Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is PCG a High Demand Group?

Some have called Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God a high demand group that makes unreasonably severe demands upon members.

Is this true?

Let us observe what is written in Chapter 12, Part 2 of Raising the Ruins by Stephen Flurry, under the heading "For Many People". There he relates how Herbert W. Armstrong gave his inheritance to the church and not to any of his three surviving children. This is portrayed as an egalitarian act worthy of high praise, putting "God's Work" ahead of his own family.
Even on his deathbed, his final wish was for everything he owned to go toward the work so that “many people” might benefit. Mr. Armstrong put God’s Family and God’s work first. And as difficult as that might be to grasp, looking at it humanly, isn’t that what we should expect from a man of God?...PUTTING GOD AND HIS WORK FIRST IS THE BASIC THEME OF THE BIBLE. [How convenient for the organization.] Herbert W. Armstrong put this principle—this law—into action. He gave and gave and gave and gave.
And he took and took and took and took the members' three tithes and more.

HWA's decision to leave his children with nothing is explained away in the following manner:
In his will, he explained that he chose not to leave his descendants anything—not because of any ill will toward them—but because he believed they had “adequate means of their own” and because leaving what he had to the church would ensure that it “be put to more permanent and beneficial use for many people.”
This explanation completely glosses over the fact that HWA was estranged from all three of his surviving children.

1) HWA kicked Beverly Gott out of the church because she wore too much makeup (in his opinion) one day and because of that instituted the infamous makeup ban. This is how Garner Ted Armstrong describes it:
Back in 1956, my father had excommunicated my sister Beverly from the church for refusing to take off her makeup, a newly established taboo. From the early '30's until 1955 or 1956, there was no proscription against makeup. However, because most in the church tended to be hyper-conservative, only comparatively few women used it.
(On this same topic I personally heard Meredith say in a sermon that the makeup ban was introduced because HWA was enraged at how much makeup Beverly Gott wore one day.)

2) It is all too well known what HWA did to his other daughter, Dorothy.

3) HWA disfollowshipped Garner Ted because he felt threatened by him and because Garner Ted threatened to expose what HWA did to his daughter during an angry moment. Being disfellowshipped HWA was estranged from him and was not in any friendly communication with him.

All of this pertinent information is simply glossed over.

This story also serves to give PCG members an impossible ideal to follow.

HWA giving all his money to the organization is held up to be a noble ideal.

Naturally this will inspire imitators who are hoping God will give them a good reward for their sacrifice. Alas there have been imitators such as one George Meston who handed over his entire estate to PCG.

Another man in Canada also handed over practically all his assets to PCG which began a lawsuit which PCG lost.

Another example of a man who intends to follow this example and hand over his inheritance to PCG may be seen here.

PCG has even published a Royal Vision article written by Mark Nash, "Payable upon Death", in the January/February 2004 issue which gives instructions on how PCG members are able to imitate the high ideal set by HWA. And give the Organization even more money than the obligatory three tithes that they have to pay while alive.

Rather then encouraging members to look to their families, or letting them use some money after they die they are encouraged to give it all up to the Organization. This weakens family ties in favor of a demanding loyalty to the collective. This shows a terrible disregard to other family members.

PCG members are encouraged to hand over all their possessions as though the obligatory three tithes and other expected offerings and the Building Fund are somehow not enough for Flurry's PCG.

Such behavior clearly marks the Philadelphia Church of God as a high demand group. Such behavior is dysfunctional and most certainly unbecoming of an Organization that claims to represent God.

The Philadelphia Church of God is a high demand group.

Is LCG a High Demand Group?

Some of the Armstrongite groups are referred to as high demand groups. Is this really the case?

Meredith has released another co-worker letter (April 21). Perhaps this letter will provide insights to this question.

Near the end of this letter the following is written:
As a member or co-worker with Christ, you are part of what God may consider to be “the most important activity on this earth today.” Jesus Christ commanded, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Notice how he emphasizes the "you", he is trying to inflate the vanity of the co-workers and members he is addressing.

The inclusion of a Bible verse serves to further legitimize his authority and is used to convince the believer that the Bible is on Meredith's side.

By saying that preaching Armstrongism is the most important activity in the world he hopes to convince the reader to make the Organization the reader's first priority in life. He drives home this message in the last paragraph. My comments are in brackets. Words in red are my emphasis.

Your earnest Bible study, your fervent prayers, your generous support of the Work [paying the three tithes which are never mentioned on TV, or in the recruitment writings or even in the co-worker letters] which the living Christ [allegedly] is using to proclaim His Truth [recruitment] and to teach increasing thousands of people to actually practice His Government [loaded term meaning to submit to the Organization led by Meredith] and so prepare themselves for “kingship” in the coming Government of God [how can one prepare to rule if he or she is simply required to be "submissive" in a dictatorial organization?]—all of this results in you, personally, “laying up treasure” in heaven.

[Here Meredith is trying to give the reader an implanted perception in which the follower feels good for helping the Organization, usually by paying three tithes and required extra offerings. Such a person will often feel that this is a spontaneous feeling. In reality this person feels this way because he or she was told to feel this way, and this person trusts the group leader, Meredith. Such a person does not fully understand that while tithing.]

And it should give you a sense of meaning and purpose for your entire life.

[So if one should ever discover the truth that Armstrongism is a fraud it feels as though your "entire life" is falling apart.]

It [aiding the Organization and following their prescribed rituals] should permeate your thoughts, your hopes and dreams, your speech and every part of your life as you grow, through God’s help, to become more like Jesus Christ in every way. May God help each of you to understand and to become more involved in seeking first the Kingdom of God.

[This is a perfect example of "Doctrine over Person", one of Lifton's Eight Criteria for Thought Reform.]
This exposes Meredith's Living Church of God as a high-demand group that compels members to live under unreasonably excessive demands.

These are evidences that LCG is a high demand group that cause members to give up too much of their individuality in favor of ideals that serve to benefit the leadership and increase loyalty to the Organization, which in this case is a one man dictatorship. Such an Organization needs to be avoided.

LCG is a high demand group.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu and COG Prophecy

There is a new swine flu virus spreading that is gaining international attention.

I just cringe to think of how the various Armstrongite false prophets of doom are going to use this. They will point to this say "DISEASE EPIDEMICS!!" with great emphasis.

When the COGs shout and holler that the disease epidemics are coming should we take them seriously? Will those listening in fear at their proclamations be aware of their previous predictions?

Look at HWA and his followers' previous predictions concerning disease epidemics.

"17) April 1956 PT by Hoeh: "Disease epidemics threaten US in 2 years" [, p. 3.]

"120) August 1957 PT: Another old favorite still with us today. Roderick Meredith: "at the conclusion of the drought and floods we are now just beginning to suffer this nation is going to be punished by horrifying DISEASE EPIDEMICS - plagues." When? He approvingly cites a 1956 Plain Truth title: 'Disease Epidemics Threaten USA in Two Years!" Clearly, 1958 was meant. Meredith continued, "In addition to those warnings ...we will soon find that hoof-and-mouth disease will spread COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL!" [The quotes may be seen on page 5.] The only thing that spread out of control, then and the next 40 years, was the disease of his own big mouth."

(Incidentally his article is entitled "America, Wake Up!" which is very similar to Wake Up, America! in the January-February 2000 issue of Tomorrow's World. Another case of recycled words?, or rather recycled title-though slightly altered-in this particular case?)

These prophecies were used to scare people fifty years ago. No such disease epidemics occurred then. Their word failed to come to pass.

Also I wonder if any of them will emphasize that according to HWA's prophetic framework those catastrophic epidemics can only occur after the wars and famines before the Great Tribulation? It is taught that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are symbols of prophetic events that, as far as I understand it, occur in order. So, in COG understanding, the first Horseman is false Christianity (everyone else not linked to HWA) trying to convert the world, the second is war, the third is famine, and the fourth is the disease epidemics. These are to occur in order.

According to COG prophetic framework the great disease epidemics can only reach their fulfillment after the great preliminary wars that occur before the Great Tribulation and the great famines. They cannot come before then. Any disease epidemics occurring before those two events cannot be legitimately used by any COG as a fulfillment of their prophecies. Until the wars and famines come as they been mercilessly preaching at us for more than fifty years no disease epidemic can be legitimately used as a fulfillment of their understanding of prophecy.

So even if this disease did reach apocalyptic proportions (which I do not believe will occur) it still would not fulfill HWA's prophetic framework because it came too early before the supposed preliminary wars and famine. There is no need for us to cling to some prophets who fellow a false prophet.

