Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Good Guys?

The Churches of God are, by and large, a dire and toxic faith environment; restrictive, hierarchic and dumbed down. An array of ego-driven warlords provide bread and circuses for their flocks - dry bread and performing fleas for the most part. The big players are bad enough, but the petty local tyrants can be even worse, as the bickering at Port Austin continues (and continues, and continues) to remind us.

But there are always exceptions, and maybe this is one. I'm referring to Faith Networks, a group I'd frankly forgotten about till someone asked "what's happened to Jim O'Brien?"

O'Brien, for those who've understandably lost track of the countless splits and splinters, was a popular UCG minister who fell afoul of the Cincinnati Sanhedrin, and now leads a couple of independent congregations on the doorstep of the Holy City itself.

O'Brien collaborates with an interesting assortment of refugees from the "orgs" in producing a small but professional looking newsletter called Faith Networks. A PDF of the November issue is available here. Those involved in various ways include Bill Jacobs, Wendy Pack, Guy Swenson (ex-UCG), Ronald Dart, Pam Dewey, David Antion (ex-CGI), the Church of God, Big Sandy, Herberth Cisneros (ex-UCG) Lenny Cacchio and Bill and Scarlett Stough. FN also seems to involve many of the same people who use CEM/Born to Win materials (the photograph below is of a CEM Pentecost gathering.)

The contrast in tone between FN and the bug-eyed, manipulationist apocalyptic ministries we're more used to is astonishing.

Yes, I'm sure these folk have their problems too, and this would hardly be a suitable resting place for the worldly-wise and cynical among us. I can also hear some of the more strident voices claiming that anything COGish is tantamount to hell-bound heresy in a hand-cart (evangelicals: gotta love 'em!) I freely admit that these very decent folk are barking up a tree I'd personally prefer not to build a tree-house in, yet for those still searching for a healthier alternative within the broader COG community, this might be a reasonable place to begin.

34 comments:

sid cynic said...

"a small but professional looking newsletter"

When are they going to come out with the mandatory "FREE Glossy Full-Color Magazine' ?

Ripley said...

It's great that they're "good guys." Better than being arrogant and condescending and all that jazz. Except...

...it is arrogant and condescending beyond belief to perpetuate a system that is based squarely in poor scholarship, whimsical bibilical interpretation and rampant acquienscence to -- to the point of worship of -- one man and his claims.

My problem with so many men on this list is that they knew of the shenanigans of both of the Two Unfitnesses, not to mention others surrounding them, and yet continued right on. I mean, how much closer do you have to be to the truth about it all than David Antion or Ron Dart were? What, did they actually have to be in the rooms where the heinous acts were being performed in order for it to sink in? I mean, David Antion's fortunes, from the number of times he was raised in rank in the WCG, to his and his wife's merchandising of brethren through multilevel marketing schemes, and more, were all aided and abetted by the Armstrongs. It put him in positions of power and income that eventually put him into a position to pursue a doctoral degree and set up a lucrative counseling practice. "And now, brethren, let us reason together. By the way, have you tried these vitamins?"

And Ron Dart? Are you kidding me? Talk about "in bed with Garner Ted." HWA wouldn't use him, so he trotted off with the next best thing and hung out there for 20 years, building a reputation for what, wisdom and reason? "Uh-oh, they've got it on video. I'd better go." Has the man no shame?

Thousands of people's lives were negatively impacted by the contradictory and whimsical doctrinal and administrative practices of an organization (and its offshoots) that claimed to speak for God, and that wielded a harsh and unfeeling club of disfellowship to any who openly disagreed.

And now where are we? Reduced to little affiliations of people who want us to believe that they were really "good guys" all along. The truly good guys I've ever known have more than just a concern for others. They have courage. These people, nice or not, have a legacy of nodding their heads and collecting paychecks while they knew better, or should have. They certainly know better now. And yet they continue. But their problem, which they seem to pretend doesn't exist, is that the cat's long since out of the bag, and we all know better now. Oops.

Snap out of it, Gavin. A momentary lapse is forgiveable. Now, carry on.

Anonymous said...

O'Brien! He also has his own political agenda. He is cut from the same cloth! Don't be deceived!

Pam Dewey on the other hand is very sincere and should be applauded for her good works!

