Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dennis On: "Well, the Bible Says..."

"Well, the Bible Says...."

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorWe all did it.  I certainly did as a pastor.  Most still do.  Whenever a question came up in the Church (or even in our culture and government ) concerning policies, attitudes, practices, prohibitions, situations, ideas, events and a myriad of other things can come up in life to want "answers" to, "Well, the Bible says," was the only game in town.  Smoking, drinking, eating, not eating, having, not having, doing, not doing, being, not being, makeup, paleface, anoint me, cut me, pray about it, do something about it, wear it, ditch it, think it, stop thinking it, eat it, avoid it, be there, stay home, "Well, the Bible says....."

I'm going to push the envelope a bit here for the average fundamentalist COG thinker by getting to the point and then giving some examples of why sometimes if not often times now thousands of years later, "Who cares what the Bible says," might be just as good an answer to the gazillions of questions people can ask others to answer for them.  In reality and from my own experience I know full well that a principle I learned long ago when dealing with questions as a pastor for "Headquarters" on all of the above kinds of topics kept me sane for a very long time.  It also kept me from many stupid answers that one would later regret giving.   I guess that sounds like the sanity has ended...lol.  Maybe it has!  

In practical fact there has to be a better perspective to adopt on many questions that groups seem to need to have group answers to.  An answer that has some give to it and won't leave you down the road wondering why you always do what you are told instead of what you actually thought was right. 

There is....

"Ask and you shall not have.  Do not ask...And all things are possible."

In the good old days of "To be played in all the churches," I had decisions to make.  The reason to play them was not so much that they were interesting and helpful as they were meant to keep the local church HQ oriented.  I leaned not to ask "do I have to play them?"   (See the above quote.  I had a church to pastor and there were just too many of these showing up in my mail.  I listened to them myself and picked the ones that I thought were actually helpful at the time.)

I recall a very fine member in Kentucky, who owned a grocery store, asking me if he had to de leaven his store for Days of UB.  This was a no brainer for me at least and I told him no. It is merely an object lesson for the home so don't worry about it.  It's your living.  This in contrast to earlier years when I helped a member close his bakery for the week, take apart the ovens and be sure it was "clean and without sin."  I was 22 and thought back then that this was over kill but what did I know. I was told to help him.  At any rate, I suspected the store owner asked because he had been given other orders and he had.  The ministerial assistant to me , now a COG pastor, told him to close the store and clean out the leavened products.  When the mini ass found out I reversed him he went to Joe Tkach Sr. who told him to tell the man to close it and de leaven.  He came back to me with the news.  I told him , "Don't you dare close it."  He didn't and nothing ever came of it. 

I am sure there was a lot of twisting and proof texting to make the Bible say he had to close it , but I had my own twists and texts to undo those.   I personally in reality and in hind sight did not care what the Bible said about Israel in Eqypt 3000 years ago.  (I have since come to believe the literal events of the Exodus did not actually occur as presented in the Bible, so using a myth to make literal rules is even more ridiculous.  Ranks right up there with women being quiet in the church and obeying husbands because "Eve sinned and not the man..."    Um....no.  She really didn't in time and space.)

I recall being told , and I'll shorten the whole story, that because a couple of kids fornicated at a YOU dance somewhere in Timbuktu, YOU dances were out for a time.  Ah ha ha ha.  Not in my world.  We had the best proms and dances in Kentucky and kids came from everywhere .  We may have had some fornicators somewhere, who knows...but don't touch this dance.  I quietly ignored the decree and the beat went on.  I knew better than to ask if we could continue our dances and proms because of our success etc.  I simply did not ask and we went about our local business.   

I visited a most awesome Native American male who expressed interest in Church but who also had jet black hair to his waist.  He was 100% pure American male of a culture I'd be proud to be related to.  "Doesn't nature tell you  (really?  in what way?) that it is a shame for a man to have long hair...."   It never crossed my mind to ask him to apply that scripture to his life if he wanted to come to church.  I'd kill to look like him    He never came to church, but I imagine I would have heard plenty of "But the Bible says...." which I would not have been in the mood for.  I knew male lions had long manes and female lions had none so that was enough of what nature needed to tell me.  I have never figured out what the Apostle Paul meant but I may as well add, "who cares what the Apostle Paul thought about this topic."  (Or marriage, women, children and who he thought he was for that matter.)


"Go ahead...tell me I look like a woman. You'll take it back as I eat your heart."

