Monday, 3 March 2008

STP

The year is 1978, and the world is a different place.

No reality TV shows like Survivor Guatemala or Top Chef for starters. Paris Hilton is a building. Oh for the good old days!

But in the pocket universe of COGdom, dire events are afoot.

Garner Ted Armstrong is about to be out-Machiavellied by Stan the Man. The women of the WCG are days away from being declared whores if they use lipstick. The recently divorced apostle is about to declare a doctrine of Petrine primacy - making himself a type of pope. Spanky Meredith is destined to blow a foo-foo valve at Wayne Cole on the stage of the Ambassador Auditorium (put up them dukes) to cries of "shame! shame!"

And the STP would rise and fall before many of us had even registered that it was there.

The STP?

It was officially the Systematic Theology Project, but there were plenty of unofficial designations, including Slide Toward Protestantism.

As far as I know it never got beyond its published "first draft" before the reactionary elements in the church, freshly blooded from deposing GTA, clubbed it into a bloodless pulp.

You may have thought till now that the only reappearance of this document would be in the third resurrection. But fear not, gentle reader. Lo, after these many years, the original STP is yours to download. Be advised, we're talking about a hefty PDF file of 400 odd pages here (some odder than others) - not a booklet.

Thanks Bill!

Of course, it's not exactly riveting reading. Former Auckland pastor Jack [the Boot] Croucher claimed he never read it because it put him to sleep. Not enough CAPS and exclamation marks (!!!!) I guess.

But still, this is a glimpse of the WCG as it might have been. And if events had turned out differently, who knows how all our lives might have been affected.

Read an earlier post on the STP here.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

'But still, this is a glimpse of the WCG as it might have been. And if events had turned out differently, who knows how all our lives might have been affected.'

The STP was taken up by CGI and is the basis of their present teachings, and those of CGOM

Anonymous said...

That was truly a time of the passing of the baton from good intentions and dealing with what the Bible seems to say, to common sense in the real world of people and lives lived.

In hindsite, having to give the baton back to the previous runner should have been my personal hint to move on.

Lussenheide said...

When HWA later tried to deny that he had NO knowledge of the existence of STP, I knew that he was just not being forthright. It was IMPOSSIBLE for HWA not to know about the project, it was public knowledge even at the lowly lay member level for at least a couple of years.

Tkach even used the STP material. It formed the basis for his "healing doctrine" reform back in the early 1990s.

Our minister back in the 1970s actually used to just leave his copy up on the stage and tell folks that if they wanted to look at it they could. I spent several weeks after church reading the entire thing back then. The plan at the time was that eventually "every head of house" was going to receive a copy of the sacred writ.

Was it true that ministers were ordered to actually BURN their copies of STPs? Obviously, many did not follow the orders of "Star Fleet Command"!

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee , CA USA

Tired Skeptic said...

After looking at the STP, it's hard to understand what Herbert Armstrong got so excited about: Most of it seems to be exactly what he was teaching at that time.

The Bible Correspondence Course with its... 60? lessons chasing people all over the Bible with a randomness befitting chaos theory was to be THE [!!!] mechanism by which people came to the TRUTH [?!]. Why substitute an organized exposition in one place with STRUCTURE?[!!!?!]The ministers of the Seventies wondered that too, which is why the project got started.

Perhaps it is the case that Herbert Armstrong preferred to have absolute control of doctrine, not just spoon feeding people and keeping them in the dark without their having the whole picture, but to reserve the right to change anything at any time without anyone noticing, just as United does today. Or perhaps, since Herbert Armstrong himself was random with chaos, immature and having no concept of process, his approach was reflected in the bipolar extremes of the style of presentation now so familiar to all of us and he couldn't tolerate the boredom of the STP.

Then again, if people had all the eschatology in one place, they could have looked into the Bible for themselves and made decisions early on [and moved on] without having to be tied to a false prophet high priest [former hireling of CoG7] non apostle standing squarely between them and whatever Deity there is.

Tom Mahon said...

Gavin said:

>>>But still, this is a glimpse of the WCG as it might have been.<<<

A glimpse that was not a sight to behold! The project, with a few amendments, was eventually adopted by Tkach, and look what it has done for WCG.

The whole STP project was probably conceived in the twisted mind of GTA, who found it difficult to live by the high standards required of anyone calling himself a child of God. So why not water down the wholesome teachings of the bible to accommodate Protestant liberalism, where almost anything goes?

>>>And if events had turned out differently, who knows how all our lives might have been affected.<<<

Just look at how the lives of the people have turned out, who have embraced the doctrines of the Evangelical Alliance of Churches. The results are not good. We see rampant divorce, disobedient children, mounting debt, adultery and every other sin you care to mention.

My slogan is, come back Mr. Armstrong, all is forgiven!

Anonymous said...

Tom, no offense but the only way to for someone to truly be of any faith is for that person to have the freedom to choose that faith.

