Sunday, July 8, 2012

Has the Church of God Ever Had An Original Thought?



For well over seventy years various Churches of God have declared that it's beliefs and understanding were products of restored truths that had been lost for over 1,900 years.  Herbert Armstrong declared that his understanding was all sent from God after his yes were opened.  The question that needs to be asked is just what is it that he taught that was original and his own?

British Israelism was around hundreds of years before HWA ever touched the subject.  Then he has to go and copy word for word out of "Judah's Scepter and Jacob's Birthright."

Then the Church of God 7th Day revealed that HWA had copied word for word one of it's own booklets that he called "Has Time Been Lost."

The teaching that we were all to become gods, was taken from the Mormons.  The Jehovahs Witnesses provided plenty of resources for prophecy and end times malarkey that HWA used.  His basement safe was filled with JW books.

Now to add to that list, is an entry that James has on the Painful Truth blog about soon coming world dictator (Beast Power/European Union) soon to arise.  HWA started writing about the soon to emerge European Union that would be the Beast of Revelation around 1934.  Was this something new that God had revealed to HWA?  Don't count on it.  There were numerous articles in newspapers and magazines as far back as 1929 detailing the upcoming European Union.  For more article clippings fromteh1930's click here:  "Stolen Ideas" Using Newspapers to Invent Prophecy


Using newspaper articles to fit you end of the world theories is typical Armstrongism.  The research departments at Pasadena worked overtime in trying to find anything that fit the prophecy scenario that HWA was trying to establish.  Prophecy prediction was just as reliable as the proof-texting that the church employed when it came to scriptures.  As we all now know, the Church of GOd has failed miserably in both of these areas.
 

36 comments:

Assistant Deacon said...

Even Wikipedia sheds light, quoting statements from Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington that used the exact term United States of Europe.

The entry starts out, quite accurately, "The United States of Europe...is a name given to several similar hypothetical scenarios of the unification of Europe, as a single country and a single federation of states, similar to the United States of America, both as projected by writers of speculative fiction and science fiction, and by political scientists, politicians, geographers, historians, and futurologists."

Note that no mention is made of "self-appointed theologians and prophets."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_of_Europe

Anonymous said...

Why is that such a surprise? The bible recorded this years ago.

(Eccl 1:9 GWT) Whatever has happened before will happen . Whatever has been done before will be done . There is nothing new under the sun.

(Eccl 1:10 GWT) Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anon,

I think the point is not that it's "such a surprise", as you put it, but rather that Herbert Armstrong was a sleazy lying salesman for his con.

And as far as the assertion that "There is nothing new under the sun.", I'm in disagreement with that blanket statement, although I DO agree that there were probably sleazy lying salesman for their cons in ancient times, too.

Norm

Douglas Becker said...

Yes, but we can forgive Herbert Armstrong all of his plagiarism, his being a false prophet, bringing us wrong-headed crazy ideas because... Herbert Armstrong brought us the TRUTH!!!

Well, that's what Armstrongists say, anyway.

Allen C. Dexter said...

What Armstrong did is not new at all. Humans are copycats. That's how children learn.

All these success gurus, who often incorporate religion into their spiels, copy each other, rewording and rearranging just enough to keep from being sued for plagiarism. It's done all the time, and it's not necessarily immoral. I use other peoples comments as inspiration for blogs of my own.

Herbert was just very clever and often quite blatant in choosing who to rip off, like Allen's British Israel book which he practically copied.

Steve Kisack said...

It just goes to show how uneducated we all were when we followed old Herbie. We didn't know at the time that he was plagiarizing because we weren't studious or assiduous people, and quite ignorant on top of that. Herbvert the perbvert knew that he could attract our kind.

Anonymous said...

Norm comment
“I think the point is not that it's "such a surprise", as you put it, but rather that Herbert Armstrong was a sleazy lying salesman for his con.”

Reply: I have dealt with sales people most of my life. In most cases they do not believe they are lying. They have convinced themselves that what are presenting is a representation of what is right (at least for them). They can rationalize that what is good for them is good for those they are selling it to.

“And as far as the assertion that "There is nothing new under the sun.", I'm in disagreement with that blanket statement, although I DO agree that there were probably sleazy lying salesman for their cons in ancient times, too.”