Clearly God is not talking to them. We have no need to fear their scare-mongering. Their words fail. There is no need to be scared and render ourselves dependent on them. God is not with them, we must do likewise.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Packatollah and Disfollowshipping

Dave Pack is one of the more infamous ministers associated with Armstrongism. Norm Edwards provides a devastating portrait of him, saying that he is a ravenous wolf, trigger happy with his authority, unreasonably demanding, leaving behind "hundreds of pages of call logs, letters, e-mails" detailing his many failings. Even as early as 1985 AR32 exposed him as a particularly abusive controller. It was reported that "For a number of years now [even before 1985], no WCG minister's name has appeared more often in letters written to the [Ambassador] Report complaining of ministerial abuse." LCG apologist Bob Thiel also discusses him. He calls himself an Apostle, and has had demanded his flock to give their assets to him. Alas people are still falling for this this notorious man. (See April 21 Letter.)

In the recently released Vita Packatollah Dave Pack talks about the savage act of disfollowshipping in Chapter 26. Let us see what we can learn by observing what he says about this subject (Emphases mine throughout the blog):

The heading for this section is "God’s Math—“Subtract Problems, Add Growth”". We now continue:

Normal math is subtract from the whole and you have less. God’s math is different.

[This is Dave Pack himself speaking:]“I learned early God’s ‘addition by subtraction’ principle: subtract problems from the congregation, and attendance goes up, not down. This vital principle largely defined my ministry over the years. I implemented it in every pastorate, all of which were troubled when we arrived. Eliminate noisy, disruptive tares (not quiet ones, Matt. 13:29) and attendance goes up.

Let me see: You disfollowship someone and then you are blessed for it. You are rewarded for it. Maybe that's why he appears to be so trigger happy with his authority. (I am simply using "trigger happy" as a figure of expression. I am not implying in any way that Dave Pack is somehow misusing any actual firearms.) This is just a COG superstition which makes as much sense as sacrificing a beautiful maiden to an erupting volcano. Well now we know how he can justify unleashing a mass purge if he ever wants to.

....“Most [WCG ministers] would not follow Mr. Armstrong’s simple principle: ‘One rotten apple spoils the whole bushel.’ He practiced what he preached many times in regard to senior leadership in the Church. Which man who led Church Administration did not go on to prove himself to be a ‘rotten apple’?

This gives Dave Pack justification and the authority to get rid of anyone, even those directly under him.

After that he goes into a little spiel saying that no division is allowed.
“I learned early on that division in my congregations could not be tolerated—under any circumstance. Discord is the most destructive thing to God’s Church and simply cannot be permitted to exist. I saw that people can be divided over many things: doctrinal ideas, not following Church traditions, matters of wrong behavior openly permitted in the congregation, criticizing ‘how the money was spent,’ decisions made by Headquarters—and false accusations between brethren.”
This is a call for dictatorship. Also observe that statement concerning finances. This is evidence that RCG members are denied any say in the financial concerns of the organization they pay their tithes to. Dave Pack has complete control over finances and therefore the entire organization.

And then after this spiel on how no division must be allowed he then very confusingly insist that actually he has been quite lenient and rarely disfollowships anyone. The reader needs to be aware that he narrowly defines disfellowshipping here, saying most left of their own accord. He does this so he can make himself look better in this regard. He wants the best of both, portraying himself as tolerating no division and praising himself as being a merciful minister. That latter assertion also serves to keep RCG members fearful that other ministers will be even worse than him.

This section of the Vita Packatollah paints a disturbing portrait of a dictator. These are evidences that Dave Pack is an abusive leader who needs to be avoided like the plague.

A Thought on Fox 25's Report on PCG

One thing that I have not heard anyone say concerning Fox 25's report on PCG is the parallel between Gerald Flurry letting Stephen Flurry, author of Raising the Ruins, get interviewed by Fox 25 and Herbert W. Armstrong letting Stanley Rader get interviewed by Mike Wallace.

Knowing how Gerald Flurry hopelessly imitates HWA I suspect he let Stephen Flurry talk to the media in imitation of HWA's letting Rader talk to the media.

This seems to suggest that Stephen Flurry hold the same position Rader had back in 1979.

This imitation tries to further legitimize Gerald Flurry by imitating the false prophet HWA.

(Alas the news report [Part 1 and Part 2] seems to be no longer online. Does anyone know where to find it? It's priceless!)

(Update: The Reports have been moved. You can see Part 1 and Part 2 here.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Definitions of Plagiarism and HWA

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about plagiarism. If we apply these standards to HWA what shall be the conclusion? The following come from the introduction. Among other things it shows that it is a serious offense. (All emphases are mine.)

Plagiarism, as defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, is the "use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work."...Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud and offenders are subject to academic censure, up to and including EXPULSION. In journalism, plagiarism is considered a breach of journalistic ethics, and reporters caught plagiarizing typically face disciplinary measures ranging from suspension to TERMINATION.

It is well known that the booklet Has Time Been Lost? was actually a plagiarism of a COG7 booklet of the same name dating back at least to 1925. It appears that the COG7 booklet was in the public domain at the time HWA wrote his book. Observe what Wikipedia also has to say on that sort of matter.

Plagiarism is not copyright infringement. While both terms may apply to a particular act, they are different transgressions. Copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of a copyright holder, when material protected by copyright is used without consent. On the other hand, plagiarism is concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author's reputation that is achieved through false claims of authorship.

So HWA using the non-copyrighted COG7 booklet is also an act of plagiarism.

How can anyone believe otherwise?

As seen previously those who continue to deny the truth respond by narrowly defining "plagiarism" as "copying". (I am indebted to Mr. William Hofmann for inspiring the highlighted phrase in his review of Mystery of the Ages) It is only on such unrealistic terms that they are able to deny HWA's obvious plagiarism.

That is not good enough.

HWA is a plagiarizer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More Thoughts on Why They Don't Want to be in Heaven

I have had more thoughts on this topic. As related in the last post in one Tomorrow's World program Meredith cited all these Biblical personages and insisted that they did not go to Heaven, then he brought up Lucifer and shouted, "Now there's someone who wanted to go to Heaven!" thus implying that the believers' expectation of going to Heaven is not just inaccurate but completely evil and Satanic.

That thought of Meredith's is not true. This thought does not even work within the teachings of HWA. What Meredith said that Satan wanted to go to heaven and thus implying that only Satan would want to go to Heaven is not true and actually has many problems, even if we assume HWA's belief system to be accurate.

The COGs teaches that the saved will be centered on the earth, not in Heaven. However they also teach that when we become immortal God beings we shall be able to transport ourselves wherever we wish instantaneously. Observe how LCG Evangelist Richard Ames describe the abilities of those who will have been deified. "Imagine being able to travel about the universe instantaneously! One galaxy will be as close to you as another. God, as the Creator of the heavens, wants to share all of His creation with you." ("Will We Conquer Space?", Tomorrow's World, November-December 2000, p. 12. Emphasis mine.) If God is to share all of creation with us, why not Heaven as well?

And also the "Presiding Evangelist" Meredith himself also wrote in Your Ultimate Destiny, under the heading "Inheriting a Universe", the following:
Then we will have glorified spirit bodies that will not be subject to physical laws, as we know them now. We will be able to hurtle throughout the universe far faster than the speed of light, for we will be full members of the Creator Family—the Family of God—able to move at the speed of thought! (Page 18. Emphasis mine.)
So with all these abilities surely it will be possible to go to Heaven to meet God the Father up there. We shall not be trying to overthrow God, unlike Lucifer, but simply wishing to spend time with our beloved heavenly Father. Yes, according to LCG and the rest, the saved will be very busy on earth, but we will be immortal God beings that never tire. Surely we will be able to go up into Heaven with such abilities as Meredith and Ames described despite all the busy activities we will have rebuilding the earth.

So the idea that we can't go to Heaven is ridiculous. Even if we shall be busy on the earth, according to LCG's teachings, there is no reason why we cannot go to our Heavenly Father still up there.

So Meredith's thought that because Lucifer wanted to go to Heaven that this makes the desire to go to Heaven evil is shown to be a false analogy. Lucifer wanted to overthrow God. We simply wish to be with our Heavenly Father. There is no comparison to be made between the believer and Lucifer.

Imagine there is a man who lives far away, and some time ago an evil criminal visited him and tried to murder him. Thankfully nothing happened and the man is safe. Later I want go to visit the man because he is a very good friend of mine. But he lives far away so it takes a long time to make the proper arrangements. Then this other man who seems to be a minister and righteous whom I trust meets me. He passionately shouts that it is wrong and evil for me to go visit him, because no other good people we mutually knew ever visited him, and the one who did visit him tried to kill him. Therefore I cannot go. I certainly have no hostility with my friend at all, yet I have been most emphatically told I cannot go.

Does the minister's reasoning make sense?

