Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Defining HWA Sectarians

Recently I have been making posts seeking to analyze how those who stayed with HWA in the 1970s and continued to follow and teach HWA's doctrines remember past COG events and how others view it.

While making these posts it has occurred to me that I need a term to better describe the situation within the COGs. Saying "those who stayed with HWA in the 1970s and continued to follow and teach HWA's doctrines" is dreadfully unwieldy.

Therefore I shall now refer to them as HWA sectarians.
I define a HWA sectarian as 1) a WCG member who stayed in WCG during the troubles of 1970s and later left WCG because Tkach changed WCG's theology to evangelical Protestantism.
And 2) a COG person who believes (or wants to believe) that HWA bears no responsibility for causing the 1970s turmoil and presents him as not being responsible for the 1970s turmoil.He was merely responding to crises caused by others, they say.
This is to distinguish HWA sectarians from the Armstrongites who left WCG during the various schisms under HWA's rule.

The reason for this is that among Armstrongites who left WCG during HWA's time they remember events in WCG quite differently from those who stayed with WCG in those days. They are often more honest about HWA's character flaws and personal failings that contributed to the troubles. They tend to admit that HWA had character flaws, often quite severe, that caused the troubles.

In contrast HWA sectarians tend to avoid admitting HWA bore responsibility for causing these troubles and tend to give the impression that HWA was rationally responding to crises caused by other people, but that HWA was blameless.

So for my purposes I define the following COGs as HWA sectarian:
Most COG groups formed after Tkach's changes in order to continue perpetuating HWA's doctrines. (But not Dankenbring's group. I will explain why later.)
Any COG that asserts that one could only be a "true Christian" by staying in HWA's WCG during the turmoil of the 1970s.
Philadelphia Church of God

Living Church of God

Restored Church of God

Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God (Weinland)
Any WCG member who continues to believe most of HWA's doctrines.
Church of God - An International Community (Hulme)
Church of God, A Worldwide Association

United Church of God
I hear that there are still some people within WCG/Grace Communion International still continue to believe most of HWA's doctrines but simply stay in WCG because they feel that God has called them to stay in that organization even though the organization has renounced HWA's doctrines. Those persons I would define as HWA sectarians.

I freely admit that because I am not that well versed in the affairs of UCG and its offshoot Cogawa it is possible that I would not classify them as HWA sectarians. If one is willing to consistently admit in print and in public that HWA bears responsibility for helping to cause the 1970s turmoil I would not classify such a person as a HWA sectarian.

The following groups I would define as not being HWA sectarian. Indeed it is to distinguish the HWA sectarians from these COGs groups and members that I felt compelled to coin the term.
Any COG that left WCG while HWA ruled.

Offshoots of any COG that left WCG while HWA ruled.

Church of God International

Church of God the Eternal

Intercontinental Church of God

Triumph Prophetic Ministries
Keith Hunt
WCG members who have embraced Tkach's evangelical Protestant views. (Although I would not classify them as COG at all.)
Because many of these groups left WCG while HWA ruled they often talk about why they felt HWA gave them no choice but to leave WCG.

Church of God the Eternal are somewhat unusual among these COG people because they left WCG because they felt HWA was changing too much. They left WCG in 1974 because they felt HWA had no right to change divorce and remarriage and adopting a Sunday Pentecost. In contrast most other non-HWA sectarian COGs were formed because they felt HWA refused to make necessary changes and was too rigid in his teachings and practices.

I would not classify William Dankenbring or his group Triumph Prophetic Ministries as HWA sectarians because Dankenbring is often describes and condemns HWA's personal faults. He does not try to hide it from his followers or anyone else.

These COG people remind me of Trotskyites. In the 1920s there was a schism within the Communist movement when Stalin cast out Trotsky from governmental roles because he viewed him as a rival and was determined to crush him. Many Communists chose to leave the Communist Parties of their countries and formed political parties aligned with Trotsky. They continued to believe most of the dogmas and assumptions of Soviet Leninist Communism but regarded Stalin and his regime as a negative aberration of Communism as it should be. They were viciously hated by Stalin and his Communists and were often viciously persecuted and even murdered by them.

I still hope to make a few posts about the 1970s turmoil and I wish to be clear in how I use that term. 

I am indebted to Keith Hunt for inspiring me to coin this term. He once used a phrase that is somewhat like the term I have coined: HWA idolater. For my purposes I find that term too polemical.

I am also indebted to sociology which defined a "church" and a "sect" as different things within its jargon. It is partly inspired by these things that I devised this term.

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