Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dennis on "God's Church"

"God's Church"

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorIf there is one phrase that packs punch in the Churches of God it is the use and over use of "God's Church."   The phrase causes people to freeze in their spiritual tracks.  It soothes the mind knowing that one has found it or is a current part of it.  It becomes nonsensical when one steps outside their own "God's Church" box and realizes that there are hundreds made up of the very ministers and people who once thought they all collectively were in it.  It is the one phrase that can niggle at you with the fact that all the "God's Churches" are run differently and have different beliefs or have the very same beliefs and can't get along because a man won't relinquish his hold over the masses, ok...hundreds to another man who also won't let go of power as he perceives power.

I don't recall one time where my Presbyterian ministers ever used the phrase "God's Church," in a sermon or in any way used it to impart speciality to the congregation.  It is a uniquely spoken phrase of fundamentalists and all who are just sure that the order of things is  "God, Christ, The Disciples, The Apostles, My Church, My Leader, Myself and a few other leading Evangelists not to be named."   It's simple and a direct connect that could not be proved if one put a gun to someone's head.

The phrase works nicely in a larger congregation.  Larger I suppose is an illusion about the concept of God's Church when one considers the population of the earth that "God's Church" has supposed to have been going ye therefore into all these hundreds and thousands of years.  Not much of a harvest for "God's Church" if you count it all up , but when all else fails we can default to , "ye have a little strength," or "the harvest is yet ahead."

Sadly and of course (let him who ears to hear understand:), "God's Church" is also a Meme which is a form of repetitive mind virus that takes on a life of its own and duplicates itself from one mind to the next.  "Things go better with Coke" and all that.  A meme is a jingle or slogan set to an engaging melody.  That's why "God Church" has hymns they can't stop singing but make no sense in reality.  "Onward Christian Soldiers," comes to mind and the part where they all sing, "We are not divided. All one body we. One in hope and doctrine. One in charity."  Sure fine...  Let's not forget the mind killer "Death shall them seize, and to the tomb, alive they shall go down," or "praise ye the Lordo." 

A meme is an "earworm" which is a song that gets stuck in the head for hours, days or weeks that you can't get out of your head and wonder why it keeps playing without your permission.  I got Freddy Mercury's "Bohemian Rhapsody," stuck in my head a few weeks ago and it drove me nuts.  Then it goes away.  "God's Church" is such a fall back earworm that when all else fails, turns on and reminds one that no matter how goofy the situation is, it is still "God's Church."

Nursery rhymes are memes as are many of the stories of the Bible and of "God's Church."  One could not actually prove anything in the Bible or any specific story with specific people ever really happened in time and space but they are repeated when needed to make a point and control "God's Church." An Angel grabbing HWA's steering wheel and driving him to a home he needed to be at is a meme.  It might also be a lie but I spare you. 

You can read ad after ad in The Journal, scores actually, about "God's Church."  Throw in the word "True" and you got a Super Meme that is meant to really grab those that merely belong to "God's Church."  If the "God's Church" concept included all of them, there would be no need to advertise or move from your previous "God's True Church."   In all my life, I NEVER met anyone, COG, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu or Pentecostal who said, "Yea...I know I am in the false Church, but it's close to home."  All Churches are "God's Church" in the mind of the congregant or it would set them into a panic and a quest for "God's True Church."

In my present truth there is no "God's True Church" or "God's Church."  If there is then they are a mess and not the kind that would attract a critically thinking and somewhat idealistic soul.  But the concept of "God's Church" can certainly keep one in their seat no matter how much human drama is consuming the church or how, what should be obviously something that would turn people away, does not.

For example...the recent conviction of Witness Ron Weinland for tax evasion and misappropriation of Church funds and all that.  I listened in part yesterday , to Ron's post conviction sermon.  He was not giving the sermon and I have to feel for him in the sense that he must be numb, or not, who knows.  But the speaker spent the entire time in "God's Church" mode.  Now remember  (or is it re-memeber?) Ron is a one man church.  He sets the beliefs.  He sets the goals. He sets the agenda.  He interprets the Bible for the audience.  He, he he.. (This is called DaveaFlurraphobia:)  Now he is going to prison but the speaker spent the whole time going through all the scriptures showing the leaders in "God's Church" had to experience prison and persecution.  There is NO connect to the obvious crimes committed unrelated to persecution, but the meme keeps one in the seat.  It's not Ron's Church...It's God's.   So it holds the space for him when he gets out evidently.  It's a powerful meme and Ron has successfully, up til now, kept the minds of others from thinking it is Ron's Church and to think it is "God's Church," no matter what.  This bigger falsehood defuses his reality to some evidently.

