Thursday, December 11, 2014

Philip Nice's How to Observe PCG's Sabbath Guide

PCG's Philip Nice has written an article, "The Best Sabbath Ever" (December 10, 2014), instructing PCG members on how to observe the Sabbath as taught by PCG. Let us see what Nice has to say.
There is coming a time when people will delight in joyful, uplifting conversation, forsaking their own thoughts, studying and learning God’s mind with humble attitudes and the power of His Holy Spirit. There is coming a time when people will rest from sin and worldly pursuits, breaking free from human nature, enjoying true freedom, and exploring the thrilling depths of God’s Word and obedience to the way that produces the peace, joy and excitement that the human heart longs for, all in a peaceful and beautiful environment.

And it’s less than seven days away.
Here Nice compares the observance of the Sabbath every seven days as being some sort of memorial of the millennial rule of Christ PCG teaches will be established on the Earth after Christ's second coming. This idea is quite common within the COGs.

Nice tells PCG members to make sure they prepare for (PCG's version of) the Sabbath by preparing for it on Friday.
Don’t forget the preparation day.

Every day of the week begins at sunset and has an evening and morning portion, according to God’s original design (Genesis 1:31). In order to devote the entire Sabbath to worshiping God, we have one full “preparation day” at our disposal: Friday (Exodus 16:4-5 records an ancient example). We should do our best to wrap up loose ends, tidy our homes, perform heavy cooking and prepare for the Sabbath all on Friday, beginning our planning at sundown on Thursday when necessary. This removes distractions and builds our anticipation for when the Friday sun finally sinks below the horizon.
Nice gives advice on what to do for Friday night dinner.
Drop your week’s mental baggage at the door, and focus on Sabbath topics over dinner: our Creator, His creation, His wonderful work, the Bible, the newest Church publication, last week’s sermon, and so forth. After quickly cleaning up after dinner, families might relax with a family Bible study or a Bible trivia game, or married couples might study their Bibles together, enjoying spiritual conversation about the things that really matter before getting a good night’s rest.
Here we begin to see how the Sabbath is actually used in PCG and the other COG groups: An opportunity to get followers to indoctrinate themselves for twenty fours a day every seven days.

Now even though it is the day of rest Nice tells you not to sleep in too long.
God’s Sabbath is about spiritual and physical renewal, but don’t allow yourself to sleep in too late. You’ve anticipated and prepared for this day; don’t let it slip by! Use the Sabbath morning to relish extra study and prayer time. Don’t forget that your children (those who are mature enough) will need help with this—it is all too easy to just sleep in.
Even the children will not be allowed to sleep in. No. Somehow they need to go through "extra study and prayer time" on their day of rest.

Now because PCG is a fairly small group members often have to drive a long way to get the congregation. Nice gives some of his advice on what to do during the drive.
Since many of God’s people spend several hours traveling to and from services, how we spend our time in the car could greatly help or greatly hurt our Sabbath-keeping. Use this opportunity to read Church literature either to yourself or aloud, or try to obtain and listen to recordings of Mr. Armstrong’s sermons, perhaps interspersing Philadelphia Singers or Young Ambassadors songs.

Children and teens might especially enjoy using this time to review—or create—Bible trivia cards, Scripture flash cards, or chapter outlines of the Bible together with their parents. This would also be the perfect opportunity to read aloud from the Bible Story series or the Bible itself, or to pass around Mystery of the Ages, Malachi’s Message or another booklet for everyone—except the driver!—to take turns reading aloud.
Read out Malachi's Message while driving to church? I have read that book myself (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4). I find this sort of behavior appalling. That booklet was written to persuade WCG members to leave and join PCG. If one is already in PCG what use is it?

Now we finally get to the actual church service. Nice wants to make sure the members are carefully paying attention to what the minister is saying, even convincing themselves that the sermon is mystically prepared by God specifically for each individual member. (This is not only a PCG idea. LCG's Meredith also taught this idea in an article of his.)
You know what it is like to hear a sermon that seemed prepared only for you—and not by any man, but by God. That kind of connection is almost impossible to put into words, but we have all felt it. But did you know that we can and should experience that awesome miracle every week?
Nice is worried that PCG members may tune out.
Now that the minister—one of God’s main tools for answering that prayer—has begun to speak, do you find yourself tuning out? Or do you have faith that God is actually in the process of answering your prayers? Do your part to beseech God and prepare for His Sabbath service, then know in faith that what is given this Sabbath is exactly what you need as a major part of your spiritual diet for next week! Let’s never let the attitude of Malachi 1:12 describe us—unsatisfied with the spiritual food God is serving. This Sabbath, expect the miracle!
Nice also gives instructions on even how members should talk to each other in the church.
When we open our mouths to speak before and after services, topics should center on God, His Work and His plan. We should avoid bringing the world into God’s Sabbath by talking at any length about mundane things like work, business, sports, etc. Don’t just let “How was your week?” automatically turn into a conversation about where to find a good mechanic. Instead, steer your conversation toward things that will uplift and excite you about God’s Word and His plan: world news and prophecy, what you have been studying in the Bible, recent Church publications, what you’ve learned about God this week, things you are grateful for, developments in God’s Work—on the physical and spiritual level.
Once again Nice tells PCG members to read recent writings produced by PCG. This further indicates the real purpose for PCG's sabbath: the habitual indoctrination of PCG members. 

