Monday 28 July 2008

Zen and the Art of Armstrongism

The latest Journal, dated May 31, is out. The flavor of the month is sweet and sour, a mouth puckering contrast between Dennis Diehl and Alan Knight, Dave Havir and Norman Edwards.

My favorite headline: "Jerry Falwell believed Jesus was crucified Wednesday evening."

That's meant to add credibility to the Wednesday crucifixion theory?

New Zealanders of my generation remember Falwell best for his appearance in an Oxford Union debate on the nuclear issue opposite former Prime Minister David Lange.

My German forebears arrived here on the same sailing ship as Lange's, so despite his family's subsequent apostasy to that peculiar Anglo sect known as Methodism, I was rooting for him all the way. Best one-liner of the night was Lange to one of Falwell's supporters: "I can smell the uranium on your breath!"

Somebody called Cam Rea has written a book on what he thinks happened to the Ten Lost Tribes, and it gets a positive front page review from Mac Overton. Rea's qualifications are not mentioned, which I suspect means he has none. Another BI bloke and ex-WCGer, Harold Hemenway, has likewise spilled ink on the subject recently.

I'm more curious about this Knight character. He has provided a muddled article about WCG's "backslide in Protestantism" - despite being a COG7 member. I guess he's tired of poking the borax at his own church and being ignored, so decided to join the fray amongst the stroppier COG cousins.

I'm not sure what to make of the report that "The new online Living University sponsored by the Living Church of God, the latter founded by Roderick C. Meredith in 1998, kicks off this fall", given that LU has already held its first graduation ceremony. Hopefully the reference to "kicks off" is a tactful but predictive synonym for "kicks the bucket." One can only live in hope.

Remember the ongoing kerfuffle at Port Austin? PABC is and isn't holding a FOT this year. Confused? The solution to the conundrum is in the Notes and Quotes section which you can read online (see below.)

Most fascinating is the revelation that a connection exists between WCG and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Just when you think you can't be surprised any more!

A special AW award to William Dankenbring for the chutzpah behind this tortured headline in the Connections ad section: Celebrate with us! The 21st Anniversary of God's Activation ...of Triumph Prophetic Ministries as the replacement, "obedient" CHURCH OF GOD, Replacing the WCG as God's True Work on January 17, 1987 - one year exactly from the date Herbert W. Armstrong died!

Is this the same Herbert W. Armstrong who banned Willie's books from Feast sites?

The Journal website is, and you can preview the issue (front and back pages - which includes the PABC item in Notes and Quotes) here.


Anonymous said...

"Port Austin Bible Campus Update: PABC Accomplishments Thus Far
by Norman Scott Edwards

This update is an honest effort to explain the situation as it is at the Port Austin Bible Campus. I will have to admit that both when I started Servants’ News in 1995, and when I began the work for the Christian community at Port Austin in 2003, I wrote things that left the appearance that they were more than they were. No untruths were written, but there was often not clear distinction between what existed, what we reasonably hoped to obtain, and what we were mostly dreaming about. Some problems were minimized or left out.

I thought I had a good reasons for doing this: People want to be a part of something big and successful. People are scared away when you have trouble: lawsuits, fires, financial difficulty.

I will have to admit that both when I started Servants’ News in 1995, and when I began the work for the Christian community at Port Austin in 2003, I wrote things that left the appearance that they were more than they were.--cited from: top of page 2

A lie is still a lie.

Anonymous said...

Gavin, "kick off" is a metaphor from the game of American Football (not to be confused with real Football). Each half of the game begins with one team kicking off. Those who use the term metaphorically don't usually mean that the second half is beginning, they mean the start of the game. But in this case, who knows?

And I thought HWA shuffled off this mortal coil on January 16. His body was found at 6:00 a.m., so they listed his time of death at 5:59. So he might even have expired on January 15. Of course, 6:00 a.m. was already January 17 in Kiwiland, but do we think Dankenbring knows that? Or perhaps he came up with his own calendar where a leap day occurred during that time. More likely, he is changing the word "exactly" to mean approximately.