This applies to any religious beliefs. Otherwise all it is, is crowd control.

Should there be boundaries? Yes, of course. But adultery, divorce, disobedient children, mounting debt are not considered good things in most religious movements whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc...It is not exclusive to the teachings of Herbert Armstrong.

Mickey

Anonymous said...

Oops! I meant to say "considered good things..." Not enough coffee this morning

Mickey

Anonymous said...

Better go back to bed, I had it right the first time:)

Mickey

Anonymous said...

Tom said: "Just look at how the lives of the people have turned out, who have embraced the doctrines of the Evangelical Alliance of Churches. The results are not good. We see rampant divorce, disobedient children, mounting debt, adultery and every other sin you care to mention."

I don't know about that Tom, I saw plenty of that in armstrongism too. If you did not, than you are truly blind. I remember one of my old churches held up this one teen girl as some sort of paragon of virtue and righteousness...She was one of the most rebellious! Not that I blame her of course, armstrong's teachings (Your so-called wholesome teachings) were having a disastrous effect on her family. It was natural at that point to rebel.

Tom also said: "My slogan is, come back Mr. Armstrong, all is forgiven!"

Tom, it gives me *great* pleasure to remind you that Herbie lies a mouldering in the grave.

Getting back on topic, any time that a change was introduced in our local area it caused a great deal of discussion and controversy. It always seemed to be either welcomed or despised, there were very few ambivalent about it. A few short years later when make-up was allowed again, some women waited months before they would wear it, lest they seem too eager. I have vague memories of when herbie decided to allow men to wear beards again (Post hippie era) and my father discussed with my mother on the way home that he would wait several months before growing one in...I would imagine it was for the same reason that some ladies put off wearing makeup once it was allowed.

Until I first read about it on this site a year or so ago, I always thought STP was Richard Petty's sponsor!

Tkach failed at having a successful reform of the church's doctrines (Retaining pastors and members) because he a: Failed to sell it to other church leadership. b: Failed to take care of his people c: Fired anyone that had the slightest disagreement with him d: Failed to realize that many people are unwilling or unable to change views they have held for 20-30-40-50 years.

Anonymous said...

The STP was used as a political football. It became tagged as "liberal" which was the radioactive kiss of death as far as the right-wingers were concerned. By the doctrinal standards of the WCG in 1978, it was pretty innocuous. The major change was in the section on healing. Most of it was sensible stuff and HWA himself approved it, even though he later claimed to know nothing about that. That claim should be viewed like the "I do not recall" claims of certain political figures. He may have forgotten -- old age will do that to you -- but he did know all about it. I saw his handwritten comments on a draft (in large type) of the healing document, clearl indicating his approval.

Ministers were told to get rid of the STP after the putsch prompted by the receivership. Some may have burned it, but that was not required. Most ministers just sent the whole thing back to Pasadena. The padded three-ring binders the STP came in, however, were re-used for other things.

Anonymous said...

I read the first three pages, and have no plans to read the rest. Apparently the writers were unfamiliar with the concept of sparseness of words.

WCG would still have been caught up in Pharisaic legalism, just diminished a small bit.

Anonymous said...

"Starfleet Command" is too benign. How about "The Devil's Arse?"


Paul

Tom Mahon said...

Mickey said:

>>>Tom, no offense but the only way to for someone to truly be of any faith is for that person to have the freedom to choose that faith.<<<

The subject of freedom or free will has exercised the minds of some of the greatest philosophers for the past 3.5 thousands years, and it is not clear that man is free to choose anything.

Anyway, according to Jesus no one is free to choose the Christian faith, as it is a gift of God.

>>>But adultery, divorce, disobedient children, mounting debt are not considered good things in most religious movements whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc...<<<

Adultery is probably the only one that most cultures condemned. Although in some cultures, men are free to have mistresses, and wife swapping has been practised in western cultures for some time.

The others are particularly emphasised in the bible as faults of character.

>>>It is not exclusive to the teachings of Herbert Armstrong.<<<

Indeed they aren't! These sins were forbidden long before HWA was born.

paco said...

I still have my original STP on my bookshelf. I looked at it for the first time in several years back in November when I was throwing out most of my wcg/ac/aicf materials.

The STP was an effort to bring some order and standardization to the wcg's mixed bag of theology and personal preferences as imposed by HWA. Robert Kuhn and Brian Knowles were among those who labored mightly to bring some coherence to the mishmash. HWA later disavowed it because it suited his purposes to do so - declare you are under attack, blame others, circle the wagons and clamp down on the slightest hint of disagreement.

At the time it was published I thought it was a good first step toward changing the wcg into sometime other than a personality cult - which is one reason it never had a chance for success in the long run.

Corky said...

Tom has a problem with disobedient children, adultery and divorce and evidently his debt is mounting.

