Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Melvin Rhodes Says He Is Nauseated



The disgraced former leader of the United Church of God has started a new blog where he weighs in on almost everything.  I guess once you are a COG leader who was expected to be an authority upon everything it is a hard path to give up.

Melvin is particularly upset with the stories of the new Pope and the press calling him the
"...the personal representative on earth of Jesus Christ."

I’m nauseated by the coverage of the change in the papacy.

It’s not that I have a problem with the new pope, because I don’t.  He seems a very humble man and his focus on the poor is commendable.

What’s wrong is not even his fault.

I’m talking about the constant references to the “fact” that he is the personal representative on earth of Jesus Christ.

It’s also frequently said that he is the 266th pontiff, a direct successor to St. Peter, who started the Catholic Church.

If that’s true, then Peter has a lot to answer for!

That is pretty rich coming from a Church of God minister and church leader.  The ministry, through the example of Herbert Armstrong, has claimed that they are the voice of the TRUE God on the earth. The members are to obey their words as if God was speaking directly to them.

Melvin is also upset with this:

At great length, he explains that the papacy’s claim to go right back to Jesus Christ is inaccurate and a convenient misreading of scripture.   (I will post something on this on another day.)  The legitimacy of the Church is based on this claim and gives them a big advantage over other churches – but it is totally, biblically and historically without basis!

We hear the exact same hot air form the Churches of God!  That's the claim thrown out  almost daily that the COG goes directly back to Jesus Christ.  The legitimacy of the Church of God lies solely in this claim - but it is totally, biblically and historically without basis!

Will we soon see blog entries on adultery and sexually inappropriate activities of the ministry?

40 comments:

Head Usher said...

"At great length, he explains that the papacy’s claim to go right back to Jesus Christ is inaccurate and a convenient misreading of scripture...The legitimacy of the Church is based on this claim and gives them a big advantage over other churches – but it is totally, biblically and historically without basis!"

Oddly enough, that is the same thing that Herbert Armstrong claimed about the church he led until his death. He interpreted the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation as being not just messages to 7 church congregations in 1st century Asia Minor, but also a prophecy about successive "church eras" down through history. He claimed that the church he broke away from, COG7 (which itself is a splinter off of the Millerite Adventist movement) made the claim that they represented the "Sardis era" spoken of in Revelation 3! While the choice to interpret Revelation 2-3 in that manner is an interesting one, there is no reason to suspect that it is THE accurate interpretation of those scriptures.

Moreover, COG7 disputes Armstrong's claims, and says they never believed, taught, or told Herbert Armstrong that they were the "Sardis era." Another interesting fact is that the Adventist movement did not begin as a sabbatarian movement, but adopted the sabbatarian position between 1858-1861, at which point they became "Seventh Day" Adventists. Their origins came out of the Sunday-keeping Protestant anathema, as opposed to the romantic story of a long line of marginalized sabbatarians Armstrong and Herman Hoeh liked to "explain at great length."

Herbert Armstrong's claim that his church could be traced back to the 1st century apostolic church (i.e. Jesus Christ) might be just as inaccurate and totally without basis as the Catholic's claim, but the Catholics certainly have a lot fewer centuries to come up with convenient, but totally inaccurate explanations for!

Velvet said...

"Moreover, COG7 disputes Armstrong's claims, and says they never believed, taught, or told Herbert Armstrong that they were the "Sardis era.""

From what I recall, the Church (or Herman Hoeh, at least) said that Armstrong discovered they were the Sardis era; not that CoG7 had ever told him they were.

As for Melvin Rhodes, his screed actually sounds like an apologetic FOR the Catholic leader, not against him! ("It's not his fault/his focus on the poor" etc.)

Joe Moeller said...

There appears to be reasonable enough evidence that there has always been small groups that were Seventh Day observers since the time of Christ.

There is NOT reasonable evidence that these groups were linked in some kind of unbroken succession of "laying on of hands" or were directly connected to each other.

