Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Shifting Story, Starving Parishioners, Shunning and Love of Milošević: Tales from a COG Splinter Group Leader

Back in March 2013 Banned by HWA reported on one COG splinter group based in Australia. It publishes a magazine entitled The Christian Herald. Banned by HWA noted that the leader of this group, G. Sbarcea, a man of Romanian origins, bizarrely claimed that "the sons of Dracula violated and murdered my mother and sent word of what to expect if I continue with this work."

Although he seems to have gone on his path and no longer consciously emulates HWA the way the major COG groups do he continues to make predictions and speculations about future events. The ethos and attitudes of Armstrongism still seems to be flourishing in his mind.

Recently I came upon this splinter group. I came upon an issue of his publication from 1999. But here he does not blame "sons of Dracula" for his mother's death. Instead he blames Ion Iliescu, President of Romania in 1989-1996 and 2000-2004, for the death of his mother.
Who will bring to court Ion Iliescu for taking revenge on my mother for the articles I wrote in this magazine when he became President of Romania by crooked methods, or for the victims of his collectivization when he was second in command under Ceausescu, which ruined the country and brought misery to millions?
He also talks about his divorce case.
And just the same, who will bring to justice the Judges of Australia who put me in the street on a disability pension and gave my house to my millionaires wife who divorced me because I had “squandered” the money on this work? Can one get justice for preaching Christ when he is judged by Jews, and divorced by a wife who also happens to be Jewish? In Australia there is supposed to be no religious persecution, but as they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat. But woe to that country whose Judges look for profit and deliver crooked justice.

The Judge in my case even had the temerity to acknowledge before the court that he was delivering a crocked justice when he said in the hearing of all: “I am sorry to do this to you, Mr. Sbarcea!”

To which I replied, also in the hearing of everyone: “You are doing it to yourself, Sir!”

Of course, he did not believe me then, but he will shortly.
Although he says the divorce forced him on the streets he is still publishing his publication.

(Banned by HWA also noted how he complained that people had not contributed even "a single cent" to his work after twenty years. Then why is this publication still going?)

The leader of this work talks about how he disagreed with WCG's vilification of Germany back when he was in WCG in the 1970s.Today Armstrongism portrays their decision to not worry about the Soviet Union as a sign of how enlightened and wise they were. But the truth is they did not know what was going on. They did not foresee that the Soviet Union itself would collapse, this was assumed to be fated to occur only after Christ's return. But the COGs have reinterpreted matters to make it sound like they foresaw the collapse of the Iron Curtain when in fact events did not conform to Armstrongite speculations at all.
During my brief period in the Worldwide Church of God, in the early 1970s, I found it hard to believe that its leaders would regard Germany as a great threat to America, yet treat Russia (then incorporated into the Soviet Union) as if it did not exist. To me that represented a major fault in their preaching, but I could do nothing about it because, 1) I did not know much about biblical prophecies, and 2) my English was at the beginning stage then. But as I grew in “grace and knowledge”, I became more and more convinced that they were wrong in their prophetic understanding, and tried to tell them about it. But the ministers in that church would have none of it. It was inconceivable for them that a newcomer could see things better than their great prophet.

So successful was Herbert W Armstrong in his brainwashing techniques that his followers still believe his prophecies even now when the whole world could see that they have failed.
He also talks about his time in WCG. It is unfortunate that he got caught up with them and it seems their influence and attitudes to life (if not their specific dogmas) seems to continue influencing his life.
When I was a member of that church in the early 1970’s, it took me about three years to discover the hypocrisy and deception that permeated the highest echelons of that church. You may think that three years is a long time, but you have to remember that, like Gerard Flurry today, Herbert W. Armstrong made a strong case that he was God’s special instrument on earth. Some people spend a life time in that kind of servitude without ever growing out of it. ...

Having escaped from the “Iron Curtain” only three years earlier, I was starved of emotional and spiritual comfort, and so I was easy pray to those who claimed that I could find the love of God in their church. What I found instead was anything but the love of God. What struck me the most about the Worldwide Church of God was the similarity between its regime and that of the communist world from which I had escaped. Neither allowed dissent, and neither forgave easily those who overstepped their mark.

