Thursday, November 28, 2013

We MUST all speak the SAME thing! (and why that's insane)

How much mental, emotional and spiritual energy is spend by the various splinters of WCG , and back in the day, WCG itself, trying through whatever means possible to get everyone "on track", "on board", "of the same mind," "unified," and "all one army we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity"?
(I hate that song)

Way too much...

I Corinthians 1
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

This is just not the way life works when two or three are gathered together.  All speaking the same thing with no differences of opinion, view, experience, perspective or personal needs as their own life story unfolded is simply not possible nor desirable.  Differences or "divisions" is the stuff of life.  Like walking, which is merely a controlled crash, differences of thought are what makes progress and increases knowledge. Differences get us where we are going. In all my life I NEVER knew of a group of humans beings all "perfectly jointed together in the same mind and same judgment."  That is by definition a cult and a form of insanity. 

Every week as a pastor, I was suppose to be the glue that held the differences together. If I failed, it was said the church or "the people" were divided.  I was expecting everyone to all believe the same one thing and do it perfectly because, after all, that's what the scripture said. The above scripture is not a formula for unity, harmony and coherent belief.  It the formula for emotional, intellectual and spiritual disaster in the lives of those who believe that is the goal.  It may be a group goal but rest assured, it is the singular goal of the man in charge who wants everyone else to see, hear, touch, taste and smell the world as he does.  How you do is wrong, inappropriate , divisive  and why "disfellowshipping" or "dis-membering" was invented by clergy in the day.

What the Apostle Paul meant was..."

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (and mine because Christ won't be correcting me on this one) that ye all speak the same thing, (which I believe and teach you) and that there be no divisions among you; (because that won't achieve my goals for you and church growth)but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (as defined and approved of by me so I can be right and get what I need and want from you.)

I know I pick on Paul a lot, but the boy deserves it at times.  It was Paul who threw a hissy fit and tantrum when people didn't all believe or speak the same things he came up with...

Galatians 1:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (That other Gospel was the Jewish Christian view held by Peter, James and John)
Which is not another; (ok, it's not all that different but it's twisted from mine) but there be some that trouble you, (Jewish Christians like you know who) and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, (I) or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we (I) have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Even though I am also known for saying, when cursed we bless-I Cor. 4:12)
As we (I) said before, so say I (See I told you it was me telling you),  now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I  now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Umm..yes you do and didn't you say somewhere...

I Corinthians 9:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

I recall somewhere it warns us that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  The above is a lot of double minded thinking and one can NEVER know what a man actually believes personally with this kind of behavior as a way to "win others to Christ."

So truth for Paul depended when trying to get followers..  When talking to the church he demanded compliance of thought and sameness of belief.  When to those not of the church he was more swoozy, duplicitous and double minded in his approach.  We see that in Acts where Paul was told to apply the Acts 15 judgments to the Church , and he didn't really and to show he wasn't really making light of the law of Moses , when he did.  The reality of James, Peter and John concerning Jesus was not the same reality as that of Paul.  

We saw that in Herbert Armstrong.  HWA could get livid with the church and quote Paul's "all speak the same thing," very loud.  He meant, as did Paul, my same thing.  Outside the Church, HWA was swoozy with the public and he played the "all things to all men" game , which accomplished precisely nothing.  The "strong hand from someplace" approach was silly and cowardly, if you really believed your own in church rhetoric.  Quest magazine no more preached the Gospel of whoever than the Farmer's Almanac and "going to all the world as a witness before the end would come," in the form of short talks, paid for with nothing less than bribes and Steuben gifts was asinine and the source of much in Church resentment.  It was however HWA's reality and he wanted everyone else to share it with him.  It was the beginning of his undoing.  Dave Pack will accomplish exactly the same thing in time with exactly the same results and final judgment on his ministry, falsely so called. 

Back to Galatians and Paul's reality.

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Paul was no team player for sure. Paul was for Paul and it is obvious in the texts. Paul's reality was that everyone believe as he did and that included Peter, James and John. You can't read Galatians 1 and 2 and think that all the Apostles all believed, thought and taught the same things.  They did not.  The Book of James is a rebuttal to Paul's views in Romans.  Paul made it very very clear how he felt about Peter, James and John and it wasn't much.  All Paul wanted was their approval to give him credibility amongst those that did count Peter, James and John as more than reputed pillars or men who "seemed to be somewhat."  The Paul of the Damascus Road story in Acts is NOT the Paul of his own writings in Galatians.  In Galatians Paul was called from his mothers womb and never went to Jerusalem when blinded to get healed and see things their way as in Acts.  Acts said he went right to the leaders and Paul says he did not. He says he went to Arabia for whatever reason immediately and only to the boys in Jerusalem later when he had no choice. 

