Monday, June 23, 2014

Part 2 of Reading PCG's Booklet, Ezra and Nehemiah

Let us now continue reading Gerald Flurry and Dennis Leap's booklet, Ezra and Nehemiah: Building God's Temple. This booklet was first published in 1997. It was later revised in 2005. You can read the current version of this booklet on their website. That is the same version I am reading for this post.

We now continue from Part 1.

Chapter 4

So here Flurry and Leap talk about how the Jews celebrated Passover
They all kept God’s Passover together. The only way that this kind of purity and unity can be achieved is through government. True unity can only come with God’s government. (p. 32.)
Do as you are told.
How much impurity and evil is there in division? Division reveals many sins. The very recent history of the God’s Laodicean church shows us the corruption caused by division. The Laodicean ministers are not unified. Many ministers seriously disagree with the many doctrinal changes. The WCG has split and resplit into several different groups. The members of these Laodicean groups are suffering the most from division. Families have been split apart. Spiritual confusion runs rampant within the membership. People no longer have a clear picture of what the Church teaches or believes. (pp. 32-33.)
It is extremely hypocritical of Flurry and Leap to complain about families being torn apart by the splintering of the COGs when PCG's leaders have ordered PCG members to have no contact with the members of any other COG splinter group.

How dare Flurry and Leap pretend that their hearts are bleeding for the sufferings of lay members when PCG members are ordered to shun the members of other COG splinter groups.
The ministry must first become unified. Ephesians 4:11-12 show that God’s government is structured from the top down. Since true unity can only come through government, each minister must be sure that he is submitting to God, His law and government. All ministers must remember that there is great strength and beautiful teamwork when the top, middle and bottom are all unified as one. ... We must strive to have more of the mind of Jesus Christ if we are going to achieve a pure unity among the ministry. The people of God must also unify themselves with the ministry. (p. 33.)
In other words, do as you are told by those higher in authority to you.

PCG members and ministers are told to pay close attention to what they are told to do by the leaders of PCG Headquarters based in Edmond. Note how PCG HQ is compared to Shiloh and Jerusalem here.
In addition, if you study your Bible carefully, it is clear that the seat of God’s government is always at some headquarters location. Anciently there was the tabernacle at Shiloh. Then there were the temples at Jerusalem. Even in early New Testament times, Jerusalem was seen as headquarters (Acts 15:1-34). This means that each minister and member must also develop a strong headquarters focus. Division begins once the focus is taken off headquarters.

Unity is made sure through humility and loyalty. Humility and loyalty can only come about through deep conversion. The ministry must also set an example in humility and loyalty. Each minister and member must come to recognize that it will take a lot of humility and loyalty to produce the family unity that God and Christ desire for the PCG. Let’s all realize that division destroys nations and churches. ... Let’s all work together to build strong family unity in God’s Philadelphia Church.(pp. 33-34.)
Wow, Flurry and Leap really hate division it seems.

After this Flurry and Leap begin to discuss Ezra and how he came from Babylon to help build up the community of returned Jews. The authors say Ezra did this by establishing the law. Here Flurry and Leap compare HWA to Ezra.
In a similar sense, God used Herbert W. Armstrong to also establish His law in this end time. He headed God’s government as Ezra did anciently. Mr. Armstrong worked very hard all of his life to keep God’s law and government alive in the Church. We must fight to keep that same government in God’s Church today. (p. 35.)
Then Flurry and Leap quote from Mystery of the Ages without even saying where in the book the quote came from.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The very fact of law presupposes government. Government is the administration and enforcement of law by one in authority. This necessitates authoritative leadership—one in command” (Mystery of the Ages). (p. 35.)
It is from Chapter 2, pages 48-49, of the original Mystery of the Ages. It may also be seen on page 37, of PCG's altered Mystery of the Ages.