That is precisely how (un)reasonable Meredith's statement is.

It is nothing more than a false analogy.

Imagine telling a believer that his or her desire to be with God is evil, Satanic even. It is obscene to falsely tell a believer such things. By saying this fundamental yearning is evil and Satanic makes him or her doubt him or herself. If one should be doubtful and even fearful that he or she may be harboring an evil Satanic desire this will cause the well-meaning believer to trust in what Meredith says and thus they become dependent on him.

This is statement of Meredith's is carefully designed to make believers uncertain, fearful and dependent on himself.

That is obscene behavior.

There is no need for anyone to make him or herself dependent on Meredith or any other COG leader, or any man. God is greater than them. God is our Father. It is the most natural and beautiful thing for one to yearn to be with Him. It is not evil and there is certainly nothing Satanic about this desire. There is no need to be ashamed of wishing to be with God.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why They Don't Want to be in Heaven

I remember reading once on J's old Shadows of WCG blog a post which related that once, during the Changes in WCG, some were discussing the new beliefs that were coming in. Among those beliefs was the belief of going to heaven. J told us that one Armstrongite spoke with contempt about such people, saying with disdain, "They think they're going to heaven." J said he was shocked to hear someone be so dismissive of such people. J said, in effect, what's wrong with simply wanting to be close to God? To want to be with Him?

When I read that blog I immediately thought of why that person would be so contemptuous.

I watched one Tomorrow's World broadcast and Meredith was talking about not going to Heaven and was trying to discredit that idea, as is typical of this religion. He cited the typical 'proof texts', supposedly proving no one, such as David, goes to Heaven and then, as a contrast, he cited Isaiah 14 about Lucifer.

Now HWA taught that Lucifer was placed on the earth before Adam came to be and he then rose up to Heaven in revolt trying to overthrow the Lord. Meredith cited verse 13: "For you [Lucifer] have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven'." Then he shouted, "Now there's someone who wanted to go to Heaven!" That is actually quite a shocking statement, and I think he knew how divisive it would be to viewers, so he proceeded to try and make it sink into his hapless viewers' heads.

Quietly, as though he really wanted you to think about it for your own good, he said, "Think about that. Meditate on that." He wanted us, his unsuspecting viewers, to convince ourselves of this "truth" that only the Devil wanted to go to heaven. He knew some would be horrified and jerk back away from him, but he wanted us, those who would listen, to internalize this thought in our heads. He knows once he convinces you of this idea your options will be very limited, thus forcing you to join the small fold of Armstrongism.

Is this really so?

One scripture often cited for this belief is John 3:13. But as Kelly Marshall shows in a critical review of Chapter Six of Mystery of the Ages Jesus was referring to a bodily ascension. He was not talking about spiritual ascension. No one had been bodily resurrected and Jesus was the first. He was referring to that sort of ascension.

It is also pointed out there that confusingly HWA also taught that Humankind has a "spirit essence" (or whatever) that imparts intellect to the individual and that this "spirit essence" ascends to Heaven! So, according to HWA, no one goes to Heaven but everyone's spirit essences do.

So something human does ascend to heaven after all.

Why should going to heaven be demonized as something only the Devil wanted to do when our "spirit essences" are all going to Heaven anyway?

That makes no sense.

In Armstrongism everything that is disapproved is compared to the Devil. When HWA got annoyed at COG7 for defrocking him he called church government the Image of the Beast and said it comes from Babylon in his 1939 article, and then he wholeheartedly embraced this Babylonian system. (The details of how that happened may be seen in this In Transition article by John Robinson.) This thought Meredith tries to implant into you is just standard Armstrongite demonization. Whenever an Armstrongite minister disapproves of something he just says, "Satan did it!" "It's the work of the Devil!" and some such nonsense. And then if they change their minds they just forget all about it, like HWA in his flip-flops over church government and makeup. We have nothing to fear from the words of these false prophets. (Deuteronomy 18:22.)

Update: More on this topic may be read here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How Dare You, HWA!

This Easter Sunday I had quite an experience at the church service which I wish to share with you. To me it exposed the utter horror of Armstrongism, how utterly wrong it is, and the true nature of the alleged Apostle and Elijah Herbert W. Armstrong.

Way back when I first read Mystery of the Ages back in 2001 I read there, in Chapter 7, under the heading 'Christ to Rule All Nations' the following. (Pay particular attention to the Bolded paragraph):

Have you not read what the angel proclaimed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, prior to his birth? Jesus told Pilate he was born to become a KING. The angel of God said to Mary:

"...thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the THRONE of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be NO END" (Luke 1:31-33).

Why do the churches of this world never mention any of these scriptures? Millions have attended churches all their lives and never heard any of these scriptures about Christ becoming a king or about the coming kingdom of God.

These scriptures tell you PLAINLY that GOD is supreme RULER. They tell you in plainest language that Jesus was born to be a KING...
So HWA has quite plainly told me that the "world's" Christians do not know that Jesus Christ is a King.

Now on Easter Sunday I went to a Sunday-keeping church. This church has absolutely no relation to Armstrongism or Adventism.

And there I was stunned when the minister talked about Jesus Christ being a King. He talked about Jesus Christ returning in glory as King of Kings and Lords of Lords in the Second Coming. I instantly recalled that very passage.

I was overcome by emotion at the sheer audacity of this lie. I very nearly cried at the thought of how brazenly, how shamelessly HWA lied to us!!! But I didn't want to make a scene so I was somehow able to restrain myself. When I got home I did cry, for about a minute or two.

[Update: For more on this see, The Video that Brought me to Tears.]

I was amazed that these people did understand that Jesus is a King. HWA told us otherwise.

The lie written here has been covered here, under the heading: 'Lies against Biblical Christianity Concerning Luke 1:31-33'. It is nothing but the boldest lie you can imagine.

HWA the Liar said: 'Millions have attended churches all their lives and never heard any of these scriptures about Christ becoming a king'. I just went to a "worldly" church and they said the same thing! This is just a lie. An astoundingly bold lie!

What a liar is this Herbert W. Armstrong!

How evil it is he tried to place himself between the believer and God. Such a man who claims such privilege is just a liar, I am afraid to say.

A common liar was Herbert W. Armstrong.

In his broadcasts he would start off by saying, 'Greetings Friends!' That is just another lie. WNo true friend would try to be a hindrance in the believer's relations with God. No true friend would hand such a complete lie to people who are looking for truth.

I am absolutely astounded that a man like HWA could lie like that. Only a man absolutely twisted by the Devil could lie in such a blasphemous and horrid fashion!

While walking back from church I asked myself, 'Is he really a man?' I see little evidence of that. I see very little human in this so-called man. He is a lying demon in human form.

I am reminded of this tragic post, "I Wish I Could Have Met Jesus", about a JW wishing to meet Jesus but 'knowing' she never will.
I remember a JW telling me her biggest dream in the New Order is to talk to the 'impaled' wrongdoer whom Jesus had promised would be in the Paradise. The biggest reason for this desire is to "ask the forgiven criminal what Jesus looked like and what He sounded like."
What a tragedy! Jesus can be discovered now! We do not need some incestuous, self-proclaimed Apostle and Elijah to get to Jesus! Or some totalitarian Politburo in Brooklyn claiming to be God's sole channel of communication! OR ANY MAN!!

May the Lord free them! Like these precious souls.

(Update: J discusses this blog and further expands on this topic here.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

HWA: Member of COG7

This Journal interview with former COG7 president Robert Coulter offers fascinating evidence that HWA actually was a member of COG7 near the end of the article.

Also another motivation, not mentioned in the article, which caused HWA to assert this was that by denying his previous membership with COG7 he could deny that any minister who left were simply imitating him.

After all since he was a minister in COG7 and refused to follow church authority and left that means there is absolutely nothing to prevent any other minister doing the same thing and say, "I'm only following HWA's example" and convincing the flock in this matter.

By denying his membership he was able to further attack their legitimacy, as may be seen in HWA's May 2, 1974 Member Letter. HWA could say, "They are not imitating me at all." (Both "quotes" are my paraphrases.)

Of course, as The Journal article shows, this is nonsense. He was one of the "Seventy". How can one not be a member when given such a post? Is that really just "co-operation" and not membership, as he would have us believe? HWA simply wanted to deny as much debt to them as he could get away with.

Friday, April 17, 2009

HWA "Plagiarized" or "Copied" - Which?

Did HWA plagiarize J. H. Allen and stole his British-Israelism doctrine for himself? How have those who insist otherwise respond to this grave assertion? Did HWA claim to have gotten the doctrine from God alone though his word?

