Monday, 28 March 2016

French connections

Gary Leonard on the Banned blog has breaking news of upheavals in the French-speaking LCG. Gary quotes an announcement from leader-in-waiting Gerry Weston.
Mr. Roland Lecocq, our minister in Switzerland, and his family have made the decision to move to another Church of God fellowship. We are saddened by their decision, but wish them well. They have served the Church faithfully for many years and we appreciate that service. Since he served as Secretary and Treasurer for the French association, he is continuing with those duties until they can be transferred to another individual in the next few weeks and he is being most helpful and faithful in the transition. Please show the upmost respect and love toward the Lecocqs as each of us must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
These comments from Gary's source in LCG.
LCG suffered a major loss a few weeks ago when a popular European minister, Mr. Roland Lecocq, decided to resign from serving LCG and aligned himself with COGWA. Although Mr. Lecocq has been careful not to sway any of the LCG brethren to blindly follow in his decision to leave LCG, it is anticipated that a large majority of the brethren in the areas he served will go with him to COGWA. There are also concerns that LCG will not be able to continue with their planned Feast site in Carry-le-Rouet, France as a direct result of Lecocq's departure. 
This news hasn't been aired among LCG's membership outside the affected areas (or wasn't until Gary blew the cover off). One wonders whether the recent chat between COGWA and LCG leaders was a factor in some way (or an agenda item). Nothing yet from COGWA itself. The peripatetic Joel Meeker is listed as COGWA's man on the ground in Switzerland (along with Belgium and France).

Lecocq was ordained an elder in LCG in 2008.

Read the full account over at Banned by HWA.


Anonymous said...

Check out my latest post under the Christian Sabbath thread Ian Boyne

Connie Schmidt said...

In any other circumstance the LCG would have immediately marked and disfellowshipped him and publicly crucified him.

Because he is being cooperative in leaving the assets behind, they are treating him with kid gloves. Always a double standard when money is at stake.

Anonymous said...

Connie said, "In any other circumstance the LCG would have immediately marked and disfellowshipped him and publicly crucified him."

I'm not so sure that is the LCG standard any more. After they violently kicked Charles Bryce out in 2006, basically calling him an agent of Satan ("Satan is attacking the church"), I asked Meredith why they treated Bryce so harshly. He replied, "This is what Mr. Armstrong did when someone was no longer with the church." However, a few months later, he approached me and stated that what they did to Mr. Bryce was "a mistake". I don't for a minute think that Meredith thought it was a spiritual mistake (a sin), but that it was a tactical mistake... that they lost more members with their tactics than had they done the Christian thing and separated amicably. Since then, I have seen little, if any, of this public crucifixion by LCG leaders. Sure, their motivations are hardly pure, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for supplying this first-hand information,Anonymous It serves truth-telling and balance ,which gets a short shrift on too many anti-Armstronite blogs Things are terrible in Armstrongism ,yes ,but as a professional journalist, I always have a quest for balance and fairness (not as interpreted by Fox News ,of course!)Thanks for serving that cause On another blog I made my prediction that LCG will become kinder and gentler after Meredith dies Cynicism can sometimes be blinding,Connie must come to see Ian Boyne

Black Ops Mikey said...

If nothing else, experience has taught us that appearances are extremely important in the environment that is a triumph of image over substance: It seems to be PR and no one should expect this sort of thing to be a long time trend.

Wait six months for someone else to leave and see how they are treated.

Near_Earth_Object said...

When I first showed up on the Big Sandy campus in the Seventies, a fellow employee mentioned to me that he overheard some ministers attacking the character of another minister who had just departed Armstrongism. The Southern locution is that they "blackened" him. He said that this was the standard practice with the WCG and he had witnessed it many times.

By ritually blackening the character of critics, Armstrongite ministers and leaders preserve not only the organization but the belief system, their sinecure and the flow of money. And they reduce dissonance in a way that relieves them of the obligation to inquire into the issues. The only person I know of who was not blackened was GTA. His "activities" were met with empathy, sympathy and prayer. At least this was how it was represented in the Field House.

This is another token that Armstrongism is a non-Christian system.

Anonymous said...

Well,Bkack Ops Mikey, I hope those fellows are reading you and set out to prove youn wrong For the brethren and God's sake! I really wish they would take this Passover season seriously and genuinely repent If we could at least take our own rituals to heart Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

If you were to judge the validity of a belief system based on the behavior of its adherents,Anonymous 11:26 what would you say about the behavior of those believers in Corinth? Were they non-Christians and did their rotten, atrocious begavioyr (which even involved incest)prove Christianity false? And did the indescribably sinful and almost continuous backsliding of Israel invalidate Yahweh's religion ?Incidentally, while you were on the Big Sandy campus, did you take any theology courses?I Ian Boyne

Near_Earth_Object said...

