Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dennis Tries to Muse...

Does God Have to Try?

The concept of a Deity that "tries'" to do things either in the Church or in the world and the affairs of men is a common thread in many Church of God and fundamentalist circles.   Dr. Bob Thiel and Roderick C Meredith, in their respective writings, often end with the concept that "God is trying to get the attention of mankind."   This "trying" is usually given it's best shots by using meteorological disasters, financial calamity, disease or the occasional fireball in the sky.  

God?  Is that you?

If  it snows too much, "God is trying to get our attention."  If it rains to much.  "God is "trying" to get our attention.  If there is too much heat, whatever too much means in a places that heat up naturally depending, ditto.  If an individual gets sick, even if they are old, and "unconverted", "God is trying to get your attention." I am quite sure that in local communities of believers, when the reprobate do not attend church and have some misfortune on a Sabbath or Sunday , someone is telling them or at least thinking it, "God is trying to get your attention."  

How one would distinguish between a Godly try and just circumstances, time, chance and luck of the draw, I have personally no clue.  At what point in the Saffir-Simpson Scale, used to label the intensity of hurricanes, does it change over from merely weather to God sent trying?   Are category 1-3 storms merely weather and 4-5 the absolute truth that now God is trying to get our attention?   I doubt it.  Low pressure systems come in small, medium and large.  It is just that simple, to me.  Nothing out of the ordinary for conditions at times on the planet.  Are dust storms, due to temperature differentials between mountains and dry dusty deserts a form of Godly trying?  I have never seen that tried in South Carolina.  Here in South Carolina, radio ministers assure us that it is through hurricanes on the coast and heat, with the occasional winter ice storm that God is trying to get our attention here.

I suspect that those in the Bible who thought that was God knocking just didn't understand natural phenomenon.  Is that so difficult to accept?

Which brings up another point.   Is God restricted to seasonal and geographical trying?  Does HE/SHE wait till Spring to try and get the attention of those living in the mid-West tornado alley?  Does God bowl there only in the Spring when the highs and lows, warm ups and leftover cold of winter can work it's heavenly  magic on the plains?  Once in a great while we get a random tornado watch or warning here in South Carolina.  Are those times when God is branching out and trying to get our attention using Midwestern tactics?   Why does it seem that God can only try to get at humans seasonally and with the attention getters common to an area anyway?  I assume people build tornado shelters not because they are afraid God might take another run at trying, but because they know the temperament of the area in which they live.  Ditto coastal regions and countries prone to the heat or cold.  

Could you not just talk with me instead of this?

I do Oncology Massage on a volunteer basis at the  Bon Secours Saint Francis Infusion Center here in town.  These are folks who site for four or five hours as they are infused with some of the most powerful drugs humans have come up with to fight cancer.  Is God trying to tell them something.  Of course one in such a state is going through much introspection about their lives, the reasons they might have cancer or what may or may not be the outcome.  I have massaged the feet of some who died shortly after.  (No...I did nt cause them die as you're no doubt thinking!) Many tell me they have what their mom had or that dad died of the same thing.  Is it genetic or is God using their genetics to "try to tell them something."  The trying is usually meant to get them to repent , get back in some one's church and be saved so they can go to heaven or be in the Wonderful World Tomorrow depending.  Would Bob Thiel think God was trying to get the attention of the Filipinos if they did get some theological message from their misery after a typhoon and returned to Catholicism?  I think not...  In that case, I suspect he'd feel the storm was of satanic origins to deceive them into going to the wrong church.  Now it is Satan we finding trying. I suspect that when Bob or others say publicly that they are "praying for them" in their misery, he also prays the three or four in the country who know about his minuscule church will get in touch and join since God was trying to get their attention to seek out Dr. Bob.  

That ought to convince them!