From HWA's sermon on May 16, 1981 (I am indebted to J for bringing this quote to my attention, in the random quote section. Bolding is mine throughout the article.):

Now, I say the same thing. Neither did I, when God began to open my mind, go to other people. [Really? Would this statement mean you did not used information from other written sources?] I did not go to a religious seminary. I went to this Bible. I began to find that EVERYTHING I’D BEEN TAUGHT WAS WRONG! AND I THREW IT ALL OUT. I began from scratch!

In 1953 HWA wrote the following in his article No! I was Never was a "Jehovah's Witness," or a Seventh Day Adventist!:

I learned God's TRUTH directly from GOD - thru His WORD - the Holy Bible. I did not learn it from any sect or denomination....No, MEN did not teach me what I preach to you [that would include British-Israelism]. I was not taught of men, but of GOD!

From Chapter 20 of HWA's Autobiography:

After exhaustive study and research [which we are told was done only from the Bible. After all God's Apostle just told us above "I learned God's TRUTH directly from GOD - thru His WORD - the Holy Bible."], I had found it PROVED that the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel had migrated to western Europe, the British Isles, and later the United States -- that the British were the descendants of Ephraim, younger son of Joseph, and the United States modern-day Manasseh, elder son of Joseph -- and that we possessed the national wealth and resources of the Birthright which God had promised to Abraham through Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

This is the story HWA would have us believe.

Is this really the case? Did he only use the Bible to discover his revelations? Surely he would have us believe that no "MEN" were responsible for giving him "the truth". Did he, as he said 'learned God's TRUTH directly from GOD - thru His WORD - the Holy Bible'? Is this true?

A most uncharacteristic crack in the facade appeared in 1969. Look at what HWA wrote in his personal on p. 4 of the August 1969 Good News:

Also, even during the initial six-months' study before baptism, a minister in Florida I had contacted by mail, wrote saying that unless I knew of the identity of the United States and the British as the Birthright people of Israel--heading the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes," I was IGNORANT! So I obtained all the literature I could find on the subject [would this include J. H. Allen?], comparing every point with the Bible. I found many errors--errors in every book or pamphlet I could find on the subject. But what I did find in the Bible PROVED our identity. This was the needed KEY to unlock all the prophecies!

WCG, in this marvelous expose' article which proves that HWA did plagiarize, identifies this Florida man as one Lincoln McConnell. He found many errors in the books teaching British-Israelism yet he decided to trust them anyway despite their 'many' errors.

When I first read him insisting he "learned God's TRUTH directly from GOD - thru His WORD - the Holy Bible" I certainly did not expect him to have discovered British-Israelism by reading books that discussed it.

Also observe these similarities as reported by Ambassador Watch. (The citations may be seen at the AW post.) Half come from HWA, the other half are from J. H. Allen:

1a. Remember that the term "Jew" is merely a nickname for "Judah." Hence, it applies to only to the one nation, or House of Judah only - never to the House of Israel.

1b. The name Jew is derived from, or rather is a corruption of, the name Judah.... Hence it is that the names Jew and Jews are applied only to the people who composed the kingdom of Judah.

2a. But the great bulk of Israelites are not the Jews, just as the great bulk of Americans are not Californians, and yet all Californians are Americans.
2b. Jews are Israelites, just as Californians are Americans. But most Israelites are not Jews, just as most Americans are not Californians.

3a. That Dan's leap landed him in Ireland is evident, for in that island we find to this day Dans-Lough, Dan-Sower, Dan-Monism, Dun-dalke, Dun-drum, Don-egal Bay and Don-egal City, with Dun-glow and Lon-don-derry just north of them.

3b. And in Ireland we find they left these "waymarks": "Dans-Laugh," "Dan-Sower," "Dun-dalke," "Dun-drum," "Don-egal Bay," "Don-egal City," "Dun-glow," "Lon-don-derry,"...

Note that none of them are quotes from the Bible.

They are so similar it is hard to tell which is which. Look at 3a and 3b. They are so similar!

Remember when the July 1953 Plain Truth told believers that the British Coronation Stone is actually the stone Jacob slept on at Bethel? Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that this idea was also taught by British-Israelism, as may be seen in the picture here.

Yet despite such overwhelming evidence of plagiarism some true believers continue to insist otherwise.

In one example Gary Rethford of PCG wrote an article in the November-December 2003 Royal Vision entitled Herbert W. Armstrong Not Guilty! discussing the plagiarism. This article may be seen in a three page PDF file.

First various quotes from personal letters by WCG during the Changes are used to define the charge against HWA. They are used in such a way that "plagiarism" is subtly redefined as "copying". This is from p. 1:

"one major reason we discontinued Mr. Armstrong's book The United States and Britain in Prophecy was that it copied major portions from Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright, an earlier work by J. H. Allen....you will find that many of the chapter headings are identical and large sections of the text match virtually word for word." So, according to Mr. Hunsberger, plagiarism is the copying of the entirety or major portions of another author's text without giving credit. Using similar phrases to to describe standard terms and concepts, however, is not plagiarism.

Notice how Hunsberger's writings are used to define plagiarism as requiring that "large sections of the text match virtually word for word." This article is trying to turn "plagiarism" into "copying" hoping the reader will not notice this slight of hand. The possibility taking an idea and rewording it without giving credit is subtly ignored in this article.

if we were to compare, word for word [Note the emphasis on "word for word".], the two manuscripts in question...we would see that according to Hunsberger, Mr. Armstrong had copied "large sections" of the text.

It then claims that HWA never claimed to have developed the doctrine of British-Israelism. "The truth is, Mr. Armstrong never claimed to have been the originator of the teaching."

Then how are supposed to explain the fact that he never acknowledged J. H. Allen in the US&BIP, or the previous quotes shown above, where HWA clearly say, "I learned God's TRUTH directly from GOD - thru His WORD - the Holy Bible"?

"Earlier editions plagiarized vast portions of... Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright. ...[W]e can see that he copied it ..." Now, that is a lie! They never saw that it was copied, because it wasn't!

Note the use of the word "copied". He is subtly using a slight of hand to change "plagiarism" into "copying".

Pretending that "plagiarism" means "copying" does not prove that HWA is not guilty of plagiarism.

He then cites the statement saying all Californians are Americans but not all Americans are Californians. Notes that at first HWA used Oregonian in earlier editions but this is just a confusing distraction that obscures the other similarities including those cited above.

Now we move into p. 2.

Then referring back to the July 22, 1993 letter the article say, "[WCG] charged that Mr. Armstrong plagiarized two basic ways: 1) vast amounts of copied text, and 2) the same format J. H. Allen used." [Again note the emphasis of "copied". Also the letter cited did not say "vast amounts".]

Then he mentions that PCG did a word test with Wcopyfind 2.2. It identifies identical words and phrases within the two documents. The result of their test was that "the greatest portion of "hits" (approximately 99 percent) WERE FROM QUOTED PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE, or references back to those scriptures....IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE to write on the subject without using those quoted scriptures!" This last sentence tries to make it appear that all the similarities are caused by the abundance of quoted scriptures. Were any of the HWA/J. H. Allen quotes shown above Scriptural quotations?

"The TESTS CONCLUSIVELY DISPROVE the charge that any copying of J. H. Allen occurred....In fact, it is demonstrable, over and over again, that no indication OF ANY KIND exists to show that Herbert W. Armstrong plagiarized any information from J. H. Allen, or anyone else!"

This is nonsense.

Observe the HWA and J. H. Allen quotes above. Are they copied word or word, or rather do they present the same ideas in a similar fashion?

It seems safe to assume that this program searches for word for word matches and would have missed such close similarities.

Then this article presents a 1980 Bible study tape by HWA. This is supposed to show HWA disproving the plagiarism charge but in reality it shows a man totally caught in the grip of cognitive dissonance.

Observe: "[a certain religious scholar, Mr. Melton] says I burrowed all of the truth from the Sardis people except that I burrowed some truth from some other people. Now THAT IS A BALD-FACED LIE! I did not get it from people!"

So HWA has denied that he got 'the truth' from 'people'. Now observe the very next thing he says. "It's true that I had read one or two other writings [so much not getting the truth from people.], and that book of J. H. [now we move into p. 3.] Allen on the truth about the lost Ten Tribes, but...'

And then he confuses the listener by suddenly switching the topic and going back into his typical story about how he was prompted to study the Bible because of his wife's sabbatarianism. (He is trying to confuse us.) He tells of how he disproved evolution, and proved the Bible is the word of God. This has nothing to do with British-Israelism or plagiarism.

Eventually he gets back to the topic: "I did examine their beliefs--some of them. I examined this so-called Anglo-Israel theory ... but I checked it very carefully with the Bible, and I only believed what I saw in the Bible, and I didn't believe and even threw out a lot of what they had." Saying he believed only what was in the Bible is his way of saying he took what HE liked and took out what HE (not God) did not like.

