contradiction. He never explained how others even say this or that seems like one. There simply were none. When I asked, I was put down and embarassed and later asked if "I had repented." (I get tired of that question..:)

To me, no one knew much about the real Jesus so stories were harvested from the OT about others (Moses, Hannah, Samuel, Virgins etc) and retold in the NT about Jesus. (Long story) Paul certainly never knew or noted much about a physical Jesus, his teachings, miracles or those who knew him best. I've said it before but once it sinks in, it changes one's whole perspective. For Paul, writer of most of the NT, Jesus was hallucinatory, Cosmic in nature and more along the lines of the old stories of pagan godmen he had grown up with in Tarsus. Nothing springs from a vacuum and new ideas aren't really so new.

Ok, sorry to post too much. I'm at work and it's quiet.

Corky said...

Dennis asks:
"Why , in the Gospel of John , in chapters 7 and 8 is there this big argument of how Jesus is a born of fornication (8:41) and Jesus tells a story about a woman taken in adultery and forgiven (8:1) which lies right between a big argument over knowing that Jesus is from Galilee and not Bethlehem as the scripture says?"

Here is the answer:
Psalm 51:5 - John 9:34.

Jesus was originally (according to Celsum) the product of his mother's affair with a Roman soldier. But, according to Celsum, this doctrine was changed (see Origen contra Celsus, book 1).

The prophecy of Christ:
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

The confirmation of that prophecy:
Joh 9:34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

One can only wonder why later christians were ashamed of that and made him born of a virgin.

What is more amazing is that some of the original story is preserved.

I notice that Matthew didn't glean that little jewel from the Psalms when he was fulfilling prophecies about Jesus, gee, I wonder why?

Reality said...

Hi,

The reasoning for these discrepancies provided by Dennis Diehl and Corky is much more realistic than what we normally hear.

The Sola Scriptura people often use some additional fabricated reasoning beyond your sensible explanations. I've heard -

"Oh, that's because the questionable event happend twice or three times so that in each event, there were varying circumstances as in cursing the fig tree more than once, entering Jerusalem more than once, cleansing the Temple more than once, etc."

Jesus_never_existed said...

A number of other expensive, "glossy" PT clone magazines (that have virtually no readers) are also addressing the avalanche of anti christian books: Check out Vision and the Brit PT.

As usual, they're a bit late. Scholars started to really hammer christianity 2 decades ago - and the lay public are now getting unprecedented access !

Christianity did well when there was information control (Middle Ages, WCG) but it is now collapsing in this unrelenting showdown.

DennisDiehl said...

Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

You are right! If Jesus being born of questionable circumstances had been an acceptable part of the story, this would have been the classic Matthewian "and thus was fulfilled," part of the story. However he chose to go the "behold a virgin shall conceive" route which in context has nothing to do with Jesus, virgins or any event outside of the fear Israel was feeling under the threat of imminent attack from it's enemies...again. Unless Jesus ate curds and honey and finally learned the difference between right and wrong as God in the flesh I suppose. (those are the parts of the "prophecy" Matthew leaves out, 'cause they don't fit the story he wishes to tell. Mark, John, Paul and Jesus family in other sources obviously missed his Virgin birth somehow.

Some had problems with Jesus begotten by the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit had always been considered a feminine principle. So that would mean...ewwww.

The true believers will dig in harder as more and more information is readily available for people to consider. Ministers will more often hear, "why don't you tell us this stuff?" to which they will say, "the wisdom of man is foolishness with God..son."

As I said, the "prophecy" "and in the last days, knowledge shall be increased.." has not been anticipated to be more a threat to the church than a description of why it is the end of all things. But good information has always been a threat to Priesthoods.

The "there shall be scoffers in the end times" warning was given because 2000 years ago it was still about to happen, no doubt within "3-5 years brethren..and I mean that..." but the complaints from the members were beginning to come in to the Apostle Paul. Of course, who was right..the members who shunned family, relationships, lovers and their resources, or Paul? Chiding "scoffers" after over 2000 years is a bit unfair to the faithful but growing skeptical and pooped out. They read the comments of Paul, meant for that time of "time is short" as if there is no interval of two millenia proving it was not evil to ask, "where is the promise of his coming..?"

St. Augustine (354-430) was one of the founders of the Roman Catholic Church. He well understood that Christianity was like a house of cards; if the church dared to admit to even a single error in the Bible, who could say there wasn't an error on every page? The resurrection story might then be false and everyone's hopes are in vain. This is what he said:


"The most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books....If you [even] once admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement, there will not be left a single sentence of those books, which, if appearing to anyone difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not by the same fatal rule be explained away as a statement, in which intentionally, the author declared what was not true." --St. Augustine in Epistula, p. 28.


"There is no prophecy in the OT foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ. There is not one word in the OT referring to him in any way--not one word. The only way to prove this is to take your Bible, and wherever you find these words; "That it might be fulfilled" and "which was spoken" turn to the OT and find what was written, and you will see that it had not the slightest possible reference to the thing recounted in the NT--not the slightest."
-- Robert Green Ingersoll

Neotherm said...

Dennis:

What I did was took your concerns about the account of the Ascension and reviewed these. Let me say that I am perfectly happy with how Christian apologists have reconciled this seemingly divergent accounts.

Since apologetic literature is available to you as well, I will not repeat what has been written about the Ascension here, especially since this kind of polemic not the theme of this blog. This is not an ant-Christian blog but a blog that assesses Armstrongism.

The Believer/Non-believer debate has been extensively argued in literature, seldom with anybody changing viewpoint. While it may be "Pfun" for you, it is marked by tedium.

You did say: "The scores of theologians, historians and Bible scholars will need to correct their books and papers before the next print."

In this statement you are pretending that nobody, across the board, understands these issues. When in fact, Christian apologists have addressed the issues that you raise. No need to correct their books and papers. But maybe a need for you to read more widely.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

Neo...that's very true and I understand what you say. I can't unring my bell and the other side of the theology coin is far more interesting to me now than the one I sincerely soaked in believing with all my heart, as many did, I was seeing things the one right way. Of course, one grows up with experience, and we have each had our own unique one to bring us to this point in life.

