Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HWA and Pyramidology

Pyramidology is the belief that the Pyramids of Egypt was not built by the Egyptians but by biblical figures who encoded prophetic messages within its construction. The creation of the pyramids were attributed to several Biblical personages such as "Noah, Enoch and Job." (Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, p. 12.) Assuming that the Pyramids were created by Biblical personages this lead to the idea that the Pyramids were created to deliver Biblical truth. HWA was influenced by this doctrine. He did not embrace the belief that the Great Pyramid bore a message from God relating to prophecy, but he still believed that it was created by Job.

Pyramidology originated from one John Taylor (1781-1864) who became convinced that the Great Pyramid could not have been made by the Egyptians but must have been made by Israelites. This idea then passed to Charles Piazzi Smith (1819-1900). As a vessel of divine revelation the Great Pyramid was interpreted as giving clues to what will happen in the future. He used the measurements of the Great Pyramid to claim that Christ would return in 1882, then at other points from 1892 to 1911.

Famously Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witness, another religious movement often cited as an influence on HWA, also used such Pyramidological concepts for his own theories and used them to produce his 1914 date for Armageddon. Some of the writings advancing this theory may be seen here. Ironically the Watchtower Society today denounces Pyramidology as Satanic and yet they still use the date that Pyramidology helped to give them.

Such Pyramidological beliefs was long familiar to teachers of British-Israelism and have been inherited by their Armstrongite and virulently racist Identity descendants. Observe what this article on Identity belief has to say in regards to their beliefs concerning the origin of the Great Pyramid. "Identity teachers of today such as Pastor Arnold Murray maintain that the Great Pyramid was built by the Israelites and is a second revelation of God." (p. 4.)

HWA was long familiar with Pyramidology. Indeed it was while studying Pyramidology that he discovered the doctrine of British-Israelism. The truth may be seen in Ralph Orr's article, under the heading "Armstrong and the Great Pyramid." HWA sent a letter to Lincoln McConnell, a pastor in Florida wishing to learn more about Pyramidology. This pastor then told HWA that he needed to understand British-Israelism. "I must say that if you really want to KNOW your Bible you will have to get the books on "Anglo-Israel".... You will never know the real truth the BOOK is teaching without this key." Reading these words one is reminded how HWA would hail British-Israelism as the "master key" to understanding Biblical prophecy. He even stole that line from Lincoln McConnell.

If there is any believer of HWA's doctrines who believes that Ralph Orr is just making this up as part of an evil conspiracy to discredit HWA, let that person read HWA's personal in the August 1969, Good News, p. 4: "a minister in Florida I had contacted by mail, wrote saying that unless I knew of the identity of of the United States and the British as the Birthright people of Israel -- heading the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes," I was IGNORANT!" HWA then claims he only believed that which he found in the Bible to hide the truth that he just picked and chose whatever doctrine appealed to him. But this statement proves that HWA found the lost identity of Israel from a minister in Florida and not from the Bible. It was not a new revelation from God. He find it while studying Pyramidology.

Pyramidology's influence on HWA may be seen in some of his unpublished writings as Ralph Orr shows. It is of interest to note that many British-Israelites were attracted to this doctrine.

Ever wondered why HWA said Jesus Christ would return in 1936? One part of the answer is to found in the doctrine of Pyramidology. HWA was copying David Davidson, an author on Pyramidology who predicted a time of trouble for the British order from May 29, 1928 to September 16, 1936 (Barkun, p. 86).

HWA also referred to Pyramidology in his June-July, 1934 issue of The Plain Truth as may be seen with these words. "And for Great Pyramid students, a point in this connection will be of interest. The present depression, or tribulation, is there symbolized as occupying the entire low passage continuing from May 29, 1928, when the tribulation struck Europe, until September 1936." These are the same dates David Davidson produced. (Plain Truth, June-July, 1934, p. 5. Also see Ralph Orr's article, heading "Armstrong's Developing Work.")

Armstrongism would also come to accept the belief that a Biblical personage created the Great Pyramid. They settled on Job. HWA gave some small alluring tidbit of this belief in one of his booklets. "There is the implication here that Job had directed the building of some very great ediface—such as the great pyramid of Giza in Egypt." (HWA, Did God Create a Devil?, 1973, p. 6.)

This belief is given a more concrete form by Herman Hoeh. In his article Who Built the Great Pyramid?, published in the May 1964, Plain Truth, Hoeh taught that Job is to be identified with Cheops and thus was the builder of the Great Pyramid. Furthermore it was taught that Job was a son of Issachar. Here Hoeh, speaking for the organization, crucially denies that the measurements of the Great Pyramid contain prophetic significance. This position caused Armstrongism's adoption of Pyramidology to be relatively muted compared to those who believed that the Pyramids contained a prophetic significance.
I have beside me now the works of David Davidson, Adam Rutherford, and others. Each tries to build a chronology for the future by measuring the dimensions of the Great Pyramid with the "pyramid inch." Dr. Meredith and I saw the little stone protrusion in the Pyramid which these people contend is the key to the revelation of the pyramid. But they have no way to know whether this little protrusion should measure the pyramid and determine chronology, or whether it was for some other purpose.

Even if one has accurately measured the pyramid, how are they going to know which point means which year? Davidson starts with a certain point in the Pyramid and calls it the day of the crucifixion -- -Friday, April 7, 30 A.D. Since that date is proved wrong by the Bible [based on HWA's Wednesday Crucifixion doctrine], all his chronology is in error.

Another takes the same point and calls it the date of the crucifixion, Friday, April 3, 33 A.D. Since that date may be proved wrong, too, his chronology errs.

He also speculated that it marked the border of the land of Goshen with Egypt and that in the future "it might be again dedicated in the future as a pillar or monument of witness to what the Eternal -- the Amen -- will do in delivering Egypt from the revived Roman Empire." He further expanded on this topic in his Compendium of World History.

Curiously Hoeh mentions David Davidson and Adam Rutherford yet makes no mention of Charles Taze Russell. Was the Radio Church of God trying to hide their readers from researching the history of the Jehovah's Witnesses?

This pyramidological belief again appears in PCG's From the Beginning booklet, on page 42: "Tradition and history indicate that Job built the great pyramid. He was a splendid architect." The unsuspecting reader will be unaware that Gerald Flurry is actually referring to this tradition of Pyramidology rather than actual tradition and history. That booklet has been discussed on this blog earlier.

Thus we can see that HWA was influenced by Pyramidology and although this particular belief would be relatively weakened within Armstrongism by denying any prophetic significance of the Great Pyramid this belief played a crucial role in HWA's development of his eclectic worldview.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

HWA and British-Israelism

It is highly obvious that HWA very liberally stole his ideas of Anglo-Saxon-Celtic descent from Israel from the earlier movement of British-Israelism. After I renounced Armstrongism I, quite by chance (or was it just chance?), came upon a book entitled Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of Christian Identity Movement by Michael Barkun.

Now years ago I had read HWA's Wikipedia article and someone had stuck in there that something called "Christian Identity" also believed in British-Israelism. A quick look at the article showed that that was a racist version of the belief. Only because of that brief look was I vaguely aware of "Christian Identity" in any sense and that is the only reason I gave the book notice.

Now this book is about how a generally philo-Semitic movement, British-Israelism, was gradually transformed into a virulently anti-Semitic movement, Identity. It only touches on Armstrongism in the most vague and brief way as Armstrongism did not really play a part in that story.

Although the author did not intend it, I found this book a most revealing expose of HWA's hopeless plagiarism, since in the author's discussion of British-Israelism many beliefs of HWA are clearly present in this movement long before HWA took up religion. HWA clearly stole and adapted these ideas for his own uses.

I encourage the reader to look at this book on Google books here. In the preview one may read pp. 6, 8, 10, 11. Alas pp. 7, 9, 86 and 128-9 are not in the preview.

Here are some ideas which the book discussed that HWA would use for his own religion.

HWA declared himself to be a descendant of King David by his mother, who, we are told was descended from King Edward I who in Armstrongite dogma was a continuation of the royal line of David. The first great preacher of British Israelism was one Richard Brothers (1757-1824), and he also declared himself to be a descendant of David (p.6).

