Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Duty of COG Members

Here is an interesting comment from the All About Armstrongism blog about the duty of Church members in the Church of God.

A WCG Christian’s duty, in brief, then, was to send in tithes, pray for Herbert Armstrong, support the ministry, attend church, give offerings, and serve the Church – not the world.

Service, in fact, was a huge part of the WCG Christian’s duty. They usually kept you so busy, it was next to impossible to do anything else with other groups, anyway. If you didn’t volunteer, it sometimes would not be too long until you were literally assigned a service position. Again, there were many. Greeter, Library, Tape Library, Usher, Sound, Setup, Kitchen, Lectern Mover and Waterboy, Youth sports, childrens educational programs, hymnals, you name it, there was a job. If you did all of these duties, you were doing what was considered a Christian’s duty. Love God, Love Herbert, Love the Work, Serve the Church, and forget the rest of the uncalled, unsaved – they’ll have their chance at the second resurrection.

Community Service, then, was the job of Pasadena, the Headquarters, and Herbert Armstrong, not the lay member. They had the large jewel of Ambassador Auditorium, and they “served the community” by offering extravagent performances by the world’s finest artists. Pavarotti, Rubenstein, Bob Hope, and many A-list musicians and performers were brought in to grace the stage of Ambassador to the delight of Pasadena’s culturally elite, at great expense to the Church. These concert series put the church in great standing with Pasadena and the rich and famous of southern California, and also put Herbert Armstrong in a great light in the community. But there were no programs to my knowledge for the poor and destitute of Pasadena. In fact, the Church bought out the slum houses around their complex and turned them into magnificent grounds for their college. The work was too grand to be around low income housing. So, the homes were bought and the college expanded. There were to my knowledge  no pancake dinners for the poor, no soup dinners for the homeless, no evangelical outreach for the needy, no charity clothing drives for the scarcely clothed. The poor were shunned and the rich were served.

When a person has stepped back from Armstrongism and investigated it, the above comments are glaringly non-Christian.

Growing up in  the RCG/WCG we drove 150 miles each way to church.   Wednesday nights were Bible Study (commanded), men had Spokesmen Club, members were expected to keep the ministers lawn and home in good condition,  Monday nights were set aside to dress in Sabbath wear to listen/watch the telecast, Youth group met on Thursday evenings and so on.  My family spend the other evenings growing huge gardens so we could feed other church members.  In my mother's spare time she was making quilts for new mothers and senior citizens. It was one thing after another to keep a person occupied and away from the evil satanic world that surrounded them.  Satan was working overtime to ensnare us with earthly delights and the Church felt its duty was to keep us snared in its grasp.

The comments about the auditorium were spot on.  It was all about impressing the community and the world. Nothing was done for the poor.  They were poor because they had sinned and God had not blessed them.  Besides, God was going to take care of them in the Kingdom, so why waste money on them now.

The Chief roll of a church member was to support the work and NOT to take care of the world.  Herbert Armstrong wrote:

Anyone who does not have his whole heart in that work IS NOT A MEMBER OF GOD’S TRUE CHURCH, and has no right whatsoever to attend or fellowship in any of its local congregations. The very FIRST purpose, then, of each local congregation is the FIRST purpose of God’s Church as a whole — to encourage, pray for, hear reports about, and help in — in whatever manner may be possible — the great work of God of preaching and publishing the true GOSPEL to all the world.

In other words, pray, pay and obey. 


Douglas Becker said...

The real duty of Armstrongist CoG members is to report the criminal activities of the ministers to the proper civil authorities and insure that they are prosecuted all the way to Prison.

A modern example of this is Ronald Weinland.

Byker Bob said...

Amazingly enough, service is a concept which I've had some difficulty in adjusting to in my current practices. I know how once the camel got his nose under that particular tent in WCG, those organizing the service became intrusive and all consuming, ie totally insatiable. That was your thanks. You ultimately ended up giving up inordinate amounts of your time, which is what makes up your life. You bought into substitution axiom #1: WCG = Jesus Christ. It became a trap.

I do volunteer these days. But, I don't do it the way in which it is encouraged. My current church may or may not rope people in, I just volunteer in ways which do not allow me to find this out. It's called leaving an anonymous footprint, and repels trackability.