I have read beyond measure. It's what I do and enjoy. I can soak in a book on human origins just as much as one on theology or the nature of matter and reality. However, I cannot read anymore books by the Alister McGrath's or Josh McDowell's of the world.

I think what works for me personally now is exploring bigger boxes rather than being convinced to stay in the ones I either grew up in or thought were as big as a box should get.

I'm a seeker by nature and probably a bad fit to begin with as a minister in a church that had nothing more to learn. In my soul I know I would have been much happier digging in the dirt to learn about human origins than trying to explain the mythology behind the story of Adam and Eve.

Viva Homo Ergaster! :)

Everyone have a good holiday. We're all here to learn.

DennisDiehl said...

Neo speaks:

"In this statement you are pretending that nobody, across the board, understands these issues."

" .... just as you have expressed your opinions about Christianity, an area where you clearly are not an expert."

Neo, it's not often what you are trying to express..but it is the judgemental, all or nothing way you tend to express yourself that is offputting at times.

I am not pretending and others are not clearly stupid.

I'd still like to hear your easy and simple explanation of the one contradiction you found easily explained. Just curious. I did not originate those concerns of scripture either.

DennisDiehl said...

Neo Noted: "especially since this kind of polemic not the theme of this blog. This is not an ant-Christian blog but a blog that assesses Armstrongism."

I am not thinking this is or ever was meant to be an Anti-Christian blog. I am not personally blind to the problems of Bible literalism or the idea of errancy of the scriptures, but that does not make me against the sprituality of Christianity.

Actually I'm about done "ascessing Armstrongism." What occurred to me personally was that when Joe Tkach could so recklessly flip or try to flip the beliefs of thousands to fit his need to meet Jesus again for the very first time, I finally was willing to take a good look at all the questions that 30 years of soaking in it causes those that read and note contradictions etc. I personally concluded the Bible is neither the Greatest Book ever written, inerrant nor harmonious in the antics of the Apostles within the text.

If you notice, Gavin has been posting more really interesting topics theologically for discussion. Even this post is not about LCG or Doug Winnail. It is about what all literalists do when threatened by new information. It is about challenging broad and sweeping generalities about the motives and "deliberate deception at the hands of Satan in their miserable lives", that deserves a response from time to time.

What is interesting to me, and I understand it, is that when Gavin posts something on a COG person, in house problem or abuse, everyone has much to say. When an uncomfortable theological topic that does have merit and is ok to ask about outside of the world of literalism and Evangelical Christianity, few comments. It's because few are familiar with the issues or everyone is locked in so what what's to talk about..nuttin.

I know most of the big players in the current COG splinters. They were my collegues, "friends" of sort and even teachers. How they think and how they pastor and it's a great lesson on how no one really changes much in a lifetime. If this blog was exclusively a bitch session about people or endless hurt feelings and anger, I'd be gone.

I have learned to ask myself "does this serve me?" to eliminate everything from anxiety to who and how or if I even respond to things. I suppose I put personal thinking on hold in the belief that somehow it was inappropriate even when I saw what I saw in the Bible. That is no longer an option. We've all had a similar experience or we would not be here at this site, but we have not all had the same experience.

Corky said...

Dennis says: "I am not pretending and others are not clearly stupid."

When you don't accept someone's religion, you automatically become ignorant of their religion.

I just hate that too, since I spent more than half my life studying that very religion. All that time and now, suddenly, I "clearly don't know anything about christianity".

But, you know, I kinda wish I really didn't know anything about christianity. The atrocities of the OT pale in comparison to those committed by the followers of Jesus.

The main problem I see with christianity is that it is extremely arrogant and presumptuous

One can only hope that they never have the reigns of an empire ever again. It's bad enough that they are "holier than thou" if you don't subscribe to their particular sect.

DennisDiehl said...

"When you don't accept someone's religion, you automatically become ignorant of their religion."

For sure, and even more so evidently when I spent three decades soaking in and promoting what some believe I am ignorant of.

Been reading "Twilight of the Gods-Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible," a bit today. Would have loved having this information when I had to sit through the 3000th time HWA explained to me what "Let US make man in OUR Image" meant. Let's just say God wasn't talking to the god who was going to become Jesus, nor was God a "uniplural" God. It was El and YHVH along with the Council of lesser gods in the polytheistic "for I the Lord Thy God am a jealous God..." setting.

Seems the problem with Adam and Eve eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was bad because those two trees were for the gods, not for humans. The gods only could know good from evil and live forever. (Tree of Life)...soooooooooooooooo, since we don't want humans becoming like the rest of the immortals, nice going Eve....out you humans go. Good stuff.

I'm making every effort to read more widely ;)

Corky said...

Yes, El put YHVH in charge and he did a piss poor job and came to be known as the Demiurge (the god of the OT) to the Gnostics and Marcion. El was the good guy (the father) etc. etc.

Neotherm said...

tl&f wrote: "During the course of the meal the gentleman started spouting that all of the Native Americans should have been eliminated and other racist hatred."

Although it is well hidden, Armstrongites believe that all indigenous people who occupied lands prior to the influx of "Israelitish" people should be exterminated based on the commands that God gave Israel when they invaded Palestine. There are also Armstrongites who believe that the enslavement of Afro-Americans was in accord with God's will, because they,too, are Canaanites. This view on Afro-Americans is a view shared with many Southern Evangelicals.

Since I am Native American, in my Odyssey through Armstrongism, I found that there were always a few people in every congregation who would come up to me, stick their face in mine, and rudely point out to me that I am descended from people who should have been exterminated. Yet, paradoxically, nobody ever tried to shoot me.

I can only attribute the fact that the WCG did not advocate a Holocaust of Indians to another held belief that Armstrongites should not use weapons and commit violence against others. (It is getting a little scary now that Ron Dart is talking about picking up a gun and shooting someone.)

Oddly, this advocacy of genocide, though it is one of the most alarming characteristics of Armstrongism, is never raised as an issue by critics of Armstrongism.