The wholesome goodness of slaying the Amalekites and Samsonizing the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass passes through his wholesome brain as he has another sip of 25 year old Scotch whiskey.

Images of a resurrected HWA dances in his head as he pictures himself with a rod of iron to beat the ungodly into submission.

His eyes glaze over in delight as he watches billions of humans being tossed into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

As he walks on the ashes of the sinners and ungodly under his feet, he mutters to himself, "it's mine now - it's all mine".

But wait, he wakes up and he's in the real world with real people in it, people who don't see his wholesome goodness and he weeps for Tammuz . . . er, Jesus to put him back to sleep. He prays, "Lord I am soooo thankful that I am not like those poor ungodly sinners and that I am not part of their cabal". Then another sip of 25 year old Scotch and he's off to dreamland once again.

mel said...

Tom's slogan is:
"Come back Mr. Armstrong, all is forgiven!"

My slogan is:
"Come back Mr. Armstrong you horrid piece if shit, and I'll beat you to a bloodless pulp with a sledgehammer."

Tom, what events have transpired that have brought you from "doing the work" to crouching around the computer with your family as ya'll observe people's comments on this site?
Feel free to be a braggart and crow about the mighty work you are involved in!

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Regarding freedom of choice. I see where you are coming from regarding the Christian faith and choice, however choice in moral/ethical behaviour is not the same. How often have you heard from the pulpit about the "blessings and cursings" in Deut? How often has it been thundered "Choose life, that you may therefore live"?

The very book that is foundational to Judeo/Christian values indicates that human beings have free will to choose between two actions.

If you wish to believe that free will is questionable, then those individuals who were caught up in those sad situations previously mentioned are to be pitied and not condemned. They truly could not help themselves.

As to cultural practice. None of them, including ourselves, practice what we hold in highest regard perfectly.

You say Adultery is "probably" the only one condemned, which indicates a lack of certain knowledge. From what I've learned from friends raised in other cultures, disobedient children are not especially prized either. Divorce is not a happy event. Being under debt is a crushing burden. These things are condemned by religious leaders the world round. (With a few notable exceptions regarding the debt issue if it comes to choosing between food and tithes)

The point being made was that our lives may have been better had the STP gone forward. You seem to think that moral chaos would have ensued. (At least that is what you implied from the recitation of tragedies, forgive me if I misunderstood)

My argument is that whatever bad happened in the aftermath of the changes put forward by Joseph Tkach were due to decisions made by the indviduals who participated in their actions. Not the changes per se. "The Changes" were like the removal of a bandage over a festering sore. The ugliness was there all along. That ugliness was the result of people policed into the appearance of decent behavior.

The two things, morality and the STP/Tkachian changes really have nothing to do with each other.

Mickey

Anonymous said...

By the way Gavin, Thanks for linking to the STP. I'm interested in what might have been, too:)

Mickey

Anonymous said...

Well put, Mickey.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes,Ye Olde System Attic Theology Project.That's where it belonged; in the attic with all the other dusty,fusty and musty memorabilia.

I well remember Bill Hutchison(NZ) cautiously feeling his way through a sermon with the new Wunderkind,the STP,stuttering over his words to see if they were in line with the "Bull", making some reference to the inscrutability of this blue? tome, then walking off stage.

Ah,yes, Worldwide was a stage and many were the comedians that performed thereon.

Seamus

Corky said...

What might have been . . . now that's the never to be answered question.

The way I look at it, HWA proved Christianity wrong; no immortal soul, no eternal hellfire, no flying off to heaven, no rapture, etc. etc. So, when I walked away from HWA's beliefs, I walked away from the beliefs that had been proved wrong also.

What might have been with STP? More of the same, probably. It might have even encouraged some to hang in there even longer than they did.

By the time I left in 1975, the inconsistancy of doctrine and the false prophecies of HWA had already became an embarrassment to many members when around other people.

What might have been? I might still be in a protestant church somewhere, believing in hellfire and brimstone, if not for HWA and his false prophecies. I'm glad I got away when I did, I don't think STP would have made the slightest difference in the control and abuse.

I'm glad I never had the chance to meet the hangers-on like Tom Mahon or have to make decisions on which splinter group was the "right" group.

Weinland Watch said...

Some people are still trying to make the decision which splinter is the "right" splinter, Corky: As evidenced by Rotten Ronnie, Clever Gerry, Spanky and the Packatollah duking it out for the few thousand "faithful" left that want to belong to one of the "major" splinters.

You want a systematic theology project? I give you The Journal's "Connections" advertising supplement, all four hundred pages of it every issue. It's a sociologist's wet dream.

tkach's cruise concierge said...

The heart of any theological system is salvation. The STP struck at the very core of HWA's assumptions by acknowledging Romans chapter 4. The implications were shattering: If he was wrong about this, he was wrong about everything.

Anonymous said...