In the Old Testament, it seems that God was always trying to get the attention of the chosen people. I'd think that if plagues , exactly ten, occurred before my eyes in such miraculous ways, waters parted for me to walk through and pillars of cloud and fire literally lead the way, shoes and clothes did not rot in the waste howling wilderness and 2-3 million of us could roam the dessert, feed thousands of cattle, have plenty of water with bread and meat sent in such abundance from heaven we puked our guts out sick of it all,  I'd not be so skeptical and unbelieving.  Forty years is a long time for such things and yet , it came to not much.  Virtually none of those folk got to where they were promised to go.  I guess God did not try hard enough to convince them.  I do remember as a child in Sunday School wondering why God lured them with promises of deliverance into the desert and then said "you ain't going to make it."  Seemed a weird way to inspire anyone and more a case of never trusting what YHVH said again in their lives. Their kids returned to idol worship in the Promised Land and YHVH was forever trying to get their attention evidently unsuccessfully again.

He you peckerwood!  Knock it off!

If I built a boat and miraculously kept a remnant of every animal on earth at the time safe and not eating each other on board for a year while all of humanity and life drown beneath the keel, I'd be impressed enough by that.  I'd be very easily convinced as two or seven pairs, depending,  of every creature made their way to the Middle East.  Polar bears and penguins, kangaroo and platypus,  Mammoth and Giant Sloth.  Especially if I actually heard, and all around me heard God's literal voice giving out building plans and these creatures not stalking each other until I could get them into their stalls.  Just shoveling animal poop overboard successfully without being overwhelmed in a seal ship by ammonia,  for a year, would have been enough of a try to get my attention.  However, I get suspect when only the leader hears God's voice and everyone else just has to believe what the voice told them.  

Life is life and it is full of joy, sorrow, dis-ease , weather and circumstances that are going to occur no matter what.  Obviously my own view is that no real Deity has to "try" to do anything.  If a God wants to save people either literally or spiritually, all He or She has to do is show up and explain the program.  No middle men.  No "and yes brethren, I am an Apostle" or "God told me.." to interject doubt.  "Just have faith" and "Trust me" are probably two of them hideous concepts ever pushed on to humans by others who wish to manipulate and control.  Faith is something that , in my experience, fails when the facts present themselves somewhere down the road.  Facts trump faith eventually.  It is why I deeply believe in...


"Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion. Follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."
  --  Thomas Henry Huxley

I think we would have to admit that if all the trying to get humans to repent, attend, give, show up, believe, stop believing, do, don't do, accept, reject, love each other, hate the enemy, get saved, born again, begotten, into heaven, into the resurrection (preferably the first one), avoid hell, stop thinking they can tread water in the lake of fire and every other think a Deity may or may not want humans to be or do, it is a miserable failure.   If what God has to tell us all is so absolutely important for all ETERNITY and for our good , awesome and amazing , but must absolutely be believed and practiced in the exact right ways or else, things aren't going so well.  If the is ONE TRUE CHURCH and it's Dave Pack  (there isn't and it isn't) are we not of all men most miserable?  Even Protestant types are smart enough to come up with the vagaries of the Community of Believers to answer that question.  Let God sort them out. 

Fools, can I use that term?, maybe the foolish is better, such as a James Malm, (whoever he is) who stresses over every detail of proper worship and practice, in HIS view,  E.W King or a Dr. Bob Thiel, (Who they are makes no difference to me, I learned NOTHING from them-Paul/Galatians 2), who seem to have a need to correctly see into the future so they can say stuff like, "as I predicted", or "as I said in an article entitled...", or the Dave Pack, Ron Weinlands and Gerald Flurry types who simply need to be in charge, noticed and pin all sorts of Apostolic medals and titles upon their chests, are a dime a dozen in this world.  Are these God's best attempt at "trying to get our attention"?  If so, there aren't going to be many human being rushing to get into the Kingdom of God any time soon.

I thought it was a code...