We were taught horrible unChristlike things in Armstrongism, particularly about less fortunate people like the homeless. "Don't help them. They're lazy. God is punishing them. They don't keep the sabbath, and aren't being called. Don't even pray for them. They'll come up in the 2nd Rez." That kind of attitude is pure poison. Reality is that there are those who suffer misfortune, and we CAN sometimes make a difference in their lives. There are intelligent ways to help the homeless, like giving them water bottles during the summer, or blankets in the winter. Telling them where there are shelters with programs that assist people in between jobs. Giving them bus passes to locations where they can shower. Non-Armstrongite organizations employ these types of helpful techniques.

We were in the stoneage in WCG, limited by the mind and mentality of HWA and his sychophants. Everything we were encouraged to do was to the glory of HWA, not Jesus.


Head Usher said...

"It was one thing after another to keep a person occupied and away from the evil satanic world that surrounded them."

And then Satan invented the internet...FTW!

Velvet said...

Yeah, this was the case for the Victoria congregation, and we were relatively small (only 300 members) and fairly spread out. Bible studies weren't mandatory, but usually there were around 150, so we tended to get to every other one. But, the community at large? Nope. I think the Toronto East congregation may have been better with this (we were 1200 members, after all), but I was too young when we moved away, to remember if we did anything outside of the Church community. Combined services on the Holy Days averaged around 3,000 people, so that was a fairly large community on its own.

However, in my current Church area, prior to the changes (by about twenty years) the local congregations supported the Uni. food bank both with cash, and groceries, and one of the members gave up the corners of his agricultural land to provide fresh produce for both those on 3rd tithe, an for those who needed it.

I don't remember seeing any interaction with the world (in fact we were discouraged from it -- though I agree with this in principle, it was easier in practice back then, because the congregational communities were large enough, that it didn't really make an impact.

Local congregations here still support the food bank, as they always have done. They also ensure that money for "the African fund" gets sent directly (i.e., bypasses Headquarters so GCI won't take a cut), and they treat this as status quo, so...I guess they've always done that?

Never saw that in Victoria, though. To be fair, we were a much more conservative congregation.

Joe Moeller said...

Many, if not most, of the UCG congregations contribute to local causes, in an organized official way, whether they be womens shelters, food banks or community service.etc.

When cows are contributed from Lifenets, the firstborn offspring MUST be given to the surrounding community, (non-cog).

Feast Sites arrange for community service projects and I know that in Bend Oregon, several thousands of dollars was raised and a couple of tons of canned goods and dry foods were also contributed by the brethren to be contributed to the local community of those in need.

The old WCG was not civically minded, this is true. The UCG is progressive and enlightened in becoming more good citizens in the community and showing concern for their fellow man.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

Why are you always talking up UCG? Have you been sent here by Mike Snyder to defend UCG's corporate image here as a segment of their branding strategy?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who understand the NT Gospel messages has to know the COGs (and many others like the Mormons and JWs) are cults that have only one main purpose; to lead people away from the new covenant of Jesus to the old, or even worse one of their making.

Joe Moeller said...

In all fairness, there were outreaches and contributions that were done through AICF that involved funding a school for the handicapped in Jordan, including providing AC students as teachers. Other projects included aiding the hill people in Thailand for agricultural reform, and even contribution to aid the pygmy extinction in Africa.

I remember HWA getting flack for contributing $40,000 for wheel chairs for third world non-cog children. In todays money, that would be in the neighborhood of $160,000 or so.

Should there have been more of a general membership involvement, and should the church been more involved itself is open to debate, but to say that the WCG never did anything is ripe for editorial review.

Im not defending the ancient WCG here. However, for the sake of fair discussion and discourse, and to avoid us having selective memory, I bring these facts forward.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Douglas Becker said...

A cult which has a centralized focus where the money goes -- no local church building and no long term presence in the community.

This corporate model is one for maximum mobile profit for the few in power: In some cases there may be gaudy showy impressive but meaningless dehumanized buildings and grounds with the attendant expense, and in others a Post Office Box address.

With a commitment only to the founder / leader(s), don't expect much permanence over the long term -- where your treasure is, the affections follow and when it is impersonal, far away and dripping with mammon, it's difficult to even imagine even one thing Christian about it.

