Sunday 18 March 2007

Who Speaks for the COGs?

Once upon a time there was a monolithic sect called the Worldwide Church of God. Everybody was required to submit to the leaders and - incredibly - even think alike about anything of consequence. And it worked, at least for a time.

Until it all crashed.

Today the refugees are clustered in little groups, each eager to distinguish its virtues from the failings of the others. In place of one rigid hierarchy there is a proliferation of minor warlords. Then, uniformity; now, diversity.

So who, if anyone, speaks for the COGs?

That's easy: Bob Thiel.

"...we in the COGs believe that... We in the COGs believe that..." (March 17)

"We in the COGs do not consider that... We do not consider that... Thus, we in the COGs feel that... we in the COGs do not..." (St Patrick article)

Bob even wallops old Saint Pat for something he might be accused of himself: "It is quite presumptuous, as well as wrong, for Patrick to conclude that..."

Presumptuous. Very apt.

Naturally Bob, like everyone else, is entitled to his beliefs and opinions, and to advocate those views. But does Bob even speak on behalf of warlord Meredith? If not, how much less "the COGs." What makes one man's view more truly "COGish" than another (Mark Armstrong's or Clyde Kilough's for example?)

Where, for example, does it say that COG members shouldn't wear green on March 17? (Bob's latest pronouncement is called "Why The Church of God Does Not Wear Green on St. Patrick's Day") Okay that's Bob's understanding, and good for him, but a member of UCG in the Republic of Ireland might feel somewhat different.

Nobody is asking Bob to clam up, just to quit claiming to be some kind of ecumenical spokesman. After all, COGwriter is something of an institution, and the news service Bob provides is appreciated by many.

Unlike the old WCG, healthy communities thrive in an atmosphere of debate. The goose-stepping days under Herbert Armstrong didn't lead to harmony. The proof of that is in what happened when the rubber bands broke in 1996. Among Herb's present-day imitators debate is a pretext for division, as we've seen with Charles Bryce. Debate is a bad word in the Armstrong lexicon.

In The Closing of the Western Mind, Charles Freeman notes an alternative view first expressed long ago by Heraclitus of Ephesus. The harmonious city (or church) is not one in which everyone lives in peace but one among whose citizens there is constant activity and debate (p.10). Debate is a necessary prelude to reason, tolerance and charity. Small wonder then that these qualities often seem in short supply in the brittle, splinter-prone world of Armstrongism.

Think back to the Early Church. Judging from the evidence in the New Testament alone, the wheels seem to be coming off. Dissension, name calling, different practices. Who spoke for the first generation of Christians? Paul? (Paul thought so). Peter? (Matthew and Mark thought so, e.g. Mt 16: 17-19). James? (Thomas thought so: "Go to James the Just" Gospel of Thomas 12) How about "the disciple whom Jesus loved"? John thought so. It took the creative talents of Luke to try (with mixed success) to draw those loose threads together and paper over the cracks.

It seems nothing much has changed.


Anonymous said...

Seems like Doctor Bobby is a Dr. Hoeh wannabe, he seems to be the same kind of lackey.

Northerner said...

So who, if anyone, speaks for the COGs?

That's easy: Bob Thiel.

"...we in the COGs believe that... We in the COGs believe that..."


Nobody is asking Bob to clam up, just to quit claiming to be some kind of ecumenical spokesman.

I will disagree that Bob is claiming a spokesman role for the COGs. He is simply making an obvious observation on what is a common COG position, as opposed to potentially implying that the position taken is exclsively taken by the LCG.

Now if there are complaints from other COGs that feel that Bob has mischaracterized their position, that would be another matter.

Northerner said...

Where, for example, does it say that COG members shouldn't wear green on March 17?

Five of us were in the car on the way to church today. Remembering the St. Patricks thing, I looked at myself and others to see if anyone wore green (alas no) so I could make an amusing comment on it.

Obviously, no one was going to deliberately wear green to specifically celebrate St. Patricks day, but if someone did or did not wear green this day, that is their own business.

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed,who does speak for the COGs.?