Reply: When it come to knowledge it always exists before it is received, but the receiver will put it into a new and improved package before passing it on.

I did not know Herbert personally so I cannot make a judgment regarding his motives, but yes slick salesmen have existed since the time the story of Eve being duped by the Serpent was created.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Early on, I realized I could do much the same thing old Herb did. Many of my contemporaries did by going out with a concocted message, advertising meetings and schmoozing lonely, searching people. Some of them did rather well for themselves.

In my case, I had no stomach for it. Too much personal integrity stood in the way. I don't mind selling something of value, but a con has only value to the con artist. That I am not, and I don't have to knock myself out with Harvey's Bristol Cream every night like old Herb did.

Can you imagine the burdens on his conscience? I'm sure there was a smidgeon of it in the background somewhere.

Yeah, he lived like an oriental potentate -- but the emotional price tag was astronomical when you think about it. I wouldn't have wanted to be him in the wee small hours of the night. He must have had some whopper nightmares at times. It's good to sleep well.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

I have written this before, but warrants repeating with this posting.

I took my daughter to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. There was a whole exhibit on the 1930s Depression era. In one exhibit, there was a copy of a 1939Time magazine with the cover banner headline reading - WORLD OF TOMORROW!

Immediately, I realized where HWA got the new title for his radio broadcasts which previously had been titled Radio Church of God when he went on the air in 1934 - which was also the name of his Church.

Richard

DennisCDiehl said...

If you're going to have a ministry based on prophecy, such as the SDA's do as well, you are forced to read your Bible in the same way your read a newspaper. Or in this day and age, you read it like a website news blog.

All the so called prophecy in the NT cobbled out of the Old is not prophecy at all. The New Testament church did and wrote exactly the same way as we see being done today. They looked at their world, their oppressors, their personal circumstances and saw the Second Coming all over the place. Time was as short for them as it is for us today.

No church has an original thought. It's all based on copies of copies of copies of copies and all the opinions of those before them from which it all flows.

DennisCDiehl said...

PS For example: Matthew builds his birth story of Jesus around 8 "and thus it was fulfilled,"s.

Not one of them is an accurate use of the text from the OT from which he took it to write his story. But he needed to write a story since he didn't know the actual story of Jesus birth circumstances. Midrash is a writing style that was acceptable to write one's story then, but today we would consider it tale weaving or yarn spinning, to be polite.

So even the gospel writers lacked the ability to have original thoughts of their own. As we know, Matthew copied 94% of Mark and Luke 50+ % of Mark. These are hardly original thinkers either. They are copiests with a few twists of their own here and there.

WCG did not invent it

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote, "I have dealt with sales people most of my life. In most cases they do not believe they are lying. They have convinced themselves that what are presenting is a representation of what is right (at least for them). They can rationalize that what is good for them is good for those they are selling it to."

I've tended to think that sleazy salesmen who sell a religion(or other products) are knowingly lying when they tell blatant untruths and majorly twist facts when hawking their wares.
But, you may be onto something, there.
Perhaps they get so hopped-up on the notion that they're on a "mission" and need to be "effective" that it messes up their ability to refrain from saying things that aren't true, and they somehow justify doing so.
And, that dynamic may be at it's worst when they think they're on a "mission from God"
I have a friend who's wife was in sales, who would at times go to sales seminars. He confided in me that when she'd return from these sales seminars, he found it was very hard to deal with her, even though he would try his best to show her love and let her know he was there for her. In describing those situations to me, he used such phrases as, "She's like a different person now.", and, "It's like they gave her some drug at that seminar."
Maybe the same sort of thing happens when they get "all hopped up on Jesus", too. For instance, I remember when Byker Bob commented that people are now being raised from the dead by real Christians with the real Holy Spirit. However, like when asked many other questions about other such nutty assertions he's made, he was as silent as a clam in the bottom of the deep blue sea.

Anon wrote, "When it come to knowledge it always exists before it is received, but the receiver will put it into a new and improved package before passing it on."

I can agree with you on this about certain types of things, such as maybe HWA's plagiarism. He did repackage older ideas and try to pass them off as something "God had revealed to him"
But, I was thinking more about technologies that made microchips and the Large Hadron Collider possible.

