Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Do You Dare Question Church Authority?


For well over 80 years now the members of the Church of God have been told over and over to never question the ministry, doctrines or visions of the leaders.  To do so was equated as rebellion against God.

Healthy faith involves questioning, doubt and anger.  Armstrongism has always made these qualities to be tools of Satan to deceive the brethren.  Any look through Hebrew and Christan scriptures quickly points out the men and women who questioned God, argued with God, and got angry with God.  COG members would never exhibit or admit to these qualities to other COG members.  To do so would make them feel "weak in the faith" in the eyes of others.

That's part of the reason so many in the COG's get angry with the "anti-COG" sites.  They feel their faith, their beliefs and understanding are being questioned. It is easier to sit there week after week and be spoon fed than it is to dare to step outside the box and use critical thinking.  Being bombarded by booklets, magazines, taped sermons, bible studies, TV programs,and members only chruch activities allows them to do the thinking for you which is much easier than daring to doubt.

I know many who sit in COG services week after week, even though they do not believe it anymore, because all their friends are there.  They know full well that if they were to leave they would be shunned. It is better to "suck it up" and suffer for a couple hours each week than it is to step out and fly free.

Steping out and questioning does not mean you have to loose faith.  Many find their faith  grows even stronger.  Others, need a break from religion all together.  That is good too, especially after what we have all been through while being part of the COG.

The Silenced blog has a great posting today about this very topic.

They write:

In fact, COG leaders are abusing your belief, taking advantage of your faith for personal monetary gain. Ron Weinland’s conviction, David C. Pack’s constant hustling, UCG’s insistent demand for newer, bigger toys built on the backs of the brethren and decades of WCG’s golden flatware, mansions and private jets are evidence of this systemic abuse of your beliefs. Without your faith and support, including that of tithing and offerings to the organization, the COG’s senior leadership wouldn’t have jobs, their numerous unearned perks or be in a position to abuse their power.

By associating personal beliefs with loyalty to an organization, you are providing fuel for an engine of dishonesty, something we know so many of you don’t want or intend. We know these aren’t your wishes based on all of the splits and schisms in the church whenever there’s alleged corruption or a doctrinal change. Most of those passing through UCG’s exits to join COGWA did so because they realized the vile way their former organization had been conducting itself.

Check out the article here:  The Appeal #1: Beliefs vs. Affiliation

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Healthy faith involves questioning, doubt and anger..."

Are you sure about that? Faith is belief in something in the absence of evidence. Faith relies on the suspension of questioning, of doubting, of skepticism. When faith is examined through doubt and questioning, it either passes muster and becomes a solid observation or fact, or it is shown to be hollow, a fantasy, and so remains faith. Religious faith would die if seriously questioned. Of course, most religions have safeguards to circumvent this- God can't be measured, His Ways are not our ways, etc. If I were a Christian, the last thing I would want to be guilty of is encouraging people to question and doubt their faith.

I think it would be better stated if you were to say, "When it comes to religious governance, instruction, and fellowship, the individual believer must constantly question and doubt. This produces a system of checks and balances to ward off potential abuse and results in a healthy community of believers."

Paul R.

Anonymous said...

One striking characteristic of the ACOGs is that the closer you get to their top leadership, the more likely you are to find people who don’t believe what they are teaching. There are enough reports of how both Flurry and Pack had sons who were at first skeptical or even contemptuous of their fathers’ new religious enterprises, but once the money was rolling in they changed their story to get a GTA-sized piece of Daddy’s pie. Same with the Meredith sons on Daddy’s payroll, more than one of whose cynical disregard of Armstrongist teaching when away from “ordinary members” is legendary. And I seriously doubt Weinland's son is a true believer when there isn’t a new BMW in it for him.

Yet, since Flurry and Pack and Meredith and Weinland are happy to put their unconverted sons in positions of authority over true believer ACOG members, doesn’t this indicate that they, too, are “in” on the con and aren’t true believers themselves?

Think, Pooh, THINK!

Anonymous said...

I remember HWA telling listeners, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible." Acts 17:11, Bereans searched the Bible to see if what the leaders said was true.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that you do indeed find in the Bible what HWA said you were to find there- the scriptures he quoted. What wasn't there, however, was his interpretation of those scriptures.

Paul R.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Search the Bible to see if something is true. That's an exercise in futility, if there ever was one, but we fell for it.