Bob Thiel keeps trying ever so hard to get people to believe him that God is pissed and weather is how he "tries" to get our attention.  Of course he can quote a hundred OT scriptures on the Bronze Age view of wind, rain and fire to back him up, but this truly is a case thousands of years of later for "who cares what the Bible says.  And yes we do know where the treasuries of the snow are and how a cow gives birth to a calf.  We also know about the Zodiac and how the sun moves through it. (the Mazzaroth as Job calls it)  We even know where the wind comes from these days and why.   The pagan nasty god Baal, the storm god has been demoted to a low pressure system.  Who cares what the Bible says on this stuff.  There really aren't four corners to the earth and it doesn't really stand on pillars.

And of course, we now have Apostle Dave Pack taking the brethren , and agonizingly slowly, through a book most Christians never even read , Haggai explaining with a straight face that the whole book is talking about him .  This is one case where you REALLY need to not care what Dave says the Bible says.  First of all , Haggai is not about David C Pack and secondly,  Haggai is not about David C Pack.  It is truly one of the pathetic ministerial blunders in making the Bible mean what it never meant in recent theological history.  The fall from this foolishness will be great.  But when all else fails...who cares what Haggai says.  It was not and is not meant for or about Dave Pack or the Restored Church of God along with all the splinters who Dave says will come to him.  He also thinks the ministry that won't come will die and three biggies will die all the same day.  Haggai says that but it is not about three WCG/UCG/LCG/PKG/PCG/ or LMNOP COGs.  Houses aren't splinters and the tithe money going to all of them doesn't really belong to Dave.  Stupid is as stupid does says Forrest. 

James Malm is an expert in his own mind on "the Bible says," but truly an even better example of why what the Bible says is irrelevant to real lives.  That man can make a wedding a miserable experience and I can't think of a less inspiring festival site to go to or sermons to live through than his.  Of course, he is self appointed which has risen to an art form in the COG experience. 

Bob Thiel is not really a prophet.  Gerald Flurry is not really "that Prophet," or any other.  James Malm is not really educated enough in theology to tell anyone what the Bible says much less means and of course, Apostle Pack is also self appointed and soon to up the ante with his brain dead congregations convincing them he is "Joshua the High Priest" for today.  He is not.  Did I say who cares what Dave thinks Haggai said?  Evidently Dave is having a difficult time trying to figure out in what way he has to remove his "filthy rags" as Joshua.  The man can't think of any major sins he has to be cleansed of.  Like Rod Meredith, who "never committed a major sin in his life that I know of...", Dave is struggling.    He thinks his big sin is not having started RCG sooner and staying with the splinters too long.  No really...that's what he came up with.  Or say they say.

  "I just listened to Apostle Pack explain the Bible to me."

I don't think there is a people on earth who know what the Bible says and where to find it than COG members.  We all soaked in.  I grew up in a Calvinistic Dutch Reformed world where as a child of 6 and 7 had to memorize whole chapters and story lines long before finding WCG.  It was just what we did.  Christians today don't care what the Koran says or what Allah thinks yet both are very very similar to what our OT says and what YHVH thinks.  "God's law" is not all that different from Sharia Law as they were both birthed from the same cultures. 

Playing "well, the Bible says,"  can be informative perhaps.  There are some inspiring and helpful things in the Bible.  There is also a lot of nasty stuff that one should not take too seriously today.   It can give a degree of background and perspective, but one really needs to be careful of letting others who claim special insights and callings filter it through their rather addled thinking.  Dave Pack will tell anyone it's NOT about the numbers and then agonize over spending all this money on advertising, TV and publications to only get a "trickle, trickle, trickle" of responses and new members.  Gosh..I know about as many people he's kicked out or driven away as who have joined him.  Of course it is about the numbers.  Without the words "remnant" and "a little flock," in the Bible, there would nothing to bail you out of failure to go ye therefore into all the world and make disciples of all men.  I'll think for myself thanks.

Lighten up COGers.  Stop having your minister read you the Bible like it was a newspaper or the the Journal of Medicine.   Ezekiel Bread is ok if you like your food to be Bible food.   But it really was designed for famines and made with ingredients poor folk can afford in famines according to reality but that is not reflected in the current price today.  They also forget one ingredient or way it needs to be prepared.  YHVH did make an allowance for Ezekiel and allowed him to switch to cow poop.  If you are going to quote the Bible and claim your bread is authentic Bible made, don't leave anything out.

After all..."The Bible Says...."

I believe I understand the mind of the typical COG member and I know I understand most minds in the ministry.  I do understand Dave and Gerald's minds but this is not because I find it in the Bible.  I see them more spoken of in the DSM.  Of course I also see Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and a few of the NT characters, Disciples and Apostles in the DSM as well but that is just me.  I see me in the DSM a times if that helps you define me. 

Don't agonize over the compulsive need by your minister or other members to answer every question in life with "Well, the Bible says...."   It often doesn't say anything about it no matter how well you twist it, or you can twist it, or it might actually say something which still is irrelevant to today or your current need for an answer.