Remember how HWA would breathlessly declare that end time Israel had to be located to the north-west of Canaan? Well John Wilson (1799-1870), another prominent teacher of British Israelism, proclaimed precisely the same thing, that Israel is in the north-west of Canaan. He concluded that lost Israel has to be "in the NORTH-WEST--in our own part of the world. [Britain.]" (p. 7.)

HWA proclaimed that God made two covenants with Abraham, one physical, the other spiritual. The Jews got the spiritual covenant, and Britain got the physical covenant. He also taught that most end time prophecies applied to the US and Britain today. Wilson taught exactly the same thing. "Jews bore only those divine promises God" had given to those from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, "while the bulk of the prophecies were inherited by descendants of the tribes that dwelt in Israel--preeminently the tribe of Ephraim, which peopled the British Isles." (p.7).

Wilson also taught that it was the descendants of the two sons of Joseph who would be most prominent among the lost tribes. "Britain retained a place a spiritual preeminence" bcause of their descent through Joseph and the bestowal of Jacob's birthright blessing upon Joseph's sons. In his view "it was the descendants of [Ephraim and Manasseh] who would lead the way" for the rest of the Israelites. (p. 8.) How similar this sounds to what HWA taught. HWA would also inherit this focus on Joseph.

Remember how it was taught that many other European peoples are descended from other tribes of Israel? Herman Hoeh would claim that many different European peoples were in fact Israelites. A similar belief was also taught by Wilson who viewed other Europeans as also being Israelites with Israelites ""in Italy, and especially in France and Switzerland," as well as in Scandinavia." Furthermore the Germans were viewed as fellow Israelite brethren. (p. 8.)

Adapting this inclusive version of the identities of modern Israelite would lead to some embarrassing inconsistencies with their teachings, as can be shown here in an article quoted by the Ambassador Report: "In the last few years, the [Plain Truth] News Bureau has toyed with the idea that the European Beast might be Otto von Habsburg, a member of the Habsburg dynasty. But this would mean that the "Beast" would be an Israelite, not an Assyrian, because the Habsburgs are Swiss in origin (H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, 1971, p. 661). They originally came from the German-speaking two-thirds of Switzerland that Hoeh has said was not descended from the Assyrians but from the Israelite tribe of Gad." (AR 16, July 1981.)

Edward Hine (1825-1891) arose after Wilson and he rejected Wilson's identification of Germans as Israelites but instead identified Germany as Assyria, and furthermore taught that the biblical struggle between Israel and Assyria would repeat itself in the future. He taught that Assyria was also lost like Israel and "the modern-day Assyrians were none other than the Germans." Furthermore these two nations "were destined to continue the struggle" in the future. (p. 11). HWA adopted this same idea of Germany's ancestry and its future of the great physical adversity of Israel from Hine.

Unlike HWA's fear-inducing spin on this doctrine these British-Israelites seemed to be more optimistic about the outcome of this struggle.

Ever wondered why HWA identified Turkey as Edom? Among British-Israelites Edom was identified with the Turks. M. M. Eshelman, for example, identified the Turks as Edom in a book published in 1887 (p. 128-9). HWA simply copied this earlier idea.

This is information that can be found in just one book that does not even discuss Armstrongism in any extended way. It is very clear that he stole many ideas from British-Israelism and claimed that he and his followers alone had sole access to God's truth. There is no reason to regard HWA or his conclusions as anything special.

Friday, June 26, 2009

WCG and LCG's Fuzzily Presented Image

It is sometimes commented that WCG would often not make it clear in their recruitment materials that they were actually a separate church organization. This, presumably, would allow some people to be more receptive to their message if their were unaware of the presence of a separate church organization behind this message. I recently came across something that reminded me of this.

According to LCG's June 11, 2009 Weekly Update LCG sent out a DVD of last year's Feast of Tabernacles film along with Meredith's Semi-annual letter to all Tomorrow's World subscribers. For the curious you can see this Feast Presentation on YouTube. Part 1 may be seen here.

This move was accompanied with a few words by the Presiding Evangelist Roderick Meredith. His words are mainly devoted to expressing hope that the DVD may produce good results. Most of his words are in this vein.

Nevertheless there was one statement that to me poked out like a sore thumb. "Of course, it could have a negative effect on a few who only want to think about “their church” and did not fully realize that our Work is backed directly by a church."

Now he then immediately speculate that most people will be aware of that LCG is a distinct organization. "However, most of our longtime readers have seen our references to the Sabbath, the Holy Days, keeping God’s Commandments, etc. So, they should not be shocked."

A part of me thinks, Why are there some people unaware that LCG is a separate organization? Why does LCG seem to allow some people to imagine or simply not realize that Tomorrow's World is run by a separate organization?

In some accounts of how WCG members came to be recruited it is mentioned that some of them were unaware that the World Tomorrow was run by a "church" organization. D. W.'s testimony is just one example of this. In this case they were told they needed to be baptized by immersion yet they were just told to get their booklet. Another example is the testimony of Pam Dewey who was not informed by the WCG minister that there was a church organization behind the World Tomorrow until they were baptized.

There is also a difference in that before WCG publications were portrayed as being produced by Ambassador College, but when I got caught up in LCG they could not do that trick as Living University was not established yet and even now they have tried to portray themselves as coming from "Living University."

Now most of my awareness of the existence of the organization was because of Bob Theil's website. If it was not for that my conceptions of what this Living Church of God is would have been extremely fuzzy and uncertain. I would not have known that LCG is a dictatorship had I only read LCG official materials, for example. I would not have known many of the controversies within Armstrongism unless I had read Bob Theil. In many ways I was only aware of the organizational nature of LCG and its history only because of Bob Theil. Had I listened to them I would not have known their history until I read their "church history" booklet (that was not online when I was first lured into Armstrongism). And that booklet only gives very thin details concerning LCG's recent history.

Furthermore in this topic I must state that when I was first lured into Armstrongism back in 2000 LCG would begin each program of Tomorrow's World with the announcer saying, "The following is a presentation of the Living Church of God." Now though the announcer says at the beginning this, "The following is a presentation of Tomorrow's World." And so this tradition of not openly stating what this organization is seems to be continued.

However they do have the LCG announcement at the end of the telecast. But if TV audiences are anything like movie goers who often get up the instant ending credits begin, some might ignore what is going on in the ending credits or switch to another channel and miss that announcement.

My ISA Comment

Recently I made a comment on AggieAtheist's I Survived Armstrongism concerning the doctrine of the Trinity and the spurious Johannine Comma. She decided not to publish it and she has every right to do so. So I decided to publish my comments, with some adaptation, as a blog here but I deliberately decided not to mention this earlier controversy in order to keep the focus on HWA and his deceptive polemics.

Then she came back with this: "Redfox712, when you posted the comment I redacted here, to your own blog, I notice you left out the bit about how I’M “deceived by Satan”, just because I don’t believe in YOUR version of the trinity.


I'm not sure what to make of this assertion. I confess as being somewhat surprised at this response. Maybe some readers will better understand.

My comment was to say how HWA used the Johannine Comma in a deceptive way. In Mystery of the Ages he made it appear as though the Johannine Comma was the only proof text in the Bible Trinitarians used to prove the Trinity. Such is not the case as I tried to show. Although I myself believe in the Trinity now, partly because the Armstrongites never bothered to explain away Matthew 28: 19-20 to me, my focus in the comment was to expose the deceptive methods used by HWA using the Johannine Comma to discredit the Trinity in a deceptive way.

This is the comment I made that has caused this controversy. Let the reader judge what I said for better or worse.

It is a well known fact that the Johannine Comma does not belong in the Bible, hence most modern translations now omit it.