If Armstrongites did not have this stance on bearing arms, they might have quickly degenerated into an organization like their cousins, the Branch Davidians.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

"During the course of the meal the gentleman started spouting that all of the Native Americans should have been eliminated and other racist hatred."

No wonder I got so many cards and notes from the Native Americans in the audience when I gave an entire sermon in Jekyll Island from "Touch the Earth" and how we might be waiting for a new heavens and new earth, but Native people knew better how to care for it all than Western Europeans!

Neo..you'd like my collection of flints, points, pipes and such. My office is all done in Plains Indian motiff and while I am writing this in my office, 'sacred drums' is playing on cd.

So seee, you'd like me! :) Native American People are the true people as we know!

I personally never picked up on the extend of manifest destiny and BI in WCG, but I have a huge filter when it comes to nonsense.

I guess I lived in La la land at times too....

Neotherm said...

Dennis wrote: "I personally never picked up on the extent of manifest destiny and BI in WCG, but I have a huge filter when it comes to nonsense."

I picked up on the advocacy of genocide distinctly, actually it was forced my way, although I have corresponded with Ron Kelly about this and he did not pick up on it. Kelly is part Osage. Now with the change in enrollment requirements, he could be enrolled on the Osage tribal rolls. My guess is that Kelly's rank shielded him from some of the people and situations I encountered. And sometimes people hear things but just never connect the dots. They don't connect the theory with the practical outcome.

The questions for Armstrongites are these one: "If you believe Native Americans (along with Afro-Americans, Maoris, Hawaiians, Lapplanders, South African Blacks, Australian Aborigines)should be exterminated, what are you going to do about it? And why is this position not prominently feature on the UCG website, for instance?


-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

"If you (COGs) believe Native Americans (along with Afro-Americans, Maoris, Hawaiians, Lapplanders, South African Blacks, Australian Aborigines)should be exterminated, what are you going to do about it? And why is this position not prominently feature on the UCG website, for instance?'

My first inclination would be that they don't exactly believe that would be appropriate, but that's just crazy me.

We must have gone to different WCG's.

All that to say, I was endeavoring to be a bit friendly with you about Native American sensitivities, my own interests. awareness of the good stuff, my hobby, and experiences in WCG. Perhaps even being a bit more pro-active in changing the goofiness one run into on the more radical fringe...but you ignore all that and relaunch into more hurt and anger without so much as a friendly acknowledgement my post back to you.

Everyone is not your adversary Neo.

Neotherm said...

Dennis:

My oversight. I appreciate your awareness of Native Americans and their plight. Rare in general and virtually non-existent among Armstrongites.

Actually I wrote to you some years back and asked you some questions about your artifact collection, I believe. As I recall, you had some photos on your website.

I am a member of the Pawnee Tribe, Wolf Band, Pumpkin Vine Clan.

Thanks.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

"I am a member of the Pawnee Tribe, Wolf Band, Pumpkin Vine Clan."

Well that's about as True People as you can get. I am Dutch of the Tribe of Zebulon of the Gouda Cheese Clan myself...No wait, not that!

Actually, I suspect we first met about 35,000 years ago but then your DNA went East to the Americas and Mine went West to Europe. Then my DNA crossed the Atlantic and ran your DNA all over creation to this day.

Sadly, and of course, I'm sorry about that!

Thanks for the response!

Neotherm said...

Dennis:

Actually, I am half "Anglo" -- mostly tribes from the British Isles, largely Celtic.

You can imagine how this product of miscegenation went over among Armstrongites. One AC student, who later became a minister, used to refer to me as an "organic Danite." I am not sure how he arrived at that.

-- Neo

DennisDiehl said...

Neo Said..Actually, I am half "Anglo" -- mostly tribes from the British Isles, largely Celtic.

Weeeeelllll, ok, we can still be friends.

I tended to tune out the whole BI thing and don't consciously remember ever giving sermon on it. That and the 'Place of safety' were off my list of "encouraging" sermons. I used to think what a coincidence it seemed that I always followed such hard assed and judgemental elites. Then I was told that it was not a coincidence. It was that whoever I followed would seem that way to me because I was not like that personally. I'd like to take that as a compliment.

Anyway, I have had my stupid moments too I am sure. Well, real sure actually!

Douglas Becker said...

As one who is on a mailing list of a certain failed experiment in Armstrongist Communal Living, I am repeatedly reminded of the abject failure of the venue. The brother-in-law of the Exide Battery Man has this property for Sabbatarians on an old military base [unfit for human residence] which he set up for the compound of believers. Things have gone awry, what with the fire that burned a part of the compound, the lawsuits, the lack of money so bad that now they can't pay the utility bills.

Within this backdrop, the organizer of this fiasco refers over to the UCG youth program to show how the philosophy of his own particular brand of Armstrongism would work if only people followed it in the spirit of intent -- a premise not only unprovable but thus far has shown to be quite ineffectual.

Things are not going well. The court case has been draining resources. The mortgage payments are behind. The latest wrinkle is that the utility bills can't be paid.

As a work of faith, it is a bust.

One would think that if God were behind it, nothing could stop it. It seems as if nothing can keep it going.

It is just a matter of time.

Be warned though: The Lord over the manor is in steep decline, but the final results probably won't be in until many years from now.

Judgment takes a very long lifetime: Failure takes its torturous time to put the failed experiments out of its misery.

As an observer and at least part sometime participant in the various church of gods, it has become obvious that Armstrongism tries over and over again, failing each time to produce viable results. It isn't working. It hasn't worked in the past. It continues not to work. It is obvious that something fundamental is very wrong and that it just can't be fixed, just like any other despotic regime: The religion doesn't fit the people and the people are what supports the religion. This mismatch will always produce discordant results unharmonious with humanity, and, indeed, quite injurious and inhospitable to it.

