Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts on Names in COG History

It has always irked me that some of the dramatic events in the history of the COGs do not have names. Here are some suggestions of mine.
  • Great Disappointment of 1972: From 1953 onwards HWA taught that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 and culminate with the return of Christ in 1975. HWA wrote a booklet entitled 1975 in Prophecy. As it turned out 1972 came and went by with nothing. In a desperate attempt to make people forget his failed prediction he deceptively claimed WCG getting on a few new radio stations and getting more advertizing spaces in a magazine in early 1972 fulfill his expectation that something dramatic would happen two 19 year time cycles (38 years) after he started broadcasting on the radio regularly in 1934. There was no one single moment when WCG members as a whole were forced to confront the fact that HWA's prophecy failed, but the general disappointment helped set the stage for the turmoil of the 1970s and encouraged WCG members to resist HWA's tyranny.
  • Changes of 1974: HWA was persuaded to change two doctrines in 1974. 1) He stopped the horrifying practice of ordering marriages to be dissolved in order for people to join. 2) He instructed WCG to observe Pentecost on Sunday instead of Monday as had previously been the case. Some WCG members left refusing to adhere to these changes, most notably Raymond Cole who started the Church of God, the Eternal. Among most COGs these changes are accepted and observed.
  • Mass defection of 1974: In 1974 about 35 ministers and 2-3000 members left WCG. (Source, p.2.) Factors that led to this included disappointment that HWA's prophecy that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 did not come to pass, dissatisfaction that Garner Ted Armstrong was allowed to resume his responsibilities despite the shame of scandal that surrounded him because of his many extra-marital affairs, and HWA's rigid refusal to change most doctrines despite many ministers concluding that certain doctrines were wrong, such as Earnest Martin's repudiation of tithing. (John Tuit refers to this event as the 1974 Rebellion, but because "rebellion" is a loaded term in the COGs used to demonize non-conforming behavior I would prefer another name.)
  • Schism of the Armstrongs: On June 26, 1978 HWA disfellowshipped his son and second in command, Garner Ted Armstrong. This was done as part of a vicious power struggle between Garner Ted Armstrong and Stanley Rader to decide who would be number two in WCG. HWA sided with Rader. Many WCG members chose to side with Garner Ted Armstrong and joined him in starting up the Church of God International. Many more were coerced, threatened with the lake of fire, threatened with disfellowshippment, and in other ways were persuaded to continue with HWA's WCG. (This term is inspired by the War of the Roses.)
There are my suggestions. Feel free to make your own contributions.

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