Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prophet/Overseer Bob Thiel: A TCU Grad? His Intellectual Dishonesty.

click to enlarge to see prophet Thiel's Diploma

The self appointed, unordained, and non-credentialed Overseer of the Continuing Church of God is very subtle in his advertising about himself.  He regularly posts to an online "newspaper" The Examiner where he gives the impression he is a scholar.  A highly educated scholar!

The self appointed prophet is advertising that he has extensive theological education and a Th.D.from TCU.  Most Americans when they see TCU think immediately of Texas Christian University.  Why shouldn't they!  That is what prophet Thiel is hoping for.  Theology and TCU go together and that makes it look impressive on his advertising.  Most people do not realize he got his "theological" education through the discredited baloney of Armstrongism.

Dr. Bob Thiel has studied theology and prophecy for decades, and possesses a Ph.D. (UIU) and a Th.D. (TCU). He has also traveled extensively, and has visited sites of religious interest in Rome, Greece, Central Europe, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Africa, Asia, North America, and Latin America.

Traveling to biblical sites around the world does not make one a scholar either.  A world traveler, but certainly not a biblical scholar.


Byker Bob said...

I believe that just about every serious Christian who is aware of the great commission is led to looking for some sort of personal ministry. Problem is, HWA taught that our destiny was to be priests and kings, to lord it over the rest of the world, enforcing Armstrongism. So, it seems that many who passed through this toxic org are condemned to create some sort of personality cult glorifying themselves into some type of ruler or teacher.

But, a personal ministry can be based on service. How can a technical person have a personal ministry? One way is to work pro bono in some helpful and appropriate ways. If you know that equipment owned by a church group is used to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, it can become part of your personal ministry to not (split infinitive alert!) charge for its repair. One can also help people on the street with quick car repairs. When they thank you, a quick "God is good!" suffices quite nicely.

There are many ways in which we can all have a major impact even as we leave a nearly invisible footprint. I just don't understand why people have to make their personal ministries glorify themselves rather than Father God and Jesus Christ! Or that set one up as some sort of authority figure. It also cheapens the whole experience to expect some sort of reward. Too many little Herbies running around!


Lake of Fire Church of God said...

In any professional profile, it is customary to identify by FULL NAME the University or Universities to which one has received academic degrees.

For Dr. Bob, identifying the institutions granting his degrees by abbreviations and hiding them behind parenthesis (i.e. TCU or UIU) is a certainly deceitful, IMHO. At minimum, it is very unprofessional.


Anonymous said...

Th. D? I thought we settled that ages ago, and here it is!

Here are some "problems" I seem to have noticed:

1) It seems to appear that he may like to distance himself from things that may possibly discredit him. I believe I saw once that he did not mention his, shall I say, previous affiliation with "Living Church of God" but if I do recall correctly it may have been referred to as simply "Another Group". Anyone else see this?

2) It ALSO appears he likes to balloon up things that many possibly make him into something he is not. Anyone and everyone knows the abbreviation (TCU) means, without any other clarification, Texas Christian University. I agree with Richard, it is customary to identify FULL NAME of an academic institution one has earned ESPECIALLY a doctorate from, and even more so if a smaller less known institution shares the exact same initials as a larger, well known one. Failure to correct is simply nothing more then deceit.

Of course, this is no different then anyone on this great planet deceiving anyone else by oh, what shall we use for a relevant example? Oh, I got one! falsely stating that a person is, oh, say, a PROPHET? or say, going maybe a step farther, one of the two witnesses of biblical proportions? And OH! I've got a great one! What about oh, for example, say, starting a church without even listing his clergy credentials? oh WAIT!! are there any? Was he Ordained by anyone with the authority to start a church? Can he REALLY claim he can trace his church back to Jesus Christ 31 A.D. if he wasn't even ordained by their clergy?

In my totally brutal honest opinion, the good doctor deserves to get out of religion and join a national news network with his incredible knowledge of world events, and his seemingly uncanny and god-given one in a billion ability to know better then everyone else as to what in the world is going on with the national worldview and how this is interpreted by the ancient writings of Holy Scripture!!! Seems he'd do better there. Oh WAIT! I saw top quality video presentations.

Never mind!!!!

Anonymous said...

