Saturday, March 14, 2015

Church History and the Churches of God

Really?



There is an interesting letter on Exit and Support from a woman who finally had the courage to leave the Philadelphia Church of God.  Her route out was exacerbated by Gerald Flurry's obscene "no contact" rule that has ripped families apart.  Because her parents were always good to her and because she loved them she refused to separate herself from her them.  This eventually led her away from the PCG cult.

One thing she eventually did was start reading about Christian history WITHOUT a little COG penned book by her side.

She writes:

The healing finally started--after what felt like eternity--when I at last found the courage to start asking hard questions, questions I would never have dared to ask while within the organization. They were questions that would sometimes come up in the past but were always brushed aside. Questions like: How can they demand I go against my conscience or be put out of the "church"? Isn't my first loyalty supposed to be towards God? And eventually I dared to ask, by what authority do those men really have the right to stand up and teach me God's truth? Who appointed them? And actually, who appointed Herbert Armstrong? Lots of religious leaders believe that they alone speak for God. Why did I really believe he was the only one used by God? Is it just because that is what we were told, or is there a better reason? Because I thought it all "made sense"?

For the first time in my life I timidly began to study church history--objectively study it--not with the "assistance" of a tiny WCG-printed booklet that would gloss over centuries in a few paragraphs. Coming to Herbert Armstrong's place in it, I had to honestly admit that his claims were largely unfounded. How could we dare dismiss the thousands who throughout history have shed their blood for their (Christian) faith as being "deceived," thinking ourselves to be so much more faithful and understanding? And how could we really accept that when Christ so clearly commanded His disciples to "go into all the world" 2000 years ago, that that command wasn't fulfilled, and the church just basically fell off a cliff, only to unexpectedly resurface in the 1900s after endless disputes between men who thought they were called by God?

One of the first things I did exiting Armstrongism  was take a four year course on the study of Hebrew, Christian scriptures, church history and Christian thought.  It was a mind shattering experience that easily debunked everything about Armstrong, long held beliefs of what scripture was supposed to mean and  opened the door to church history unlike ANYTHING I  ever read in Armstrongism.

The writer above is correct to question above the long held belief that Herbert Armstrong restored church history and doctrine that God had somehow let get lost for 1,900 years.  Seriously, what kind of an impotent god would allow such a thing to happen?  Armstrong's god, apparently.

Is church history filled with corruption, greed, averse and destruction?  Absolutely, just like Armstrongism is filled with it to this day.  However, through it all there were faithful men and women who struggled with the Word they claimed to follow, struggled with doubt, struggled with failure and yet went to the four corners of the earth sharing a story they had that brought meaning to their lives.  They lived and died, many times murdered for their beliefs, yet the Church of God writes these people off as "deceived."  Or, as false prophet Bob Theil calls then, "so-called Christians."  These "deceived" and "so-called" Christans make the works of Theil, Flurry, Pack and Meredith look like baby pablum instead of the truth they claim it to be.

If you need some interesting reading for the summer then consider these books:

A New History of Early Christianity by Charles Freeman
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch
The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez
A History of Christian Thought by Justo Gonzalez
Documents of the Christian Church  edited by Henry Betttenson and Chris Maunder
The Early Christan Fathers  edited by Cyril Richardson

Reading just one of these books quickly points out that Armstrongism is nothing more than an insignificant blip on the timeline.

20 comments:

Black Ops Mikey said...

The true history of the Worldwide Church of God began in the mid 1800s. The Church of God Seventh Day, from which Herbert Armstrong came admits that (and so do the sects of Armstrongism sprung from Garner Ted Armstrong). What should be disturbing to everyone is the fact that the 'History' from Herbert Armstrong was factually wrong. One example is the Waldensians who never kept either the Sabbath or Holydays, but were transformed by 'Oh, we need to have support for our hypotheses and so we'll just rewrite history'. Is it because the Armstrongist churches of God are flat out liars or is it due to sloppy research with such a strong desire to 'make things turn out the way we think they should be' that they accepted totally corrupt history? Either way, it ends up that no one can TRUST ONE THING HERBERT ARMSTRONG SAID.

We've proved Armstrongism wrong again and again, so it's time for the Armstrongists who are suffering to do some honest scientific research and leave to get relief from the rubbish cult kook religion established by a rebellious corrupt egotistical narcissistic false prophet with a legendary temper.

Byker Bob said...

Couldn't agree more. In fact, in addition to re-examining British Israelism, church history is probably the second most frequent area that I've suggested stalwart Armstrongites look into. The guided conclusions on these topics provided by WCG and splinters do not stand up to legitimate challenge or investigation.

