Wednesday, October 12, 2016

LCG/UCG, The Azazel Goat and the Book of Enoch

For many decades the Church of God has worked overtime to write about the significance of the Azazel goat in association with the Day of Atonement.  United Church of God, COGWA and Living Church of God pay particular attention to the story.

The church has always associated the Azazel goat with the arch-deacon, Satan.  That "teaching" apparently stems from The Book of Enoch.  Living Church of God teaches a belief from the book, yet they disfellowship people for reading the book.  They use it to support their doctrine yet tell their plebe members that it a heretical book. What a pickle LCG is in!

Living Church of God fails to see that the Azazel Goat association with demons was the major premise in The Book of Enoch and its fallen angels. The very same book that the LCG went ballistic over after it was discovered that some LCG members were reading and discussing it.

For more on the story check out:   Just what do you mean...Atonement?

The United Church of God, another splinter, aptly explains the symbolism Herbert Armstrong attached to the Day of Atonement through the lens of speculative prophecy, for which he was famous. Armstrong claimed that the scapegoat released in the wilderness pictured Satan being be bound and thrown in the bottomless pit, as described in Revelation 20. Removal of the devil would allow man to achieve "at-one-ment" with God, they say.

"This sending away into the desert is part of the reason for translating Azazel as scapegoat, or goat that escapes. But many scholars identify Azazel as the name of a demon inhabiting the wilderness," UCG explains. "It stands to reason that Azazel is one in stark contrast to the Lord—indeed, the ultimate enemy Satan the devil."
This explanation sounds good until you examine the context and timing of Leviticus versus the literature that names Azazel as a demon. The primary source scholars use to support the Azazel theory is the Book of Enoch. Scholars believe the Book of Enoch was written between the 300s B.C. and the first century A.D. because it includes late Aramaic names not present until that time period, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary. It is likely that the Book of Enoch used Leviticus, which is believed to date to the 1440s B.C., as a source. Not vice-versa. The demon of the wilderness likely got its name from lore related to this ancient ritual, according to both Expositor's and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon. The ritual did not borrow a name from a figure that appears in literature at least a thousand years later.

Further, the COGs have traditionally rejected non-canonical sources such as the Book of Enoch. In fact, the Living Church of God disfellowshipped members last year for reading and discussing the Book of Enoch. So the Azazel teaching puts the COGs in the precarious position of placing faith in a book that it tells its own members is heretical.


Connie Schmidt said...

When you consider that the COG has made abundant use of non-Biblical materials such as commentaries, writings of early church fathers or "Irish Legends" as source material for British Israelism, one has to be miffed by the stance towards the Book of Enoch.

Sweetblood777 said...

This is one of those times where the cogs show that they are afraid that someone out there can come across 'truth' that is not from their leadership. This makes me wonder what do they think the Holy Spirit is for.

Church organizations are only good for a basic education in the scriptures. Once that is accomplished, the sheep ought to know and understand that now it is up to them to grow spiritually.

But the cogs have hammered them into a box, in which they cannot grow and which quenches the spirit to the point that they are good for no useful purpose, other than pouring their financial resources into the pockets of the organization.

Anonymous said...


Black Ops Mikey said...

I've read the book of Enoch and concluded that it is absolutely the truth and quite as reliable as Leviticus in every regard.

People can have absolute confidence in this book because it is completely inspired by God.

The book of Enoch is every bit as legitimate in every way as the Old Testament.

We really do believe that Judah could roar like a lion and frighten people for blocks around.

Oh, wait, that might be the book of Jasher (Chapter 39).


It's so easy to get these things confused.

The book of Enoch is also as legitimate as the Koran.

DennisCDiehl said...

Good comment Sweetblood. Independent and critically thinking folk are just never going to do well joining a group, headed by the "one who knows" and they has to get hammered into place agreeing with "the one who knows" in all things or risk dis-memberment and such. The days of "all speaking the same thing, that there be no division amongst you" are over. It's a bad way to run a church anyway. Speaking the same thing is a sure sign you're wrong mostly and doing it so there are no divisions is certainly about the last reason one should ever do that.

I spent some time mulling over what I would have done differently as a pastor with those that stepped outside the WCG box over the years and came to talk to me about it and what to do. I'd simply say now, "do what your heart tells you to do and see you in church next week"

Freedom is not being threatened by differences of thought and views. Not something the COG's will ever allow or understand the benefits of evidently.

Church such as Unity Church, Unitarians and liberal Episcopalians seem to care not much what you believe outside of the basics and the basics are different even among them. They are more for community and you will never hear the question, "how did you come into the truth?" or "that's not what we all believe"

Once you try to organize spirituality, you wreck it and end up with just organized religion which is somewhat of an oxymoron in itself if you look at the COG phenomenon and implosion.

Anonymous said...

The days of "all speaking the same thing, that there be no division amongst you" are over.

It depends on who you mean by "all."

In LCG, for instance, it is well known that Mario Hernandez teaches several key points differently than Herbert Armstrong and Rod Meredith. Satan's fate is one big area of disagreement. Will Satan be destroyed? Mario says one thing, many others in LCG say another.

Mario, of course, is an influential minister with a big following. Just as Meredith tolerated John Ogwyn's unique interpretations because of his big following, he tolerates Mario's.

There's also the doctrinal "upgrade" about the marriage supper, and the one about the falling away.

Now, if a mere ordinary MEMBER were to try to teach as differently as Hernandez, Winnail and Ames are teaching, they would be treated like the poor Charlotte members who dared to study the book of Enoch. But if Mario Hernandez were to study the book of Enoch, Meredith wouldn't do a thing about it.

Hoss said...

Besides a line in Jude, scholars believe Jesus' line "son of man" may also have been taking from Enoch. Apparently in the first century CE the Book of Enoch was very popular.

The COGs also discourage reading the Apocrypha. Although I and II Maccabees may be inaccurate history, they do help in setting the context of first century Judea. Such books likely to have been discouraged as they caused some problems with the WCG's version of history. The events in Maccabees are also the foundation of Hanukkah; although Jesus celebrated it, it was lumped with days like Purim and not HEA-sanctioned - possibly because it didn't include taking up offerings.

Martha said...

Good point, anonymous.

It's very boring that LCG would base their Holy Day narrative on legend from a non-canonical book, say that you're deceived and CUT OFF FROM GOD if you don't believe their narrative, and then disfellowship/CUT OFF people for reading the same non-canonical book.

Some might find it hypocritical. Some might find it ignorant. Either way, it's a problem for your splinter cult AND your theology.

Nice try deflecting. You know, we can see the hits from Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of something:

A few years ago, I reconnected with friends I grew up with in the WCG.
They had "left the fold" recently, then, while I had left much earlier.

At one point our conversation turned to the Bible, and I answered by starting a sentence with, "I recently read in the Book of Habakkuk that ...", when she cut me off, laughing, saying there was no such book in the Bible!

It's interesting how so many have a knowledge of the Bible that's only rooted in what HWA taught. Maybe Herbie never mentioned Habakkuk, I don't know.

Personally, I've found it helpful to examine the Bible from a larger perspective, including the who when where and why's of 'it was written'.
Having come to the obvious conclusion that it's not "the Word of God", I can still appreciate it as intriguing literature within it's more realistic context.

As such, I find myself in a position between those who see the Bible as a horrible thing, and those who use it's words to condemn me to the lake of fire.