Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why The Church of God Is A Backward Flipping Church

I was reading a blog by a former fundamentalist today and he had an interesting point in his article.  It reminds me so much of when I read Philadelphia Church of God, Living Church of God and Restored Church of God's web sites and articles.  A person finds scant information on their web sites about Jesus, but will find hundreds and hundreds of articles, booklets and books dealing with Old Testament concepts and law.

He talks in his blog about how those embarrassed by Jesus or made to feel uncomfortable by Jesus like to flip backwards in the Bible till they find something that makes them feel comfortable again.

The Church of God has always been a backwards flipping church.  It lived in the past and in the law of the Old Testament stories and hero's.  Jesus makes them extremely uncomfortable, but they do like to quote angry Paul and others that are pissed at the local churches for some failure.  That makes them feel good.  Jesus' words have the opposite effect so they would rather find comfort in law or an angry pissed off God who is ready for revenge.

He writes:

The beauty of the context of this discussion in John, is that Jesus is talking to religious people who are quite similar to a lot of folks we encounter today- folks who, when confronted with the radical teachings of Jesus will keep flipping the page away from Jesus, backwards or forwards, until they land on a verse that makes them feel a little safer. This process of flipping the page away from Jesus until we find something more comfortable- in the name of “believing the whole Bible”, is a gross abuse of scripture. When Jesus confronted these people he blasted them, saying (my paraphrase):

“You know the scriptures backwards and forwards, but you’ve missed the most important part: me.(John 5:39-40)
If you see something in Jesus that makes you uncomfortable, but flip the page backwards until you feel more comfortable, you are misusing scripture.
Oh, how we especially like flipping the page backwards. The Old Testament has so many different verbal portraits of God, that everyone would probably find something to suit them. There are portraits where God is angry, portraits where he is sad and regretful, portraits where he is a warrior, portraits where he commands baby killing, portraits where he is feminine and compares him to a nursing mother, portraits where he is loving and patient, portraits where God is…

There are a lot of portraits. This provides a very convenient opportunity for those who wish to avoid the teachings of Jesus, and instead turn the pages backwards until one finds a portrait of God that seems to line up with who we want him to be. I see people do this for a host of reasons- there are all sorts of things we can seemingly justify if we flip the page away from Jesus.

Want to justify nationalism, oppression, violence, sexism, and ____ (fill in the blank)? Just keep flipping the pages away from Jesus and you’ll probably find something to make you feel justified.

- See more at: Flipping the Pages Away from Jesus: why some parts of the Bible are more important than others


Anonymous said...

Nice article thanks. It is pretty disgusting taking out the One and Only. Mr Pack does not hide the fact he dislikes what Christ did. Does not like mixing the person of Christ with the kingdom of God and calls it a spirit of error. I think if he preached Christ he would get more tithes, but don't tell him that.

Byker Bob said...

That's some pretty powerful stuff there! It's mind boggling that some would deemphasize, diminish, and yet believe that they had arrived at true and superior theology. Not that I'm a fan of LCG, but I wish that everyone in that group that seceded from Uncle Roddy because he put " too much" emphasis on Jesus could read and absorb what is on this blog you shared! Jesus is truly everything! Dennis recently blogged on a hymn. It's only fitting at this moment to recall the words to "I Love to Tell the Story"


Anonymous said...

The Churches of God have always, ALWAYS put the Old Testament in MUCH higher regard then the New.

What did they teach the kids in YES? Old Testament. Until Lesson 8.

What did they teach as their paramount doctrines? The Old Testament Laws. Well, minus the sacrifices.

How did the ministers punish the congregation? In the style of the Old Testament.

How did the Church handle eating? By the policies of the Old Testament.

And how did the Church handle tithing? of course! By the policies of the Old Testament.

How do some in the churches of God like to portray themselves? Of course! The minor prophets of the Old Testament.

When it comes to the NEW Testament, since they teach the NEW Covenant isn't here yet for the most part, they'll read the Gospels, take away the part where Jesus FINISHED all things concerning Him, skip the meaning of the Pauline books, ignore the New Testament qualifications for ministers, skip to Revelation, pick apart the church eras, and spend all their time in the Millenium and the World Tomorrow and on rulership and being "gods".

They pick apart the New Testament with pick and choose as much as they pick apart the old. Not only are they a backward flipping church, they're a frontward flipping church that lost half the puzzle pieces of the New testament, just as they lost the meaning of the old! There's too many puzzle pieces down the cracks!

Anonymous said...

I am sometime fascinated how those who should know better would post or agree heartily with the God of the Old Testament and compare it to Jesus. My thinking is that for believers, that Jesus was the YHWH of the OT. Even HWA with all his flaws taught us that. Methinks that instead of fault finding on this one, there could be some instruction with encouragement to model His life.

Head Usher said...

In all frankness, when I was a COG member, what made sense to me was that you didn't get into the "kingdom" for nothing. I believed that god had the right and perhaps even the obligation to expect something of you, not for salvation, of course, no, no, that's a free gift, but in order for you to be counted as an adopted child of god, although, of course, only children of god were eligible for salvation. At the time I was not ready to "call bullshit" on this doublespeak. I figured that if anyone else (such as Protestants) figured they could do nothing and still get everything (by flipping forward), they were wasting their time because they were going to find out at the resurrection that they had missed the boat. That, however, did not alleviate the anxiety that perhaps by constantly flipping backward, we were also missing the boat. I knew that godless people were better at doing what Jesus taught than we were.

