Monday, March 27, 2017

COG false prophet EXCITED his prediction that the potential "Beast" of Europe has grown a beard...Seriously!

If you though Almost-arrested Elisha, Elijah, Amos, Habakkuk, Joshua, second witless witness, prophet apostle, future martyr, doubly blessed and disappointing "son" of Rod Meredith, could not get any weirder, then think again,  Elijah Thiel is all a twitter right now that his Bro, Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has grown a beard!  This beard is further "proof" that Guttenberg may end up being the Beast of Revelation.

Seriously, is there no end to the stupidity coming out of Church of God "leaders" any more?  Have they no shame?

The Bible shows that Europe will ultimately turn to a ‘strongman’ of its own in Revelation 17:12-13. 
This may very well be Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. 
Regularly readers of this page are aware that 9 speculative predictions I posted over the years related to Herr Guttenberg have been at least partially fulfilled: 
  1. He has advocated more European military cooperation.
  2. He became unpopular for a time (and still is among many).
  3. He ended up, for a time, outside of political office.
  4. He went out of the limelight for a while.
  5. He went into exile (self-imposed).
  6. His exile was to a humid location.
  7. He has partially re-emerged in European politics.
  8. He has called for Germany to consider being a leader in data protection.
  9. He now has a beard.
Note: He did NOT have a beard when I first posted something that indicated that he could get one. 
Several of those predictions were based upon my understanding of prophecies in the books of Daniel and Revelation, plus outside sources.

LCG Members Are Asking, "Is Michael Germano Turning Into Another Bob Thiel?"

This was on James Malm site this morning.  You know things are bad when people are comparing Germano to Thiel!  LCG watched Bob Thiel have his mental meltdown in the church before he declared him self doubly blessed and started his apostate splinter group. Now LCG members are wondering if Germano is starting to melt down also?

Many in LCG are very concerned that Germano is becoming the next Bob Thiel. He is showing signs of bitterness and rage (some have said because of the re-ordering of the LCG hierarchy) resulting in comments and behavior that is completely at odds with the tone of LCG. While so many CoGs are so very political, taking strong stances on Trump, on tax dollars spent on abortion, on Obamacare etc. with their publications causing a major headache for their congregations abroad (e.g.the UCG in Europe refusing to translate the pro-Trump drivel that came from Don Ward recently so as not to lose their entire congregations), Living Church has consistently proclaimed a higher spiritual message with global relevance with minimal focus on provincial politics. Of recent note was an article by Mark Sandor on rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s, which made the point that once we’ve paid our taxes, it’s not for us to fret about how the govt. uses the money (for war, for Obamacare policies that allow others to have an abortion etc.) However, Germano went off on a highly political Don Ward-like pro-Trump statement that threw a lot of the Living membership, even saying that a national healthcare program would be essentially Satanic. For those in LCG abroad, it was quite a slap that their own church would say they are un-Christian because they participate in such a program. It remains quite bewildering to me, and many others, that how a country chooses to administer its health-care system can be an issue of “Christianity” (UCG-ers in Canada are always offended by the editorial in the Beyond Today magazine which implies frequently that taking tax money to pay into a shared pool for health insurance is a violation of “Thou shalt not steal” because the govt is stealing your money !! (Mike Kelley’s time-worn theme). Perhaps it is the nature and result of the current state of national politics that some of these men are becoming ‘unhinged’, but the CoGs would do well to reign them in before their members run out: one leader who can’t control his daily Twittering is more than enough!

Can the Church Be Psychologically Harmful?

If a former believer says that Christianity made her depressed, obsessive, or post-traumatic, she is likely to be dismissed as an exaggerator. She might describe panic attacks about the rapture; moods that swung from ecstasy about God’s overwhelming love to suicidal self-loathing about repeated sins; or an obsession with sexual purity.
A symptom like one of these clearly has a religious component, yet many people instinctively blame the victim. They will say that the wounded former believer was prone to anxiety or depression or obsession in the first place—that his Christianity somehow got corrupted by his predisposition to psychological problems. Or they will say that he wasn’t a real Christian. If only he had prayed in faith believing or loved God with all his heart, soul and mind, if only he had really been saved—then he would have experienced the peace that passes all understanding.
But the reality is far more complex. It is true that symptoms like depression or panic attacks most often strike those of us who are vulnerable, perhaps because of genetics or perhaps because situational stressors have worn us down. But certain aspects of Christian beliefs and Christian living also can create those stressors, even setting up multigenerational patterns of abuse, trauma, and self-abuse. Also, over time some religious beliefs can create habitual thought patterns that actually alter brain function, making it difficult for people to heal or grow.
The purveyors of religion insist that their product is so powerful it can transform a life, but somehow, magically, it has no risks. In reality, when a medicine is powerful, it usually has the potential to be toxic, especially in the wrong combination or at the wrong dose. And religion is powerful medicine!
In this discussion, we focus on the variants of Christianity that are based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. These include Evangelical and fundamentalist churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and other conservative sects. These groups share the characteristics of requiring conformity for membership, a view that humans need salvation, and a focus on the spiritual world as superior to the natural world. These views are in contrast to liberal, progressive Christian churches with a humanistic viewpoint, a focus on the present, and social justice.

