Monday, 25 September 2006
“...your Bible predicts a great TRADE WAR between the economic power in Europe and the United States. It predicts terrible financial collapse of this country...” (The Plain Truth, December 1963)
Trade War has been a constant jeremiad in COG circles. The bad guys vary: Germany, Japan and now China. The good guys? Well shucks, it's the US of A, who else?
I was introduced to the concept with the second or third issue of The Plain Truth that I received as a teen in 1970. I may be misremembering, but I believe the bad guy de jour then was Japan.
But lo, nothing changes in the copycat sects. The latest issue of Meredith's Tomorrow's World (he even stole the title of his magazine from the 1970s WCG) is “U.S. - China Trade War: Coming Soon?”
Notice the question mark. The strategy is to suggest very strongly – so strongly the reader is meant to conclude that there's no doubt about it at all – but not actually say it. Weaseling is also a fine COG tradition.
Then there's that helpful little word “if.” “If China were to stop buying U.S. Treasury notes...” “If China were to sell its U.S. Securities...” “If the dollar declines in importance as the international currency...” (All quoted from the article in TW.)
All of this ties into the wacky prophetic scenarios advanced by Herb Armstrong and his Adventist predecessors. If the path to Last Trump appears to disappear behind an occasional fog bank, fear not, the outcome is assured: “The Bible reveals that at the end of the present age...” “Regular readers of Tomorrow's World understand that the prophecies concerning the house of Israel just before Christ's return tell the future of the U.S. And the British Commonwealth nations.” “Tomorrow's World will continue to keep you informed...”
Ironically the Editor in Chief, Rod Meredith, has an editorial in this same issue entitled “Biblical Ignorance: A Real Problem.” Naturally, he's not talking about brain-dead ignorance in his Living Church of God, he simply doesn't exhibit the degree of introspection to make that even a faint possibility, but then Rod was always more enthused over splinters than logs.
So maybe it's apt to end with a quote from someone who can address this Biblical ignorance issue with a little more authority. John Collins isn't a COG member and, as far as I know, has never speculated on Trade War with anyone. He is a past president of the Society for Biblical Literature, a professor at Yale, author of a commentary on Daniel, along with many other books including Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures (from which the following quote is sourced):
“The responsible use of the Bible must begin by acknowledging that these books were not written with our modern situations in mind, and are informed by the assumptions of an ancient culture remote from our own.”
If that's where you begin, then Spanky and his band of merry men in Charlotte have yet to step up to the starting line. In fact they're running in quite the wrong direction.
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I found your comments to be interesting in regards to Meridith's Living Church of God. While I do have problems with his approach, I think it is a stretch to state that his organization is brain dead or ignorant of the scriptures.
You have a few valid criticisms of some of the past and present approaches of the COGs. It is a shame that you and others are willing to throw away everything in the name of enlightenment. The angry attitudes that come off the page are not in line with what you claim to be seeking.
Gavin wrote: " 'The responsible use of the Bible must begin by acknowledging that these books were not written with our modern situations in mind, and are informed by the assumptions of an ancient culture remote from our own.' If that's where you begin, then Spanky and his band of merry men in Charlotte have yet to step up to the starting line. In fact they're running in quite the wrong direction."
The question is, is that where you begin? This seems to be the whole issue between COG and XCOG. Because Gavin's last two sentences are true. If you begin with the premise that the Bible was not authored with our modern situations in mind, then the COGs are indeed running in the wrong direction. But is that the correct premise? Or was the Bible authored by a creator God who certainly does have our modern situation in mind? That is the whole issue.
It comes back to the question I asked Gavin umpteen posts ago, what is the source of your beliefs (which he does not answer). Members of the Churches of God profess belief that God inspired the Bible, definitely with our modern situation in mind, and they look to the Bible as having authority. COG members are not perfect, and we live up to what we profess in varying degrees, depending on the individual. But if XCOG people do not even believe that the Bible was inspired by God, then there is little common ground, except for certain shared experiences we have lived thru in Worldwide. We attended the same services, sang the same songs, heard the same teachings, observed the same events, but there the similarities end. COG members try to believe the Bible because they view it as inspired by God, XCOG people do not. That is the heart and core of disagreements between COG and XCOG.
Now, if only Gavin and XCOG people would just state in plain language, "we don't believe the Bible was inspired by God".
Okay, I give up. The reason I don't leap to respond to your question is that you and I obviously share few assumptions about (1) the nature and transmission of the Bible, and (2) what it means - and doesn't mean - to say that the Bible is inspired. It's been a long time since I thought of it as a collection of infallible proof texts, the way the Correspondence Course did (which was so deeply flawed.) And no, that's not what "line upon line" means.
So, maybe I'll address the question in a later posting. But frankly, if you simply check out any non-fundamentalist book on the subject in your local library you won't have to wait!
Thank you. I've seen examples of "non-fundamentalist" thinking in the public libraries. I'll wait for your future post. I know it is not always easy to articulate one's beliefs, but I think you can manage it. Take your time, I am in no hurry. I know you are busy and you have your hands full keeping up with the job of ridiculing those in COG who try to articulate their beliefs, beliefs which you and other XCOG people seem to have believed at one time.
I'm going to break into the middle of this and make a few comments
The main issue here isn't, "Do you believe in the Bible or not?" The question instead is, "What are proper methods of biblical interpretation?"
John Collins is not a "conservative" scholar, but he is quite a good one, highly respected by conservatives and liberals alike. And the point he's making in the sentences quoted by Gavin is not a controversial one. Conservative, Bible-believing commentators---people who believe that the scriptures are inspired and even inerrant---agree with what Collins is saying.