From Wikipedia: "The words "apparently crept into the Latin text of the New Testament during the Middle Ages... [possibly] as one of those medieval glosses but were then written into the text itself by a careless copyist. Erasmus omitted them from his first edition; but when a storm of protest arose because the omission seemed to threaten the doctrine of the Trinity (although that doctrine had in fact been formulated long before the textual variant), he put them back in the third and later editions, whence they also came into the textus receptus, “the received text.”[(Jaroslav Pelikan, Whose Bible Is It? A Short History of the Scriptures, Penguin Books Ltd, 2005, p. 156)] Modern Bible translations such as the NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV and others tend to either omit the Comma entirely, or relegate it to the footnotes." This in and of itself does not destroy the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy because this error was introduced in a Latin translation.
Personally I learned of this from HWA, the lying false prophet himself. He used this very account of the Johannine Comma to discredit the Trinity in Mystery of the Ages, near the end of Chapter 1. There HWA falsely states that "There is only 1 small passage in the Authorized Version of the Bible that is generally used by Trinity adherents to support the Trinity doctrine." Referring to the spurious Johannine Comma. This assertion of his is not true at all. It is a lie. If one should read Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults you will see that that assertion is not true. Other scriptures can and have been used to support the Trinity. Here are just a few examples:

When I was a slave of Armstrongism they never really explained to me how is it that if the Holy Spirit really is just an impersonal force how is it that Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19, NKJV). How could He say this unless the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son. They used other scriptures to impose their own heretical understanding but they never explained to me this scripture based on their doctrine. The Armstrongites never explained this to me.

Also if the Holy Spirit really is just an impersonal force like the wind how can "it" speak? "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 13:2, NKJV). If the Armstrongite should say that this is the Father or the Son speaking through the Holy Spirit then such a one is saying the Bible is incorrect and is actually correcting the Bible rather than letting the Bible teach him or her. That assertion contradicts this scripture.

If the Holy Spirit is just an impersonal force how can someone lie to "it." "why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3, NKJV)". Can one lie to the wind? Then how can one lie to the Holy Spirit unless the Holy Spirit is a personal being?
Whatever happens in this little dispute we must always remember that the really important issue here is was HWA a man of God? If he was why did he resort to such deceptive polemics?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PCG and Hurricane Katrina

While I was reading PCG's The Philadelphia Trumpet's issue on Hurricane Katrina I found myself being quite put off by how one of their articles chose to cover this story, namely Joel Hilliker's article Urban Anarchy.

I must warn that some may find this disturbing but I wish to highlight the sort of things that PCG are spreading to their Philadelphia Trumpet subscribers.
The USA had just gone through one of the greatest catastrophes in its history and here PCG chooses to make people even more frightened about what will happen later.

The fulfillment of this terrifying prophecy began on Sept. 11, 2001....It will end when a mind-numbing 100 million American souls have been snuffed out by violence in the cities. Plus 20 million Britons. Plus 11 million Canadians. Plus 7 million Australians....

The New Orleans violence is just a type of what will happen to major cities across the nation. It is a stark prophecy of our future!...

Try to envision it.

Multiply the compounding effects of one disaster in one major metropolis by two, four, six or ten....

The evils of human nature begin to emerge in force. Riots and looting break out in a handful of cities.

And then, within this edgy atmosphere, a crude nuclear bomb is set off in New York or Chicago....Eighteen thousand people are instantly vaporized. Power is out; the sanitation system has been disabled; there is no water; electronic communication from the area dies; information is blacked out; interstates clog with city-dwellers desperate to escape and suffering the first symptoms of radiation sickness....

Pillaging and rioting increase. Buildings burn in the night....

In the midst of the chaos, reports emerge of a spreading sickness. Unsanitary conditions in the city have facilitated an aggressive outbreak of cholera and a particularly deadly influenza virus. People begin dying in dozens, then hundreds....The plague spreads, and with it the crime.

This is only one of a thousand possible scenarios we may soon witness....

There is only one solution to this nightmare: Our people must repent and turn to God. If we fail to do that, the suffering is just beginning.
My word! What a dreary and depressing response to that great catastrophe. Instead of getting people to focus on God, instead of giving people hope PCG scares people. Instead of saying the people are fearful enough they choose to make people even more fearful and scared.

And for what? To follow the discredited prophetic scenarios of a prophet who gave us over 200 false prophecies? Only some of these may be seen here. PCG claims to follow a prophet who predicted Mussolini would be the Antichrist, then Hitler, even after World War II was won he declared that Hitler was still alive, then he proclaimed the coming of a European Empire that would plunge the world into the Great Tribulation starting in 1972 before Christ comes back in 1975.

Clearly HWA is not a reliable source of truth and this fear literature cannot be fulfilled. We have no need to fear the fear inducing preachings of those who follow such a false prophet. HWA made over 200 failed predictions, why should we expect PCG to be right this time?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Raising the Ruins' Last Chapter

When I read Raising the Ruins they had serialized all but the last few chapters. Now the serialization is finally complete.

The last Chapter, Chapter 25: Raising the Ruins, is an account of the establishment and growth of Herbert W. Armstrong College. Is there anything here that needs comment?

From Chapter 25, Part 2:
my father waited as long as possible before deciding on whether to start the college in the fall of 2001 or to wait until 2002. I wrote to my dad in January of 2001, “In reading from Mr. Armstrong’s experiences, you do immediately think about starting things smaller—the mustard seed beginning, just like the Trumpet and The Key of David started. Do you suppose starting the college this fall, with a smaller class and fewer courses offered, would be better than waiting until 2002? It seems like by fall of 2002 that the land would be much better developed, more buildings would be in place and we’d be able to accept more students—all of that would kind of go against the ‘mustard seed’ beginning.”

My father was leaning toward the smaller start in 2001. But even with a small beginning, it had to be done right. He wondered if our headquarters staff would have enough time to develop the highest-quality courses in theology and the liberal arts, and if the time commitment to do so could be justified for such a small freshman class.
Here they are trying to imitate HWA, who in his Autobiography kept saying that God always begins a Work in a small way like a mustard seed. Observe how the PCG leadership seek for every opportunity to imitate HWA to maintain their legitimacy.

However, as far as I know, HWA did not follow his own rule when he allowed Quest magazine to begin. "In the "rehearsal" issue, HUMAN POTENTIAL [later renamed Quest] announced itself as "The Most Important New Publication For The Last Quarter of The 20th Century"-quite a mouthful from a religious organization that had always prided itself in mustard seed beginnings. (AICF, AR2.)"

Also observe how HWA, Gerald Flurry and Stephen Flurry are all linked together here. They are all being linked together so that Gerald Flurry seems to his legitimacy from HWA and Stephen Flurry has legitimacy from Gerald Flurry.
Few people would have considered Imperial a legitimate college in 2001. [Then why--as of 2008 according to the Fox25 Report--does it still lack accreditation after seven years?] But it has since enjoyed abundant growth—and at a much faster rate than Ambassador experienced in its early years.
I find this comment somewhat curious. Are we supposed to view this college and work as being more prosperous, fruitful, and therefore more blessed by God, than even that of Mr. Armstrong's (unaccredited) College. Is this denigrating HWA? HWA often stated that when Jesus said "You shall know them by their fruits" He meant church membership growth. However what was actually being discussed was the spirituality of people's lives not membership growth.
As our chief financial officer, Andrew Locher, explained, “Part of each student’s education comes through the work-study program, which places them in responsible positions in nearly all departments of church operations. The church in turn benefits from quality labor at a very reasonable cost. Altogether, the students combine to equal 25 full-time employees—at a fraction of the cost! The students are rewarded by earning their way through college and graduating without financial obligation to the church. This is truly a win-win situation conceived by Mr. Armstrong for Ambassador College.” Yet another program we had raised from the ruins.
Andrew Locher delivered the infamous Facebook (so called) sermon which among other places was also discussed here and here in this blog. Is it really such a win-win for the students gaining a degree from an unaccredited college?
But by the end of 2005, after winning all that literature, [Emphasis added.]
Winning here is used as a euphemism for "buying", "purchasing" from the Man of Sin who is Joseph W. Tkach, Jr. (and not Joseph W. Tkach Sr. as That Prophet Gerald Flurry previously said before he passed away in 1995). That specific PCG belief is not stated in this book.
Perhaps the biggest step forward in 2005, as far as literature is concerned, came in January when we started updating and revising Mr. Armstrong’s Bible correspondence course.
However a lot of people are neglecting to finish that Correspondence Course. "So far, 2408 members have signed up for the course. Of those, 150 have completed it. On the other hand, nearly 800 have not yet completed the first test. Another 300 have not past the second test. That means about half of the members enrolled are at lesson 8 or less. While some no doubt signed up recently, some have signed up but failed to continue with the course." (Pastor General's Report, December 27, 2008, p. 4, as seen in May 7 letter.)