It is tempting to boil down what is wrong with Armstrongism to a single point. After all, it all has to be harder than just one root core thing doesn't it? How about this: The founder and current leaders actually hate humanity under the covers. That may seem off target at first, but consider where Herbert Armstrong came from: From the very first, he wanted revenge and he got it. He trumped the librarian in the Portland Public Library over evolution; he triumphed over his enemies and critics time after time. He hated it when people offended him and wanted revenge.

And so it is, it does seem that the splinters carry on the hatred of humanity with the prophecies of death, doom, devastation, destruction: One of these days... one of these days... YOU'LL BE SORRY! You'll see! We are right and you are wrong!

Vengeance is a very strong motivator and the disaffected have a home in Armstrongism which gives them empowerment. DW is just a single voice in the chorus, singling out those who frustrate him in an attempt to "set things right". Translation: I am right and you are wrong, and God is behind me. It's like a victim shouting at the bully on the playground: Quite ineffectual and unproductive except to make the victim feel better temporarily, as he goes off and makes other people victims by bullying them.

melmerfudd said...

Douglas said:

"Things have gone awry, what with the fire that burned a part of the compound, the lawsuits, the lack of money so bad that now they can't pay the utility bills."

Perhaps they have not been praying fervently enough. They obviously haven't mustered the faith of a mustard seed. SUPER-DUPER growth AS NEVER BEFORE will surely happen in that ministry once they get their groove on. Undoubtedly, once they get those rotting floorboards replaced, and the courts find the TRUE OWNER of that washing machine, all will be well again, and the LORD will show all just HOW STUPID everyone was who DOUBTED their GREAT END-TIME WORK!

Oh, by the way, I am almost set to sell my new product, the "Ferventometer".
It looks kind of like a TV remote control, but you point it at people's asses while they are praying, and it has LEDs that light up and indicate the level of ferventness in their prayers.
A perfect tool to be used by tools, on tools. Of course, if it only seems like an old broken tv remote control to you, it is all your fault, and because you don't have eyes to see and are under the influence of Satan and just don't have enough Holy Spirit.

DennisDiehl said...

It's interesting to me that Dr. W goes after James Tabor's views in the article "Scoffers in the Last Days." Dr Winnail and James Tabor were on the faculty as assistants together, if memory serves me right, at the same time with a very young James being Dr. Meredith's theology assistant. James ocassionally took the Harmony of the Gospels class when RCM was not in town.

Perhaps LCG is getting more member questions due to the fact that James had moved on and expanded his theological horizons (why didn't he take me with him!) while others obviously stayed stuck in a very small box. RCM must be shaking his head at James Tabor since RCM seemed always to feel betrayed by those that he had taught personally and just didn't stick with the program.

camfinch said...

I looked over Doug's article, was struck by how often he defended scripture by citing scripture, and sent the Tomorrow's World editor this email:

___________________________________I won't take the time to address everything that Doug covers; and there are many observers on the topic who could do a far superior job of commenting point by point than can I. But one aspect is glaring to me: concerning the efficacy of the New Testament scriptures as they comment on the life and ministry of Jesus and the early church, Doug mostly defends those scriptures by using scriptures, which is more circular reasoning than proof. And referring to Josephus' supposed mention of Jesus is risky, as many scholars consider that reference to have been inserted later into Josephus' writings. Otherwise, there is extremely scant extrabiblical mention of Jesus or the nascent Jesus/Christian movement prior to several decades after the fact.

I do find it interesting that Doug almost seems to buddy up to non-COG Christian commentators/scholars for support against Harris, Dawkins, et. al. Having been in the old WCG many years ago, I am only too familiar with how the church sought not only to distance itself from "orthodox" Christianity, but even more to position itself as very opposed to about 95% of scholarship or ideas from orthodoxy.

And to end, one brief question: what is LCG's official reaction to the recent work by Dr. James Tabor?
___________________________________

If there is a reply, I am sure that it will contain a slew of scriptures for me!

DennisDiehl said...

Camfinch asks:

"If there is a reply, I am sure that it will contain a slew of scriptures for me!"

Dear Mr. Finch,

Thank you for your letter asking what LCG's reaction to Dr. James Tabor. While we have read neither The Jesus Dynasty nor The Jesus Family Tomb, we hate him and believe he has grieviously strayed from what Dr. Meredith taught him about the absolute Harmony of the Gospel accounts.

You see, it's like four different people watching the same show. Each sees and appreciates the entire show, but each remembers different parts. While some say Matthew and Luke copy vast amounts of Mark under inspiration and John seems like he may have been to a different play altogether, it all matches just fine. Had you taken and Dr. Tabor listened to the Harmony of the Gospels class taught by Dr. Meredith, you would know that not once did Dr. Meredith ever see even ONE contradiction in any of the four Gospel accounts. This alone should tell you that LCG has the correct understanding and Dr. Tabor has flunked the class.

Sadly, and of course, Dr. Tabor reaches outside what the Bible says seeking to understand what it means and how to account for what he sees as "contradictions." Heeellllllllloooooo! There are none if you just read what it says in faith that there are none. Besides, the Bible says, of itself, that it is true so we simply don't understand even the questions he asks. Trust us...if WE don't understand a question, then the question does not need to be understood.

The facts are that all the disciples, Apostles and Paul got along just fine. They all believed the same thing and were of one mind on all things. This is how the Holy Spirit works Mr. Smarty Pants.

Some say that Paul never knew the human Jesus. This is poppycock. He had the Gospels before him when wrote to the churches. Have you not noticed how the Gospels come FIRST in the New Testament and Paul comes along later! I swear! Paul obvioulsly knew all about the human Jesus but simply was not concerned about him as Matthew, Mark Luke and John had done an excellent and harmonious job of telling the true story of Jesus life before Paul even was converted. Paul was concerned with the meaning of Jesus life and how it would fit into Judaism, with which he was very familiar as Paul was the best and smartest Pharisee in the whole world, because once again, he says so. Paul was such an amazing Pharisee that he even had Roman Citizenship and that is something NO other Pharisee ever earned. He was truly all things to all men and the Romans loved Paul and Paul them. Obviously James, the Brother of Jesus came to love the Romans too because they were all harmonious in all things as I said.