The rest have their political agendas too.

That's right Gavin. Be reminded! The only true shepherd is Jesus Christ! He alone has your back and cares for you. The rest you cannot trust!

Tom said...

Gavin said:

>>>O'Brien collaborates with an interesting assortment of refugees from the "orgs" in producing a small but professional looking newsletter called Faith Networks. A PDF of the November issue is available here.<<<

The Newsletter is professional, but it is the content that is troubling. The lead article on time by Ron Dart, contradicts the bible's teaching on time and how we should redeem it, because the days are evil.

But what would we expect from a man who supported GTA, and in one of his sermons, which was to played in all churches, said: "Many people in the church died because we wouldn't let them go to the doctor?" As though doctors have the power of life and death! Plus, it is an assertion he could never prove. Yet Christians are supposed to have sound minds, capable of thinking and reasoning logically.

>>>Those involved in various ways include Bill Jacobs, Wendy Pack, Guy Swenson (ex-UCG), Ronald Dart, Pam Dewey, David Antion (ex-CGI), the Church of God, Big Sandy, Herberth Cisneros (ex-UCG) Lenny Cacchio and Bill and Scarlett Stough.<<<

All that one could charitably say about this gang of extortioners, is, they make the Halloween trick or treat appear to be a honest prank.

DennisDiehl said...

"...it is arrogant and condescending beyond belief to perpetuate a system that is based squarely in poor scholarship, whimsical bibilical interpretation and rampant acquienscence to -- to the point of worship of -- one man and his claims."

A good description of most Evangelical and Baptist churches lead by the guru whose sole credentials are a small bible college and the fact that they gave up drankin, dancin, smokin and lust finally so God could use them. Amazingly they know how to explain tithing better than "let every man give as he is able..."

Yet, I am sure ther are many safe feeling havens among them too.

While people do, say and cause many dumbass things that cause grief, I only have ever found two choices. Waste head time and probably shorten your life or keep moving. (I didn't say 'get over it') One never gets over drama and trauma, but we can put it in some kind of perspective on the shelf and not let it determine the outcome of our lives or present moments.

Now ask me how I feel if I end up living under a bridge as a troll when I can't afford to retire..and watch Ron Kelly be Cruise for Jesus director every year!

Dd

Anonymous said...

all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing


Maybe the "good" guys have repented of doing nothing...
or maybe they ' know nothing ' better to 'do' now.

Kinda hard to teach old dogs and old guys something new.....to do.

Only God knows how good a 'good guy' really is.

Anoneemoose

Anonymous said...

A bit hard on Antion there ripley. Antion took much action on what he knew. His return to employment at AC after his resignation in 1974 may be partly what you are referring to, but as some (if not full) amelioration consider that his wife's family (the Hammers) had given away the family stake to HWA. Its complicated. But Antion was one of the better ones. Of course they all were in a highly disfunctional system and were "enablers". However, Antion did more than most to try to do something about it. As an analogy take the current Bush Administration White House, which is now torturing and concentrating executive power, setting up alternative legal systems outside of traditional protections, and in many other ways and with Democratic acquiescance implementing some sort of neo-fascist American future. Later generations will ask the same questions about those at the top now--if they knew, why did they not quit, speak out, whistleblow? Some do, others stay on. Its not so simple. Anyone in a position to do something is already usually compromised in a hundred ways. HWA's WCG was a trial run without political power for many of the same issues played out with real power before our eyes in D.C.

Anonymous said...

Tom saith: "But what would we expect from a man who supported GTA, and in one of his sermons, which was to played in all churches, said: "Many people in the church died because we wouldn't let them go to the doctor?" As though doctors have the power of life and death! Plus, it is an assertion he could never prove. Yet Christians are supposed to have sound minds, capable of thinking and reasoning logically."

Tom, thousands did suffer needlessly and many did die as a direct result of following herbie's doctrine on healing. Do Dr's have a power over life and death? No, but the individual does, and a simple visit to the Doctor could have spared many many many. I realize that this doesn't square with your idea that herbie was perfect, but you are not of sound mind, so there you have it.

Jim Butler said...

