Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Part 2 of Reading PCG's Booklet, Haggai: Proof of God's Work Today

This post shall now continue looking through Gerald Flurry's booklet, Haggai: Proof of God's Work Today (2004 version). This version is not to be confused with the current 2011 version that is currently distributed by PCG. We continue from Part 1.

In this booklet Gerald Flurry endeavors to prove to readers that PCG is the legitimate successor to HWA's WCG.

Chapter 3

As is true with most of the booklets we have looked through recently Gerald Flurry endeavors to prove to the reader that PCG is the legitimate successor to HWA's WCG.
God wants His people to prove where His work is today. Is God working through the Worldwide Church? Is He working through the Philadelphia Church? Is God working through the Living Church or the United Church? This heated debate needs to be answered! Do you truly know where God’s work is today? Knowing the answer to this question is necessary for your physical protection and essential if you are to gain eternal life.

Do you know how to find God’s work? Only the Bible can reveal to you where God’s one and only work is on Earth today. Haggai contains the key to locating God’s end-time work. (p. 15.)
Of course, considering the author is the founder and leader of PCG, he will say PCG is the true work. Here Flurry speaks with a lot of self adulation for his PCG.
The PCG is not delivering a message for some little tin god. We are delivering to the Laodiceans, Israel and this world the words of the Creator of man, the Creator of angels, and the Creator who made and sustains the entire universe. The Lord of hosts has universe-shaking power. That same power is behind the Philadelphia Church.

How do we know this? Look at what this little Church has accomplished since Dec. 7, 1989. Only 12 people attended our first Sabbath service on December 16. Mr. Amos and I had no income after being fired. We planned to work for the PCG part-time while holding other part-time jobs. God had different plans.

The Philadelphia Church of God is now a worldwide work with God’s message being thundered through the Key of David television program, the Philadelphia Trumpet, and many books and booklets. Who has done this? The staff of the Philadelphia Church? No! The Lord of hosts has done this. The Lord of hosts resides with this little Church. How deeply do we know this? How deeply do we believe this? Are we willing to stake our lives on the fact that God resides in the Philadelphia Church? (p. 17.)
Every other COG also claims that God is with them. While many COG groups are, for pragmatic reasons, not interested in creating a "worldwide work" they all like to think God is with them.

Although Flurry loves to talk about how small PCG started that had long since ceased to be the case. In fact as early as 1995 Gerald Flurry was boasting that PCG had an income of "multiple millions."
Look at how the PCG has grown since Malachi's Message was first mailed just prior to January 16, 1990. Already we have bought and paid for three new buildings with over 8500 square feet and are producing a beautiful monthly magazine that is mailed to tens of thousands of homes in over 80 countries. We have access to hundreds of millions of people with our television program. Our annual income is now into the multiple millions. (Gerald Flurry, The Little Book, 1995 version, p. 7.)
We now continue with Flurry's booklet.
But why was God’s house [the first Temple in Jerusalem] destroyed? The sins of the nation forced God to leave His own house. When God leaves His house, temple or church, it is a very tragic state of affairs. It was a great calamity when Solomon’s temple was destroyed. But it was a far greater catastrophe to let God’s house today collapse spiritually! (p. 18.)
Apparently the Tkach changes were a greater catastrophe then the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC.

Now no doubt the Tkach changes were very traumatic and painful for many within WCG, but it is wrong to claim it was worse than a nation being conquered in war by a foreign power. No doubt many people were killed in the war that destroyed the Kingdom of Judah's independence. Many Jews were forcibly deported to foreign lands. If any of them were alive today I have no doubt they would not be impressed that their terrible suffering is belittled and insulted in this way.

Were any WCG members forcibly deported into strange foreign lands where it was impossible to practice the religion of Armstrongism? Did a foreign power go to war and killed WCG members en masse to subjugate them?

It is wrong for Flurry to belittle the sufferings of the Jewish people of those ancient times in this way.
We have never heard Laodicean leaders openly show scorn for God’s doctrine or work. You’ll never hear them say, “Do not prophesy.” But we do hear, “Let’s get our minds off prophecy.” God calls Laodicean sugar-coating what it is. It is rebellion. When an organization stops doing God’s work, it stops growing. (p. 18.)
Again, who is Flurry talking about? Who are these Laodiceans he condemns here? It is quite accurate to note that the Tkachite WCG chose to not focus on prophecy. However many COG groups continue to prophecy that this and that shall happen in the future. Elsewhere Flurry claims all COG groups aside from PCG are Laodicean. The non-WCG Laodiceans do not even say, Let’s get our minds off prophecy, they continue to prophesy. Why does Flurry say untrue things?
Do the people of God have time to get all caught up with riches and goods in this end of the end time? Even Mr. Armstrong warned us about this carnal condition. Where should our material focus be? On the work. ... Most of God’s people have forgotten why God called us
out of this world today—to do God’s work. That is the only reason we are called “out of season,” or before God calls all humanity. We are here to do God’s work. That is the only way we can be saved! (p. 20.)
Send your money to PCG. Do not worry about your family, children or your own financial condition. The only thing that really matters is supporting the work of PCG.