Some contributors to - and readers of - this blog are here to learn, and, yes, contribute. But I don't think good manners and clean ('pure'?) language is dead. Foul language simply isn't a Christian - or a balanced non-Christian - behaviour.

Let's listen to an ex-blasphemer: 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God'

Keep on blogging; but please - be constructive in criticism!

DennisDiehl said...

I recall sitting through hours, day and night, for 3 weeks at the ministerial refresher which was exhausting over STP. I felt the church was shedding it's overmuch literalism and the "either/or" mentality that went with scriptures on healing, tithing, divorce and such. It actually seemed hopeful (I had only been associated with WCG for six years at that point, and four of them were in college.)

Then it crashed. But once an idea is expressed, it is out there and on these topics and others, I personally tended to opt for the STP approach when dealing with real questions about tithing, d and r, healing and such. These were the issues that impacted lives big time whent hey came up.

I think we give HWA too much credit for one idea undoing his ideas about theology. I don't think HWA thought about that much. It was about his authority or being the one to think it up. Kinda like Dave Pack making things seem like he thought it all up himself when in fact he did not.

HWA was on autopilot during the years I knew him. Every "study" he gave was the same dumbass boring "Two Trees" tripe with a sprinkle of "The Spirit in Man."

I NEVER heard the man, nor Ted talk about compassion, forgiveness, kindness, encouragement, hope or the kinds of thing that made life what it could be. It was always pseudo-profound and of little practical value.

Oh Yeah..had to endure Elohim was a uniplural blah blah blah. Now I understand that The Elohim were the pantheon of Gods that El was addressing when he said, "let us make man in our image..." The 'us' is not Jesus to be. It is the council of the gods that worried that man taking of the tree of K and E would make them "like us," which was unacceptable for a human. Only the gods were to know good and evil and have eternal life.

When "God" said, "You shall have no other gods before me," it was because there were others gods. It better reads, "You shall not bring another god into my presence..for I am a jealous God." In other words, I am rather cultic and insecure so don't bring them around me.

Would have loved to send this up to HWA as a question in a Bible Study..ha. argh!

Lussenheide said...

Annonymous and all:

In all seriousness...Yes, class and manners count. Thanks for your comment.

(Jesting Alert!)...May I also add, that you should be properly attired when posting to and reading Ambassador Watch as well. Please do not use this forum without suit coat and tie, polished shoes, and ironed crease in your pants. Ladies...Skirts, heels, hose, and appropriate use of cosmetics. Remember, you are coming before "The Gavin"! ;-)

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Lussenheide said...

STP

STP, a motor oil type of product, was smart about one thing in its marketing back at its genesis...make a billion stickers and let kids get ahold of them.

Thus STP stickers were everywhere, in the bathroom at school, on public stop signs, school book covers,...you name it!

Whenever some not knowing adult would ask what STP stood for, we would just say some smart aleck comment like...

"Super Toilet Paper" or

"Stop Teenaged Pregnancy"

I think both meanings could apply to the WCG STP as well!

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

BC said...

Ladies...Skirts must fall below the middle of the kneecap while sitting as a matter of modesty on this forum!

Steve said...

Lussenheide said...

"(Jesting Alert!)...May I also add, that you should be properly attired when posting to and reading Ambassador Watch as well. Please do not use this forum without suit coat and tie, polished shoes, and ironed crease in your pants. Ladies...Skirts, heels, hose, and appropriate use of cosmetics. Remember, you are coming before "The Gavin"! ;-)"

MY COMMENT: Uh, Bill, are not you one of many who want to kick Tom off of the forum? I just bet your shoes are polished. :-) And, Gavin? If he decides to(the reason for the poll), you will have to sit, read, and nod your head in agreement every time he speaks. Aaaaand, flatter Denny. Oh! You all already do that!

Anonymous said...

"Please do not use this forum without suit coat and tie, polished shoes, and ironed crease in your pants."

Mr. Luss, I have a question. Can I wear sideburns while posting? Also, can I wear a mint colored shirt with my suit, or is that unseemly? Thank you for adding much needed order to this chaotic situation.

Thanks,
Paul

DennisDiehl said...

Ambassador Watch allows most participants an open and free way to evolve out of where they have been with regards to religion, in particular WCG and all its splisms, to a better place in their thinking.

If one is going to have an experience, there may as well be something to learn from it and grow through.

Like most opportunities to process and experience, some do it better than others. Some stay stuck and repeat the same hurts and rancour over and over. Some move a little through the experience and some a lot.

Ambassador Watch is a framework around which I can wrap thoughts, feelings, emotions, observations and ideas as I process them.

Growing through a traumatic experience or coming to new conclusions about old dearly held ideas is neither easy nor humerous while you go through it.

Buddhism does remind us however that sometimes, after it's all said and done, there is nothing left to do in life but have a good laugh. This, however, is a personal realization and not one a group adopts all at once.