Joe Moeller said...

Anonymous at 4:28 PM wrote:
Why are you always talking up UCG? Have you been sent here by Mike Snyder to defend UCG's corporate image here as a segment of their branding strategy?

Dude, I go to the UCG, and there are good reasons for why I do.

But hey, if it makes you happy, I confess... yes Im a "secret agent" for Michael Snyder, and he pays me $25 for every good post about the UCG that I put up. Easy haircut money for me. We believe that with enough time , money and effort that Doug Becker, Byker Bob, Dennis Diehl and even No2HWA will all be attending UCG with us in happy bliss forever.

As far as "branding strategy" I put the ranch's brand on all new born calfs every year. Id be happy to do the same to your backside anytime cowboy!

Peace Brother, Peace

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

G.G. said...

Anxiety (aka fear) motivates much of human behavior. Unlike other animals, we humans can contemplate our death and other dreadful future possibilities). Humans turn to several things to assuage their anxiety and give themselves temporary peace of mind. (Drugs, alcohol, relationships, sex, power, amusements, riches, other distractions all give temporary relief.) Religion and the promise of eternal life in a wonderful place with lost loved ones and a powerful Father Figure (Big Daddy in the Sky) is perhaps the most powerful drug of all to relieve that darned fear. The COG's have thrived on and stoked up that anxiety for about 80 years now. They aren't the only ones of, of course, but they had it down to a science for a long, long time. They seem to be crumbling but how many more generations can they damage people before they die out? G.G.

Douglas Becker said...

We believe that with enough time , money and effort that Doug Becker, Byker Bob, Dennis Diehl and even No2HWA will all be attending UCG with us in happy bliss forever.

Simply not enough in this Universe.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I bet you would. My parents saw to it I received the WCG brand real good. Still, it did wear off eventually, but it did take some time. I guess if I were smarter it would have worn off sooner. I don't really believe you're being paid, but I do believe that you are here to try to convert folks back into UCG's form of Armstrongism. I imagine this must be dry and rocky soil for the "gospel message" you've come to preach to us lost souls. I can't speak for the other guys, but I can tell you I'm personally immune to any god-branding now. But hey, knock yourself out. Give it your best shot. Maybe you will succeed in converting someone here, and maybe they will live the rest of their lives in UCG's "bliss." It wouldn't be bliss for me though, that's for sure. I know, I attened UCG for a while after '95. I agree with some of what you say, it did seem like the least controlling, and therefore the least objectionable Armstrongist choice. That is until religion itself seemed objectionable. Just so long as we've finally got all your cards explicitly laid out on the table now and there are no more hidden motives behind your many comments.

Joe Moeller said...

Addressing Anonymous post immediately above.

There are four different types of people who are viewing this blog. They are not in agreement overall.

They are:
1) Those that hate the idea of ANY religion whatsoever and are atheists.

2) Those that like religion, and have found a home in it, somewhere outside of the COG/Sabbatarian universe.

3) Those that are in COG Cults, and long for a restoration of Armstrongism.

4) Those that are Sabbatarians, who desire a democratic, accountable system of Church government and a participation that is progressive and forward looking. Those that understand that ultimately religion is a "personal one" , and yet one that can be a cooperative endeavor as well .

Groups One/Two and Four are able to collaborate and find commonality against extreme religion, the cult meisters, and the whacked out history of the WCG.

Group one , the atheists, will despise the "faith element" if ever displayed by a poster of groups 2 thru 4.

Group Two- The religionists, will judge both the atheists, the cultists, and even the Sabbatarian progressives.

Group Three- Hardcore Armstrongists, hate everybody and even judge harshly those within their own little groups.

Group Four- Which is where I classify myself, again can find commonality against irrationality and deviant behavior.

So what you see on posts and threads, depending on the topic, are some strange forms of "coalition governments" with certain varying degrees of agreement, or perhaps total estrangement depending on the topic.

I find this forum to be an amazing curiosity, and I read everyone with a hope for insight, both good and bad. I do not minimize anyones experience, but do find it fascinating how people react to very similar stimuli. Yes, all four groups are a case study.

