Friday, April 15, 2016

Can you guess the name of this church based on the following clues?

I found some old computer disks that had some save messages from the old WCGnet that was a great source of information for following the train wreck that was the Worldwide Church of God through all of the changes.  I don't know who the author was.

Can you guess the name of this church 
based on the following clues?

* It was founded by a businessman who had been raised in another religion and who had little formal education.

* He moved from the mid-West to southern California and became established in the Los Angeles area.

* He claimed to have new insights into scriptural truths for the present age.

* The church was Sabbatarian, millenarian, authoritarian and legalistic.

* The church heavily emphasized predictive prophecy and the imminent return of Christ to establish David's Kingdom in Palestine.

* Members and others who did not measure up to legalistic standards or display adequate zeal were term 'Laodicean'.

* The leader thought of himself as The Elijah and that his role was to restore all things before the return of Christ.

* The church obeyed the dietary laws of Leviticus.

* The church leadership had predicted the return of Christ for a certain date but was wrong.

* The church observed the Old Testament Festivals of Leviticus 23.  In fact, they thought they were very close to primitive, first century Christianity because of this.

* They believed they were the only true church.  The members believed they were  the first fruits and would play a special role in serving God and the nations when Christ returned.

* They published a monthly magazine advocating their beliefs.

* They had a rigid, top down, pyramidal governmental structure.

* Members were required to follow a rigid agenda of Bible study and prayer.

* The young men in the church were conscientious objectors.

* In recent times the heir-apparent, a young man of musical gifts, was involved in sexual scandals involving women in the congregation.

* None of its leaders had acquired any theological education from mainstream Christian colleges.

* They established a church facility in Texas, including a school, near a lake and had an uneasy relationship with the surrounding community.

* Membership was international, multi-ethnic and multi-racial.

* They believed deeply that they lived in the time of The End and their  preaching and spiritual concerns focused on this.  They referred to the secular world as Babylon and were strongly anti-Catholic.

* They believe they could identify the people of the United States as descendants of patriarchs mentioned in Genesis.

This list might go on but the church involved is known as the Branch Davidians, theologically, our first cousins, if not our brothers.  Their lineage may be traced, like the WCG's, to the Millerite Adventist Movement in the Nineteenth Century.  They were at one time known as the Davidian
Seventh-Day Adventist Association.  They differ from us on the last point above in that they believed that the USA was Assyria rather than Manasseh.

I have compiled this list for several reasons:

1. There is a mystique that attaches to the WCG in the minds of many of its members that is a carry-over from the days that we believed that we were the one and only true church.  This is to demonstrate that we were really just another Millerite Adventist group.  Recent articles in the WWN
confirm HWA's foundation in Millerite teaching and the third angels message.  Mrs. HWA dream or vision about the return of Christ and the work that needed to be done (see The Autobiography) is virtually an Adventist cliche in the spirit of Ellen White.  We are not special; we are rather commonplace.

2. We would all readily admit that the Branch Davidians were a cult but somehow, the WCG was not a cult.  How can this be?

3. People cite the fact that the Davidians hoarded weapons and had a shoot out with the ATF and true non-violent church members would not do that. But what would members of the WCG had done if a leader had risen up and said that it was time to go to the place of safety.  Everyone should sell
what they have and buy airline tickets to Jerusalem and with your surplus funds buy tickets for those who cannot afford it.  Might we not have done some extreme things under the circumstances?  The Davidians were traditionally conscientious objectors until they were staring into what they believed was the Apocalypse.  Does anybody remember the account of one of our leaders resorting to fists in the State of California occupation in the late Seventies?

4. We should all be filled with joy that a man, Joseph Tkach, Sr., while riding this train to whatever destruction it might have met, suddenly awakened in his seat, realized what was happening and pulled the emergency brake. Many bewildered passengers got off and had to look for a new train.
But the tragedy is that many stayed on the old train and, like the Davidians, will meet whatever their destiny will be.


Connie Schmidt said...

The biggest difference between Armstrongism and the Branch Davidians was the "first impression" mechanism.

Glossy magazines, television programs, suits and ties, and reasonable questions about a world with lots of problems, presented in a systematic , professional appearing and sounding, in a logical manner.

The more secretive aspects of the internal culture, requirements, authoritarianism and the like , were carefully sequestered away in a whole separate universe. The public face, and the private face were radically different universes. The Davidians on the other hand, were both publicly and privately bizarre, so in some sense, we can say that the Davidians had more "truth in advertising".

Anonymous said...

The Davidian group that followed Koresh was only part of the whole, as well.

Anonymous said...

Well, whaddya know. Armstrongism isn't really Armstrongism, after all.

Or maybe the "Armstrongism without Armstrong" espoused by Ralph, Ian Boyne, et al, is just Branch Davidianism, when all is said and done.

Byker Bob said...

Were the Branch Davidians any kin to the Pack Davidians?

Anonymous said...

“This list might go on but the church involved is known as the Branch Davidians, theologically, our first cousins, if not our brothers. Their lineage may be traced, like the WCG's, to the Millerite Adventist Movement in the Nineteenth Century. They were at one time known as the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Association. They differ from us on the last point above in that they believed that the USA was Assyria rather than Manasseh.”

By the end of his life, Herbert W. Armstrong taught that he was the one who was prophesied to come in the spirit and power of Elijah to restore ALL things. He considered the Worldwide Church of God to be the Philadelphia era of the true church, which took over from the Church of God (Seventh Day), which he taught was the Sardis era of the true church.

Herbert W. Armstrong NEVER considered the Worldwide Church of God to be descended from, or related to, the Millerites or the Seventh-Day Adventists. The Millerites and the Seventh-Day Adventists were false movements and false churches with false teachings. William Miller was a self-taught Baptist preacher who observed Sunday rather than the Sabbath.