So to answer your question. Dr Tabor is a Cretan and not in a good way. He is not smart, he is not right and he is sadly and of course way off track in his understanding. We have small booklets that easily answer all the many questions smarty pant theologians think they can ask to fool we, the true people of the Book.

As noted, sadly and of course, in the last days, scoffers will come. We consider Dr James Tabor and not a few other little smarty pants who studied under Dr. Meredith to also fall into this dangerous category of persnickity inquiry outside of Dr. Meredith's Harmony of the Gospels class that has never changed, because Jesus said, "I change not," in 50 years.

If there were problems with the text or any contradictions in the Bible, we would have noticed them. Since we did not and continue to do not notice any, they don't exist. Know what I'm sayin' Vern?

Please get a Nave's Topical Bible and look up all the scriptures on "apsotate", "sin", "the heart of man", "evil thoughts", "falling away", "scoffing" and so on and so forth. I am sure you will be amazed at how much of our attitude has been predicted by the Bible itself.

May we also suggest our following literature.

"Dr. James Tabor...How the UNC Dept. of Theology allowed Satan in their midst."

"I thought James Tabor listened to my Harmony of the Gospels class better than that," By Dr. R C Meredith himself.

"Since there will be scoffers in the last days anyway, we scoff at you all too."

Thank you so much for your inquiry. We trust our answer has been helful and encouraging to you. May we sent you HolyDay Offering Envelopes as a token of our appreciation?

Letter Answering Dept.

PS An NO ONE would sneak any references to Jesus into the works of Joe See Fuss. What would be the need. Outside of the Bible itself, hundreds of historians wrote reems of material on Jesus as he was the most famous person in all of Israel during his short life. Why... it is easier to prove Jesus existence than Elvis. But without the Holy Spirit, well probably not in the case of people like Dr. James Tabor and you.

DennisDiehl said...

aaaaaaannnd Mr. Finch, while you said,

"I do find it interesting that Doug almost seems to buddy up to non-COG Christian commentators/scholars for support against Harris, Dawkins, et. al."

Jesus said, I believe, "my enemies friend is my friend too," no wait..."my friends can't be my enemies friends," hmmm, "While I don't have friends, the ones we do are our enemies," no that's not it either, "the enemy of my friends is my my enemy too," Yes! I think that's it or at least close from memory. Jesus also said, "Fool me once, shame on me and my friends but fool me twice then an enemy has done this. You will not fool me again."

Heeellllloooooo! It's in the Bible Mr. Finch and we are Bible readers here!

Douglas Becker said...

And Jesus said to the multitude:

Behold, there was a sower of the seed gone forth to seed the fields and sowed the seed far and wide. The seeds took root in fertile soil, the rain and sun did come upon them, and the seeds grew and became stalks and the stalks had green heads thereon. And the sower of the seed saw, and it was good, and the sower of the seed said, "I have done a marvelous work".

But behold, he came and saw that there were other seeds that had grown up amongst the seeds he had sown and they grew on stalks but had golden heads which waved in the sunlight, cheering both God and man.

And the sower said, "Behold, someone must have sown other seeds: It must be our enemy". And behold the people looked and saw, and came to see the same as the sower.

"What will we do?" asked the people. And the sower said, "We will wait until the harvest and we shall separate the wheat from the tares and burn the undesirable fruit until it is no more." And the people nodded and went back to sleep.

And it came the day of the harvest, and behold the people and the sower came, and the harvester harvested and the harvester separated the wheat and the tares from one another.

For the sower had sown 100 pound sacks of beautiful green tares upon the fields and they grew and multiplied and choked all other plants. But the enemy came upon the bright and prosperous tares and here and there did sow wheat and the wheat did grow and some of it was saved to the end.

The people were confused by the sayings and went there way. And the disciples came unto Jesus and begged of him the meaning of these things.

And Jesus said, the sower was Satan the Devil and the enemy was me and you planting the good seed here and there. The fields represent the hundreds of the churches of God pretending to be righteous but are full of poisonous tares, but a few among the churches will grow in grace and knowledge and will continue unto the end.

At which point the wheat and tares will be separated, but then, that is such a long time away and who the heck knows what will happen then?

camfinch said...

Thanks, Mr. Diehl and Mr. Becker; you two obviously have lingered long in the truth, and are fit representatives for Rod Meredith and his true Living Church of God.

I repent in dust and ashes, and recant all the questions (which seemed perfectly valid at the time that I wrote them) that I rudely asked in my email to the Tomorrow's World editor. You have truly shown me the light.

Douglas Becker said...

Camfinch,

What are you talking about? There's just too much light. I was trying to bring darkness because the brightness of truth is so blinding.

While you are at it, would you consider joining our group: Save the Tares! You will get a free white rose if you accept our offer! [Watch those thorns! They get us too! And by the way, just like all modern breeds of roses, the rose you will get will have absolutely no smell at all, except for the occasional Evangelist White Rose, which has rank!]

Douglas Becker said...

One last thought: Those of you who are wise always need to ask yourself, "Was the minister sober when he wrote this?".

DennisDiehl said...

Cam...I do hope you understand there was a wee bit of satire in my answer :) Is it satire or sarcasm? Maybe spoofage..I dunno.

DennisDiehl said...

Dr. Winnail Notes:

"Wild Ideas

Modern atheists like to promote the idea that their anti-religious views are scientific, intellectually mature and rest upon solid, irrefutable evidence. From such a premise, you would expect their books to be loaded with carefully assembled facts and unassailable information. Instead, readers are pelted with a steady stream of wild claims, unsubstantiated statements, false information, antiquated arguments, risky assumptions, open ridicule and erroneous conclusions."

Sounds like church literature, most sermons and "let me answer your question about the Bible" answers to me....

Douglas Becker said...

Instead, readers are pelted with a steady stream of wild claims, unsubstantiated statements, false information, antiquated arguments, risky assumptions, open ridicule and erroneous conclusions.