Ian Boyne: There is a limit to which you can take this argument (not judging a belief system by the bad actions of the followers)otherwise we would be justifying every execrable organization in the world, including the Nazis. There is a radical difference between a good system that has a few bad actors and a system that is wholly corrupt. At some point in my experience, I understood that Armstrong was wholly corrupt. I admit that earlier I was an apologist for Armstrongism. I saw the bad actors and told myself that this did not mean the system was wrong. Eventually I hung around long enough to see the pervasive presence of the corruption. In some cases we can identify cause and effect: inherent legalism producing pragmatic judgmentalism. I took a course in Doctrine at AC.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

So,to come down to earth,Near Earth Object, the overarching issue is whether the system itself is corrupt philosophically and ideologically(Example Nazism),not whether its adherents are well-behaved or corrupt,Armstrongism could well be true though its adherents, including its leaders, fail to live up to it. If you reject a purely consequentialist view of truth,then you have to judge a belief system on its own By their fruits,incidentally speaks to individual accountability,not to a criterion for judging a philosophical is erroneously inferred Weakness of will on man's part as Augustine would call it ,does not invalidate an ethical system Armstrong despised philosophy and intellectual learning But the more I read his detractors, the more I see what a tragic mistake he made in doing so Ian Boyne

Pam said...

I believe some of you gentlemen (at least two of you, in particular) may be talking past one another inadvertently, because you have neglected to come to a clear definition of what you each mean by the term "Armstrongism." When we neglect to define terms early on in a discussion, we usually end up getting farther and farther from understanding one another's perspectives, rather than closer.

In some quarters, the term "Armstrongism" is used very specifically to indicate just a discrete collection of contrarian doctrines that are uncommon to "mainstream Protestantism," such as those related to the trinity, days of worship, fate of the wicked, British Israelism, etc. Ian seems perhaps to be narrowing his personal definition to this perspective.

In other quarters "Armstrongism" is used very specifically to refer to a "man-made religious **system,**" with its attendant policies, procedures, cultic methods of controlling the actions of members and dealing with dissent, and so on...and yes, including the doctrinal matters too.

It is referred to as Armstrongism because every aspect of the system was based very pointedly on the idiosyncratic personality and preferences of one man. Herbert Armstrong. Veering from his point of view or established policies on ANY matter, including those related to "Church government," is considered verboten in many splinter groups.

There are other groups that adhere to many of the contrarian doctrinal positions, such as some of the Church of God, Seventh Day groups. But they are not part of Armstrongism.

I suppose it can be useful to discuss "doctrinal Armstrongism." But that discussion truncates for many, many people the greater reality of The System. In other words, EVEN IF one agreed with all the doctrinal perspectives of Herbert Armstrong, and thought they were logical and biblical and inspired by God and pure as the driven snow, The System that many of us refer to more broadly as Armstrongism has been desperately corrupt in many aspects. Not because of "personal flaws or private sins" by any members or leaders, but because of its utterly toxic policies and procedures.

For instance, the ongoing mistreatment or public demonizing of members or ministers who have questions or doubts in many of the splinter groups isn't caused by some "personal flaw" in the individual person in a position of leadership who doles out the mistreatment or demonizing. It is most often a "management style" he learned at the feet of the founder of The System known to many of us as Armstrongism.

Gavin R said...

COGism falls by the same criteria that Mormonism falls. Or the Jehovah's Witnesses. Or a thousand other sects that rose up, fed on the ego of a delusional leader. Bringing Augustine into the discussion doesn't help one bit. There is no philosophical or ethical system that can be separated out.

Near_Earth_Object said...

Pam: Ian Boyne and I will never agree on what Armstorngism is. That's the point.

Ian Boyne: I have no idea what you said. If you punctuated your sentences with a period once in a while it might help. Consequentialist? What I know is that the idea that the beliefs set forth by the pre-1995 WCG are good even though the beliefs were never successfully implemented by followers is easily challenged. Armstrong, as many Adventists, asserted a doctrine of Pelagianism, the idea of an obtainable earthly perfection separate from God. This state was certainly never attained by Herbert's followers. But to begin with, the concept contradicts the Christian doctrine of grace. Here we have a belief that was not good and there was adequate reason why it was never effectively implemented. And this could go on. We could move to the racist evil of British-Israelism next.

Pam said...

"Pam: Ian Boyne and I will never agree on what Armstorngism is. That's the point. "

Yes, that has been clear to me. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be clear to Ian that if you CAN'T even come to a mutual definition to work from, all the citing of theologians and such is utterly irrelevant to a discussion of Armstrongism. Unfortunately, at least in the current discussion, he doesn't seem to want to just discuss separate doctrines that have been typically present in the vintage WCG and its offspring, so much as present an apologetic for whatever his definition of Armstrongism as a whole package is.

Byker Bob said...

I'm thinking that Ian is very excited about his "reformed Armstrongism" and that's what he is trying to convey to us. He wants us to consider it, but, may possibly not be aware that most or many of us have moved beyond that. What do we expect of him? He is, after all, a minister.

As a past AC student, I had an opportunity to watch the system corrupt some of my fellow students, turning formerly nice people into tyrants, and sending them Into the field where they perpetrated horrendous abuses. It is not the case that a few moral lapses have besmirched the reputation of Armstrongism. Rather, it was the system itself that caused the corruption. It naturally produces corrupt leaders. If somehow, Ian has avoided this corruption, we should applaud him, because this makes him a fairly unique individual.

The aspect of all of this that I find encouraging is that at least the Jamaica brethren are not being mistreated or abused in the same ways that we read about over at ESN of other groups. And, that's a good thing. Gives me something to smile about the next time I'm enjoying some Bob Marley.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that most "professional journalists" possess the ability to spell, construct full sentences, grasp syntax and employ punctuation correctly?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: I expected that justified, well-earned ridicule for my careless,sloppy typing. It will force me to be more careful in the future. I tend to be very careless in personal communication, though not with my articles. Deserved reprimand. Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

For Ian who is still beating the dead horse of armstrongism>

How soon you forget Ian, or is it you desire a following?

