Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dennis on: "Oh Hives and Flocks" God's Church Part II


Oh Hives and Flocks
(God's Church Part II)

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought . My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephasa”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
I Corinthians 1:10-12

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorI believe we all know how terribly unrealistic this view of group think is.  Christianity is nothing but splits, schisms, slivers, twigs and division.   Churches, especially the COGs, tend to add to themselves by subtracting others from each others fellowship and multiply themselves by dividing others.   Chloe in the text was a tattle perhaps for self gain and it obvious no one got along with anyone.  What Paul seems to mean here, as do all COG ministers is that Paul would simply prefer you followed him and that the others would get their act together and recognize that he is the group think leader.  

In looking through The Journal, I find the adverts to be the most interesting.  Simply put they seem to say, "Look at me."   One writes pages and pages of just how true his true church is.  Red letters mark the points you are not supposed to miss.  It is a plea to "all speak the same thing," and follow me as I know what those same things are better than others.  

All the COGs believe they are THE COG.

In the history of the Church there never was one true one.  My last FOT sermon in Myrtle was my high water mark in sermons to me.  It was on "The Politics of the New Testament,"  showing just this truth.  John sends his followers the message to ignore Peter as  you would Judas.  Judas betrayed....Peter denied...same thing.  Don't follow him.  (Of course other Gospels say "they all fled.)  John portrays Peter as a buffoon and sandwiches his comments about Peter six times between cracks about Judas.   The audience was supposed to understand. 

Luke and Paul in acts stab Peter again in the story of Ananias and Sapphira where Peter strikes down a couple who said they'd do one thing, and did another where we all know Peter did the same thing.  We may miss the point of the story, but I guarantee you the original audience did not.  "Don't follow Peter."

James (probably not really THE James) writes James, in the opinion of many, to counter Paul's claims about law in Romans.  Paul writes Galatians and makes it very clear he doesn't care at all about Peter, James or John and learned nothing from them.  They are "Pillars so called." to Paul but Jesus or rather Paul's cosmic Christ gave him the Pauline Gospel and cursed be anyone that teaches otherwise.

On top of this, Paul claims, like Jesus and Jeremiah, he also was actually called from the womb.  He knows nothing of Luke's cute story in Acts about his Damascus Road enlightenment.

We see this kind of posturing today in ALL the COG one man shows.  All follow the true Jesus, or rather Christ.  All understand just how law is to be kept and administered or avoided and how one soaks in Grace and understands the concept of three in one and yet not end up with three.   No matter how small and insignificant their group, hive or fold, the leadership believes with all it's heart they are the boiled down remnant of the one True Church.

There never was one True Church and the divisions, opinions, ideas, practices and just who is in charge started before the body of Jesus cooled.  I'm wondering if the Pope has recently allowed himself to read his own Catholic Scholar Raymond Brown on the Birth of the Messiah. Just before Xmas seems appropriate. Seems he now admits the Church has missed Jesus birth dates by a few.  Hope he reads Dr. Brown's, Death of the Messiah before Easter. 

The Author of Ephesians 5 says:

 "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE Spirit—just as you were called to ONE hope when you were called— ONE Lord, ONE  faith, ONE baptism;  ONE God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

The "Unity" and "One" of these verses are truly embarrassments to the COGs and all Churches really.  It has never happened and it never will.  Of course, what "Paul" here (most don't think Paul wrote Ephesians as it is too advanced in church issues to be written so early.) is saying is "follow the one of me-- the author of this book."  

For the Restored Church of God, The Philadelphia  Church of God, The Living Church of God, The United (ahem) Church of God,  The Better United Church of God or any other Church on the planet to believe it is the ONLY Church of God, the TRUE, the FAITHFUL, The OBEDIENT, The OVERARCHING or the anything you can think up Church of God, to believe they are the ONLY Church of God is simply misguided, wishful and extremely ignorant Church of God hive and sheep fold thinking.

Many sincere people quest for the true Church.  They reason that somewhere out there is the one group that knows.  The group that matches the words to "Onward Christians Soldiers," or "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus," meaning the true one, not the wimpy one. 