So what you see Joe Moeller post here, is just another camera angle. You will see the thoughts of someone from group four. I do not expect you to agree always, but hopefully I get you to think about things from a different camera angle.

That being the case, you can learn from EVERYONE, and yes even our WCG experience was a learning experience, whether good things or bad.

I generally like who I am. This being the case, it forces me to realize that all the bad things are puzzle pieces to the equation of who I am. Painful , yet in some strange way, necessary.

So BANNED offers a form of catharsis, release, and public square for all 4 groups. Its goal is therefore a strange one, I think for us all...a "personal relationship to ones own "church past" and what this means to each of our own unique and different futures.

We will agree, combine, fight, disagree in ever evolving combinations and alliances, this is for sure. I hope that my contributions add to the richness of it all, even when you totally despise me. There are things that can be weighed and gained by listening to your opponent, that gives insight into yourself, even when you will never win each other over. There is value in debate.

No matter who you are on here, I do value you as an amazing thing, (a miracle in my mind), a human being. We may laugh at each other, or totally disagree with each other, or "cant stand each other", "but I will give you the shirt of my back" and a cup of coffee, if you needed it in a desperate situation if you come to my ranch in the middle of the night.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

The problem with the UCG, in a nutshell, is that it basically sucks.
But not for everyone-
I understand, that for some people it serves as a transition point for escaping hardcore armstrongism.
more enlightened.
Some people need such a stepping stone, and others don't.

Many people I know didn't want anything to do with the UCG, since it's just a splinter of armstrongism, founded by a bunch of scheming, conniving assholes.
For other people I know, it's a good fit.

Assistant Deacon said...

Four different types, Joe? Come on, open your eyes, if not your mind.

For starters, define COG cult. Then explain how UCG is not one.

Is it a difference of doctrine? Or practice?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Joe...I too belong to one of the splinter groups, and have learned some things from reading this blog (and some of the others too).

I've never felt any reverence toward HWA or GTA, or any other man...I've always been focused on doing what God says to do, which has on occasion ruffled a few ministerial feathers. They've always gotten over it though. I've even changed their minds on an issue here and there.

Some here probably don't want to hear this, but HWA got a few things right. That may be why he is so reviled.

Head Usher said...

No, I think it's true that HWA got a few things right. You would really have to know what you were doing to get every last thing wrong. But if you only get a few things right on a test, you still get an F. You have to get a majority of things right to get even a minimally passing grade. The reason why HWA is reviled is not because of the few things he got right, it's because of the majority of things he got wrong. Additionally, it may be because of the sense that many get in hindsight that his heart was not at all in the right place. But that last part is admittedly a matter of interpretation and opinion.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:14 said: "Some here probably don't want to hear thus, but HWA got a few things right. That may be why he is so reviled."

Like what may I ask?
Prophecies? 99.9% Wrong.
Petrine doctrine & church government? Totally Wrong.
WCG was "THE TRUE CHURCH"? Historically & Biblically Wrong.
D&R? Woefully Wrong.
Triple tithing? Selfishly Wrong.
Medication & surgery? Deadly Wrong.
Masturbation? Idiotically Wrong.
NTBMR? Contextually Wrong.
"Elijah to come" was HWA? Arrogantly Wrong.
Holy Spirit comes only via laying of hands? So Wrong.

There are only an exceedingly few things that I reckon he got right imho if at all!!!--& even then these things that I might think he may have gotten correct are still hotly debated by Xians of all colors and persuasions within & without Cogdom. So when all is said & done he isn't reviled for his few consistencies, but for the many, many, many contradictions in his own life & teachings.

Anonymous said...

Good comment 1:20 AM. Would you go to a surgeon or auto repair person if they had as bad a track record as HWA? If his "scholarship" was so wrong on such basic issues as "How is one saved" or "To Whom was the Law of Moses Given"? how can you trust ANYTHING that he spoke or published. Would you go to a salad bar and eat if the waitress said that the board of health just declared a few items as being laced with botulism? Would you eat out of a dumpster if you could go into a clean restaurant and eat a meal that is not contaminated? Why would you knowingly stay with the WCG when there are so many good sources for Bible teaching?

Joe Moeller said...