Pam said...

The TKScribe link above sent me eventually to an article by Ian Boyne about "Armstrongism v Evangelicalism." It was what I expected in the way of apologetics, but I must admit that the following sentences stopped me in my tracks.

"Significantly, Armstrongism is the only movement which says it alone is right and yet which opens the door for those who disagree to be saved eventually. This is most compassionate view which should promote tolerance."

Can it be that Ian is utterly ignorant of the REAL historical position of Armstrongism toward those who "disagreed"?? For the comment he makes above can only be applied to those who never "bought into" Armstrongism in this lifetime. Once you DID Pledge Allegiance to that system, if you found yourself in disagreement with just about ANYTHING...but especially about the claims of Apostleship of Armstrong some point in the future, and were "found out" by Armstrongism's leadership, you were NOT extended this compassionate tolerance. You were, unless you recanted and humbly returned to the fold, declared headed STRAIGHT for the Lake of Fire. You HAD your "chance" in this lifetime. No "Second resurrection" to a "first chance" in the "White Throne Judgment period" for you.

No, indeed, this central doctrine to The System did not promote tolerance.

I have no clue why Ian chooses to somehow try to "snip out" what he views as ALL the horrendous aspects of Armstrongism as it was under Armstrong, and established by Armstrong, and concoct a whole new "kinder, gentler" religion of the tattered pieces left over...yet still desire to label it Armstrongism.

If Ian truly believed that Paul and the other Apostles, and the First Century Church that they organized, shared the "doctrinal beliefs" that make up his own brand of religion in the Twenty First Century, surely he doesn't think THEY would have called it "Armstrongism." So why does he cling to the name?? Surely one can teach doctrines that are divergent from standard evangelicalism without needing to name them after the name of Armstrong. The Church of God, Seventh Day does it all the time.

There is no glory in the name of Armstrong, the record of the actions of the Armstrongs certainly didn't bring honor to the name of Jesus, the Armstrong name has a horrible reputation "among the unbelievers" because of the huge amount of documentation on the Internet these days about all of the foul nonsense that went on under the leadership of the Armstrongs.

I was declared on my way to the Lake of Fire by The System of Armstrongism. It caused me to be cut off from almost all people I had considered my brethren for over a decade. It even cut my little seven year old daughter off from almost all her friends. Sorry, but I find no solace of compassion and tolerance in that.

Black Ops Mikey said...

It should be pointed out that in the 1950s, believing in British Israelism was not optional: It was "The Key to Prophecy" and people who rejected it could not be baptized.

Armstrongism just isn't Armstrongism without British Israelism.

[And the young man said, "What must I do to be saved?" And the Armstrongist minister replied, "You must give three tithes to support the Herbert Armstrong Luxury Fund and believe in British Israelism". And the young man turned away sad and disheartened, for he had proved British Israelism wrong.]

Anonymous said...

Pam, you totally misunderstood my statement. The context of my statement about tolerance to all which shocked you was strictly with reference to those who never heard or those who were not "called", according to our theological parlance. So, yes, certainly the movement teaches that there is no "second chance" for those of us called now. What I meant was that of all those groups which claim to be God's only source of truth, Armstrongism is distinctive in teaching that you can be exposed to it and reject it now without any salvific consequence .

We are an unusual group of exclusivists who believe those outside our movement are not lost. This is the potential source of its compassionate regard for those in other religions and other churches. That was my point. I am well aware of the contempt we have shown toward those who have left. How could I not?

Re my use of the word "Armstrongism". I totally agree that the name Armstrong has been thoroughly discredited. It is a public relations nightmare. You are absolutely right, Pam. But definitionally, if I want to describe a set of doctrines to which I adhere, what do I use? If I say "Church of God", I could mean that Pentecostal, Sunday-keeping arm that is more widely known. Speaking about being a part of the "Church of God movement" is completely misleading also to the average person who would not have a clue as to what I mean.
Even if I want to be associated with the Church of God 7th Day tradition, my religious identity would still be imprecise as I embrace post-mortem salvation, man's deification and feast days. While "Armstrongism" still has some imprecision in my case as a number of the doctrines associated with it I don't embrace--BI, place of safety, church eras, multiple tithing, one man rule, rejection of inter-racial marriage--it comes closest to defining those set of doctrines associated with Herbert W.Armstrong. I studied comparative religions, so I am very sensitive to religious identification and labeling.

Armstrong was a part of the Millerite, Adventist and millenarian family of churches(which includes the Christadelphians), but he diverged significantly with his "second chance" teaching, which hits at the heart of millenarianism. His religious borrowing has been most creative.

So you are right, Pam, that his doctrines preceded him. That is exactly what we who believe he restored truth hold--that he taught Apostolic Christianity. But if I call myself a Paulinist or even a Christian today, what meaningfully does that communicate? Nothing. What you can argue is that in my case when I say I am an Armstrongite, I am being perhaps equally confusing because BI, prophetic speculation, right-wing fanaticism, one man rule and authoritarianism are normally associated with classic Armstrongism. Hence my reference to Reformed Armstrongism.
So, yes, my using "Armstrongism" is problematic and is vulnerable to misunderstanding , but saying I am a part of "the Church of God movement" is far more vague and, in fact, is downright misleading. I would rather call myself a Christian, really, but in this 21st Century, people would have no idea what I mean. Ian Boyne

Pam said...