Brethren, as I write this at 35,000 feet using four fingers at my typewriter because I was in too much of a hurry to learn touch typing, but believe in my narcissism that I can type just as well or better than a profession typist, I want you to know the sacrifices I must make to bring you my false prophecies: It isn't easy to keep it all together as I write because I've just had two bottles of Dom Perignon and three of Harvey's Bristol Cream, and I'm as drunk as a skunk and I'm seeing the keyboard double.

The_Minimalist said...

There have been some profound insights on this thread like this one:
Dennis wrote:
"How is it such a big sacrifice for Jesus to die...(for only 3 days)"
It calls into question the whole concept of the merit of human sacrifice to appease the gods: Something Judaism had consigned to its unfortunate Iron Age Canaanite past but Christianity revives.

Makes one think twice about volunteering to go to war for the politicians and generals--especially when one doesn't have the Jesus 'Get-out-of-hades-in-3-days-card'

The_Minimalist said...

RE: Mock letter to Mr Finch. Very Funny ! .... "May we send you HolyDay offering envelopes as a token of our appreciation?"

DennisDiehl said...

"Present day Christian scholarship attempts to PROTECT believers from ideas and concepts that might undermine their faith. Clergy are not encouraged by their teachers (if they had honest and well educated ones) to speak from the pulpit of what they have learned behind seminary walls, and are directed to preach the old, old story as if nothing dramatic has taken place in either the 19th or 20th century scholarship. And so the gap between pew sitter and academic grows ever wider and the church people automatically split into "liberal or "conservative camps, each view the other across tension filled gaps...For in spite of academic aloofness and censorship by the clergy, the truth of what is going on cannot be altogether hidden, Intelligent men and women simply do not stand about idly, they find out what they want to know for themselves."

The days of, did you read that really good article that so and so wrote on evolution, or atheism or how stupid the discoveries of others are in comparison to the what the church "knows" are over.

If you read Davey Crockett's (LCG)articles on the 10 Dumbest Human Ideas, you'll see how pathetic their deep spiritual truths are.

Sanctified ignorance is still ignorance....

Douglas Becker said...

Ah, what we wouldn't give for a breathalyzer!

Propose that every writer for church of Gods be given a blood test for drugs and alcohol in conjunction with their product.

DennisDiehl said...

Doug...I'm sensing in your last dozen comments a common thread...

The_Minimalist said...

A couple of observations on the DW article:

1, He speaks of a "frontal assault on God and religion". Why is this unfair when Christianity's stated mission is to propagandize its philosophy .

2. He speaks of the "Global resurgence of religion". If he thinks this kind of bluster helps his cause, I fail to see how. He can't be too pleased that religion is increasingly being abandoned by those that matter, the educated.

DennisDiehl said...

Religion Under Fire tells us:

"a handful of militant atheists have launched a frontal assault on God"

I would think this would not impress or terrorize God

"Their deliberate attack on religious belief is remarkable because it ignores the lessons of history and the discoveries of modern science!"

I suppose any noticing of a problem with a Biblical topic would seem deliberate. I believe it depends on what one wishes their "modern science" to back up.

"The appearance of such deliberate attacks.... is significant in ways that few realize."

Well there are reasons why few realize things that aren't true.

" Before you accept misleading ideas and arguments, you need to understand why these issues are erupting today!"

I personally believe it might be due to one of the few prophecies that makes sense...'and knowledge shall be increased.'

" Modern atheists like to promote the idea that their anti-religious views are scientific"

Let's see, remove "atheists" replace with Christians and erase "anti" and .....your point is?

"religion as an illusion, an infantile delusion and a form of mental illness,"

Please check OT references to Ezekiel going naked for three years, cooking with his own poop, lying on his side for extended periods of time and laying seige to a frying pan...among others....

"Real faith is not blind faith—it is belief based on substantial evidence!"

Thirty years and waiting.....

"Dawkins asserts, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser… homophobic, racist… malevolent bully… psychotic delinquent… the monster of the Bible"

And your point?

"He completely overlooks the evidence that the Bible is a totally unique text"

There are no totally unique texts.

"He claims New Testament writers made the events of Jesus’ life conform to Old Testament prophecies."

Umm, errrrm....oh how do I explain this nicely?

"yet he fails to mention how the Bible describes prophetic promises that revealed the future of Abraham’s descendants long before they arrived on the scene (for more on this vital topic, request our free booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy)."

Oh Zule you nut...

"True believers in Darwinism simply refuse to accept any other explanation for why the world is the way it is—regardless of the evidence,"

Substitute "Literalism" for "Darwinism"

"Theological historian McGrath writes that one of Darwinism’s major consequences is that "evolutionary theory leads to a godless, purposeless world"

Secular humanists write often that one of Fundamentalisms and Literalist Christianity's major consequence is family alienation, marginalization, depression, hopelessness, financial strain, skepticism and hives.

"Contrary to the expectations of secular thinkers, the last half of the 20th century has witnessed the "twilight" of the rule of atheism"

We'll see...since when does any COG look forward to the rise of more false religion? They will kill you thinking they do God a service, won't they? For you're own safety, I'd pray for more non believers!

"The Bible clearly reveals that a time of judgment is coming (Revelation 11:15–18)—Dawkins, Harris and their collaborators have reason to be concerned!"

Uh oh...the big guns...

" Dawkins dismisses the book of Revelation, of course, calling it "one of the weirdest books in the Bible"

Luther wanted it out too, along with the Book of James. Good thing it's there, or there'd be no good source material for this article and most of the COG mindset of "time is short."

"If you read your Bible, you will continue to see how true biblical religion is relevant and prophetically significant in ways that few realize today!"

(See above comment on the reason few realize things.)

Sorry for the long posting. Just goofin here.

Douglas Becker said...

DennisDiehl said...

Doug...I'm sensing in your last dozen comments a common thread...


Yes, indeed.

Four drink minimum is mandatory!

[A nit: I prefer "Douglas", particularly with this particular current topic. It will minimize misunderstandings....]

PS: XCG is for goofing. Well, OK. You can do it here too!

DennisDiehl said...