Some people like to claim that there are all sorts of other churches out there that teach things similar to the Worldwide Church of God. Notice that last line above that says, “They differ from us on the last point above in that they believed that the USA was Assyria rather than Manasseh.” That is a HUGE difference. Consider how much trouble the Branch Davidians got into. It is important to have everything right.

Anonymous said...

8.56 PM Herbie restored all things?? Some of the things he didn't restore are:
A. Rights, since only ministers have rights. I have all rights and you have non, is a psychopathic trait.
B. Trade, again since 'trade is a social system that respects individual rights,' and no rights are permitted in the churches. Only ministers have rights.
C The holy spirit leads every Christian individually. No middleman minister is required. This is fundamental, since the basic definition of a Christian is one who follows Christ. Since this limits the ministers all rights, Herbie and fellow ministers, just like Moses, have decided to push God to one side. The informal teaching is that one follows the minister rather than Christ.
Note how common this is in many other so called Christian churches. So Herbie 'stole' from them, or is hiding behind their untruthful skirts.
Restored all things? Ha ha ha ha.

Cheers TradingGuy

Anonymous said...

Well the FBI did turn down the assistance of former AC instructors during the negotiations with the SDA split off Branch Davidians.
That was a huge mistake in my opinion.
Eventually resulting in the largest act of domestic terrorism (until 911) perpetrated against the FBI.


Anonymous said...

Oh, next he'll be telling us that HWA was never a member of COG7.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Anonymous April 15, 2016 at 8:56 PM said, "Herbert W. Armstrong NEVER considered the Worldwide Church of God to be descended from, or related to, the Millerites or the Seventh-Day Adventists."

MY COMMENT - Yes, it is true Herbert Armstrong NEVER considered the WCG to be descended from the Seventh Day Adventist movement. But his Sardis era parent Church of God, Seventh Day does. In fact, at one point before being re-named, they were known as the Church of God (Adventist) when they splintered from the Adventist movement.

It is very fair to say that the Worldwide Church of God was "an offshoot of an offshoot" of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.


Anonymous said...

What Armstrong "considered" to be the case changed as facts became inconvenient, much as with today's phenomenon of "Armstrongism without the Armstrongs," which attempts to remove Herbert Armstrong from the equation in the hope of somehow making his teachings palatable.

Such mental gymnastics, when it's so much simpler and more logical to move on.

Anonymous said...

I found that 4th reason interesting because of Revelation 10:7 and I thought I'd share some thoughts that come to my mind at this time. That 4th reason was:

"...4. We should all be filled with joy that a man, Joseph Tkach, Sr., while riding this train to whatever destruction it might have met, suddenly awakened in his seat, realized what was happening and pulled the emergency brake. Many bewildered passengers got off and had to look for a new train.

But the tragedy is that many stayed on the old train and, like the Davidians, will meet whatever their destiny will be..."

In Revelation 2-3 there are only 7 angels mentioned for 7 churches, 7 eras, 7 congregations, if you will. There is no mention of an 8th. Revelation 10:7 states:

"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."

HWA died in January 1986 and was replaced by his "choice" of Joe W. Tkach, Senior. Some sermons given back about 1996 indicated that HWA was the leader of the sealed Philadelphian Firstfruits embedded within the Worldwide Church of God organization, and at his death Joe W. Tkach Senior became the next leader was actually the leader of the 7th era, and composed of the sealed Laodicean Firstfruits. In other words, that 7th angel began to sound something at the time of Joe Tkach Senior coming into office, as the 1st and only leader of the Laodiceans. It all looks like a scattered mess today where nobody seems to know who is who...what is what?

But that all brings up further questions. What did the angel sound? What is the mystery of God? God has many mysteries. One individual thought the mystery of God was the revealing of God's Plan of Salvation to save all humanity (not just some "special group" of elect only) and destroy Satan and his angels.

I imagine others have their own ideas and speculations on all of this.

Either way, I am glad that Joe Tkach Senior "pulled the emergencey brake!"

Sometimes it seems like we are all on some roller coaster ride, that just goes up and down, left and right, and we seem to have difficulty "seeing" just what is around the next corner, the next bend, the next hill. What do we do?

We're all like brothers and sisters on some sort of a ride. Just enjoy the ride (whether train or roller coaster), do the best we can with whatever we have...and time will tell..................


Anonymous said...

IIRC, there is nothing in Revelation to indicate explictly that the "seven churches" are somehow "eras". Seems to me that was originally a C.O. Dodd interpretation?

Retired Prof said...

John, I like your concluding two paragraphs--something a theist like you and a materialist like me can agree about heartily.

My late father-in-law used to say about weather forecasts, quoting a friend of his from the cotton/rice/soybean farmland of southeast Arkansas. "Make sure to listen to the radio. If you don't get the weather forecast, you just gotta take it like it comes."

I reflect on this saying often in regard to prophecies of coming tribulation and eventual glory. I've been enjoying prophecies from the sidelines and ignoring them in my personal life for more than fifty years now--just taking it like it comes. As you recommend, I've been enjoying the ride, hoping that all the brothers and sisters can enjoy it as well, whether they share my metaphysical bias or not.

Byker Bob said...

Oh, no, 9:37. William Miller taught the extrabiblical theory of church eras. Only, Miller exploited them for his own ministry in a different way. He taught that the Laodicean era had begun during his times, which, would have made sense to his followers if indeed Jesus were to return in 1844.

So, this was another "newly restored truth" that Herbie inherited from the movement that he (wink, wink) was not spawned by.


Anonymous said...

Calling the Armstrong era the Philadelphian is dubious. Frankly, I never experienced 'brotherly love' whilst attending services. All I experienced was members Sabbath mask, which is all show and no substance.