I had a Magic 8 Ball when I was a kid. You asked it a question and one little window in the fluid and answer filled ball would float into view. As it anything and it would tell you how it all is and how it all will be. Well, it also had built in doubts and fogginess. "Yes," "No," were the obviously black and white answers. "It is sure," was another form of yes but more dogmatic. "Cannot see at this time" was another form of "Ask again later" which were also options in the Magic 8 Ball. I think it also said, "Cannot say at this time" but maybe I'm thinking of how Dave Pack toys with his church.
As a kid, you or at least I was going to be careful what I asked it because I didn't want the wrong answer. Someone said to ask it if I would live longer than 16 and no way was I gonna ask that! If I wasn't, I didn't want to know! You didn't screw around with the Magic 8 Ball! I do wish I had asked it at 14 if I should pursue The Plain Truth and WCG. "Focus and Ask Again," I suppose.
As tempting as it might be as a child to take the Magic 8 Ball seriously, it was a childish thing. In reality, the future is unknowable though you would not know that listening to all the predictions and prognostications of the various Apostles and High Priests in the Sliver Churches of God. Quantum physics and the fact that the actual position of any electron which makes up our reality is unknowable has a theory that parallel universes exist. They are unreachable but the theory is that every time one makes a decision to do or not do, be or not be, turn left, turn right, say or not say, pursue or not pursue, a parallel universe forms where one did in that one what was not done in this one. So somewhere Elvis is alive and working at Walmart. Somewhere I never heard of the WCG and became the guy on the Discovery Channel who tells us all about Neanderthals in Ice Age Europe. Somehow it's nice to know there are other me's doing other things because the possibilities are endless. It's a nice theory. Of course in one parallel universe, I don't exist or died in the World Trade Centers. Perhaps in another, I work for Dave Pack.
Can the future be "divined"? I seriously doubt it. Humans have been predicting and prophesying about what WILL happen or what we CAN look forward to for as long as they could throw bones in a bowl. It's what humans do to give current lives meaning and hope. We are so used to Bible prophets and their prophecies that knowing the future is a given if you just get the combination of factors right and of course are in tuned with the appropriate god who knows the end from the beginning. I'm not sure that's a good thing and if so, why not just let it unfold as locked in and forget about it all?
Lets be specific with the Bible and the WCG experience which is merely typical of all fundamentalist and literalist views of the future and it's knowability. Nothing I can tell WCG/HWA or whoever ever foretold occurred as predicted. The Apostle Paul was certainly off track in time and space with his soons and shortlys as anyone can see. There was no "we" shall be changed and "we" shall be caught up for him as he thought he foresaw. He was wrong. The Apostle Paul died just like everyone else admitting he did not get to see the promise he thought was promised. I have a suspicion Paul's death was embarrassing to the Church or the how and why would have been in the Bible. It is not. He simply disappears as do all the disciples, traditions notwithstanding. Humans have been wrong about what they see in their futures ever since.
When some can clearly see an Old Testament prophet was wrong in his views such as an Isaiah saying the Nile would dry up or Egypt would be desolate, some simply say it hasn't happened "yet." From failed prophecies spring the term "types" and "duality". It's an apologetic used instead of having to say one was wrong.
Dave Pack, as we know, is now a current and classic example predicting future events as if he knew. He is clever, depending on your definition of clever, but it is no big thing to be the most clever person in a mental hospital. Ron Weinland was a future knower except he didn't actually know and probably could not have predicted his current status as a ward of the state. Prophets can never seem to see their end. Gerald Waterhouse was a knower but nothing he knew actually happened and what others told him he might need to consider but rejected did indeed happen. I seriously doubt GTA would have thought he would die of pneumonia in his 70's or that Dean Blackwell would be pushed aside , get discouraged and bewildered mostly likely by it all , get a job at Walmart and die of a broken heart. I never would have predicted my brother in law, who was an absolute health food fanatic and should have lived to be 100, would die rather quickly of Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 64. For him, as a WCG minister, that was retirement. I recall once kidding Joe Tkach Jr that I suspected his retirement plan for the ministry was for them, at 65, to drive into a tree. Now at 63 and having been at least correct on what WCG had no intention of doing and I knew it, I wish I hadn't said that!
Men like Dr. Robert Thiel who take titles of prophet to themselves can't see anymore into the future than I can by reading the same websites and news blogs he does. In our day and age, anyone who would say "God showed me," or "God told me," would be dismissed as either lying or schizophrenic. We give Old Testament prophets, Major and Minor a pass on their sources of information ONLY because it is written down in a holy book and was said a long time ago, or so it is said. Most Christians would never understand the practice of writing long winded speeches for Bible characters that were never really said but only imagined to be said by others who wrote what they imagine they would have said had they lived to say it. Mary did not really break into the Magnificant and song when she found out she was pregnant with Jesus, the Son of God. The writer imagined she did and copied the song of Hannah in the OT. In the Bible, infertile women give birth to special men. Virgins give birth to gods.
Some NT books, attributed to the Apostle Paul and others are not actually written by them. They are written by others in the name of and the spirit of Paul for effect and authority. They weren't actually the words of Paul or Peter. It was a writing style. Even in the Gospels we have conflicting accounts of what Jesus is said to have said by others. When you think of it, every "thus saith," or "Jesus said," is merely hearsay. One writer calls it the Sermon on the Mount. One calls it the Sermon on the Plain. Which was it?
The Apostle Joshua C. Pack is not really getting the future right nor who he is anymore than Gerald Flurry is "that Prophet" in Malachi or Ron Weinland and Laura were the Two Witnesses. They live God and Prophecy haunted lives that lead others down their path and deprive others of going down their own. Perhaps in a parallel universe these folk never heard of Dave Pack and never sent anything in, which would be nice.