No God in reality has to try to do anything.  In hind site after years of pastoring, proof texting and flipping through the Bible in sermons and studies unlocking the code or solving the puzzle as some like to view it, it would have been better and still would be that a real God would not rely so heavily on the concept of "inspiration of men."  It would be nice if there were no Holy Books with questionable backgrounds and origins to divide and not unite the vast majority of humans into us and them, me and you, chosen and unchosen, called and uncalled, true and false, special and not special, Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, elders, deacons, helpers and single people who should always bring a watermelon to the church picnic. It doesn't work well.  

The Bible tells us that the Deity's ultimate goal is that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the "truth", whatever that may be.  I am wary personally of men who claim t speak for the Deity and have "the truth" to deliver to you.  Paul's truth came from his visions and theophanies which , of course, others did not have .  He heard voices and saw things , so he said, that were beyond description because he had gone to the third heaven.  He, as a man, a very special man, heard and saw things no man should hear or see. Unfortunately, he said he couldn't say any more about it.  How convenient.  Was that God trying to inspire us or was that Paul trying to seem special to himself and them?  Was he lying?  That's not a good "try" and serves no real purpose in scripture save to make Paul seem special in my view.  Dave Pack is predicting literal voices coming to him and "his people" in the future to prove something or other.  I know he'll be lying about it all. He'll either be slipping over into schizophrenia or if that's another God Try, I won't be interested at all.  

I don't know the answer to how humans could absolutely be convinced that the real truth of a real God is forthcoming without hearing and seeing it from the horses mouth so to speak.  Middlemen in religion muddy the waters.  Ten thousand Christian denominations, sects, cults, splits, splinters, schisms and slivers are not the good fruits of a God trying to get all men to come to the knowledge of the "truth", make it into whatever eternity has to offer for our GOOD and not cooking briefly or forever in some fire pit.  Add to that all the other world religions that are NEVER going to see the light of other folks religions, and trying just doesn't work very well.
Every COG and one man show we witness in the comedy production produced by the Wild World of God CAN'T be the best "try" on the planet.  

I know some will say that we only see in part now, but which part?  Are these parts true or just fake parts and knock offs?  If one is not qualified, chosen or part of the Royal Priesthood, which all sounds very serious, when we see it fully , will it matter by then?  "You had your chance" as the Deity reminded Dives of Lazarus fame.  I never quite understood why "they would not believe though one returned from the dead," was not an option.  I would if I knew the person, knew how they died and how long  ago, and then they showed up to speak to me about where they had been.  Maybe it's just me. 

Finally, the reason I am suspect of Deitific Trying is because it opens the big door of humans launching their own endeavors in the name of the Trying God to get you to see things their way, which of course are God's ways, even if they are not really God's ways.  It is a formula for disaster and the fruit of it is all around us.  Truth should not produce so much falsehood, war, hate and division on the planet.  

I know we have all kinds of reasonings about why it just seems that God is trying and not to successfully.  Humans are vain, stubborn, rebellious, deceitful, desperately wicked, lost, blind, deaf, dumb and with hardened hearts.  God does try hard but the truth ends up on hard ground, weedy ground, infertile ground and in the rocks where it can't grow. Only the few really get it when God endeavors to try. The rest will get it in the Second Resurrection or they will really get it in the Third.  That's when we get to say "I didn't know..."  and God gets to say, "Well, now you do."

What do you think?  Does God have to try to get our attention?  Does that sound very omniscient, omnipotent , omnipresent and om the mark?  Aside from blowing off the fruits of middlemen speaking for God and that it will all work out when "we see God face to face," at some nebulous time in the future, is this any Deity's best effort to know the truth that is supposed to make us free I assume in this life which seems the only real one we have?