I wrote:

"Oh WAIT! I saw top quality video presentations. "

This should say

"Oh WAIT! I saw his top quality video presentations. "

And I still say "Never mind!!!"

Anonymous said...

According to Ambassador Watch archives,

"...Sideshow Bob" popped up again with the claim that he held a Th.D (Doctor of Theology degree) from "TCU," which later morphed to "TC of U" - an institution nobody could identify. "


" Bob Thiel removes mention of the Th.D from his site".

Apparently, he seems to have "forgotten" the "Examiner" site.


(search CTRL-F "TCU")

Anonymous said...

Mail order Th.D from a diploma mill.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Ambassador college a satellite location for this university?

Anonymous said...

Thiel's questionable academic credentials continue to plague him because they are deceptive. Some years ago I personally tried to look into his actual credentials, and could never figure out what TCU or TC of U meant. His writings have always been extremely vague. I called Texas Christian University, and they had no record of him as a student, let alone in a PhD program. Bob, like HWA, displays all the signs of someone trying to grossly exaggerate his qualifications, and it's painfully obvious he has something to hide. A REAL doctor of philosophy (or theology) just spells out the name of the granting academic institution and what specific area of study the doctorate was earned in, and when. It's very simple - and referred to as a curriculum vitae (CV). The fact that Prophet Bob has refused over a period of MANY years now to plainly articulate in plain English his CV is all the proof I need to question his "education."

But one need only to just listen to him speak on one of his videos, and you very quickly get the impression that this guy is NOT very articulate nor well educated at all. His efforts to project himself as an expert comes across stilted and obviously forced.

He is a rank amateur trying to inflate his actual credentials, whatever they may be. And the fact that he's into homeopathy also tells me a LOT about his methodology when it comes to health and nutrition.

And Bob, if you're reading this, realize that your deception will eventually catch up with you sooner or later. You are as phony as a three dollar bill, and it's so plain to anyone familiar with you and your self-exalting tendencies.

Anonymous said...

That link didn't get me there, not even with a search, but I looked around manually and found a post from November 16, 2009 in the Ambassador Watch archives, so this is 3 years old:

The disappearing Th.D

Bob Thiel seems to have expunged mention of any Th.D from his bio page. No explanation given, but I guess it amounts to a concession to his critics. Here then are the three versions of his qualifications that Bob has promoted this year.

Version 1: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools. A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.

Version 2: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA like T of CU, where a Th.D. in Early Christianity was earned). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.

Version 3: ...I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally.

Now you see it, now you don't. It remains to be seen whether Bob has done irreparable damage to his credibility by fudging on this issue.

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Bob Thiel has studied theology and prophecy for decades, and possesses a Ph.D. (UIU) and a Th.D. (TCU). He has also traveled extensively, and has visited sites of religious interest in Rome, Greece, Central Europe, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Africa, Asia, North America, and Latin America."

If this guy truly has the formal education he claims, then why doesn't he just fully spell out the institutions above, instead of the baffling UIU and TCU? What is he trying to hide? Just spell it out plainly and remove all the guess work - that way we can simply call the schools and verify if Bob is telling the truth. Also, listing ones travel itinerary means nothing. As if that proves anything! So what that he's traveled to many locations. I've traveled all over the world but that doesn't make me a well-educated scholar.

Just consider, if you had earned a doctorate from Harvard University, for example, why would you say you have a PhD from HU? It doesn't remotely make any kind of sense, and it's not the way it's done within the profession.

Bob wrote some years ago "A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally."

This is just NOT the way a genuine scholar writes about his qualifications. Bob is all too vague, as in "I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies." What in the hell does THAT mean? Get specific, Bob. Then your claimed qualifications can be easily verified, and all the mystery can be solved. It would be so incredibly easy. But no, Bob continues to waffle and equivocate, as one of the commenters above notes.

Oh, and by the way, look up Union Institute and University on the Internet. Here's the Wikipedia entry for it:


Check out the programs offered near the bottom of the page.

Further, here's a qoute from the Wikipedia site:

"The Union Institute & University's Ph.D. program came under scrutiny by the Ohio Board of Regents in the late 1990s early 2000s, which scrutiny culminated in its 2002 Reauthorization Report. The report was critical of the Union Institute's Ph.D. program, noting in particular that " ... expectations for student scholarship at the doctoral level were not as rigorous as is common for doctoral work ... " (OBR 2002 Reauthorization Report, page 13). The Union Graduate School was dissolved and the Ph.D. program was restructured. Formerly it had been a Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences. A new Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in good standing was established, and the former Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences is no longer accepting students."