It's the old saying, if you don't speak up for yourself nobody will.

Let us have a little seasonal diversion.

We shall call it PASCHAL PABULUM.

Soon,many of the GOGS will be leaven puffed up bread behind and eating dog biscuits and crusty crackers.

But the more enlightened amongst the COGS will be happily munching into seasonal pleasures.

To this end, I note that one of our local bakers "down under" has placed the following notice outside his shop.

"For a HOT,SPICY EASTER you will need tight buns,kneaded with love.

Why don't you try ours.

And we won't sell you light.

For every complete dozen that you purchase,there is a bonus one in the oven"

Now, how could you resist an offer like that?

Shamelessly Seamus

Anonymous said...

Hey, why should anyone in an ACOG see anything wrong with wearing green on St. Patty's Day- even if one isn't Irish?
Hey, I think it's ok for the non-Irish to eat corned beef and cabbage, and have a social gathering where they pretend to be Irish(which would make a true Irishman laugh at the clumsy attempt to imitate), complete with the bad accents(some of which are more reminiscent of 'pirate talk').

After all, in the ACOGs, it's a common thing to see folks pretending to be Israelites, and clumsily trying to follow their laws(in their half-baked manner), while throwing in some King James' English, imagining that it's somehow like Israelite old-school talk.

I get the idea that Thiel would be more on the mark if he used "ACOG", instead of "COG".

I've noticed that many Armstrongite apologists like to pretend that the ACOGs at large are the same as the COGs. They're not. That added "A"(for "Armstrongist") makes quite a difference- the ACOGs are a strange and unusual subset, at best.

And of course, Thiel is neither a spokesman for the COGs or the ACOGs. He TRIES to be a spokesman/apologist for the Living Church of God, which is one among so many other splinters within ACOGism.

Ah, twas a busy day fer me, but I did hear some good Irish music on me NPR tudday. Arrrrr, matey!


Anonymous said...

I remember in the late 70's or in the 80's when HWA visited Denver Colorado on the sabbath and it just happened to be on St. Patty's Day. So many ministers just happened to have green ties that day. If a sheep had one - watch out. I know, i had one that day and Dr. Zimmerman lit into me.
rod 2

Anonymous said...

Bob Thiel. Interesting character study. I can't even fathom how the LCG allows him to exist, although it might be due to the fact that Dr. Meredith has been known to make many remarks in his AC classes, sermons, and other lectures which most listeners would have considered embarrassing.
So, perhaps the reason the good Doc's site flourishes, and is protected, is that he is just slightly less embarrassing that Rod himself. If COGwriter harped on masturbation or any other number of Rod's favorite subjects, perhaps it would be another matter entirely.

A few years ago, Dr. Ernest Martin passed away. Bob Thiel made some negative comments regarding Doc Martin's influences on the ACOGs. I felt that he was taking potshots at a defenseless deceased person, whose relatives were no doubt still grieving, and I emailed my disapproval of this to the COGwriter site. The response from Thiel was that his site was dedicated to promoting "unity among Philadelphian Christians", and that if I did not share this goal, I need not send him any further email messages. So much for debate or open-mindedness!

I don't even visit the COGwriter site any more. I've come to the conclusion that there is no intelligent life on that planet!


Anonymous said...

Doc makes his usual slam against Gavin:

>>>Gavin Rumney is certainly entitled to his opinions, but those with eyes to see should be able to see through what he posted. Now my posting here will not change the writings of those that are in opposition to the COGs or me. But for you others, I simply wanted you to see the type of logic that COG critics use, so that you will not be adversely affected by the types of inappropriate tactics they sometimes use against me and others in the COGs. I normally let the inappropriate criticisms of me slide, but this time thought the readers of this page may like to know my thoughts on this one (see Proverbs 26:4-5).<<<

Same old, same old Armstrongite nonsense. Only those with 'eyes to see' is the same tired slam Herbie made against anyone who disagreed with him. Only the TRUE followers would know what he was referring to. Thiel is an embarrassment to LCG and the COG as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Who speaks for the COGs?