If they can just find the right match, fit God's Puzzle together just right, crack the code or find the defining traits of the one true church, they win.  Somewhere there is organized a group that is the true group. When they meet the minister/ministers, they will be the true ones and will know the one true truths, behaviors and views on everything.  They will run the Hive and Fold well and always speak the same right things, follow the one true God, understand the one true views of Jesus and have all the right characteristics of a well olive oiled machine for preaching the Gospel so the end can come finally. 

These folk will spend a lifetime looking and leaping from one true church to the next or hunkering down in the one they found all others be damned.  Fear, guilt and shame will keep them in their seats or catapult them out into yet another form of the one true thing in life they have to find before it is too late.

Can you even grow in grace and knowledge in a Hive or Fold?   Few seem to mind if you grow in grace.  After all, when your leadership or members screw up, grace can set them free and keep you happy too.  Growing in knowledge is quite another thing.  The COG's are real big on knowledge unless it from the top down.  Bottom up knowledge is a formula for disfellowshipping or a hanging. 

How many times have I heard of someone who held a different view on something and simply was not allowed to stay in their church.  HWA was big on changes as long as he made them.  Tkach was big on change, as long as he announces them.  Neither were theologians of any kind or knew much about what they were talking about.  One sought out resident Jewish "scholars" for back up and one sought out the gentile views for credibility.  

Both claim Paul as God's man in the NT but illustrate how Paul can so easily be both for and against something such as law in his meanderings.  Few stop to think that the only difference between following HWA, Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Roderick Meredith or any other one man view and following Paul is a mere 2000 years.  The NT is merely yet another view of basically one man with a sprinkling of key players scorning, ridiculing and mocking each other.  Nothing new to see here .

I don't believe one can grow either as an individual or in knowledge in a hive or fold that believes from the top down there is just one way to be, do, act and think.  It is a formula for "well son, with ideas like that you will really go up in the Church,"  and then find yourself standing at the bottom step to the gallows with the minister saying, "up you go."

You lurkers out there firmly seated in a COG...  Would you not want to hear in Church how badly the leaders of the early church got along or in what ways they did not agree?  Would you not want some good science at times that don't reference the mythologies of Adam and Eve,  Noah's Ark or the Tower of Babel as if they really were and yet explained what they meant in the ears of the original hearers?  Would you not want to see that it's ok to think differently than your deacon friend, minister or EVEN the minister's wife!???

If they find evidence of life on Mars in our lifetime, do you really want to be told that it is a ruse of Satan to hurt your faith or that they are lying, by your minister?  Do you really want to be limited to believing that the God of the Universe only has to do with one small blue dot in one galaxy of billions of stars and probably millions of earth like planets, among billions of other galaxies all having earth like planets, cares only for this one?  

This latest image taken by Voyager and released by Nasa shows the Earth as a dot in the solar system as the twin spacecraft explore the edge of our solar system

Wouldn't you love to belong to a church as a kid where you could talk about evolution of life including humans without getting a lecture on "In the beginning..." or "and God took a rib from Adam's side..."???   Do you really want to grow up with the idea the Grand Canyon was gouged out in one day of Noah's flood and not get to ask or at least wonder out loud why there is only one of them on the continent?  Does it destroy your faith that simple life is in the bottom layers and more complex as you go higher in the strata without being told that's just how drowned creatures in the flood settled out because animals could run to higher ground before they drown?

When a pastor, I took one of my 13,500 year oldish Clovis Point to show Dr. Hermann Hoeh on a refresher. He seemed like a man who might enjoy seeing it.   I explained it to him during a break and he would not touch it. He said, "lovely" and turned away.  Yikes!   I learned a lot in that moment about how such a small thing can wreak havoc with big ideas.  I'd rather belong to a hive or fold where the minister actually knew what a Clovis Point was!   For that matter, I'd rather have a pastor , if I was so inclined, who understood what Raymond Brown was saying in his tomes on the Birth and Death of the Messiah or what Bart Ehrman, former fundamentalist, had to say how the Bible was really put together.  But hives and folds don't thrive on knowledge or even knowing certain views exist and can be easily read.

I had moment in a sermon where I mentioned Homo Erectus as precursors of humans etc.  After church a man came up to me and said he was uncomfortable with me using the words "homo" and "erectus" in the same sentence.   I just looked at him and for a rare moment had nothing to say.   lol

I know FEW paid ministers in the COGs who read outside the box to learn more than they learned when they first believed.  I guarantee you they don't read what they don't teach and need to teach to keep the hive and fold together.  Hives and folds keep you ignorant.  They do feel good.  They feel safe and comfy and there is power in a three string rope that is not easily broken.  But some ropes need cutting.  Gordian Knots and all that.

