Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Extra-biblical Religious Beliefs and Practices Held by Various Modern Church of God (COG) Groups, Sub-groups, and Individuals





In the Spirit of the Pharisees, 
by ACM
March 2017

He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
`This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' (Mar 7:6-7 NKJ) 
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and
cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Mat 23:23 NKJ)
Below is an ongoing project and survey documenting an exhaustive, open-ended list of arguably extra-biblical religious beliefs and practices held by various modern Church of God (COG) groups, sub-groups, and individuals. The groups are not named - this is only a list of the beliefs and practices in no particular order. The project illustrates that many, if not most, of these practices and teachings are equivalent to the commandments and traditions of men which the scribes and Pharisees held, and which Jesus condemned (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7). Likewise, there is not a detailed discussion herein of the various ancient Jewish sects among and other than the Pharisees (Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) but only a rather generalized description of “Pharisee” and “Pharisaical” for the sake of a basic comparison. While the Pharisees may not have held the specific beliefs listed (and they may have had a longer list, and been a less fragmented body of adherents) these modern COG extra-biblical doctrines and practices have been established and kept in the same or similar motivation (“spirit”) as the Pharisees. (list of actual Pharisaical rules: THE 39 MELACHOT 

It is commonly accepted that a major problem with the scribes and Pharisees that warranted
condemnation from Jesus was the emphasis, deference and weight that they placed on their
own rules, as well as their emphasis on the physical aspects of real biblical instructions, to the neglect and exclusion of the spiritual, "weightier" aspects of the law (Matthew 23:23).
Furthermore, the scribes and Pharisees used their extra-biblical commandments of men and
emphasis on the physical aspects of the law to establish their own righteousness.

The focus of this project is to bring into the open widespread pietism, albeit denied by the
pietists, created because of the similar weight and importance placed on the modern
manifestations of COG-created rules, doctrines, beliefs and practices. An extension to the
project may be done later to show that the churches place inappropriate emphasis on the
physical aspects of real biblical instructions, however for this project only the extra-biblical
practices will be listed for the purpose of focusing attention on the fact that there are many
such practices prevalent, and held in high regard among the believers.

The known hurdle to the project is the argument, "I'm not being Pharisaical in the practice of
my religion," which this project is intending to expose as a misconception by showing that in
the modern Church of God, inappropriate emphasis is being placed on the items listed. If the believer’s righteousness and standing with God are believed to be compromised by the neglect of the items on this list, then we are forced to admit that these items are being used to establish the believer’s righteousness.

Not all of the items listed below are common to all of the various Church of God groups, and
there is no suggestion that all COG adherents hold to all of these beliefs. Nor is there an intent to depict believers as exhibiting the spirit of the Pharisees only if the believers practice the entire list. It is left to the reader to determine how large one’s own personal list, or that of his particular faction, needs to be before qualifying as Pharisaical. While the Pharisees were noted for their peculiar rules, their large quantity of rules also commonly receives notice, and indeed such a large number is an important factor (it wasn’t just the strange rules they had that were notable, but the fact that they had so many). Yet, would Jesus remove his condemnation if the scribes and Pharisees had a smaller quantity of rules, say, half or one quarter of what they really had? Or is it rather the spirit (intent), regardless of how many or few man-made rules they had, which was the root issue? The challenge is to lower our defensive fists and evaluate whether we are susceptible to the same intent of the Pharisees, even if we don’t possess as full and diverse a collection of extra-biblical religious beliefs ourselves.

Just as the Pharisees would claim that their damnable beliefs were extensions of God’s will,
modern-day Church of God adherents may claim that the below list contains beliefs and
practices that are biblically justified. Furthermore, the list is not intended to show doctrines
that are clearly biblical yet no longer required, relating to the aforesaid inappropriate emphasis on real biblical instructions. Nor does the list depict examples of “legalism” in the modern theological sense of law and statute keeping in general. For example, the list does not contain the practice of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath holy in general, even though many COG critics would identify this as a legalistic practice by itself, regardless of the emphasis placed on it by the Sabbath keeper. However, the practice of not eating at restaurants on the Sabbath is appropriate for this list because it is a modern, extra-biblical rule, perhaps devised with a similar purpose that the Pharisees had in devising their rules on Sabbath keeping.