"But if I call myself a Paulinist or even a Christian today, what meaningfully does that communicate? Nothing. What you can argue is that in my case when I say I am an Armstrongite, I am being perhaps equally confusing because BI, prophetic speculation, right-wing fanaticism, one man rule and authoritarianism are normally associated with classic Armstrongism. Hence my reference to Reformed Armstrongism."

Ian, there is NO ONE on earth outside of yourself who knows what you mean by "Reformed Armstrongism," unless you take time to wade through a whole lot more than you put in this one post to me to explain yourself. So if you are talking to someone new about your beliefs, or talking about them on the radio, you aren't REALLY communicating anything meaningful by using the term Armstrongism.

And as you see, even those of us who are familiar with you are quite clueless about what all you mean by the term. So you've not really communicated anything by use of the word, and solved nothing regarding the negative connotations of the word.

In spite of how large the Armstrong legacy looms in your own mind because it loomed so large in your own life, in 99.9999% of the world the name Herbert Armstrong means nothing. They don't know who he was, they don't know what he taught. Even in the US, I would guess maybe less than five percent of the populace would have even a vague memory of either GTA or HWA, the Plain Truth, or the World Tomorrow program. It's a dead religion, Ian. Presided over by two dead men now, who have a horrid legacy they left behind for anybody to know about who would bother to rummage a bit on the Internet. Which most people won't.

Of course, none of this is any of my business in the greater scheme of things. You certainly have the right to call yourself whatever you want, and to explain to anyone who will listen just what you mean by your personal label. I'm just sharing my personal perspective that you are turning more people OFF by your use of the term than you will ever "turn on" to what you believe to be truth from the Bible.

For someone who obviously prides himself on making choices in life based on sound reasoning, it is baffling to many of us how irrational you sound as you try to justify this weird fascination with the word "Armstrongism."

" I would rather call myself a Christian, really, but in this 21st Century, people would have no idea what I mean." I'll say it again, Ian. People have NO IDEA WHAT YOU MEAN BY ARMSTRONGISM (reformed or otherwise) either. You are attempting to use a "shorthand term" that just doesn't do the job you are hoping it does.

I thought the Bible was pretty clear that the "I am of Paul," "I am of Apollos," "I am of Armstrong" approach is not the way to go in talking about your faith. I can't imagine that the earliest Christians called themselves Paulinians. Nor, as a matter of fact "Reformed Diatrophesians"!

I walked away from Classic Armstrongism almost forty years ago. I walked away from the GTA Revised Version (pretty much like your Reformed Armstrongism, I suppose) almost thirty years ago. Since that time I have been able to freely discuss what I believe about all kinds of matters with large numbers of people, in private and in public, without needing to stick myself with ANY kind of label to identify me as being aligned with some humanly-devised "religious party." That saves me a LOT of trouble. No need to "disavow" ANY portion of what some humanly-devised system espoused.

As you, I happen to believe that there is no everburning Hell where humans will be tortured eternally. I think this is a pernicious belief that people should be rescued from. But I've been able to make a whole website, write a whole book, and give public lectures on the topic without ever ONCE mentioning the name of Armstrong. :-)

Pam said...

Hey, Ian... here is a sample of how you can address the Hell topic without needing to label it as part of Armstrongism or yourself as an Armstrongite.


This is a video of a public lecture I gave in Panama City Beach, Florida in 2008. Here's the description:

The average person has not come to their beliefs about Hell or any other Bible topic through logic. They don’t know enough about the Bible to sort through proof texts. They haven’t “studied” Hell as an intellectual exercise. They have absorbed what they may think Christianity teaches about Hell by osmosis from the culture around them, from half-remembered sermons or Sunday School lessons from childhood, from horrific pictures in a religious tract they picked up in a waiting room, or from the vivid imagery of medieval paintings in a History Channel documentary about Hell.

The doctrine of Hell is one of the most pivotal doctrines in Christianity because it strikes at the very nature of God. Is He a monster who would pre-destine people to permanent torment before they were ever born, or consign them to an ever-burning Hell for not accepting Jesus as savior … even though they never heard of Him? This seminar explores what the Bible says about this doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time, Pam, to further share your thoughts. Just to make it clear that when I am speaking to people and am explaining my particular belief system, I don't say I am Armstrongite. I say I am a Judeo-Christian whose religious tenets involve some Jewish practices(I usually name them), along with standard Christian beliefs like the Deity of Christ, lest they think I don't accept Jesus as Messiah and God. I usually also name "Christian" beliefs and practices(Christmas, Easter, Trinity) that I reject.

On some occasions, depending on whom I am speaking to, I might go on to mention that I follow the teachings of an American preacher called Herbert W. Armstrong. (The Armstrongs have very strong name recognition in Jamaica, incidentally.)
I use "Armstrongism" and "Reformed Armstrongism" on these blogs to identify that unlike almost everyone who posts, I am still involved in "the cult". I am not a complete fool and could not survive so long in journalism if I did not know anything about communicating in context, Pam. You think I go around generally identifying myself as "an Armstrongite"?