No one seems to admit much that ALL the New Testament predictions about how short time was back then for them as spoken by the Apostles or how far spent was the night and how into the last hour those folk were was simply wrong. Paul was wrong. John was wrong. Peter was wrong. Church fathers were wrong. Revelation, a book actually written by Jewish Christians to encourage those stuck in Jerusalem and showing how the Romans would be routed in 3.5 years etc, was wrong. And....it is equally wrong to use Revelation as a prophecy for any other time than that time. I know that is hard to swallow but what does "to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass," mean to you? If I had a hundred year old book that had the phrase "this afternoon it is going to rain," I would not take it as a prediction of the weather where I lived and when I lived. Why do you?
Now if I want to play the prediction game I can too. Gut feelings, seeing how A can lead to B and the concept of for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction do have meaning in our world. Effects actually do spring from causes.
I could have predicted somewhere, someone was going to fly off the handle or have their last button pushed and shot up a COG somewhere sooner or later. I felt it would happen in California but I felt it was inevitable because you can't hurt some people over and over and not have someone lose it. I recall being in the car when the news of a shooting in a church at a Sheraton Hotel, and it was Saturday happened. There was no name given in the first report but I said, "It happened" to myself in the car. Next newscast I knew I was right. That's a gut feeling based on if you do A it leads to B sometimes or Z. Personally I thought it would happen in Southern California first, but it's hard to get behind those gated and locked office buildings uninvited.
To myself as a Minster outside the loop of ministers I found myself in the 70's and 80's "predicting" that if HWA didn't get off his live until Jesus returns kick and deny his age and humanity, the church was in for a ride. But that is not prophetic. It is common sense. When I read my first blog site on the then new Internet, I recall thinking, "this is going to give all nutcase churches and ministers one hell of an exposure." Common sense not prophecy.
Claiming to know the future and declaring it is probably one the more human and organizational forms of insanity that can infest a planet. It makes lousy citizens out of the believer and raises false hopes when one needs to make more effort to take care of business. It makes some lazy and others nuts. It produces both large incomes for the prophets and enemies galore. It disillusions when that was an avoidable experience and sets folk up for learning exactly what St. John of the Cross meant by "the dark night of the soul." If nothing else, belonging to a church that over practices the non art of prophecy come alive is a formula for one hell of a mid-life crisis. It can ruin your relationships and leave you in the dumpster emotionally. Trust issues become a real problem and then more A leads to more B.
Since the future is unknowable, let me make some predictions :)
1. In time all will come to see that Apostle Gerald Flurry is neither "That Prophet" nor is Apostle Pack any Joshua the High Priest spoken of in the minor prophet Haggai. We have already seen Herbert Armstrong build anything that lasted and his hand did not actually finish anything unless you reason like Dave Pack.
2. All, not just three of the COG leadership in the splinters and slivers will die sooner or later as will all their followers. I will also die sooner or later.
3. Properties bought and building built will be bought and used by others in time who can use it for their own views of the world or businesses. Houses for God will be foreclosed on. Some may be hauled away to the dump or recycled.
4. There will be lots of last Popes in the future. His name will be John Paul Benedict Francis Peterstein of Bavaria and very pretty.
5. The general surviving members of the various splits of WCG are too tired and suspicious of abusive title takers to move and reunite , yet again, and get the Apostle Joshua C Packs vision of himself and prophecy still coming alive on the road or back on track. This will cause paying the bills issues as it already has for the Apostle Flurry. This will not trouble the Apostle Joshua because it has never been about the numbers or the money.
6. The Restored Church of God's Feast of Tabernacles this year will be a bit bigger but after calculations done in private by the Apostle Joshua, it will be evident there are curious attenders who are not so willing to give up their monies in offerings. The numbers simply will not match up with what the money should be. Eventually they will be termed the Lurker Church of God and cast out.
7. The Restored Church of God's Feast of Tabernacles this year will be a bit smaller because everyone is getting ready to get their kids back to school August 30th 2013 and using second tithe for school clothes and tires for the car or even groceries and rent.
8. Dr. Bob Thiel will get a booster seat for his you tube ministry, stop waving his arms around when he talks like the kid on Problem Child making fun of Gilbert Godfrey and stop saying "Greeting friends around the world" as if he has to get that said and done so he can wave his Bible in the air.
9. I predict you thought I was going to have 7 points which is why I had 9
It seems that once the Apostle Paul got real and realized all his bluster was just that, he mellowed a bit. If he wrote I Corinthians 13, which does not sound like the ranting pompous Paul of his other books, he had changed a bit as time went on. He concluded that even if he had the language of men and angels or the gift of prophecy, which he actually didn't , but had no love in him , it was all a wash. It was of no value. He was nothing and had lived for nothing real. He concluded that Faith, or believing the unbelievable, Hope, which was what prophecy was all about and meant to encourage, and love were three basic values or ways of thinking. He concluded love to be the most important.
At the end of his disappointingly non fulfilled prophetic life, Paul defined what he finally understood was more important that claiming to know the unknowable.
"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
Believing one knows or even can know the future is childish. The Flurry's, Weinlands and Packs of the Wildworld Church of God are behaving as children in these "heavy" matters of who is who and who is not, who gets to be in charge and who dies. I predict that these men and those equally given to the foolishness of speculation, wishful thinking and fake insights and motivational ploys will also have to learn this lesson about the perils of prophecy and what really matters. I also predict they, as HWA, Gerald Waterhouse and others so inclined in the past, will not learn it in time.
contact Dennis at DennisCDiehl@aol.com