Many of the beliefs that are appropriate for listing in this project are not officially or historically documented in COG literature, but are cultural practices that have come to bear the weight of established, pious tradition. Some of the practices are widespread traditions, and others are observed by fringe individuals peppered throughout the factions. Thus, research to find more items to add to the list involves learning about individuals’ experiences in the churches. You are invited to send items you deem applicable to . All correspondence will be strictly confidential except for content you wish to have added to the project, and at the author’s discretion. The list will be updated periodically, probably irregularly.

The list (in process):

Refusal to obey the instructions of the ministry is equivalent to rebellion against God.

Refusal to believe new teachings of the ministry is equivalent to lacking faith in God.

Disrespecting the ministry is equivalent to disrespecting God.

The ministry is not to be second-guessed.

The ministry is tasked with helping the lay members become submissive to the ministry.

You must address the minister, elder, deacon as "Mr…".

The pattern of governance that Moses established should be used in the Church today.

You must avoid contact with all individuals who have left the faith.

You must proclaim that Herbert W. Armstrong was an apostle of God.

The ministry has the authority to forbid you from marrying, or having a romantic
relationship with a particular individual.

Interracial dating and marriage is forbidden.

A wife’s infidelity is more egregious than a husband’s.

You must disown your son, daughter or any other household member if he/she is not in
the faith, even if it means expelling the individual from your home, regardless of age.

You must be baptized in order to attend Passover.

The Church must only preach the Gospel to the physical descendants of Israel.

A tithe of the tithe is to be paid to the Church.

Your faith is measured by how much you materially contribute to Church.

Your governmental position in the Kingdom of God will be determined by how much you
materially contribute to the Church in this life.

Wearing makeup is sinful.

The name of the organization must have "Church of God" in order to be the true Church.

True Christians do not serve on juries.

True Christians do not vote in civil elections.

Members are required to wear their best dress clothes to services.

You should bend forward during the prayers at services (bending further indicates
greater devotion).

Only Dwight Armstrong hymns are to be sung at services. Some members refuse to sing
the non-Dwight hymns.

Mushrooms should not be eaten because they are unclean life forms.

Self-defense is sinful and indicates a lack of faith.

Reading fictional literature will make a Christian susceptible to demon possession.

Hypnotherapy will make a Christian susceptible to demon possession.

Most mental and emotional illness is the result of demonic possession.

Mental therapy and psychiatric counseling should be avoided. The minister will provide
all the counseling you need.

Medical practitioners in general should be avoided. The minister will be the conduit of
miraculous healing instead.

Sometimes illness is the result of sin, but you don't know when this is true.

When a competing faction or enemy has problems, it is because God cursed them, but
when your faction has problems it is because Satan is attacking you.

In the Kingdom of God Jesus Christ will serve you food as a waiter.

Christians will become individual gods after they are resurrected and other humans will
worship them.

Satan causes the hostile nature of wild animals, except God can increase this hostility in
order to curse large populations of humanity.

Begging God during prayer increases the likelihood of the prayer being answered.

Preaching to the public is not done with the intent to convert, but to witness against
those perishing, toward the end of saving from condemnation the one preaching.

You must not preach spiritual salvation to the public.

You should not overuse the terms “Jesus,” “grace,” “salvation,” “saved,” “beloved,”
“Lord,” “O, Lord,” “dear Lord,” “praise,” “praise God,” “praise Jesus,” “praise the Lord,”
“thank the Lord,” “mercy,” “born again,” “sweet,” or “precious,” to name a few. These
terms are generally Protestant and embarrassing to say.

You must not add fuel to your vehicle on a Sabbath.

You must not eat in a restaurant on a Sabbath.

You must not travel beyond a certain distance on a Sabbath.

Only classical music is Sabbath-appropriate music.




Open Categories

Category: Things the ministry has authority to decide for you

Category: Things that insult God

Category: Modern ways to break the Sabbath

Category: What activities are Sabbath-appropriate/inappropriate?

