Saturday, 28 November 2009
Borg Alert! New Cube Over Edmond
LCG and UCG can relax - at least for the moment - this time it's Gerry Flurry, imperious leader of the Philadelphia Church of God, and Robert Ardis, one of PCG's more colorful defectors, who are facing a Borg challenge. Frank Borg, to be specific. Exactly why the new splinter - Faithful Church of God in Laodicea - split off from the collective is hard to say, but it seems to be a fairly recent peeling away, perhaps just a few weeks prior to this year's Feast of Tabernacles. The new sect's two booklets (both by Frank) are dated 2009, and the website still seems to be a work in progress.
There are some who might say that Borg is an apt moniker for sects like PCG and Ardis' CGF, and the image of Gerry as "Borg Queen" does have a certain undeniable attraction. Here's Borg's take on the latest COG hemorrhage:
By 1997, it began to transpire that Mr. Flurry’s focus and commission had changed to again deliver the gospel message to the World – a commission that had already been completed by Mr. Armstrong (Matt. 24:14). Around this time God raised up another man, Mr. Robert Ardis, as leader of the Church of God’s Faithful (CGF) to head His Laodicean Work. God used Mr. Ardis to reveal a number of Truths including the deepening in understanding of the meaning of God’s Holy Days, and other vital teachings such as the fact that the Day of the Lord and the Day of the Lord’s Wrath are two separate events. To date, no other group has accepted these Biblical Truths. It became evident that, with Mr. Ardis as leader, the Laodicean candlestick was ignited and blessed with deeper understanding in a number of Biblical areas. However, Mr. Ardis also preached that the Day of the Lord came ‘as a thief in the night’ in October 1997. As time passed, the Laodicean characteristics outlined in Rev. 3:14-22 became increasingly evident in Mr. Ardis’ CGF, including a Laodicean attitude towards the Work of God (vs. 15). Among other things, by mid-August 2009, it became clear that the ‘Day of the Lord’ had not in fact occurred but was erroneously being preached. Biblical evidence proved that this momentous event is now about to occur and that an urgent warning message must go out to God’s people (Joel 1:15; 2:1). This vital information was immediately delivered to Mr. Ardis but was blatantly rejected (Hos. 4:6).
God seems to keep choosing the wrong blokes, regardless of whether their candlesticks are ignited. Maybe he should hire a consultancy firm.
Perhaps it's too much to hope that this group will be more of a thorn in the flesh to Gerry than most other Flurridian split-offs, but it does boast a mailing address in Edmond, OK., right on "that prophet"'s doorstep. Nasty!
Resistance, it seems, may not be futile after all.
Are We All Excited Yet?
The United Church of God has a mission, which is to announce to the world the teachings of Jesus Christ. Further, the Church desires to prepare those that receive the gospel for the Kingdom of God. Understanding that many people have difficulty comprehending the true meaning of God’s Word; the Church has gone to great efforts to create bible study lessons that are designed to alleviate any misunderstandings.
The altruism of the Churches of God continually amazes me, and here, as you can see, is a sterling example.
... many people are confused by biblical scripture. Because the United Church of God wants so desperately to assist others with their journey and exploration of the Bible, they not only offer online bible study lessons, but they are provided free of charge.
Yes, you're probably all choked up, just as I am, at the selfless generosity of the lads in Milford. Imagine all those hours poring over volumes in the Hermeneia commentary series, consulting scholars in the leading universities...
What's that you say? They did no such thing? What do you mean, "they winged it."? Pardon me, please explain what you mean by "not new"? The press release says NEW. Hang on, let's check the PDF of lesson 1, after all they'd hardly put out a November 2009 press release to promote something with a copyright date of 1997 now would they!
Well, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, even if it is a very stale pudding indeed, so you can check out the value of these fine "new" lessons for yourself (if haven't already, long ago) by clicking over to http://www.ucg.org/bible-study/bible-study-lessons.htm. Who knows, you might learn something profound and life changing, unlocking those crucial questions the PR refers to. On the other hand, maybe it's the usual manipulative drivel. That'd certainly be my opinion, having had a look at some of these not-so-new "new" lessons years ago. But top marks to Team Milford for putting PR lipstick on a very old porker without batting an eyelid.
There is something new in the wind though. Brace yourself for wonderful really-new study guides from UCG. These are apparently new, so new that so far you can only access a sample lesson, and the details are over on Mike Bennett's blog. In fact Mike seems to be one of the shakers and movers on this project. I'm not sure what Mike's qualifications are for such a demanding task, but maybe he has the complete set of Hermeneia volumes...