Anonymous said...


"Students will continue to talk to professors over the telephone or via e-mail instead of attending lectures in a formal classroom. But they must now follow more stringent rules when they document their academic progress and apply for financial aid. "

Also, check this out...

• Students are now required to complete their doctoral program in no less than three and no more than seven years. The requirement had been no less than two years and no more than 10.

Very interesting. Though the school appears to be real, the school has, according to this article cited, had a Ph. D program that had been investigated by BOTH the U.S. Department of Education and also the Ohio Board of Regents.

The review did not affect "the school's bachelor's or master's degree programs. "

This has nothing to do with the Th.D, but his "earned" Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

"• Students are now required to complete their doctoral program in no less than three and no more than seven years. The requirement had been no less than two years and no more than 10. " This should be a quotation from the article and not a bullet point. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

I found this comment from a forum:


warwick 555 said: (Emphasis mine)

"I would think long and hard before accepting a faculty appointment or any kind of appointment with Union Institute and University's doctoral program. I am a former president of their Learner Council (2005-2006) and they had major problems back then with accredition for their doctoral program. Learners were staying in too long without graduating -- 10 years and so on. UI and U was fined 1 million dollars for lost documents in 2006. They are also not approved for federal loans for their doctoral programs, a major red flag." There were many complaints about Union's doctoral program and 100s of withdrawals. You can visit Ripoff report and Complaint Board for other complaints. I withdrew after they lost some of my documents for the third time, and after I had borrowed privately for thousands of dollars and they refused to wait until I could take out a federal loan for further tuition. I felt they owed me at 18 months of free tuition since they fired three of my faculty advisors and one of those gave me no feedback on my papers for a year and a half. I hired a lawyer to negotiate and he did manage to document that I was in good academic standing with the large number of credits I had earned. Unfortunately, the credits are worthless for tranfer to another institution. Now I am part of a group of students who are planning to sue Union for our tuition. Fortunately, I already have a doctorate from Harvard University -- this was to be a second doctorate."

Redfox712 said...

This reminds me of that controversy in 2009 when Bob Thiel claimed a Theology degree from TCU. And as far as Mr. Gavin Rumney could determine it was actually Trinity School of Apologetics & Theology in Kochi.


Anonymous said...

What does Harvard require for it's ThD program?

"Prerequisite for admission to the ThD include an AB degree of outstanding quality, usually in the humanities and/or social sciences, which normally includes considerable work in history, literature, philosophy, languages, and some work in the social sciences; a master's degree of outstanding quality comprising a wide range of work in theological and religious studies, normally an MDiv degree; and knowledge on the intermediate level of at least one modern language of scholarship relevant to the applicant's proposed course of study and, normally, one of the ancient languages such as Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Sanskrit."

Anonymous said...

Duke University Admission requirements for Th. D are:

"A Bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, from a college or university approved by a regional accrediting body (or its international equivalent)
A Master of Divinity; or a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) or comparable master’s degree (e.g. M.A. in Theology, M.R.E., M.C.M., etc.) from an institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (or its international equivalent)
Official transcripts of all academic work since high school.
GRE scores (Scores must not be more than five years old by the application deadline). For test score reporting purposes, Duke’s Educational Testing Service (E.T.S.) code number is 5156.
A TOEFL score (for students whose native language is not English) equivalent to the standards of Duke University
At least four letters of recommendation, three academic and one church. These forms should be mailed directly to the admissions office in a signed envelope and should be accompanied by the “Letter of Reference Form.”
A short essay (two pages) describing the applicant’s goals in undertaking Th.D. study
A sample of the applicant’s academic writing."

From what I am seeing here, BEFORE one can get a Th.D, one should have an M.Div, or an M.T.S., from an accredited institution. Correct me if I am wrong, but all I see in Bob's credentials is just a Th.D. From what I can tell, any reputable Doctor of Theology should also obtain the other degrees such as an M.Div, or an M.T.S. or the like.

