Monday, June 6, 2016

The Kingdom of the Cults on PCG, UCG and Global COG (1997)

In 1997 another edition of The Kingdom of the Cults, a critique of various religious movements from an evangelical Protestant perspective, was released. If memory serves correctly these references to PCG were removed in the current edition of The Kingdom of the Cults. Let us see what the 1997 edition of The Kingdom of the Cults said about PCG.

It mentioned some of the other COG splinter groups but most of its fixation is kept on PCG. This reflects the fact that UCG and Global COG (followed by LCG) after splitting from WCG appears to have not focused on critiquing the Tkach changes in their writings since most of them continued to believe what HWA had taught them earlier. 
Among those that broke away during the reformation of the Worldwide Church of God, the largest is led by another self-proclaimed successor to Armstrong, Gerald Flurry. The Philadelphia Church of God, located in Edmond, Oklahoma, has a television log of sixty stations in five countries. Their program, The Key of David, echoes Armstrong’s prophetic speculation. The Philadelphia Trumpet, their official magazine, is a constant reminder of Herbert W. Armstrong’s old doctrines in the face of the reborn Worldwide Church of God. Gerald Flurry minces no words in prodding and jostling the Worldwide Church of God for its baptism into historical Christianity.

Most of the splinter cults of Armstrongism retain the name "Church of God" somewhere in their title.

They mix legalism, including strict Sabbatarianism, with a variety of Armstrong’s leading doctrines. Two other noteworthy groups among these are the Global Church of God, located in San Diego, California, and the United Church of God in Arcadia, California. The former has a television following on two superstations covering much of the United States, while the latter publishes The Good News magazine and covers thirty television stations with programming.
It has to be stated that it is commonly agreed that Meredith's Global Church of God and UCG were always larger than PCG. In 1993 Gerald Flurry wrote a polemic condemning Meredith for starting up his own Armstrongite splinter group instead of submitting himself to PCG. It is likely this polemic was partly prompted by the fact that Meredith's following was numerically larger than his own.

Notably the writer only mentioned UCG's recruitment magazine while Global COG's recruitment magazine, The World Ahead, was not even mentioned. In late 1998 Meredith broke away from Global COG and took the majority of members with him and started up another splinter group, Living Church of God. UCG's headquarters is now in Cincinnati.
The ninety cults of Armstrongism believe that Mr. Armstrong spoke with the authority of "Elijah." We cannot list all ninety groups on every subject, so we will generalise their teachings as that of "Armstrongism," while comparing it to the Worldwide Church of God or the Bible.
Today it is well known that there are hundreds of Armstrongite splinter groups. Most are extremely small and composed of just one congregation.

As is well known Hank Hanegraaff, successor of Walter Martin, played an instrumental role in persuading Evangelical Protestant churches to accept WCG as one of their own after the Tkach changes. That fact is reflected in the following quote.
This admirable step for the Worldwide Church of God is the very stumbling block of the factions. Gerald Flurry, of the Philadelphia Church of God, remarks, "The only hope for today’s Laodicean is to get back to what Christ revealed to Mr. Armstrong. . . . The Laodiceans will have to admit that Mr. Armstrong was Christ’s messenger. And they will have to believe the message in the same manner Mr. Armstrong did."
PCG is mentioned again while discussing British Israelism. (Here referred to as Anglo-Israelism.) It also refers to PCG's reprinting of some of HWA's writings from 1997 onward.
Few organised religions teach Anglo-Israelism as does Armstrongism. The Worldwide Church of God brought Anglo-Israelism under biblical review in 1990, and concluded that Armstrong was incorrect. Hence they ceased publication and dissemination of Armstrong’s major works on Anglo-Israelism. Most of the splinter cults of Armstrongism, however, readily promote it in their publications and broadcasts. One such group claims a divine calling for keeping Armstrong’s teachings in print. The Philadelphia Church of God wrote, "We derive our authority to print the works of Mr. Armstrong from God, and from Mr. Armstrong’s own wishes." We see, then, that Armstrong’s Anglo-Israelism did not cease with the repentance of the Worldwide Church of God, but has multiplied through the splinter groups.
This account also contains the following extract from a letter HWA made on November 27, 1958.
In 1958 Mr. Armstrong wrote a letter to Robert Sumner, a writer on cults and false religions. "First," he wrote, "let me say — this may sound incredible, but it’s true — Jesus Christ foretold this very work — it is, itself the fulfilment of his prophecy (Matthew 24: 14 and Mark 13:10). ... Astounding as it may seem, there is no other work on earth proclaiming to the whole world this very same gospel that Jesus taught and proclaimed!"
The following references concerning PCG are cited in this book.
Flurry, Gerald. "Personal," The Philadelphia Trumpet, February 1997.

Flurry, Gerald, and Dennis Leap. "The Key of David Vision," The Philadelphia Trumpet, March 1997.
One strength the Armstrongite COGs used to rely on was that information about them from outside sources was hard to find in the old days. But thankfully with the improvement of information technology it is now easier to access critical information concerning Armstrongism.

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