Ok Douglas, I understand that!:)

I prefer to be referred to as "High Priest of Marduk" One of the "great" internet apologists who has the Christian finess of a snake called me that and I kinda like it. "HPoM" is fine too :)

I was on the fast track to ministerial success when ordained a Local elder after college, then a Preeeeching Elder six months later. I figured I'd be a "Pastor" in a year and then the sky would be the limit, but alas and sadly, it stopped and I got stuck for the next quarter century. I think they were on to me early....

I am considering a four hour sermon convincing my cat and two fish, who are my only audience at the moment, I am an Apostle...I'm not thinking Scotch the Cat will be impressed.

Douglas Becker said...

Since you have a cat, we will give you wide latitude. We understand where you are coming from ;-]

Have you considered starting out as a "Screeching Elder"? Used to be very popular beginning for WCG careers, what with the "spare not" crowd.

Forget your fish and cat. There are so many cockroaches out there that need the encouragement of the hope of salvation. After all, they will probably outlast humanity.

DennisDiehl said...

Well yes...Screeching Elder would be a good start. I would insist on my being Non-Prophet however and while the Bible does encourage me to sucker,no wait, it's succour, the brethren, I will not yield to asking them to bow their heads by saying "Let us Prey." Also, I would not tolerate shits or splisms in the congregation.

I did make the mistake once of using vodka once inplace of the water usually taken at the appropriate time in sermons. Gave a great sermon...but later I was told that "David slew Goliath..he didn't beat the hell out of him."

little joke there....

PS You do not want me to tell Scotch that Douglas said to tell him "forget you." trust me :)

Douglas Becker said...

Is it OK to lie to your fish and tell them that you are singing that folk song from the Musical Hair, lyrics by James Rado & Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquariums?

As for Scotch, just lie to him too and tell him that I told him to "forgive you".

What's a few letters off, when we have such a rich gloriously verdant background of the Churches of God to guide us into all... well... something.

DennisDiehl said...

Before this blog topic wraps up, just a few examples of why mental illness may have played a part in the evolving story and theology of the Bible. It's not a light or off the wall concept with what we know today of mental illness mixed with religious delusional thinking.

Abraham:
He hears Yahweh?s voice, giving him orders, and claims Yahweh visits him.

He thinks he is the progenitor of a numerous progeny, though at first he cannot have children with Sarah.

He offers his wife for the pleasure of the Pharaoh and of chieftain Abimelek.

He considers himself Yahweh?s chosen one, elevated above all other tribes.

He institutes male circumcision, and gives it the symbolical meaning of the Covenant with Yahweh.

He sends his eldest son Ismael, together with the latter's mother, the slave girl Hagar, into the desert.

He wants to kill his and Sarah?s son Isaac.

This is not a normal behaviour pattern. Yet, it is not entirely inconsistent. In fact, the psychopathologist recognizes a typical pattern: the syndrome called paranoia. In this mental disease, the patient suffers from persistent thoughts that are in conflict with reality. Typical delusions are: being persecuted by an enemy, being endowed with a special mission or special powers, belonging to a family of otherworldly descent. These delusions can be accompanied by hallucinations, usually the well-known phenomenon of hearing voices. Often these voices command him to commit very specific symbolical acts, sometimes specific crimes. The refusal of one's own sexuality, as well as sexual impotence, often accompany this condition.

Moses:

domineering and vindictive behaviour;

impulsive, inclined to violence;

intolerant of disagreement;

waves of bad temper, explosions;

over-social, wants to serve, has a sense of fairness (so that their angry explosions are occasioned by perceived injustice);

meticulous, order-loving, pedantic;

persistent and tough;

speech disturbances may occur (certain similarity, on a less physical level, with epilepsy).

Jeremiah:

Jeremiah, the prophet of doom par excellence, is a clear case of paranoia querulans. Israel has fallen and will be punished. The king of Babylon who subdues Israel is merely God's punishing arm; which will not save him, the idolater, from equally being punished in the end. Jeremiah is against everyone, including rivalling godmen and prophets, and God?s revenge will be total. His immense hatred for everyone who disagrees and his hammering on always the same allegations and promises of doom, and a secondary delusion of being persecuted, are typical signs of querulous paranoia.

The book Jeremiah teaches us nothing about God, it illustrates how a sick mind pictures God in terms of his own delusion? Jeremiah shows a characteristic trait of the paranoia patient: a deadly hatred against everyone who disagrees with him, a totally disproportionate reaction to the ?other opinion, inspired by hurt narcissism. The inflated ego is invested with divine dignity and power. Whoever speaks up against God, must die. In a sense, this is a diagnosis of not only Jeremiah, but of prophethood itself.

Ezekiel:

Ezekiel, we see a typical development of this condition: he gets hallucinatory visions, develops an increasingly bizarre behaviour, isolates himself. In moments of calm, he relates his visions to others and gives detailed descriptions.

Not every schizophrenia patient makes it to the status of prophethood. Ezekiel was not an extreme case, and he was a literate man who could somehow make his visions relevant through religion, which made them interesting for the Bible editors. It was also his initial deep religiosity that made him vulnerable to emotional collapse when Jerusalem fell, its temple usurped by Baal priests, and the people (at least, the elite) forced into exile in Babel. Unlike many fellow Hebrews, he could not adapt to this Pagan city full of opportunity, and his emotional collapse developed into a permanent mental affliction.

(Dr. Herman H. Somers, M.A. in Philosophy, Ph.D. in Classical Philology (i.e. Latin and Greek), Ph.D. in Theology, and Ph.D. in Psychology.)

Probably a topic that deserves it's own posting but I can think of certain one man shows in current Church history both COG and Mainstream who may not be so much inspired as ill. Mental illness expressed through the filter of religion is the most deceptive and damaging of all it seems.

It is extremely difficult for the western mind to even begin to think that present day religious belief may come from the illusions and delusions of those in the past. Hot topic I know. Whole governments rise and fall on the mental illnesses of their leaders as well.

DennisDiehl said...

PS

"What is the difference between being mentally ill and prophetic?"