Bees and Sheep  (According to Paul, I should say "sheeps and seeds" otherwise it is singular"  Galatians 3:16) aren't big on straying outside the hive or fold to learn there is a whole world of knowing outside their world.  And it's ok to know or to look or to wonder and even express it. 

So, long story shorter....   How about you lurkers still attending a COG get up all your courage and ask your Dave Pack, Rod Meredith, Un-Official spokesman Bob Thiel, Gerald Flurry, Ron Wei...well never mind that one, and ask if your minister, your head bee keeper or Shepard has ever read Raymond Brown, Bart Ehrman, Karen Armstrong, Hyam Maccoby  and hundreds of other very well read and perceptive theologians who have stood up in their faiths, often thrown from them for the realities they have come to see. 

Booklet fed bees and sheep are not all that well versed.  Being only "versed" as in Bible verses only is not reality.  Reality, while scary, is your friend.  It may protect you from spiritual abuse or staying too long on the wrong tracks even if you were put back on those tracks by your beekeeper pastor or guru. 

There never was one true church.  There never was a group of men (always men and all Bible men either single or at least not talkin') who all spoke the same right things or held the one true truths.  You don't see it in the New Testament but what you do see is what you see today.  Men vying for power and ego feeding.  Men who think they are more special standing up than those who merely sit.  Men and hives , leaders and folds who don't do their homework.  Men who don't read outside their small box and frankly rarely look at the box they came in or inhabit now.  If you look too closely you risk ending up outside the hive or fold wondering what happened.

Groups, organizations, hives, coveys and folds are all mean to limit the wonder of it all.  They are ways to keep participants penned up or merely honey producers for the energy needs of the hive.  That there are other hives, folds ways of being and things to be understood and learned never crosses their minds.  If it does...well....up you go ....

If you are going to sit in a hive or fold week after week, at least realize there are more hives and folds than yours.  Your beekeeper is wrong when he says otherwise.  He's wrong when he makes fun of Einstein because he had "wild hair," or "there can't be life anywhere but here otherwise God would have told us." 

Life is an amazing experience.  So much to learn and so little time.  Don't get stuck in your seat believing everything your one, come unto me all yea that want to know "the truth" minister says about how it all is....because it all isn't that way.


Anonymous said...

The churches of God start from a false premise, that there is ONE organization where God is doing His work. The Church is not an organization, but an organism, referred to as The Body of Christ. It is made up of all those who have believed since Pentecost. You are right,Dennis. I don't think many in the WCG, etc have read any theology books or other literature outside the WCG. Why should they? They swallowed the lie that all others are deceived by Satan, so there isn't anything out there worthy of their attention.

Anonymous said...

Dennis you give a long dissertation that appears to be basically designed to destroy what is historically defined as the holy bible of the Judeo/Christian religions. There is the illusion that we live in an age where science has the capability of discovering the source of life and everything that exists and the bible is nothing, but a series of myths gathered together to gain control over the common people. I know that many here in some way agree with this conclusion and will not try to change anyone’s personal beliefs or opinions, but there are a few questions that I feel are important.
1. Does the information you have gleaned from all these other sources give you a better picture of what life really is?
2. Does it add to the joy of the life you experience?
3. Does it make you a better person morally?
4. Does it contribute to a better relationship with your families?
5. Does it contribute to a greater longevity of life?
6. Does it bring people together in developing better communities?
7. What hope does it offer after this life ends?

I could ask many more, but these will reveal why the bible has been a popular influence for many generations even though there were many misuses and abuses. The bible gives spme good advice.
(Eccl 12:11- 14 NLT) A wise teacher's words spur students to action and emphasize important truths. The collected sayings of the wise are like guidance from a shepherd.
But, my child, be warned: There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!
Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.
God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Anonymous said...

Some of the ACOGs may be exactly like Dennis describes, but he should know that the Living Church of God does not claim to be the One True Church, nor say that it is the only place where God's people can be found.