And the 21st anniversary of January 17, 1987 (which was a Saturday, by the way), has already come and gone. So why isn't he using the past tense? Maybe it's his revised calendar again.

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Lee Glover looks a lot like his brother Stephen.

Anonymous said...

In Bob Thiel's review of The Journal, he repeated his announcement of his soon-coming work on BI.

Anonymous said...

so you have fans in China now? or maybe they are just there for the olympics.

I noticed someone from Harbin, Heilongjiang visited your blog.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said --

I noticed someone from Harbin, Heilongjiang

Yes, that's probably me. I came here as a foreign teacher back in 2003.

I spotted a visitor from Beijing a few weeks ago. The RCG list has a few other Chinese cities on it.

DennisDiehl said...

Bill Dankenbring notes that the Apostle Paul says..

“I am amazed that you have so quickly transferred your allegiance from him who called you in the grace of Christ to another ‘gospel’!(FUNNY PAUL NEVER TELLS US WHAT THE OTHER GOSPEL IS) Not, of course, that it is or ever could be another gospel, but there are obviously men (FUNNY HOW PAUL NEVER TELLS US WHO THEY ARE) who are upsetting your faith with a travesty of the gospel of Christ. Yet I say that if I, or an angel from Heaven, were to preach to you any other gospel than the one you have heard, (FROM ME) MAY HE BE DAMNED! You have heard me say it before, and now I put it down in black and white – may anybody who preaches any other gospel than the one you have already heard BE A DAMNED SOUL!” (Gal.1:6-9).

Which contrasts nicely with the Apostle Paul also supposedly saying...

Romans 12:14,17-21 "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (AWW..HOW SWEET) Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God,(WELL EXCEPT DAMING THEM TO HELL) for it is written, VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY, says the Lord. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(here, even feeding your enemey is a way to defeat him, not love him as the earthly Jesus, unknown to Paul, taught.)


I Corinthians 4:12,13 "When we are reviled, we bless; (WELL EXCEPT THE 'DAMN THEM' PART) when we are persecuted, we endure;(WELL EXCEPT THE 'DAMN THEM'PART) when we are slandered, we try to conciliate?" (WELL EXCEPT THE ...)

Um...I don't think so Paul!

So which is it schizo-Paul? Bless them who persecute or damn them who compete?

I expect Paul's competiton were the Jerusalem Apostles who were not sure that Paul didn't need to take a Zen Donkey ride through Cappodocia and see if he couldn't come up with a Gospel that actually matched the teachings of Jesus in the flesh and reflected a Jewish Jesus and not the Gentile Cosmic Sky-God Paul saw in his head.

Like Paul, Bill Dankenbring is probably one the most condemning COG writers there are. Ever blasting the faithful for their lack of true insite into a thousand topics, usually meaningless. Condemning every minister who sees it not through his filters. No one ever counts, calculates, keeps or believes just the right way for Bill. What a weary, lifeless and low vibrational Gospel he preaches.

All these truly true knowers of unique and petty truths need to get on their ponies and ride a bit and see if perchance God might regrant them a functioning and loving mind.

I wonder sometimes why some men don't grab up the name "The Anal Church of God." I know it's not been taken and would fit the gospel message of some nicely.

Butt I wander....

Richard said...

I've heard Sabbath-backers mention other famous U.S. preachers who supported Wednesday-Saturday for crucifixion-resurrection. I want to say the list included Jonathan Edwards and Donald Barnhouse.

P.S. Don't they have kickoffs in rugby and "soccer" football as well?

DennisDiehl said...

Let's all share in the joy Mr. Dankenbring shares in Jesus.

"is the ‘only’ remnant body in the World." (Now that's original)

"faithfully taught." (Of course!)

"...the Gates of Hell = other Churches that will lead you to Hell, (Damn them!)