Our team of dedicated writers has already written 45 lessons on everything from the armor of God to dealing with unemployment, and we are eagerly waiting to get them up on the Web!
Well, no, maybe not.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Stop it Bob, you'll go blind!
Do none of these self-declared experts remember the fiasco about Franz Joseph Strauss?
Simple answer: yes, but they're humming loudly to themselves and pretending they don't.
So along comes Herman Van Rompuy, and the screaming doom-casters, having learned nothing, are at it again.
Bob Thiel, Th.D (Kochi, India) has this to say on his blog.
Herman Van Rompuy has pledged to raise taxes. And since he is not the final King of the North, if Daniel 11:20 has a final fulfillment and he dies early, the following may apply to him:
You're wading way out into the quicksand there Bob.
There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle (Daniel 11:20).
... I believe that while Herman Van Rompuy is not likely to be the one that is the final King of the North, he may help set the stage for that leader to rise up. And if he fulfills his comments about raising taxes, he certainly could be considered as a person who fulfills Daniel 11:20.
The hilarious thing is that Bob is posturing as the cautious commentator vis-à-vis the truckload of manure that the Flurry sect is spouting on this issue. He doesn't seem to have succeeded!
Let's be honest. Franz Joseph Strauss had zero prophetic significance. That's obvious in hindsight, but it was also obvious at the time to anybody who bothered to look into the genre of biblical writing.
Herman Van Rompuy has zero prophetic significance. You don't need to wait to find that out, it's completely obvious right now.
Daniel 11:20 has nothing to do with Herman Van Rompuy. Does Bob (or Gerry) not possess a decent commentary to refer to? (Possibly not, as they'd consider such a thing "worldly.")
Herbert Armstrong and his "hanger-onners" had zero prophetic insight.
Gerry Flurry's prophetic insight scores in negative numbers. Zero flatters him.
Bob Thiel has zero prophetic insight.
This is where all the nonsense about "watch world news" falls apart. The Bible can't be aligned with the newspaper headlines of today (or Time cover articles), any more than it could in the 1930s or 1970s. The whole enterprise is doomed to failure, although a convincing performance may line the pockets of those who claim otherwise.
It may cause folk to feel special if they delude themselves about having an inside-track on world events, but sooner or later they - and often their loved ones - are going to have to pay.
Across on Mike Bennett's blog is one of those gratuitous postings on the perils of taking the Lord's name in vain. It's called "Signs of perilous times: blasphemers." Here's the irony: the very same people who are horrified by gosh or darn seem deliriously happy when someone climbs up into the pulpit and talks utter rubbish in God's name, claiming - on God's authority - to identify prophetic significance where there is absolutely none. Again, think of all that inane speculation about Strauss and Otto von Habsburg.
Now that really is taking God's name in vain.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Mormon dissent and the Tkach sect
But all that glitters is not gold, and the WCG paradigm is probably not the one to emulate.
(The Called to be Free video is available to view in full online.)
Friday, 20 November 2009
Afflictions of the Righteous
Oh, wait... hmm.
But never mind, here at AW we're happy to express our unqualified support for the holy martyrs (Ron, Laura and Audra) - tastefully conveying our best wishes via this image of an IRS pencil sharpener. Hopefully Ron will, um, get the point.
Monday, 16 November 2009
The disappearing ThD
Version 1: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools. A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Version 2: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA like T of CU, where a Th.D. in Early Christianity was earned). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Version 3: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.
Now you see it, now you don't. It remains to be seen whether Bob has done irreparable damage to his credibility by fudging on this issue.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Flying in to Cincinnati
So far all we have are questions, but it seems indisputable that UCG has indeed been blessed with "interesting times."
A new COG to check out - sort of
There's a spoof site called Best Church of God, motto: "We read the Bible so you don't have to," and drawing inspiration from Proverbs 3:5 (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, in your own intelligence rely not.) No, it's not an Armstrong splinter, but it's definitely good enough to be given honorary status! It's Landover Baptist with a biblically sanctioned name.
But here's the rub. One of the BCOG pages features those ubiquitous Google ads, and guess which organizations feature prominently?
Yes, proudly peddling their "literature" at Best Church of God are UCG and the Pack cult. Very ecumenical.
It somehow seems appropriate!
Friday, 13 November 2009
An Evolving Creation
While the tone of this article may read a little strangely to those in the Church of God tradition (we're hardly the author's primary audience), there are some important points made that are relevant to anyone wanting to avoid parking their brain in order to protect their faith. It won't satisfy the fundamentalists (it'd never make the cut in The Good News), nor those who have a thorough-going secular view, but if you are someone who finds truth a more subtle, contrary reality, then you might find it a welcome alternative to rigidities on both extremes.