This may have been a tactical error on Rod Meredith's part, but LCG leaders openly acknowledge that the people in UCG and COGWA and some other groups are God's people. As a result, when LCG members notice that the ministry in UCG and COGWA are generally far more morally upright than the LCG leaders (especially the Meredith's and other headquarters perverts and drunkards), they find it very easy to leave LCG, since (unlike the PCG sheeple) they know they can leave without fear of the Lake of Fire.

Also the sermons in UCG and COGWA are 100 times more meaty, scriptural, useful and uplifting than hearing Rod Meredith tell you for the thousandth time about his childhood in Joplin, MO.

Some observers are predicting that LCG will soon have a major split. More likely is that a few congregations will move in mass to COGWA, and other congregations will see their members move over to COGWA as individuals or families. If COGWA ever produces a serious telecast even on the level of Dave Pack's, so they can claim to be "doing the Work" like LCG, then LCG's days will be numbered, not through a split but through attrition.

Precisely because LCG is not the "One True Church" such movement to a seemingly less corrupt church group is not only possible but likely.

Anonymous said...

The views of Rod Meredith and LCG regarding the presence of Christians in other COG groups can be summed up in this quote from Animal Farm:

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Steve Kisack said...

Oh God! Here we go again, thinking that they are the "true church". There's no difference between LCG, UCG, COGWA, PCG, or any of the other splinter cults. They're all cut from the same Herbie cloth. They all came from the WCG hireling group, most of whom graduated from hireling college. The skunks used and abused us for years in the WCG. They lied to us, stole our money, lived off of us like parasites, and are still living lives of luxury as they continue their deception on the dumb sheep, fllecing them every step of the way. And, the dumb sheep think their "ministers" are "god ordained". All they do is badmouth the other "organisms". What deception!

Retired Prof said...

Anon 4:38, I am not Dennis, and I have not studied the history of biblical authorship or early Christian rivalries, but I would like to answer your questions from the viewpoint of one who, more broadly, has studied human culture and admired the achievements of human scientists. One name for my kind of person is "secular humanist."

1. Does the information you have gleaned from all these other sources give you a better picture of what life really is?

Yes. I used to define "myth" for my students as an overarching story that explained a tribe's or nation's or transnational culture's origins and defined the terms of its existence. Our current transnational myth begins with the Big Bang and continues through the coalescence of stars in our galaxy, including our solar system, right up through the origin and development of life on our planet and its evolution to the forms we see today. It may not all be true, but it's the best damn creation myth our species has come up with yet. It explains things far more thoroughly than the Middle Eastern creation myths written down in Genesis.

2. Does it add to the joy of the life you experience?

Yes. I can trace the atoms that constitute me in a genealogy that stretches as far back as we can see and interpolate. By this sign I know I belong here as an integral part of the universe. I coalesced from it and will dissipate into it again when I die.

3. Does it make you a better person morally?

No. My morality has not improved since I stopped believing in the Judeo-Christian god. On the other hand, it has not gotten worse. I still try to treat others the way I want them to treat me. I regret that my success is still imperfect.

4. Does it contribute to a better relationship with your families?

It hasn't damaged my relationship with my relatives who still believe. They are very kind, tolerant people. Some regulars on this site my find it hard to believe, but even the ones in the Churches of God act like true Christians. I have no before-and-after comparison for relationships with my wife and children. If it counts for anything, we all love each other and enjoy each other's company.

5. Does it contribute to a greater longevity of life?

I haven't seen the actuarial studies of CoG members versus "gentiles." As for church-goers in general, yes. There is some evidence that people who regularly attend church do live longer on average than the rest of us.

6. Does it bring people together in developing better communities?

Not much evidence either way. It's worth noting that the highest incidence of divorce, teenage pregnancy, and violent crime mostly occur in parts of the country with the highest professed belief in god and church membership. That's not enough to say that religion makes society go worse or that unbelief makes society go better. Too many other variables.

7. What hope does it offer after this life ends?

It lets me believe that I will not be troubled any more by my non-existence after death than I was by my non-existence before birth.

Anonymous said...

A response to Retired Prof
I appreciate your response to my questions to Dennis and recognize the sincerity you seem to project. I am certain people can make that adjustment as many have. My question for you is do you think that all religious people would be able to make such an adjustment with the same results and would your family be as accepting if you appeared to aggressively criticized them for not accepting the information you use to form your beliefs?