(This is true only if you believe that the early Apostles once disciples of Jesus agreed with what Paul come lately taught. Some homework is in order here)

“ORIGINAL” 1st Century Doctrines, Days and Ways"

(sure, right, fine...even they didn't know what to believe early in the game, or one would not see the very early arguement in the NT that many believed that Jesus didn't even come in the flesh.)

" and only a small remnant survived through the centuries."

(Oh no, not the and that remnant is "us" again!)

"God called me to be a part of that Work of God, as a writer who wrote 2-3 articles often PER ISSUE OF THE PLAIN TRUTH, as well as THE GOOD NEWS, and booklets and Correspondence Course lessons!"

("It is God, Jesus, HWA, not GTA, myself and a few leading evangelists..." No wait, that line's been used. Yeah, but I bet HWA didn't ask you to disfellowship Fred Coulter!)

"This means that NOT even an angel from Heaven, let alone some Minister or Church – even Herbert W. Armstrong HIMSELF – preaches any other gospel than the TRUE TEACHING OF CHRIST – would be DAMNED if he departed from the Truth and preached any other DOCTRINE!"

(Uh no Bill, it means if anyone teaches anything other than what Paul taught was to be damned)

"Exactly 1 YEAR, FROM THE “DAY” OF THE DEATH OF MR. HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG (after one year of mourning for the fallen leader),

(Let me guess who...? Hey, all those titles have been taken!)

"God now says, to the end-time sinning churches and ministers, who like Pharaoh, have enslaved God’s people spiritually,

(And you know this?)

"We will be meeting at the Best Western Peppertree Inn of Omak."

" We will keep the Feast as GOD COMMANDED – “You shall DWELL [spend time in, fellowship in] IN BOOTHS [SUKKOT] SEVEN DAYS” (Lev.23:42)."

(But said Peppertree Inn. Ohh..'spend time in'...that's different!)

"We will wave the “lulavs” – “the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and willows of the brook”

(I don't think the Peppertree folks will take kindly to you using their landscaping.)

"I’m not kidding"

(No, I believe you Bill....This simplicity that is in Christ is complicated!)

Oh get this....the local Bob Jones Station is going through their want ads and there is a dog available to a good Christian home! I had a client that cleaned a guys yard here in town and after was asked if he was a Christian because the guy only paid Christians. He threw all the stuff back in the yard! I hope the dog knows how to act like a Christian dog or he's had it!

Anonymous said...

I was told LCG has lost 800 members in the last twelve months...of course, I am sure they have picked up some new attendees, but can anyone confirm how many they have lost as well as how many attend on a weekly basis in the USA?

Anonymous said...

Dennis, I am just hazarding a guess here, but could it be that Paul was differentiating between the way one behaves towards spiritual enemies, and the way in which one treats physical enemies?

I forget if who, or both said this, but either Paul or David expressed a desire to even castrate a spiritual enemy.


DennisDiehl said...

"I forget if who, or both said this, but either Paul or David expressed a desire to even castrate a spiritual enemy."

Gal 5:12 (NIV) As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Tip of the day:

Paul was very unhappy with those promoting circumcision. It's just that rather than accept differences of opinion, he tended to be a bit angry and wish them worse things.

Galatians is a very angry book on Paul's part. Especially chapters 1 and 2 where Paul goes ballistic over the competition and how his calling was better than even the Jerusalem Apostles from whom he learned nothing nor cared who they were.

Paul tells us, like Jeremiah and Jesus, he was called from the womb. Paul never personally relates Luke's story of his Damascus road story nor going down to submit to the Jerusalem Apostles. He took off for Arabia for whaterver that meant. I doubt it was to chat with Jesus three years. Or maybe he did as Paul's Christ was the one he always saw in visions but never met, or knew of personally.

In the OT a pile of foreskins made a nice dowery. Saul wanted 200 of of Philistine quality from David for his daughter Michal. Of course Saul was hoping the Philistines would kill off David first but David was tipped off...ewwwww.