I've read The complete works of Josephus, Eusebius, and all of the writings of the antenicene fathers which I could find. I've also read up on the different early church councils, and the materials which led to the various decisions which were made. The decisions were often agonized over, and were not frivolously or arbitrarily made.

Much of the error in the cornerstones of Armstrongism came from HWA reading Hislop, and then buying into Hislop's basic research methodology with all of its unwarranted leaps to conclusion. The vast majority of the research collectively produced by Armstrongism was superficial, flawed, and based on cherry-picking amongst the sources. It is no wonder why they discouraged reading any of the materials not approved by the church.

BB

Anonymous said...

The church is not an organization, but an organism, the body of Christ. To be able to trace your organization's history to the first century proves nothing, there were false teachers back then, also. The ignorance of the WCG "theologians" was almost as sad as their arrogance. The ONE TRUE CHURCH? Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Well, when you say that to COG members, they often make a wild leap to a pre-polished assumption suggested by HWA himself - that if you see his version of church history as incorrect, automatically you believe in "a gospel about Christ not the gospel Christ preached", that you are mentally "rebelling against God", or that you are one of the brainless know-nothing "religious" types one encounters every day.

Whats funny about it is that this is exactly the art of the copywriter. You lay out the conclusions you want your reader to jump to. And the more you can paint all the other conclusions as foolish, stupid, etc, the better you are at the craft.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Yes, for those who start researching the First Century and the real origins of the New Testament, there are rather disturbing discoveries which become a much bigger problem than just fabricating a false history to provide a convincing provenance.

So much time has passed; so few reliable documents....

People might actually start asking harder questions than 'just what is our church history?'.

Anonymous said...

"The church is not an organization, but an organism, the body of Christ. To be able to trace your organization's history to the first century proves nothing, there were false teachers back then, also. The ignorance of the WCG "theologians" was almost as sad as their arrogance. The ONE TRUE CHURCH? Indeed."

If your church has no links to the church supposedly started by Jesus, then what claim does it have to be a legitimate church of Jesus?

If I start an organization and call it Microsoft, but have no connection or sponsorship from the organization begun by Bill Gates, then my organization is claiming to be something it is not. It is therefore illegitimate.

Staffelter Hof is a German winery begun as an abbey winery in 862 which makes it one of the world's oldest companies. It changed hands from the abbey to the current family that owns it's 9 hectares of vineyard in 1805. It is legitimate to say, 1153 years later that it is still the same company.

The Catholic church is also one of the world's oldest companies. While it is logically true that to be able to trace your organization's history back to the 1st century does not prove your organization has any link to a 1st century apostolic church (if indeed there ever was such a thing), it is also logically true that to be able to trace it to a dead end in the 18th century DOES prove that your organization CANNOT have any links to any 1st century apostolic church. The Catholic church has at least a snowball's chance in hell of being what it claims to be. Herbert Armstrong and his organization doesn't even have that!

If "the church" were an "organism" how could you be a part of it if you were not descended from it or even connected to it in any way? Of course, the idea that there could be any such thing as a "one true church" is also a ridiculous and absurd notion. But I digress...

Anonymous said...


Current Events on the Church of God (COG) scene

This time, as usual, is a significant time in Church of God history. Many well-meaning people who sincerely wanted to help support the truth of God and help to spread it around the world for the good of mankind (or at least as a witness to them) have been cleverly and cruelly tricked into supporting evil and helping to spread the lies and nonsense and frauds and scams of outrageous satanic impostors around the world (think PCG, RCG, COG-PKG, CCG, and so many others). This must be absolutely brutal for any decent, well-meaning people who were so used and abused.

Rather than helping other people to learn the truth of God and the right way to live like they had hoped to do, and setting a good example like they had dreamed about doing, the “true believers” have been cleverly and cruelly tricked into helping an immense, locust-like swarm of false members (it is truly shocking to find out what they really think and to see how they really behave), false ministers (totally fake and false ones in the PCG), false evangelists (overpaid, and not worth it), false prophets (everyone in the COGs seems to want to be another false prophet these days), and false witnesses (what's a few more lies on their record?).

Those who went with Flurry's PCG thinking that they were supporting what had been taught by HWA in the WCG just ended up getting tricked and/or forced into going along with totally different and abominable teachings. Those who went with Pack's RCG thinking that they were supporting what had been taught by HWA in the WCG also just ended up getting tricked and/or forced into going along with all sorts of new teachings, and mentally and morally compromising themselves.