Flurry and Leap then assert that every other COG group have altered HWA's teaching of government. This obscures the fact that many COGs continue to have one man rule just like HWA's WCG and PCG.
Are the Laodiceans enforcing law? No they are not. Look at what the wcg teaches about the law. It no longer believes that Sabbath-keeping is necessary for salvation. Yet Jesus Christ said, “… if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). The Global Church maintains its own brand of government called brotherly government. This is not the form of church government outlined in the Bible! And it’s not the kind of government God taught through Mr. Armstrong. ... All of the Laodicean groups are seriously in error relative to the law and government. (pp. 35-36.)
Many COGs continue to have one man rule just like HWA's WCG and PCG. Flurry and Leap are implying that all other COG groups are different in regards to government. That is simply not true. Why does Flurry say untrue things?

It is curious that Flurry and Leap did not even bother to update this passage to mention LCG. This booklet was revised in 2005. The booklet was originally published in 1997. Meredith had since reverted to one man rule after he engineered a schism to set up his own splinter group (LCG) which would be more firmly under his control. So not only has Flurry and Leap not bothered to update this passage even the argument it makes has been rendered out of date by 2005.
Artaxerxes deeply respected Ezra. This great king recognized Ezra’s true title. Ezra was the “scribe of the law of the God of heaven.” Several commentaries show that this was Ezra’s official title! Isn’t it amazing that a carnal king could come to such understanding? He fully recognized that Ezra represented the great God of the entire universe. Artaxerxes knew who Ezra was—he knew that he came with exalted credentials! (p. 37.)
Or maybe Artaxerxes was being diplomatic with him. Was Artaxerxes an adherent of Judaism then? That seems utterly absurd.

Flurry and Leap then say that PCG's leaders are just like Ezra in power and authority.
The PCG ministers are scribes “of the law of the God of heaven.” The great God of the universe gives us credentials. Why? We are the only ministers willing to set our minds to do and teach God’s law! The Laodicean ministers have become ashamed of God’s law. In essence, they teach that it is “contemptible” (Malachi 1:7). (p. 37.)
This criticism "Laodicean ministers" makes sense if he is talking about Tkach's WCG but Flurry has defined all other COG groups as being "Laodicean". That may be seen in this booklet as well as in other of his booklets. But in fact many COG groups continue to (selectively) teach and enforce various Old Testament rules and restrictions. Those groups are certainly not "ashamed of God's law" as is inaccurately implied here. Why does Flurry say untrue things?

Why do so many PCG members continue to stay despite the various problems there? Well, partly it is because PCG's leaders tell them they are very important if they stay there. 
You should realize that God’s people are now in training to share Ezra’s title in the World Tomorrow. We will be priests of the law of the God of heaven. What a job we will have! Our focus must be that the law we keep and teach has come from the God of the universe. As a Philadelphian member, you also represent this great God! We must never forget who we are and whom we represent. You also have credentials of the highest order. (p. 38.)
And, although most outsiders find this hard to believe, many PCG members actually believe this, or at least believe it enough to stay in PCG.

And, of course, what is left unstated here, is that should you decide to leave PCG you will be damned as an enemy of God doomed to endure the Great Tribulation.

Flurry and Leap then say that the prominent Jewish families chose to stay in Babylon. Flurry and Leap use this thought to allude to the fact that no prominent leader from WCG chose to cast in their lot with PCG and explain this away.
This is so similar to the PCG today. The well-known ministers are not with us! The outstanding, well-known families are not with us. But just as in Ezra’s time, God is using people with common names to do an uncommon job! (p. 38.)
Flurry does this a lot. He enjoys being top man within PCG but he knows that within HWA's WCG he was quite unimportant. Just another WCG minister. He is anxious that PCG members forget this fact. He is worried that PCG members will wonder why none of the major WCG leaders went with PCG.

Of course the prominent leaders of HWA's WCG did not choose PCG. In the socially stratified world of HWA's WCG they would have viewed following Flurry as demeaning. Flurry was fairly low in the pecking order of WCG ministers. The prominent leaders of HWA's WCG would not stoop to one with such little power.