Somehow I find it difficult to envision going dead guy to dead guy collecting the fee for Saul and then one has to wonder what he did with them. :(

So here's the rule.
In the OT it was circumcision as a sign of the covenant and circumcision of the enemy hoping they'd kill you first and the king could be done with you.

In the NT, it's "no, wait wait..we don't want that," or "well you may as well cut the whole thing off then."

Perhaps Paul personally was the childhood victim of a child of the covenant ceremony gone bad, and THAT explains the WHOLE New Testatment!

At any rate, most scholars agree, Paul had a temper when things did not go his way in Christ.

Anonymous said...

A few days ago I heard a Messianic instructor commenting on church-run seminaries. His point was that since they have a doctrinal line to push, theology classes are always based on Paul's letters rather than the Gospels.

One difficulty with Paul's letters is that it's like Jeopardy: we get his answers, but usually have to guess the questions.

Anonymous said...

LCG lost 800 members? Would that be 15-20%? I wonder how much is due to natural attrition?

Anonymous said...

Dennis said, “I had a client that cleaned a guy’s yard here in town and after was asked if he was a Christian because the guy only paid Christians. He threw all the stuff back in the yard!”

MY COMMENT – Well, there’s a good Christian example! Stiff the guy who did the work after the work is done. [Note: Stiff = Steal]. What ever happened to being a light to the world?

This hypocrisy reminds me of GTA telling America on the radio broadcasts about how immoral America has become – of course, he made those broadcasts when he wasn’t too busy bedding 100s of young AC coeds and WCG women.

Or, how about the MSNBC report I saw the other night about the “dungeon man” in Syracuse New York now in prison who kidnapped young girls over a period of years and kept them against their will in an underground dungeon having forced sex with them almost daily. According to the victims’ interviews on MSNBC, “dungeon man” would read the Bible and talk about God to them when he wasn’t busy raping them.

Oh, these wonderful Christians!

And, this is not even mentioning HWA’s “time is short, send more money in fraud” and the WCG splinter CEOs who build their own fear religion business empires for their secure retirement and extravagant lifestyles here on earth. Besides his own words, Weinland’s house photo’ed on AW is just another indictment of Weinland as another false profit in it for the money.

If anyone is so stupid to believe the Weinland’s are the two witnesses of the book of Revelation, please contact me as I have a bridge over the Chesapeake Bay to sell you.

I think the one biblical concept from my WCG youth that has stayed with me all these many years were Christ’s own words, “Many shall come in my name, and deceive many”.


PS – Is the word “coed” an antiquated word? Do I tell my age by using the word?

DennisDiehl said...

"but either Paul or David expressed a desire to even castrate a spiritual enemy."

What a shame that we have to consider others our spiritual enemies. How can we expect everyone to believe, see and filter their experiences and beliefs in the same way? It's why I always suspected that "The Wonderful World Tomorrow" might be hell actually if we all conformed to ONE way of thinking, everyday, all the time for eternity. Talk about stuck!

The NT church could never agree on ONE concise meaning of Jesus as evidenced by all the Apostles who either knew Jesus in the flesh, or didn't wrangling and name calling for position and followers.

The law people needed grace because they couldn't keep it. The Grace people needed law because they couldn't "behave" as we see in Corinth. The liberals offended the conservatives and the conservatives condemned the liberals. Nothing new under that sun.

Satan is the strawman. If the church had not invented him, they could not accuse each other of being devoured by him. They would just have to let people be where they were spiritually or not.

Take away Satan and you just have people being who they are, doing the best they can and seeing things as they do without feeling they are deceived, preyed upon or screwed up from the norm. The Church also looses a valued "friend" in that they could no longer motivate people with fear and instead might actually have to explain better why they believe what they believe.

"oh well, what can we expect. Satan has just deceived you and blinded your mind," wouldn't let them off the hook so easily.

Satan didn't deceive Ron Weinland. Ron Weinland deceived Ron Weinland.
Satan is not Ron's spritual enemy. Ron's enemy is his ego, his mental state and his Bible view where he sees himself, as do many leader types in the WCG splinters, as written into the text, oh why can't "you people" see it.