Here are Bob's credentials as stated in COGWriter:

Bachelor of Science, Systems Management, University of Southern California

Classes completed, finance.
Studied material, Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools

Doctor of Philosophy, Union Institute and Univiersity, biological sciences and research methodologies (works as a clinical scientist)

then, he writes he has "other degrees and training" and "studied theology", formally and informally.

To be regarded as credible, I would kindly ask Thiel to display for the record the entire post-high school academic portfolio, which I should expect to see masters degrees in both degrees, Ph.D and Th.D, including either M.Div or M.T.S. degrees, the full extent of theological studies that earned him the Th.D (such as coursework you would find from Duke Divinity School or the like) and also the Ph.D, (Dr. of Philosophy in what field?), demonstrating all acceptable coursework has been completed as is listed as requirements from reputable Universities and Graduate schools, such as what you might find from the University of Georgia or the University of Houston. You claim to be a servant of God, up to and over the level of an evangelist, to the rank of prophet, and the overseer and pastor of God's Church, therefore I should expect nothing but complete honesty. Awaiting your response.

Anonymous said...


His bachelor of science degree in accounting (University of LaVerne)

His master of science degree in systems management is from (University of Southern California).

Anonymous said...

I also want to state that it appears that the actual Ph.D would read

Ph.D, biological sciences.

instead of just "where I studied biological sciences and research methedologies."

Still dubious about what I have read about Union.

Anonymous said...

Banned by HWA said:

"Most people do not realize he got his "theological" education through the discredited baloney of Armstrongism."

I'm not certain that's correct. Bob has a blurb on his site that says (and tries to answer unsatisfactorily some of the questions here, but does not address his claim to a Th.D:)

I am not now, nor have I ever been a chiropractor.
I did not attend, nor graduate from, the old Ambassador College.
My Ph.D. degree is real and the Union Institute & University is not a diploma mill. (FWIW, former UCG, and now COGWA minister, Dr. Ralph Levy attended Union Institute & University when I did and that is where he got his doctorate.)
My M.S. degree is real and I really did attend, and graduate from, the University of Southern California.
The fact that I have pursued other education beyond my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees should not be considered a negative as some of my critics imply.
I have never knowingly posted incorrect information about anyone in any of my articles, etc. And I do correct factual errors that are properly brought to my attention.
Most of my articles are documented with references to news articles, books, and the Bible. Yet, for some reason, many critics seem to overlook the facts when they make a variety of odd (and sometimes false) statements about me and/or my writings.
The cost of production, distribution, and promotion of theological books that I have written exceeds the revenues and royalties that they generate, hence I have no net profit from the sale of theological books.
I have made no false prophecies about Karl-Theodor Guttenberg nor anyone else. Actually, at least seven of my speculative predictions about Baron Guttenberg have been confirmed (Might German Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg become the King of the North?) and world events have confirmed at least thirty-two predictions in my book about 2012.
In order to try to separate aspects of my business life from my COGwriter site, as well as to minimize certain potential criticisms, I do not list every possible piece of information about myself, my education, or my job. I suspect that if I did, I would also receive additional false criticism that I do COGwriter/CCOG to make money at my profession, etc. I believe that there is enough factual information here and at COGwriter.com and CCOG.org that those interested in the truth should be able to recognize it.

NO2HWA said...

I am referring to his "theological" education, not his other diplomas. His theology is strictly Armstrongite and not based upon critical thinking that he would have received in a seminary or other accredited theological institution.

Anonymous said...

OK, so the reason Prophet Bob isn't willing to plainly show his complete CV publically, as is the standard practice among scholars, is due to a highly magnified persecution complex. I see. Please Bob, can't you understand that the further you try to "bob and weave" away from this simple and perfectly legitimate request, the more your actual credibility is destroyed? Your shallow words and illogical reasoning persecute you far more than any other single source.

You write that "I believe that there is enough factual information here and at COGwriter.com and CCOG.org that those interested in the truth should be able to recognize it."

Sure, if they are brainless morons and religious hobbyists totally unfamiliar with the way CV's are typically expressed among actual scholars. But are these the kind of folks you really want to recruit into your new church? Maybe so, because others interested in the ACTUAL truth can see right through your paper-thin facade of projecting yourself as a well-educated expert.

Anonymous said...

Bob Thiel states, "...that those interested in the truth should be able to recognize it."