One last example for fun and then I'll duck for cover.

I sat in on a refresher where we thought we were going to cover one topic and the leader of that session changed and said he had been told to cover another and come up with an answer.  Ok, here goes.   Here is what he said.

"I have been asked to discuss and come to a conclusion for the church as to the answer to the question, "Is oral sex permissible for the Christian?"  

"You're not really gonna give an Official Answer are you?"

The leader of the session then went on to say that "I personally find the topic to be distasteful...."

"Did I just hear him say what I thought he said?"

Well we all fell out dying on the floor.  He could not get the audience back in control and finally a minister who was way in the back stood up flailing his arms and yelling  "stop!!!!  so not answer that question!  You'll lose the whole French Church.!!!!" We fell out again and the meeting was dismissed.  First of all , who really cares what the Bible says BUT,  a good pass with imagination through the Song of Solomon could give an answer that wasn't what some may be going for in a church setting. 

I suggest when someone tries to force what they think the Bible says on just about everything on you with an expectation of compliance and you simply don't agree, doubt or don't care for the answer , learn to say  "I'll take it under advisement."  That was my dad's line to both doctors who wanted to put him on yet more and more meds and a time or two to Dave Pack who expected compliance with which Dad was not interested or unable to give.

Dad always told of the Spokesman club where Mere Minister Pack was chiding the men for not learning their scripture cards.  Dad raised his hand and said,  "Mr. Pack, these men work all week  and have other things to do and don't have the time you have to learn all these scriptures from memory.  But they do know where to find them."   Minister Dave said, "I'll talk to you in the hall at the break Mr. Diehl."   Dad never showed up for the chat and nothing came of it.  If it had...I would love to have heard the rest of that story!

"Ask and you shall not have.  Do not ask...and all things are possible."
(until the minister or church catches up with you)

....Because when it comes to the Bible, which is a Bronze Age and at best Roman/Greek document written by many more humans of many more persuasions than those listed,  and the Ministry of any church, it depends who you ask, what they personally believe and how they read their own Bible and divine its meaning.   It may have nothing to actually do with reality in the mind of any Deity.

And remember:  While Paul demands the Church all speaks the same thing, it is not possible in any real group of over 2 or 3 human beings.  That's what one says when they really mean.  "We must all speak the same as I say."


"Because I said so..."
"Because I am the man..."
"Because my council agreed with me..."
"Because Moses said..."
(Abraham said, David said, Solomon said, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel said, or Haggai and Zephaniah said," )
"Because Gerald Flurry, Rod Meredith, Dave Pack  said,"
 or even
"Well, the Bible says...."

...doesn't always matter either, believe it or not.

Never let ANYONE tell you how you're supposed to look 
or how you're supposed to live your life.  
It's YOUR LIFE so think for yourself."
Sonya Parker

Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. 
Speak for yourself. Be yourself.
Marva Collins

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness,
 truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.
Christopher Hitchens
(Closing statement of the debate with William Dembski 
at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, November 18, 2010)”

contact Dennis at: denniscdiehl@AOL.com


Anonymous said...

"Ask and you shall not have. Do not ask...And all things are possible."

You hit the nail on the head with that one. There was a person in our church who wasn't sure what to do with a large painting of Jesus with long hair wearing a crown of thorns that she inherited from her family. The better half of us in the congregation told her to get it appraised and to sell it... the other butt kissing half said to counsel with a minister about it. It's sad really how these poor people feel the need to have to counsel about everything!

I have yet to counsel with a minister about anything- because the day I do is the day they start telling me I can't do this or I can't do that; and when you don't ask and just do, 'all things are possible' like you said!

Head Usher said...

I always knew this wise saying in its secular formulation:

"Better to ask forgiveness than permission."

I also learned this principle in school because there was always some fool who would ask the teacher if there was going to be any homework. You always ask the teacher if that's going to be on the test. You never ask the teacher if he forgot to assign the homework.

The HQ bulletproof answer to every sex question was, "The marriage bed is undefiled" (Heb 13:4).

I started to figure out the bible wasn't all that it was cracked up to be when I was a teenager and in some sermon by some guy, when he was covering John 21, and got to verse 9:

"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread,"

he digressed and basically said, hotdiggity, the bible has the answer to every question ever! It even tells you how to cook over a fire. You don't cook over an open flame, you cook over the coals! No idea what his main point was, I just remember hearing that and thinking that might not be the real reason why that verse was phrased that way.

Unfortunately, a long time passed before I realized that the answers I expected to be getting in church, but seemed to be missing, was not all my fault--the answers were not there to be found! And the reason why the ministers didn't have the answers I expected is because we were altogether duped into superstitiously believing that the bible was magically encoded with the answer to every human question. Given the available evidence, it should not have taken me as long to debunk the bible as it did.