I'm fairly certain what I say here will have no impact with most here. One can always hope. Essentially, three points:

1. Yes, a lot of crap happened, and still happens, in the churches of God. Yes, there have been some real jerks. Yes, most of us have heard most of this crap and much about the jerks. I am not condoning the behavior to any degree. However, surely if we read what is said on this blog, and even sometimes what we actually say on this blog, we have to admit that we have the capacity to be jerks as well. (to those that are never jerks my apologies)

It does feel much better to talk about somebody else being a jerk than it does talking about ourselves being a jerk.

2. I have never completely understood why the behavior of some man, or woman, had anything to do with what the truth is. The truth is the truth. Whether Satan or God says it, it is still the truth. The behavior of anyone cannot change what the truth is.

3. Almost always, the bashing of doctrine is done in a very general way, almost never discussed in any specific way. Just to illustrate I will use Ripley's comment above.

"...it is arrogant and condescending beyond belief to perpetuate a system that is based squarely in poor scholarship, whimsical bibilical interpretation and rampant acquienscence to -- to the point of worship of -- one man and his claims."

Most of us have heard (read) this general characterization of Church of God doctrines more times than we can remember. It seems to me---point made. That is, okay, we know you believe that.

Do those of you that have abandoned Church of God doctrines think the Protestant, Catholic, Islamist, Buddhist, etc. system of beliefs is closer to the truth?

If anyone answers the question immediately above, it is my opinion, Gavin should make you second in charge. Even if what you say makes no sense.

Okay, maybe you should be in charge.

Gavin does an excellent job with this blog. He appears to be fair minded and honest and his sense of humor is second to none. (I think he comes to have this because he's in a different time zone than most of us) I have no idea what he thinks of all the bashing. Perhaps if one insists on bashing there might be more of an attempt to make it more humorous. Some of you do well in this regard.

Jim

Anonymous said...

After I left ICG, I jumped in with the independent COG movement, ala Dart/Wooten/Havir/O'Brien. My biggest complaint is that they still teach that Christians have to/need to observe the Law (Sabbath/Holy Days, ect). This, despite their attempts otherwise, will of itself perpetuate the God's True People Mindset. It's Armstrongism Extra Lite, with most of the unsavory aspects tossed, but still Armstrongism. Legalism.

I found Dave Havir and Jeff Osbourne to be the best. Pam Dewey too. I think it will be only a matter of time before they come to agree with mainstream Christianity regarding the Law. And I am convinced without a doubt that Ron Dart knows better, especially on issues such as tithing.

The independent movement is the only real hope for people caught up in Armstrongism. It allows them to have their Law fix but provides a "normal" Christian environment, focusing on Christ. My opinion.

Paul

Byker Bob said...

You couldn't not react to HWA/WCG, at least not if you were a member. I suppose that this would be true of any organization or guru who was so invasive to all things personal in one's life.

Therefore, most members have spent a lifetime correcting what they felt were the wrong elements which WCG introduced into their lives. What each individual has done has been a matter of degrees. The folks mentioned by Gavin have retained the core doctrines, while attempting to correct the most toxic and cultic practices, and elliminating corruption. That is a different path from the one I have taken, but I'm not going to fault them, because they have at least recognized that there were problems and have done something.

My own feeling is that the independents are oblivious to the fact that the very core doctrines are what caused Pharissaic behavior amongst the members, and Nicolaitane behavior amongst much of the ministry. Legalism does exactly that, and an intellectually honest person will have to admit that no matter how often one impliments legalism, no matter how many different configurations are attempted, the results will always be nearly the same.

The fruits of the WCG would certainly include the fact that it could not be described as a nurturing organization.

BB

mytwocents said...

On target and well-said, Jim!

DennisDiehl said...

"Do those of you that have abandoned Church of God doctrines think the Protestant, Catholic, Islamist, Buddhist, etc. system of beliefs is closer to the truth?"

I'm not sure that truth is something one gets close to. Close seems like a miss to me. I don't personally seek "the truth" any longer but more a balanced view learning as we go. As I have said too often, being piously convicted but marginally informed is not good truth. Being fixed on truth and unyielding seems a formula for failure. Even Paul, who I think lied a lot called it, "the present truth" as opposed to the "plain truth."

Actually I do find more common sense comfort and peace in Buddhism and Taoism, but they aren't the repository of all truth either.

