Thursday, January 9, 2014

NOW THAT WE'RE IN CHARGE.... NO MORE DISSENT!






NOW THAT WE'RE IN CHARGE.... NO MORE DISSENT!

As Dave Pack is busy recuperating from the inexplicable failure of all COG splinter groups to meekly coalesce under him last fall, the current story of the day seems to be the meltdown of another group of another Dave, i.e. David Hulme.

It's an interesting exercise in group herding psychology to read dissenting  ministers' arguments vs. establishment-supporting ministers' arguments.

Bemused and amused, I found a sermon by a supporting minister, Eric Keefer, to be particularly interesting, not simply because of the at-the-door-brain-checking aspect ("obey authority!") but yet more so because of the blinding hypocrisy of some of the arguments.  The sermon audio is here (sermon given on Dec. 28, 2013):  http://pabco7.com/~pabco/20131228KeeferE.mp3

All the background one needs is to recall the general history of COGic.  Hulme (with followers) left WCG sometime in the 1990s, forming UCG, and the sometime later left UCG to form their current group. In other words, COGic exists because they were willing to rebel against "God-appointed authority", not once, but twice. But now we see what happens when the rebellion becomes the establishment.

Things get unbelievable at around the 25 minute mark. After reading from (you've got to be kidding me!!!) HWA's Mystery of the Ages (which should immediately on-the-spot destroy any speaker's credibility), Mr. Keefer sets forth his argument as to why dissenters are wrong to speak up.

[Transcripted]:
"If Mr. Hulme has disqualified himself by leading us away from God, that would be one thing, but he has not...  This is a matter of some deciding they know better, and God has not put them in a position to make those kinds of decisions, and ... they're rebelling against those decisions.  I don't think God's arm is too short to put whoever he wills in that place to make those decisions.  I just don't believe that God said "Oops I made a mistake, put David Hulme there, I should have never done that, but now I'm stuck with him so now I've got to create a rebellion to overthrow him".  That's not the way God works, brethren.  If God has a problem with Mr. Hulme, God will take care of it.  If God wants us to change our approach, he certainly could have placed one of these ministers in his spot, but guess what?  That didn't happen.  He would have certainly done it without appealing to what amounts to be a public rebellion.  God does not work that way.

However, if you still have questions and doubts, that's ok.  I completely understand why you might not be as confident as I am.  But my advice to you, as it always has been, is to remain calm and wait on God.  Let God fix it, if there's a problem, let God fix it.  Let God deal with it.  If there's something hidden it will be revealed in time..."

Yeah.... right.  God always fixes leadership problems in COG, doesn't he?  :-)  Double smiley :-)  No,  make that a triple :-)

Mr. Keefer, do you have any idea how bizarre and hypocritical those words sound?

That is of course why half the church had to leave into various splinters against the "God-appointed" Joe Tkach (appointed personally by HWA, for Pete's sake!  How much more validity do these HWA-acolytes want?)

So, Mr. Keefer (and Hulme supporters), this implies that you took exactly the wrong course of action, whereas the proper response should have been "C'mon now, if God has a problem with Joe Tkach, God will take care of it! Remain calm and wait on God".  After all his arm is longer than Joe Tkach's arm.  Or was God simply no match for the mighty Tkach?

We all know that the WCG splinter ministers/members were patient and relied on HWA's God to set things straight, don't we? 

Keefer later argues that differences in how the gospel is to be preached (i.e. minister and member dissatisfaction about Vision magazine) should not be grounds for dissent.  Yet when COGic formed from UCG, that was one of the stated reasons for the defection, at least according to http://theshininglight.info/?p=14233:

"David Hulme, used two  doctrinal issues  (better governance and being more proactive in proclaiming the gospel) as his justification for leaving UCG and starting his own organization."

So, instead, shouldn't you have submitted to the authority that UCG's God had supposedly established? Why didn't Hulme & Co. take a more humble approach and realize that "that's not the way God works"? and if he had a problem with it, "He would have certainly done it without appealing to what amounts to be a public rebellion."

Well, I understand it's all different when you're the one being rebelled against, but it's the blatant hypocrisy that is so dazzling.

Of course, this is all very, very human-like behavior and simply accentuates the fact that all of this drama has nothing to do with some God and His Work(TM), but simply humans and their contrived beliefs and power-plays.

Michael

15 comments:

Byker Bob said...

Yes, once again illustrating that this is all a matter of human point of view as well as the shoe being on the other foot. Come with me as I rebell, but don't dare rebell against me!

It seems that the most sacred cows in Armstrongism are the sabbath, holy days, clean meats, tithing, and
British Israelism. The brethren allow changing the method of church governance, the medical doctrine, the teachings on cosmetics, the child rearing techniques, the spreading of the gospel, and personal matters such as grooming and musical tastes without launching a revolt. But, change any of the big five, and there will be trouble.