Galatians 2

But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 

Mr. All Speak the same thing, is not interested in what Peter, James and John in Jerusalem have to say on anything.  He made that clear in the differences between what he said he'd do in Acts 15 and what he actually taught and did in I Corinthians when he got back home.  How many times have I seen that kind of all speak the same thing!  "Added NOTHING to me"?  Sounds like a Dave Pack who never listened to anyone that didn't already agree with him and if you don't like it, get out. 

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, (seemed?) perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Aside:  but shortly after this and later in Galatians, Paul withstood Peter and declared his views invalid and weaker than his.  Paul come lately confronted Peter of Disciple fame and declared himself the winner.  Personally I think what Peter found at Paul's table was not unclean foods but rather meat offered to idols which Paul had agreed not to do in Acts 15 but clearly scoffed at the judgment in I Corinthians 8-10.  Peter caught Paul not all speaking the same thing and being in harmony with the Jerusalem Apostles. 

It is impossible to all believe, speak and think the same thing.  It isn't even healthy but groups tend to demand sameness of thought, purpose and intent. I do not dislike Dave Pack because of what he teaches about baptism, the Kingdom of God, life, death, resurrections and the world to come.  I contest the methods and the ego centric presentation along with the bullying of others to do everything from "pull big triggers" to "and woman, you have no say."   People should resent his tone and personality along demanding everyone believe, view, perceive and explain the world through his eyes and filters only.  I resent the control and compliance but that's probably been my nature since I was a kid.  It leads to very bad endings when talking about religious compliance and sameness of thought.  The same is so for the Gerald Flurrys and Ron Weinlands of ministry.  I have far less an issue with a Rod Meredith of LCG or those in the United Church of God.  They aren't so inclined and at least seem to be able to tolerate more than the one man show of a Dave Pack.  

On bigger topics such as that of evolution, cosmology and wonder of it all, it doesn't matter what one believes because that is directly related to how much one has even bothered to consider such things.  If one is held in place, such as by church or a literalist view of the Bible, then so be it.  The mind will only allow so much information in before it panics and has to defend the wall.  That's ok. I do understand that very well.  We all care and don't care about what others think , say or do.  We ultimately only care about what we think, say and do.  And that's ok too.  

But the idea that one man can scream compliance of thought, sameness of heart, belief all the same and the goals and methods of the one, who thinks he knows the mind of God perfectly, is unrealistic and insane.  Getting disfellowshipped, as I said, is all the church could come up with in the New Testament and turned over to Satan for destruction of the flesh..blah blah, which shows just how unrealistic church thinking can be. 

As I noted, I always disliked this hymn, even as a child, because of it's attitude towards truth and others.  It always sounded like "kill em all and let God sort them out if they get in our way," to me.   It became even worse a hymn when sung throughout most of my time with WCG. Written originally for children to sing as they marched in support between each others villages and towns on Whit-Monday (as opposed to "Black Friday" I suppose), it certainly is not a formula for allowing others to think for themselves. There were times at the feast I sang it with tears in my eyes,but I'm an emotional kind of guy depending. Some particularly embarassing verses when sung in the COGs are...

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

(Everything was always a battle and confrontation.  Sadly and of course, we in the Living Church of God or whatever the new one is, don't believe in crosses.)

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing

So we go full circle. This admonition and demand directed towards the church never was so in history.  There never was "The One True Church."  From inception, the Church was divided because it consited of human beings, too many of which were not willing to all speak the same thing.  They only wanted  others to all speak their same thing and be perfectly joined to their mindset and views .  This was a Paul in the New Testament, who never met any living breathing Jesus and those splinter guys today who also never did. 

I Corinthians 1
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

                                                                   Join our happy throng!

The goal is to get everyone to join our happy throng!  That "happy"thing is a dead giveaway that something is wrong or about to go wrong. It is impossible to all speak the same thing and have no divisions of thought.  That's creepy.  Growing in grace and knowledge, as encouraged elsewhere, is IMPOSSIBLE in the same mind, same judgment , same views, same opinion and same belief environment.  It's creepy, dangerous and an explosion waiting to go off.   And it's intellectually dishonest to say the least. 


Byker Bob said...

Some behavioral scientists have pointed out that although humans have more in common with one another than they do not, there are so many factors involving genetics, the background from which we have come, the ways in which we process input via the five senses, our individual emotional makeup and handling of stress, and how we filter actions that there are probably as few as 200 people on the face of the earth with whom each of us would find nearly complete compatibility. While it is possible, for a while, to suppress certain inner drives to work with one another for the promotion of common goals, that suppression does not transform or reprogram what is in us at core level.

This is precisely why any guru, psychologist or psychiatrist, or authoritarian minister who promotes or insists on unity of thought is doomed to fail. The best any of us can aspire to in this life is a personal relationship with God, leading to being blessed with perfection in the afterlife. Perfect knowledge plus a disconnect from the ways in which we are driven to react by human emotion would create a high level of unity, no doubt about that.