Then he gets angry, accusing Mr. Melton of characterizing British-Israelism as a racist belief and he passionately denied that. Again, this issue of racism has nothing to do with plagiarism. He is again distracting us. He is demonizing Melton and trying to arouse his followers' anger.

"and I'm supposed to have gotten most of what I believe from the Sardis people, and I got this from the Anglo-Israel people...but they can't understand that you could get truth from anybody but people--because he got everything he believes from people. Most people do." I don't know any religious leader on the face of the Earth who received what he knows except he got it from other people." He has completely contradicted himself. One moment he says God revealed it to him, now he says he read it but only took the parts he liked. He admits that he did take some ideas from British-Israelites, then the next moment ridicules Melton for saying what he himself just admitted.

And this is supposed to prove he did not plagiarize and he cannot even keep a coherent thought when discussing this.

PCG also address this issue in Raising the Ruins, Chapter 4. Or does it?

In Transformed by Truth, Mr. Tkach Jr. wrote, “In fact, it is no secret that Herbert Armstrong’s The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy was copied from a book titled Judah’s Scepter and Joseph’s Birthright by J.H. Allen.” He offers no support for this plagiarism charge. [Stephen Flurry rubbishes Tkach Jr.'s lack of cited evidence, but, strangely, SF has not sought to see if anyone else might have evidence to substantiate this charge, such as this non-premillenialist example which features even more side by side comparisons. This focus solely upon Tkach Jr.'s criticism as though he is the only one who needs to be refuted, as though only WCG and PCG exist and no one else matters, is a problem that occurres elsewhere in this book.] It’s just true because he says so—it’s “no secret”—everyone knows Mr. Armstrong “copied” it. But if you actually take the time to examine the two books, you will find that they are entirely different. Yes, ENTIRELY.

"Just because both books discuss the modern identity of the lost 10 tribes of ancient Israel does not mean Mr. Armstrong “copied” Allen.

Did you see what Stephen Flurry just did here? He has subtly changed the area of debate. The book has just done a slight of hand. The issue is not "Plagiarism" now, but "Copying". Using Tkach Jr.'s quote as a platform he has subtly changed the debate. This subtle change is done so quickly the reader may very well miss it. "Plagiarism" has been changed into "copying" and the reader may very well miss it.

The unfamiliar reader will have no idea of that the charge with HWA was that he plagiarized. This section allows the uninformed to think the issue has been properly addressed, while in reality "plagiarism" has actually been ignored and replaced by "copying".

The rest of this section is then used to emphasize the differences between J. H. Allen and HWA.

NONE of those differences disprove the plagiarism charge AT ALL!!

What cunning wordsmiths these people are.

This book only pretends to answer the plagiarism issue. It has cunningly side stepped the issue.

When I first read that section I was taken aback by it and wondered just what had been done here. It only a few weeks later, when I looked at it again, that I saw how the issue is subtly defined as being about "copying" instead of "plagiarism".

Despite what the few desperate true believers would like to pretend it must be painfully acknowledged that HWA just stole British-Israelism from J.H. Allen. Their desperate attempts to change "plagiarism" into "copying" cannot prove that HWA did not plagiarize J. H. Allen. This article shows in exquisite detail precisely how HWA acquired the doctrine of British-Israelism. He certainly did not gain it just by studying the Bible.

HWA is a plagiarizer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zechariah 14, FOT and Second Tithe

Awhile ago I ran into this Ambassador Watch post. There it was written that 'Yes it's Sukkoth (sue-coat), a.k.a. the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Not that anyone in the post-WCG tradition constructs booths from branches, or even sets up a bunk bed in the garden shed, but that's another issue.' These words got my mind on a track of thought which I will now detail.

Here is what I thought:

Zechariah 14: 16-19 is often used to say that the Feast of Tabernacles is to be observed by Christians today.

According to Armstrongite interpretation this shows that those living in the Millennial rule of Christ must observe the Feast of Tabernacles.

But there are actually severe problems with this interpretation for Armstrongites.

Let's be really generous and assume the Armstrongites have got most of it right in this matter of the interpretation of Zechariah 14: 16-19. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that this scripture actually does refer to events after Christ's return and that those verses are an accurate depiction of what shall happen in the Millenium as it is interptreted by Armstrongism.

Even if we assume all those points to be true, Zechariah 14: 16-19 still cannot be legitimately used to prove that we should embrace Armstrongism or that Armstrongism is the one true religion.


Because the Armstrongite Feast of Tabernacles is all wrong.

Observe how it was observed in Nehemiah 8: 14-17:
14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
This scripture shows that the booths which the children of Israel were required to dwell in were tents which were small enough to be placed on a flat roof. These booths were placed on each individual person's roof.

When I read the recruitment writings LCG made and I learned about the Feast of Tabernacles I read about it in the Bible. I perceived then that it should be observed by being in a tent in the appointed time.

But the COGs do not observe it in that manner. Instead they observe by coming together into large gatherings all over the world. They do not set up tents on their property. (Of course because we do no use flat roofs we would have to place the booth in our property.) This is not what is described 'in your own Bible' in Nehemiah 8: 14-17.

Also note how the Jews celebrate Sukkoth. Look at the Wikipedia articles on Sukkot and Sukkah. Look at the pictures. The Jews certainly do not observe this festival by gathering themselves together in some massive gathering far away to meet with like-minded people but, rather, observe it in their own homes.

Since Armstrongism observes this feast in an inaccurate manner therefore they cannot legitimately claim this as a proof that they are right. Therefore their Feasts of Tabernacles are inaccurate.

Since the Armstrongite FOT is illegitimate than Second Tithe, which is mainly used (if I understand it correctly) to allow the believer to observe this incorrectly observed festival, is thus being used for improper purposes.

As far as I understand it HWA first ordered his followers to pay Second Tithe in a October 3, 1945 co-worker letter, specifically to pay for the members' participation in the FOT.

Since Second Tithe is being used to celebrate the FOT in an inaccurate manner therefore the COGs have no right to use Second Tithe to pay for the incorrect observance of FOT. The Armstrongite practice contradict the Biblical practice as recorded in Nehemiah 8: 14-17.

So if the Armstrongite FOT is inaccurately observed then there is no legitimate reason to use Zechariah 14: 16-19 as a proof text for their observance of FOT because their practice of it is inaccurate.

However if the 'Apostle' HWA chose to observe the FOT in a more scripturally based manner, with his followers building a sukkah at home, he would have found it impossible to solidify his followers and bind them even more under his control. How do you build up an identity, a shared consciousness among fellow believers, by having everyone celebrating in tents in their own homes for eight days?

So he chose an observance style more effective for his purposes of further solidifying his control over his followers. He did this by commanding them to come together, meet many other fellow believers, make them feel part of something greater than themselves. Also HWA and his minions could make the members to listen only to what HWA and the leadership desired. Create milieu control,which is one of Lifton's Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

And so the inaccurately observed FOT is used as convenient mind control method and used to justify the acquisition of Second Tithe.

And so one can see that there are many problems with using Zechariah 14: 16-19 as a proof that Armstrongism is the true religion because the Bible shows that they do not observe it properly. And furthermore once the Armstrongite understanding of the observance of the FOT is rejected this also removes the purpose for Second Tithe. So it is seen that error builds upon error.

Also relevant to this discussion is this testimony that argues that the FOT is a mind control trick and this article under the heading 'All Will Keep the Feast (Zechariah 14)' which argues that during the future Millenium it will be required to observe the FOT but that under the New Covenant observance of the FOT is not required.

And so that was the train of thought my Biblically-derived, non-Armstronite expectations of the FOT and that comment on Ambassador Watch led me to think concerning Zechariah 14 and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Kingdom of Matthias

One book that those interested in Armstrongism may find intriguing is the history book The Kingdom of Matthias (1995) by Paul E. Johnson and Sean Wilentz. It is the tale of another false prophet, Robert Matthews, who started up a little community of brainwashed followers in the 1830s, and who claimed to be a reincarnation of the Apostle Matthias. I read it a few months ago and I found it a superbly written history book, very easy to read. It reads like a novel and you can really visualize it all.

Now without spoiling the story the reason why I wish to highlight it here is that this particular prophet, like HWA, adopted various Judaic practices, such as Sabbath observance, observing Old Testament meat laws. Those details do not impact upon the story in any major way. He also shared some other disturbing similarities with HWA's WCG. But I will not go into them here lest I spoil the story.

I am not suggesting that there is any connection between the two men but it is curious that they should have such similarities. This book is not about Armstrongism at all. It just so happens that this false prophet shared some doctrinal similarities with HWA.