I sometimes get asked or rebuked over, "Why are you trying to destroy people's faith?"  It's an odd reaction to me because I suppose I think everyone loves to seek.  I forget that in the Churches of God and fundamentalism, they have all "found it" and to not see it or believe what they found is true makes some folk react with glittering generalities about the mind, thoughts and motives of others.  Being challenged in beliefs is risky business because our beliefs are what keeps us explaining our own questions in life to ourselves successfully. The ultimate reason we are religious to begin with is our incredible fear and knowledge that we will die.  You know, "After Death-Then What?" Challenge a belief and you get an arguement and defensiveness along with childish responses. Beliefs, however are merely moments of partial truth along the way to be discarded when better perspectives come along.  Even the Bible calls it The Present Truth, which is a far better concept than The Plain Truth.  Beliefs are not final truths of anything.  So should you need to know my inner perspective on the journey all of are on in life, here it is.  This truly how I see my world and the perspective in which I 'try' to right the inaccuracies of my own youth when I thought I knew the truth of all things and nothing but the truth.  
...otherwise all bets are off  :)


Sweetblood777 said...

I received this message today. Make your own judgement.

Ken Murray(UCG ELDER): Here's an incredible first hand experience sent to me from an FB friend of fellow brethren in the Living Church of God in the Philippines: "Here is a friend's FB post about a family in LCG Tacloban and their miraculous deliverance. So inspiring!

Living Church of God

We have just received an email from one of our brethren in the Philippines regarding some of our members in the Tacloban area. They refused to go to an evacuation center, which turned out to be the right decision. The evacuation center that they would have been assigned to suffered much damage and apparently all who were in it died in the flooding due to the huge storm surge. The family of 15 had prepared enough food, water and other supplies in advance of the storm to get them through a week, and went up to the second floor of their home as the storm approached. They also took in 7 of their neighbors who needed shelter. As the typhoon approached, they prayed fervently for God's protection. As the storm came through they continued to pray and sing songs of praise and worship to God. After the typhoon had passed they went outside and saw that their two story home was the only house still standing in their neighborhood. As a further testimony to God's protection, they realized that not only was their home still standing, but only one small section of their roof was damaged in spite of the ferocious winds that were blowing through the storm. They all gave thanks to God for His protection in their time of need.

God is GREAT, and his protection of those who love Him is sure!

DennisCDiehl said...

I do judge it for myself. It may be true and it may be some of the typical "God saved people in my church" and not yours stuff that comes out of calamity. You'll hear a lot of stories like this and it won't all be connected to the God saves his people concept only in the COG's

By the way, I have buried lots of kids of good WCG families where God was quite a respector of persons and didn't love his members as himself. When God's son died, he got him back better than ever three days later. That doesn't tend to happen in the mortal realm.

I am sure every person who survived, Catholic, Jew, SDA, JW and Presbyterian could weave a tale of survival that credits God, who is evidently both not a respector of persons and a respecter of persons , for their survival. Tales will be told in all churches. How the unbelieving survive is anyone's guess.

Stay tuned for PCG, RCG, COG, PCG, RCC, and every other COG to claim a survivor showing where God works...with them. It is cheap religion at it's worse.

Somewhere it is written:

"My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others? For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, 'You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor'—well, doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?...

"Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord's royal command found in the Scriptures: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Unlike Dave Pack's view, one's neighbor lives next door and is not just a true neighbor in the Church of God no matter where they live.

I also recall a rebuke from Jesus when the rather ignorant disciples wished to call fire down on those that did not believe Jesus words at that time. Jesus was not in the mood to make a distinction between the respectful and unrespectful types. He said no.

Of course, in devasting tragedy the righteous all look for signs of God's favoritism and special respect. It 'Proves" the person is on the right track and in the right Church. What of those members who died? Is it like the Kentucky pastor I knew who foolishly got himself rattle snake bite showing his faith. I guess he had none and deserved his fate. Or was he just foolish. How many foolish COG types stayed put and died? We'll see.

Do you think they were any worse sinners than those upon whom the tower of Siloam fell? I tell you no.." Where did I read that?

God evidently is indeed a respector of persons and personally does not love his neighbor as himself in such cases.

There needs to be a disclaimer on those scriptures that say, "unless they are not in the church."