Clue 1: this fellow's name appeared frequently as a correspondent on AW - both the old version and the current blog. A voice of reason and moderation here that earned much respect.
Clue 2: he seems to have now channeled his energies into politics - this photo was taken in the election year of 2008.
Unrelated observation: it's interesting to note the political choices people make when they leave a marginal religious culture like WCG (and its clones.) Often it's to a similarly non-mainstream group. One of the original collaborators with John Trechak on Ambassador Report took on a leading role with the Libertarian Party, as I recollect it. But no, we're not talking about the Libertarians in association with the gentleman above.
Who will be the first non-anonymous reader to identify our man of mystery?
Postscript: Mike of Flavor Aid fame took it out at the first reply, even providing a link which includes a far more flattering photo. The source for this photograph is here.
Scott has that unwanted feeling...
How Do I Cancel My Subscriptions And Stop Getting Free Literature From Church Websites & Have My Info Removed?
Egad! Free literature from churches? Which churches could the correspondent possibly be referring to?
I want to cancel my subscriptions from getting free literature from those church websites that you can request free literature from, I have enough free books and magazine from them, I just got 2 magazines today from Good News,
I want all of my information to be removed from the following sites
The United Church Of God
The Philadelphia Church Of God
and all other sites, does anyone know how do I do that??
Quick as a flash, Scott Ashley, GN editor and COE member, shot off this helpful response.
I work for the United Church of God. All you need to do is write to email@example.com and request that your name and e-mail address(es) be removed from all lists. Be sure to include all e-mail addresses you might have used and the mailing address to which the publications were sent. They should stop immediately, with the exception of anything that might already be in the mail.
Good work Scott. Honestly, if folk put their names on a list, they've got to expect to get what they sent for. And honestly, I used to get more upset about all those stupid Reader's Digest promotions than anything one of the COGs sent out.
But wait, what's wrong with that plea to Philadelphia 10? Oh no, please don't draw it to Bob Thiel's attention, the complainant only mentions UCG and PCG, not... oh ghastly, where's the LCG?! Quick, someone send out a copy of Tomorrow's World!
Thursday, 12 November 2009
2012 - 1936
1936: The Second Coming
America’s heartland is literally covered in dust as Hitler begins exterminating Europe’s Jewish population amid a worldwide depression. Not surprisingly, evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong finds a ready audience for his message that Jesus will start the world over from scratch in 1936. (When that doesn’t happen, Armstrong revises his apocalypse deadline to 1975.)
(Thanks to "DP" for the tip-off)
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
A response to WCG/GCI's position on Creation and Evolution
I just carefully read through Rex Morgan’s article “Creation, Evolution or both?” – and while I applaud it in general, in terms of it being written by a GCI minister, still, there are many areas where the author’s knowledge is seriously lacking.
The general theme of the article attempts to produce a seamless integration of the mystical worldview of faith-based Christianity with the empirical fact-based methods of science. This is nothing new – fundamentalist creationist writers of every stripe and color try to do this all the time.
Morgan writes: “Christians and scientists haven't always been in conflict. In fact the Christian faith was instrumental in the early development of scientific observation from the 1200s onward, particularly in mediaeval Europe. People like Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Bacon, Pasteur and many other leading early scientists were men of deep Christian faith and conviction. Galileo believed that he was revealing the laws of God in his work.”
Well, not quite. This is a complex subject that cannot be candy-coated so easily. Let me just say that it involves considerably more cultural factors than most are willing to consider. In reality, the many experimental procedures summarized under the umbrella term “scientific method” represented an extremely foundational and serious DEPARTURE from supernatural revelation as a means of gaining accurate knowledge of the natural world, which Christian faith had promoted up until that time, and still promotes to this day.
And the clear effects such supernatural methods had upon the societies it influenced when it had both widespread and powerful influence are a matter of history. Historians call it the Dark Ages for a reason, as it represented extremely serious declines in human well-being and progress in general.
The fact that many of the early forerunners of what eventually became known as modern science had theological beliefs doesn’t necessarily lead to the foregone conclusion that such beliefs actually inspired their research methodology. In some cases it no doubt did, but on the whole this is a myth heavily promoted by Christianity. Christianity and Islam both claim credit for practical real-world advances that benefit man’s life (in other words, the fruits of science) that they could have NEVER originated themselves within the stifling context of their supernatural ideologies. The Medieval Dark Ages, the period in which both Christianity and Islam grew and spread rapidly, and thus enjoyed significant cultural impact within, represented a time period of major cultural and academic decline, especially in Christian Europe.