Category: Ways to invite demonic possession

Category: Physical things or symbols that defile you

Category: Ways to be rebellious against the ministry

Category: Things that justify disfellowshiping (excommunication)

Category: Avoiding paganism and things that have ever been associated with paganism

Category: Evidence of British-Israelism

8 comments:

Black Ops Mikey said...

Missed a bit

Some glaring omissions:

Hierarchy

Implied, but not strictly stated: How much freedom you have depends on your rank in the social group. If you are on the bottom, you are subject to the slavery and whims of those above you. If you are at the top, you not only get away with murder, but your underlings make excuses for you.

ANTI SCIENCE

Science is scoffed at as being 'science, so called' a phrase attributed to the science hating Apostle Paul. You need to know that as a lowly subject of the kingdom of insanity, magic prevails, replete with potions and spells. Unlike professional magic, like that used by witches, warlocks and wizards though, this magic is arbitrary and even if you get the spells correct (as in praying), the results vary widely or don't work at all (including the olive oil potion for healing).

ANTI TRUTH

While anti science may be involved, this is much more inclusive. Truth, particularly inconvenient truths about the leaders and truth about doctrines must be suppressed in the standard ways outlined in Creating the Innovation Culture by Frances Horibe. Machiavelli's instructions to the prince are followed faithfully. It's a brave new world where War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.

EMOTIONAL EXTORTION

You can never do enough. There's always this GREAT NEED in THE WORK. Yes, you will be an infidel by diverting your resources from your family, but you'll be a bigger infidel if you neglect the needs of your cult leader. And you'd better follow all those silly little rules about opinions made into doctrine or YOU'LL BE SORRY! Nonspecific, but none the less. You really SHOULD DO THIS! It is a MORAL IMPERITIVE.

Or else you'll have ALL THAT SHOUTING GOING OFF IN YOUR HEAD!

INTIMIDATION

We are right and you are wrong. You know nothing. You had to come to us, remember! You don't know anything and all your own ideas are wrong! Only we are right.

And by the way, this sort of position of overwhelming superiority has been shown by studies to actually reduce I.Q. by 30 to 40 points, so expect to be a moron for the rest of your life. You are unimportant so it doesn't matter anyway that you are stupid.

Anonymous said...

You can only keep the Feast of Tabernacles at a church-approved site, no matter how much of a financial burden that will be on your family. And if you won't put yourself deep into debt to attend, you may not serve as a deacon in any COG.

I agree, however, that mushrooms should not be eaten. Not because they're unclean but because they're squishy.

Anonymous said...

It's true that a wifes infidelity is more egregious (ie serious) than a mans. Or as it's more commonly expressed, if a man fornicates, he's a stud, but if a woman fornicates, she's a slut. It's an exaggeration, but true. The reason being that the sex act is not symmetrical. In the sex act, a man leaves a microcosm of himself behind in the woman. There's a mental counter part here as well. The man leaves a mental part of himself behind. So a man can screw a woman and shrug it off, but a woman cannot. So there's some truth to loose women being called sluts. With one in five people having the incurable Herbies disease, you're nuts if you screw around anyway.

Hoss said...

Jesus waiting tables? Sounds like another Dave Pack speculation.

"Church of God" - with all the raving about things that could be remotely connected to paganism, the word "Church" was kept rather than "assembly" or "congregation". Dr Martin - famous for his refutation, "The Tithing Papers", showed the etymology of "Church" goes back to "Circe, daughter of the Sun".

Retired Prof said...

Dr. Martin goofed in tracing "church" to the name of the Goddess Circe. Our modern word does not connect to early pagan goddess worship at all.

His mistake is understandable, since the modern transliteration of the name is spelled just like the Old English form of the word now spelled "church." Here is Wikipedia: "Circe (/ˈsɜːrsiː/; (Greek: Κίρκη Kírkē pronounced [kírkɛ͜ɛ]) is a goddess of magic (or sometimes a nymph, witch, enchantress or sorceress) in Greek mythology."


And here is the Collins English dictionary on the etymology of "Church": "Greek kyriakon (adj.) "of the Lord" was used of houses of Christian worship since c.300, especially in the East, though it was less common in this sense than ekklesia or basilike. An example of the direct Greek-to-Germanic progress of many Christian words, via the Goths; it probably was used by West Germanic people in their pre-Christian period."