However this was a bit harder for HWA's WCG members to notice because ministers are given such power ministers within WCG had over the lives of lay members. Consequently many WCG lay members would not have seen that Flurry was not important within HWA's WCG. The fact that Flurry was a minister at all seems to have been enough to impress many WCG members into casting their lot with PCG.

After this Flurry fear mongers that times will become more difficult for PCG. So you had better do what those above you tell you to do speedily or else you might die.
The prophecies show that the PCG is moving into more difficult times. The times are going to require that we all have a more refined sense of government and authority. We must not forget that we are in a war with Satan and wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The time coming is going to require that orders be completed speedily. When an army is in the heat of battle—under intense fire—there is not a lot of time for negotiating and debate! Soldiers who want to debate and negotiate while in a fight become casualties. (p. 40.)
This was written in 1997, later revised in 2005. It is now 2014, seventeen years since this booklet first came out, nine years since its revision. Have "more difficult times" arrived for PCG after seventeen years? Did you expect things to be closer to Christ's return then they are now when this booklet was first published seventeen years ago?

Flurry and Leap then condemn "senseless debate" within PCG and say it is necessary to not focus on such things.
God requires that we prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). But He also forbids us to get involved in fruitless strife and debate (1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 2:16-18). At times, some few members want to engage the ministry in senseless debate. Our work demands that we work quickly and efficiently. There is not much time left for us to complete our job. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). This fact does produce a certain amount of pressure on the ministry. We cannot waste time! Dealing with strife and debate can be a waste of time. We all must be careful that we are not wasting time with unimportant Bible questions, debates or controversies.

Let’s all devote our study and thinking time on the main issues facing the PCG in this end of the end time. Let’s sharpen our focus in our prayer and studies. How do we know where to place our focus? We must let the Trumpet, the Key of David broadcast and all of the PCG literature guide our focus. (p. 40.)
In other words, do as you are told. Do not think about it. Do not show the PCG minister that he got it wrong. Do not prove that you are more clever then the PCG minister. Abandon your old personality to make easier to be told what to do by PCG ministers.

And some people wonder why PCG is widely regarded as a cult.

We now continue with this booklet.
Verse 27 and 28 prove this to be so. (p. 41.)
Shouldn't that be "Verses 27 and 28"?
We must see that all of the great beauty in the PCG, our literature and television program, has been inspired by God. This beauty should greatly strengthen us to finish the work. (p. 41.)
What madness! No wonder so many people within PCG have such skewed views regarding PCG since they read and believe self serving propaganda like this.

Chapter 5

In this chapter Flurry and Leap begin with a lot of flattering words for PCG members and potential converts. Maybe the authors say such flattering words in order to prepare the readers to accept the extremely racist thing they are about to say after this section: that interracial marriage is forbidden.
In a very real sense, God has also given the PCG a new beginning. The PCG began with only 12 people. Also recognize that the temple which God built through Mr. Armstrong has been—for all intents and purposes—destroyed! The corrupt Laodicean leadership has caused the Worldwide Church of God to fall into irreparable ruin. But God has not left His people without a temple. Where is God’s temple today? It is the PCG! Where is God’s temple treasure today? It is within the PCG! One of the main tasks of the PCG is to help God’s people locate God’s true temple after the Laodicean destruction.

God’s Philadelphia ministers also have the grave responsibility to protect God’s special treasure. What is God’s treasure? His very elect. Why? They are filled with and loyal to God’s truth. ... God’s true people are like rare jewels of great value when compared to the billions of people on this planet. The Laodicean ministry is dealing treacherously with God’s people by deceiving them about God’s truth. The WCG doctrinal changes represent a grievous betrayal of God by His people. (pp. 43-44.)
Perhaps the authors say these words because of what they are about to say next. Flurry's PCG teaches that racial intermarriage is forbidden by God and sinful. This teaching was inherited from HWA. Flurry and Leap now say here that racial intermarriage is forbidden by (PCG's) God.
Some of the nation’s princes reported to Ezra that the people were racially intermarrying with the nations around them. Moses had recorded that God forbade interracial marriage (Deuteronomy 7:1-3). Ezra was devastated that this sin was being committed in Judah. He immediately began a fast because this sin threatened to destroy the fledgling nation. But what depressed Ezra the most about this sin was that some priests, Levites and princes were leading the people into this catastrophic rebellion. God’s own ministers were the chief sinners. (p. 45.)
What madness! It is nonsense to use this event and claim we should do the same. British Israelism is false. That doctrine is built on a foundation of sand as has recently shown. The European descended peoples of America are not descended from Jews or Israelites.