The origins of the Church of God 7th Day can be traced back to one Gilbert Cramner.

Cramner and many other early COG7 leaders had a history with an interesting group called “Christian Connexion” (yes with the x in the spelling)…

From the Wikipedia article on them…A disproportionate number of Christian Connexion preachers in New England were involved in the eschatological stir fueled by speculations of William Miller. No fewer than seven of the 16 signatories to the 1840 call for an Adventist general conference were Connexion preachers. Many members left the Connexion in the mid-1840s, populating emerging denominations such as the Seventh-day Adventists and the Advent Christians.

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

They appear to have been anti-triniarian, believers in free will, and did not believe in an immortal soul. They practiced adult baptism and had a concept of a restoration of the 1st century Christian church.

Thus, some very primitive foundations still found in the COG are found within that movement. Sociologically, there were many differences though. The Connexion did not believe in a “church government” and they were social progressives in being very active in the anti-slavery movement and in womens rights.

They were therefore much more libertarian in their nature.

The Seventh Day Baptists can be thanked for bringing the concept of the 7th Day Sabbath to the early post Miller Church. William Miller , to the surprise to some, was NEVER a Sabbatarian, but rather a Sunday keeping Baptist. The Sabbath truth came to the early post 1844 Millerites thru the vehicle of a former Seventh Day Baptist named Rachel Oakes Preston…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Oakes_Preston

Thus we find in the 2013 COG certain vestigial parts that many are not aware of that have an interesting and rich history and background.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

There's at least one COG that didn't come from the Sabbatarian Adventists branch of the Millerites but instead came from the Sunday Adventists branch. That's the Church of God Abrahamic Faith. So did the JWs and others. The Seventh Day Baptists are not associated with the Millerites. The Seventh Day Baptists came from the British Separatists in 1672, which was much earlier than the Millerites.

Anonymous said...

Is being able to trace one's organization to the early church proof that that church is the "one true church?" After all, were there not false teachers and groups even during the time of the book of Acts (Acts 20:28)and didn't Paul speak of false teachers in the books of Timothy and Titus? I don't think that being able to trace a church's history back is that important, even if it could be done. I think the important point is "Is the church today teaching the sound doctrine of Scripture" regardless of its history or name.

Logan said...

Anon 4:15 wrote: "I think the important point is 'Is the church today teaching the sound doctrine of Scripture' regardless of its history or name"

Indeed! As Shakespeare said: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Anonymous said...

while not catholic, I kinda like this guy. He got rid of Popemobile,(Nothing says "Faith" more than 3 inches of bulletproof glass) won't wear red shoes seems to shun materialism.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think that being able to trace a church's history back is that important, even if it could be done."

That's one way to look at it.

Another way of looking at it is that, as the leader of your church, I have to have some kind of claim to have a more special connection to god than any of my followers, and that when I ordain someone, it means something because there is an unbroken link of ordained people between Jesus and the apostles and me. That's the way Herbert Armstrong looked at it...

Douglas Becker said...

Will we soon see blog entries on adultery and sexually inappropriate activities of the ministry?

There will, as soon as the ACoG teens get their act together with their smart phones.

Leonardo said...

Anonymous 4:45 wrote: "I think the important point is "Is the church today teaching the sound doctrine of Scripture" regardless of its history or name."

No, the important point is WHO'S interpretation of "the sound doctrine of scripture" would you be referring to? Here's the thing, even the COG's can't agree upon what the scripture means in many ways. If they did agree, then why are there so many splinter groups? And why do people argue so often about doctrine on COG websites? And this is far more prevalent than most realize. The old WCG used to make a big issue of this situation as it played itself out in the world of mainstream Christianity. And now here we are with all the hundreds and hundreds of WCG splinter groups who are just as slit as regards to what the Bible actually teaches and/or means as much as "worldly" Christianity is.

Leonardo said...