I can relate to that experience. I got enrolled with LCG's so-called Bible Study Course. (Both this and PCG's Correspondence courses are actually self indoctrination materials.) They are arranged in series of four lessons each. At the last lesson of each of these four part sections of the course there would be a test of forty questions. The answers had to be filled into a tab. None of the later lessons would be delivered until the test answers was returned. And I must say it was very easy for me to neglect sending those cards in. It's easy to receive regular mail, but once one is required to send something in it is quite possible to simply forget about it and never do it. So I know with first hand experience how much of a problem it can be.

Trivia: The Correspondence Course was revised by Fred Dattolo who was formerly in GCG/LCG till 2001 and is now a minister of PCG.
In January 2006, exactly 20 years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, all that was left from the PCG operations at the old Waterwood complex moved into the new Hall of Administration.
Here's that January 16 superstition poking its ugly head again. But notice how he didn't actually use January 16 but nevertheless they are so desperate to make all look trim and proper he carelessly ignores this discrepancy. It must be emphasized that this concept has huge problems.
Commenting on the building’s breathtaking beauty, my father told members, “Shouldn’t the most wonderful message people could ever hear … come out of a building like that—something that is worthy of God?” As with every other structure on campus, the building itself is a message—a testament to our work of raising Mr. Armstrong’s ruins. God has raised the ruins so we might give a powerful warning to this dying world.
Again here is that disquieting materialism that PCG all too often focuses on acquires through the three tithes of their members.
As I look out my window across campus from my second-floor office in the Hall of Administration, I sit here in absolute awe of WHAT GOD HAS DONE. To think that all of this started 16 years ago with a Worldwide Church of God minister who was fired and excommunicated, offered no severance pay or pension and then laughed to scorn within the circle of Tkachism for simply believing and teaching what he had always been taught. That’s what God had to work with at the start of raising these ruins—that, AND FAITH.
Notice how there is no mention about the reason why they are able to fund such things: PCG members are required to pay three tithes. Those are never mentioned in this book.

In this chapter variations on the phrase Raising the Ruins are used numerous times.
Then God raised it right back up. He began with a small, faith-filled ministry intent on delivering the exact same message Mr. Armstrong did.
"the exact same message Mr. Armstrong" delivered? Would this include changing words in three of his books? Would this include changing HWA's belief that New Testament Prophets have no administrative or executive function to allow Gerald Flurry to proclaim himself to be That Prophet against HWA's teachings? Would this include declaring that Gerald Flurry is Elisha even though Elijah (HWA) specifically said that there would be no end time Elisha? Would this include identifying Iran as the King of the South when old WCG suggested it would be the primarily the Arabs as LCG apologist Bob Theil shows? What about the other additions, the "new revelations," that Gerald Flurry has added?
In many ways, to paraphrase the conclusion in Mystery of the Ages, it feels like the story is just beginning.
This is an imitation of the ending of Mystery of the Ages which ends with these words, "With God's great master plan of seven thousand years finally completed--the mystery of the ages finally revealed, and with the re-creating of the vast universe and eternity lying ahead, we come finally to THE BEGINNING." That book is excessively praised by PCG and even imitated as is done here. A large part of Chapter 16 is devoted to praising this book, which is actually highly misleading. All this praise of Mystery of the Ages is a part of PCG's identity and it also serves to gloss over the fact that PCG has changed Mystery of the Ages for its own benefit.

Alas PCG with this ending has promised to continue their false work of spreading false doctrines and false fear inducing prophecies in the name of the failed prophet of 1975. God is not with PCG. May the Lord free those caught in its grasp.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Example of Cultic Redefinition of Terms

As is stated here Bible-based Cults have a tendency for redefining the meanings of theological terms into another meaning. It is very disorientating.

The unsuspecting will think the cult follower is speaking of the same thing as it is defined in mainstream Christianity. But the cult follower in fact has a different understanding of those terms which may well go over the heads of the unsuspecting.

I recently came across a perfect example of this. What I find remarkable about this statement is how ordinary and orthodox this statement may seem to a Protestant or a Catholic yet to a member of this cult these words are expressing very different ideas.

"The miracle that God performed was that of transferring the life of his firstborn Son from his position in heaven to an egg cell within Mary's womb. She thus became pregnant through the operation of God's holy spirit.--Luke 1:26-35."

Now to a regular Christian this seems perfectly orthodox. This phrase "transferring the life of his firstborn Son" seems not to contract the Trinitarian understanding of that event; " operation of God's holy spirit" seems to be perfectly fine and proper from a Trinitarian point of view.

However this quote comes from the Jehovah's Witnesses, specifically from Awake!, December 2008, p. 8.

The Jehovah's Witnesses understand these things very differently. When they speak of God, generally they refer only to God the Father. Only God the Father is viewed as possessing divinity.

When they speak here of the "firstborn Son" they are not referring to either Jesus' conception or his resurrection, as some unknowing reader might assume, but instead it expresses their belief that Jesus was the very first and greatest creation of God the Father who was then used by God to create all else. Their Jesus is not worshiped though the Jehovah's Witnesses did worship (their non-trinitarian) Jesus in times past. Their present position contradicts both the Trinitarian and Armstrongite position that Jesus Christ is a divine and eternal being who has always existed and always will exist from eternity to eternity who is worthy of worship.

The Trinitarian reader may be somewhat suspicious that "holy spirit" is not capitalized, but still this could easily be missed or ignored if one is unaware of their distinctiveness. This reflects their belief that the Holy Spirit is merely a force through which God performs his actions and is not a personal being, which seems similar to the Armstrongite position.

Such subtle redefinitions can cause people to believe that such groups are similar to mainstream Christianity when such is simply not the case and may be a barrier to understanding each other's views.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Lie from HWA

AggieAtheist has posted a blog about Bart Ehrman discussing the Johannine Comma. Although I do not regard this particular fact as challenging the authenticity of the Bible since this error was introduced through a Latin translation rather than in the original Greek and it has long been recognized as such hence why it is omitted in most modern translations, I wish to thank her for bringing this topic up because otherwise I would not have broached this particular topic and expose yet another lie which HWA told.

Wikipedia provides the following information about it: "The words "apparently crept into the Latin text of the New Testament during the Middle Ages... [possibly] as one of those medieval glosses but were then written into the text itself by a careless copyist. Erasmus omitted them from his first edition; but when a storm of protest arose because the omission seemed to threaten the doctrine of the Trinity (although that doctrine had in fact been formulated long before the textual variant), he put them back in the third and later editions, whence they also came into the textus receptus, “the received text.”[(Jaroslav Pelikan, Whose Bible Is It? A Short History of the Scriptures, Penguin Books Ltd, 2005, p. 156)] Modern Bible translations such as the NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV and others tend to either omit the Comma entirely, or relegate it to the footnotes." This in and of itself does not destroy the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy because this error was introduced in a Latin translation.

Now I must say that I was unaware of this until I learned of this from HWA, the lying false prophet himself. He used this very account of the Johannine Comma to discredit the Trinity in his masterpiece of deception, Mystery of the Ages, near the end of Chapter 1. There HWA falsely states that "There is only 1 small passage in the Authorized Version of the Bible that is generally used by Trinity adherents to support the Trinity doctrine." Referring to the spurious Johannine Comma.

This assertion of his is not true at all. It is a lie. If one should read Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults you will see that that assertion is not true. Other scriptures can and have been used to support the Trinity. Here are just a few examples:

When I was a slave of Armstrongism they never really explained to me how is it that if the Holy Spirit really is just an impersonal force how is it that Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19, NKJV). How could He say this unless the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son. They used other scriptures to impose their own heretical understanding but they never explained to me this scripture based on their doctrine. The Armstrongites never explained this to me.

Also if the Holy Spirit really is just an impersonal force like the wind how can "it" speak? "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 13:2, NKJV). If the Armstrongite should say that this is the Father or the Son speaking through the Holy Spirit then such a one is saying the Bible is incorrect and is actually correcting the Bible rather than letting the Bible teach him or her. That assertion contradicts this scripture.