That's easy - Armstrongs, father and son. They and they alone can determine right from wrong in doctrinal or personal matters. None of these little pissant COGs dare deviate from the form and customs handed down from the Great Ones, never mind the fact that both are, like John Brown, a mouldering in their graves.

Even WCG, after tossing out the error riddled doctrines is still calcified in the same governmental structure, accountable to no one except themselves. Sadly enough, the membership puts up with it - nay, loves what they are used to and demands nothing different.

Bob Theil is like a folk apologist for the COGs, mouthing off what everyone "knows", yet is never found in official COG literature.

Maybe one day he'll tell us all again about the sin of using white sugar or bleached flour.


Anonymous said...

Will some one please tell me just who is Bob Thiel? I don't ever recall anyone mentioning his name when I was in the COG. Is he really some one, or is he some one who wants to be some one? There are so many wannabe's out there, and I lost my score card.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Bob Thiel is always good for a laugh, isn't he.

Here's what I just posted at XCG:

I just knew Robert Thiel would have something to say for St. Patrick’s Day, and it seems that my debunking and mocking of the claim that St. Patrick was a Sabbath-keeper seems to have gotten through to him. This year Thiel isn’t claiming St. Patrick was a Sabbath-keeper, but instead is denouncing St. Patrick for being a delusional pagan Catholic Trinitarian.

I’m not offended that he didn’t bother to mention my assistance, though. :-D

Anonymous said...

"(Thomas thought so: "Go to James the Just" Gospel of Thomas 12)"

Or rather, the second-century Gnostic forger of the Gospel of Thomas wanted his readers to think St. James was the secret source of esoteric Gnostic "revelation."

Steve said...

dennis: "Luke went out of his way to show Peter the baffoon Paul and John thought he was. Perhaps this pleased James who appeared out of nowhere in Acts as the leader of the Church...but I am pretty sure he[Thiel]does not understand the politic of the NT nor the genuine rancor between Paul and Peter, Paul and James, John and Peter etc. Luke retold or concocted out of whole cloth, events to make them appear to be less damaging than they really were and that relationships were more coherent than they really were. Luke was a master apologist that created a compliant, humble and agreeable Paul, when in fact, it was quite the opposite."


"There truly is nothing new under that 'ol sun.

MY COMMENT: Truly not!

Steve K

Anonymous said...

A few people showed up with some green, at my UCG congregation. Whether it was intentional for "Green Day" or not, I don't know. I don't go around asking things like that. Perhaps Bob Thiel does.

I mentioned the day in one fellowship circle, and a man said "I avoided it yesterday." So many people wore green at his job March 16th that he thought that was the real St. Patrick's Day.

Anonymous said...

Bob Theil can speak for the COGs all he wants.

The beauty is, he doesn't speak for God. Nobody does, and there's no small comfort in that.

Ultimately, that's what the COG debate really centers on. At the core of most COGs today is insistence that somebody down here does -- Flurry, RCM, Pack, the Council of Elders, etc. But they don't.

"Helpers of their joy" doesn't mean "legislating access to the mind of God." The sooner a person recognizes that simple fact, the better off he or she is.

For the Christian believer, the shackles are off, and all access is granted, directly and unfettered.

Every single word from Theil's keyboard is based on a different premise, so that baby got tossed out with the bathwater long ago.

Anonymous said...

The shackles are off, and isn't it wonderful? No more wondering where Gods church is, where Gods ministers are, or what in this world is God doing. There is no church, no ministers, just freedom.

Anonymous said...

They are in rented Odd Fellows Halls and Masonic Lodges the world over.

Steve said...

Dennis said...
Let's hear your version Steve...

MY COMMENT: My VERSION? I don't have a version. I guess your VERSION is as good as anyone else's.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

Byker Bob said... A few years ago, Dr. Ernest Martin passed away. Bob Thiel made some negative comments regarding Doc Martin's influences on the ACOGs. I felt that he was taking potshots at a defenseless deceased person, GREAT LORD ON HIGH! LOOK AT YOURSELVES IN A MIRROR, WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU PEOPLE THINK YOU HAVE BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST UMPTEEN YEARS ???

