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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
"How did you fall so far, and if you do not believe in what Mr. Armstrong taught anymore why write about the splinters so much. What you are doing is dangerous what if you speak against someone who is really doing Gods work. Instead of causing confusion in people who may be searching for the truth why don't you fast for two or three days and ask God to get you back on the track and then read the bible more."
I don't consider that I have fallen so far as that implies an accident or a falling away from something one should have stayed on top of. I simply grew up to see the Sunday School version of the Bible and the "let's turn here and let's now turn here" approach to sermons and teaching spiritual truths is very flawed. I don't think I fell any differently than, say, Galileo, who found out the earth actually revolved around the sun contrary to the Church view of an earth centered solar system. The Church went on what APPEARED to be true. Galileo found out what ACTUALLY is true. The Bible is not what most think and much not written by those who you think wrote it. I dont' make up the perspectives and observations many critical and , yes, more liberal scholars have come to. It just takes reading them and considering them which is something I find most folk don't choose to do. It is uncomfortable and threatening to what feels good no matter if it is not actually so. Even as a pastor, I never considered myself "believing what Mr. Armstrong taught." I believed what I thought I saw in scripture which he may have pointed out where my Presbyterian background did not. I was 14 at the time and idealistic and gullible. I am no longer gullible at least. I had many "that's bullshit" moments in my mind listening to HWA, GTA, any number so sermons and of course Gerald Watershouse.
I appreciate your concern that you think I am in danger for speaking against "the Church" whatever that means to you. Life is dangerous and one only gets older if they are lucky. I think the fruit and flaws in teaching of WCG and the Splinters are obvious to those who know the topic well and have done their own homework. I lived through it endeavoring to keep myself apart from it but that was not possible. I'm not sure what you might mean by "God's Work." Which one? There are hundreds is not thousands to choose from. That is the nature of the Bible. One can put any possible combination of "God's Work" scriptures together as if the book was a seamless whole when it is not. There are multiple "one seemless truth" to be found. Some think "God's Work" is done in code to be unscrambled and others think it is a puzzle to be solved. Both those concepts make me feel a God is playing games with us. The stakes over getting it absolutely correct are very high. I would think a God would be more forthright with eternal death being the price one pays for not cracking the code or solving the puzzle.
The Worldwide Church of God and all the splinters are in the Jewish/Christian style and format of belief and can claim the Peter, James and Johns of the New Testament as their source of knowing. They cannot claim the Apostle Paul, who really did ditch the law and the Jewish Christian elements for more gnostic and gentile perspectives. WCG spent decades endeavoring to make James the Apple and Paul the Orange into the same fruit. It is not possible. The average pewster in Church would have no clue to this reality. They won't hear this from the minister either because he probably doesn't know it himself or if he did, would be wise enough to keep it to himself.
As to causing confusion in people, I only wish to cause knowing in people. Truth sets you free, remember? The confusion comes when one thought they understood something and then has to confront new or contradictory information that is readily available if one is really interested in truth. Most people are interested in feeling safe and having things all figured out as they just wait for it all to unfold as their pastor assures them it will. I miss that feeling myself but how can you keep them down on the farm once they have stepped outside the box and considered what very skilled and knowledgeable theologians know? Herbert W. Armstrong and few if any of the ministry in WCG or now in the splinters, especially those who take titles upon themselves and preach foolish things about themselves and their ideas about "God's work" understand the origins, politic, errancy issues and intent of the very book they skip and hope through weaving a sermon topic together that makes some kind of sense.
The average person in the splinters is not a critical thinker on all things Bible. They are listeners just as the men on Dave Pack's advisory board are "agreers." I know full well that most may have inner doubts, say, about Dave's view of himself or any number of topics, but they "agree" outwardly to preserve their idea of unity and perhaps even income an personal security. Dave says they all agree because they better all agree or else. I think he has made that perfectly clear in his "How to get back into God's Church as a minister and my good graces" confessional form for emasculated ministers.
I would like to think I point out ridiculous Church "leaders" and their very badly done ideas about themselves fairly well so others won't get taken in by it all. The vast majority of Christian Churches would never tolerate the kind of hubris and ridiculous dictatorship ministries we saw in WCG and see again in the splinters and slivers. It is a phenomenon to me and I have to wonder about just the kind of good folk who get trapped in it and why? They must believe that truth and theological ignorance and antics are one and the same and ok if it gets the job done.
It amazed me that ten sincere WCG Headquarters types did not walk into Joe Tkach's office, set his furniture out on the curb and told him to leave the building. One controls the many for what reason and how???
If I confuse someone theologically then I suspect they are seekers and having to face what they have been told with new information they did not possess when first they came to understand what the Bible is all about. Those who don't like the conflict new information brings to the surface simply ignore it. I did until I couldn't. I like truth too.
As to fasting for two or three days...been there, done that. To be honest with you, I never understood the point of fasting even as a minister. Going hungry for God made no real sense to me but it was something done in the Bible for various reasons and it was a church after all. But I wondered what kind of God of the entire universe thinks measely humans at best have to not eat to be even more humble and contrite? Am I trying to get God to feel sorry for hungry me? Is being hungry the proof of humility in humans? How about having the flu? How about losing everything or getting a staph infection? They work too. At times I thought fasting was to weaken the members so when they were told to give more, they did not have the physical strength to hold on to their money. :)
Any God that is real is not so petty. In the Ten Commandments, in the original form, YHVH says, "You shall not bring any other gods into my presence. For I the lord your God am a jealous God." A God jealous of other gods coming around is not a very big God. Israel was very polytheistic in the day no matter the impression given by the Priesthood in the text. There were many gods to contend with. YHVH simply did not want them brought around him due to his jealousy. Weird huh?
I can't claim any faith that I can put my finger on. In my experience, former faith always fell to facts that came along as I grew older and less willing to take what others said as truth. I followed the "don't believe me, believe the Bible" advice and came up finding the Bible itself has some serious problems and the prime players did not all believe the same thing about who and what Jesus was nor did they care for each other much and as Paul said, "I learned nothing from them." You'd think he could have learned something from the men (Peter, James, John) who are said to walked and talked with Jesus for 1 or 3 years depending on which Gospel you read.
If I had a nickle for every prayer I ever prayed asking God to "show me," "help me," "teach me", "encourage me" and generally "prove himself now herewith" I'd be rich. It always seemed a one way call to me or at least far too often it did. I can assume maybe that where I am today IS the answer to my prayers but it is not a comfortable place so be careful what you pray for.
I read the Bible more than you can possibly imagine...