Another question involves transforming all those who embrace Christianity. Do you think the information that is the basis for your beliefs is strong enough to convince the majority of those embracing Christianity to abandon their faith? If so do you think they would have the same positive results you believe you have experienced?

I personally doubt that such a transition would be possible for most and try to focus on using the bible as a tool for producing positive results in our human experience rather than destroying its credibility. I have already seen too much relational destruction due to corruption and abuse in the use of scripture on both sides of the subject.

Retired Prof said...

Anon, there is way too much variation from person to person, family to family, belief system to belief system, culture to culture, and so on, to make any prediction about how religious (or non-religious) people as a whole would relate to those who disagree with them. It is impossible to identify an intellectual framework that would satisfy everyone. All of us need some framework, and if the one we've got works--if it allows us to act with reasonable confidence we are doing the right things in the right way--we should not have a different one imposed on us.

So I would never insist that my friends and relatives, much less "all those who embrace Christianity," adopt my world-view. With a few of them I enjoy the kind of arguments we have on this site, but many would be offended by a frank discussion, so I mostly smile and nod.

At the same time, a lot of people are not really comfortable with the world-view they have. They may feel it is an ill-fitting mish-mash of constraints imposed by their elders and peers. Many are looking for one that fits them better.

I know a Baptist who is a missionary in a Catholic country. At first I scorned his choice of career. Why try to convert people who already believe? Then it dawned on me that some Catholics would be happier as Baptists. If the guy reaches them and they end up better satisfied with their new lives, who am I to pooh-pooh their conversions?

I keep this realization in mind when I write in a forum such as this about my lack of belief. Certainly the world is full of people comfortable in their faith. Let them keep it. But perhaps others out there would be happier acknowledging their doubts and remodeling their intellectual framework--people like I was as a freshman at Ambassador, unable to work up any faith no matter how hard I strained that anybody was there to listen when I prayed, unable to believe that the fantastic stories in the Bible are literally true. If such people fear they will sink into debauchery and despair unless they keep up the pretense expected of them, maybe I can quell their dread.

Nothing I can do will prevent "relational destruction due to corruption and abuse" in general. The best I can do is try my best not to destroy relationships by committing corruption and abuse myself. That, and try to assuage where possible the pain of those who have been victimized, although to be honest, I'm not very good at that part.

DennisCDiehl said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions and I have to say that I would answer them just about as you did.

I believe as you that the devout of any religious persuasion probably do live a bit longer. There is comfort in magical beliefs and the belief or feeling that one is cared for by a higher power etc can be anxiety reducing. There is always a tendency to return to it in any form to reduce the fears that can surface in just living, growing older and dying. Not here, now here and no longer here is a catalyst for the reaching for religion we all do I believe.

Being oblivious to reality, good science done well, true origins etc is not comforting to me in the long run. The picture in the article of "Dot Earth" speaks to me of being just a small part of a very large something. Centering the God of the Universe on the dot, much less a chosen country and a few mountains is simply insane and sprang from a time where humans knew next to nothing about anything.

Anyway, good answer to good questions

Assistant Deacon said...

Dennis you give a long dissertation that appears to be basically designed to destroy what is historically defined as the holy bible of the Judeo/Christian religions.

Hahaha. And: Oh, brother.

Asking questions and destroying are not synonymous.

Good questions, Dennis. Ask away.

DennisCDiehl said...

Ultimately I am not comforted by myths or fairy tales. Not that they aren't comforting and I find most are content with that. It just doensn't work for me.

I thought WCG was more true than my Presbyterian upbringing, which while comforting, was not all that encouraging to me. When WCG started to be dominated by drama and then implode, I allowed myself the freedom to follow up on my own studies that were way outside WCG comprehension.

I realized Rod Meredith's , "Harmony of the Gospel" approach was terribly flawed and unresearched. He read to us as if he knew but I now know the man never read a book explaining the origins of the gospels in his life. They are not harmonious and weren't even written by the men whose names are affixed. Any real seminary would have pointed this out as well as many other truths about Bible origins.

So the beat goes on...

Anonymous said...