The truth is, the problem for Bob is that people DO recognize his sleazy sales tactics.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. If you're going to lie, then at least be sure and make it as plausible as possible. Poor Bob, it seems, in addition to being a pathetically poor speaker and a very shallow thinker, obviously isn't that skillful of a salesman either.

Anonymous said...

Forget all about Thiel's claimed academic qualifications - all a person has to do is just listen to one of his video broadcasts for a minute or so, and it immediately becomes evident that he's not the "expert" of "scholar" that he so desperately wants his listeners to think he is. Speech is the index of a mind, and in Bob's case, all the alphabet soup of degrees in the world can't make up for his obvious lack of mental depth and grasp of the issues he attempts to pontificate on. Let him keep posting those corny videos, that's all the evidence we need to realize his lack of real knowledge and understanding.

Byker Bob said...

Here is the fundamental flaw which contributes to the self-aggrandizement syndrome, is driving the continuous discord and splintering, and even prevents former members from finding a post-WCG spiritual experience: HWA's teachings regarding God the Holy Spirit.

Think about it for a moment. If you believe that the HS is an "it", an impersonal force, it opens the door for belief that an elite group could have a double portion of this force, it sets up the whole government from the top down authority structure, it causes members to believe that listening to a corporate group or its ministers is actually listening to the Holy Spirit, and it superfuels the ego of anyone ordained to any leadership position. After all, in accordance with that line of thinking, being ordained becomes the ticket to a more generous helping of this force.

Although beliefs regarding the components of God always end up presenting some sort of human limitations, mainstream Protestant Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit acts more as a person. Interactive, and appropriate to each of our individual personalities and needs. The Holy Spirit is described as having Godly emotions. Armstrongism and some other theology focusses not on these characteristics, but instead on Greek grammar, which in its original form associates impersonal pronouns with the Holy Spirit. Focussing on such minutiae, they end up completely missing the more important spiritual aspects!

Mainstream Christianity teaches people to learn to "listen" to the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual skill. The portion given is always adequate to our needs, but what is important is growing to the point where we hear Him, and are guided by Him. This is a personal thing, and involves the transformation of each Christian's heart, synchronizing our hearts with that of Jesus Christ, and therefore, Father God. While Godly discernment often alerts us to good examples and sound advice, the transformation process is not a function of obeying those who say they have a double portion, nor does it involve a "force" making obedience to picked and chosen remnants of the Old Covenant laws possible. In old school WCG, an unlistening and authoritarian ministry often countered and co-opted the work the Holy Spirit was doing in the mind and life of an individual member. Wrong focus was taught, as the quality of one's conversion was based on whether one agreed with and cheerfully obeyed the ministry. Although there are some instances of church authority being exercised in extreme cases, most examples in the New Testament show that elders were spiritual guides, more mature mentor types, assisting in the individual journeys of Christians, not the harsh, authoritarian "gatekeeper" judges that we encountered in WCG.

There is no hope for any of the Armstrong splinters so long as the basic belief structure attempts to mute and usurp 1/3 of the function of God!


Anonymous said...

BB is pretty sure of.....

"Mainstream Christianity teaches people to learn to "listen" to the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual skill. The portion given is always adequate to our needs, but what is important is growing to the point where we hear Him, and are guided by Him."

Do you just make this stuff up? Why does the HS or God have to be so subtle and speak in such a whisper. Do you know how much confusion and misunderstanding of what to do this causes? How can I tell the quiet difference when I listen between the Holy Spirit and simple stomach gas?

Too emotional and these kinds of "feelings" can be seen in 10,000 different ways. This is how Bob Thiel seems to have figured out he was a Prohet. He listened and tested and got the answer he was looking for. What's the diff?

Byker Bob said...

Anonymous, you don't speak like a seeker. From your comments, it'd be difficult for me to imagine you having the time or patience to devote to any sort of spiritual or transcendental experience, even a non-Christian one. No problem, though, all good things in their own time.

Ever hear of Elijah? Ever read God's instructions to him to listen to hear His voice during various natural events? That's where the whisper concept comes from. No, I don't make these things up.

All I'm saying is that if someone held back 1/3 of the proper understanding of any given topic, it is difficult to imagine an individual being successful or functional in that area.

Just sharing. It's your call whether it's important enough to you to investigate further, or not.