More PCG Hyperbole and Curious Testimonies

This is from the article 'Continuing the Fight' by Dennis Leap in the February 2002 Philadelphia Trumpet, under the heading 'Largest Audience Possible'. Here PCG is trying to justify why they should be allowed to publish Mystery of the Ages:
[Gerald Flurry] considered [Mystery of the Ages] a vital part of doing the work. Mr. Flurry called it “the magnificent summary of all Mr. Armstrong’s work—THE ACCUMULATED KNOWLEDGE OF HIS ENTIRE MINISTRY.”
His entire ministry?

What about the time when HWA prophesied Christ's return for 1936? His identification of Mussolini (and then Hitler) as the prophesied 'World Dictator' during WWII? Or the next date setting with Christ set to return in 1975? None of those are discussed in Mystery of the Ages so how can it be called 'the accumulated knowledge of his entire ministry'?

Again this is just more misleading hyperbole.

The issue also contains Stephen Flurry's article 'The Legacy of Herbert Armstrong', which is a brief sketch of WCG history, much of which would later be used in Chapter 2 of Raising the Ruins.

It gives a brief history of HWA's religious career. Cunningly no mention is made of 1936, Mussolini and then Hitler being identified as the 'World Dictator', his many predictions that the USA would fall to Hitler's Nazi hordes and only the Second Coming will stop him. There is also no mention of the 1972/1975 prophecy of the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming occurring in that time.

One amusing thing about this article is that under the heading 'Those Close to Mr. Armstrong' this article cites the testimonies of Larry Omasta, Norman Smith, Dexter Faulkner, Ellis La Ravia, Roderick Meredith, Leroy Neff and Frank Brown to show what a great man HWA was. If these men's testimonies are good enough to prove that HWA was a great man, why is it that no mention is made of the fact that NONE of these men have judged PCG worthy of the honour of their prescence?

Norman Smith, Dexter Faulkner and Larry Omasta accepted the Tkach Changes and stayed with WCG. Ellis La Ravia and Leroy Neff are now with UCG. Roderick Meredith now leads LCG. And Frank Brown is now a part of the Sacred Names Movement.

None of them joined PCG.

If these men's testimonies are reliable enough to prove that HWA was a great man what are we to make of the fact that none of them chose to follow PCG?

If this is the PCG, praising Mystery of the Ages as 'the accumulated knowledge of his entire ministry' and then evade HWA's false prophecies (and then change the book), then this is not good enough at all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"You Will Gain Precious Insights and Information Available Nowhere Else"

Recently LCG sent their co-workers a DVD featuring four Tomorrow's World broadcasts, one by each of the presenters. I got one too. Instead of talking about how you can be saved by Jesus they chose to send out programs about fear-inducing (false) prophecy.

I seriously considered destroying the DVD. But I decided to watch it. I wondered how I would view these broadcasts now that I had renounced Armstrongism. I watched Roderick C. Meredith's broadcast.

After watching Meredith's broadcast I think I shall keep it. I am actually glad they gave it to me. Why?

Well, at the end of his broadcast, The Power of Prophecy, beginning at 26:53, Meredith said, "You will gain precious insights and information available nowhere else."

This statement may well have been true when he first got caught up in Armstrongism, but he very well knows that there are many other Armstrongite churches that preach exactly the same thing as Tomorrow's World teaches. Some little details differ from sect to sect, but what unites them is far greater than what divides them.

When I discovered YouTube I soon ran into UCGia's TV program, Beyond Today: The Next Superpower. Even though I had been aware of UCG for years, thanks to LCG apologist Bob Theil's website, I was still amazed that this show taught the same thing as Tomorrow's World. That the Beast is a revival of the Roman Empire, etc, etc.

There are also many other places out there where one can learn about HWA's doctrines. There are literally hundreds of Churches of God out there, as he knows very well, many of them continuing to teach much of HWA's writings.

So that assertion, and I can personally testify that he was using precisely that kind of language when I first started watching his program way back in 2000, is simply not true.

How dare you say something that is simply untrue.

This reminds me that back in June 2008 Stan reported that Roderick Meredith on his faculty page at Living University portray Meredith as having graduated from Ambassador University. It still says that.

This also reminds of what one former LCG member wrote in this letter, "When I was in LCG in 2001, Meredith was like a chameleon and could change at will. He was very slick and I witnessed him lie whenever it served his purposes."

Also in AR 29 October 1984, under the heading 'Meredith's Counseling' the following was written concerning what Robert Hoops, who at the time was a minister with Garner Ted Armstrong's CGI, had to say about Roderick Meredith:
During a deposition and later with us privately, Hoops described how, when Meredith once counseled his wife, Meredith made such insensitive and unwarranted accusations against him that his wife cried for a week. When he found out later what had been said about him, he became so depressed he was almost suicidal. Said Hoops, "When you have really committed your life to the church and believe the ministry represents God, a harsh assessment of you by a superior can literally create severe emotional trauma." On the stand, Hoops was asked by Stuart for his opinion of Meredith. But Judge Olson disallowed the question. Later, however, Hoops was quite candid with us about his assessment of Meredith's character.

"Meredith is a liar," said Hoops. "But that isn't surprising when you consider how big a liar he works for." Sadly, Hoops' opinion of Meredith is shared by many ministers who served under him in years past.
Alas! Because of the misleading statement he made in his TV program I regretfully am forced to conclude that such an assessment seems most reasonable to believe.

After seeing him make such an obviously untrue statement on TV, what other conclusion can there be?

To paraphrase what Stan said on that Ambassador Reports blog about him then, "Tell the truth!!"

"[WCG] Wanted to Suppress Mr. Armstrong's Teachings"

By the way, while I reading Chapter 17 of Raising the Ruins for my last blog I noticed these words, under the heading 'The Ad Campaign'. (Emphasis mine.)
they [WCG] wanted to suppress Mr. Armstrong’s teachings.
Is that really true? Was WCG trying to suppress HWA's teachings?

Look at what Stephen Flurry himself wrote in the last paragraph, 'They [WCG lawyers] said that while the PCG is free to believe [Mystery of the Ages]’s teachings, we could not go so far as to publish it. To do that, we would have to come up with our “own original expression of the ideas.”'

What is so unreasonable about that demand?

LCG made their own writings , UCGia made their own writings, RCG made their writings, CGI (Garner Ted Armstrong's first sect) made their own writings. None of them demanded to use HWA's own writings which were owned by WCG.

All WCG was asking was that PCG simply do what all these other sects were doing. They were not trying to 'suppress HWA's teachings'.

They were not trying to prevent PCG from expressing their religion or preaching it to others. WCG simply wanted them to stop publishing a book that they owned.

So we see then that WCG was not trying to suppress HWA's teachings. In their own church, yes, but not in the other COGs.

Those words '[WCG] wanted to suppress Mr. Armstrong’s teachings' are nothing more than misleading polemic, inaccurate inflammatory rhetoric.

Would a true man of God allow himself to say something that is obviously not true?

Is Stephen Flurry even paying attention to what he is writing?

TELL THE TRUTH!! For crying out loud!

Why I Read Raising the Ruins

Near the end of Chapter 17 of Raising the Ruins Stephen Flurry relates how PCG bought some advertising space in some newspapers starting in March 1997 soon after the Court Case began. It is portrayed as a stroke of genius because soon after these ads appeared Tkach Jr., who was finishing writing Transformed by Truth, made a comment in the book about the Court Case saying WCG felt it was their 'Christian duty' to prevent PCG from distributing HWA's writings. This comment allowed PCG to portray WCG as using their copyright to violate PCG's freedom of religion. Over and over again, even within this book, that statement was used as a polemic club against WCG.