At the risk of complimenting (flattering is the shallow form of this and I don't personally find it to be something that occurs on AW)or respecting the work of others so I can be here, I personally appreciate AW and most, if not all, the participants for their insights, humor and even the other stuff that is momentarily irritating.

I wouldn't be here if there was not something to learn, realize, recognize or feel I'm not alone in thinking.

I was a sincere seeker of positive truths and hope both for this life and any to come LONG before I was member/minister in the WCG.

And while I may find more peace in simply calling off the search, it's nice to have mostly friends to process the past with.

DennisDiehl said...

Paul,

You may if your heart is right. However, if you choose pink, I am not sure one's heart can be right doing that so be careful there.

I wrestle with can the Two Witnesses wear bell bottoms or a Leisure Suit.

My heart says the leisure suit might make them less prone to smiting as oft as they want, but then again, they don't smell good after just a bit of persperation and you can't get it out. I doubt a Leisure Suit would hold up three and one half years and the Two Stinky Witnessess just seems wrong.

DennisDiehl said...

Hey new truth!

Moses was High on Drugs-Israeli researcher

"High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.
Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances."

This also explains the Book of Revelation :)

Byker Bob said...

Oh, man!!!

Some people want to make this just about as rigid as Amballador Cossage! Dress code????

Alright, I'm sitting at my computer barefoot. I've got worn out jeans on with a Harley Davidson iron on patch at the bottom of the left leg, and a ripped flannel shirt, tails untucked. I've also got a beard.

But, come on, people! My heart is right. Matter of fact, I was studying Paul's epistle to the Galatians just last night, and gained great faith from the (WCG-ignored) passage where Paul equated the Old Covenant and all it involved to Haggar, and slavery. I don't believe I've indulged in any corrupt communication here. So, please don't insist that I be punished until I allow myself to be yanked "back on track" into the Old Covenant!

BB

DennisDiehl said...

BB said: "Alright, I'm sitting at my computer barefoot. I've got worn out jeans on with a Harley Davidson iron on patch at the bottom of the left leg, and a ripped flannel shirt, tails untucked. I've also got a beard."

This dress would qualify you as either A. John the Baptist or B. Ezekiel C. Peter Fonda or D. The crazy demonic in the tombs

We'll have to take your state of dress under advisement. :)

Anonymous said...

"I wrestle with can the Two Witnesses wear bell bottoms or a Leisure Suit.'

Ha! What a wretched scene! It's the end of the world and the prophets of doom are wearing mint leisure suits with ruffled collars! That in itself would drive me to madness! Oh, how tacky! The horror!

Paul

Anonymous said...

"I was studying Paul's epistle to the Galatians just last night, and gained great faith from the (WCG-ignored) passage where Paul equated the Old Covenant and all it involved to Haggar, and slavery."

That is the most damning passage when it comes to the issue of the Law versus Christ/New Covenant. The bondwoman equals the Old Covenant. Cast off the bondwoman. Cast off the Old Covenant. It's so very simple, once you start taking those passages at face value, instead of reading the writings of Paul apprehensively, with the voice of HWA/GTA/Ron Dart in the back of your mind.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Also, when you read Paul's description of Sarah and Hagar and who is who and what is what to him, you realize he has inverted the original meaning.

He does it with the story of the Veil over the Jews eyes using Moses example when it comes to reading their own law and his idea of Abraham's seed being Christ because it is singular (meaning decendents) and not "seeds" in the plural.

You know, "Feed my sheeps"

Paul tries too hard to sound like an educated Pharisee and falls way short.

Anonymous said...

ooops, I mean Paul the Apostle, not Paul the previous poster!

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...
I was studying Paul's epistle to the Galatians just last night, and gained great faith from the (WCG-ignored) passage where Paul equated the Old Covenant and all it involved to Haggar, and slavery.

Paul also said "such things are an allegory" in that same passage.

If the story of Abraham and his two sons are an allegory, then all of Genesis is an allegory and an allegory is only another word for fable. For example, Moby Dick is an allegory about obsession. Ahab and the white whale didn't really exist but obsession and its consequences does.

The thing is, if the fable, or allegory is not real but is only an allegory, how can anyone take the story of Abraham as real and literal?

Paul's premise is that the OT is all allegory, "Jewish fables" (Titus 1:14). The literal reading is "the letter" of the law, the meaning of the allegory is "the spirit" of the law.

The Christian Church today can be accurately described by the following passages:

1Ti 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
1Ti 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
1Ti 1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
1Ti 1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

That's what happened, the literalists took over. They understand the literal, "the letter" of the allegories, but they don't understand the meaning - "the spirit" of the allegories.

Neotherm said...

I remember when the STP was recalled. I was attending the Austin, Texas congregation. I called up the Pastor and told him that I had a copy of it.

He treated me like I was a member of Al Queada. He wanted to know how I had gotten a copy and I think suspected that I was a GTA adherent. I was a little taken aback by all the suspicion and the accusatory attitude.