Assistant Deacon asks:

**How is the UCG not a cult?

We can start this discussion with a simple curiosity about UCG. The UCG does not have a one man, unaccountable , unremovable leadership. This is virtually unique in the COG, and is quite profound in separating it from all the other hundreds of split.

There is voting for the leadership. Additionally, some 40+ local congregations actually collect money locally, and have their own elected councils to manage these funds and church activiities. Brethren are free to attend the FOTs of their choice, even other groups FOTs. There are appeals processes, and work arounds. Perfect - NO, but definitely light years more progressive than any other COG and definitely unique.

One man, unaccountable , unremovable rule ALWAYS leads to sociopathy guaranteed.

Doctrinally, ANY Sabbatarian, even an SDA will be called a "Cult" by Sunday observing churches. Frankly, every church denomination, secretly views all other denominations as cults too, ie, anyone he sees it different than they do.

So lets leave docrtrine out of this as a definition of cult, as an atheist would view ALL RELIGION as cultish. I think a better definition of this would be "Destructive Cult", one that is destroying people through manipulation, isolation, force, control, harvesting, and destruction of identity.

Although all human organizations and associations have social pressures and norms, I do not see the UCG as a "destructive" organization, and one can be in the group and still have a normal working , healthy relationship with society and others outside of the group.

The UCG is therefore not "polarizing" and can play well with others, which destructive cults are totally unable to do.

Luv and XXX!
Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

UCG sounds a lot like was rumoured several years back that they might merge.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:20am....the things you listed have nothing to do with my salvation......"fear God and keep the commandments" has everything to do with my salvation.

Retired Prof said...

Joe, I like your four-category arrangement of the commenters here. However, as a member of category 1, I'd like to offer an editorial emendation: instead of " those who hate ANY religion whatsoever," it would be better to say, "those who don't practice ANY religion whatsoever." We actually vary in our attitudes from the outright hostility denoted by "hate" to bemused tolerance.

The word "atheist" is fine as long as we understand it to mean "person with no faith in supernatural entities or forces." That covers agnostics and skeptics as well as people who feel certain no gods exist.

Anyway, I appreciate your contributions here, and I think you must be all right in general, because of your taste in rifles. Anybody that owns a Winchester Model 88 can't be all bad.

Byker Bob said...

There was a time when I believed that ACOG members had been duped into believing they were Christians, but that in actual practice and fruits were nothing of the kind. I also believed that there was no way anybody could receive the Holy Spirit through Armstrongism, as it was a totally bogus system.

However, there is another aspect to this, which has made me rethink. There are those who didn't buy into the whole allegiance thing to "God's True Church". They entered into a private and personal relationship with Father God, through Jesus Christ, and Armstrongism was purely incidental, almost a foot note to the process. Because of their personal relationship with God, they do have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, but they just happen to attend an ACOG.

Does this set off internal conflicts? I imagine so, and in some cases it must make things very difficult, constantly hearing things that are counter to the transformation process God is working out in their hearts.

Bottom line is that none of us, and certainly no church group is perfect, nor does any have perfect knowledge. Where would Jesus attend church if He were orchestrating another one of His surprise theophanies today? He'd probably look in on various groups where the dominant force was sincerity of the heart, realizing that all of His children are imperfect and often weak.


Anonymous said...

BB wrote: "Where would Jesus attend church...?"

I doubt He'd attend ANY church group Bob. He may have attended synagogue early in his life as a young Judean, and even at the start of His ministry (Luke 4:16) but later on I don't believe there is any record of Him attending synagogue again. He visited and taught at the Jerusalem temple and country hillsides for which He came under criticism by the religious leaders (Matthew 12) and those He ministered to and healed weren't exactly devout Jews seeing that He was accused of associating with prostitutes and drunkards (Matthew 11:19)--those who would definitely be looked down on today as having drug, sexul and alcohol addictions, mental illnesses and be homeless or jobless--and even redirected the blind man's faith He had healed after he was disfellowshipped by the religious leaders (John 9:35-41). He didn't tell the man that his salvation depended on getting back into the good graces of those who were leaders in synagogue or church and that he had to "go to church every Sabbath day" like some think makes a "good" Xian.

Anonymous said...

Jesus would probably have a group meeting in someone's home. No massive building, no "organization", no titles, power struggles, control freaks, egomaniacs, power and money grabs.
KISS keep it simple, stupid.