If the Holy Spirit is just an impersonal force how can someone lie to "it." "why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3, NKJV)". Can one lie to the wind? Then how can one lie to the Holy Spirit unless the Holy Spirit is a personal being?

You can read that deceptive HWA quote under the heading "False Scripture Added" near the end of Chapter 1 of Mystery of the Ages.

So once again HWA has been caught in a vicious and inexcusable self serving lie.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"HWA was an Evil Man"

From Jared Olar discussing a news report by National Public Radio on Herbert W. Armstrong shortly after his death from Two Deaths Observed:

"A large part of their report consisted of an interview with evangelical anti-cult expert Walter R. Martin, who summed up Armstrong’s life and work with the words, “Herbert W. Armstrong [dramatic pause] was an evil man.” It was a very unbalanced report—but in NPR’s defence, what else could they do when the WCG’s leaders declined all requests from the media for their side of the story? Armstrong had taught us to view The World, and the media, with cynicism and deep distrust."

When one considers how HWA made everyone scared that Christ would return in 1975 in vain, spread around the totally discredited doctrine of British-Israelism then claimed he got from the Bible when he most assuredly did not, how he claimed he did not pick up teachings from other groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses when in fact he was clearly heavily influenced by them, how he spread many lies in his book Mystery of the Ages, and how HWA was guilty of committing gross sexual immorality it is hard to come to any other conclusion than what Dr. Walter Martin has said.

Why 1975 Failed

Here's an intriguing observation from the Ambassador Report which explains why the 1972/1975 prophecy failed:

"At a WCG board meeting in December 1971, Dr. Ernest L. Martin explained to those assembled why that church's 19-year-time-cycle prophecy was erroneous and would fail. For the most part, the group listened attentively. The 19-year-time-cycle idea was based on astronomical data, so he quoted Jeremiah 10:2: "...be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them." Herbert Armstrong became furious and angrily denounced him. On that and other occasions HWA has pooh poohed Dr. Martin's studies by saying Martin is simply "not a scholar."" (AR13 September 1980, "Dr. Martin Not a Scholar.")

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Key of David's Tale

When Gerald Flurry began the Philadelphia Church of God he crafted a narrative that was used to explain the bewildering events of WCG's transformation and tell dissatisfied WCG members what action they should take to satisfy God and to give them a renewed sense of purpose under these new circumstances. This tale is a fundamental part of PCG's identity. Anyone coming to understand PCG needs to understand this tale. If this tale should turn out to be false then PCG will be proven false. The tale essentially goes like this, in my own paraphrase:
Herbert W. Armstrong was the prophesied Elijah used by God to restore all things to God's Church which had forgotten many truths over the centuries. Satan tried to attack the work but as long as people listened to HWA all was well.

Then one day he died. It was around that time, as prophesied by Mr. Armstrong, Satan attacked God once again and this time he was cast down onto the earth. In his great wrath he took possession of the Son of Perdition, Joseph W. Tkach, Jr. and inspired him to attack God's work from within unleashing the Great Falling Away. Ninety five percent of God's people then forsook the truth because of the lie of the Son of Perdition and they became the Laodiceans. Half of them will die in the Great Tribulation.

Only one man, Gerald Flurry, arose to challenge this apostasy. God revealed the Little Book to him, Malachi's Message, which was delivered to him by an Angel. He was called to "Prophesy Again." Only the Philadelphians discerned where God was truly working. They banded together under Gerald Flurry in an effort to warn the Laodiceans before the Great Tribulation comes upon them and continue the work by preaching HWA's 18 truths.

Only the Philadelphias will be able to escape by fleeing to Petra during the Great Tribulation. Half of the Laodiceans will die forever but then, finally, they will repent and know that God spoke to them through That Prophet Gerald Flurry and half of the Laodiceans will be saved.

After that we shall all be reunited from our present separation as divine members of the God Family, ruling the world as part of God's Government centered in Jerusalem. And we shall be happy forever and ever.
PCG was able to produce a moving narrative that not only explained what was happening during the transformation but also gave a sense of purpose. The PCG member also was able to become a part of a redemptive mission to restore the truth among the Laodiceans in response to the Changes.

We will see just how realistic this tale is later on. But let us further analyze the allure such a tale would hold for a WCG member cast adrift in the confusion of the Changes.

This tale has all the elements of a great movie: an original serene condition (WCG under the prophesied Elijah--HWA), a villain comes to ruin everything (Satan is banished to earth and leads the Tkaches and the transformation), spiritual darkness and oppression (the confusion during the changes), evil villains (the Laodiceans who forsake the truth), a hero emerges to show the righteous the way (Gerald Flurry receives the Little Book from an Angel to reveal that all this, the apostasy and even his appearing, was prophesied in the Bible), the call for action ("Prophecy Again," warning Laodicea, raising the ruins by republishing the writings of HWA, restoring the college, the auditorium, etc. and funding that by paying the three tithes), present day vindication (despite how Satan tried to stop us we go on, gaining the copyrights to HWA's works, building up a great work), and later future vindication (fleeing to the Place of Safety at Petra while the Laodiceans are corrected in the Great Tribulation, half of whom will die forever while the other half will see that Gerald Flurry was sent by God and will repent and submit to God's Government), and the happy ending (all of God's Church resurrected, half of Laodicea returns and are reunited because they finally came to their senses and see that Gerald Flurry is God's Man, and all together lead the world into the World Tomorrow).

Touching, is it not?

This narrative found a receptive audience among WCG members struggling to understand what was happening. Many were confused and bitterly disappointed that the leadership which Elijah had appointed had chosen to renounce the truth. They wondered where was God working now? How can the Work continue? They needed someone to explain what was happening. This narrative was Gerald Flurry's explanation to them, and it clearly had a powerful impact among the confused WCG membership.

It is so moving some may very well have forgotten to ask themselves: can this tale be trusted? We will deal with that later.

Imagine the impact this tale had upon WCG members desperately trying to understand what was happening during the Changes. One day you look in the mail and some material containing a book called Malachi's Message or maybe a few copies of their magazine The Philadelphia Trumpet are included. (In the early years of PCG it was their practice to gather up WCG mail lists and send Malachi's Message and other materials to them unsolicited. One example of this may be seen here.) What is the WCG member's reaction to such materials?:

"Satan's now here on earth? Oh my! What can I do? WCG is no longer the Work but have now become Laodiceans and half of them will die forever in the Great Tribulation? Oh! what I am going to do? Ninety five percent of God's people have forsaken the truth? Am I one of the ninety five percent? How am I ever going to get into the Place of Safety at Petra against such odds? What can I do about this? How can I be one of the five percent?"

PCG in response said, in my own words: Just join us. We will warn the Laodiceans for you. You will get to the Place of Safety if you are here. Any troubles and sacrifices experienced in the present life will seem as nothing compared to the great glory awaiting you as divine members of the God Family ruling over the World Tomorrow, reunited with the now separated brethren who will repent during the fires of the Great Tribulation. This future could be yours and all you have to do is join us in the work of warning physical and spiritual Israel.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? What a beautiful vision PCG gave to those WCG members struggling to understand what was going on during the Changes.

PCG members are absolutely dazzled by the vision of ruling as God Beings as part of God's Government, reunited with their reconciled Laodicean brethren. It is this dream that allows them to excuse themselves for shunning anyone who dares to leave or get expelled from PCG, to view any outside influences as transient and ultimately of little value, to submit themselves to whatever the PCG ministry requires even to the point of abstaining from life saving medicines, paying three tithes, attending the annual Feast of Tabernacles at great expense, banning themselves from Facebook, etc.

This narrative had a powerful impact upon many WCG members struggling to understand the Changes. It served to validate those who wished to remain adhering to the teachings of HWA, gave them an explanation to understand these bewildering events, emboldened them with a goal to warn Laodicea thus showing love to them, gave them a new leader similar to HWA, reassured them that they would get to the Place of Safety at Petra.

However all these conditions would only be fulfilled if one was fully submitted to the Government of God (their rule). If for whatever reason one should leave or get expelled from PCG then all such benefits are revoked: He (or she) is forbidden to associate with any PCG member, even close family members. He discover himself to be just another "spiritually dying Laodicean." Any elitist sense of being one of the faithful five percent is now rudely taken away. The explanation is that it is his own fault even though he cannot see why. He cannot warn Laodicea because now he is one of them. He will not get to the Place of Safety, thus he will be caught up in nuclear World War III, and there is a fifty-fifty chance he will die forever. It is these fears that force the PCG member to stay inside and passively accept the many problems that occur with PCG rather than leave.