If all the Churches of God combined are "God's Church," then in my view, the God of the Hubble  telescope and the fact that in our time we realize just big the Universe is and that we may just be one grape on one cluster in one row of one vineyard of Universes is simply missing in action. All flesh is not grass, it is nothing.

I would have liked to find "God's Church" in this age.  At 14-18, which are very vulnerable years in the 1960's, I thought I had.  Why does a kid even think about such stuff?  I was weird and so were many of you.  lol.   I can understand men coming out of WW 2 looking for a better way.  One minister I knew flew P 38's but never said what he did with it.  Joe Tkach Sr. had war stories but he may have fallen into the category of wanna have war stories but didn't.  I don't know. 

But if there is "God's Church" somewhere, I have no clue where and probably would not trust it or allow myself to give up my mind to it.  I can't imagine myself ever sitting in "God's Church" much less "God's True Church" again.  I can't say I like that, but I can't be what I am not or believe the unbelievable at this point. 

I am glad for someone who can restart their Church experience.  Everyone of them drops the "God's Church" meme when they do or at least they don't use the term.  I doubt they would as "Church" becomes good enough.  I hear them repeating the same memes in different form but that is their journey and I have mine.  Church and religion eases our absolute fear of death. That is its origin.  That is why when one causes others to question their views, they get livid and attack back.  No one wants to belong to the wrong church or believe the wrong things, which of course no one does.  People don't like it when they feel threatened in what has, to this point, made them feel very safe.  Trust me...this journey does not feel safe to me anymore.

But I will not fall for the "God's Church" meme again.  If there is such a place then I'd have to think the Deity is playing hide n seek with us.  It's never been obvious what the Bible teaches on this or that.  It depends who you read.  The proofs of "God's Church" can be unproved by those not given to believing them and unproved with the Bible.  History can be seized upon as needed while others can undo your history with theirs.  Frankly, I have never heard one person, even on this blog, listen to another and say, "you know, I used to believe_______, but you are right and I no longer believe___________" 

Memes such as "God's Church" are very strong.  And while things may not really go better with Coke, or an apple a day may not really keep the doctor away anymore than a Twinkie, it sounds good.  It is comforting and settling .  It will keep you in your seats by turning off common sense and critical thinking.  Humans generally opt for feeling safe over being correct.  Phrases cemented in the mind such as "God's Church," or "God's True Church" are powerful reminders of what people will tolerate in religion and beliefs. 


Head Usher said...

Well said, Dennis. This is a meme that it seems Dave Pack especially leans on very hard to keep his faithful sending in the money. But let us not forget that for at least four decades HWA send out regular harangues to members and "co-workers" that if you read them today are full of horrible, accusatory, digging remarks combined with commands to send in gobs of cash. Also, it isn't only the "God's Church" meme, it's also the "We Are God's People", "God's Chosen", "God's Elect", "God's Ministers", "God's [Tithe] Money", "God's Will", "The Place Where God Has Placed His Name" ... You name it, and they've got a meme informing you that "God" has given to them "His" share of whatever. I just can't abide it when someone attributes every little thing that happens to a supernatural causation. As you've said, it creates a mass delusion when everyone starts mouthing such patent untruths, that they are all in the one and only "right" place. This is a lie that they have all, subconsciously, decided to place their faith in, without any better reason than because it feels better than to be wondering about or stressing out about what happens after they die. It's nicer to feel like they've got that all sorted out, even if they know they're lying to themselves. Hey, you never know, it could be true, right?

I bet that one scripture that Weinland's mouthpiece did not quote was the one that says it's only if you're punished for doing right that you get brownie points. No points are awarded if you go to prison because you're guilty!

DennisCDiehl said...

Well said Head Usher. That's really true. Attach "God's____" or whatever and you have the hook set. I have been told through the years when one crazy scandal was squeezing my brains out through my eyes that "well, it's still God's Church." That was supposed to help or mask the reality of what was currently going miserably wrong.