I'm more conservative than Collins is, but I certainly agree with him on this point. Collins isn't saying that the Bible isn't relevant or valuable today. The Bible certainly has meaning for us today. But to figure out how to apply a scripture today, the place one should start is by figuring out what the scripture meant in its original context. All valid applications of a scripture will flow out of that original meaning.
So for example, in interpreting the book of Revelation, one should keep in mind that the real messages of the book---the things God is actually trying to get across---are things that would have been understood by John's original audience. ("Church eras," for example, are not an important part of the message of the book.)
The old WCG often ignored this principle, and as a result, it often handled the scriptures irresponsibly. Folks like Rod Meredith continue to follow HWA's bad example in this regard.
"What sort of philosophy one chooes depends on what sort of person one is." Johann Gottlied Fichte
The same is true of religion. The religion one chooses depends on the sort of person he is.
Few critical thinkers choose being Baptist or Pentecostal. It's not who they are and they would be miserable around such types.Those are reserved for emotional literalists who simply must believe the right thing, do the right thing in the right place, much like those in the COG's.
Those given to their emotions tend towards the more evangelical denominations and are more personally needy and self centered. They think God is better contacted by handwaving and tears. These churches tend to resemble a glorified Sunday School class in their publications, as we see now in the new WCG. Mike Feazell, WCG writer, embodies this "poor sinful pilgim" mentality over and over in his writings. Smultsy Religion comes to mind. It's a personal need projected on others as something they need as well, even if they don't.
Controlling personalities seem to be drawn to the Evangelical mindset and the worst combine their religion with their politics and produce the foolishness we see today in American politics. They hunt you down to join them so that you don't go to hell and can give the money needed to keep the organizaiton going. It's their job. Evolution is of the Devil. All gays closeted and everyone in denial. Repression is great.
Critical thinkers, those who see the obvious problems of the Bible, and may not hold it to be inerrant or historically correct in places, survive nicely as Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans. Most don't care about the problems of scripture. They see that humans have made progress in the last 2000 years in Biblical understanding, find a place for those realities which Evangelicals condemn them for, and keep moving. They like it when you join them, but are not known for overt evangelism. Evolution is ok. The Pastor might be Gay but better not say. Don't ask don't tell. Repression and denial is not as great
Those who seek a more personal spirituality and can be considered truly "Non-Comdemnational" make great Unitarians or Unity type Christians. These are the "like herding cats" of Christianity. They have little need to convince others of what they intuitively "know." We are all hairless apes that have become conscious and it's astounding and we'll probably be back a few times learning as we go. Pastor may or may not be gay, tis ok, tolerant congregations of all types for most part. Repression...Denial?
Generalizations to be sure, but Fichte was right. Religions and denominations tend to draw those whose personality matches the mentality of the teachings. People join the church they need to join to explain their the world and the world. That is why I went to WCG at 14 in the 60's and also why I outgrew it in the 90's not needing any longer to be controlled by charismatic Bible readers and their reckless and foolish replacements. I now feel more authentic and informed being a cat. I don't have to be right, and I can't say my position offers the kind of peace blind faith provides, but I don't wish to be herded and be expected to follow someone elses vision of the world and what life is. Don't wish to be told what day of the week God is in town and why I need to be there and that God needs my limited resources to speak through others who live nicely off the proceeds.
What sort of Church one chooses, does depend finally on the kind of person one is and what one needs.
I believe the various COG;'s that follow Armstrong's version of what the bible says etc. should ask themselves a few questions such as;
(1). Who canonized the scriptures? (You ought to hear some of the answers from some of them.)
(2). Does the KJV or NKJV (which is what most use) accurately translate the pet scriptures WCG and the offshoots use? (Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" might just be an eye opener for those who really seek the truth and "prove all things". Just check out the references Ehrman quotes and then check out the references of those Armstrong used to "prove" his "truth".
(3). Does using "here a little, there a little" approach that Armstrong and his offshoots use to teach their version of what the bible says, actually takes out of context the express meaning of the scripture? (an example is divorce and re-marriage).
On another note about Meredith's group being brain dead, all one has to do is point some real no-brainers to them about their articles they write. An example is Spanky's "Which Day is the Christian Sabbath" where after Rod was told that a big error(he had Sunday as the day of Christs Resurrectiom) was made and that the internet version at least needed to be changed because of the shooting in Wisconsin, and the increased hits on the web site.( It took LCG over 4 months to correct the web version).
Another example is Meredith, Ogwyn, Ames and Winnail's constant use of a non existant Plain Truth to show how Old Herb was a wonderful true prophet. It took those brainiacs over a year to cease from that one. (for over a year they out there in LCG land stated there was a real Plain Truth they quoted but they could not put their fingers on it).
Only when a recently deseased COG webmaster threatened exposure on his site did Spanky stop.
These are just a few of the "Spankyisms" that show the brain dead bunch for what they are.
The anonymous writer need only to listen to and read what LCG says to find out how brain dead they are. Just use their admonition to "check up on them". If you sincerely do this, maybe just maybe you may see them for what they are.
The posting that Dennis made is cogent and reasonable, as well as quite quotable.
Nevertheless, it should never be forgotten that Roderick Meredith, in the context of "Trade War!", is a false prophet. Whether anyone believes the Bible or not, or believes Jesus or not, is irrelevant when it comes to Matthew 7:15.
It's ravening wolf time.
Bring the Silver Bullet.
It should be noted that the events within the LCG occurred very shortly after one critic observed, "Judgment if any awaits".
How quickly they forget.
Perhaps Meredith would like another round? Or does he only get one shot at repentance? How many second chances can he possibly endure? Given his age, it's not clear he should take chances.
Good piece Dennis. Made better since I have long felt the way you do!
By the way, isn't it "schmaltzy"?
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