The amazing thing to me is that the splinters all have more in common than they do differences. And, that difference isn't amongst the brethren, it is the leaders whose egos won't allow them to stay together as one group. The big doctrinal differences would be between any splinter and GCI.

BB

DennisCDiehl said...

HWA often said if he was wrong, God would correct him.

And HE did

Joe Tkach said if he was wrong, God would correct it.

And He did

Ron Weinad said if he was wrong, God would correct him.

And He did

Gerald Flurry,Dave Pack, Dave Hulme and others say if they are wrong, God will correct them.

He is currently working on those issues and will.

Joe Moeller said...

Byker above is correct in his observation of the "sacred cows".

What has split the COGs is over "who is in charge". Hierarchal government is the problem. Top down, pyramid shaped government.

The only way such a structure exists is because it is declared that there is only one exclusive franchise that God is working thru to dispense salvation and his Holy Spirit, and that franchise has the only "one unaccountable leader"

The fruit of this concept has shown itself to be a complete and total FAILURE. Pick em... HWA, GTA, Flurry, Pack, Weinland, Meredith, Hulme, Thiel etc etc. Unaccountable sociopaths are guaranteed in such a structure. There are NO exceptions!

The only answer is to diffuse power through the mechanism of free market input and accountability. The centralization of money control in a "headquarters" type of fashion, and the lack of member input or even ministerial input via voting.

The SDA church is remarkably stable for its size. In each congregation, ALL established members vote for a local council that is not permanent and can change. The local minister is accountable to the council and can be fired by them. Money is collected for and accounted for locally, with a tithe of tithe situation going to the central body.

Each congregation has an elected position representative to the local conference, and there is even an international representative that comes from each conference and district. Salaries are strictly monitored, and the pay levels are similar at all levels of the organization for the clergy.

UCG has made some progress in "flattening the pyramid", but falls short IMHO. Just like the Magna Carta was a start towards enfranchisement, it still only included the "nobles" as a voting class. Still better than one man rule, and indeed progress, but still far short IMHO.

There are some UCG churches starting to have local councils and local money collection. Hopefully that will spread. Local councils do have female enfranchisement as well as lay members on their councils as well. I would like to see at least two seats on the national UCG council be "at large" lay members, elected by the lay members. This would be a huge progress.

Ministers should have accountability and the ability to be replaced and overseen. Their product and skills need critical review at times, and the process for this is poor to non-existent. Minister means servant! How can you be a servant when you are not consistently and regularly held to review by those who you are serving? (And no, that shouldn't be the guy above you in the pyramid, but those below you! )

Unaccountable leadership, money , and power will wreck ANY church. The ease of creating a church is easier than starting a lawn mower route. There is a reason why there are no "lawn mower route" businesses on the New York Stock Exchange. Very easy to split off and start your own lawn route! . The idea of God's exclusive franchise to one man, is the weak attempt to guilt trip people into forced allegiance in a hierarchy. Leaders need to encourage creativity, spinoffs and innovation, not force it to be all "owned by the state".

The better route is to create a better quality product, experience and service that will appeal to people , sans all the power, ego, dependence and money. There is a reason that the Russians had to build the Berlin Wall. If you have to build walls to keep people in, then there is something very wrong with your system. Hierarchists, hear me... TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

To quote Garner Ted Armstrong, "When the premise is wrong, everything else that follows is also wrong".

Time has proven that the premise of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) being "of God" is wrong. Therefore, everything that follows the WCG including its 700+ splinters is also wrong.

Thank you, Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong!

Richard

Head Usher said...

"I would like to see at least two seats on the national UCG council [COE?] be "at large" lay members, elected by the lay members."

Well, before that could happen, I think you'd have to get the governing documents changed, because there's a "Berlin Wall" between the "nobility" (GCE) and the serfs (lay "members"). Your feudal analogy is certainly apropos. UCG governance is backward and medieval, disenfranchising all women and all but a few select men. You have to be a member of the GCE to be a member of the corporation, and only members of the corporation can vote on corporate positions such as council seats. Baptized lay "members" are referred to in the governing documents only as "members" of the body of christ, (which is a clever way of saying they're disenfranchised—members of nothing at all...) but they certainly aren't members of the organization incorporated as UCG-AIA, and most will never be. You have to be "good 'ol boy" material to be "ordained" into the the corporate club. This part reminds me of Freemasonry as well.