I teach Psychology at a local university. The textbook makes the point that those with a "meaningful religious faith" and those who are actively involved in church life have less illness and live longer. The reason is that they probably have better health habits plus they have social support. It is the social support that is key. But, you don't get this in a toxic church or cult nor do you benefit by being a "ticket puncher" one hour a week.

Anonymous said...

Assistant Deacon said: “Asking questions and destroying are not synonymous.”

It all depends on the motives and objectives. A person’s faith can be destroyed if the questions are designed to focus on negative details and not the whole picture. Any good attorney will always attempt to cast doubt with the use of questions. It is quite obvious that Dennis no longer accepts the Bible as a source of information revealing an invisible God. His efforts are designed to support his beliefs by demeaning the source of the Christian faith. Whether he is right of wrong is not the question. The motives are no different than those who use the bible to support their faith. The difference is that the Christian faith offers (or should offer) a way of life that has some value and a hope after death. As far as I can discern a strict evolutionary process stops at death no matter what kind of life a person has lived.
Of course I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Homo Erectus = gay seks amirite?

LOL. Some people!

DennisCDiehl said...

"It is quite obvious that Dennis no longer accepts the Bible as a source of information revealing an invisible God. His efforts are designed to support his beliefs by demeaning the source of the Christian faith."

Revealing an invisible God? It would be so much easier and credible if God visibly revealed itself. Leaving the revealing of the invisible up to multiple writers with multiple agendas over multiple centuries is not all that revealing, or there would not be so much variety in Christianity.

I have also lived long enough to see things of faith changed by the facts over time. Facts rarely revert back to faith.

My motive is not to demean. It is to understand what really is or isn't. Billions of humans have this trait although I know many don't.

Anonymous said...

The Graeco-Roman Catholic NT is a fraud.

You're discussing something that doesn't exist - its not real.

The Torah of YAH is real, backed by history, archaeology, and writings.


Anonymous said...

The Torah is just as unreal and the product of Priests in captivity. Moses was just as mythical

Anonymous said...

A Dennis opinion
I believe we all know how terribly unrealistic this view of group think is. Christianity is nothing but splits, schisms, slivers, twigs and division. Churches, especially the COGs, tend to add to themselves by subtracting others from each others fellowship and multiply themselves by dividing others. Chloe in the text was a tattle perhaps for self gain and it obvious no one got along with anyone. What Paul seems to mean here, as do all COG ministers is that Paul would simply prefer you followed him and that the others would get their act together and recognize that he is the group think leader.

My opinion
While this is true to some degree it does not and should not imply that Paul wanted them to follow him. The writer is focused on God and Jesus Christ not individuals. Whether this means the writers understanding of God and Jesus Christ must be considered. People who are drawn together should have a mutual understanding regarding God and Jesus Christ before expecting oneness in a community relationship. If a leader expects to have unity there must be an agreement on critical issues. Paul (or the writer) in the letter is addressing the issue of people following people rather than issues over the existence of God and Jesus Christ.

One thing people today fail to recognize is the fact that all of the writing attributed to the apostles and Paul agree on the God they accept and that Jesus was the anticipated Messiah. It is a known fact that disagreements on many traditions and cultural applications existed and have continued down through the ages. Today those disagreements are being used to question the core issues of Christianity. If they can destroy the belief in the God and the Jesus Christ of the Judeo/Christian bible Christianity has been destroyed.

It is quite evident this is the effort made by many in the world today. The USA is no longer a Christian nation under God (if it ever was) but a nation that wants to be a nation without gods or a nation that accepts all gods. Many believe that any god is a lot of baggage that keeps them from being free to taste and try things to determine what is right for them. The idea is to explore the universe to see what else exists. The problem is the human life is so short that very little of the universe can be accessed physically so the best we can do is get pictures of what are the shadows of reality. To me there a greater joy in trusting a God who has been instrumental in something that is greater than the human mind can imagine, while experiencing the reality of the little speck earth I can relate with. Of course this is just my opinion.

Byker Bob said...

Part I

Nobody's faith needs to be destroyed, although what I've found, in certain cases, is that amongst the Armstrong churches, it is relatively easy for a person's faith to become destroyed. That is because the faith of most members is rooted in HWA, supposedly as the semi-deified "endtime Apostle", and therefore, in his pet theories. Destroy faith in him, or accomplish the same by proving his theories to be in error, and since in actual practice they consider Jesus to be secondary to HWA, all basis for Christianity is suddenly out the window. The good news is that conscious choice is involved in whether or not one's faith becomes reprioritized, modified, and corrected through God's guidance, or is allowed to die. That's what our minds are for.