But I am not diffident about using the term, nor do I hold the simplistic and silly view that self-identifying as an Armstrongite signals that I am "following a mere man". No more than serious theologians and philosophers are ashamed to label themselves Lutherans, Augustinians, Calvinists, Socinians, Thomists, Kantians, Humeans, Marxists etc. That Armstrong was corrupt does not take away from the unalterable fact that he is objectively identified in the comparative religious literature with a distinctive set of beliefs. One does not have to embrace everything in that system to be classified as an adherent, I put it to you.

While saying I am Armstrongite even on these blogs is still imprecise, it is not so imprecise as to communicate nothing. And I have already distanced myself from certain teachings in classic Armstrongism to give people a fair idea of what I reject. If you are providing me with public relations advice, Pam, fine you are on point. Armstrongism is a PR disaster in terms of labeling. But I am not engaging in PR here, where I know Armstrongism is despised. Ian Boyne

Byker Bob said...

I'm thinking Armstrongism is a PR and marketing disaster more than just in terms of labeling. We've watched the major splinter groups throw a lot of money into cookie cutter versions of the same basic types of programs which HWA had pioneered and used successfully, and these groups have had less than stellar results. At best they might be able to claim to be feeding their own flocks until "the end" comes, and the ways in which some of them have used the disfellowship "tool", they are not even maintaining their membership levels.


Anonymous said...

Byker Bob, you need to study the Jamaican model of marketing Armstrongism. The leading scholar on Armstrongism today, David Barrett, in his authoritative book on the movement published just a couple of years ago, "Fragmentation of a Sect", mentions the Jamaican church. Even super-exclusivist Bob Thiel has singled out the Jamaican CGI for its exceptional growth.

We have whole congregations(Church of God 7th Day) coming over now to feast-keeping as a result of my presentations to their leadership and membership. Just last Sabbath I spoke to about 180 persons at a Church of God 7th Day group, preparing them to observe their very first Feast of Unleavened Bread. That group has four churches in the island and the pastor will travel for the next few Sabbaths taking essentially the same message I brought, to those other congregations. After my presentation, the pastor gave an impassioned talk about how he used to actively oppose feast-keeping, "and you now how I told you they were nailed to the Cross. But now I see the light. We thank God for Pastor Boyne for coming to enlighten us today".

Last year another COG 7th Day group with four congregations also opened its doors for feast-keeping for the very first time after I had made presentations to them showing why feast-keeping is necessary and why the Sabbath and feast days stand or fall together (as taught by HWA, but backing that up by quoting scholarly sources.) A smaller COG 7th Day was officially incorporated into CGI last year.
This evening I am having baptisimal counselling with two persons who are to be baptized before Passover. We baptized 15 persons last Feast of Tabernacles and I think 13 at Passover . The decline of Armstrongism is not universal. Our COG leaders have been very backward and uncreative in their marketing, and their church services are too staid and dull. They are in a time warp. The vast majority don't have the intellectual and theological resources to properly critique alternatives to Armstrongism.

You can't compare the growth of CGI's version of Armstrongism in Jamaica to either Wade Cox or Bob Thiel's "growth" of their African churches. You and I suspect the motives of these groups linking up with an overseas group. (Incidentally, CGI USA does not send one dollar to support us and we don't require it. People don't join for social welfare.) People are abandoning Seventh-Day Adventism, the COG 7th Day and traditional Christianity for Armstrongism in Jamaica. And it's not just because they have not read about the work of you guys who are whistle blowers. They take Peter's attitude: "Where else can I go...".

They see it absolutely proven from Scripture that this is not the only day of salvation, that the feast days must be kept, that the kingdom of God is the true Gospel and will be set up on this earth and that God is reproducing Himself. They can find no other group which has this package. And hence they choose reformed Armstrongism. Don't be ethnocentric, guys, believing North America and Europe constitute the world. Ian Boyne

Christopher McNeely said...

"The vast majority (COG leaders) don't have the intellectual and theological resources to properly critique alternatives to Armstrongism."

Couldn't have said it any better. And what a perfect example of being 'hoist with his own petard', Mr. Boyne.

Anonymous said...

Boyneism: "Herbert Armstrong was a reprehensible human being. But he was RIGHT."

That's what you're really teaching, Ian: Boyneism. Keep at it and you might get your own Wikipedia page someday.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha! Lol I love it, Anonymous 06:37 Ian Boyne

Byker Bob said...

Well, Ian, I'll just observe from the distance as your work is tested in accordance with the wisdom of Gamaliel.

Armstrongism has been described as being a personality cult. The problem with the vast majority of the ministers trained at Ambassador College is that years ago they shed their own personalities in favor of adopting the Universal Ambassador Personality, and that has proven not to be powerful enough to actually allow one to run a thriving personality cult. This is why many splinters are on a negative growth trajectory. The U.A.P. was designed and crafted to keep them subservient to the expansive personality (HWA), who had originated that cult.

I believe that people are most inclined to receive from the people whom they know and trust. A journalist and television personality who has been a mainstay in their homes for decades would certainly have earned a high degree of this sort of trust. And, of course there is a corresponding high degree of media savy which goes along with those years of experience. No denying that.

There can be such a thing as regional success. Sometimes it spills into other markets, sometimes not. A basic package, if franchised, will often yield varying results in the hands of different franchisees. In the case of a doctrinal package, one school of thought would be that if God were endorsing it, the measurable results would be more uniformly successful.