Anon wrote, "I did not know Herbert personally so I cannot make a judgment regarding his motives, but yes slick salesmen have existed since the time the story of Eve being duped by the Serpent was created."

I didn't know HWA personally, either.
Maybe he had nefarious motives.
Or maybe he deluded himself into thinking the poop he sold was like gold, due to some creepy sales seminar he once took.
But poop is poop, regardless of efforts to redefine it as gold.

Speaking of untruths and majorly twisted facts by a sleazy untruthful salesman who thinks he's on "a mission from God", I'm reminded of Byker Bob saying, "Regardless of our opinions of David Barton.... Does he shade things a bit in his favor? Yes, no question about that."
David Barton is certainly a sleazy untruthful salesman who thinks he's on "a mission from God"
Saying he only "shades things a bit in his favor" is akin to saying that someone who has a full-blown case of flesh-eating virus only needs skin moisturizer!

Norm

Anonymous said...

I have said many things in the course of sermons that were not true. I have never given a sermon when, at the time, I did not believe what I was saying to be true at that moment.

Hind site and insight take years to draw their conclusions.

I suppose there are minister who knowingly say things that aren't true as a means to some kind of end. They tend to be older and for many associated with their churches for a very long. If they were lifelong students of the Bible, there have no doubt been major shifts in belief they know full well they cannot bring up and don't.

Men and women who go into ministry in their youth simply believe it is what they are supposed to do and believe it with all their being . It is time that erodes their naive views and leaves them with choices. Either that or you just pick and choose what still works and leave the rest out at least publically.

M.T Testaments

Retired Prof said...

Say what you like about the arrogance of academics (and I have met some arrogant ones, believe me) at least a few of them are willing to admit the limitations of their knowledge. One science teacher I read about used to end his courses by saying, "I'm sorry to tell this, but half of what I've told you this semester is wrong. The trouble is, I don't know which half."

No preacher would dare say something like that except as an explanation for resigning.

Retired Prof said...

Oh, or trying to lead believers in a new direction while still collecting tithes from them.

Byker Bob said...

Norm,

Jesus set an example of remaining silent when being confronted by certain types of people.

If you know a discussion has the potential to actually accomplish something, it's good to pursue it.
If it's one of those things that's going to end up in some sort of mean spirited folly anyway, it's better respond with silence.

BB

Anonymous said...

Byker Bob wrote, "Jesus set an example of remaining silent when being confronted by certain types of people."

So, when you said you knew that people were raised from the dead recently, and you were asked for further details, you were simply "being like Jesus" by not providing any details about such a grand claim?
(Because of the "certain types of people" who asked?)

If people asked you if you believed it was the Holy Spirit who told you that it was Jesus who found a transmission for your hot rod online for your hot rod, would you clam up if "the wrong types of people asked you", so you could be like Jesus?

Or, is it more that "certain types of people" would be apt to want evidence and and not be likely to cheer you on, as, say, Jan and Paul Crouch fans would?

Hey, if you want to say that Jesus found a transmission for your hot rod online for you, that's fine.
And if you want to say that Christians have recently raised people from the dead, that's fine, too.

But the "I'm being like Jesus so I won't tell you about it!" excuse of yours seems like a cop-out, to me.

And remember to not answer this comment, Byker Bob.
Just keep being like Jesus, who you claim clams up, too, when "the wrong type of people" ask questions.

Norm

Steve Kisack said...

This train of thought brought back a question that I asked BB in another thread. How does anyone know that they have the Holy Spirit? I mean, everyone claims that they do because their lives have changed, but I know people whose lives have changed who are not religious and do not claim that they have the Holy Spirit. And, you can't use the excuse that you just have to have faith. The Holy Spirit was manifested in the New Testament with actual proof...that of speaking in tongues, prophesying, talking to humans, and other wonders and miracles. Where are the miracles today to separate the frauds from those who actually have the Holy Spirit(if any alive today actually do)?

Byker Bob said...