Anonymous said...

Byker Bob, perhaps Anonymous 2:56 is seeking the objective truth rather than a mere emotional experience. Your above non-response strikes me as being so typically shallow, and in principle is the standard one so many fundamentalists give when they are challenged. It always comes down to "if you're really seeking then you'll reach the deep levels of understanding I have." In my view, this is a bunch of delusional malarkey. Religionists feel what they want to feel, subjectively interpret it in one of the 10,000 different ways Anonymous mentioned according to the mood of the moment or season of their lives, and then attribute it to the magical and mysterious working of a supernatural God. It's obvious to me that this explains how Prophet Thiel came to the personal illusion that he is a real theological scholar, expert on world affairs and now a prophet, what led Weinland to the conclusion that he could cheat on his taxes and get away with it, what inspires Pack to think he can bilk his gullible followers out of their hard-earned cash in order to satisfy his larger-than-life ego needs, what proves to E.W. King how many of his predictions have actually come to pass, and on and it goes. The ways humans can willingly deluded themselves are virtually endless.

Head Usher said...

Interesting points.

I can't truthfully speak for ancient times, but today nobody has any objective experiences of god, all perceptions of god are strictly subjective, anecdotal, and circumstantial. I don't think anyone can gainsay this observation, though they can interpret it in different ways.

I think it's interesting how believers attribute certain things to god, but not others. According to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, etc. didn't ascribe a miraculous answer when they had a mathematical answer, but as soon as they didn't, all of sudden, that's where "god" suddenly kicked in -- always at the boundary of objectivity. Since those times, we've pushed back the boundary of knowledge quite a bit, and god doesn't seem to be personally involved in working out a great many things that even scientists used to think god was directly responsible for, simply because we have a lot more scientific answers. The expansion of objectivity has caused subjectivity to recede, and all of the gods have receded accordingly.

Likewise, so it is among the religious. When I was in Armstrongism, I used to have a friend who attributed every serendipitous event or coincidence to the direct intervention of god in his life. When he found a new girlfriend, he saw god "working everything out" to bring them together. However, when they each discovered things about the other that they couldn't live with, he didn't think god was "working everything out" to drive them apart. Why not? Why was their getting together fraught with deep religious experience, but their breakup was a relatively secular experience? I think the answer lies in realizing that if being together was "god's will for them," then breaking up would be either an act of defiance against "the will of god," "god's will" turned out to be a fickle, changeable thing (rather like the gods of old), or else, god would have to desire painful, bad, or negative experiences. Some types of experience fit with people's concept of god better than others do, so they selectively attribute god to experiences that fit with their notions of god, and they don't attribute god to experiences that run counter. Within the framework of faith, the subjective is transformed into objective. Assumptions and guesses become an "obvious" certainties.

I must agree that I too find it curious why an omniscient and omnipotent being who says he wants the whole world to be filled with his knowledge, would make it so difficult, not necessarily to find such knowledge, but certainly to identify the real McCoy from the dross? Why can't he speak for himself and make everything objectively clear, instead of always speaking through dubious men? In such a chaotic and confusing environment, why would he demand subjective "faith," knowing full well that many sincere individuals would wind up failing to correctly identify, thus putting their faith in various bits of the rubbish, thus causing a statistically predictable percentage of them to waste their lives in needless deception? Cliche platitudes such as "god works in mysterious ways" do not suffice.

Anonymous said...

Head Usher, you raise some good insights. It's just like when folks attribute a miraculous healing when they are annointed by a minister for some temporary condition such as flu symptoms, and the symptoms gradually subside. God is then, in predictable fashion, given full credit for intervening once again for the sake of one of his beloved servants!

But consider how many folks who regularly seek God's healing for some serious life-threatening illness like cancer. Sometimes such prayer requests go on for 20 or 30 minutes in the announcement portion of services, such is the level of serious illness within the church. But does anything ever happen? Amazingly, nothing ever happens. Oh, of course, God is said to intervene along the gradual downward slide to death, but not in any obvious or perceptible manner, and never in any way that delivers the sufferer from death. I personally have never known of one person who was ever healed from a serious sickness in all my years in the WCG. Not a one. And I desperately wanted to believe in such miracles. Byker Bob would probably say I wasn't sincerely seeking, or some such similar empty platitude used to explain God's non-intervention. The case of that one fellow down in Texas who was annointed by Richard Armstrong in the 1950's is fraught with ambiguities and very suspicious, especially seeing that the much-publicized "healing" wasn't complete as he still suffered lingering effects the rest of his life. And he did eventually leave the WCG.