To me, I don't see one consistent Church or set of beliefs even in the New Testament. There was the Jewish Christian version, the Gnostic version and the Gentile version. It takes no research at all to read Galatians 1-2 and see that whatever "God's Church" was at that time, it was already divided and the snarkiness of "God's ministers" and "God's Apostles" was starting to show already.

What I feel left with is a big black hole that I realize no thing or no organization can fill. Religion is what others pour into you. Be here, be there, give this, give that, think this, don't think that... Spirituality is an inside job and it is hard work.

For most of my life I depended on others to make me feel good or safe or useful or give meaning. But giving others that power means they can take it from you , under the bus and all that. Inside work is difficult. It is much easier to belong to a "God's Church" and sit back in group think whether it is really true or not. Collective belief trumps truth every time. They are not the same of course.

I really wish those of us who share similar views or at least are nicely tolerant of each other and understanding could meet somewhere just to meet in reality. As Chief Apostle..I'd have to have it fairly close to my HQ because I don't require giving or tithing and the budget is a bit

I was thinking the same thing about that scripture that awards no points for not getting into the kind of things common to man but not really persecution. That never came up in the sermon for Ron this week. The man must be in serious denial. I do feel for him. But then again, I don't think like him so maybe he can take it all in his stride.


Anonymous said...

Personally Dennis I no longer believe that there is a single, man-made or incorporated "church" out there that is "the True Church of God." Jesus didn't say He was going to establish a religious corporation whose history we'd be able to trace down through the ages and that we'd better make sure we're all a part of it! Otherwise the closest that fits the bill would be the Roman Catholic Church! In fact when the Jewish leaders excommunicated or "disfellowshipped" the blind man (whom Christ had earlier healed) for questioning their motivations He didn't scare him into believing he was now lost as he was "outside" the "one true church." He didn't command him to make amends to the Jewish leaders so they would welcome him back to their fold. And He didn't accuse him of being guilty as if he or his "attitude" was at fault and to blame for their rejection of him and the unfortunate outcome. What Jesus did was to go look for him and when He finally found him He accepted him. So this leads me to the conclusion that if there is such a thing as the true Church of God it's the Body of Christ and made up of individuals scattered throughout the world and Christendom who are spiritually connected to Him and in Him. Besides I think the meme "God's Church," or "Church of God" etc as Herbert Armstrong and his followers have used and applied it to themselves is completely "anal" or symptomatic of OCD/ASD since they go on about "the name" as if the name itself is positive proof they are the "real deal" (even though the Catholic and Protestant churches have referred to themselves as "the Church of God" or "God's Church" for centuries in various historical documents too). And I think it has been used (or misused) as a tool to condition people within the ACOGs to think just that as if a liar, thief or pedophile could never present themselves in a way to make you think they are anything but respectable and honest, or there to protect your assets or that your children will be completely safe with them. Yeah right! And Satan could never come across as a messenger of truth and light either.

DennisCDiehl said...

Excellent comment Anon. Right on.

Gospel Jesus , in my current view, had no intention of starting any Church. The concept was not there. I believe that the original anonymous authors of the Gospels added their agenda when it was obvious Jesus was gone one way or the other.

Gospel Jesus was a function of Judaism. I think Jesus never thought he'd die and that God would intervene and route the Romans if he, Jesus, pushed it to the limit. You don't turn tables over at the Temple in front of Romans during Passover, the most dangerous time of year for revolt and get aways with it. One Gospel says Jesus did this a few days before he died, John says he did it right at the beginning of his ministry. So we don't know what happened.

Epistles and letters not written by the names of the men affixed at times, and were added by the early Catholic church to churchify the movement. Paul did not write all the letters attributed to him. He lived, wrote and died way too early in the game to address topics such as church heirarchy and how to live after the great disappointment of Jesus death and non return.

Spiritual people, Christian or otherwise don't need to be organized. Organization creates conformity and non conformity creats marking and disfellowshipping issues for not doing so under some authority.

Organizations provoke splits and schisms and new denominations. (I said it right this time! I once said in a study, "brethren, we can't afford to have shits and splisms in the church..." lol

I'm getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable and in being rather than doing.