Steve,

(And this is just my own understanding from the writings of Paul), those who have the Holy Spirit are given spiritual gifts to use to benefit the church (not a corporate group, but the body of Christ). In the initial stages of Christianity, the gifts tended to be more dramatic, such as tongues, prophecy, improbable and dramatic healings, and such. But, there are also some equally effective but less flamboyant gifts, such as the gift of encouraging others, the ability to share financial blessings with less fortunate brethren, disposable free time used to pray for others, deep knowledge of scriptural principles to share with others, etc.

I'm not sure yet that my own gifts or purpose are well defined. I do know that I have technical skills which, coupled with honesty, have been a blessing to the local business community in my state. A person can have a small but insignificant part in transforming the cultural mindset of greed. I know that through my past lifestyle I have DQ'd myself from a public ministry, but we can all have a personal one.

To me, the Holy Spirit is described in scripture in several subtle but powerful metaphoric ways. He is likened to the wind, called in Hebrew the Ruach. And, basically, as the poem asks, "Who has seen the wind?". You can't. You can witness the effects of the wind, and can feel it blow, but it is invisible. The primary evidence of the Holy Spirit is changed or refocussed lives, transformed hearts. Influence for good. I also freely acknowledge that people without Him can be capable of random good acts and occasionally altruistic behavior.

BB

Byker Bob said...

Norm,

Part of Christian discernment is knowing when not to push one's points. In the past, when I did push, some responded with the worst kind of blasphemies. Not only did that shock me personally, but everyone who followed that particular blog then had the blasphemies permanently burned into their memories. I found myself in the role of a kind of spiritual Urkel, wondering on the sidelines, "Did I do that???"

Some of the most angry people I've met while on WCG dissident sites have returned to faith and received healing. But, some are still quite rabid, and, for reasons entirely their own, would like to stamp out everyone else's faith. No matter what evidence anyone could present, be it before and after mammograms, doctors' reports, or anything else substantive, some would never admit to even the possibility that God heals. Though I know of miracles, they can tend to encourage other Christians, or to influence open minded people to come to faith, but they will be universally rejected by the most rabid disbelievers, and as I've stated, those rabid ones will sometimes even respond with blasphemy.

BB

Anonymous said...

Hi Byker Bob,

Please do as you claim Jesus would do, and "Do the Jesus Clam-Up" by not responding to naughty blasphemers like me!

Interesting that the "Holy Spirit" leads you to only respond to posts that are more convenient for you to answer.

Harder questions relegate you to your oft-preferred "Jesus-Shutmouth-Clam" status.

Hmmmmm, that's interesting. You claim to be like Jesus when you don't answer questions from "certain types of people"

Yet, you continually make comments to those "certain types of people", telling them that they are wrong, while not answering direct and logical questions.
WOW, YOU'RE JUST LIKE JESUS, BYKER BOB!

Ok, Byker Bob, I'll ask again.
What evidence is there that Christians have been raising people from the dead lately?

You said it, Byker Bob.
Got an answer, or are you gonna do your usual "Jesus-Shutmouth-Clamup"?

Norm

Steve Kisack said...

B.B. said..."In the initial stages of Christianity, the gifts tended to be more dramatic, such as tongues, prophecy, improbable and dramatic healings, and such."

MY COMMENT: What? I don't think the ekklesia considered these gifts of the Spirit "dramatic". These gifts were common among them, not considered "dramatic" or "flamboyant". They were the manifestations of the Spirit. Tongues were a sign to unbelievers. Prophesying was a sign to believers. There were healings. Where are the healings today?

"But, there are also some equally effective but less flamboyant gifts, such as the gift of encouraging others, the ability to share financial blessings with less fortunate brethren, disposable free time used to pray for others, deep knowledge of scriptural principles to share with others, etc."

MY COMMENT: These gifts were just as extant in the ekklesia as the other gifts mentioned above. Why these gifts, but not the others? (I don't think "disposable free time" is mentioned). Why would some gifts disappear, while others made it through?

Byker Bob said...

For those who wonder what is going on in the exchanges between myself and Norm, here is a little history. Once there was another forum. Myself, another gentleman, and Norm, then known as "TweetyBob" all were active there as nonbelievers. Together, we constantly confronted the Armstrongites and mainstream believers there. The other gentleman and myself are believers once again, having been led back to faith.