A seven day creation that never happened, a worldwide flood that's total fiction, arks that would fall apart because no wooden boat of such a size is possible, talking snakes and asses, spurious, glamorized history with no basis in fact, etc., etc.

Might as well search the legends of Zeus and Thor, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, etc. for ultimate truth. Sure, there will be an occasional statement that rings true in lots of things, but that does not make them infallible guides for one's life.

I think I'll go see what might be on the Science Channel. That's a whole lot more practical.

Andrew said...

One striking characteristic of the ACOGs is that the closer you get to their top leadership, the more likely you are to find people who don’t believe what they are teaching.

Nicely said, Pooh. Look no further than the Golden Voice. GTA was cool with being the cash cow so long as he didn't have to feel compelled to do what his own voice was compelling others to do. And apples don't fall far from their trees, do they?

I remember HWA telling listeners, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible." Acts 17:11, Bereans searched the Bible to see if what the leaders said was true.

Therein lies the hook. People from other lands who weren't raised believing in the infallibility of the bible will not be taken in by that. What happens if we don't believe the bible anymore either? Just because it's in the bible, it ain't necessarily so. Poor Bereans, they never had a chance either. So long as we accepted the infallibility of an old book too, we were all sitting ducks for one whackjob or another.

Anonymous said...

Allen Dexter said:
“Search the Bible to see if something is true. That's an exercise in futility
A seven day creation that never happened, a worldwide flood that's total fiction”

It is true that the bible is made up of what is defined as fiction, but this does not mean the fiction doesn’t point to things that are true about human nature.

Has anyone looked at the fact that without human intelligence there would be no need for God? It is the need to believe there is an infinite intelligence exceeding that displayed in our human existence that feeds the belief that God exists.

The problem is people who believe they have a higher degree of intelligence begin to believe they are God or God’s representative and are better than everyone else, when they are as finite as the lowest form of life.
Albert B

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Anonymous July 3, 2012 3:54 PM Pooh said,” Yet, since Flurry and Pack and Meredith and Weinland are happy to put their unconverted sons in positions of authority over true believer ACOG members, doesn’t this indicate that they, too, are “in” on the con and aren’t true believers themselves?”

MY COMMENT – Let’s not forget Mark Armstrong – grandson of the Apostle of God and end-time Elijah Herbert W. Armstrong – who was never ordained a minister to my knowledge, yet is in a ministerial position of authority in the Intercontinental Church of God. He keeps the family business enterprise alive by carting his father, “Dead Ted”, out every week with 15/20 year old tapes on a national cable network. He boasts on his ICG website of his grandfather’s prophetic accuracy, LOL. My understanding is that it provides a living for Mark Armstrong.

Richard

Douglas Becker said...

How very like the Mafia.

Assistant Deacon said...

Steve Flurry is president of his dad's college. He left Ambassador during his sophomore year. One hopes he later obtained some sort of college degree, at least?

Not that it matters in the delusional "we're right" world of the COGs.

Anonymous said...

"My understanding is that it provides a living for Mark Armstrong."

And his mother as well, and possibly his brother. There was a split when GTA died, the Monarchial Mark faction and the PowerLust faction.

It's no surprise that Mark was put into power, given that we (I included) followed GTA- we believed that if you weren't following GTA, then you would have to answer to God for it. *facepalms in embarrassment*

Paul R.

Allen C. Dexter said...

"It is true that the bible is made up of what is defined as fiction, but this does not mean the fiction doesn’t point to things that are true about human nature."

All sorts of things contain true observations about human nature and reality. Frankly, I find Benjamin Franklin's writings a whole lot more helpful. Mark Twain was mighty good too. Literature is filled with wise quotes and sayings of many, many people -- much more than the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeedy! All sorts of things can point "...to things that are true about human nature."

All kinds of things.
From things written on a cereal boxes, to poems, to songs, to TV programs, stories, to plays, and to old religious texts such as the Egyptian Pyramid Texts, the Greek Theogony, the Chinese Diamond Sutra, Islam's Qur'an, the Hebrew's Torah, the Buddhist Sutras, the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, Christianity's biblical canons, the Classics of Confucianism, etc etc etc.

Regarding the various religious texts, there are the testimonials to be found, of the ultimate peace and happiness the various religions have brought to people.

It's no coincidence that these folks overwhelmingly have "chosen" a religion which looms large in the culture in which they live.
That "choice" has much less to do with the realness or superpowers of the particular religion's deity, but rather is related to the prevailing beliefs residing in the culture of the person who "chooses"

Norm

Anonymous said...