There is an abundant history from the early church era, written by some prolific and respected writers, known collectively as the Antenicene Fathers. Unfortunately, HWA, with his unprovable Simon Magus conspiracy theories, wrote them off as being Catholic (a pejorative as used in Armstrongism), and therefore somehow false, not credible, and to be ignored. However, in reality, they were a direct line of leaders and preservers of the faith, who were personally taught, first by the original apostles, and then by their direct successors. And, in fact, these devout men were the first ones to question the authenticity of many of these same books and epistles which were ultimately canonized into what we now have as the New Testament. It behooves each of us to perform a relatively easy study into this for ourselves, and the study will make it immediately apparent that some books and their authorship were under question from the first decades of Christianity. So, this is not new material by any means.

The Antenicene Fathers lived out this issue in real time, were closer to the actual events, and had evidence available to them which we no longer have today. Admittedly, there are some events and concepts for which we, today, in our more educated state, have a better chance at arriving at truth, but this is not one of them. Matters where new understanding of ancient languages is involved, yes. Matters where more ancient manuscripts have materialized, yes. But, not this. It is so easy, and even considered "cool" to get into revisionist mode today, prompted by a new book by a contemporary writer, based on his own conjectures and theories. But, this is not new material. In a court of law, you'd have to classify this as "asked and answered" and by primary sources who were in fact present during the era in question. One must always be cautious when reinventing the wheel!


Assistant Deacon said...

Motives. Objectives. How, exactly, can those be ascertained without questions?

If life's journey is instructive, there's no telling where Dennis's questions, or those of anyone else, may lead.

Just because questions may make us uncomfortable doesn't mean they shouldn't be asked. Asking is simply verbalizing what already exists in the mind. The best way to arrive at answers is to do the asking.

Like I said, ask away. Doesn't bother me in the least.

Byker Bob said...

Part II

Jesus' disciples had problems getting along with one another, and differences of opinion, even while He was alive. Yet, somehow, their focus was on getting out the gospel, and as a group, their efforts contributed greatly to the genesis and spreading of Christianity. One can see how John would have questions about Peter. Who wouldn't have? John, after all, was the disciple present with the Galilean women who supported, loved, and never deserted Jesus, even through a horrifying crucifixion. I can't even fathom how one would watch such a thing myself, let alone being present in the supporting role as they were. Following Jesus' reinstatement of Peter, we find John and Peter together going out on one of the first missionary trips described in the early chapters of the book of Acts.

The apostles struggled with their understanding as they observed the Holy Spirit working. In those ground breaking days of a totally new era, conversion of the gentiles was a huge issue for them. They had been schooled in the law of Moses, under which people who were uncircumcised, and who ate unclean meats, had to be shunned, lest one become unclean one's Jewish self! So, it was perfectly natural that the basic code of conduct for gentile Christians would need to be codified by the Jerusalem Council. Imagine! People who ate unclean meats were suddenly speaking in tongues, and being transformed in other ways as well, and this could not be denied. Therefore, james ultimately issed a statement abolishing circumcision amongst Gentile Chrisians, and his official statement indicates that they were to be held to less stringent cultural standards than those still observed by Jewish Christians. The things James proscribed were activities which gentiles had traditionally had severe problems with, such as rampant idolatry, and sexual promiscuity.

I'd encourage anyone who is struggling with their faith to do their own due diligence, start from scratch, and take advantage of the opportunity to perform your own study without artificial restrictions or filters. There are just so many blessings for living the Christian life. It's not all about obeying an "apostle" and supporting him financially, in order to be counted worthy to make it to a place of safety when "the Germans come". It's a loving lifestyle, based on a personal relationship with God, directed towards fellow man, and family, be they believers, or non-believers. A little bit of God's kingdom here and now in our daily lives. You never know how precious that really is until you try to live several decades without it!


Anonymous said...

Korah and his company were right. Moses had gone too far and became an evil overlord.

DennisCDiehl said...