In Armstrongism, it appeared from a member's viewpoint that the local pastor or minister was responsible to "dictate", via sermons, Bible Study, and other church activity, the unity of thinking which was supposed to prevail in the congregation. Minister's job to teach; member's job to learn it, live it, love it. HWA filled the role of dictator of unity for the ministry. Others more knowledgeable than myself have pointed out that dissent and individual thinking are actually encouraged, and considered God-given in Jewish synagogue communities. The view of the human condition is much better recognized in the Jewish faith. The church is there for guidance and to set the basic tone, not to produce automatons.

In many ways, like Dennis and others, I believe my quality of life would have been much better had I never been exposed to Armstrongism. However, I can also see the value of my experiences in that Armstongism provided a strong motivation to learn and repair all of the things that were so harmful and wrong about it, and the many bad fruits and the non-Christian behavior it produced in my life. And, I say that as one who, mercifully, had a shorter exposure than others. It was bad enough living from age 9 to 27 under it, and walking away following the disappointment of 1975. Those who were born in it, or spent 30, 40, or 50 years in it indubitably suffered much more than I.


Anonymous said...

Unity is oftentimes mistaken for uniformity. Ray Bradbury's book, later made into a movie, Fahrenheit451, "We must all think alike, Montag." WCG was not a utopia, but a dystopia, more like Orwell's 1984 than "The World Tomorrow."

Head Usher said...

In my current estimation, "The World Tomorrow" IS an Orwellian dystopia.

Corky said...

The difference between Paul and Cephus, James and John can be likened to the difference between the proto-orthodox (think Tertullian) and the docetist (think Simon of Samaria and Marcion).

On the one hand there was the proto-orthodox flesh and blood Jesus and on the other hand a vision of the cosmic Christ.

There literally can be no "perfect" man, therefore, the perfect, flesh and blood Jesus turned slowly into God in disguise.

DennisCDiehl said...

Thank you for your comments. Lovely day having TG dinner with those who had no place to be or family in the area. Watched a bit of football spent some time with an elderly person alone at home for the holiday. First TG in 63 years without mom and dad, so I lit two candles and said thank you for them.

Topic aside, hope you all had a nice day and aren't prone to join the chaos tomorrow! WWJB
(What would Jesus buy?) :)

Retired Prof said...

Probably Jesus would not buy what I am going to buy: another herd control antlerless deer permit. At two dollars, that's about the extent of my Black Friday splurge.

HWA was fond of thundering GOVERNMENT IS FROM THE TOP DOWN! That statement alarmed me even before I went to Ambassador. I couldn't just toss away the democratic ideals taught by school and family.

In my job as a professor, I saw the value of the democratic process. The year before I arrived, the chairman of my department had died. Everybody was so sick of being bullied around that the members rewrote the department handbook so that decisions were made by committees, and the chairman's job was to carry them out (insofar as they did not conflict with general university policy.)

The committee work load was heavy, but it meant that nobody could get by with shafting anybody, because before long the shafter would be off the committee, and the shaftee might get elected. As a result, our workloads stayed pretty much in balance. Any time one member seemed to be trying to gain turf, everybody else would remind the person we were there to educate students, not build little empires.

In this environment, if a meeting was planned and I could not make up my mind about an item on the agenda ahead of time, I relaxed and thought, "Well, after my colleagues discuss the issue I will know how to vote." I nearly always did. Not that we always got it right collectively, but we never went badly off the rails. Anyone who said anything even hinting at Pack's megalomaniacal pronouncements would have been laughed out of the room.

I must admit that this system does not work well in a group much larger than ours, about forty members. I was a member of the University Senate (approximately a hundred) for four years and met nothing but frustration. The experience illustrated the truth of what Winston Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

Byker Bob said...

Dealing with situations that arise in Academia amongst those presumably operating in "adult" mode must have been refreshing as compared to what passed for functionality amongst WCG types and at the Ambassador Colleges.

To be sure, there were some functional ones, persons with natural abilities and strong intellect. However, today, it seems that many of those who attempt to rise to the defense of HWA/WCG lack the credible skills or apparent mental stability to be able to accomplish this effectively. Even their "leaders".

As an example, an individual who uses at least two different names in composing his posts asked in several short entries on blogs if readers were concerned with the "obvious" rise of Germany into prominence in the EU. In the course of discussion, he presented Hislop as if that author were even credible considering what is known today. We refuted the assertions of this barely understandable poster, and he has now made it his life's mission to tour the anti-ACOG blogs accusing me of being an apologist for WWII Nazis on whatever blogs still accept his posts. He has been asked to provide links to defend his accusations and cannot do this, so is now accusing one prominent blogmeister of having wiped my "Nazi apologies".

I don't know where these people come from. I do know that I've occasionally lambasted people on the fringes, or with fringe ideas, such as our drive-by anonymous holocaust denier. And we've seen posts and exchanges in the past from individuals one could only classify as being barely functional. Armstrongism does funny (not in a ha ha sense) things to people. It has locked some into a mental position where they are totally dependent on a so-called leader for their own functionality. How do such people find their healing?