Now I was long aware of the existence of Raising the Ruins, but I had no interest in it. At least not enough to read it. That only changed, however, when I saw this newspaper advertisement produced by PCG in New Zealand, courtesy of Que. As any ad is supposed to do this ad made me want to read it. Later I discovered I could read the whole book except the last chapter. Thank you, PCG, for that newspaper advertisement. If I had not seen it I never would have bothered to write about this book.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Analysis of Raising the Ruins Abridged

I covered at some length the various deficiencies I saw when I read Raising the Ruins by PCG's Stephen Flurry. In the order that I posted on the topics here are the various points that were raised:

Raising the Ruins:
  • Condemns Tkachite WCG for using its authoritarian power to unleash the Changes while to this day his own organization (PCG) is just as dictatorial as he claims WCG to be.
  • Hails Ambassador Auditorium in Chapter 2 as a 'legacy that was neither heavy nor burdensome' naively ignoring the reality that it was a severe financial drain. This may explain why PCG decided to build Armstrong Auditorium.
  • President Reagan's condolences were misleadingly presented as an endorsement of HWA ignoring the fact that President Reagan was a Sunday-keeper who never accepted Armstrongism.
  • Shows contempt for Tkach Jr. calling Armstrongite acceptance 'spiritual rape' and implies that only Tkach Jr. (PCG views him as the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2) would be so wicked as to label 'accepting the Truth' in such a manner, when in reality that phrase is often used by many ex-members, not just Tkach Jr., the alleged Man of Sin.
  • (All those points above may be seen here.)
  • Approvingly quotes HWA's statement in Mystery of the Ages that 'Scholars and church historians recognize' that there was a 'Dark Curtain' upon church history in 50-150 AD when it has been conclusively proven that none of the historians HWA quoted believed in such a ridiculous theory. In reality the Dark Curtain (50-150 AD) theory was used to bestow a numerical significance to the World Tomorrow's first broadcast in Europe in 1953 so HWA could say the Gospel was suppressed for 100 19-year time cycles (1900 years). (See Raising the Ruins, Chapter 4.)
  • Cites a PCG lawyer as saying that 'There is no rewriting of the book [Mystery of the Ages] that can happen....they can’t be rewritten.' (Chapter 19). An utterance which Gerald Flurry hailed as divinely inspired. 'He [Gerald Flurry] reminded Dennis Leap and me about what we had seen....God inspired Mark Helm’s oral argument at the Ninth Circuit.' (Chapter 20). And yet Gerald Flurry chose to go against what he himself acknowledged as divinely inspired words and altered Mystery of the Ages, going against an aspect of Armstrongite understanding of church government that dates to at least 1953 concerning the role of New Testament Prophets.
  • Deceptively hides and obscures from the unsuspecting the hard facts of the medicine ban which is imposed on PCG members to this very day.
  • Advances PCG's fixation on January 16 despite the many problems this doctrine has.
  • Desperately tries to portray Tkach Sr. as just a puppet and that instead Tkach Jr. was the mastermind of the Changes. This is done to hide the fact that Gerald Flurry made a failed prophecy in which he originally labeled Tkach Sr. as the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2. He now says Tkach Jr. fulfills that role.
  • Focus solely on the struggles between WCG and PCG, almost totally hiding from the unsuspecting readers knowledge of other Armstrongite splinter groups.
  • Gives the impression that only PCG is trying to preserve HWA's writings. Yet others have been involved in the task of preserving HWA's writings, including one Don Tiger who used to be associated with PCG. Their contributions to spreading HWA's writings and Mystery of the Ages are contemptuously ignored.
  • Says PCG must expose the wrongs of WCG completely hiding the fact that many others, Armstrongite and non-Armstrongite, have fulfiled that role with gusto.
  • Idolatrously extols Mystery of the Ages for much of Chapter 16. This among other things, hides the fact that PCG has given themselves the liberty of corrupting the words of Mystery of the Ages, the very book they supposedly love so much.
  • Omits much vital information that would cause many potential recruits to ignore PCG, such as: 1) Gerald Flurry being hailed as That Prophet, 2,3) Second and Third Tithes, 4) that Malachi's Message is the Little Book and 5) was revealed to Gerald Flurry by a mighty angel and 6) unsurprisingly hides the fact that Malachi's Message was plagiarized, 7) that ex-members and 'Laodiceans' are shunned by PCG members.
  • Claims that the Book of Habbakkuk was a prophecy about the Court Case predicting the outcome of the Court Case. Would God help an organization that has been as deceptive as has been shown here?
  • (The last six points may be seen here.)
As may be seen there are many distortions and misrepresentations to be found in this book, Raising the Ruins. God could not work with an organization that so consistently fails to tell the truth. Therefore God cannot be in PCG and it is an illegitimate organization.

May the Lord help those within PCG to see the light, and to see that it is totally unnecessary to follow some self-proclaimed (false) Prophet to find God. May the Lord protect those to whom this deceitful book, Raising the Ruins, is targeted at.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Words of Wisdom from the Vita Packatollah

The 'Apostle' Dave Pack has released Volume 1 of an authorized autobiography.

Let us see what he has to say.

This is from Chapter 15, under the heading '1974 Rebellion' (Emphasis mine throughout):
A growing number of ministers and leaders in the Church, in part led by the CAD Director and Garner Ted Armstrong, began changing certain long-held doctrines and Church traditions.
This is a typical HWA-loyalist interpretation of what happened in 1974. Just blame everyone else except the leader: HWA.
...In addition, these self-deceived men naturally found themselves disgruntled with Mr. Herbert Armstrong. They began to question his authority,
Dave Pack gives no sympathy to those who dared to ask questions.
To make matters worse, it was common knowledge that Garner Ted Armstrong had been engaging in various forms of grave and repeated personal misconduct. This hypocrisy at such a high level led to further criticism of Church leadership. Of course, many ministers found fault with how they perceived Ted’s behavior was being handled.

Whether they knew it or not, questioning authority on even small issues [is Garner Ted Armstrong's immorality a 'small issue' I wonder?] is a slippery slope. If a leader is willing to question Church government on a small decision, what would stop him from doing so on a larger scale? (Emphasis mine)
So criticizing how HWA favored his son is discouraged by Dave Pack as starting one on a slippery slope to getting kicked out of the church. This implants fear into his followers in order to scare them, intimidate them, into not asking questions of the leadership of Dave Pack's Restored Church of God.

He chooses to criticize such questioning behavior when it is directed at the leadership. Criticizing something that the leadership does which is obviously wrong is clearly discouraged here. This allows the leadership, in this case the 'Apostle' Dave Pack, to do whatever he wants. Members are not allowed the right to criticize that which is wrong if it is done by the leadership. This is evidence that Dave Pack is an abusive leader. A healthy, functional leadership will not be afraid of criticism, unlike this so-called Apostle.

CGI: The New Addition to the Alphabet Soup

So WCG finally did it. They changed their name. As Joseph Tkach Jr. has stated.

Reactions have been very diverse. I recall J's blog in the old Shadows of WCG blog calling for a name change to accurately reflect the dramatic changes that have occurred. Gavin Rumney and J have called for WCG to embrace democracy, viewing the name change as merely cosmetic. Russell Miller also views it as just a cosmetic change. AggieAtheist has expressed outrage that WCG thinks they can just forget the past. LCG apologist Bob Thiel is glad WCG has chosen to further disassociate themselves from their Armstrongite past. More reactions may be seen here courtesy of AggieAtheist.

Now as mentioned before my involvement with Armstrongism was somewhat distant, so I am will bring to attention a little thing here.

Now WCG can do whatever they want with their name. But...My word! Now we all have to learn another acronym! Just imagine what Wikipedia will have to say now. 'In 1995 20,000 people left WCG (now renamed Grace Communion International) to form UCGia.' Every time WCG will get mentioned it will have to be patiently explained that they are now called Grace Communion International.

And so the alphabet soup gets a bit larger.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reflections on Raising the Ruins II

(Before I start this blog I would just link to mention that I have made an addition to my January 16 post concerning how January 16, 1986 fell on Shebat 6.)

I heard of Stephen Flurry's book length recruitment pamphlet Raising the Ruins, and although I knew the true nature of PCG I wanted to read it. Later I found a website about the book but it only posted a few chapters. I read then proceeded to read up to the end of Chapter 3. I was distinctly unimpressed at what I read, indeed I was quite amazed at just how utterly lacking the book was. I summed up my feelings in a previous post. Even I was surprised at just how lacking it was. SF condemns the Tkaches' WCG as dictatorial and authoritarian, yet PCG is just as dictatorial and authoritarian as Stephen Flurry says WCG is; in Chapter 2 SF called Ambassador Auditorium a 'legacy that was neither heavy nor burdensome', a dangerously naive view that probably contributed to PCG's decision to build Armstrong Auditorium.

Later I discovered that practically the whole book can be read online. Only the last chapter is yet to be posted. Once I found this I read all that I had not read before in one 24 hour period. I took notes as I went along. That reading is what has instigated the last few postings about that book. Again, not too surprisingly, I found other assertions made that I had severe problems with.

However after reading that book I can no longer laugh at it as I did before. Because this book is so misleading. Many vital pieces of information of what life is like in there are cleverly, cruelly omitted. It is not a reliable guide to understand the true nature of PCG. Any unsuspecting reader looking for truthful information will not find it here. The fundamental premise that God is working through PCG is false and untrue. There are many issues of concern about this book, some I have already highlighted.

Stephen Flurry say PCG must expose WCG. The book almost completely ignores other critics of Tkach and the other Armstrongite churches, which also widely criticized and exhorted against the Tkachite Changes and how they were implemented. Heaps of people have done that, from other Armstrongites, to non-Armstrongites such as Exit and Support Network. But none of their hard work or insights are acknowledged in this book. He just pretends they do not matter. He just carefully ignores them and acts as though PCG alone is exposing the Tkachites to public scrutiny. This book pretends that only PCG and WCG matter. All others are hardly worth mentioning.