Now, Norm, as for official documentation in media which you would respect, who is going to cover such a story? Whoever happened to write such a story would be instantly equated with individuals claiming to have been abducted by space aliens. My sources are people within the Christian community who attended gatherings (definitely one in Miami, and I think another somewhere up in Canada). and, no, they weren't on bath salts or acid. As a skeptic, though, you are going to want evidence which you can dissect and examine, and probably still reject. But, I'll keep you up to date as more news becomes available.

BB

Byker Bob said...

Steve,

That's something there's a lot of speculation about. What did happen to the gifts? Some have said that they disappeared along with the Jewish Christians, as the center of Christian activity moved to Rome, and the Gentile Christians became more prevalent. Others have stated that these were signs indicating that the witness of God was behind the work of Jesus and the disciples, and as Christianity became mainstream they were no longer needed. Personally, I don't know. I just wish we still had them, as we have all seen them faked in the ACOGs. That's probably a very good reason why we would never see them there.

You are right that the words disposable free time are not used in the writings of Paul. However, there are paraphrase descriptions approximating the equivalent of that phrase.

BB

Anonymous said...

"As a skeptic, though, you are going to want evidence which you can dissect and examine, and probably still reject."


There isn't any other kind of evidence for those of us who live on Planet Earth, Bob. Without that kind of evidence, viewed by a skeptic, you would never had the pleasure to ride a motorcycle. Or write on your computer. Or ever had a vaccine. Etc.

The reason that people will probably reject the "evidence" you give is probably because it will be completely subjective and unfounded evidence. As usual.

I just don't understand why you refuse to apply your own raging skepticism that you use in your daily interactions with humanity, and apply it to God. Why does God get a free pass in regards to simple questioning? Why the demand for blindness? What would you think of a group of people who required, as passage into their group, the complete suspension of any skepticism toward their practices and motives? You would call them a cult, just as you label Islam as false, having applied your skeptic eye on Allah. To bad you won't be intellectually honest enough to apply it to your own deity.

Paul R.

Steve Kisack said...

BB, you didn't answer the question.

Byker Bob said...

Steve,

There is something known as dispensationalism. It's a man-made theory, extrapolated from the Bible-recorded dealings between God and mankind, and the seeming changes.

According to this theory, different knowledge, methodology, and gifts are given to those from different time eras, as deemed appropriate by God. It is plausable, and appears to explain a number of unclarities. Some go only so far as to differentiate amongst the Old Covenant, New Covenant, and the alleged End Times, while others see finer distinctions. I suppose it's the spiritual equivalent of the God-ordained evolutionary processes of which we are informed by science.

I tend to find dispensationalism fairly credible. It makes more sense than cherrypicking certain scriptures and turning them into depthless cliches, such as the ones about God and Jesus never changing.

BB

Byker Bob said...

Paul,

What I'd like to know is how you turn the subjective component (the one rooted in each of our own collection of personal experiences)
"off", and the objective component exclusively "on". To me, both are part of the life experience, and both provide a measure of check and balance.

I'm thinking of writing an article to submit to Gary as a blog entry. It would be based on the experiences of two people close to me, one who received healing, and the other who committed suicide. Both are recent events from the past year, and are still constantly on my mind. It will be interesting to determine whether these stories might help others, or whether I myself might learn more from the comments of readers.

BB

Byker Bob said...

Steve,

I spoke with a trusted pastor this afternoon after posting my latest response to you. He had an even different explanation.

There are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in the NT. You have to be walking in all of these fruits to have all of the gifts. It's the only way you could be trusted by God to use the gifts to glorify Him.

BB

Anonymous said...

BB wrote, "Though I know of miracles, they can tend to encourage other Christians, or to influence open minded people to come to faith, but they will be universally rejected by the most rabid disbelievers"

Lol, Byker Bob!
I think the average normal person of sound mind would tend to be skeptical of your claims that Christians are now raising people from the dead, or that Jesus found your hot-rod's transmission online for you.

Ok, ok, I get it.
I get your Christian math.
"healthy skepticism" = "rabid disbelief"

Norm

Assistant Deacon said...

It's interesting that an atheist can also exhibit, love, joy, peace, etc., and manifest them in how they live their life. Mere coincidence? If so, how can that be?