Shortly after that I decided to read through the book of Proverbs, but not the usual way. I decided to make a rather thorough study to see how wise these Proverbs really were. Was there any wisdom in there that was not common sense? Was there anything in there that I hadn't already figured out a long, long time ago? Not really. So why should I ever read this crap again? It might be worth something to somebody, just not to me. Any value it might have had for was gleaned long ago, and on the margin, which is where I live, it's value has diminished to zero. After that, I understood that I wasn't getting answers in church because they weren't in the bible in the first place.

I think a lot of people feel that the ancients, even the secular ones, were privy to wisdom that we moderns have lost. I think that people feeling is based on the hidden assumption that the ancients were in contact with supernatural beings that moderns have lost contact with, and that esoteric information was delivered to them. I think the ancients were no less smart than we are, just a lot more ignorant and superstitious.

Anonymous said...

Nice overview Head Usher. People assign the Bible mystical and magical power of discernment. You are right about what today would seem to just be common sense.

The Bible Meme is that it is the greatest story ever told (sold?) and written. Of course, that is ridiculous. Many writers through history have done a much better job with the issues of life . A book like the Power of Now or The New Earth can be more helpful in showing how the mind works than any Bible. The Bible has robotic characters in it. No real emotion. No real family issues we can identify with. Most Bible characters don't even seem to be able to say "I". Well except for the Apostle Paul who uses more than all others combined.

The reason scholars know Paul did not write Hebrews is because the author of Hebrews does not constantly refer to himself lol. Which is true.

Compare how many times Dave Pack refers to himself as I or me. It is amazing and blatant. It would be a miracle if those in RCG finally did not actually care more for Dave's opinions than for their own views which are just as valid in all things "prophetic" and speculative. dd

Assistant Deacon said...

Dennis, you're going to hell.

Except we don't believe in it.


Allen C. Dexter said...

Dennis, that was superb, as most of your articles are. I haven't paid any attention to what the Bible supposedly says for decades now, and it was when I stopped that nonsense that my life started to straighten out and have real meaning. This worshipping of ignorant (comparatively) and superstitious writers from a hallowed past is stupid.

whatmeworry said...

How about, "watch what you ask for, you just might get it." I love you Dennis!

Byker Bob said...

Government from the top down means that members and ministers can't utilize their own judgment so long as an "apostolic" edict exists on even the most mundane physical detail, or personal matter. And, by now, everyone here knows what I believe "government from the top down" is a substitute for. Just in case anyone is new, though, His initials are H S.

Keep those sideburns acceptable to the ministry, but, damn! Don't you dare cultivate or receive the Christlike attitude that opens your heart and compels you to help that homeless person, or contribute to tornado relief!

How do you have a spiritual experience in an ACOG? With all of the preoccupation on the physical, when does one ever get time for the spiritual? Yet, that is the essence of the Bible. Legalism and death of animals foreshadowed the real deal, leading up to Jesus, and providing in graphic detail why Jesus, the living waters, and transformation were necessary. Armstrongism denies all of that and prefers the shadows.


Anonymous said...

I didn't you Dennis and the COGs had that in common; rubbishing the scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Great post, I loved the graphic of "I just listened to Apostle Pack explain the Bible to me."...

That could easily also apply to, "I just listened to a United Church of God minister explain the Bible to me."

Anonymous said...

I think the bible might possibly have a core elemental truth of some kind, and is somewhat unique compared to other 'holy texts' on this planet. Then again, that feeling might have been emprinted on me from a childhood experience. I was raised a fundemental baptist and went to a private baptist grade school. When I was in the third grade, I returned my homework to my teacher's desk but had inadvertingly placed it upon the 'HOLY BIBLE" that was on her desk. Boy!, did she let me have it! She scolded me in front of the whole class and brought me to tears. I can look back at it now and laugh at my teacher, that school, and myself for having taken it so seriously. But then again, I was raised to behave and believe that way. So, I wonder if some people's 'blind' faith about the bible comes from some long forgotten experience like mine.
After saying that, the problem that i have with the bible is that it gets in its own way. Whether those reasons come from various authors, vain people like Paul, misc. interpretations, reinterpretations, misinterpretations(says who?), mistranslations, and whatever. Which begs the question,
Why didn't Jesus Christ write His own autobiography?

Dennis said,
....Paul demands the Church all speaks the same thing, it is not possible in any real group of over 2 or 3 human beings. That's what one says when they really mean. "We must all speak the same as I say."

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those that think differently" - Friedrich Nietzsche

another seekeroftruth