Anonymous 6:08 points out that "Nothing says "Faith" more than 3 inches of bulletproof glass..."

Yet another different way to interpret what faith actually means. During the early days of the WCG folks would frequently die of sicknesses trusting God to heal them, when simple and relatively effective treatments were available. Understandably they didn't want to be labeled by their peer group with the scarlet letter - "L" for Lack of faith. Yet Rod Meredith quietly had surgery to repair his retina.

I know of a long-time minister in the WCG who had some kind of degenerative eye disorder that was seriously affecting one of his eyes. He was dutifully anointed and trusted God to heal his condition. Bottom line, shortly afterwards he lost his eyesight in that eye. Then several years later his other eye started manifesting the same condition, but this time he had surgery performed on the eye, and he can still see out of it to this day.

I know the ardent self-appointed COG "defenders of the faith" will scramble around trying to explain this, but there it is.

Leonardo said...

Douglas wrote: "There will, as soon as the ACoG teens get their act together with their smart phones."

If religious teens are of the same basic level of many of today's secular teens - which research indicates is the case - I'm not too sure they are mentally capable of using their smartphone for smart purposes. Perhaps you are overestimating them, Douglas. Many kids are so incredibly stupid that they commit crimes, take photos or video, then post them on-line bragging about their exploits. Of course, they're arrested shortly thereafter. But such lunacy illustrates the low level of intellect many teens have today.

Here's another short article documenting this principle from a recent high-profile court case in Ohio:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/03/16/american-teens-gripped-by-epidemic-that-crushes-empathy/?intcmp=obnetwork

G.G. said...

I' m nauseated to the nth degree by all this quoting of bible versus, arguing about meaningless crap, telling the future (prophesy), bat-shit crazy legalistic rules (like cleaning bread crumbs out of your cupboards) and arguing about things that make no difference whatsoever while there are hungry people in the world, sick people without medical care, child abuse, suicides. People need to live in this world and forget about "Big Daddy in the Sky" who may or may not exist. G.G.

Corky said...

"Church Eras" - a theory that became a doctrine that became a dogma...

Supported by what? Wishful thinking?

ACoG people talk about those 7 church eras as if it is some kind of an established fact. However, they conveniently ignore that the Apocalypse is about "things which must shortly come to pass" because "the time is at hand" (Rev. 1:1-3).

In other words, it was "at hand" for those 7 churches in Asia of 2,000 years ago - not us, today.

It happened too, that is, the destruction of Jerusalem happened but not the immediate return of Jesus and the resurrection - that didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

Most if not all COG leaders are proud to trace their roots to the church at Jerusalem as depicted in Acts 15. The trouble is that church was predominantly a Jewish Christian church, not a Gentile Christian church like so many others scattered across the other regions. The truth of the matter is God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile so things like the Mosaic Law and circumcision are no longer relevant. Yet church leaders like those of the COGs refuse to acknowledge this truth and so are disobeying God. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

Anon @ March 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM, you make a good point. Note too that what's left of the original WCOG is now renamed to GCI (Grace Communion International) and ironically has deviated from the original Armstrongism so much it's no longer recognizable as a COG of any kind. They now even believe in the Trinity. They are all so confused and mixed up one would have to be confused as well, and not very intelligent to join any one of them. Personally, I doubt the original worldwide group had much truth in them to begin with. It was a cult that had to destroy itself. I just wish the same thing would happen to the JWs given they follow a false Christ who they think is Michael the archangel.

Byker Bob said...

I've come to realize that the Catholic Church is pretty much what it says it is. It's a continuation of "the church unto the Gentiles". The Pope is the pope because of his dedication to Jesus Christ.

I also believe that the Reformation was completely justified, albeit a very good thing, and that as a result, many have become Spirit-filled Christians. The body of Christ is composed of those who seek Him, and who make Him their Lord and Master, in addition to His being our Savior.