Christianity and Islam, far from inspiring methods like science, often did all they could to suppress them, with few notable exceptions. St. Augustine was asked the question: “What was God doing before He created the world?” he answered, “Preparing hell for those who asked unnecessary questions!”
Augustine further wrote: “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity…It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing, and which man should not wish to learn.”
And yet Christianity wants to champion Augustine's writings ALONG SIDE the highly successful enterprise of science, and actually claim that the former actually inspired, promoted and served as a philosophical foundation leading to the latter?! This is not warranted by the actual historical record.
Morgan further writes: “Darwin himself presented his theory of evolution as a concept compatible with belief in God.”
Well again, sort of, at least at first, simply because he did not want to cause a public stir in general by directly confronting the religious sentiments of the time, nor offend the feelings of his dear and devout Christian wife specifically, because they shared a wonderfully close and intimate relationship together. The historical record is indisputable on this.
Darwin’s book (Origins) published in November of 1859 did not broach the subject of evolution as it pertained to human beings. This is perfectly true. Darwin was bright enough to fully realize the devastating body-blow his theory, if true, was going to deal to popular supernatural religious beliefs pertaining to the origins question.
However, by his 1871 book “The Descent of Man” Darwin WAS applying evolutionary thinking to man’s origins. So Morgan is not informing his readers of the ENTIRE historical story.
Morgan further states: “In the frontispiece to the first edition of The Origin of Species, he included a quote from the Anglican clergyman and philosopher William Whewell proclaiming that God doesn’t act by constant miracles but ‘by the establishment of general laws’. This was followed by a quote from Sir Francis Bacon stating that true understanding must be sought both ‘in the book of God’s word and in the book of God’s works’, referring to scripture and nature. The Origin of Species itself contains several references to the Creator, and the final sentence states ‘There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one…’ ”
Morgan continues: “In the sermon at Darwin’s funeral, in Westminster Abbey, the Reverend Frederick Farrar said that Darwin’s theory posed no threat to belief in God, and that Darwin had enabled people to read “many hitherto undeciphered lines in God’s great epic of the universe.’ ’’
Again, technically true, however, Morgan fails to inform his readers about “the rest of the story”: the fact that a great stir arose among the clergy upon Darwin’s death over whether his body be interred at Westminster Abbey.
Morgan mentions the Clergy Letter Project. I know Dr. Michael Zimmerman, the man who started this project. But what the letter actually says - even though to date Zimmerman has accumulated over 12,000 clergymen signatures - is not what the vast majority of Christians believe (and most certainly not the COG ministry):
“We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.”
We’ve barely begun to analyze just the first few paragraphs of Morgan’s article and we observe that, while not totally false, it is nonetheless extremely incomplete in it’s initial assertions, ignoring many other facts that give the overall account an entirely different meaning.
Anybody can do this with an article if they are highly-selective in the facts they are willing to use. But the ENTIRE ARRAY of facts we have access to presents a very different, a more accurate, and a considerably more interesting story.
The bottom line is this: one can no more synthesize supernatural faith and empirical reason together any more than one can permanently bring oil and water together. The two represent diametrically opposite methods of knowledge acquisition.
One is mystical — the other is rational. One is based upon subjective feelings, pre-scientific ancient tradition and dogmatic rigidity — the other on tangible facts, empirical evidence, rigorous rationality and always willing to refine itself based upon further information. One has an extremely violent historical track record — the other has greatly alleviated the pain of the human condition. One is oriented toward death in this world — the other toward the promotion of life. Each is as alien to the other as war is to peace.
Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Fides et Ratio, could say lofty things like: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth….” — but the everyday reality of this conceptual integration is another thing entirely.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
More interesting to me was the list of WCG congregations appearing inside the mag. Maybe someone else can refresh our collective memory on where they existed in times past, but now only four are mentioned: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington (all in the North Island) and Invercargill, the last Southern holdout. Whatever happened to Christchurch? Hamilton?
Inside Life is attractively laid out, but I doubt it'll do much if anything to stem the tide of decline.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
1968 - selling the End of the World
Talk about messing with your head! Here, as listed on Covering 1968, are some clips from the text.
“It was never like this before”
“All of a sudden what’s happened? It was never like this before.
“Unsafe to walk on streets–in city or in town! Your house may be broken into if you’re away! Crime rampant, even in residence areas!
“Student revolt in 20 countries–violence on campuses. Disheveled hippies lolling about aimlessly.