What surprised me was that I had been sitting in this guy's congregation for more than a year and he had no idea who I was. After this event I think he annointed me once and that was the only contact I had with him for about two and half years. And it really wasn't a big congregation. Sometimes you felt like you weren't getting your money's worth.

Back in those days, occasionally something would happen that would give you a peek underneath all the glowing self-righteous cosmetics of Armstrongism and you would see something pretty dark, pretty incomprehensible.

I threw my copy in a dumpster at the University of Texas.

The STP was born of the fact that GTA thought he had more power than what he actually had. I think GTA especially wanted to change the D and R ruling. He had a bunch of buddies that were caught in that trap. They used to hang around Flight Operations in Big Sandy and drink beer. Most things that were done in the WCG were self-serving in some way.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

I see where the matter of Gavin's "Witness Suit" has been raised again.

If we are to discard Worldwide tradition,it CANNOT be choker(tie),
heavy black suit(immaculately pressed) and black polished shoes.

Overnight, we have been advised that there is a worldwide(pardon the pun)shortage of sackcloth,so will have to resort to more readily available materials.

Considering that the times in which the witnesses operate could be straitened, a budget suit is the one of choice.

A large,heavy-duty, black polythene rubbish(trash for the Americans in our midst)bag,with holes cut for the neck and arms would seem to be the answer.The cost being minimal,Gavin could afford to have a whole "wardrobe" of suits.And they would be eminently washable,too.He needn't be a STINKY WITNESS as Dennis Diehl has suggested.Wearing his non-ironable,non-creasable polythene suit, Gavin could dip in the Jordan seven times and be eminently clean,though I fear that modern municipal outpourings would limit his washings to just a minute or two at a time.

Unfortunately,side pockets will have to be omitted,as in those times there will be no spare cash for tithes.But,I am sure that Gavin's resourceful nature will surmount this apparent obstacle.

Seamus

DennisDiehl said...

"I think GTA especially wanted to change the D and R ruling. He had a bunch of buddies..."

I did not find the topic to be this narrow. Ministers agonized over how to administer what the BIBLE actually said about D and R. It was NOT an easy topic to discern if one was going to go by what they thought the BIBLE taught on it.

I had come to my own conclusions about how to "handle" D and R situations based on a book I read by Guy Duty on Divorce and Remarriage. He did a great job in pointing out the concept of "a brother or sister is not bound in such cases."

D and R was not an issue just because of GTA or HWA or anyone else in specific. It was an agonizing topic and the agony was based on what one perceives the BIBLE to say about it and how to administer it, if that is what one thought they had to do.

nelson said...

Every word that ever came out of the mouth of herbert Armstrong was a lie. He lied repeatedly. Every lie was based on one motive, money.

When faced with those lies, he lied some more. When confronted with the suffering he was causing his followers by his three tithe system, he instituted the "tithe of the tithe."

While he drove around in a chauffered yellow cadillac limo, his followers were forced to drive in clunkers and carpool.

While he had private home health care by the very best doctors, his followers were dying because they were forbidden to take even simple antibiotics.

While his ministers viciously walked into member's homes and ordered husbands and wives to seperate because of a previous divorce, he re-married a divorced woman.

His prophecies NEVER MATERIALISED!
NOT EVEN ONE!

While he claimed divine inspiration and knowledge and "new truth," he STOLE every idea and doctrine he promolgated. He even plagerized word for word his major thesis, British Israelism. And, he never apologized or acknowledged the indiscretion.

HERBERT ARMSTRONG WAS A PREDATOR.

He preyed upon those seeking solace in Jesus Christ. He used deceptive mind games to lure into his web and once captured used mental and physical manipulation to twist the unsuspecting victim into a mental morass of contridiction and confusion.

After spending two decades in the web, i have been granted the gift of true repentance and FREEDOM!

Escape wasn't easy. In 1995 i fasted for 100 days. Then, slowly, mercifully, our Lord lifted the veil. Now, what was right in front of my face but hidden behind armstrong's deception is clear.

The plan of God is encompassed in one verse. John 3:16. God does love everyone. He stands ready to deliver anyone who asks. We don't need to follow dietary rules, pay three tithes, observe holy days or sabbaths. Why? Because Jesus Christ has already fulfilled our obligation to observe those rituals! It is done!

It had to be done for us, because not one of us could do it for ourselves. we are truly free!

All that is required is for us to accept it and run, don't walk away from armstrongism.

Anonymous said...

Fasted for 100 days? How did you survive?

Neotherm said...

Dennis:

From you perspective as a minister dealing with people, no doubt it was a serious and agaonizing topic.

But it was also a political football. After GTA did all the work to establish a new basis for D and R, it was canned by HWA.