I miss speaking and teaching but it would have to be an open group not stuck in "all speak the same thing" that invited me :)

DennisCDiehl said...

one problem with the "moneychangers in the temple" story is that there was nothing wrong with money changing. Temple sacrifices etc could NOT be purchased with pagan coinage, Roman or otherwise. It had to be turned into temple coin. So some can't figure out what Jesus problem really was. It was not a house of merchandise unless he meant selling animals for sacrifice in Jewish coin only.

So his behavior , for some, is somewhat enigmatic if not contrived by authors.

Allen C. Dexter said...

"I miss speaking and teaching but it would have to be an open group not stuck in "all speak the same thing" that invited me :)"

You're not doing much speaking, but you are still teaching. Blogging is your outlet, as it is mine. We both need to rejoice that this medium is open to us. Otherwise, we'd have to mumble to ourselves in daydreams.

Steve Kisack said...

Anonymous said...So this leads me to the conclusion that if there is such a thing as the true Church of God it's the Body of Christ and made up of individuals scattered throughout the world and Christendom who are spiritually connected to Him and in Him.

MY COMMENT: Ho hum! Another meme.

Anonymous said...

Just last week I had a heated mostly monologue with my 91-year-old father, who is in a two-dozen- member splinter of WCG. I said (condensed version) his church is a tiny splinter church of the WCG that thought IT was the one true church, and now all the splinters think they're the one true church,(otherwise they wouldn't be a smaller church) and they can't all be right, and they disagree about scriptural interpretations. And then he asked, well what do you think is the true church? At his age, I know he'll never "get it", but I had to tell him what it looks like to me (i.e. absolutely ridiculous).


Anonymous said...

"Well what do you think is the true church?"

Kinda like asking for an opinion about the one true hoax. IMHO, "true church" is an oxymoron.

Retired Prof said...

Let me toss out another meme.

Cosmologists point out that the universe is mathematically indistinguishable from a hologram of the universe. If we are in fact embedded in a holographic display that looks for all the world like the real thing, then perhaps the being(s) that created us/the display did so entirely for their own entertainment. We are just part of a cosmic reality show. From inside, we have no way of knowing whether we are part of the main ensemble, or extras to provide background verisimilitude, or accidental products of the holographic process.

This possibility should appeal to deists even as it repulses believers in a god with whom we can have a two-way relationship.

Retired Prof said...

Now that I think about it, the situation could be more complex and interesting than a reality show. Maybe the holographic display is like a video game, and each of is is an avatar of some cosmic teenager gaming with a host of rival players.

Anonymous said...

Prof said:

This possibility should appeal to deists even as it repulses believers in a god with whom we can have a two-way relationship

Would that be a hoot. We're gaming characters! Well maybe we are anyway. The TWO way relationship always seemed a bit one sided to me.


Assistant Deacon said...

A friend of mine took a graduate class in theology at a WORDLY INSTITUTION (heh, heh) after he had graduated from Ambassador. He said that in the very first class of the semester, the professor asked for a show of hands of everyone who had attended "God's College." My friend said there was a moment of silence, and then just about every hand, including his, went up, accompanied by a ripple of laughter. It opened his eyes even further to the fact that the WCG had come up with very little that was new in the fundamentalist world; HWA had just figured out a way to package it differently.

God's Church...God's ain't so just because somebody with a big ego says it's so.

DennisCDiehl said...

God's college, Bob Jones University is just down the street. God's students attend there taught by God's faculty . They have used a lot of God's money to build an empire and stock one of the world's best religious art museums.

Sometimes students or faculty get cast out over God's barbed wire fence that goes around God's college and into my neighborhood where I suppose Satan dwells.

Two faculty members got booted recently from God's college because God's female faculty member had a website on God's kind of breast feeding. Oh no no no...we don't show God's boobs to anyone under any circumstances...goodbye lady.


Byker Bob said...

Yep, idiots try to create some identity from wholecloth, thus punctuating an otherwise unChristian message. Armstrong doctrine was always a very hard sell, and difficult to swallow. That's why, with HWA and GTA virtually dominating the religious airwaves during the 1950s, 1960s, and part of the 1970s, so very few actually became members.

There is the body of Christ. And, it's not an exclusive club. Your entry is insured simply by repenting of your sins, and inviting Jesus Christ to be your Savior, Lord, and Master.


Anonymous said...

If you don't want to join God's Church, there is another option. Join the Living Church of God, where even loyal members familiar with its administration will concede that it's "Rod's Church" or the "Church of Rod."