It's a silly and primitive way of comforting oneself to prove certain small minded people are the chosen and true certain small minded people.

This approach to proving something is discrediting the negative and emphacising the positive. I'm glad they survived. Sounds like they took proper precautions and did the best they could. Many others did as well. Some just were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I suppose the true Christians in the true COG's that may have died or are missing just didn't try hard enough to be good.

While I am glad these folk had the wisdom, luck and foresight to prepare ahead, so did man others. Some lived and some died.

At least in my judgment

DennisCDiehl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DennisCDiehl said...

PS If God was trying to get the Filipino's attention He forgot that when you are starving to death and beyond thirsty, willing to do anything to survive and save your children if possible, before and if help arrives in time, reading booklets, watching Bob Thiel wave his hands or Dave Pack sound so so serious about it all does not work.

If anything there will be millions who wondered where was a loving God in all this mess?

Could He not have tried to push the storm off on the Chinese pagans?

Anonymous said...

OMG! Someone please kick Ken Murray (UCG ELDER) in the balls, PRONTO!

Anonymous said...

"It is cheap religion at it's worst."

It certainly is!

Anonymous said...

I guess Murray thinks it is ok that all the neighbors of this UCG member lost their homes and many died because God thought these UCGers were incredibly special. Give me a break!

Michael said...

Good post, Dennis.

Most of what you covered in the post essentially sums up one of the main reasons why I left the WCG (religion, that is) back in the 80s.
The idea of this bungling Cosmic Blesser and Curser, with his complex plan and communicating through hints and clues and all, it just got to seem so ridiculous:::

Humans who believe in an omnipotent/loving "God" (or Gods), and are also aware of bad things taking their course, inevitably find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of having to place limits on that god.
Somehow, one is going to have to dream up shackles of some kind that limits the free movement of one's loving God. The shackles may be conditions such as "Humans must have free will", or "God cannot create character by fiat", "God has consigned the world to Satan", or "God cannot allow sin to pass without a punishment". Or "God is desperately trying to save us if we will only respond". So hard to be a simple omnipotent God isn't it? So many monkey wrenches and obstacles in the way.
God wasn't counting on all that when he signed up for the job of "Omnipotent All-Loving Creator", I guess. :-)

Corky said...

God doesn't reveal himself or "the truth" because it would interfere with your "free will", Dennis.

At least that's the way the Christian apologists explain it away.

Of course, you can't exercise your "free will" unless you KNOW what the choices are. In other words, "free will" is just another circular argument for which the whole Christian religion is famous and leaves you entirely dependent upon what some man tells you (Acts 8:31) (Rom. 10:14).

it appears that God's existence also depends upon men to declare it so. Men who actually are pretending to know things they don't know.

Byker Bob said...

Dennis, the thought patterns you enumerated and described are a product of formulaic religion. That was one hefty list of cliches, and indicative of their binary thought processes. I don't believe that a person with a personal relationship with God would necessarily deduce most of them. It's more like forced group think.

When I was a non-believer, if a bad card was dealt my way, I'd just deal with it as a challenge or problem that needed to be solved. I also considered it to be acceptable to be pissed off and to cuss and swear a lot while handling particularly difficult problems. When God led me back to faith, because I then perceived Him as being in control of all the circumstances in my life, I found myself holding Him accountable when things did not go as I thought they ought to. Worse, there are certain pastors who teach that God will deliberately break you of being self-sufficient, if that is your pattern as opposed to trusting Him.

One would certainly imagine that all manner of bad would happen to a prodigal. That would be the person whose attention God would really be trying to get. I did many very dangerous things while I was a prodigal. But, in retrospect, it almost seems as if I had protection through that period in my life, as my "luck" was way ahead of the curve. Death was imminent on several occasions. To appreciate the impact of that, it would need to be a first person experience, not second or third.