"It's no coincidence that these folks overwhelmingly have "chosen" a religion which looms large in the culture in which they live."

That's absolutely right. If we had been raised in Saudi Arabia, we would have been convinced that Allah was the one and true god of the universe, while mocking the obviously "false" god of Christianity, all without a second thought- just as Christians immediately assume that all other religions are false and theirs is true.

I know one thing. It takes an incredible amount of faith to blow yourself up in a crowded marketplace. Muslims are completely convinced that Allah is real in the same way Christians are convinced that Jesus is real. Muslims, like Christians, rely on personal subjective experiences as "evidence" of the existence of their god. But if Allah is not real, despite the faith and personal experiences of Muslims, then how do Christians know Jesus is real since they also rely on faith and personal experiences as evidence??

Paul R.

Anonymous said...

Paul, How does the belief or unbelief in the reality of Allah or Jesus contribute to the behavior of the radical Muslims? What kind of faith and experiences causes people to self destruct? In WCG it was and is the faith in the human organization that has done the most damage.

My original comment stated that “The problem is people who believe they have a higher degree of intelligence begin to believe they are God or God’s representative and are better than everyone else, when they are as finite as the lowest form of life.” This was dealing with those who continue this mentality and should have eliminated the reference to intelligence.

I believe a statement you made earlier in this series was a good explanation of the problem. “The problem is that you do indeed find in the Bible what HWA said you were to find there- the scriptures he quoted. What wasn't there, however, was his interpretation of those scriptures.”

I believe that it is how people interpret and apply the scriptures (or any recorded words) in their life is what determines whether it is good or bad for them.

Albert B

Anonymous said...

Albert,

My post wasn't in response to your statement, though I do disagree with it. Higher intelligence is not necessarily correlated with unbelief, though I could be wrong. It is correlated with the capacity to use objective reasoning, though, which anyone is capable of.

Regarding Muslims- my point was that the majority of Christians that I have encountered base their belief in God on their own personal subjective experiences, as well as those of others. For example, the changing of behavior, changes in lifestyle, the feeling of inner peace, etc. Yet these very things are also the same reasons given by Muslims and other religious folk as evidence that their own god exists. So Christians and Muslims both share the same type of "evidence," that is proof, they claim, of the existence of their own god. Yet Christians deny the existence of Allah, and Muslims deny the existence of the resurrected Jesus. It seems to me that if you base your belief in God on the fact that your life has been turned around, or the existence of life on earth, or the inner peace you feel, then how can one say that Allah doesn't exist when millions of Muslims offer the same yardstick of proof as to the existence of Allah??

Regarding faith and suicide bombers, the end result in irrelevant- the violence of Muslims as compared to the passivity of Christians does not support or deny the existence of either. What I was speaking of is the certainty of faith. It takes more faith to kill yourself in the belief that your God is awaiting you than it does to...whatever hardships the majority of American Christians endure in the name of Christianity. And given that your faith in God is an equal measure of your certainty that he exists (it was for me anyway), what is one to think of people who have more faith in a god that you are equally certain doesn't exist? How do you know your own god isn't false, given that you have no more proof for the existence of your god than the Muslim does his?

I remember, as a Christian, thinking how absolutely profound Ron Dart was in saying (paraphrased):

"It is proof that Christ was real and rose that Christians were willing to die for their faith."

I thought later how absolutely stupid that statement was when watching the news about Muslim suicide bombers. If self destruction or martyrdom is a sign of the existence of a god, then Allah is real.

Regarding HWA and scriptures, I agree. It is better that people interpret scriptures for the betterment of themselves and the world around them. What is even better, and more empowering, is the knowledge that you can do the same thing without such scriptures. Man is intelligent enough to figure out basic morality. Whether he chooses to do so is another story.

Paul R.

old EXPCG hag said...

I wouldn't think that being a so called >Prophet< requires a "following", living at >Headquarters<, heaping up possessions for yourself with other people's money AKA >LIVING OFF WELFARE, STEPHEN FLURRY<.

There is no instance that I have read of true biblical prophets living their lives in this manor.

They were usually loners going it alone. They didn't care how many people agreed with them, such as son's, daughters, ex WWCOG members/friends.
Biblical prophets were on a mission from God and they best not worry about whether anyone goes along with them or not for fear of the consequences from God...so says your Bible. AMEN.