Time will tell. Although our opinions are like Yelp is for consumers, or as exit interviews are for the corporate world, in the long term scheme of things, the opinions of some old biker really don't amount to a hill of beans. They are just that. Opinions and perspectives.


Anonymous said...

Ian Boyne has been a good friend of mine for quite a few years. We have spoken on the phone and exchanged literally hundreds of emails over the years (yes, his typing has always been atrocious :-)). I have also had the privilege and pleasure of visiting with him and the wonderful people of the Jamaican CGI on several occasions.

The debate here is similar to the friendly debate that has been going on between Ian and me for quite a few years. He has criticized me for "knocking" HWA in public, not because he disagrees with anything I have said, but because he believes my well-intentioned criticisms are disastrous from a PR standpoint. He once chastised me for something of mine that was posted on AW about a decade or so ago. And that's okay; he was probably right. I’m glad our relationship is such that we can have an open and honest exchange on differences without jeopardizing our friendship.

I understand where Ian is coming from. It is quite true that some great ideas have come from folks of questionable character. Some have pointed to the alleged moral weaknesses and hypocrisies of America's founding fathers while, at the same time, acknowledging that these men came up with some wonderful ideas for which all Americans should be grateful. No serious student of history will deny that some flawed, sinful human beings have done some exceptionally good things, and that they are now remembered for the good things they did. Ian's point is that HWA's narcissism and reprehensible behavior do not necessarily mean that all the components of his belief system are bad. He has concluded that some of the key features of HWA's belief system are worth salvaging and refining. They should be evaluated, but we must be careful to avoid letting our feelings about the one who taught them warp our commitment to objectivity.

I still believe that the question, "How much good fruit can an evil tree produce?" is a valid one, especially in consideration of Matt 7:15-20. But the question loses some of its punch once we realize that most of HWA's belief system was in place within the Adventist movement before HWA arrived on the scene. He didn't put it all together, doctrine by doctrine; he simply stole it from others--and a major portion of it came in a single package, not as separate items--and then he claimed he came up with it himself through much blood, sweat, and tears. Apparently, even his ditheistic "God family" doctrine was created by someone else within the Adventist movement. He may have added to it, but I doubt that he did anything without significant input from others.

My intent here is not to affirm or deny COG theology or any particular aspect of it, but simply to say that perhaps both sides (represented by Ian on one side, and the angry and hurt ex-COGers on the other) attribute too much to HWA (whether credit or blame). His theology may have had some features that were uniquely his, but it appears that he discovered, not invented, the greater portion of it, and that doctrinal developments that emerged over time came mostly from other people within this relatively new splinter of the fragmented Adventist movement.

Vance Stinson

Anonymous said...

Non-sequitur alert!

Morally uninhibited fellows writing a nation's constitution and morally uninhibited, self-appointed end-time messengers boinking in pell mell fashion are two completely different things.

Typical COG defense, Vance, but time-tested and found to be lacking. Sure, your church's founder might have made a lively founding father for a fledgling nation (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but for a fledgling church? Eeeeew. The general COG community scoffed at his nerve back in the day, and rightly so. Those whose lives and families had been scarred by his serial womanizing were outright indignant. Outsiders? They found his shenanigans as entertaining as they did shocking. Ian clearly has more than Herbert Armstrong to run from as he reps for his GTA-founded organization. Nice of y'all to come around after, what, Ted's 300th violation of the biblical qualifications for the ministry? But a tad late, nonethelss.

Ironically, the CG7 that those fellows discredited in their typical bellicose fashion turned out, in the long run, to to be far more credible. Frustrating for you, I'm sure, but historically accurate.

Anonymous said...

Byker Bob is dead wrong: The views of the "old biker" can't be dismissed as mere "opinions and perspectives" not amounting to a hill of beans. They are, frequently, priceless gems, mined from a fertile and fecund mind. I skip from anti-Armstrongite blog to blog to retrieve his treasures. Oh, yes, there is the rubble there, too, but that I discard for the worth of the gems.

This morning in my bathroom I remembered some of his poignant points made recently, and it came to me(again) that we have lost a fine mind; an indictment on a movement that tramples on its best and brightest.

And, no Bob, you were not correct that my efforts here are designed to bring back any to the fold. I have no illusions that you who have left have any regrets and are open to even the possibility that Armstrongism could be true, after all. I know you are settled in your assurance that we are wrong and that you are not open to rethinking. Instead I know you pity me for my delusions. I read these blogs because I can be reinforced in what I should not do. Reading these bogs is Lesson 101 on How Not to Do Ministry. I dialogue with you because I enjoy the exchange. Whenever I am met with incivility, I simply ignore it. I never dignity it by responding.

I thank my long-time and very dear friend and ministerial supervisor, Vance Stinson, the biggest hidden treasure in the movement today. Vance would never describe himself as an Armstrongite, but he is the sharpest theological mind occupying any position in any COG-related group which I know of. I often am amazed at his theological sophistication and exposure for a person not formally schooled in theology. His depth as a teacher is unsurpassed in our movement. Ron Dart was a better preacher in terms of sheer homiletical skills, but he was no match for Vance in terms of theological rigor and sophistication. And Dart was my man. It is my privilege to have Vance as supervisor over the CGI.I thank him for putting me in perspective here.