The Jews in this event were doing this among themselves. As far as I understand it in Judaism the requirements of the law were only expected to be fulfilled by Jews. They did not expect non-Jews to observe such things. As far as I can tell they did not believe that such things applied to any other people. They would have viewed it as absurd that some non-Jews were using these events to justify banning interracial marriage for all peoples as Flurry and Leap here imply.

Deuteronomy 7:1-3 discuss the Israelites not marrying among the Canaanites. It was not some sort of ban upon interracial marriage that decreed that the various races must be forever kept separated as Flurry and Leap falsely implies. It does not say that races need to only marry their own kind, as HWA taught in Mystery of the Ages.

Until very recently within American society there were widespread restrictions on interracial marriage. They were racial in nature and used to impose cruel racial oppression upon ethnic minorities. Most African Americans were Christians but the racist white supremacists could have cared less about such commonalities and brutally (and all too often murderously) subjected African Americans into a state of oppression in order to gain white supremacy and gain this sick satisfaction that they were somehow better then African Americans.

It took a long time and a very long struggle for the USA to finally allow racial intermarriage. This was only done after a Supreme Court case in 1967, Loving v. Virginia. Gerald Flurry was born in 1935 so he would have been about thirty-two years of age at this time. Today it is illegal for any governmental authority in the United States to forbid interracial marriage. Nevertheless Gerald Flurry has staunchly refused to change on this vital and important matter.

It is very racist to forbid interracial marriage

Over and over again Flurry has changed doctrines whenever desired under the guise that it is "new revelation" that proves he is God's man. (We shall see one example of this soon in this post.) But Gerald Flurry has chosen not to change this terrible and racist doctrine. He can easily change it if he wanted to but he has chosen otherwise.

Another very useful resource on this topic is this review of Mystery of the Ages which discusses HWA's ban on interracial marriage and shows how HWA took Scriptures out of context to claim that interracial marriage is forbidden.

We now continue.

Flurry and Leap insist that PCG is the only true church on Earth today.
Do we realize that the PCG is our “nail in his holy place” in this end time? We are a nail for the end-time people of God. We are reviving God’s only work. No other group on this planet is doing God’s work. All of us must work together to make sure our nail remains firm. (p. 47.)
What madness! This claim is simply used to trap people into thinking they must join PCG and to think that they cannot leave no matter what wrongs they are forced to endure.
The PCG stands for upholding God’s law. Mr. Armstrong made specific judgments on many issues. The PCG ministry is going to stand by those judgments. Why? The survival of the Church is at stake! The PCG ministry must uphold all of God’s law to keep God’s Church alive and well. (pp. 49-50.)
This seems like a very definitive statement that PCG will continue preaching what HWA taught.

But what about HWA's teaching that Prophets under the New Testament dispensation have no administrative authority? HWA taught that from 1953 till the day he died. He even added that teaching in Mystery of the Ages. Yet Gerald Flurry has proclaimed himself to be That Prophet since 1999. He uses this title to justify his one man rule over PCG. So we see that ultimately Gerald Flurry is perfectly willing to change HWA's doctrines whenever he feels like it. In fact Flurry often claims to receive "new revelation" from God to justify his right to rule.

And with that this post ends. The last two chapters use the Book of Nehemiah but that shall be discussed in a later post.

(Update: June 24, 2014: The last part of this booklet is discussed in Part 3 of this discussion.)

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