Read the entire article here:    Psychological Harms of Bible-Believing Christianity

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Extra-biblical Religious Beliefs and Practices Held by Various Modern Church of God (COG) Groups, Sub-groups, and Individuals

In the Spirit of the Pharisees, 
by ACM
March 2017

He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
`This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' (Mar 7:6-7 NKJ) 
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and
cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Mat 23:23 NKJ)
Below is an ongoing project and survey documenting an exhaustive, open-ended list of arguably extra-biblical religious beliefs and practices held by various modern Church of God (COG) groups, sub-groups, and individuals. The groups are not named - this is only a list of the beliefs and practices in no particular order. The project illustrates that many, if not most, of these practices and teachings are equivalent to the commandments and traditions of men which the scribes and Pharisees held, and which Jesus condemned (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7). Likewise, there is not a detailed discussion herein of the various ancient Jewish sects among and other than the Pharisees (Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) but only a rather generalized description of “Pharisee” and “Pharisaical” for the sake of a basic comparison. While the Pharisees may not have held the specific beliefs listed (and they may have had a longer list, and been a less fragmented body of adherents) these modern COG extra-biblical doctrines and practices have been established and kept in the same or similar motivation (“spirit”) as the Pharisees. (list of actual Pharisaical rules: THE 39 MELACHOT 

It is commonly accepted that a major problem with the scribes and Pharisees that warranted
condemnation from Jesus was the emphasis, deference and weight that they placed on their
own rules, as well as their emphasis on the physical aspects of real biblical instructions, to the neglect and exclusion of the spiritual, "weightier" aspects of the law (Matthew 23:23).
Furthermore, the scribes and Pharisees used their extra-biblical commandments of men and
emphasis on the physical aspects of the law to establish their own righteousness.

The focus of this project is to bring into the open widespread pietism, albeit denied by the
pietists, created because of the similar weight and importance placed on the modern
manifestations of COG-created rules, doctrines, beliefs and practices. An extension to the
project may be done later to show that the churches place inappropriate emphasis on the
physical aspects of real biblical instructions, however for this project only the extra-biblical
practices will be listed for the purpose of focusing attention on the fact that there are many
such practices prevalent, and held in high regard among the believers.

The known hurdle to the project is the argument, "I'm not being Pharisaical in the practice of
my religion," which this project is intending to expose as a misconception by showing that in
the modern Church of God, inappropriate emphasis is being placed on the items listed. If the believer’s righteousness and standing with God are believed to be compromised by the neglect of the items on this list, then we are forced to admit that these items are being used to establish the believer’s righteousness.

Not all of the items listed below are common to all of the various Church of God groups, and
there is no suggestion that all COG adherents hold to all of these beliefs. Nor is there an intent to depict believers as exhibiting the spirit of the Pharisees only if the believers practice the entire list. It is left to the reader to determine how large one’s own personal list, or that of his particular faction, needs to be before qualifying as Pharisaical. While the Pharisees were noted for their peculiar rules, their large quantity of rules also commonly receives notice, and indeed such a large number is an important factor (it wasn’t just the strange rules they had that were notable, but the fact that they had so many). Yet, would Jesus remove his condemnation if the scribes and Pharisees had a smaller quantity of rules, say, half or one quarter of what they really had? Or is it rather the spirit (intent), regardless of how many or few man-made rules they had, which was the root issue? The challenge is to lower our defensive fists and evaluate whether we are susceptible to the same intent of the Pharisees, even if we don’t possess as full and diverse a collection of extra-biblical religious beliefs ourselves.

Just as the Pharisees would claim that their damnable beliefs were extensions of God’s will,
modern-day Church of God adherents may claim that the below list contains beliefs and
practices that are biblically justified. Furthermore, the list is not intended to show doctrines
that are clearly biblical yet no longer required, relating to the aforesaid inappropriate emphasis on real biblical instructions. Nor does the list depict examples of “legalism” in the modern theological sense of law and statute keeping in general. For example, the list does not contain the practice of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath holy in general, even though many COG critics would identify this as a legalistic practice by itself, regardless of the emphasis placed on it by the Sabbath keeper. However, the practice of not eating at restaurants on the Sabbath is appropriate for this list because it is a modern, extra-biblical rule, perhaps devised with a similar purpose that the Pharisees had in devising their rules on Sabbath keeping.