I am not being flippant or screwing around with religion. My questions are honest and sincere. I know what questions to ask which is more than most seem to admit to or ask. Those who are the most sincere are the most put off by bullshit and apologetics. My questions are meant to be provocative and sincere to get those willing to look to think. There is so much information available that most don't wish to consider but it is there nonetheless. Dont ask me to believe the unbelievable or to have faith in that which is suspect.

One can play all the games they wish to make the Bible true and authoritative but the facts will win out every time.

BB, I appreciate your sincerity. You can adjust your perspectives as you wish. I simply cannot.

Anonymous said...

I just hope that Dennis realizes the terribleness of destroying anyone's faith in Magic Underwear.

The unfaithful cannot fathom just what kind of a profound personal relationship one can have, one-on-one, with their Magic Underwear.

I'm hesitant to mention the blessings bestowed upon God's Chosen Wearers, because regular people and those in he mainstream press would even besmirch the awesome miracles that Magic Underwear has freely given, elastically.

Magic Underwear. Destined to Reign (in your buttocks.)

-Mitt Romney

Anonymous said...

Dennis said: ”Dont ask me to believe the unbelievable or to have faith in that which is suspect”

My comment:
It would be futile to ask anyone to believe or have faith in anything. Belief and faith are not things that can be turned on and off. They are qualities that are not always associated with reason. Quite often they are associated with personal relationships and trust. You seem to believe your present beliefs about life are closer to reality than the beliefs others may hold.

To me you come across as believing your understanding of what is really true is greater than these dumb ignorant people searching for truth and they need to quit following people who are not well informed and trust in their own research and intelligence like you have.

You overlook the fact that people need contact with people that express faith, hope, and love more than the failings, flaws, and distortions in information defined as truth.
Of course this is just my personal opinion and I could be wrong.

James said...

The Painful Truth has a videos posted that deals with the role of Christianity within American politics. "The Power of Nightmares"

Whatever you might feel about religion, in this country it is a tool for politicians and for others that have a ax to grind with Islam.

Nothing is as it seems.

History of the past has also been manipulated. What Christianity's founders might have thought or said has been distorted no doubt. If not by them, then by those who follow.

Herb did it, Gerald Flurry, Meredith, Pack and the rest of the wannabe apostles do it.

Cable news or the info-commercials the cog's put on the idiot box all use language, and stories that tell their viewers who to fear, what to fear. They are selective with their facts and persuasive with their language. Sensationalizing the storyline they create in order to drive a religious or political agenda.

In the end its all bullshit from people who want to use you as part of their agenda. Give them nothing.

Anonymous said...

I think we would all like to find something to believe in, or meaningful faith.....but it doesn't seem available.

If I look at those preaching such things they often appear not too smart and motivated by power and money or maybe just ego.
Then there are the emotional group, they feel love, they feel the power of god. I can feel that way too, but does it prove anything except that I am an emotional human being who seeks meaning and love.
Are we all waiting for the Saul on the road to Damascus experience? Even if I had that I might think it was an hallucination, or maybe I had gone insane. There are plenty of locked-up people who claim god told them to do things.

I guess one day if someone positions me in front of the lake of fire for not believing I might finally believe, but it might be for the best because I don't think I could spend eternity with those "believers" who don't seem too smart.

Byker Bob said...


I never thought of you as being flippant, although other posters occasionally act in that role.

From my perspective, you've just found a new set of books, adopted a new set of theories, and it seems to be working for you at the present time. I do get a really big sense of "been there, done that" from reading your posts, but far be it from me to attempt to spoil or co-opt someone else's journey. Extra time spent is never wasted so long as the destination is eventually reached.

It may be interesting to compare notes perhaps ten years from now, assuming we're both still walking the planet.


Anonymous said...

Thanks BB, I agree. I read a lot, got rid of TV 12 years ago, love science, origins and theology. I dont trust anybody or much of anything presently. I know how deeply sincere I was going into WCG/AC and ministry. It is what I wanted to do. I'm a caretaker plain and simple. I dont start churches and when burned, move on evidently


Byker Bob said...

I even learn a lot from TV. I think I'd always want to keep a set around even if it were just to watch the science and history programs on PBS. NOVA is one of the best science series that I've ever seen. Science informs and improves belief in my book. It helps keep things real and contemporary.