Anonymous said...

“ORIGINAL” 1st Century Doctrines, Days and Ways"

I am sure that if they kept the Sabbath, they kept the WHOLE law, not just those which are convenient for the modern day COG member.

Anonymous said...

I'll wager it's more likely "Paul" didn't write either one of those contradictory epistles --- more likely that not even the same person wrote them either, BB.

Your latent bibliomancy is creeping in once again my friend. Time to turn off the TBN and step away from the television set!!

(Said all in good fun and just-kidding jest I swear it. :-D)

As for Dankenbring, time was, his micro-mini-blink-and-you'll-miss-it splinter was only good for churning out endless copies of The Holy Days According to Bill.

Not the least of which are solely financed by the few, the faithful, tithe-slave cash cows who send Billy-boy and family on a trip to the Holy Land twice a year, to sniff grain sheaves under the Solstice moons.

Yeah. I could show those "triumphant prophets" a thing or two, under the Solstice moons.......And I ain't even a believer!! *evil smile*

Neotherm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Purple: /-- I'll wager it's more likely "Paul" didn't write either one of those contradictory epistles --- more likely that not even the same person wrote them either, BB. --/

Sorry, but you'd probably lose. Nearly all scholars -- including those as skeptical as you -- agree that Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians really were written by the same guy.

How can they tell? Well, the author uses the same language style, the same expressions, uses the same words in the same way.

In fact, the only "letters of Paul" that are under debate are:

1-2 Timothy

Why? Because the author uses a different language style, different expressions, and uses the same words, but in different ways.

It's kind of like this: Let's say I'm looking at a number of Ambassador Watch comments written by Purple Hymnal, Weinland Watch, and Byker Bob. Is it possible that two of them are the same person? Is it possible all three of them are the same person?

How can I tell? By reading what is written and taking note of how things are said, the words that are used and how they are used, the expressions and colloquialisms that pop up. A person can tell that Purple Hymnal and Weinland Watch are the same person, but Byker Bob is not.

And this isn't just one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants things, more art than science. Researchers have conducted computer studies of more recent books, trying to determine whether so-and-so really wrote a book that's got his name, or if maybe he actually plagiarized it from some other writer. Right now, it requires a few hundred pages to be sure of your statistics. I am not aware of similar statistical studies of the writings of Paul, but it might be interesting to look.


PS: For what it's worth, those who favor the idea that Paul actually did have a hand in Ephesians, Colossians, and the Pastorals can point to the fact that Paul had different co-authors and others helping him write at different times -- that would have affected his (or rather, their) style.

Anonymous said...


Whatever, so I wasn't following the conversation closely enough, I didn't realize you were discussing the books that weren't under dispute.

That doesn't address why you are so staunchly defending "Paul" when, as you say yourself, there are books in the christian canonical text that are under dispute (for exegesis of which I recommend Gavin's excellent paper).

And yet that doesn't strike you odd. For an inerrant, "finger of gawd" text, there are parts of it that have not even been written by the author whose name is on the front of the book.

If you do believe "Paul" actually existed, and was who he said he was (in one part of the text at least), you then have to take into consideration the fact that, if it is true:

- "Paul" never met the dead guy he was claiming as the son of gawd (how convenient)

- "Paul" appears to have had temporal lobe epilepsy, thus the hearing voices/seeing lights

- The earliest-surviving texts from "Paul" are from at least a hundred years after "Paul" (if "Paul" even existed) ever lived.

History is written by the victors, don't forget.

I will refer interested readers once again to the Nag Hammadi Codex, for a stark contrast between what romanized Christianity has evolved into since the time of Constantine, and how "Christianity" may have actually been practiced on the ground, during the time that the christological figure first began to be celebrated.

I say "first began to be celebrated" because the early Christians, at least, were capable of accurately divining reality from fantasy, determining what was allegory and what was pure mythology.

Modern Christians, not so much.

Unknown said...