“Unhappy marriages–increasing divorce– juvenile delinquency! WHY this sudden breaking down of family life?
“Racial strife, mass demonstrations, riots, looting, VIOLENCE! And threat of nuclear war!”
. . . “Many scientists are frightened! They and even military leaders are now using such phrases such as ‘Armageddon’–and ‘the end of the world.’ Humanity’s BIG problem, now, is SURVIVAL!”Which leads one to wonder, would a major mainstream magazine today run an ad like this? Would Reader's Digest accept an ad for PCG's Malachi's Message? Could LCG promote Armageddon and Beyond in TV Guide?
How about the racist trash that parades as the key to biblical prophecy? How likely is it that a full page ad for UCG's The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy could appear in O: The Oprah Magazine?
Of course, anything can be (and is) promoted on the Internet, but perhaps not with the veneer of respectability that Life lent to Herbert Armstrong back in 1968.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
I'd prefer "The Plain Truth Banned"!
Greg, Greg, Greg, ya gotta protect da name, man!
These South African folk won an award for their music DVD in 2008. Maybe someone in Pasadena could introduce it to the nice people at Harvest Rock, so they can, um, rock the auditorium with it?
Yes, I know you want to hear a sample, but be warned brethren, I don't think either Dwight Armstrong or Ross Jutsum wrote this...
Friday, 6 November 2009
Bob meets Billy the Brain
"Billy the Brain" was generous to Dr Bob ("you have done your homework, sir"), listing his many splendid academic accomplishments (did you know Bob has written seven books?) before launching out into the topic of 2012. Strangely enough, there was no mention of the disputed Th.D. Hmm. That didn't stop Billy from touting his guest as an "absolute expert": obviously he's easily impressed. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but having had to wing it through a few situations myself from time to time, I got the distinct impression that "the Brain" had only just picked up the book and skimmed the chapter heads before going on air, and thought Bob was there to "debunk" the movie that is coming out next week.
Credit where credit is due though, COGdom's favorite naturopath came across reasonably well, and he didn't get sidetracked into Sabbaths and other red-herring issues, but stayed focused throughout. Not even a free plug for the Living Church of God or Tomorrow's World.
And how many callers did Bob attract? Well, zilch, zip, nada. Sad. It's doubtful that Bob will make his fortune selling this thing, and even if he did, well, there wouldn't really be time to spend it anyway would there?
Oh, and yes, while Bob won't commit to 2012, he nonetheless assured Billy that the End is scheduled for the next decade. When LCG collapses, could it be that Bob cuts free and establishes himself as the Willie Dankenbring for a new generation?
Monday, 2 November 2009
On the other hand, I read and digested more 2012-related garbage that I would ever want to do again. For instance, I’m not sure if it will make the DVD, but we created a clip in which we toss book after book onto a table, each one professing to contain 2012-related wisdom, knowledge and prophecy.
It seems Wally is a skeptic, on 2012 if nothing else. No mention here, let alone endorsement, of fellow LCG member and eminent scholar Bob Thiel (Th.D) and his recent book 2012 and the Secret Sect though. Could it be that Bob's magnum opus was one of those books Wally tossed onto the table? "Wisdom, knowledge and prophecy" are a Thiel specialty! Wally mentions that he spent time with a Mayan scholar ("a Ph.D. in Mesoamerican cultures who was a Maya expert") who was also, it seems, a closet devotee of British Israelism.
In other research, he had also come to his own conclusions about the identity of the ten “lost tribes” of Israel, which — though done without contact with our church — correlated incredibly very well with exactly what we teach of them and of the United States and Great Britain in the Living Church of God — but that is a tale for another day.
Of course Wally isn't about to identify this genius.
Wally is the LCG's expert on 2012, and has both written a feature article about it in the latest Tomorrow's World, and recorded a television program which will air when the 2012 movie is released just over a week from now. But wouldn't you have thought the TW editorial team would have been falling over themselves to get Bob Thiel to write this article, considering Bob not only holds the sole Th.D in the church, but has just written a full-length book on this subject?
Just as mysteriously, there is still no comment or clarification from Bob about the legitimacy of that very same Th.D which he recently added to his resume. As someone recently pointed out, Bob's sudden elevation to doctor of theology - assuming it was the real thing - would be a huge asset for the intellectually under-endowed sect. If however it's little more than a vanity degree that Bob picked up from a shonky operation in India, then Bob could well be the butt of an awful lot of humor at the Charlotte HQ.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Li'l Herbal Hombre
(Shamelessly snatched from Jim West's blog)