Anonymous said...

Bob Thiel will only post that which Meredith and his clones tell him to post. That is a fact.

Anonymous said...

'I'm pretty sure had he been one of the original disciples and had to report on the death of Jesus or the betrayal of Jesus by Judas or the denial of Jesus by Peter, it would have ended up in "News of those Once Affiliated with the Fishermen's and Carpenter's Guild."'

Thank you Dennis, that was a hoot.

Anonymous said...

"A few years ago, Dr. Ernest Martin passed away. Bob Thiel made some negative comments regarding Doc Martin's influences on the ACOGs. I felt that he was taking potshots at a defenseless deceased person........"

Thank you Byker Bob for this post, us "Armstrongists" will remember this when you put down a defenseless deceased person. Please attack HWA again.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Bob Thiel will only post that which Meredith and his clones tell him to post. That is a fact.

No, Sir, your comment is a lie.

and Byker Bob, what self-righteous vomit you wrote about attacking a dead, defenseless person.

Anonymous said...

We former Armstrongists aren't "taking potshots" at a defenseless deceased person, we're opposing a defenseless deceased person's pernicious doctrines and practices that have harmed and continue to harm many.

Oh, and Dennis, maybe you never felt like God was answering your prayers to open your eyes to the truth and give you better understanding . . . but you're not an Armstrongist any more, so it seems you might have at least a partially-answered prayer there, right?

Anonymous said...

Dennis, you said:
"sorry for being so blunt and wordy" Don't be!

Your thoughts clearly expressed the disconnect between what we heard for years friom the pulpit and the reality we experienced in our daily lives.

All of the apologists and ACOG ministers out there will simply state that it is "God's will" to intervene when HE chooses.
Simple as that.
Move on.
As a lay member, if you question any further you will be bundled and burned with the rest of the tares.

I cannot speak for others Dennis but the bluntness with which you speak, both here and more clearly in your online articles, has blown the lid off of Pandora's box for me.

Once seen, the ridiculousness of the ACOGs cannot be "unseen"

kscribe said...

To anonymous...."Thank you Byker Bob for this post, us "Armstrongists" will remember this when you put down a defenseless deceased person. Please attack HWA again."

Ernest Martin had not even assumed room temperature when the attacks started.
With the death of Herbie, the celebrations were on immediately! GTA was in a upbeat mood, Ramona was a happy camper and of course Joe Tkach was overjoyed at inheriting the money!

SO WHEN YOUR MASTER SPANKIE DIES OFF VERY SOON, most of us shall allow the family to grieve for a time, then criticize. And most of us shall be more gracious and honest than you have been, here on the AW blog!

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly, I can't recall having attacked any of the deceased ACOG ministers aside from HWA. In fact, as that particular generation has died off, I've either refrained from comment, or found at least one good memory of that person to share. One exception is that I have commented regarding the overall shoddiness of Dr. Herman Hoeh's research, both before and after his passing. I've even gotten in trouble on these sites for itemizing and complimenting some of GTA's abilities and strengths!

Herbert W. Armstrong's philosophy does get confronted and attacked because of all of the damage which it has done. Really, all we need to know about the man is Deut. 18:22. However, there are additional activities of his, which have also come under attack, such as watching Westerns on the Sabbath, drinking coffee or orange juice on the Day of Atonement, racism against blacks and other "gentiles", eating unclean meats at hoity toity banquets to avoid offending dignitaries, excessive drinking so that his son and grandson had to carry him to bed, obtaining medical care when the brethren were forbidden to do the same, getting a prosthesis for his penis so that he could have a meaningful marriage to Ramona, turning a blind eye on GTA and allowing very damaging activities to continue unchecked for so many years, and of course the really big allegation that none of you Armstrongites seem to want to believe. Taken as a group, these well documented activities indicate a pattern of hypocrisy, and mke a strong case for the theory that HWA himself did not even believe his own teachings.