Nice also discusses what to do after the service has ended because the Sabbath carries on until sunset.
Following services, remember to strive for balance. Mr. Armstrong encouraged Sabbath-keepers to temper dining at restaurants with other activities, including serving the needs of others, calling the sick, visiting shut-ins, inviting brethren to your home, or taking a Sabbath walk to enjoy God’s creation. 
This would seem to indicate that PCG allows members to eat at restaurants during the Sabbath. Over the years many of the followers of Herbert Armstrong have been greatly vexed over whether or not it is sinful to eat at a restaurant during the Sabbath.

Then, as is often done in the COGs, a certain Scripture is cited to justify PCG's strict interpretation of how to observe the Sabbath.
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath,” God tells us in Isaiah 58:13, “from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words”—then you will rediscover an awesome truth each and every week: In many ways, God’s Kingdom is already here—in your home!

Keep this coming Sabbath day—like no other.
That Scripture is quoted inaccurately. Isaiah 58:13-14 is often used within the COGs to justify a strict interpretation of how to observe the Sabbath. But it does not say what COG leaders like Meredith and Nice say it means. This was noted in a previous post.
Later, long after I had renounced Armstrongism, I read chapter ten of William Hinsom's book, Broadway to Armageddon and it cited this study paper produced by WCG leaders in May 1976.

On page 189 there is reproduced a page of this report which states:

The following statement of the Worldwide Church of God supersedes all material heretofore published on the subject.
On pp. 192-3 this paper discusses Isaiah 58:13-14.
Note: It should be carefully noted that the term "seeking your own pleasure" does not, in the Hebrew, have reference to personal enjoyment. The word "pleasure" is khephets in Hebrew. In the Jewish translation it is rendered "thine own business".
The New English Bible makes the meaning clearer than either the King James version or the Revised Standard Version:
"If you cease to tread the Sabbath underfoot, and keep my holy day free from your own affairs, if you call the Sabbath a day of joy...if you honor it by not plying your own trade, not seeking your own affairs..."
This translation shows the true intention of the words "thine own pleasure!" The Hebrew term rendered pleasure is often translated "desire" or "purpose" in other passages (cf. Eccl. 3:1, 17; I Kings 5:8, 9, 10, etc.). The Jewish translation speaks of "pursuing thy business" and "thy wonted ways". The Hebrew khephets is not addressing the question of pleasurable activities that are illegal on the Seventh day! If pleasure were not present, how could the day possibly be a delight!? 
This passage of Scripture has been erroneously applied to such activities as television viewing, swimming, listening to music, marital relations, and even reading the weekly comics in the newspaper!
Now this paper was not simply opening the door for just about anything. It is still firmly Sabbatarian. The paper balances itself by saying immediately afterwards:
Of course, any of these activities could violate the spirit of the Sabbath day if they were abused or overdone. They are not, by and of themselves, wrong. Any activity which interferes with or detracts from the joy, rest and spiritual intention of the day could be wrong. If an activity works against the spirit of the Sabbath, it is wrong, no matter what it is.    
I so wished I had understood this before, but in my position, in 2000, that was simply impossible.
And other COG members are also in no position to understand this fact about Isaiah 58:13-14. And that continues to allow this inaccurate understanding of Isaiah 58:13-14 to be repeated over and over again within the COGs.

This inaccurate understanding has helped the COGs' ministers to pervert the Sabbath into a twenty four honor indoctrination session to learn the inaccurate and misleading dogmas of Armstrongism.


  1. "There is coming a time when people will delight in joyful, uplifting conversation, forsaking their own thoughts, studying and learning God’s mind with humble attitudes and the power of His Holy Spirit. There is coming a time when people will rest from sin and worldly pursuits, breaking free from human nature, enjoying true freedom, and exploring the thrilling depths of God’s Word and obedience to the way that produces the peace, joy and excitement that the human heart longs for, all in a peaceful and beautiful environment."
    This sort of grandiose verbosity was typical of HWA. His spirit permeates so many of the splinters.

  2. And yet the PCG is doing business on the Sabbath -- and quite a lot of it -- with a nonstop sales effort.

    All this does is generate mental noise. Mental noise is the underlying cause of mental illness. With the abundance of mental noise that the PCG generates, it is quite impossible to have any peace, on the Sabbath, or any other time.

    The mental noise the PCG generates not only causes insanity and removes peace, but it also causes chaos and confusion to incapacitate freedom to think and remove freedom of expression.

    So what you have left is a bunch of robot zombies constantly confused on the edge of mental illness.

    Great work using the Sabbath as a tool of enslavement and insanity, PCG.

    This Sabbath, skip services, go the restaurant for a great lunch and go to a movie. I understand Exodus has just come out. It should be a real ball... uh, I mean, blockbuster.