Later HWA gave an account of having a church member knock on his door and plead with him about D and R. HWA was impressed with the man's deep discouragement. HWA then decided to re-examine the issue. When the doctrine was changed, GTA did not get a credit. It was presented as HWA's sole insight.

I later heard GTA, after he started his own church, say that the one really important thing that he gave to the WCG was a revision of D and R. Something, no doubt, his father would have strongly denied.

While people suffered and lives were broken to pieces, the need for revision was lost in the battle between father and son.

I believe that the various XCoGs have a moral responsibility to seek out all the children who were left without a parent by the D and R fiasco, and seek to make amends, whether psychological or material.

I can only imagine the horror of a child who is told that his Dad is not going to live with the family any more because of a church edict. I think of all the missed happiness and love. All of this because some men did not have the direction of the Holy Spirit and made a bunch of idosyncratic and dysfunctional decisions. By the fruit, you will know the tree.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Nelson,

Nice take on HWA.



Paul

DennisDiehl said...

Neo,
I understand for sure. If we just do a short search on the net on the topic of "Divorce and Remarriage" for the Christian, we find the same raging controversies today as they church tried to figure out in the 60's and 70's. The controversey is in the text more than any organization.

I don't know all the behind the scenes drama between the Armstrongs but the topic would divide any church that chooses to seek the one true answer to the topic.

It's a mess of a topic and not one most people today are ever going to agree on or put into any kind of practice. I know several divorced male and female pastors in huge religious organisations who have remarried. There was no bother with considering if they could or not based on "what does the Bible teach." They all would say the Bible is unclear and contradictory on the topic so it just does not enter into any practical considerations these days.

I"m not saying they don't exist, but I have yet to meet a person who says "I am divorced, yet still married in God's site to so and so.." The topic is just dead in any practical application.

It's all open to argument ad naseum.

I had to write D and R cases up over a period of about 10 years. Because of the "a brother or sister is not bound in such cases" perspective I took, every member ended up with "my judgement is that this person is not bound in their previous marriage." This was not because it was 'up to me' but rather I was NOT going to tell anyone they had to stay or leave someone EVER.

I knew the church was doubleminded on it all just like with the stupidity over make-make up and healing. I signed exemption forms for members for immunizations but asked them if this was their belief or they felt pressured by church "teaching'? I told them I had my own children immunized in the normal way and cycle for such things back in the mid seventies.

Somehow, no one bothered me on such topics and in the end at least I have no horror stories to wish I had not caused as far as I know or in good conscience as they say.

They are difficult topics if one is going to seek a "bible answer." and the controversey is unending

Bamboo_bends said...

Didn't D & R get resolved by 1975 or thereabouts. I don't recall it being an issue anymore around 1978 among liberals or conservatives.

It was such a stupid doctrine anyway.

DennisDiehl said...

If I recall right, we still had to write them up into the early 80's but the "decision" was the local pastors if I remember right. My sense was that no one at HQ was going to decide anything on that topic. Then it just died out

BC said...

Complicated by the fact that Old Testament Law dictates that if someone is divorced it is a terrible thing to go back and remarry the same person.

Tired Skeptic said...

After considering the issues for awhile and contemplating the ambiance of the New Testament disciples and the Apostles in the First Century, it is easy to conclude that even the "Apostles" were not as advanced as many people think them to be.

One would think that the Apostle Paul would understand everything about mapping the Holydays to "the Plan of God" because he claimed he was personally taught by Christ in Arabian desert in sort of a private tutoring where saw things in the third heavens and other evidences of heat stroke.

In all of this, the Apostles never seemed to get beyond Jesus, repentance, baptisms and faith in the sense of the Passover, putting out of sin pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread. Whether they went beyond to recognize Pentecost as being part of "the Plan" is not clear. It was only toward the end of the epistle of Peter that he mentions that a 1,000 years is as a day and a day as a 1,000 years to the Lord. For all the "difficult sayings" of Paul, he nowhere seems to have mentioned the millennium thousand year period. None but John in Revelation had any idea about a second resurrection and a Great White Throne Judgment even with the statement of attaining to "the better resurrection".

It was probably enough that the early church only concentrated on redemption and salvation. It may well be that people have overestimated the early Christian Church. There was a dearth of materials and reading between the lines there was quite a lot of controversy because people didn't have the background knowledge to ascertain what the truth really was. There were a lot more issues than the ones resolved in Acts 15.

Which brings us to the STP and the doctrines of the WCG: One wonders at what even the Apostle Paul would have thought of them. From the perspective of the First Century, it certainly looks that there has been quite a lot of embellishment over the centuries and the developments might well leave the early disciples in shock if they were confronted with them.

There are a lot of unproved and unprovable assumptions. There is also quite a number of doctrines which have developed as a result of people's personal opinions. Which just fine if we want to live in the structure of the framework of the 1890s. But in order to make it work, there has to be quite a lot of isolation and there must be compartmentalization to resolve the obvious cognitive dissonance with the realities of the modern world.