What I've come to realize is that things go wrong when people use their free will to do wrong. Sometimes the results will be predictable, while in other cases they are completely counterintuitive. Sometimes another right or wrong will occur to lessen the impact of the original wrong. If God uses people to do His work, then human error and/or blatant fakery are always possibilities.

In Armstrongism, and similar cults, the pervasive pattern is that fear motivation is the way members get "called". If a person believes he or she were called through fear (like a British-Israel apocalypse?) then any time a fear producing incident occurs, that person is going to see it as being God trying to get some other folks' attention. I think these people are missing the love boat. They would never imagine that God would call one of His children in a loving manner. If John 3:16 has accurately survived translation from Aramaic to Greek to English, love would appear to be the prevailing ingredient of God's character.

My world view as of this point is that any incident, be it good or bad, is thought provoking. One person will react in one way, while another might react to the same incident completely differently. Hopefully, you would want to analyze and react in such a way as to produce positive results in your life and that of others. As for these catastrophic events such as typhoons, it would be a heck of a thing for the ACOGs if God were looking for some sort of compassionate outpouring from those with a capacity to be of help, rather than trying to direct the afflicted ones' attention to Armstrongism, wouldn't it?


Anonymous said...

Odd comments from Dennis, considering he and his family were beneficiaries of real, according to Hoyle miracle: nose to nose with another vehicle in the Shenadoah valley and other vehicle disappears... how does he explain that episode?

Head Usher said...

"Finally, the reason I am suspect of Deitific Trying is because it opens the big door of humans launching their own endeavors in the name of the Trying God to get you to see things their way, which of course are God's ways, even if they are not really God's ways. It is a formula for disaster and the fruit of it is all around us. Truth should not produce so much falsehood, war, hate and division on the planet."

Well said, Dennis. The whole line of thinking makes their god out to be like all the other pagan gods, i.e. pathetic, weak, and ineffectual.

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
Odd comments from Dennis, considering he and his family were beneficiaries of real, according to Hoyle miracle: nose to nose with another vehicle in the Shenadoah valley and other vehicle disappears... how does he explain that episode?"

I can't explain it. That doesn't mean there was not an explanation I missed.

I'd like to think that a Deity spared us to keep on doing the work as then perceived or to keep on ministering. However, now I understand it was to preserve me to become a massaget therapist is all I can tell. :)

I think God was telling me to be mor careful driving on 25 through the Cumberland Gap in Middlesboro Kentucky on a saturday night where most of the teens are drunk and driving.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I got real lucky with a disappearing car one time, too!
I came around a blind corner on the interstate only to be confronted by a chain wreck which had already happened moments before. The car directly in front of me locked it up, and I followed suit. He came to a complete stop just short of the wreck. Having the bed of my truck full of graphic equipment from a show increased my stopping distance, and I ran into his back bumper. Fortunately, I did not drive him into the existing wreck, or I would have been responsible for the entire melee. After a few moments, and having surveyed the situation, the driver and passenger got back into their car, fired it up, and disappeared.

I had apparently rear-ended some illegal aliens who were fearful of deportation. It was less of a hassle to absorb the loss from the rear end damage than to be sent back to sunny Mexico.


Anonymous said...

And what if these Filipino UCGers decided to go to the evac center & chose to pray for God's protection for all who were there? Perhaps He would've performed an even greater miracle & spared all these people! They would've even seen their "good work" in praying for others welfare & I'm sure it would've led to others praising God.
The way it happened though I guess they have good reason to thank God & still I'm sure some will hopefully take a good hard look at their own spiritual condition. But sadly so many lost their lives...perhaps in God's mercy He chose to take so many of these decent Filipino people (of whom a lot I've met are IMO "salt of the earth" types!) and the good book does say that the righteous are taken
away from the evil that is to come...(Is 57:1).

Btw a word re Murray I found him quite a likable character--very funny guy! Of course you know what they say about quick witted people & comedians? They actually suffer depression, which is prob reason why they are so humorous ie they can see life in a more realistic & honest light than most in making their astute observations of the world...