If it is the established habit pattern to make a blanket judgement of people, and without even knowing their hearts, their prayer life, their studies of scripture, or their personal demeanor and behavior, to point them out and to call them "Christians falsely so-called", then you have to look at where all of the fingers of that hand are actually pointing, not just the index finger!

BB


Louis Thunderbottom said...

CG7 believed they were Laodicea actually. It is in their writings.

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...
I also believe that the Reformation was completely justified, albeit a very good thing, and that as a result, many have become Spirit-filled Christians.

It's that "Spirit-filled" part that needs to be proved...'cause it appears that the spirit has flown off into all directions at the same time.

The Pentecostals have the holy spirit tongues thing as evidence of that but what do you have?... NOTHIN'

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the Holy Spirit is prodding Christians and Christian evangelists into hawking vitamins these days- and it even appears that Jesus is totally awesomely into multi-level marketing, too.

Of late, televangelist James Robison, known for his promoting people who roll around on the floor and babble incoherently while flailing wildly, has been hawking vitamins in exchange for cash.
(Like Randy White, the hipster megachurch pastor, who has been selling bottles of fatty acid pills for only $49.95.

But it looks like the Holy Spirit's been busy with this kind of thing for awhile, because in the 1930's, Christian evangelist John Brinkley made lots of cash by performing surgeries- implanting goat glands into men to increase sexual virility.

There's nothing like being BOTH "Spirit-filled" and "goat-gland-filled"!

And of course, there's nothing like rolling around on the floor babbling incoherently (spitting out tri-vitamins from one end and who-knows-what out the other end) while you wildly flail your appendages, to show you're "spirit-filled" and praising Jesus!

Yippeee! It's Christianity, Texas-style!

Velvet said...

"There is NOT reasonable evidence that these groups were linked in some kind of unbroken succession of "laying on of hands" or were directly connected to each other."

I agree, that was the one part of Dugger & Dodd that I thought was definitely a bit of a stretch. I would also recommend that anyone skipping over Joe Moeller's comments, read his first comment in this thread. Somehow, I've encountered the same information in my travels, though I can't recall at the moment where I read it (besides Wikipedia).

According to the Feast film, "The History of the True Church", the founder of CoG7 in Rhode Island that the Church always traced itself back to, actually attended with Sunday-keeping Baptists for fellowship; they still kept the Sabbath at home, but eventually, their fine example, led others to want to keep the Sabbath as well.

At least, that was what the Church said. Whether or not that's true, I don't know, but they showed an old plaque in an old schoolhouse in the Feast film in question.

The Church in the present day, unfortunately likes to trace back its connections to the Constantinians. :-P Utterly disregarding that there are still way more than a handful of denominations, that never ever did go along with the Constantinian Shift.

Velvet said...

"There's at least one COG that didn't come from the Sabbatarian Adventists branch of the Millerites"

Don't forget the Mill Yard Church, and the other Sabbatarian Baptist congregations in Britain, in the 1600s. Long before William Miller was even born.

Velvet said...

"Is being able to trace one's organization to the early church proof that that church is the "one true church?""

That's what the Church teaches, for good or for ill. (Now Junior and his minions trace themselves back to Constantine, and they say THAT makes them "the one true church.")

Needless to say, I disagree with this. :-) However, I disagree with the caveat that I am still a dispensationalist (even though I loathe that word) and I believe the only true "succession" given ANY group, is the one provided by Jesus as the Head of His Church.

Now, before anyone says anything else, I do NOT believe there is any group extant in this age, that has that dispensation. Nor will there be, for a very long time.

Velvet said...

"ACoG people talk about those 7 church eras as if it is some kind of an established fact."

When even Herbert Armstrong himself said those verses were not ONLY Church eras, but attitudes, and people could have the attitudes of any one of those "seven letters" regardless of which era they were actually in.

Velvet said...

"Apparently, the Holy Spirit is prodding Christians and Christian evangelists into hawking vitamins these days"

Please, not Amway again. Didn't the experiences of the WCG that they called a "cult" teach these yahoos anything?!