He is right and Anonymous captured it perfectly in that parody of me on this thread by defining "Boyneism" as saying of HWA: "He was reprehensible. But he was RIGHT". That's exactly my view. And, Vance, that issue about HWA's views not being uniquely his is precisely my point: God used him to restore that package of doctrines which He revealed to the early New Testament Church. GG Rupert had some important truths. The Jehovah's Witnesses, the Adventists, the COG 7th Day had important truths. There were always fragments scattered over the place. God brought them together in HWA and led him to find them all over the place.

The argument that he read this or that and pierced together his system of stolen ideas in no way militates against the view that he was divinely guided into truth. I don't care who had what before HWA taught it: Indeed, it HAD TO BE there for our claim to be true that HWA was a restorationist! As a system, you show me as a student of comparative religion which contemporary of Armstrong had the package now associated with his name. Show me.

I challenge the unquestioned assumption that because HWA was corrupt he could not have been used by God . My doctrine of justification by faith and of human sinfulness, irrespective of status, forbids that naïve view. That human sinfulness obliterates the possibility of Divine mission is an affront to the majesty and glory of the Sovereign God.

The Sovereign God stooped not only to be Incarnated. He stooped to use corrupt men like HWA and GTA, who did considerable harm. We can't gloss over their sins. But neither should we put so much emphaisis on that that we lose sight of God's glorious work through earthen vessels. Whenever we are tempted to say of HWA or GTA, "look what he has done!!" I ask that you gaze at the Cross of Christ and say, "Look what He has done!!!" To GOD be the glory. Ian Boyne

The Skeptic said...

Ian, I think you're mistaken. A God doesn't "stoop". He doesn't need to. Furthermore he doesn't need to work through men. And he doesn't require a death in order to forgive sin. He's all-powerful, he can forgive sin at will.

Anonymous said...

"He stooped to use corrupt men like HWA and GTA, who did considerable harm."

This kind of double-talk is so beyond the pale that it cannot be attributed to a loving God. Ian, from some of your posts I actually thought there was hope for constructive dialogue. But there is none so blind...

Your head is too far into the sand. There is a clear admonition in scripture about calling evil good. You've crossed that line. I feel sorry for the unsuspecting people of Jamaica who are buying into such twisted reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Over on Banned, Ian said that if he had been Herbert Armstrong's pastor in the first 10 years of HWA's ministry, he would have disfellowshipped him. Yet he claims here that God stooped to use him.

The mind reels. Boyneism, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 15:12,respectfully,your thinking is too binary .You don't give any place to nuance. That's quite typical of the usual Armstrongite mentality. You seemed to have rejected Arnstrongism without casting off its simplistic either-or mindset .Old-style Armstrongism had no place for paradox .That is why so much of our objection to Trinitarianism was so simplistic and juvenile . For in our thinking, there can't be any mystery. So we ridiculed Trinitarians for saying God is a mystery,basking in our blissful ignorance .

Saying God can use badly flawed men is NOT calling evil good or an example of "twisted reasoning". I don't know how you deal with His working out His purposes through the machinations of such a con man and schemer as Jacob.You would no doubt be perplexed as to how Rahab could make it in the list of heroes of faith. Peter's obdurate racism and hypocrisy and God's not casting him off ;and Paul's obvious continued irascibility and deep struggle with failure long after his conversion as evidenced in Romans 7 would obviously be deeply problematic for you. Classic Arnstrongism damaged many far more than they realise ,and its effects continue long after people stop attending Armstrongite services.

Emotions have a way of choking reason. The hurts and abuses many suffered in Armstrongism make it nigh impossible for them to reason clearly .The emotional baggage always gets in the way .Hume was right :"Reason is slave of the passions".
Sometimes I think the greatest damage done by the Armstrong Experience is not the specific harms people suffered. It is how those harms continue to distort their emotions and capacity to reason.The hurts and the painful experiences cast a long shadow over victims' lives. I try never to give any abuser that power over me .Ian Boyne

Byker Bob said...

I just have to make an observation that the past several weeks have presented a very unique set of circumstances in the history of Armstrong-dissident blogs and forums. There may have been comments posted from time to time in the past by active ministers in the movement, but if so, they were posted anonymously, and were just isolated comments, not full-on discussions. That there could even be open, and civilized discussion amongst current ministers and ex-members says much about both sides. It was not too long ago that forum participants even went rabid on ex-ministers who just wanted to be included in discussions with the regulars. Dennis Diehl endured a particularly difficult entry when he first began posting.

It is always good to indulge in a process of thinking and rethinking through all of the issues that caused us to come to our various conclusions. This can't help but cause higher levels of refinement, and sharing hopefully leads to better understanding. I believe we may finally be moving past the cliches, and some of the worst of the animosities.


Anonymous said...

It would take you,BB, to set things in perspective and put things in historical context.I I certainly share your hope that we are past the worst of the animosities. Certainly, I pledge to engage in no such duel. For those who find civility and good manners too demanding, there will be no exchange with me. I feel confident,BB, that there are persons on these blogs who are prepared to dialogue respectfully, even though we can have stirring exchange. That's part of the give and take .