Velvet said...

"there were outreaches and contributions that were done through AICF"

The only one I really remember is the Jerusalem Peace Park. But that sticks in my mind because I'm still a pacifist, so.

Anyone know if the Peace Park still exists?

Velvet said...

"you are here to try to convert"

I'm not Joe Moeller, and I personally see no good reasons for attending UCG (and a plethora of bad ones), but he doesn't strike me as being here to convert. I certainly hope I don't strike anyone like that! Matt 23 has a fair amount to say against proselytizing, after all, and the Church when I was growing up, taught that it was(is) God who calls people, not other people.

I can't speak for Joe's motives for being a commenter here, but I will tell you mine, if you're interested. (If not, just scroll on by.) For a long time, I got sucked in by the it-was-all-evil-HWA-was-nothing-but-evil-nothing-good-came-from-the-WCG mentality that was so prevalent (and sometimes still is) on these websites. When, really, that wasn't my experience at all.

Did I have bad experiences in the Church? Yes, absolutely. Were there people who had absolutely horrific experiences in the Church? Yes, absolutely, and I wish they hadn't. However, I had far worse experiences in the world, than I ever did in the Church. Some people experienced the opposite.

There's my truth, your truth, and THE truth. I think trying to get to the latter, through all the encrusted years of garbage and propaganda and lies (from BOTH sides), even the lies we tell/told ourselves, is laudable. I dunno if I always get there though....

Velvet said...

"The UCG is therefore not "polarizing" and can play well with others"

The rancour-filled, acrimonious, mud-slinging, member-poaching, Internet-based split with CoGWA notwithstanding?

Sorry, Joe, gotta disagree with you here. UCG has been, and is, pretty polarizing. And it's been proven they don't "play well with others. Not just the split with CoGWA, look at the whole kerfuffle with Aaron Dean (not that I think Dean is any kind of a saint, he has a lot to answer for, too), Mike Bennett's blog, the "unitedcurrentcrisisinrealtime" website, etc., etc.

Velvet said...

"Does this set off internal conflicts? I imagine so, and in some cases it must make things very difficult, constantly hearing things that are counter to the transformation process God is working out in their hearts."

So, Bob, would you think someone who demonstrates all the good fruits of the spirit (I don't mean me, because I can't judge whether I do or not -- I'm inclined to think for me, it's more often "or not") but who agrees with the things they are hearing, in fact someone who attributes their transformation process into good people TO the things they are hearing (the things that are based in sound doctrine and the truth, not the other dross, which is easily discarded anyway), are somehow not in receipt of the Holy Spirit?

I mean, I know you think they're not in receipt of YOUR idea of the holy spirit, as a person in the triple-deity pantheon of the pagan trinity, but I'm inclined to disagree that the fruits of the trinitarian holy spirit person deity #3 are good; because I have NEVER seen a trinitarian with good fruits of the spirit, as those fruits are outlined by the Bible. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Have I seen people transformed by the POWER of the Holy Spirit? *shrug* I don't know. I can't recall anyone in the Church when I was growing up, who was "transformed" radically by being called into the Church. But since the transformation was considered normal life for me, I didn't have an objective view on it at the time.

I know that when I was called back to the truth, and back to the Church, my life was transformed pretty radically...because I was given the ability to keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (not the false testimony ABOUT Jesus). Changing from a fairly worldly life, to that, certainly qualifies as a transformation!

My temper, notwithstanding my comments on an earlier post, is nowhere near as bad as it was, I tend to think of others above myself, or at least I make the effort to listen when my conscience tells me to, and I think I have changed, from how I was before.

But I have no "internal conflict" because I am not worshipping pagan idols. Not the idol of "Armstrongism" (which never really existed in the Church at large) and not the idols of trinitarianism either.

Well, and I'm not baptized, so I don't have the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in me, anyway. Both of my parents were baptized at the time that I received the Blessing of the Little Children, and I do think, looking back over my life, that the power of the Holy Spirit has been working WITH me in my life, all the way along...even when my feet were on dangerous paths.

I think, if there was someone who experienced those "internal conflicts" you speak of, it would be due to the pull of foreign gods/pagan idols on their hearts, that they may have been exposed to when they were younger. All the more reason to remain firm in the faith, IMO.