I think Eckhart Tolle teaches some pretty unassailable truths about living in the now instead of in the angry past or anxiety ridden future, neither of which are real. That's truth to me and good mental health. Living as if all the good things are just around the corner and over the next hill is an illusion. I've wasted enough time reading the Bible like a newspaper.

To me, the evolution of all life is true. Why is it true? Well, after a lot of consideration, it just seems true to me looking at the evidence. Just as WCG at one time, just seemed true, so now do my present truths seem true.

I agree with Jim. One can't stay stuck in the experience or some truth that turned out less than true and so we can just bitch and moan about that for the rest of time. Those who one "hates" are not losing sleep over our anxiety, anger or opinions seems clear to me.

I suppose I like John Dever's view.

"Relatively speaking, you make me who I am.
I need you exactly like the ocean needs the land.
I need you like sunshine needs the shadows and the night.
I need you the way love needs the savage hurtful fight.

Relatively sepaking, I'm nothing without you.
You are where I've been before, you are where I'm going to.
You are living out my dreams and you are all my fears.
You evoke my laughter, you unleash ev'ry tear.

The rich ones need the poor ones; the blind need those with sight,
Sinners need the pure of heart; the black ones need the white.

Relatively speaking the contrast makes it go.
Ev'ry action taken is related in the flow.
Stars and losers, kings and fools go dancing hand in hand,
Relatively speaking, you make me who I am.

The sick ones need the well ones, the living need the dead.
Heaven needs its hell you know, and love needs lonely beds.

Relatively speaking, the contrast makes it go.
Ev'ry action taken is related in the flow.
Stars and losers, kings and fools go dancing hand in hand.
Relatively speaking, you make me who I am"

It just seems right.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, your contributions almost always give me something else to think about. Thanks!

Jim Butler asked: "Do those of you that have abandoned Church of God doctrines think the Protestant, Catholic, Islamist, Buddhist, etc. system of beliefs is closer to the truth?"

Jim, the list of religions there is too broad to make a concise comment but here is a truth for you:

Free will.

Whether there is a God or not, we are each on our own to make out as best we can, to our fellow man as well as ourselves. If you give up your free will, you squander the greatest gift endowed on human life.

I hope each of you have a long and fruitful life, filled with the gifts of giving and receiving.

Robert said...

The independents are a good place to start for anyone wanting to know more about Church of God doctrines.

At the moment I have been reading up on the Talmud Jmmanual. I have just ordered the book (you can get it at www.talmudjmmanuel.com)

The gospel is purported to be written by Judas.

One of the authors that found the original manuscript was found murdered. Now, I wonder why anyone would want to do that?

It is a good job old HWA didn't have a secret manuscript stashed away under his bed.

The book makes Matthew 5:17-18 very plain for anyone who doesn't understand it!

TJ 5:17-18 17"Do not think that I have come to do away with the law or the prophets; I have come not to undo, but to fulfill and to reveal the knowledge. 18Truly I say to you, Until the skies and the Earth vanish, neither a letter nor a dot of the laws of Creation and the laws of nature will vanish, until all is fulfilled."

You can read the skeptics pull the manuscript apart at www.tjresearch.info

With all the reading that Gavin does I am surprised he has not mentioned this work before.

DennisDiehl said...

"The independents are a good place to start for anyone wanting to know more about Church of God doctrines."

Actually I prefer to know less about them, not more..

Neotherm said...

The idea that Armstrongism has some forms that are better than others is a sociological perspective.

From a Christian perspective, a Jesus Plus cult is a Jesus Plus cult. Judging O'Brien's organization to be better than Rod
Meredith's, for instance, is like looking at two counterfeit $100 bills and determine that one reflects better craftsmanship than the other. In the final analysis, both bills are counterfeit.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Yes, or comparison shopping for diarrhea!

Bamboo_bends said...

Jim Butler asked: "Do those of you that have abandoned Church of God doctrines think the Protestant, Catholic, Islamist, Buddhist, etc. system of beliefs is closer to the truth?"


That's a bit like asking which book in a library is correct. How can anyone possibly answer such a front loaded question?

It seems to me that xCGer's have one muscle that's totally atrophied from lack of use, the muscle that it takes to go through various readings and to decide for oneself.