The things that are currently happening on the COG scene could possibly scar the “true believers” mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the rest of their lives. On top of all the mental stuff that happened to them, they might have given away all of their physical stuff to one or more of these greedy scammers, only to have the con-artist then suddenly change what they are expected to believe, like in the RCG.

Maybe the “true believers” should try to read and obey God's laws in the Bible rather than following all these deceitful and wicked men who always just try to trick and/or force them into disobeying God's laws.

It is actually becoming more interesting all the time to observe the many things that God allows wicked people to do on the so-called COG scene today. It is truly fascinating--and heartbreaking--to see what people, high and low, here and there, actually think and say and do on the COG scene. If I were a psychologist, psychiatrist, or exorcist, it might be even more intriguing.

Homer said...

One of the things, and there are many, which I learned when I began to question my long held beliefs was the meaning of the Greek word “ekklesia.” It very well may not have the meaning “church” which we have long been told. We use the word “church” because of the edict of King James. The Greek meaning may very well have nothing to do with religion at all. Therefore, it is most likely that there is no such thing as a “True Church.” An in depth study of the word and circumstances may bring light to this statement if anyone cares to take it on.

Also, has anyone on this blog ever considered the difference between the word “Christian” and the word “Chrestian?” That is, other than one has an “i” and the other has an “e” in the spelling. The following link has a fairly good explanation of this. As this link states, “There are no Christians in the Bible.”

This is offered as something to consider. No dogmatic statements made or intended.


http://thechristianroots.com/the-name-christian/

Byker Bob said...

6:40 has it exactly right. There was a set of pre-polished cliches, and as if it were not already sufficiently challenging to independently restudy all the doctrines, all of the so-called history, and all of the conspiracy theories, those cliches continue to cause doubt until you can re-study and dispel them as well! They made up an entirely separate layer of the Armstrong "gnosticism" unto themselves.

Fortunately, there are enough passages in the gospels to show that Jesus Himself made the gospel about Himself. Paul made it about Jesus, too. How could you not make the gospel of the Son of God about the Son of God? You can preach about the coming Kingdom, but the really important part of that message is how you get there. John 3:16! People who have studied the so-called "ascended masters" who sometimes get lumped in with Jesus have noted that none of these other men made their message about themselves, none of them claimed to be the Son of God, and none of them claimed to be able to forgive sin. So, the reality is, it was HWA (when he didn't wuss out and talk about the strong hand from somewhere) who only preached half a gospel.

By the way, I've been calling these cliches "Armstrongism shibboleths" for years. Even If an anonymous poster shows up on You Tube, or some secular forum or blog, using one or more of the shibboleths, you know exactly what vantage point they are coming from!

BB

Anonymous said...

"Many well-meaning people who sincerely wanted to help support the truth of God and help to spread it around the world for the good of mankind (or at least as a witness to them) have been cleverly and cruelly tricked into supporting evil and helping to spread the lies and nonsense and frauds and scams of outrageous satanic impostors around the world (think PCG, RCG, COG-PKG, CCG, and so many others)."

Hey, you forgot to include WCG in your list!

You might want to consider how it can be that so many "well-meaning people who sincerely wanted to help" could get so "cleverly and cruelly tricked." Is it because these people are stupid? (Well, sort of, but not really) My point is, this phenomenon is no accident. It is because of this little thing called "faith."

Per Hebrews 11:1, "faith" is having "confidence" in something for which no confidence is warranted. How is one to tell the difference between that which you should have confidence in without warrant, and a scam? By definition, there can be no way to tell! Therefore, anyone who is convinced that Hebrews 11:1 "faith" is a virtue is already primed to be cleverly and cruelly tricked by whichever confidence man happens to come along first. Since no real GOD would want to set up his followers to be "cleverly and cruelly tricked" by imposters, no real GOD would ask his followers to merely have Hebrews 11:1 "faith" in him. That's just one reason why there can't possibly be a real GOD backing up the christian bible.

"Maybe the “true believers” should try to read and obey God's laws in the Bible rather than following all these deceitful and wicked men who always just try to trick and/or force them into disobeying God's laws."

Nice idea, but A) "God's laws in the Bible" is an undefined list, and B) this still won't protect them from being taken for a ride by con-men like HWA who recognize "faith" in others to be an opportunity to rob them on a monthly basis in perpetuity.

"It is actually becoming more interesting all the time to observe the many things that God allows wicked people to do on the so-called COG scene today."

Sorry, my friend, but there's no real GOD observing or allowing anything in the ACOG scene. Never was.

Connie Schmidt said...

A big claim that is believed by some in the COG is that there is an "unbroken chain of laying on of hands" going back to the original apostles.