I always found it rather strange when a prayer request was made for someone, and announced in church services. The person was given full medical treatment and care, and like many folks, gradually recovers. And God's "miraculous intervention" is cited and celebrated. This is a bunch of crock, and most people intuitively know it.

Yeah, it may comfort them to think that God actually cares for them and specially intervened in their case - that's the standard response the ideology and peer group pressure demands. But is all this an objective account, or rather did it all take place within the privacy wishful thinking of their own minds. I strongly suspect the latter.

Anonymous said...

And Head Usher, I think we all at one time or another knew certain of the more wacky church members who ascribed the intervention of God constantly in their lives. I knew a guy who claimed that God personally guided him in his choice of undershorts. Another said God personally intervened to help him on a regular basis to find the best seats in a crowded movie theater on Saturday nights. Oh really? - and yet the same God allows a young woman with several small children get struck down with some deadly disease, and never remotely intervenes at all? Come on, what kind of capricious being is this. The remarkable and numerous inconsistencies inherent within the supernaturalistic Christian mindset has been well documented, and will continue to be. And yet folks continue to believe because they WANT to, not because there's any substantial evidence behind such wishes.

Byker Bob said...

Somebody is missing the subtleties, possibly by accident, or possibly deliberately for dramatic purposes to make a point.

Obviously at least one anonymous poster would rather tune in to stomach gas than to God, and considering Armstrongism, I can understand why. Problem is, there is very little similarity between Armstrongism and Christianity, and very few parallels which can be drawn. To know this, you've got to go deeper in your post-mortem diagnosis of the whole experience, playing the tape forwards and backwards, carefully dissecting every aspect, even as you read more and strive to find some better perspective. Go deeper. Study all of the world's great religions. It is never bad advice to advise others to go deeper, to seek more diligently. No pain, no gain.


Byker Bob said...

Since healing was mentioned, we need to remember that that topic is not as cut and dried as some would like to make it. I remember being quite surprised several years ago when some ex-members actually posted that they had experienced healing during their membership in WCG. At the time of their posting, one was a non-believer, and another was a mainstream Christian. One even offered to post her mammograms before and after.

As a Christian, I also have to be honest and to admit that some who are prayed for do not receive healing. It'd be nice if everyone were healed, and we tend to think of those who weren't as perhaps having been let down, but we humans don't control these things.
There are also those whose disease pathology has been slowed down, giving them more than the typical time usually involved with their particular illness. And, there are also those who have experienced success through medical science. Clearly, this topic is not a closed I-0 thing.


Anonymous said...

Head Usher and Anon, what you're missing is how God, for reasons mysterious to us mere humans, disguises the fact that he controls everything all the time. He carefully distributes events and their outcomes so that they do not violate the law of averages. They look exactly like what we would expect if the universe had developed by the perfectly random iterations of natural law.

This is the most astonishing miracle of all, and it is for me truly "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Pauline E. Pissel

Anonymous said...

Oh, I agree with you, Bob, that in reality it's not a simple black & white topic. The problem is that the Bible presents it as such, without nuance. For instance...

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." James 5:14-15

I know all the explanations used to reason around this plain scriptural promise (raising up can refer to a future resurrection, etc., but clearly this is not in the context of this reference). Some evangelicals even go so far as to say it doesn't apply to today's Christians since the "age of miracles" is now in the past, or other such religious flibbertyjibberty.

But this is just one of many contradictions between supernaturalist truth claims as announced in the Bible and actual everyday reality as we experience it.

Anonymous said...

"Pauline" - exactly! Which just shows how desperate Christians are to see a supernatural being for which there is absolutely no clear evidence for at all outside of the urge to believe within their human minds, i.e., their own subjective imagination.

An excellent book on this overall topic is THE BELIEVING BRAIN by Michael Shermer.


It's always been somewhat of a mystery to me why believers are so unwilling to read a book like this, or one of the many others out there that show how science is beginning to understanding more and more how belief is explainable in materialistic terms.