Some wonder why PCG members are so determined to send so much money to PCG, even to their financial detriment. It is partly because they listen to statements like this.
The Laodiceans also need to glorify God with their work. Today, they have not glorified God. How can teaching against God’s government ever glorify God? It cannot! (p. 21.)
Elsewhere Gerald Flurry defines God's government as one-man rule and Flurry also teaches that it only exists within PCG. (See Isaiah's End-Time Vision, 2013 version, pp. 52, 58 and 75.) Although many COG groups practice one-man rule Flurry insists they are illegitimate because God is not with them according to him. In other words Flurry is futilely condemning all other COG groups for not unquestioningly submitting to Gerald Flurry's rule. 
Remember, Haggai shows us that the Laodiceans are choking spiritually and do not realize it. Their main spiritual problem is that they are focused on physical things (verse 4). (p. 22.)
Here Flurry condemns the Laodiceans for focusing on physical things. How can Flurry condemn that kind of behavior when he decided to squander the equivalent of more than PCG's annual income in building Armstrong Auditorium? It cost $25 million. PCG's annual income as of 2012 was only $19.5 million according to his one of Gerald Flurry's booklets. It seems to me Flurry is very focused on a certain physical thing named Armstrong Auditorium.

(It should also be noted that the figure for 2012 is in fact lower than PCG's annual income for 2010 which was $20.6 million according to Stephen Flurry.)
The Laodiceans have lofty goals. They speak out with religious emotion. They appear to have righteous motives. They claim exalted titles and great numbers of ministers, yet they have rejected God’s government and work. The Laodicean groups will never succeed as they desire. (p. 23.)
According to Flurry "God’s government and work" is only to be found in PCG. So essentially Flurry is futilely complaining that the COGs refuse to unquestioningly submit themselves to Flurry's rule. "They claim exalted titles and great numbers of ministers, yet they have rejected" the church I lead, we could translate that statement. Does not sound very graceful that way, but that is what Flurry is actually saying here.
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah conveyed complimentary messages to the same people. Mr. Armstrong relied heavily on these two books while doing God’s work. ... This verse shows that Zerubbabel learned to build the temple through God’s Spirit. Herbert Armstrong learned to build through God’s Spirit. Mr. Armstrong preached the gospel, founded the Church, established a college and organized the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation solely through the use of God’s Holy Spirit. Mr. Armstrong accomplished much in his life—but the power was God’s! (p. 23.)
How did HWA rely heavily on Haggai while building up WCG? I do not believe that statement. Flurry is wrong on this point.

HWA did often quote certain passages from Zechariah but I cannot recall ever getting the impression that Haggai was particularly important for his teachings.

Also I find strange that Flurry should be so adulatory towards HWA's establishment of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. In fact that Foundation was a major reason why there was so much turmoil within WCG during the 1970s. Many WCG members wondered why so much money was being spent for this Foundation and HWA's visits to world leaders while WCG congregations languished with little resources, despite the great income WCG enjoyed. Why was HWA so embarrassed of his WCG when meeting with world leaders that he needed to create this Foundation in order to obscure his role as a religious leader?  Many WCG members viewed the Foundation as part of an attempt by Stanley Rader to place himself as the number two man within WCG. All this is one part of WCG history that Flurry avoids.

After this he then fear mongers about an end time Joshua, apparently either Tkach Sr. or Tkach Jr. in Flurry's teachings. This is a doctrine from his booklet, Malachi's Message. Actually it is widely known that many of the ideas within Malachi's Message were plagiarized from The Letter to Laodicea by Jules Dervaes, written December 1986-January 1988. It was sent to 237 WCG ministers including Gerald Flurry and John Amos. In fact on September 26, 1990 Jules Dervaes sent a letter to Gerald Flurry in which he denounces Malachi's Message as "a direct and clear plagiarism" of his work.

Chapter 4
Do any of the Laodicean groups understand the book of Haggai? Only in a general way. When will they understand it? When they repent of their rebellion against God’s government and law. The Laodiceans will not obey our message because they have a problem with God. They refuse to hear “the voice of the Lord.” They do not fear God enough to obey Him. Why would they ever listen to His warning message? A large number of people and ministers is not a high priority with God. What’s important to God is fear and obedience! (p. 26.)
When Flurry writes that other COG groups need to "repent of their rebellion against God’s government and law" he is actually demanding they just abandon what they have built for themselves and join PCG or be damned in the Great Tribulation.