The modern COG can trace its origins back to one Gilbert Cramner, who began the COG 7th Day back around 1860. Cramner's ordination came from a group called Christian Connexion (yes spelled with the x) , which believed in soul sleep, woman's suffrage and the abolition of slavery.

The Christian Connexion evolved from primarily former Methodist adherents in the early 1800s. So if there is any lineage of unbroken laying on of hands back to Christ, it would have to be through the Methodists , through the Catholics!

Actually , no unbroken laying on of hands can be found in history, and all churches are founded by someone in the beginning who just "self ordained" themselves.

There is plenty of evidence that Sabbatarianism has existed in one form or another through the centuries going back to Christ. Waldensians were not Sabbatarians. There were contemporary and sympathetic Sabbatarian groups in the middle ages, but one cannot call them as a whole "Waldensian" as a moniker.

No, God has not granted any single human being an "Exclusive Franchise" for the dispensing of his spirit, will or truth. He has not given exclusively to any race, nor has he allowed it to be contained in any type of earthly vessel like a physical temple or human vehicle.

The truth and way of God is quiet, mysterious and subtle and takes time to learn and appreciate. Beware of anyone who tries to sum it up in a small booklet, boisterous claims of "specialness", calling or exclusivity. This is not how God operates.

Redfox712 said...

Yes. Investigating early church history is very fascinating. It is nothing like what HWA said it was.

Redfox712 said...

Recently PCG’s Kiall Lorenz wrote the following article:

“President Obama’s Secret Meeting With Muslim Brotherhood Leaders”.

Really?

Lorenz continues:

“American Muslim leaders met privately with United States President Barack Obama at the White House last week. President Obama entertained the 14 leaders for more than an hour behind closed doors. The president initially refused to report who the Muslim leaders were.”

Where are the Muslim Brotherhood leaders? Where are they?

Lorenz continues:

“A couple of those hosted by the president have very checkered pasts and disturbingly close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).”

Wait. The title of Lorenz’s article said President Obama met with “Muslim Brotherhood Leaders”. But here Lorenz only mentions President Obama meeting with (according to Lorenz) “disturbingly close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood”.

In other words President Obama did not meet with Muslim Brotherhood leaders at all.

Lorenz only cites one individual from that meeting. The individual leads an organization that Lorenz says was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood but Lorenz makes no attempt to say the individual in question is with the Muslim Brotherhood. So it is seems safe to assume the individual in question is not in the Muslim Brotherhood at all.

The title of this article violates the Ninth Commandment PCG claims to love so much.

Lorenz has given false witness against President Obama.

Lorenz should apologize to President Obama.

Britain Stevenson said...

All this arguing over True Church or True Church History when the main thing God is concerned about is Godly character, which I never saw in the WWCOG or the PCG. You will know them by their fruits...Matthew 7:16-20. That was the dead give away.

Anonymous said...

7:32 asks, "If your church has no link to the Church . . ." There is a link, it is in what is taught, a commonality of belief. I suggest Jesus was referring to the universal church, not a corporate entity with a HQ here or over there. I am part of that church, using my gift with a small number of other believers.

Miller Jones said...

Yes, an objective study of early church history is very eye opening. It conclusively demonstrates that there was no grand conspiracy to change the day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday, and that the change was not promulgated by the Emperor or the Roman Church. Connie and Britain hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

There never was one true church that "all speak the same thing" Paul ripped the Jewish Christian church under James, Peter and John apart with his gentle version and was all downhill from there

Anonymous said...

It's funny that even though the concept of forgiveness of sins is a big deal in most of the world's religions (including Armstrongism), it's often not high on the list of those who 1)Identity with, and those who 2)No longer identify with Armstrongism.

Take for example, those who no longer talk to family and former friends because they're now in the "wrong" Armstrongist splinter.
Also, take for example those who are no longer Armstrongites but no longer talk to family members or friends because of Armstrongite views.

It's a sad situation, and especially sad about those who now claim to be all into Jesus' forgiveness yet come up with Biblical rationalizations to hold onto their grudges now, like "It'll be all better in the Kingdom!"

Anonymous said...

How can you even talk to someone that you know believes you are deceived, and not in your right mind? What sane and rational person would subject himself to such? Probably going to do more damage to people in their 80s than good by trying. Not your fault anyway, its Herbie's.

Anonymous said...

The official Armstrong doctrine about outsiders or people who left the church was never to love them, or even pray for them. The doctrine was always, until the kingdom comes, fuck 'em. So, I think lifelong members understand when their kids or other relatives who left the church don't talk to them. The unchurched are simply enforcing the doctrine on the members behalf, only kind of in reverse. You got a problem with that?

~Miguel de la Rodente