Douglas Becker said...

Leonardo, I'm well aware that smart phones are more intelligent than the teens that carry them.

That is why I used the qualifier, as soon as.

You know, you have to give them hope: Maybe they can be inspired, you know, like the man that encouraged Herbert Armstrong when Armstrong was 16 years old, by telling him he could do GREAT THINGS! See, and he did! Well, not "great" in the way of outstanding achievement, but certainly "great" in the negative impact he had on others.

Anyway, we shouldn't discourage the sweet little dears, seeing as how they have had a tough life, particularly if they have been in the PCG. Maybe collectively they can achieve some sort of transcendent collective intelligence equivalent to, say, a 70 IQ.

Leonardo said...

Yes, I agree with you, Douglas. Such kids need all the help they can get. I have no personal experience with Flurry's group, so I can just barely imagine what it would be like to be immersed in this lunacy as a child or teen.

I remember back in my WCG days there was some kind of survey/study done regarding Church youth. I was involved in a small, indirect kind of way with these organizational studies, as I often created the forms that were used in gathering the data. This would have been back in the late '80's/early '90's. Anyway, the numbers then showed that the church lost about 85% of its children to the world, i.e., this percentage of kids raised in the church ended up leaving the community as a whole once they reached maturity. I wonder what the stats would be nowadays across the various splinters? I suspect quite similar, though I may be wrong.

All the bluster of "turning the hearts of the children to their fathers" along with all the Y.E.S., Y.O.U. and S.E.P. programs - and as of 1990 or so all they could show was a pathetic 15% retention rate.

Anonymous said...

Well, in some cases, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. That's the case with the COGs. Herbert Armstrong spent just enough effort on the grass near the entrance to lure in the sheep. But the majority of effort was spent on making sure the fences were in good condition so that it was as difficult as possible to leave. These days, the grass in Armstrongism is virtually nonexistant, but the fences are still in great shape. Still, the only sheep who haven't escaped are anorexic, because they haven't had anything to eat in decades, but they still think they're well fed.

The ministers are all fighting with each other over to gain control over a shrinking money pot. They're all in a tizzy over "doing the work". And yet, they can't see that they're not retaining the kids and failing to attract adults because they have ZERO CONTENT of value. Even Herbie didn't create good content, but he at least knew how to make it look good. These days, but it's been 40 years since any content, good or bad, was even created. All that's left is collection of absurd claims and a ridiculous amount of coercion and pressure.

Leonardo said...

Well, Anon 3:33, like I always say, if it doesn't work at home, it doesn't work, period. So why export it to others?

I think if the COG's would seriously consider this they might be able to make some progress. But it's just so much easier to assume the problem is with the people, rather than, as you say, the content, or lack thereof.

Velvet said...

I agree with the "anorexic" assessment of the content; especially in the big groups like United; I couldn't even pay attention to Myers' odd burbling about how "strange diets" related to Jesus as the Bread of Life on Tuesday.

The sermons at the few remaining Feast sites, tend to be a bit meatier, when the speakers aren't pushing their own agenda, that is.

Velvet said...

So, question! What did Melvin Rhodes do??

"Chairman Melvin Rhodes of Lansing, Mich., was asked to resign in early November 2012, reportedly because of “unchristian behavior” involving another church member a few years ago. “Although it was repented of and resolved with the offended party, another COG group applied pressure to resurrect it again, with obvious success,” Mr. Rhodes said in an interview with this writer for THEJOURNAL. President Dennis Luker announced Nov. 1, 2012, that the administration and council had initiated an ongoing investigation. Mr. Rhodes acknowledged that there was “some substance to the accusation.” He said that “some people [specifically the non-UCG-member accuser] aren’t concerned with repentance. They’re more focused on punishment."

It's in the latest issue of The Journal.

Anonymous said...