The whole "filled with the Holy Spirit" discussion seems historically misguided. I've known people in the various COGs who have been rebaptized, in some cases more than once. That's just absurd. People with Ambassador College degrees worth little more than the parchment they were printed on, declaring that another person never had "the spirit" or, if they did, lost it.

Performance-based nonsense, that's all that is. Instead of reminding a person that, because of their decision to be baptized, they have a relationship with a loving God that can help them work through their weaknesses and challenges, these jackboot sycophants beat them over the head with their shortcomings and use them as proof that they're falling short of God's approval. They turn and twist scripture to fit their demanding, performance-based theology. No wonder so many people in those groups tremble in fear, even to this day.

That's just plain evil, and is of no value whatsoever.

Steve Kisack said...

Byker Bob said...
Steve,I spoke with a trusted pastor this afternoon after posting my latest response to you. He had an even different explanation.There are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in the NT. You have to be walking in all of these fruits to have all of the gifts. It's the only way you could be trusted by God to use the gifts to glorify Him.

MY COMMENT: So, if you're not "walking" in ALL of these, you can't have ALL of the gifts, just SOME of them? I thought it was God who distributed the gifts among the true church as He saw fit. I don't think He gave ALL of the gifts to one person, but one person could have one gift and another person could have another gift which was different than the other person. So, if I'm "walking" in ALL of the fruits, I should have ALL of the gifts? How lame! So, the Holy Spirit is like a glass that is half full in some people, and maybe completely full in others? I can see disaster written all over this. "I have more of the Holy Spirit than you do!" Doesn't it really boil down to the fact that you have to have faith to believe that you have the Holy Spirit? You can't really put your finger on it and say, "Look, I have the Holy Spirit and I can prove it!".

Anonymous said...

Bob,

We all have objective and subjective outlooks and experiences. The difference between us is that I don't use the subjective to try to convince people of the supernatural. Or science, for that matter. Or anything else including business transactions. If I were to try to convince a scientist that I have created a time machine, my subjective experience (I built it and it works!) is worthless. I must show them the time machine, and demonstrate it for them. It isn't rabid disbelief.
Again, you are the same way in all aspects of life except religion. You give your god a free pass from healthy skepticism.


From what I can remember, there is no Biblical evidence for Bob's assertion that a Believer must display all the fruits of the spirit in order for God to work miracles through them. This is another example of trying to explain why your invisible purple dragon won't show himself to others. Dispensationalism is another.

Why is questioning the existence of God so abhorrent to Believers? If he is real, then he is real. There should be some evidence.

Paul R.

Anonymous said...

Christian Skepticism in Everyday Life:

Joe: Bob, I have motorcycle engine that runs on air. I'll sell it to you for a million dollars.
Bob: Uhhh...I don't think so. I mean, I would have to see it.
Joe: (suddenly indignant) Why? Don't you believe me?
Bob: No.
Joe: Bob, you're very narrow minded and it will get you no where.
Bob: Yeah, uh, look- you want to show me this thing or not?
Joe: I can't. You can only see it on the full moon.
Bob: Okay. I want to see it on the full moon.
Joe: Uh, no. That won't work. Since you have hardened your heart into rabid disbelief, my engine will never work for you because of your lack of faith.
Bob: (rolls eyes) Piss off. You're full of it.

Christian Skepticism in Regards to God:

Joe: Bob- An omnipotent deity of the Bible, namely, God, is real and regularly performs miracles.
Bob: Ok! I believe!

Paul R.

Byker Bob said...

I've got a better construct.

Suppose a person had no sense of smell. It wouldn't matter to such a person whether someone had brought in a bouquet of flowers, had opened up a bottle of vanilla extract, or had farted.

Just imagine, trying to describe what you smelled to an olfactorally challenged friend! Or, for that matter, to a whole group of them. As a kind of audio aid, you could play Loudon Wainright III's "Dead Skunk" for them, but they just wouldn't get it. They would not be able to perceive any evidence.

BB

Anonymous said...

Your analogy stinks. You know why? Because the Bible itself sets the criteria for evidence for God. God walked and talked with humans, appeared to them in various forms. Either way, humans SAW and HEARD God. Simple criteria. Simple evidence. Just not any. Wonder why. (Bob begins formulating Excuse for Missing God #36)



Paul R.