Anonymous said...

If we could ever meet the original Apostle types or later "early church fathers", we'd probably think they were weird, whacky and nuts..

DennisDiehl said...

"Complicated by the fact that Old Testament Law dictates that if someone is divorced it is a terrible thing to go back and remarry the same person."

But also teaches a woman has to marry her rapist. "

If a man [meets] a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her ... He must marry the girl ... He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
-- Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NIV)

Way to go Deity!

Kscribe said...

Nelson,

Excellent post, just excellent!

On another note, I wish Tom would share some of the horrors he has been part of.

Anonymous said...

"One would think that the Apostle Paul would understand everything about mapping the Holydays to "the Plan of God" because he claimed he was personally taught by Christ...In all of this, the Apostles never seemed to get beyond Jesus, repentance, baptisms and faith in the sense of the Passover, putting out of sin pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread. Whether they went beyond to recognize Pentecost as being part of "the Plan" is not clear."

Yes, it's a mystery as to why the Apostles didn't understand the Plan of God as Seen in His Holy Days....because said Plan doesn't exist outside of Armstrongism.


Paul

mel said...

Moses was High on Drugs-Israeli Researcher

Wow, I was reading the comments there, and it sure got some people pissed off!

For those who believe that God created hallucinogenic/psychotropic plants, I wonder what they think the purpose(s) are for such plants.

Such plants have been a part of religious rites throughout known history.

mel said...

"Way to go Deity!"

Dennis, I do hope your cheerleader outfit conforms to proper skirt length guidelines.

I can't help but remember an "unconverted mate" that used to come to church sometimes with her husband.
She liked to wear tight sweaters, and there was lots of um... stimulating conversation about it.
Thankfully, there shall be no provocative tight sweater wearin' in the World Tomorrow.
Go Deity!

ripley said...

OK, Nelson, but really...anybody who has to tell me how many days he fasted can bite me, you know?

Bamboo_bends said...

Speaking of herbal wonders, I read somewhere that one of the substances in frankincense and myrrh was cannabis.

I don't know if it cured anything, but maybe after you rubbed it on you really didn't care?

Tom Mahon said...

nelson said...

>>>Every word that ever came out of the mouth of herbert Armstrong was a lie.<<<

"Every word?" This is the kind of comment that betrays a bitter and twisted mindset.

Tom Mahon said...

Corky said...

>>>If the story of Abraham and his two sons are an allegory, then all of Genesis is an allegory and an allegory is only another word for fable.<<<

The word allegory is not a synonym of the word fable. The Oxford English Dictionary of synonyms or their web site will explain.

An allegory may be fictional or it may be a true story. You may choose to believe that Abraham never existed, but don't put words in the mouth of Paul by your faulty reasoning.

Anonymous said...

'TS: For all the "difficult sayings" of Paul, he nowhere seems to have mentioned the millennium thousand year period'

There was on-going revelation as long as the original apostles were alive. Paul may have given an outline when he wrote:

1Co 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
1Co 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
1Co 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
1Co 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
1Co 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Weinland Watch said...

And don't forget (regardless of whether or not you subscribe to what conservative Catholic Jared Olar likes to call "the conspiracy theory of Constantine"), the canonical bible used in 95% of the christian religion between the 1600s and the last twenty years or so, was based on an Anglican-biased translation of a Roman(catholic)-biased translation of a small portion of the books that were actually in practical use, in the "christian" churches of the day, pre-Nicene Council.

Whoa. Does that mean the Nicene Council was the first STP?

I think I just broke my brain......

Corky said...

Tom Mahon said...

The word allegory is not a synonym of the word fable. The Oxford English Dictionary of synonyms or their web site will explain.

allegory:
—Synonyms 2. fable, parable.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)

Christy said...

I was an AC student at the time, and I helped collate and put the STP books together. I think we might have been paid for our time.

Anonymous said...

Many of the people who stayed in WW until the last waltz (90`s the decade not their age !!) think the STP was spewed from the devil, they think it means sunday worship and xmas when it was NOTHING like that.

I Have a copy of it at home and it is more Biblically based than many of the ripoffs of what HWA wrote a million years ago, that just bore brethren to tears with Israel tribes and how wonderful HwA was.
Let HWA rest in peace.
Why oh why do sooooooooo many of the brethren continue to live in the 1970`s ?????? It `s soooo boring. I should know im in United !!!!!!!!!their everywhere !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Weekly update from Joseph Tkach
April 2, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Ambassador College board of directors, in consultation with the WCG board and the WCG Advisory Council of Elders, has voted to change the business name of our U.S. online graduate degree program from Ambassador College of Christian Ministry to Grace Communion Seminary (www.gcs.ambassador.edu). The name Grace Communion Seminary was adopted as an apt description of the theological content and level of our online graduate program. As a result of this decision, Ambassador College will now be doing business as Grace Communion Seminary.