One thing becomes very clear upon exiting Armstrongism is the circular scriptural reasoning. There's self-referential theology used in Armstrongism. Its like a novel, once you step inside it, you suspend disbelief because its all so internally consistent - with itself. The problem comes in when you compare it to external reality. It then falls apart, but the ministery forbids you to view reality, so you don't. And you congratulate yourself for having such a great set of answers to everything. The Armstrong TOE ( theory of everything).

Work out your own Salvation in fear and trembling.

Why should any of us who have abandoned such teachings and found freedom and a new faith make it easy for you? Its not like you like us is it?

Lussenheide said...

All:

Some uncalled for cheap shots coming on this thread. As a leading "independent" COG'r, I am well acquainted with, or good friends with most mentioned in this movement on this thread.

To imply that any of them is being personally profited by their ministries is a very far reach. In fact, most of them serve for NO PAY whatsoever!

None of them demand "tithes" or try to possess you, or demand exclusive allegiance. There is no demand for "doctrinal purity", and there is great latitude in tolerance for different beliefs, practices and styles.

No one is claiming to be a "Biblical Character" ie Elijah, or the Two Witnesses, and none are claiming that "They are the only True Church".

So lay off ! I know that each of those men had there confrontations and heavy prices to pay by "not playing ball" with the status quo at whichever "ORG" they came out of.

Who amongst us, can say differently. Most of us knew that there were things going on that were wrong, but endured for years hoping that God would "straighten it out".

I know I did. I have little doubt that the "Good Guys" stayed awake many a night in prayer, in anguish over what was going on in the Church.

Let HWA and GTA bear their own guilt. Judge individuals on their own merit. These men are not guilty of any legitimate serious sins of morality or greed.

To Poster Ripley's "Believe it or Not".... Yes I believe in God and his Ten Commandment Law, and no, I dont believe your whimsical and rampant character assasinations.

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Sid Cynic said...

RIPLEY nails it !

'Thousands of people's lives were negatively impacted by the contradictory and whimsical doctrinal and administrative practices of an organization (and its offshoots) that claimed to speak for God, and that wielded a harsh and unfeeling club of disfellowship to any who openly disagreed.'

Anonymous said...

Same job same men but different organization. When will we get new whores in the cog whore house?

Gavin said...

Bill L said:
"These men are not guilty of any legitimate serious sins of morality or greed."

I was hoping Bill would jump in on this thread.

I'd only add, that goes twice over for the women mentioned. I defy anyone to accuse Pam Dewey of evil motives.

As for Neo's comments, well, to continue the analogy, I don't see too much difference between a counterfeit $100 bill with O'Brien's signature and one with Richard Robert's...

Or Franklin Graham's.

I do believe that ministries like FN and CEM provide a reasonably safe place for some folk to take some time out, and take stock from the more rigid varieties of Armstrongism. To trade in the dogmatism of those more rigid COGs (RCG/LCG/PCG etc) for the dogmatism of the evangelical fundamentalists seems a very poor deal to me... I wish I knew what Neo means by "Christian perspective" - the particulars seem slippery. Whose definition will we use?

But to each their own.

Some people, like Bill, will find the cooperative independent groups convivial and nurturing, and send down roots. Good for them, I wish them well.

Others, like Paul, will move on. All power to them too. We all make choices, and IMHO the important thing isn't that we all agree, but that those choices are genuine ones made with integrity.

FN, CEM etc are hardly my choice at this stage of my journey, but I once took great solace in the preaching of Ron Dart as I tried to make sense of the whole WCG mess, and for that I'm still grateful.

Anonymous said...

These folks are no better and no worse then the other Churches of God.

Certainly no better...

Enormous egos, very controlling, and at times definitely mean. That is my PERSONAL experience with many of them.

You cross them or disagree and them and they are on you like a duck on June bug. It was their way or the highway.

I'm sorry, but I will stay a long way away from most of them.

FTJ said...

Well said Gavin. Also count me in to stand behind Pam Dewey. I dare any swine to suggest "evil motives" of a woman who has nothing but kindness, compassion, cordiality,intelligence and class. In other words, those who are tempted to do such a mean-spiritedly petty and vindictive thing, I will just say, "Don't do it!" A related topic is an article I have in my blog about "Armstrongist Refuseniks" http://lifeafterwcg2.wordpress.com/2007/10/01/who-are-the-armstrongist-refuseniks/.