People who hear voices and see things that aren't there can be classified into two groups. The first group are people who cannot cope with these voices and are called mentally ill. The second group are people who can cope with the voices and are called psychic.

Being psychic and being psychotic are the same thing depending upon how you cope with it. Society in general regards people who talk to God as holy. But society in general regards people whom God talks to as insane.

Douglas Becker said...

Dennis,

You forgot Noah.

He drank.

DennisDiehl said...

"You forgot Noah. He drank."

It was just a methane from Ark waste exerience, but since they didn't know about methane in the olden days, they attibuted it to drunkenness. The whole family was loopy when they got off the Ark and they all did amazing thingst to each other. Tons of dino poop methane alone can do that to ya!

Now I would grant that perhaps those guys at Pentecost were drinking as the crowd suspected.

"Acts 2:13 "Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

See this indicates the Apostles had been drinking but they drank "too much" When arrested by the Romans, Peter cried out.."but Noah did it toooooooo!" :)

DennisDiehl said...

...but not to worry...the Apostles were released a few hours later and charged with only a simple PUI (Praying Under the Influence) and in that day, 3000 rejoiced.

Douglas Becker said...

...but not to worry...the Apostles were released a few hours later and charged with only a simple PUI (Praying Under the Influence) and in that day, 3000 rejoiced.

Very funny.

3,000 added in one day.

There's only one way to do that: In the Taverns open in Israel on that Day of Pentecost, as the people ate out at Restaurants on the Annual Sabbath and drank in bars.

Douglas Becker said...

It's not a light or off the wall concept with what we know today of mental illness mixed with religious delusional thinking.

I must object: Mental illness is physiological for the most part and is a valid excuse for delusional thinking.

In modern times, the problem today is not mental illness, it is mental disorder of the personality disorder type: Narcissism is a choice, not a physiological mandate.

No, wait. You weren't talking about that.

Sorry.

DennisDiehl said...

"There's only one way to do that: In the Taverns open in Israel on that Day of Pentecost, as the people ate out at Restaurants on the Annual Sabbath and drank in bars."

Oh Absolute(ly) not! They were closed for the Holyday. The Apostles had special edition autographed flasks given out by Jesus, at Passover, as a token of his appreciation for their efforts.

When James asked Peter what he was doing with Judas flask too? Peter said..."well what's he gonna need it now for?" James said, "Well I suppose the one who denies Jesus may as well keep the flask of the guy that betrayed him."

A good laugh was had by all...

DennisDiehl said...

"Narcissism is a choice, not a physiological mandate."

Some would disagree. Sam Varkin, author of Malignant Self Love seems to feel that any kind of rehab has proven historically fruitless.

"If you are a "fixer", then focus on fixing situations, preferably before they become "situations". Don't for one moment delude yourself that you can FIX the narcissist - it simply will not happen. Not because they are being stubborn - they just simply can't be fixed."

Sam Varkin

Douglas Becker said...

Almost right: It's Sam Vaknin.

And yes, I have his book. He and I have traded e-mails. He used me [as his narcissistic self] as [a narcissistic] source for his shameless self-promotion.

But just because he, as a narcissist, or anybody else, are not optimistic about recovering from narcissism, does not mean that it was not a choice.

Sometimes when a person makes a deliberate choice, let's say of addicting drugs, it may mean a life of attempting but being unable to recover. And of all the addictive drugs there are, narcissism is the most potent and persistent.

That is why, when ministers choose the path of aggrandizement, they oft set upon the destructive path of narcissism, not that it is so much destructive to them personally as it is to those who come in contact with them.

DennisDiehl said...

"The only study I am aware of that examined genetics and narcissism suggested that 64% of the variation was accounted for by genetics (Livesley WJ, Jang KL, Jackson DN and Vernon PA, Am J Psychiatry 1993 150(12):1826-1831). Of course, studies using other measures of narcissism are necessary in order to confirm or modify this figure. Nevertheless, narcissism and narcissistic responses to stress and trauma likely have significant genetic bases. Does this mean people with a particular genetic makeup are doomed to be narcissistic? Clearly the answer is no. Something else is at play—otherwise 100% of the trait variation would be accounted for by genetics. Perhaps, a predisposition towards narcissism is in place from birth, but a trigger or particular kind of environment is needed to set the disorder in motion. Alternatively, a positive environment may prevent narcissism from taking hold in those who are predisposed."

Dr Richard Grossman

Probably like most topics, it's a bit of both and rarely all or nothing.

Douglas Becker said...

As far as the research I've seen, the narcissism begins in late teen years or young adulthood, focuses on competing for attention, generally for that of a parent the narcissist seeks a life time to please and be worthy to [in their own mind, since the reality may lie somewhere else] but never quite achieves what it is that they think will please the focus of their life.

Devoid of empathy, the narcissist needs other people as a mirror to gauge how they are doing with no real sense of self. The world revolves around them and no one else matters.

As with other conditions, one identical twin growing up in the same home may be narcissistic and the other not.

Narcissism as a diagnosed mental disorder is relatively new and was not included in the DSM until the latest edition, DSM IV.

In the end, none of us really care how it gets started: All we care about is the affect it has on us and the fact that without empathy, a narcissist is less than human.

That goes double for the narcissist without a conscience -- the psychopath.

As for either genetics or environment, behavior still boils down to a choice. Otherwise, the narcissist can blame on their parents and their parents can blame it on their parents and so on and so forth. It's so convenient to be able to place the blame elsewhere, rather than taking ownership and having accountability. Maybe the internal landscape can't change [or maybe it can], but the behavior sure can.

Douglas Becker said...

Dennis,

It occurs to me, that you, as a medical professional, would have some view to establishments created and governed by substance abusers and the characteristics of them -- like churches, for instance.

wolf_track said...

Where's Gavin? We need a new topic, bud.

Gavin said...

Well Wolf Track, the cistern is a bit dry... too much paper to shuffle. But wait, maybe I could combine the two... exam swot on 1 Samuel and a first attempt at a Basil Wolverton "Bible Story" impersonation...

Hmm

You realise, if this doesn't work, you're to blame, right?