This is how they keep all the "leadership, money, and power" safely in unaccountable territory. Besides their dependence on the transfer of assets from the former to the latter, any other connection between lay "members" and the members of the corporation is strictly imaginary. And as long as they can keep telling lay "members" that if they don't keep transferring their wealth over to the members of the corporation that a pissed off "god" is going to see to it that non-compliant lay "members" will be "stubble under the feet" of the members of the corporation, they will continue to support themselves on the backs of the lay "members" while remaining totally unaccountable to those making their paychecks possible. Sure, they might say they're accountable to "god," but let's face it, "god" is "telling them to do" whatever they say "god" is "telling them to do." They might even say they're "listening" to the lay "members," but only because it keeps the masses mollified and compliant. (You don't think they hire these PR gurus for nothing do you?)

But hey, at least you acknowledge that UCG fall short in something at least, which I think may be a first for you. Baby steps. You may have a long way to go, but at least you're moving in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Joe, the thing about most of the splinters' government from the top down is that they use Old Covenant models which applied pre-Pentecost 33 CE. In those examples, one prophet, one priest, one king or judge had the guidance of the Holy Spirit, while his assistants and the general masses did not.

Since Pentecost 33 CE, not just the leaders are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but also all of the members of the body of Christ. This changes the dynamics surrounding the concept of voting, and is the very reason why, amongst Christians, wisdom is found in a multitude of counsel. There is no such thing as the "dumb" sheep. Leaders, even if they do not respect members personally, should recognize and respect the Holy Spirit within those members. In fact, if the leaders do not do this, are they not atheists? The presumption would be that members are being guided by the Spirit of God, and that the strength of the body therefore would be the collective strength concentrated within the membership. This is highly desirable, and is the condition that a real pastor would be seeking to promote.

I can understand why this would be scary to those groomed by HWA/AC. To most of them, this type of authority means that, effectively, they have no control.

Michael said...

Joe Moeller noted:
"What has split the COGs is over "who is in charge". Hierarchal government is the problem. Top down, pyramid shaped government."

I'm not sure that it's all about hierarchy. People follow their pet ministers of course but also their pet doctrines.
But, form of govt. aside, if there really were an intelligent entity driving all of this, you would not be seeing the mess you see in split from split from split.

Incidentally, in WCG splits I kind of see a loose parallel with the Protestant Reformation.
Once the Lutherans established that, yes you can legitimately break with what was then the only game in town (Catholicism), the cat was out of the bag and offshoots became the order of the day. New Protestant groups soon became a dime a dozen.
So, i don't know which COG splinter would qualify as being viewed as the first "legitimate" one. PCG or UCG maybe? But at least certainly with UCG so many well-respected evangelists left that after that, splitting off to start your own group has no longer been considered the ultimate evil (remember when "leaving the church" was worse than being condemned to hell fire?). Breaking off to form your own group is now just one of the options available :-)
Funny how the group psyche has been transformed in that way.

Anonymous said...

Joe Moeller, the church councils or whatever you call them are just a rubber stamp for the elders and those serving on them are either yes men/women or forced off. If a pastor wants to use money a certain way, that is what will happen no matter how much someone disagrees. The vote is a sham.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

You wrote: "...There are some UCG churches starting to have local councils and local money collection..."

This is 2014, and in 1995, immediately after the Indianapolis Conference we all returned home and our area was one that started its local board and did local money collection; however, it wasn't too long after that that type of behavior was "snuffed" and everything was again organized around a headquarters, centralized area called the "home office."

Of course, perhaps history will repeat itself again, but if it does I suspect it will not last long. Home office always wants to control the mammon...

John

Joe Moeller said...

John:

You are correct about boards being dismantled back in the 90s by UCG. Many of the current leadership of COGWA and also of David Hulme, were the main forces behind the centralized collective mentality of UCG.

Lets try it again, and encourage local empowerment and decentarization. As stated above, there is a body of believers who have the Holy Spirit. If they do not, then all of this is just a silly game. Leadership must learn to trust, empower , love and encourage the body for anything truly meaningful or lasting to be produced.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Joe Moeller said...

John:

You are correct about boards being dismantled back in the 90s by UCG. Many of the current leadership of COGWA and also of David Hulme, were the main forces behind the centralized collective mentality of UCG.

Lets try it again, and encourage local empowerment and decentarization. As stated above, there is a body of believers who have the Holy Spirit. If they do not, then all of this is just a silly game. Leadership must learn to trust, empower , love and encourage the body for anything truly meaningful or lasting to be produced.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

Let's just admit it, shall we. All of it IS just a silly game!

Anonymous said...

42 is the answer.

Michael said...

Joe Moeller wrote:
"there is a body of believers who have the Holy Spirit. If they do not, then all of this is just a silly game."

No comment :-)

Anonymous said...

It's a silly game. Pack of lies actually.