Felix

Mel said...

Jim, I've never before come across the theory that Gavin's sense of humor is related to him being in a different time-zone than most folks here!

Tom said...

Charlie said:

>>>Tom, thousands did suffer needlessly and many did die as a direct result of following herbie's doctrine on healing.<<<

As far as I know, HWA had no personal doctrine on healing, except for what the bible teaches. The Apostle James was inspired to ask: "Is any sick among you?" And the inspired answer is, "Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing with oil in the name of the Lord; And the pray of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him"(James 5:14-15).

If we analyse this passage, two factors become very evident. One, the sick person must ask for anointing. And two, the prayer must be a "pray of faith." For Jesus also said: "According to your faith, be it unto you." So if these conditions are met, the sick person will be healed.

Now if some people were not healed, it has to be a lack of faith. Either theirs, the minister's or both of them.

>>>Do Dr's have a power over life and death?<<<

OK, we are on the same page here!

>>>No, but the individual does, and a simple visit to the Doctor could have spared many many many.<<<

Which individual has the power of life and death? And what is a doctor able to do that God can't perform?

Plus, to retrospectively argue that some people might not have died if they had gone to a doctor is to render God helpless. They died because of a lack of faith!

Ripley said...

Glad to spark discussion. Note what I said, however:

"...a system that is based squarely in poor scholarship, whimsical biblical interpretation and rampant acquiescence to -- to the point of worship of -- one man and his claims."

I respect personally held beliefs, Sabbath-keeping among them. Those words were carefully chosen because they reflect what occurred, from my observation:

Poor scholarship. Not "no scholarship." But poor. Includes proof-texting. Includes not speaking truth to power, as many people had many opportunities to do. What others may have done or now do in other denominations or belief systems is beside the point. We're dealing with this system, with its infamous and all-encompassing "one, true" claim (which still lends to the Antions or Darts or O'Briens or Havirs, in full or in part, whatever legitimacy they may appear to have).

Whimsical biblical interpretation. Pick one. Makeup. Divorce. Or, how about ever permitting GTA to return to the ministry? (This would also include a premise I've heard from those who, though they believe there is ample evidence of the incest charge, counter with "the message is more important than the messenger." Yes, THE message is. But wouldn't such behavior automatically cause one to rethink the "the messenger" part? Wouldn't that be proper application of biblical interpretation?)

Rampant acquiescence. I've rarely heard many informed people argue that this wasn't part of the package (as it is today with Flurry, for example). Do I suggest that O'Brien or Antion or Dart or Havir require it now? No, but are they strong enough in pointing out how such an attitude led to the errors that misdirected and even devastated the lives of hundreds and likely thousands of people who were simply trying to do the right thing and have a little hope?

Again: I'm glad they're "good guys." But their practice of forging ahead with their versions of a system, without an open discussion of that system (not doctrines -- system) and the harms and deep wounds it inflicted, risks doing as much or more harm than it does good.

(I think an examination of the system leads to a more careful examination of doctrine, but that's another discussion.)

There is a seemingly compelling argument against what I'm saying, which I've heard expressed in the following way: "What good does it do to constantly rehash the past? Even if there were mistakes, we need to move on."

For one, I think it would do each of these leaders a lot of good. I can live with their dilemma of feeling that they have a responsibility to shepherd people in the face of chaos and confusion. But I watched and waited for at least a decade for people like "the good guys" to stop dancing around the fringes of the issues and conduct an honest and open discussion of the underlying causes of the problems in the COG movement (i.e., to de-construct it in order to re-construct it). It hasn't occurred, to my knowledge, although The Journal offers the occasional morsel. I still check in from time to time, obviously. But I suspect it's not likely to occur in a major, coordinated way any time soon.

Questeruk said...

Tom said:-

‘One, the sick person must ask for anointing. And two, the prayer must be a "pray of faith." For Jesus also said: "According to your faith, be it unto you." So if these conditions are met, the sick person will be healed.

Now if some people were not healed, it has to be a lack of faith. Either theirs, the minister's or both of them.’