I was not a follower of Dr. Ernest Martin. However, he was a much more honest and thorough scholar than were those who lifted isolated historical or biblical items from their proper context to "prove" Armstrongism. As such, one could make the case that Martin was part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. I realize that to most Armstrongites, alleged Apostleship resolves just about any conflict or problem with their faith. However, there are also those whose loyalty is devoted to truth, and good ethics in finding and proving those truths, as opposed to loyalty to a particular man.

Finally, HWA may be dead, or he may have simply shed his wetsuit. But he is hardly defenseless. You Armstrongites have elevated him to Godhood, and practically have him sitting at the right hand of Jesus Christ!


Anonymous said...

"If my memory serves me correctly, I can't recall having attacked any of the deceased ACOG ministers aside from HWA."

BB, and then you continue to attack a defenseless dead man. BB, please, leave him alone.

Anonymous said...

Fair point, Dennis, about the "unshackled" part. The comment was to be taken in the context of "For the Christian believer...."

It might have been more accurate to say, "From the standpoint of scripture," or something like that.

It was somewhat rhetorical, in other words.

As for the debate that arose regarding the pot-shots at dead people, it appears there is more irony in Mr. Theil's doing so while being dismissive of his former brethren, than there is the other way around. I am not persuaded, in other words, that Dr. Martin exhibited the hypocrisy found in other icons of COGs past.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:58, I'm about finished with you ostriches (or is it mushrooms?).

Knowing the truth about HWA is only half of the process, anyway. The other half involves disproving all of the false doctrines. Isn't it nice that ACOG recovery only involves a two step program? People with other disorders have to work a twelve step program!


Steve said...

"......Finally, HWA may be dead, or he may have simply shed his wetsuit. But he is hardly defenseless. You Armstrongites have elevated him to Godhood, and practically have him sitting at the right hand of Jesus Christ!"


MY COMMENT: BB, you certainly seem to hit the nail right on the head. AMEN to everything in that post!

Steve K

Steve said...

Anonymous said...
"BB, and then you continue to attack a defenseless dead man. BB, please, leave him alone."

MY COMMENT: The kitchen's getting a little hot, eh? I wonder if it would be considered attacking dead men mentioned in the Scriptures, namely, Saul, Solomon, Judas, Simon Magus, etc. Herbie's in "good" worm-eating company.

Steve K

camfinch said...

As regards "attacking" the late HWA vs. Bob Thiel's smear of Ernest Martin before Dr. Martin was in the grave, let me offer my own observation.

When Dr. Martin died, Bob Thiel duly made note on his website, and then, in typical Thiel-ian fashion, gave his own negative remarks about Martin, which to the objective reader sounded smug and dismissive. Thiel knew little or nothing about Ernest Martin, and probably had little or no contact with him. But he could give a bit of a smear to the deceased simply because Martin had departed from the fold of orthodox Armstrongism. And what was orthodox Armstrongism? Whatever Herbert Armstrong concluded was the truth. Dr. Martin had had some doctrinal disagreements with HWA for years, but kept them private, and submitted his arguments, based upon a level of scholarly research that almost no one else in the WCG ever attained (with the possible exception of Dr. Charles Dorothy). He submitted his paper "proving" a Sunday Pentecost a number of times beginning in the early 1960's. He didn't make his disagreements known for many years. He was a true gentleman in his comportment, and gave respect to everyone that he encountered, as best that I can tell. This is definitely not true of many of the top people in Pasadena at the time, and most certainly not true of HWA. When the crisis of 1973-74 was beginning to erupt, Dr. Martin took a "sabbatical" from his work at AC, and soon was publishing his own interpretations of doctrine, some of which were in dispute with orthodox Armstrongism, notably the counting of Pentecost, and tithing. He became persona non grata in the church, although I do believe that quite a number of church members, including ministers, privately respected the man.

As soon as Dr. Martin was "out of the church", HWA began smearing him from the preacher's lecturn. I heard him raging against Martin on more than one occasion, using a strong tone of put-down. HWA could not actually disprove any of Martin's arguments, but he simply condemned Martin via ad hominem attacks. At the time, I was a dedicated Armstrongist, and went along with Armstrong's negative attacks based upon nothing but his own feeling of needing to defend his own "authority". But even at the time, I was inwardly troubled by this uncharitable attitude conveyed by the man I regarded as "God's apostle".