The communists could throw you in jail, even execute you, but they could not take the spiritual salvation away from you. But being expelled from the WCG meant your spiritual death, and that, according to its leaders, was the worst possible fate awaiting anyone. It was a recipe for total control over their members, which explains why so many people never make much progress in their spiritual growth. They prefer to remain in the security of their church no matter what the cost, content in the belief that their minister knows better, fearful that if they probe too deeply into aspects of their church which they do not like, they may get into trouble. ...

The burdens which the members of the Worldwide Church of God had to endure almost defied belief. I knew a girl who was quite beautiful, but who was so skinny I wondered whether she was anorexic. After befriending her, I discovered that it was her financial situation which was causing the problem, not her mind. After complying with all the church requirements, she simply did not have enough to live on.

Although I was having doubts about the applicability of this doctrine in the New Testament for sometime, I was not quite ready to confront the minister about it, but the discovery that people were actually starving as a result of it, forced me to act then. The result was a foregone conclusion.

At that time I was even entertaining the idea of proposing to that girl, but when the minister expelled me from the church, I become a pariah to everyone, including herself.
Since even this Romanian man caught on about the problems within Armstrongism and yet so many within Armstrongism pretend that all is well and good within the COG. This man says "sons of Dracula" murdered his mother and even he saw how Armstrongism was so wrong in so many ways and yet so many more seemingly sensible people did not do so.

In this issue he notes and condemns how Gerald Flurry decided to accuse Germany of causing the Yugoslav Wars.
Flurry says that he sees “disquieting signs” coming from Germany, and that he is using the platform God has given him to warn his people of the danger coming from that country. He sees no disquieting signs coming from Russia, which his magazine described as “the dead man standing” (TFT, Feb. 1999, p.10), or from China, or from an alliance of the two and other countries. He is using the Bible to prove that “Germany is prophesied to rise one last time, again to become the enemy of America and Britain”, yet there is nothing in his references to even remotely support his point. It is this kind of careless use of the Scriptures that has given religion a bad name and turned people away from God. Flurry thrives on this kind of preaching - lambasting Germany for just about every evil in the world today.

During the Balkan conflict earlier this year, not once did he speak against the atrocities committed by the Serbs against the Albanians of Kosovo, yet all the time he blamed Germany for what was happening in that country. In his twisted reasoning, Germany is guilty for those atrocities because it recognized Croatia in 1991, which led to the eventual disintegration of Yugoslavia.

At the height of that conflict, in his May 1999 edition of The Philadelphia Trumpet, Germany was mentioned directly or indirectly in no less than 23 pages of the 28 that his magazine contained. Germany featured as the main subject of his venomous writings in everyone of the five editions that came into our hands this year. In the end we got tired of his paranoia and refused to have anything to do with him or his publications anymore. But we know of people who have swallowed the contents of his poisoned chalice and are bitter towards the victims of that conflict and sympathetic towards the perpetrators.

He thinks of himself as a prophet of God, yet shows no sympathy for the hapless victims of gang rape (women and girls even below the age of puberty), of torture, starvation, wholesale slaughter, and mass deportations.
How unfortunate it is that some accepted Flurry's dogmatic assessment of the situation, failed to see its short comings and became "bitter towards the victims of that conflict and sympathetic towards the perpetrators."

Actually after Germany recognized Croatia in December 1991 a truce was made between Serbia and Croatia in January 1992 which ceased hostilities between Serbia and Croatia for a long time. Alas the war then moved to Bosnia shortly afterwards. Later in 1995 Croatia was able to advance against Serbia and regain their lost territory.

Gerald Flurry had only decided to vilify Germany as the author of the Yugoslav Wars in 1999. He only adopted his superficially pro-Milošević stance in 1999. (See PCG Only Supported Milošević in 1999.)

Elsewhere in this issue he says he no idea why he was kicked out of WCG.
It is a badge of honour for anyone to be put out of a church for having committed no sin. They never told me why they put me out of their church, except that I disagreed with them over their tithing doctrines and because I told them that God Almighty has chosen me to be one of His witnesses. 
Somehow I think claiming to be a witness just might have something to do with that. As well as questioning the legitimacy of their tithing.

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