To further entrench this tale into the minds of the PCG believers most of the books of the Bible are now reinterpreted. Much of PCG's writings are devoted to interpret the various books of the Bible in order to make them conform with this narrative.

Are they any problems with this tale?
  • Malachi's Message sounds suspiciously similar to Jules Dervaes' Letter to Laodicea which was written before Malachi's Message. It is simply a plagiarism. You can read Letter to Laodicea here.
  • In one place Gerald Flurry said he got it from a mighty angel, but in other places he makes no mention of angels but simply states that he simply typed up the manuscript over a few months, as portrayed in Raising the Ruins. No Angel required. (Raising the Ruins make no mention of PCG's belief that Malachi's Message is the Little Book.)
  • Gerald Flurry originally identified Tkach Sr, as the Son of Perdition. "At the time of HWA's death Satan was cast down to earth. Joseph W. Tkach became the prophesied "son of perdition" who has polluted most of God's "Philadelphians" into becoming "the Laodiceans.""(Ambassador Report 54, Flurry's Philadelphians, February 1994.) "Who was revealed as the "man of sin" this time? Previously, GF declared that Joseph Tkach Sr. was the man of sin, but he is dead now. So how many are there? Two? Three?" (Gerald Flurry's Sermon: Revealing Satan.) Now that he is dead Gerald Flurry has changed it to Tkach Jr. This is a failed prophecy.
  • Flurry has changed the meaning of Laodiceans. Under HWA the Laodiceans were viewed as simply "lukewarm" but they not viewed as agents of Satan, as people actively trying to destroy God's Work. This redefinition is forgotten in the PCG's tale.
  • HWA applied "Prophesy Again" to himself visiting world leaders after 1972 in a desperate attempt to recycle his failed 1972 prophecy of the beginning of the Great Tribulation. HWA did this is his November 19, 1976 co-worker letter. This fact is conveniently ignored. Also it appears that "Prophesy Again" actually applied to John writing the rest of Revelation.
  • Gerald Flurry has blasphemously labeled himself as That Prophet. A doctrine he instituted in PCG around 1999.
  • Most importantly of all, it can be conclusively proven that HWA was a false prophet as he made many false prophecies. Most notably he predicted that Jesus Christ would return in 1975, and then by 2005, but these predictions have hopelessly failed proving that HWA is not revealing messages from God. PCG are attempting to raise the ruins of a false prophet. Such efforts are vain.
It is for this tale that PCG members have chosen to place their relationships with God in the hands of a man who actively seeks to follow a false prophet. PCG members are allured by the promise of being part of an epic redemptive narrative, saving the Laodiceans and the world.

They are so caught up in this tale they cannot see that Gerald Flurry was clearly influenced by Jules Dervaes' works, that they are seeking to revive the works of a false prophet and that they are caught up in error.

They do not see how fear is constantly used to keep them in when love is supposed to cast out fear.

They do not see that PCG's No Contact with Laodiceans rule is a most cruel, immoral and evil rule which PCG has no right to enforce and which will not help PCG members' standing with God in the least.

They do not see how PCG can never take them to a Place of Safety because they rely on a false prophet therefore their hope to get there through PCG is useless. Rather they should put their trust in Jesus who does not communicate through Gerald Flurry.

They do not see that the Tkach Changes were not a unique event and therefore do not prove that Satan hates this religion more than any other.

PCG and HWA do not possess the truth.

God is not a family of beings into which we can be born into. This is just an alluring tale which HWA stole from the Mormons. There is no truth in it. HWA and PCG cannot gave such things to their followers.

"Isaiah 43:10: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." " (Source.)

They do not know that HWA was just a liar as that scripture above proves.

May the Lord free them from these monstrous errors and from this deceptive tale.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dankenbring on Meredith

I am indebted to KScribe for showing me that William Dankenbring has written information concerning Roderick C. Meredith.

KScribe through his website has introduced to me the intriguing testimony of William Dankenbring, the leader of Triumph Prophetic Ministries, concerning Roderick Meredith. I wish I had run into his info earlier as this information would have enhanced my biographical sketch of Roderick C. Meredith. I emphasize here that these are William Dankenbring's words and I do not have any special inside information but am simply relating what he has said about Meredith.

Now I wish to say before we begin that I am not endorsing Dankenbring's organization. Although he has altered many ideas of Armstrongism, such as identifying the USA as Ephraim instead of Britain, he continues to hold onto many ideas of Armstrongism that has been proven to be severely flawed, such as British-Israelism. The Anglo-Saxons are not Israelites. Like other COG splinter leaders he has made some questionable predictions. Ambassador Watch presents one of them here, although his identity is named in the next post.

Now onto the main topic:

William Dankenbring's notes on Roderick Meredith may be seen in the following articles:

Who are You?: The True Story Behind Triumph Ministries contains a fascinating and tragic account of William Dankenbring's relations with Roderick Meredith.
But in a long, hour and one half long telephone conversation, back in 1993, with a man who was helping organize the Global Church of God down in Florida, Meredith lambasted me for most of the entire conversation, dredging up things from many years ago -- things I had never given any thought to at all. To the gentleman on the phone, Rod Meredith unloaded a truckload of accusations and incriminating rhetoric, accusing me of plagiarizing ideas from ministers in the 1970s, and running back to my office to write articles using their material!...

Rod Meredith was told by this man, 'You really need to get together with Mr. Dankenbring...." Meredith replied: "I will NEVER get together with that man! "

When I heard of this, I couldn't believe it. My mind was reeling -- whatever had I done to offend this individual long ago? [He then speculates that Meredith was long jealous of him.]...

The fact is, I published the book The Incredible History of God's True Church, by Ivor Fletcher's which spoke highly of Rod Meredith's pioneer years in the Worldwide Church of God, then known as the Radio Church of God, especially his stint in England where he established the European office.
As has been noted elsewhere on this blog the positive comment that book made about Meredith concerning his meetings in Britain is used in LCG's Church history booklet as part of LCG's cult of personality:
[LCG's] church history booklet God's Church Through the Ages cites Ivor Fletcher's citation of a flattering advertisement for Meredith's speaking engagements in Britain in 1960 in Chapter 14 of his COG book. There Meredith is portrayed by HWA as "fully consecrated, utterly sincere and in earnest, stirringly dynamic."
And in another place:
If Meredith has the right to lead ["God's Church"] why does he have to resort to quoting obscure announcements of some evangelistic campaign? He is simply trying to make it appear that HWA greatly respected him to make himself appear legitimate to his Armstrongite followers. This is also used to obscure and dilute any negative information about Roderick C. Meredith the potential recruit may come across.
"Wherever the Carcass Lies, There Will the Vultures Gather" contains more information on Roderick Meredith.
The Church, perhaps seeing a repetition of fate, and even a greater cost, decided this time to settle out of court, and in December of 1992 the Church settled for $750,000. Meredith, at this point, no longer needed the legal umbrella of the Worldwide Church of God to fight this case. Is this one major reason why he waited until December 1992 to leave and to begin his own "Global Church of God"?
Had I been aware of this article I would have made mention of this possible link between the court case and Meredith's departure from WCG in my Biographical Sketch.