Byker Bob said...


With regard to your groups, what you say might be true if everyone could be taken at face value. You presented a very basic, probably deliberately simplified framework.

Unfortunately, in 13 years on these forums and blogs, I've witnessed a lot of skew factors. Posters are not always in WYSIWYG mode.

There have been deliberately created, fictional cybercharacters on some forums and blogs. There have been people who just like to screw with peoples' heads, acting like the stereotypical disruptive adolescent in class. There have been people who deliberately make unpopular or controversial stands just for the sake of argumentation and the ensuing attention they garner. And, we've also run across deeply troubled, barely functional, and sick individuals who manage to mask their symptoms until experiencing meltdowns.

90% of the exchanges (probably not a scientifically verifiable percentage) are real. People using their own names, or a constant screen name are more likely to reliable than the anonymi, but there have also been examples of long term cybercharacters whose narcissistic tendencies lead them to believe that forums exist just so that they have a venue in which to jack people around. Caveat Emptor!


Byker Bob said...


I believe that we serve a multi-faceted God, one who has the keys to unlock all of our minds, and that that God employs various tools to do his work in transforming our hearts. There are some people who need a disciplined, structured environment in which God manifests Himself. Others are more perceptive of, and maleable through the law behind the law, ie, the Royal Law of Love. That law was the purpose behind the laws of the Torah, and fulfills those laws as taught by Jesus Christ. Since each of us is a unique creation, one size doesn't always fit all. The important part is the fruits. Just as a Rhodes scholar might have grown up in a ghetto neighborhood, fruits can be produced in conflicting or hostile environments.

We also tend to home in on the things which speak to our souls. Nobody is truly a robotic replicator. Normally, we tend to take what we need, or can assimilate, unless we are force-fed by being told how we must think. Paul spoke of the great freedoms in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Himself reserved His harshest words for the legalists of His day. He simply pointed out and facillitated a higher operational level, very functional for dealing with fellow humans from the standpoint of love.

The internal conflicts of which I was speaking, and mostly related to my case, would have been the knowledge that dates had been set for prophecies which the organization had based on the private theories of Herbert W. Armstrong, and that obviously, in retrospect, there is no way the Holy Spirit inspired those dates or the backpedaling lies used to spin their failure, the horrible fruits of bad stewardship in using the financial resources that people had made available often through much hardship, the selective and exclusivist display of love for fellow humans in some cases leading to the total invalidation of some others and the cavalier attitude that they should be left to suffer until the second ressurrection, and the high level of judgmentalism fomented by legalism, which is a nearly universal effect most certainly not produced if the Holy Spirit is motivating one's good works.

I and my son have also undergone a complete transformation of heart, although aided by a different support system from your own. God is not binary. He can create art in various mediums from a wide variety of materials. You might remember that when you stopped being Aggie, I posted a supportive message to you, probably over at Gavin's.

I don't know what to think about baptism. It's something I wondered about. Frankly, although I moved away from God after the failure of 1975, I've allowed my WCG baptism to suffice. NT Wright was very insightful on this topic, as he wrote that although we go prodigal, we can never become unbaptized. Christians whom I respect have assured me that Jesus never left me, and I can look back on certain life patterns and realize the truth of that. Baptism is one of those personal relationship things that you'd have to consult with God about. If you do decide to be baptized, it's important to realize that you are not being baptized into a corporate church group, but into the body of Jesus Christ.

I wish you the best in terms of continued spiritual growth, and will be praying for you!


Byker Bob said...

Anonymous 5:50 and 5:08, Bingo!

You guys have got it. That's where Jesus would have taught, and the people to whom He would have reached out.

However, did either of you ever watch the film "Joshu", starring Tony Goldwyn? Good insights, and some really scripturally based. Joshua visits several Christian venues, and provides some refining teaching.

The problem today would be much the same as in the days of the second temple. The established power structure would probably not recognize Jesus, and would reject Him. Lay believers might be a bit more receptive.


Byker Bob said...

Uh, spell check alert: That should have been "Joshua". Some how the a key didn't respond to my speed typing.


Anonymous said...

Uh, cupid alert!:

Velvet still has a crush on Byker Bob!