Many of the beliefs that are appropriate for listing in this project are not officially or historically documented in COG literature, but are cultural practices that have come to bear the weight of established, pious tradition. Some of the practices are widespread traditions, and others are observed by fringe individuals peppered throughout the factions. Thus, research to find more items to add to the list involves learning about individuals’ experiences in the churches. You are invited to send items you deem applicable to . All correspondence will be strictly confidential except for content you wish to have added to the project, and at the author’s discretion. The list will be updated periodically, probably irregularly.

The list (in process):

Refusal to obey the instructions of the ministry is equivalent to rebellion against God.

Refusal to believe new teachings of the ministry is equivalent to lacking faith in God.

Disrespecting the ministry is equivalent to disrespecting God.

The ministry is not to be second-guessed.

The ministry is tasked with helping the lay members become submissive to the ministry.

You must address the minister, elder, deacon as "Mr…".

The pattern of governance that Moses established should be used in the Church today.

You must avoid contact with all individuals who have left the faith.

You must proclaim that Herbert W. Armstrong was an apostle of God.

The ministry has the authority to forbid you from marrying, or having a romantic
relationship with a particular individual.

Interracial dating and marriage is forbidden.

A wife’s infidelity is more egregious than a husband’s.

You must disown your son, daughter or any other household member if he/she is not in
the faith, even if it means expelling the individual from your home, regardless of age.

You must be baptized in order to attend Passover.

The Church must only preach the Gospel to the physical descendants of Israel.

A tithe of the tithe is to be paid to the Church.

Your faith is measured by how much you materially contribute to Church.

Your governmental position in the Kingdom of God will be determined by how much you
materially contribute to the Church in this life.

Wearing makeup is sinful.

The name of the organization must have "Church of God" in order to be the true Church.

True Christians do not serve on juries.

True Christians do not vote in civil elections.

Members are required to wear their best dress clothes to services.

You should bend forward during the prayers at services (bending further indicates
greater devotion).

Only Dwight Armstrong hymns are to be sung at services. Some members refuse to sing
the non-Dwight hymns.

Mushrooms should not be eaten because they are unclean life forms.

Self-defense is sinful and indicates a lack of faith.

Reading fictional literature will make a Christian susceptible to demon possession.

Hypnotherapy will make a Christian susceptible to demon possession.

Most mental and emotional illness is the result of demonic possession.

Mental therapy and psychiatric counseling should be avoided. The minister will provide
all the counseling you need.

Medical practitioners in general should be avoided. The minister will be the conduit of
miraculous healing instead.

Sometimes illness is the result of sin, but you don't know when this is true.

When a competing faction or enemy has problems, it is because God cursed them, but
when your faction has problems it is because Satan is attacking you.

In the Kingdom of God Jesus Christ will serve you food as a waiter.

Christians will become individual gods after they are resurrected and other humans will
worship them.

Satan causes the hostile nature of wild animals, except God can increase this hostility in
order to curse large populations of humanity.

Begging God during prayer increases the likelihood of the prayer being answered.

Preaching to the public is not done with the intent to convert, but to witness against
those perishing, toward the end of saving from condemnation the one preaching.

You must not preach spiritual salvation to the public.

You should not overuse the terms “Jesus,” “grace,” “salvation,” “saved,” “beloved,”
“Lord,” “O, Lord,” “dear Lord,” “praise,” “praise God,” “praise Jesus,” “praise the Lord,”
“thank the Lord,” “mercy,” “born again,” “sweet,” or “precious,” to name a few. These
terms are generally Protestant and embarrassing to say.

You must not add fuel to your vehicle on a Sabbath.

You must not eat in a restaurant on a Sabbath.

You must not travel beyond a certain distance on a Sabbath.

Only classical music is Sabbath-appropriate music.

Open Categories

Category: Things the ministry has authority to decide for you

Category: Things that insult God

Category: Modern ways to break the Sabbath

Category: What activities are Sabbath-appropriate/inappropriate?

Category: Ways to invite demonic possession

Category: Physical things or symbols that defile you

Category: Ways to be rebellious against the ministry

Category: Things that justify disfellowshiping (excommunication)

Category: Avoiding paganism and things that have ever been associated with paganism

Category: Evidence of British-Israelism