Also corroborating with AR54, February 1994 which reported this:
A number of Meredith's Pasadena-area associates have been put out for agreeing with Dankenbring's Holy Days position and for "Judaizing" (this includes the use of such Hebrew theological terms as Torah, Tenach, or Mischna - terms Meredith does not want used in GCG).
Dankenbring also mentions this, using this incident as polemical ammunition to discredit Meredith.
Meredith's true distaste for the things of God, and His Law, [meaning Dankenbring's own positions] is revealed in the fact that on the Day of Atonement he blasted the Jews, and shouted that anyone who goes to a Jewish synagogue is committing idolatry just as bad as attending a Catholic Church! Furthermore, his elders have let it be known that the words "Torah," "Mishnah," and "Talmud," and similar words, are not to be used around the Global Church of God -- as "some members are offended."
Crisis in the Worldwide Church of God contains this intriguing snippet of information:
The year of the massive defection was 1974. This was the year when Ted returned to power, and began to consolidate his position in the Church by removing from high office all those whom he did not consider to be "loyal" to him, personally. Rod Meredith was shipped off to England, to get him out of the way;
An Overview and Time-Line of My Life and Ministry contains this heart to heart moment from HWA:
During this conversation, which was mostly one-sided, he then gave me a real, deep insight into his own heart. He said that NONE of the ministers of the church, including Garner Ted Armstrong, Albert Portune, Rod Meredith, Herman Hoeh, or the other evangelists, HAD ANY WISDOM! He then confessed, “I lack wisdom, too. God never gave me wisdom.” I sat there astonished.
Also found in that article was this account of the following encounter Dankenbring had with Meredith:
He stared at me, and even though I had been a top student in his Bible class, he didn’t know or even seem to care to know me, personally. He stared or glared down upon me, and pointed out that at that time he was the “third most important man in the Universe – after Herbert Armstrong, and Garner Ted Armstrong.”
Leona McNair also testified in court that Meredith said a very similar thing to her during a counseling session in 1960, as may be seen in AR#29, October 1984:
She needed to obey his dictates because he (Meredith) was "God's number three man on earth" and would very likely remain in authority over her for all eternity!
Had I been aware of these two testimonies I would have made mention of this in my Biographical Sketch.

So this is what Dankenbring has to say about Meredith. Although we do need to take into consideration that he does have an organization to run it and therefore it is too his benefit to discredit rival Armstrongite splinter groups, still is not a pretty picture.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Man who Studied the Bible Himself like HWA

Here's a tragic testimony from a former cult member who studied the Bible himself from a clean slate and came to embrace mainstream Christianity. How his personal study of the Bible lead him to renounce Mormonism sounds quite similar to HWA's story. And yet clearly he did not come to the same conclusions that HWA came to.

COGs and Their Sermons

Among the COGs the common practice is to post their sermons online for the whole world to hear. You can listen to LCG's sermons as far back as 2005. CGI, Garner Ted Armstrong's original spliter group, provides them as far back as last year. The PCG splinter Church of God's Faithful have sermons online dating back to 2005. COG-EIM has their own. Raymond Cole's sect, Church of God the Eternal has sermons dating back to 1990. ICG hosts many sermons by GTA. UCG has sermons online dating as far back as 2001.

You can listen to Dave "Send Me Your Assets in a" Pack's sermons. His most infamous sermon was Clarion Call which called for member to hand over assets to him and bullied them saying, essentially, if you can't do this than you don't love God. This sermon has been subject to much comment, universally negative. Examples of this reaction may be seen here and here. Despite all this you can still listen to this sermon. He still has it posted online mocking those of us who know that his followers deserve better than being treated like this. He obviously does not feel threatened leaving it online.

Even the Insane Lying False Prophet Ronald Weinland posts his sermons online despite bloggers who regularly comment on and criticize what is said in those sermons, such as Mike's Don't Drink the Flavor-Aid, Seeker of Truth's As Bereans Did, Dill Weed's Ronald Weinland The Prophet who Failed and Jack 635's Jack Said. These blogs regularly comment on what is said in ILFPRW's sermons and yet he still posts them online. Although it has been noted that some embarrassing information has been whitewashed from his website as Mike shows.

Yet although all these other Armstrongite false prophets are willing to post their sermons online Gerald Flurry's PCG, quite unusually, is utterly unwilling to do so. Unlike all these other Armstrongite splinters they have not only refused to post their sermons online but since at least 2005 have destroyed sermon CDs once they have been played (see December 12, 2005 Pastor General's Report, pp. 3-5). Although even such paranoid measures have not succeeded as several PCG sermons have been leaked. No wonder so many are concerned by PCG's behavior.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Encounter with The Two Babylons

The day I saw the Dateline report about the WCG-derived Robidoux cult I went on the Internet to read up on HWA. While searching I came across a web page of HWA's anti-Christmas diatribe, The Plain Truth about Christmas. It was there that I was first introduced to Armstrongism's Nimrod theory. I read it and my mind was absolutely blown away when he confidently described to me the origins of Christmas, that Nimrod was a great ruler shortly after the Great Flood, that he was so evil he married his own mother, Semiramis, (that was quite a shocker) that she invented Christmas to spread the idea that Nimrod became a spirit being after his death.

Of course this is just a typical demonization tactic HWA continuously used to produce a sense of isolation in potential recruits to make them reliant on him. He once even condemned church hierarchy as coming from Babylon, a doctrine he would come to wholeheartedly accept. He also appears to have plagiarized this condemnation of Christmas from the Jehovah's Witnesses.

He gave no indication in that booklet that he was merely imitating Alexander Hislop and his anti-Catholic polemic The Two Babylons. I first heard of this book while reading an LCG article condemning Easter and calling for the observance of Passover. Gradually I came to realize that this book had an influence upon this religion. Later I read The Two Babylons on the Internet hoping to understand this matter further. While reading it I was a bit disappointed that he did not describe Semiramis as Nimrod's mother as prominently as did HWA.

After I read that from The Plain Truth about Christmas I was left wondering if LCG continued to accept these beliefs about the role of Nimrod in history. Gradually I came to see that they did indeed hold onto such beliefs with various mentions of Nimrod in some articles. Furthermore in Lesson 7 of their Bible Study Course they mentioned Nimrod and Semiramis in their role as creators of the post-Flood world more explicitly. I cannot recall if it mentioned Semiramis as Nimrod's mother. LCG preaches this doctrine to this day.

I also learned that this book was printed in the 1850s. Therefore I was a bit confused and disappointed with their fact checking skills when I saw LCG publish a misprint portraying this book as having been made in the 1940s. "Back in the 1940s, noted author Alexander Hislop wrote his landmark book, The Two Babylons." (Roderick C. Meredith, The Two Babylons, Tomorrow's World, May-June, 2004.) Now there have been honest errors before, such as when John Ogwyn's booklet, The Beast of Revelation described the Roman Emperor Aurelian as ruling from 270-282 when in fact he ruled 270-275. But still I always thought that this was quite a misprint. 1940s instead of 1850s. However I think it was republished by some firm at that time. You can look it up the on web at the link above and see that the misprint is still posted on LCG's website.

Hislop seems to have described Semiramis at various times in his book as Nimrod's wife, mother and daughter according to xHWA's blog, The Babylon Connection, as may be seen here.

"Hislop in various pages of his book referred to Semiramis as being Nimrod’s wife, and again his daughter, and again his mother, and again that Nimrod had two mothers, and again nine mothers. And this is history?"

So it would seem that the portrayal of Semiramis as being both Nimrod's mother and wife was simply a crude attempt by the Armstrongites in the 1950s to reconcile Hislop's confused portrayal of Nimrod and Semiramis into an agreed narrative.

It must be said that after reading xHWA's blog it is very difficult to take Hislop seriously. And even if Hislop's theory was true why should we go to LCG to learn "the truth?" Hislop was a "pagan" and "apostate" Protestant who was used by the Armstrongites to give them the appearance of having great knowledge from those remote days. Why rely on such people who have to use a discredited anti-Catholic polemic just to appear to have all the answers?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Was WCG's Transformation a Unique Occurrence?

When I learned that WCG had rejected HWA's teachings for "this world's" "pagan" and apostate Christianity I thought this was proof that Satan hated HWA's truths more than any other religion. Therefore this must be the truth. It never occurred to me that maybe something similar occurred elsewhere.

It has been said that the transformation of the Worldwide Church of God from Armstrongism to mainstream Evangelicalism was a unique event unprecedented in religion.

That is not true.

While appreciating that the transformation was an increditably traumatic experience for everyone involved and so it will always be remembered as an important part of their lives nevertheless the truth must be stated that this was not a unique occurrence. Remarkable it was. But there was other occasions.

Observe what happened to the Nation of Islam.

It was started up around 1930 in Detroit by Wallace Fard Muhammad. In 1934 he left Detroit and was succeeded by Elijah Muhammad who would lead the organization until his death in 1975.