Stephen Flurry tries to give the impression that only PCG is trying to distribute HWA's writings. This is suggested with hyperbole such as this example in Chapter 18:
'But not for the Philadelphia Church of God, today Mr. Armstrong’s last will and testament [Mystery of the Ages] would be all but obsolete.' That statement of Stephen Flurry's is very difficult to believe seriously. It completely ignores the fact that many non-PCG websites out there which believe in HWA's doctrines have Mystery of the Ages posted online for anyone with internet access to read. I, myself, first came across HWA's writings in either late 2000 or 2001 on a website that is unofficially affiliated with David Hulme's COG-AIC sect. That website has always remained online regardless of the varied fortunes of the Court Case.

Other websites, some affiliated with other COG groups, have much of HWA's writings available online. One of which happens to be run by one Don Tiger, who used to be associated with PCG. While in there he worked on creating CDs that would contain much of old WCG's writings. However as Gerald Flurry saw the project progress he became infuriated and tried to suppress HWA's writings that Don Tiger was trying to preserve for posterity. How ironic that Gerald Flurry should try to repress Don Tiger for doing what he himself claimed to be doing: preserving HWA's writings. See Philadelphians Fight over HWA Writings here. Later he tried to do the same thing with Dave 'Send me your assets now!' Pack of Restored COG which also ended in the same acrimonious way. Unsurprisingly his story is not mentioned at all in the book. He, and the others who have posted HWA's writings online have been been cast into the memory hole.

Another thing I noted is that much of Chapter 16 is a nauseating 'tribute' to Mystery of the Ages that is way too far in praising a book, even saying that the book is required reading for prospective members. (The November 5, 2004 Pastor's General Report, on pp. 8-9, says the following in regard to 'Laodicean' prospective members: 'As a minimum, each Laodicean must also read and study Mystery of the Ages, Malachi’s Message and That Prophet BEFORE being invited to services. Remember, this policy has been set by Mr. Flurry.') Also throughout the narrative the words Mystery of the Ages are highlighted and linked every single time the title appears. It reminds me of how some Bible versions use red ink for Jesus' words. This also occurs when other writings are mentioned but MOA appears far more often than the others.

This book also contains many omissions. There is no mention of Gerald Flurry being 'That Prophet', no mention of Second or Third Tithes, no mention that Malachi's Message is taught to be the Little Book, no mention of Gerald Flurry's cruel 'No Contact with Laodiceans' rule, that if you leave PCG you will be shunned, that Flurry had maintained he gained MM from an Angel (you can see that ridiculous declaration in p. 7 of this PDF file of part of the September/October 1992 Philadelphia Trumpet. In reality he plagiarized Jules Dervaes to produce MM. No angel of God visited Gerald Flurry.), it very cleverly obscures the medicine ban, and doubtless there are other issues as well.

Another thing that was disturbing to me was Chapter 24: Victory Prophesied. The victory refers to the Court Case. Now that title is misleading. PCG did not win the Court Case, they lost it and then made a deal with the man they say is the Son of Perdition. That chapter details PCG's belief that the Biblical book of Habakkuk actually refers to PCG's Court Case. There are huge problems with this interpretation which the unsuspecting reader will not be informed of at all reading by this book.

When I read that chapter my mind went back to when Meredith's Tomorrow's World told me that HWA was an accurate prophet deceitfully hiding the many failed prophecies he made. PCG is guilty of the same thing claiming that 'He [HWA] was Right!' Although this Habakkuk interpretation is quite absurd, still, even knowing all the terrible things I know about PCG, I could all too easily see how a soul can get caught up in the tale and come to believe 'that God must be with PCG.' How that person sees the various scriptures cited out of context used to clumsily apply Habakkuk to the Court Case and is overwhelmed by them and decides that he or she can trust Stephen Flurry and the PCG.

Oh! if only that person knew the deceptive distortions this book contains, the hidden meanings which the unsuspecting reader is left unaware of. Those involved with PCG desperately need to repent of their vain fear-inducing preaching, of spreading false prophecies that needlessly cause fear. Those tricked into joining PCG will not be able to reach a Place of Safety. There is no refuge to be found in PCG. The unsuspecting reader will be unaware of what he or she is getting into if such a one is misled into PCG. There is no place of safety PCG can lead such a one to. May the Lord protect such precious souls. May he make them wake up and see what is wrong and get out of the PCG.

(Update: Exit and Support Network has just released another expose of one of 'That Prophet' Gerald Flurry's sermons, Revealing Satan (January 3, 2009). That sermon contains interesting comments concerning Raising the Ruins. 'But you see this man [the 'Man of Sin', Joseph Tkach Jr.] speaks of his own...that's his nature. He just lies, and lies, and lies and we've proven that throughout my son's book just over and over and over and over again and that is his nature. He's like the devil because, well, I think we have the devil possession.' Actually there are many problems with that book. In it PCG has proven itself to be rather 'economical' with the facts. That book has several misrepresentations that have been highlighted in previous posts.)

More on Raising the Ruins may be read here.

PCG's Recycled Prophecy

When Gerald Flurry wrote Malachi's Message he, inspired by Jules Dervaes' writings, he proclaimed the 'Man of Sin' of 2 Thessalonians 2 to be a man in the 'Laodicean' Church (WCG after HWA's death in 1986). HWA had previously taught that this would be the final Pope, he did not imagine him to be a part of 'Laodicea', but Flurry changed that. As far as I understand it Gerald Flurry identified Tkach Sr. as the Man of Sin. But Tkach Sr. died in 1995.

To prevent this from being seen as a failed prophecy the identity of the Man of Sin is now placed on Tkach Jr. Furthermore PCG now tries to portray Tkach Sr. as simply being a puppet and Tkach Jr. as being the real mastermind behind the Changes. This revision of their prophecy may be seen in Raising the Ruins. They were inadvertently helped in this prophetic revision by the fact that Tkach Jr. happened to be the man who fired Gerald Flurry and his assistant pastor John Amos, cating them out of WCG.

This desperate attempt to 'cancel out' Tkach Sr. as the Man of Sin and place Tkach Jr. in that position may be seen in Raising the Ruins. Notice what is written near the beginning of Chapter 14 of Stephen Flurry's work.
At his deposition, Tkach Jr. acknowledged that it was entirely his decision to fire these two long-time ministers on the spot. His father, the pastor general of the church, was not aware of the firings until after they had already happened.
Here Stephen Flurry tries to convince the reader that Tkach Jr. was the real mastermind, the real enemy, and Tkach Sr. was just a puppet. This is done to hide their earlier failure and indoctrinate followers in PCG's new identification of Tkach Jr. as the Man of Sin.

This attempt to attribute as much power to Tkach Jr. as possible is seen again later in the chapter.
It is interesting, looking back, that Mr. Tkach Sr. never once communicated with my dad during this whole ordeal [of disfollowshiping]. For the most part, Tkach Jr. and Helge handled the situation. And seven years later, when the WCG filed suit against us over printing Mystery of the Ages, Tkach Sr. would again be missing from the equation, having died of cancer in 1995. The two principle players, without question, in the case brought against us in 1997, were Joseph Tkach Jr. and Ralph Helge.
Again Stephen Flurry tries to relegate Tkach Sr. into just a puppet, a bit player, and tries to portray Tkach Jr. as the important man in the Changes. (Because they now say he is the Man of Sin.)

Also relevant is SF's discussion of Tkach Sr. using ghostwriters for his sermons at the end of Chapter 4. This further sends the message that Tkach Sr. was just a puppet. This further obscures their earlier prophetic failure.

The unsuspecting reader will be unaware that the purpose of these statements is to recycle Gerald Flurry's false prophecy identifying Tkach Sr. as the Man of Sin and say Tkach Jr. is the Man of Sin. Thus it is necessary to somehow explain Tkach Sr. away. It was necessary to belittle his role in the situation, to say he had no power because the Man of Sin was his son. The Man of Sin had the real power from shortly after HWA's death. No doubt when Tkach Jr. passes away PCG, or their successors, will just say the next Pastor General is the Man of Sin.

All of these details will be utterly undetected by the unsuspecting reader who is unfamiliar with the intricacies of Armstrongism. May the Lord save such people.

(Update: Gerald Flurry originally identified Joseph W. Tkach Sr. as the Man of Sin. 'Previously, GF declared that Joseph Tkach Sr. was the man of sin, but he is dead now.' Tkach Sr. died in 1995. The attempts of PCG to portray Tkach Sr. as just a puppet serves to hide this false prophecy.)

More on Raising the Ruins may be read here.