And so when I read Bob Thiel's smarmy put-down of Dr. Martin when the corpse was barely cold, I was angry, and sent him an email to give him mild chastisement. My email was respectful in tone, as all my emails (not that many, really) over the years have been to him when I felt a need to correct errors of detail. But I indicated my dismay at his tone, and informed him of HWA's own ugly negativity that he displayed publicly about Ernest Martin. I believe that I might have copied this email to byker bob, whom I have known for about 35 years. BB sent his own email to Thiel, and he copied me on that. Thiel's response to me was rather more polite than his unncessary rude missive to byker bob.

Look: as byker bob and others have pointed out, there IS a distinct difference between disparaging a dead person who seems to have been a genuinely good person, disparaging him simply because he didn't just accept everything in Armstrongite doctrine without "proving all things". He honestly went about serious research, and honestly tried to get Armstrong and others to at least give some reasonable evaluation of that research, which it seems they did not. There is no need to smear such a man, living or dead. One can honestly disagree with him without using a smearing tone.

On the other hand, the life of HWA seems clearly filled with all manner of dishonesty and megalomania. He claimed authority directly from God; such a claim is so grandiose that by making it he set himself up to be evaluated in all areas of his life, not only in his theology, but in the way he lived his life. He claimed to set an example for the church members, and therefore that example needs to be scrutinized. He established a hierarchical form of church government that commanded the blind allegiance of all church members, and in doing so, essentially claimed the lives of the membership for himself. This is monstrous. What writers on this forum say about HWA is not a disrespect to the dead, because HWA did not lead a life that can command much respect. The life he led left behind a massive heap of litter from which all of us that were in the old regime (and those who are in groups that continue the regime) must sift through. You can't call sewerage anything else but what it is.

Byker Bob's postings on this forum are always in good taste, well-thought-out, and respectful. I think I must concur with Steve: the kitchen may be getting a little hot, stemming from the revelations that are manifest in this forum, and a hot kitchen cooks up hot, angry rhetoric from those trapped in that kitchen.

Anonymous said...

The time of the end is near. You said Dr. Thiel gave you a non-scathing e-mail reply! Wow, You must rate. I had some very nicely worded e-mails to him and had nothing but venom in return. You are fortunate .
rod 2

Anonymous said...


Regarding the e-epistles from us to Dr. Bob, your recollection is correct. You had explained to me what was happening, copied me in on your email, and I felt it was important enough that I contributed to your efforts.

Neither you nor I have been the types of people to totally trash the RCG/WCG, Armstrongism, or Ambassador College. Defective products sometimes work, and sometimes leave one wishing that they did.

I don't even blame the ACOGgers who take me to task for some of my "mild and well-reasoned" posts. Sometimes I wish they'd break free from their Stockholm Syndrome, but alas, I once suffered from it myself, and had no clue that such a thing even existed. The human mind is like a parachute in that it only works when it's open. It is a shame that Jer. 17:9 is used by the ACOGs not so much as a psychological observation that humans are generally ruled by their appetites and emotions, but as a mind-closing tool to enforce cultic teaching.


Anonymous said...

"Who Speaks for the COGs?"
Unfortunately, it is not GOD.

Anonymous said...

HWA was dyslexic. He loved animals, and thought he was setting up an organization based on the love and care of canines. He incorporated as a non-profit church, and intended it to be named the Radio Church of Dog. Unfortunately, his dyslexia kicked in, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Anonymous said...

Greetings Friends around the World!

Its the rebellious contentious ways of the GREAAAT Adversary, Satan the devil at work! Satan's way is the way of GET, ME ME ME ALWAYS ME.

Who indeed speaks for the Church of God? I do! As God's End-Time Elijah-to-Come Apostle, I speak for the Church....if only I could stop spinning in my grave....that young man Rod was always after my job...and that Flurry fellow...never heard of him....did he even go to Ambassador College...and Dear Lord, David Hulme...all puffed up from those TV programs I allowed him to do......