The last statement is also intriguing in that it indicates that Gerald Flurry is more concerned to have "fear and obedience" among PCG ministers and members then having a large following. It would appear Flurry wants obedient followers more than a large following.
The PCG is God’s end of the end-time remnant. (p. 26.)
It has been nineteen years since this booklet was first published, ten years since this version of the booklet has been published. The Great Tribulation does not appear to be any closer since then.
Like Zerubbabel’s temple work, the PCG has had the humblest of beginnings. When Mr. Amos and I were fired, we knew God had given us His message. Only 12 people attended the first Sabbath service. We looked to Mr. Armstrong’s life as an example of how to do the work. My first “campaign-type” trip was into the state of Missouri. That is all the Church income would allow. This first trip was a very small beginning. (p. 27.)
Flurry loves to boast about how small PCG was initially. It did not stay that way for long. As early as 1995 Flurry was boasting that PCG had an annual income in the "multiple millions" as is seen above.
Sometimes we can make some faulty comparisons of ourselves with Laodicean groups. Humanly, we can look at the numbers and then question ourselves. But God warns us not to look at numbers, but to look to Him. (p. 29.)
In other words he is telling PCG members to pay no attention to the fact that UCG and Global COG (then later LCG) happen to be larger than PCG and have more famous WCG leaders among them.

Do not ask why so many WCG members appear unconvinced of PCG's legitimacy.

Do not ask why there may be fewer PCG members at any particular time.

Do not ask if (or why) there are more injustices among PCG compared to other COG groups.

PCG is the one and true church. Stay here.

Conveniently for Flurry if PCG members are persuaded that they must stay in PCG then they will continue to pay three tithes and extra offerings to PCG.
The God who created the universe and all of the holy angels is with the PCG. In verse 5, God encourages us to fear not. With the Lord of hosts behind us, whom should we fear? Are we fearless people? We have universe-shaking power behind us. Though the work may be difficult, we should remain festive and fearless while doing it. (p. 29.)
Why do so many PCG members remain in it despite the well documented problems that are there? Partly it is because they listen to words like this and believe them, or at least believe them enough, to remain in PCG. They think this great power is with them in PCG and that it will be gone should they leave or get shunned.

This next section is intriguing and deserves to be quoted at length. (Italics and capitals are Flurry's.)
What is God telling us here? He is showing that after Mr. Armstrong passes from the scene and just before Jesus Christ returns, THERE IS ONLY GOING TO BE A SINGLE, BRIEF SPACE OF TIME. Then God is going to shake the heavens, the Earth, the sea and the dry land. In other words, the PCG only has a very brief space of time to complete its work. There is only a brief span of time for God to determine who is Philadelphian and who is Laodicean. There is only a little time to determine who will be in Ezekiel’s temple in the World Tomorrow. Then God says He is going to fill “this house” with glory.

When we realize what God is doing through the PCG, it should be hard not to become so excited that we become almost dizzy with exhilaration. But we are humans. Sometimes we can slip into a moaning and groaning type of complaining, wishing we were back in Egypt, or the world. ...

God gave us His Spirit at our conversion. Nothing has changed. We still have God’s Spirit and God is with us. We should not fear or COMPLAIN. We must always remember that our future is going to be full of glory.

When Christ returns, the Church will be given its proper place in this world. The Church will be given prominence. Jesus Christ will share His glory with us so we can get a job done. Our future is going to be breathtaking. (pp. 29-30.)
"THERE IS ONLY GOING TO BE A SINGLE, BRIEF SPACE OF TIME....the PCG only has a very brief space of time to complete its work", Flurry says. It is now nineteen years since this booklet was first published, ten years since this version was published. Did PCG members then expect this world to still be here nineteen or ten years later?

"There is only a brief span of time for God to determine who is Philadelphian and who is Laodicean." 

What Flurry really means here is that he is demanding that the reader join PCG immediately so that he or she can start sending money into PCG's coffers right away. PCG already raked in "multiple millions" as early as 1995 so Flurry just wants more money, more members and more power.

He is also crudely intimidating the reader (most likely a WCG member or ex-WCG member) by insinuating that the reader will be damned in the Great Tribulation unless he or she joins PCG right now. He creates a sense of crisis in the reader in hopes of making the reader panic.

"We should not fear or COMPLAIN."

So if any PCG member sees something wrong that member is told he or she is the problem by complaining. So the problem which causes such complaining is stubbornly not addressed.
All the silver and gold in Solomon’s temple is a mere pittance compared to the spiritual riches God is building in our lives. The eventual spiritual glory God is going to shower us with cannot be compared with physical wealth. (p. 30.)
My word! Look at how PCG members are inculcated with this elitism that they are more important and are more privileged then anyone in the world, even more privileged then these distinguished Biblical forerunners of the faith. PCG members are told to think that knowing PCG's teachings is that important. No wonder so many PCG members develop such skewed priorities in life.
What Mr. Armstrong taught is the foundation of God’s temple in this end time. ... God’s Laodicean people could turn everything around today. God would bless them starting today, if they would only turn back to Him, His law and government. This very day can be so decisive in the life of a Laodicean. (p. 32.)
But elsewhere Flurry teaches that God's "government" can only be found within PCG. This is Flurry simply demanding WCG members and members of other COG groups join PCG and start paying three tithes to him immediately.