So anyone who isn’t healed, it’s their fault, or their ministers? They should get more faith, or search out a better minister.

If we are putting physical healing on a par with forgiveness of spiritual sins, the track record would suggest nearly every ‘church member’ is heading for the lake of fire, in Tom’s view.

Of course by the same logic, those with this perfect faith have a way of physical immortal life, as they are guaranteed healing every time, as long as they find the right minister, with this same perfect faith. This then ties God’s hands – He has no choice but to heal.

Tom said...

Jim Butler said...

>>>I'm fairly certain what I say here will have no impact with most here.<<<

Only "fairly?" If you were absolutely certain you could have been awarded a medal for getting something right.

>>>1. Yes, a lot of crap happened, and still happens, in the churches of God.<<<

Amen to that! But I hope you are honest enough to admit that your contribution falls within that genre.

Anonymous said...

"Well said Gavin. Also count me in to stand behind Pam Dewey. I dare any swine to suggest "evil motives" of a woman who has nothing but kindness, compassion, cordiality,intelligence and class."

vs

"Enormous egos, very controlling, and at times definitely mean."

Can't be both

Miguel de la Rodente said...

Lack of faith? Isn't it Jesus Christ who provides the faith when He comes to live in a Christian? You know, like Christ's faith living within us? So, if COG members were not healed, doesn't "lack of faith" really prove that for the most part Jesus Christ had nothing to do with Armstrongism? It appears that the Armstrongites here think that you can work up your own faith, and if enough faith is not present to facillitate healing, well then it's the non-healed individual's own fault.

Anonymous said...

Look at all the young people in the crowd.


Paul

Pam Dewey said...

Someone wrote ...
"Well said Gavin. Also count me in to stand behind Pam Dewey. I dare any swine to suggest "evil motives" of a woman who has nothing but kindness, compassion, cordiality,intelligence and class."
>>>>

Somebody else commented ...
vs

"Enormous egos, very controlling, and at times definitely mean."

Can't be both

>>>>

And I say ... as the Pam Dewey above mentioned :-) ...

I got no control over nobody. And an enormous ego doesn't work for a women in most any religious setting, let alone any connected to the Sabbatarian Churches of God. :-)

Mean? Well, I invite anyone who's met me to comment on that. :-) I kinda think of myself as the proverbial marshmallow.

I have long appreciated the kindness of Gavin (as well as folks like the anonymous poster I quote above), who may not agree with me about doctrine and theology, but join me in mutual admiration for one another's sincerity of concern for the suffering that the "WCG of the olden days" wrought on so many people.

For those who are unfamiliar with my work, I invite you to have a look at the WCG section of my Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion website.

http://www.isitso.org/guide/wcg.html

And as for the Faith Networks, I invite folks to not respond to just one article, or preconceived prejudices about one author, but have a look at the whole picture.

I am the one who normally pulls this mag together, coordinating the proofing and editing of articles. I also write for most issues. The emphasis of the mag has nothing to do with nitpicking doctrine, but encouraging writers to share inspirational material that will impact the daily lives of readers.

One cynical respondent asked ...

"When are they going to come out with the mandatory "FREE Glossy Full-Color Magazine' ?"

And the non-cynical answer is, no time soon. Glossy is not in our plans. But full color is already in place. And free is already in place. This has nothing to do with some central HQ of some COG org and plans to reach the world with a witness and a warning about prophetic piddle.

The Faith Networks is totally supported by the efforts of Jim O'Brien's local congregations as a service to the COG community. It's sent out free of charge to anyone who asks. There are no strings attached, nothing to join, nothing to become a co-worker of. The writers are all unpaid. The editing (me and a handful of volunteers) is a volunteer effort, the printing and sending out is done by the local congregation.

The "prime directive" is to just provide inspiration and encouragement to those who need it. The mag is designed to be sort of a "Guideposts" for COG folks.

I have a complete collection of all past issues on one of my websites:

http://www.youall.com/faithnetworks

You don't have to agree with any particular doctrinal stance to profit from most of the articles.

Are there any "swine" out there who attribute to me evil motives without ever knowing me as a real person, or even contacting me? :-) If so, I invite you to write to me directly and chat with me, and base your opinion on something more substantial than unreasoning prejudice.

oasis777@comcast.net

Pam