I have deep respect for Gavin and Gary .I sense some people's patience with me wearing thin , but I can pull back rather than incite their full wrath. I can be content to just read rather than engage. I did so for years .I think it's you ,B B ,and the sheer insightfulness of your points, even when expressed pithily, who pulled me out.One major curiosity,though:How do you maintain such an intense interest in a movement you left some forty one years t now???? Multiple exclamation, required ,indeed! I couldn't imagine myself sustaining interest in a movement I left for so long .Just my curiosity, BB Ian Boyne

Byker Bob said...

Actually, Ian, my interest did not sustain itself for 40 years. In 1975, I walked away from it all, and made it known that I didn't want to be associated with either church members, or ex-members. I ended up just gradually surrounding myself with a whole new circle and support group. Recovering, reading widely, a little therapy along the way, and just doing many of the things about which I was passionate. I had a young son to raise, and a career, plus hobbies like the old cars and always the motorcycles. And a couple of beautiful wives and girlfriends (not at the same time).

My last wife, sometime around 2,000, bought a PC from a lady she worked with, and they set it up on the internet. At that time, I had no knowledge of what had happened with the church, all of the splintering and infighting and such. Having heard that one could learn about the lives of old friends, I started inputting the names of some of them. At some point, I discovered that several of them were writing for the Painful Truth. I realized that they were blowing off some steam, and actually helping people, and with somewhat of a flair for writing, I began contributing some articles of my own, some of which were well received.

For the first couple years, I just wrote articles, while lurking on a couple of the forums, the primary one being Worldwide Church of God Alumni Forum. Basically, I made a lot of friends (and a few enemies) along the way, and different people invited me to other blogs and forums, and I'd add my two cents to each.

Chit chat was great. But the main things I found of interest were the very real facts that knowledgeable people began sharing regarding history, archaeology, nuances of the ancient languages, textual criticism, and the debunking of British Israelism. I also read the complete works of Josephus, Eusebius, and as many of the works of the Antenicene Fathers as I could find.

So the past 13-15 years is the actual time period during which I've endeavored to obtain some real answers, on my own, with the realization that nobody was standing over me insisting that I come to their carefully guided conclusions. By this point, I've done a total mop up so far as my own purposes are concerned, and just enjoy interacting with all the different people on the blogs and sites.


Byker Bob said...

Just thought about this overnight, Ian, and have a bit more to add. Having "graduated" from WCG in 1975 (I call myself Class of '75), I had had 25 years to recover and adjust from Armstrongism by the time I first began posting comments on the internet. What happened was that most of the people whom I encountered in 2,000 were "Class of '95". Many of those folks were still reeling from the Tkach changes or corrections, which ever one prefers to call them, and some were angry for various reasons. Some were rationally restudying everything they had learned frim the WCG which they had assumed had been correct. It was remedial education for me, as some of the material they were discussing were the things which I had learned through my friendship with John Trechak back in the mid '70s as he was putting together the first Ambassador Reviews, which later became the Ambassador Reports. John, of course had passed away by that point in time, and I saw what was happening on the dissident blogs as more or less a contemporary effort which ran parallel to what John had tried to accomplish during his lifetime.

Armstrongism was simply one of those occasional powerful modifiers, one to which there could be no bland reaction. As in the case of a war, a depression, disease, or violent event in one's life, one could simply not go "oh well" or pretend there had been no after effects.
There was enough within 20 years of involvement to sustain many years of comments. It's how we humans deal with such things.


Anonymous said...

Anon 13:01: I think you’ve missed my point. Here it is in a nutshell:

1. I understand where my friend Ian is coming from.
2. BUT, it is still legitimate to question HWA’s theology on the basis of HWA’s bad behavior.
3. HOWEVER, little of HWA’s theology was original with HWA.
4. THEREFORE, one should not judge HWA’s theology solely on the basis of HWA’s bad behavior.

That was my point. I was not defending the COG, any of its branches, or its theology. Please read the last paragraph for a summary of my main point.


Anonymous said...

Then why, Vance, did you bring up the Founding Fathers? Typical COG gibberish. Everything Armstrong sticks to you guys like a "Kick Me" sign at a frat party. But please, enlighten us some more on how you've got it right.

Anonymous said...


By your comment to VS I'm sure you neither get the "inalienable right" concept of the Enlightenment.


Anonymous said...

Where do any laws/doctrine come from.
"nature", "the king (or God), "the contract between them"

For "citizens" of the USA the outcome of this discussion should be "self evident" since the late 18 hundreds.

The problem here is you deem yourself citizens of "another realm" still.

Thank you for the discussion. It suddenly dawned on me why I personally was not hurt so much by hwa as a lot of people are. My legal training (inspired by Rader) made it abundantly clear what was persona/interpretation of Armstrong and what was "inalienable and "self evident" and thus law of nature / or God for that matter.

I never understood how a talented person like myself could be frowned upon by my YOU leader. It seems there was a conceptual rift there I didn't recognize at the time.


Anonymous said...

I hope Vance does not dignify Anonymous 00:58 with a response. Someone has to take a stand on boorish behavior. Or at least excuse himself from engaging with it. Ian Boyne

Gavin R said...

@ Ian. Agreed. I guess you'd call it "intemperate". I thought Vance was very clear in expressing a well thought out position, and I think we can all respect that even when we see things differently. This comment is particularly jarring in that while Vance is completely open about his identity this response is anonymous. Not even a pseudonym. Seems a bit gutless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your endorsement of decency, Gavin. We ought not to find it too demanding to be civil. Ian Boyne