While we're on Paul -
During a sermonette, apparently the speaker made some remark comparing Paul and HWA. I don't know what it was, I blinked and missed it.

What did get my attention was the spin and damage control. We weren't supposed to assume that the speaker meant HWA was above, superior, more important than Paul...

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Purple Hymnal said...

Your latent bibliomancy is creeping in once again my friend. Time to turn off the TBN and step away from the television set!!

Wouldn't that be biblicism? Bibliomancy would be more like fortune telling with the bible, which of course is what the prophecy nuts do.

And every false prophet shall have his day of reckoning, but their followers will call the disbelievers scoffers and mockers rather than admit the error of their leaders.....

Anonymous said...

Gavin said, "I'm not sure what to make of the report that "The new online Living University sponsored by the Living Church of God, the latter founded by Roderick C. Meredith in 1998, kicks off this fall", given that LU has already held its first graduation ceremony. Hopefully the reference to "kicks off" is a tactful but predictive synonym for "kicks the bucket." One can only live in hope.

MY COMMENT - Isn't it typical Roderick Meredith to get it all backwards?

In Meredith's Living University world (giggle giggle), first comes the stock photo on the LU website of the gorgious co-ed before LU ever had any real students, then came the joke Commencement graduation exercise, and now comes the LU kickoff - all completely backwards!

Well, what else can Roderick C. Meredith do in real life other than provide entertainment to us?


Anonymous said...

I was really happy to get my hands on a Bible translated and processed by honest people. The New American Bible, St. Joseph's Edition provides extensive historical background for each book of the Bible in the prefaces for the individual books.

The questions raised by scholars, linguists, and critics are included in these prefaces. When you use NAB as your study Bible, you go in knowing which books are of questionable authorship, what paragraphs or words appear to have been inserted in later manuscripts, and approximately what year each book was written.

I believe this is the most honest approach to Bible scholarship that I've ever seen. Unfortunately, most Armstrongistas are going to diss it, because it was prepared under the supervision of the RCC.


DennisDiehl said...

BB said:

"Unfortunately, most Armstrongistas are going to diss it,"

That would not be a unique Armstrong thing. Most churches would reject it as it flies in the face of their mind virus of inerrancy or divine orgins.

Once you cross the line of understanding that what one has been taught about the book is somewhat less than true and accurate, there is not much going back.

To understand the Gospels were not written by the names affixed or that some NT books may not be authentic is tough on most. That great ommisions and additions have occurred leaves one room for thought on what else they might not have been told.

Good ol King James gave us his rendition because hated the Geneva Bible with it's anti Kings are God's chosen ones, footnotes that he was not pleased the people would read. It's why I grew up with the KJV being told never to mark in your Bible as it is sacriledge. Turning my WCG Bible into a coloring book took a bit of faith on my part that God was not displeased! :)

At any rate, that Bible would only make the dumpster around here because it was a bit too honest.

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm not about to dis the NAB, I have read nothing but rave reviews for that version of the canonical christian texts.

Where I part ways with "the bible" (biblicism or bibliomancy or the world's best-selling work of ancient fiction aside), is the fact that it was "canonized" at all.

After all, if it was the divine, inerrant "wooooord of gaaaawd", not a bit of it should have had to be changed, altered, edited, re-translated, cut out, added back, taken out again, retranslated again, etcetera, etcetera, as was done with the canonical texts.

History is written by the victors. And Constantine, whether you call it a conspiracy theory or not, was the most victorious of all, in the war for a unified state religion.

The only truly accurate bible translation, in my opinion, is one that includes ALL of the extra-biblical books. Not just some of them, parts of some of them, or heavily-edited and/or censored versions of "deuterocanonicals". All of them.

I don't need to add that's JMO do I? Well I will anyway.

Weinland Watch said...

"Satan didn't deceive Ron Weinland. Ron Weinland deceived Ron Weinland."

Ron Weinland didn't deceive Ron Weinland. Ron Weinland deceived about three hundred sheeple, who he is currently still milking for money.