Sunday 30 October 2016
Giving air to the sprats
These sprats are hardly representative of the "greater" COG movement. I mean, James Malm? Gimme a break. Bob Thiel is little more (IMHO) than a legend in his own lunchtime. Even PCG with its mega-expensive investments in Edmond can command only a comparatively small membership of loyal donors (did somebody mention 6,000?)
More than that the Packatollah, Mark Armstrong, Weinland et al are doctrinally among the most deviant of the splinters. Bob is a prophet? Do tell! Give them due credit, they're "innovative", but in this case it's hardly a compliment. It's so easy to cite these fringe folk and attribute their bizzareness to "Armstrongism" in general.
Of course this assortment of one-man ministries all trace themselves back to the Herbal Empire. So do a gaggle of polygamist sects to the Mormon and Community of Christ churches. But it would be highly unfair to confuse the more sophisticated LDS and CofC with their dipstick relatives. Similarly, Laestadian Lutherans are a million miles from the ELCA (or even the LCMS); confuse them at your peril.
My point - up for discussion - is that the big targets - the ones aiming for acceptance and respectability - are the ones to go for. Malm and co. are largely distractions, yelling, gibbering and whining from the sidelines. Their leaders inevitably die, and thus the organization, such as it is. Better perhaps to ignore them rather than provide them with unwarranted publicity. UCG, LCG, COGWA are the big three (you could argue PCG's case too). They set the benchmark in latter-day COGism. They're a bit duller and fuzzier than the screechers because they play church more successfully, but they, not the others, are nonetheless the standard bearers of British Israelism, an often oppressive tithing system and a nineteenth-century abuse of Bible texts to justify a silly, and often dangerous, non-understanding of what they call 'prophecy'. And they have the critical mass to survive leadership upheavals.
What do you think?