Notice how different the transliteration of the original name "kirke" is from "kyriakon." The subsequent similarity between the Modern English spelling/pronunciation that developed for the former and the Old English spelling/pronunciation of the latter is mere coincidence.

This etymological correction does not refute the idea that elements of Pagan goddess-worship entered early European Christianity. It merely does not provide evidence that they did.

Anonymous said...

it's so ironic that you think that you make christians who are trying really hard to please God look bad on your website, to any christian who has Jesus Christ living in them it is actually you who looks worse and worse with every post that you put online.

nobody can seperate christians from the love of God and their fellows, bet you thought you could lead alot of people into darkness. Because that is all that this website exudes, darkness and hatred against christians. Why dont you write some of this stuff about some muslims? Oh thats right you are to afraid of those.

You have used your ability to write for evil.

NO2HWA said...

I have no beef with Christians who really practice their faith and do good works. There is no way I can attack anyone who is secure in their faith, If I were able to do that then they have no idea what they believe. Just look at the COG with its hundreds and hundreds of splinter personality cults with members following vain and narcissistic leaders who lie and deceive them. If these people were secure in their beliefs, there would be no need to see thousands of church members jump ship from one group to the next because they cannot find fulfillment in what they think is right. Twenty some years of church hopping proves that.

If you were secure in your faith you would have no problem whatsoever in reading about how some churches and leaders prey on their people. You would immediately recognize some of the traits mentioned in the article that your present day leader may be exhibiting.

A secure person in their faith has no problem reading and studying about opposing viewpoints. A secure person in faith would have no problem reading about evolution, how cults work, the new covenant, or even talking about Jesus.

If you actually understood the new covenant, grace, justification, sanctification, you would realize that you do not need to continually "try" to please God. Any Christian who has Jesus living in them realizes this. You are right that a real Christian can never be separated from God, but look at the trail of bodies and broken lives left in the wake of Armstrongism. God certainly is NOT pleased at how COG leaders have separated them from him.

As a regular church goer there is nothing what I do here that exudes darkness and hatred towards Christians. The darkness and hatred drips from the fingertips and the mouths of the sick and perverted COG leaders who lie and deceive their followers into believing perverted and twisted truths they claim God has revealed to them in dreams or in some kind of revelation. How has Meredith, Pack, Thiel, Flurry, Kubik and others made real Christians? How did Herbert Armstrong make any REAL Christians? Why do they enslave their members with the law? Why do self-appointed dreaming liars pretend to be God’s instruments? Why do liars claim God has revealed an additional second millienium to them where Jesus comes to visit in Ohio before he goes to Jerusalem?

As for the Muslims I have absolute NO FEAR from any of them. In fact, I know several personally. Do you?

Retired Prof said...

March 28, 2017 at 6:27 PM, let me add a hearty "amen!" to what NO2HWA said. Like him, "I have no beef with Christians who really practice their faith and do good works."

Since I do not practice the Christian faith, you may consider me a person trying to "seperate christians from the love of God and their fellows."

Not true. I have a hope (perhaps misplaced) that "reading and studying about opposing viewpoints" will help people develop for themselves a stable world view. NO2HWA has one, based on faith; so do Byker Bob and Connie. They are not afraid. Also, I am not afraid that their statements of faith will crumble the foundation of my skepticism. Instead, I enjoy reading what they have to say. I admire how secure they are, psychologically and philosophically. By the way, I know a family of Orthodox Jews who are also admirably secure in their faith. Discussions with them are fascinating.

If you find a post alarming, don't dodge it or reject it. Consider it the fire where you can refine your gold. Go ahead and plunge right in. Ponder it till you understand it fully, then see if there is any truth in it at all. If there is, acknowledge that truth. Identify the parts that are not true. Then explain to yourself exactly how they fall short. That is the process, carried out over time, that will lead you to become secure in your faith. If you trust the idea expressed in your own post, it will calm your fears: "nobody can seperate christians from the love of God and their fellows."