Flurry ends this booklet with these words. Unsurprisingly he concludes that PCG, the group he started and leads, is the one, true church one must join to escape the Great Tribulation.
If we want to find God’s work on Earth today, we must go back to the beginning of the Philadelphia era and examine stone by stone how Mr. Armstrong built the temple of God. God’s work and Church on Earth, in our time now, will be a replica of what Herbert Armstrong built. God’s only work, or Church, will fully embrace the law and government as established and taught by Mr. Armstrong. Haggai shows us that God’s very elect will know who the end-time Zerubbabel was and that these people will be gladly following in his footsteps.

The book of Haggai gives full proof that the Philadelphia Church of God is God’s end of the end-time work! (p. 33.)
Does PCG "fully embrace the law and government as established and taught by Mr. Armstrong"? If so why did PCG for their own convenience change at least three of HWA's writings, Mystery of the Ages, The Proof of the Bible and Who or What is the Prophetic Beast?

PCG's leaders, including Gerald Flurry, removed the section in HWA's Mystery of the Ages in which he teaches that Prophets under the New Testament dispensation had no authority over lay members. HWA taught this continuously from 1953 till his death. This contradicts Gerald Flurry's claim to be That Prophet, which he has taught since 1999.

Comparing the 2004 Version with the Current 2011 Version

As I suspected in Part 1 the current 2011 version is quite different.

First of all the 2011 version has been renamed Haggai: God has Begun to Shake the Nations. The 2004 version was named Haggai: Proof of God's Work Today. It should also be noted that PCG's booklet entitled Hosea also has changed in a similar manner, from emphasizing the recruitment of ex-WCG members to a greater focus on the supposedly soon coming apocalypse.

Also the 2011 version has only two chapters, whereas the 2004 version had four chapters.

The section regarding Zerubbabel as being a signet ring is placed at the start of the booklet (pp. 2-4.) and not at the end as it is in the 2004 version (pp. 32-3.).

Also the 2011 version is sprinkled with references to the court case with WCG. That is not mentioned at all in the 2004 version.

There is also a lot more speculation about world events and claiming they point to the beginning of the Great Tribulation. (See pp. 13-15 for instance.) Such things are rarely discussed in the 2004 version.

Flurry also claims certain scriptures in Haggai actually refer to PCG's Armstrong Auditorium. It is referred to as "God's House" in that section (pp. 11-13.). Of course Armstrong Auditorium was never mentioned in the 2004 version. It was not built then. If Flurry really is That Prophet why did he not see that Haggai was talking about Armstrong Auditorium before he had it built?

What a way to justify spending more money than PCG's annual income on a building that few PCG members will benefit from. Flurry claims it was prophesied to be built in the Bible.

Chapter 1 ends with these words, "The book of Haggai gives full proof that the Philadelphia Church of God is God’s end-of-the-end-time Work!" (p. 22.) In the 2004 version this was the end of the booklet.

Chapter 2 is much more similar to the 2004 version. Practically all of it is preserved from the 2004 version. Of course topics have been rearranged.

The 2011 version ends with these words.
One leading evangelist said that he would have come into the PCG if we had contacted him. Think deeply about that statement for a moment. Can God really use a person who has that attitude? What is God looking for in an evangelist or any minister? God needs men who can recognize His messenger. God wants men who have the spiritual ability to recognize His message. This is the kind of minister or member God can use. Why do people come to the PCG? Because God has stirred up His Spirit in them. We do not bring people into this Church through human effort, or human personalities, or through ministerial position. God’s Spirit draws people to us! (p. 33.)
In the 2004 version this was placed in page 27. The later sections are placed elsewhere within the 2011 version. I will say that the 2004 version's ending was more elegant then this latest 2011 version.


So we see that once again Gerald Flurry strives to convince people that PCG is the only legitimate successor to HWA's WCG.

He claims to have received new revelation from God, namely that Haggai is also all about the Tkach changes, the rise of PCG in opposition to that, PCG members will go to the Place of Safety and all others will be left behind.

He claims Haggai prophesied the construction of Ambassador Auditorium (then he claimed it prophesied Armstrong Auditorium).

So we see this is just another booklet Gerald Flurry has written in order to gain more triple tithes paying members and get a bigger income off of PCG members by claiming to be the only true successor to HWA's WCG. He seems to do this quite frequently.

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