"The sermons at the few remaining Feast sites, tend to be a bit meatier..."

So, are we talking about some added MSG, or a few imitation bacon bits sprinkled on top?

Head Usher said...

"He said that 'some people aren’t concerned with repentance. They’re more focused on punishment."

The only problem I have with this, is that he wanted to engage in unbecoming conduct, hide that fact and get away with it, hypocritically tell others not to (that is his job after all) while pretending he had never done it, and continue to appear as a moral authority although he had disqualified himself from being such six years prior already.

Receiving a paycheck for being a moral authority is a tough gig. In a sense, you're on the clock 24/7. It's not like other jobs. If you're a trash collector, a rock star, or a pro athlete and you cheat on your wife, most people aren't going to be surprised. Some of your fans might even be disappointed if you didn't. You can't be a moral authority by day and moonlight as a pornographer or at gentleman's club.

Frankly, his prior "repentance" strikes me as a bit hollow because he wanted credit for never having screwed up. Yeah, the affair ended, and it's easy to "repent" when the opportunity to screw up ends. And so, yeah, he can claim he's "repented" or whatever, but just because you "repent" doesn't mean you don't have to bear the consequences of what you've done. And he didn't want to bear the consequences for what he'd done. He wanted credit that he had disqualified himself from deserving. He wanted everyone to think he was the big man who was stronger than to ever have done or ever in the future do such a thing, when he was not that man at all.

Okay, so, some of your other minister enemies saw an underhanded opportunity to attack you. Yeah, how "godly" of them. But I am not sure that the truth coming out, and your loss of undeserved credit exactly constitutes "punishment." "Attack" okay, "punishment" not so much. By the way, your attackers should also be exposed so everyone might know the measure of those men also. They should not be allowed to hypocritically claim credit that they don't deserve either. Ministry is a dirty calling, isn't it? But somebody's got to tend to the filthy business of leading people to god.

Yeah, Mel, we'd all like to cash in on the upside of screwing up and always be able to skip out on all the downside. I think you have more repenting to do than just for the adultery.

Velvet said...

"So, are we talking about some added MSG, or a few imitation bacon bits sprinkled on top?"

I'm not gonna lie, there are indeed sermons that are bacon bits, and little else. :-) Not much in the way of MSG though, as everyone I've spent any time with does tend towards cooking their own food, etc.

Sorry, I'll answer you a bit more seriously. :-) There are some speakers at the Feast site I attend regularly, who do actually preach from the Bible, instead of relying on commentaries or pop culture Christianist books or, even worse, building an entire sermon out of a single magazine article.

Listen for yourself, and see if you can pick out which ones I'm referring to, Anon, if you want to. Or, if you don't want to, don't.

Velvet said...

Head Usher,

I don't disagree with your comments, re: Rhodes, but I'm still wondering what it is the man actually did. Given some of the things that have been posted here in the last little while, I can't help but suspect the worst.......

Head Usher said...

Velvet, Melvin Rhodes was involved in an extramarital affair with a woman who was at the time a member of UCG, but since has left with COGWA. The affair apparently ended about six years ago, but I have no idea for how long it lasted.

Velvet said...

Ah, thanks for the insight, Head Usher. Bit like turning over a rock after a rainstorm, these things, aren't they?

Charming they have the woman pegged as a "non-member" isn't it? And how is she branded as "the accuser" when Rhodes was the one who sinned?

Bleah.

Anonymous said...

"And how is she branded as 'the accuser' when Rhodes was the one who sinned?"

Um, didn't they both "sin"? But one had more to lose than the other...

AshleyMadison.com frowns on pairing up adulterers with mere fornicators for the same reason.

Velvet said...

I'm just trying to understand why they make it sound to The Journal like it was someone who was never in the Church, or in United, at all.

And yes, they both sinned, but Rhodes had to have been the instigator, given his position of authority!

Leonardo said...

"Power is the greatest aphrodisiac!" Henry Kissinger