The fact that you can flip around the bible and find a limited justification for anything made me realize that whatever the things were that god did expect of a christian were undefined. Then I realized it was precisely this lack of definition that created the potential for abuse. A minister could get you coming and going. Any and every act could be construed as one of moral turpitude. Even the most selfless and angelic gestures could be twisted into an acts of depravity. (Whether an act was right or wrong depended not upon the action, but upon the status of the person who did it.) But the bible itself supports a broad range of exactly this sort of abusive spin doctoring. That's about the time I concluded that if there was a god who really did expect something of mankind, he would have defined it! Otherwise, he had no right to expect anything! That's when I began to figure that someone in ancient times had found a way to turn a collection of dusty old scrolls into a shekel-making juggernaut.

Anonymous said...

well, if you want to learn the character of Jesus you have to go "back" to the OT scriptures...Jesus is the Lawgiver, and since man refused to live by His law, He came and suffered and died for us......but somehow, that has been twisted into meaning we don't have to obey the law any longer.....

lots of churches out there(maybe even most) are very uncomfortable with God's law, preferring their own jesus instead, since he allows them to live the life they choose for themselves....the real Jesus, however, requires something of His followers...

Byker Bob said...

Couple of miscellaneous comments, basically sharing some understandings picked up along the way. I believe the conduct for Christians IS clearly defined in the New Testament. The Sermon on the Mount, and the beatitudes have been described as being the basis of the whole New Covenant. A Christian is instructed later, by Paul, to abide in Christ (the vine), to "rest" from his own (former) works, and Christ living in him will produce good works, indicative of the fruits which Paul lists of the Holy Spirit. The Christian also receives gifts (talents) which are used to benefit the body of Christ (the church community).

HWA taught that Jesus was YHWH based on guesses and his own very human logic. While I do not believe that is true, conceptually it all boils down to the same thing, because Jesus said "I and the Father are one." The law of Moses was first given (Paul verified this in one of his speeches defending himself) at Sinai. It was a burden "our forefathers could not withstand", and was also said to have been given due to the hardness of their hearts. Mankind had demonstrated by that point in time that he could not live by the law behind the law, known as the royal law of love. This is the law Jesus kept perfectly during His human incarnation, not the legalism of the law of Moses.

I'd suggest that perhaps some of our friends from the splinters here might want to do some supplemental study, reading the wisdom of recognized mainstream pastors. Most of the people I knew in old school WCG had been Bible illiterates prior to absorbing the teaching of the Armstrongs, and did not realize that mainstream Christianity is well-defined, systematized, based upon and defendable by scripture. HWA roped them in because they did not know how to defend themselves against his seemingly superior knowledge of the Bible. Once in, he forbad his members from reading the teachings of other ministries, perhaps because he didn't want members asking the hard questions, or getting second opinions.

Within the past five years, I've found some of the mainstream teachers to be very helpful, and frankly very therapeutic and healing, but if you watch Christian television, be aware that there are also clowns and actors, so don't be put off by them, just use discernment. There are some good ones, too, you just have to find them. People mock Christians because of some of the clowns, but, hey, most of us are accustomed to being mocked anyway. It just comes with the territory of being Christian, and sometimes the mocking is even beneficial because we do slip sometimes and give flawed witness.

There is truly a better life, and no need to give up God
or Jesus. They're just a bit different from what we've been taught.


Anonymous said...

"Jesus died for our sins!!!!"
Dave Pack

Now send it in!


DennisCDiehl said...

anon said:

"My thinking is that for believers, that Jesus was the YHWH of the OT"

That's a construct looking backwards into the OT. It's another form of backward flipping.
Nothing in the OT had anything to do with Jesus. What seems like prophecy to us from Ps 22 to the Virgin Birth story and all the events in Jesus life were mined from the OT to tell the story of Jesus in the New.

The birth stories are mined whole cloth from Old Testament stories. It is why they seem so predictive. They were used to tell the story of things no one actually knew anything about.

Jesus is only the YHVH of the OT because of scripture mining. Just as Satan was not originally the Serpent in the Garden, who was actually the wise counselor of the goddess who the story also wanted to discredit, Jesus is not the foreseen topic in the OT. It only appears that way due to this very process of backward flipping scriptures in the OT to give Jesus of the NT meaning and a history.

Anonymous said...

HWA was a high school drop out who studied on his own the literature of the Church of God 7th Day and other groups. He couldn't pass a final exam for a freshman course in basic Bible or how to interpret the Bible. With his strong personality and gift of salesmanship he took young men like RCM under his ring and indoctrinated them at AC. He intellectually isolated others and used fear tactics to keep people in the church. For his top assistants he gave them beautiful homes, symbols of power in the form of offices, titles, etc. The old timers have invested too much into the CofGods to leave. They will die in the "faith."

Anonymous said...

Meh, I would say its more a commentary on the Bibles morals than fundies.