Anonymous said...

Or you could add another O to that. Rood. Michael Rood, and his Rood Awakening. Makes about as much sense as LCG, except Rood's people don't get depressed and shoot up their sabbath congregation.

Anonymous said...

I thought the "True Church" was not an organization, but an organism, referred to as The Body of Christ. It consists of all believers from from the founding at Pentecost to the Rapture; living and dead members. The "Church" is not an LLC, or a
501(c)(3) corporation nor does it have a headquarters in Pasadena, Edmond or Charlotte. Its head is still Jesus Christ, not RCM or Gerald Flurry.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Byker Bob said, “Yep, idiots try to create some identity from wholecloth, thus punctuating an otherwise unChristian message. Armstrong doctrine was always a very hard sell, and difficult to swallow. That's why, with HWA and GTA virtually dominating the religious airwaves during the 1950s, 1960s, and part of the 1970s, so very few actually became members.”

MY COMMENT – Very true Byker, but as I’m sure you will remember well that that wasn’t Herbert Armstrong’s message/business model. His message was: 1) the “true gospel” had not been preached in 1900 years; 2) the gospel of the kingdom of God was substituted by mainstream Christianity with a counterfeit gospel about Christ;3) that time was short, and this Gospel (of the kingdom of God) would be preached in all the world AND THEN THE END WOULD COME!

Many would be called (i.e. hear the broadcast), but FEW would be chosen. HWA knew “God’s Church” would be a small church with FEW elect members dedicating their entire lives (and their wallets) to the worldwide work of the Worldwide Church of God. Christ was to return in HWA’s lifetime (ergo “time is short”) after the gospel of the Kingdom was preached in the entire world.

Herbert Armstrong’s business model was a numbers game starting with a media outreach on radio and television followed up by a monthly “glossy” magazine to those who responded which would then weed out the casual listener/reader from those who became co-workers; and of those co-workers some would become dedicated “baptized” members in God’s Church.

We can argue all day (and all night) about Herbert W. Armstrong. But one thing I don’t think is arguable is that Herbert W. Armstrong (for better or worse) WAS a successful millionaire business man who executed a business model and accomplished many things in his lifetime that an ordinary person couldn’t have. But as I sometimes say on this site the old adage, “If you want to dine with the classes (and HWA DID dine with world leaders and the “classes”), you MUST LIE to the masses!


Anonymous said...

Many are called, but few are chosen. The context deals with the Wedding Feast. The king see some without proper wedding clothing and he send them away. Those who try to come without proper clothing (the covering of the blood of Christ for their sins) are inadequately clothed and will be sent into outer darkness.
Those who try to keep the law to qualify themselves for the banqauet are not properly attired

Anonymous said...

anon said

"Those who try to come without proper clothing (the covering of the blood of Christ for their sins) are inadequately clothed"

That theology is far too advanced for what the original story would have meant to imply. However it would make sense if the Gospels were written much later than stated by some and by people other than the 12 disciples who took off when Jesus was arrested etc and were no where to be found. When they were found, they were somewhat confused as to what any of it meant.

It's a great story for an already firmly established Church however.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the disciples were still somewhat clueless when Jesus was killed. They didn't quite understand what he had taught. But Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come and bring into remembrance all that happened and lead them into all truth. In retrospect, "they got it."

Anonymous said...

the covering of sins with the blood, washed in the blood, under the blood, cleansed by the blood.....are all religious memes

Anonymous said...

the covering of sins with the blood, washed in the blood, under the blood, cleansed by the blood.....are all religious memes

Surely if you have ever tried to remove blood stains from a piece of cloth, all this "washed by the blood" and "cleansed by the blood" talk must seem rather demented, even sick.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the lovely hymn!

"Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

This is not demented or sick, anonymous, it's faith. Precious, inspiring faith.

We believers rejoice, indeed we take pride, in placing our innocent trust in such things as the detergent properties of ovine bodily fluids. If a virgin can bear a son and dead bodies can live again, then blood can act as a purifying bleach. That's all there is to say.

Londry D. Turgeont

Retired Prof said...

Londry, you forgot what may be the most amazing miracle of all: that descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel could disperse across Europe and entirely forget their heritage--yet in spite of that keep their lineages so pure that they sort themselves out, family by family, into ten different countries according to the different tribes their ancestors belonged to.