Although they claimed to be Muslims the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad taught many doctrines that contradicted orthodox Islam. Elijah Muhammad taught that Fard Muhammad was God, that God is a Black man, that Whites are products of a scientific experiment by a prehistoric "scientist" named Yacub and other such teachings.

Upon his death in 1975 Elijah Muhammad was succeeded by his seventh son Warith Deen Mohammed (1933-2008). Under his leadership the Nation of Islam came to abandon many of their distinctive doctrines and embraced orthodox Sunni Islam.

His transformation of the Nation of Islam was described by Joseph P. Gudel and Larry Duckworth in their article Hate Begotten of Hate (1986) under the heading, "Wallace Deen Muhammad":
[Warith Deen Mohammed] immediately began to root out some of the main tenets of the old Nation of Islam. He denounced the belief that Fard was an incarnation of God, a teaching which is anathema to orthodox Muslims (see Part One of this series, "Islam's Worldwide Revival," Forward, Fall 1985). Likewise, "doctrines defining God as black and dismissing whites as devils" were changed "with the explanation that the former ideas were necessary transitional beliefs because of the brain-washing the blacks underwent as slaves." [Footnote: "Islam and the American Blacks," The Link, Sept./Oct. 1979, 6.] Indeed, whites were now permitted to join their group. Since 1975 the movement has been accepted by orthodox Muslims as legitimately Islamic and one within the fold of Islam. [Footnote: ibid.]
Like WCG the original Nation of Islam organization changed its name and is now named the American Society of Muslims.

However in the same way that WCG's transformation produced splinter groups determined to continue following the old ways the same thing happened with the Nation of Islam. Several splinter groups emerged. By far the most prominent is Louis Farrakhan's sect which has now taken the name of Nation of Islam for themselves. Similar to how some COG splinter groups cite HWA continuously, even reprint his articles and books, Farrakhan's Nation of Islam also reprint Elijah Muhammad's writings.

From Gudel and Duckworth again under the heading "Ideology" in the "Louis Abdul Farrakhan" section:
The ideology of the Nation of Islam under Farrakhan is almost indistinguishable from what it was under Elijah Muhammad. Their monthly paper, _The Final Call,_ reprints numerous articles of Elijah's writings and speeches. They also reprint Elijah's Muslim program ("What the Muslims Want" and "What the Muslims Believe") on the back page of each issue of the paper.
So we see that WCG's "apostasy" was not a unique occurrence at all. It does not prove that Satan hates it any more than he hates the Nation of Islam, a religion that cannot be considered Christian. Therefore the Armstrongites have no right to view this as somehow confirming their legitimacy. Indeed whenever any mass exodus from WCG occurred some Armstrongites would always label it the Great Falling Away as xHWA exposed in his blog Great Falling Away?

Therefore the occurance of WCG's transformation was not a unique occurence.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another PCG Alteration of HWA's Writings

It has been previously reported that PCG, once they bought the copyrights of 19 of HWA's works that PCG made changes with Mystery of the Ages and The Proof of the Bible.

Now another change has been noted. At Gerald Flurry's Wikipedia article a change made in Who or What is the Prophetic Beast? has been reported. This change may be seen in Part 2, under the heading 'TWO Martyrdoms'.

This is how the paragraph in question was written in the original version. Note the bolding:
This coming great martyrdom is THE GREAT TRIBULATION (Matthew 24:9, 21-22). This tribulation is not the wrath of God -- the last plagues. It is the wrath of Satan (Rev. 12:12), inflicted at the behest of HIS apostate church by the coming "United States of EUROPE" and against the true people of GOD! It is a persecution -- a torturing -- a martyring of the saints of God -- the very elect who cannot be deceived (Matt. 24:24). Except those days of Great Tribulation be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But, for THE SAKE OF GOD'S PERSECUTED SAINTS those days shall be shortened.
This is the same section in PCG's version:
This coming great martyrdom is THE GREAT TRIBULATION (Matt. 24:9, 21-22). This tribulation is not the wrath of God—the last plagues. It is the wrath of Satan (Rev. 12:12), inflicted at the behest of HIS apostate church by the coming “United States of EUROPE” and against the people of GOD! It is a persecution—a torturing—a martyring of the saints of God who have become lukewarm and lost God’s protection. Except those days of Great Tribulation be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But, for THE SAKE OF GOD'S PERSECUTED SAINTS, those days shall be shortened.
As others have asked before so it must be asked again: What other changes to HWA's writings have PCG made?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Correct Date Madness

The June 1961 Good News contained an article by Herman Hoeh entitled "The TRUE Reason WHY the Jews Rejected Christ," pp. 7-8, 14-15. This article argues that the real reason many Jews rejected Christ was that they were observing Passover and Pentecost on the wrong dates and therefore many Jews were blinded to the correct meanings of those festivals.

According to Hoeh Passover is to be observed at the beginning of Nisan 14 but the Pharisees were observing it twenty hours too late. Also Pentecost is to be observed fifty days after the Sabbath in the Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread thus it has no fixed date but many Jews were observing it on a fixed date. Furthermore he asserts that the followers of Jesus were observing the correct days and that is why they followed Christ.

So we are supposed to believe that some Jews were blinded about Christ's true nature because they were observing the festivals on the wrong days.

Now this article was written in 1961. At the time HWA and his followers observed Pentecost on a Monday. Herman Hoeh wrote in the 1959 booklet A True History of the True Church, under the heading 'The Apostolic Age' the following: "JESUS FOUNDED HIS CHURCH BY SENDING THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST, MONDAY, JUNE 18, 31 A.D. -- a date ABSOLUTELY established by the exact and INSPIRED mathematical and astronomical computations of God's Sacred Calendar."

Of course in 1974 HWA changed Pentecost to Sunday. Some left WCG over this issue. So based on what is written in this article HWA and his followers were just as blind as the Jews Hoeh criticized. HWA and his followers are blind to God's will as they began the Philadelphia era because of observing Pentecost at the wrong time.

This is a contradiction. For this article to make sense then HWA was blind about Pentecost when he ushered in what he insisted was the Philadelphia era. HWA was just as blind as the Jews Hoeh criticized.

A New TV Set Has Come

LCG has now unveiled their new TV set onto the the television audience with the telecast A New World is Coming, aired May 14.

It begins with an announcement that, "The following is a presentation of Tomorrow's World." Before they were more honest in the opening announcement. Originally the announcer said, "The following is a presentation of the Living Church of God."

They have changed the show's intro. The very first intro they had back in 2000 had no images. There was no indication of the heavy emphasis on fear inducing (false) prophecy LCG has. Before I thought it was pretty soft. Thought it did have one picture of a mountain of skulls. How reassuring. But now the new intro is more fearful with pictures of bombs exploding, a tornado storm, and a body outline of a murder.

The graphics for texts, offers and such are very flash, too bad it cannot make the old Armstrongite message of fear any better. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)"

The content is very familiar and need little imagination. The world's an utter mess. Nukes, degradation. Fear mongering. We need worldwide government. World leaders cited to support this assertion to make viewers more scared. Only Jesus' return can do this. Quotes Gibbon to possess veneer of scholarship and support belief in the millennial rule of Christ. All will be well in Tomorrow's World. The saints will rule, not be in Heaven. Presents some of the necessary events that must occur before the return. Biblical personages will return as a government under Christ to rule the world from Jerusalem. You need to act on the truth. Offers a booklet.

He says "We'll give you precious information and insights that's available nowhere else. (26:46)" As has been said before he has absolutely no right to say that. That statement is not true as many other Armstrongite splinter groups also teach the same things LCG teaches. I honestly cannot understand how he can say that.

Too bad the unknowing viewer will have no idea of 1975 or the many false fear inducing prophecies Armstrongism has published in vain.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Scattered Mormons

We all know how hopelessly divided Armstrongism is. It has been shattered into hundreds of contending sects. Ambassador Watch has recently shown that Anglicanism is also similarly divided.

The same thing has happened with Mormonism. Here is a list of the hundred or so splinter groups within Mormonism, a religion often cited as an influence on Armstrongism. This is due to its similar belief that believers are able to become God beings. Armstrongism or Anglicanism are not unique in any sense with such splintering.