Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Why has the Church of God always been embarrassed about its self?

I am on a secret Facebook page filled with over 780 former COG members that has all kinds of conversations going on, usually about abuse at the hands of the ministry or church.  One of the conversations has centered around how the church called it's self  a "nondenominational church" instead of a Christian church.

I remember in 1962 when I was in first grade that we had been instructed to say the church we attended was nondenominational.  We did not claim to be Christian because that was a label for back sliding,  Sunday keeping, pork eating  Christmas keeping false Christians, even though they proclaimed Jesus much more than the COG did.

Because of church beliefs many thought church members were Jews because  we rarely, if at all, talked about Jesus but sure talked about old testament holy days and old testament biblical characters.  However, church members found the Jewish label to be just as offensive as being called Christian.  

Church literature and sermons rarely mentioned Jesus and if they did, it was in the last couple of paragraphs in an article or as a side comment in a sermon.

Even Herbert Armstrong could not bring himself to say God or Jesus and had to talk about a "strong hand from some place."

When HWA started gallivanting around the world bribing audiences with world leaders with offers of cash and Steuben crystal, he did it under the auspices of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation.  It was too embarrassing to say he was there as a leader of a church.

Even if you look back at old issues of the Tomorrow's World magazine, which was supposed to be filled with "meaty" articles for the baptized, there was seldom mention of Jesus, but lots and lots of law.

I think part of the problem today that almost all of the various COG incarnations suffer from is the fact they still cannot take a stand on who they are and what they believe.  They pretend to be Jewish, then whence when people compare them to the Jews. They pretend to be Christian, but can't talk about Jesus.  

Because the church has no identity, it allows it self to fall under the spell of devious men like Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, Bob Thiel and James Malm.   These men have made it all about themselves. They are special conduits of streaming knowledge directly from God the Father, but never Jesus.  Everything revolves around their personal interpretations regardless of how sick and perverted it is.  Just look at Dave Pack and Bob Thiel with all their self aggrandizing comments about themselves.  It is all about them and not the church or Jesus.

United Church of God makes endless attempts to make a name for itself with public campaigns and appearances, but it has accomplished nothing other than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It has left no witness about Jesus anywhere.

Now that this version of the Church of God movement moves into the 80 some years of existence it is still shocking that it still has no identity or focus on the one it claims to follow. 

One Facebook user made the following accurate description of the Church of God:

"A non denominational non sectarian educational group in the public interest!"

This is exactly why not a single Church of God group is growing today nor has any impact.


Anonymous said...

When I used to attend WCG back in the 80's & 90's I would always refer to it as a denomination. But thank God I am free of that cultic denomination and attend Advent Christian Church every Sunday.

Anonymous said...

What's with the Jedi knight photo? Have him holding a 'lit' light sabre, would make it look just right.

Anonymous said...

Not only would the ministers mention Herbie more often than God and Christ, but they also hid that God leads every Christian individually. I have been reading church literature since the mid sixties, and not once have I read a article pointing this out. This is no different than Moses pushing God to one side, and being forbidden from entering the promised land. Note how the punishment of the 'harsh OT God' has not deterred Herbie and his ministers from repeating this sin.
No forgetting, Herbie worshippers prefer to complain about shaved heads and Bart Simpson teenagers sporting tattoos.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about the UCG is that they want to be considered a non-cultic, mainstream Christian type of a church but they still hold onto beliefs that are sooo out of the mainstream. Because of this they will fail in attracting new members and because many of the hardline COG's consider the UCG as being Laodicean they will not attract many of them. You can't have it both ways UCG! The result, no growth at best, or more likely, continued decline.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Even worse -- so much worse -- is that Jesus was quoted as being the one to bring the knowledge of The Father.

Herbert Armstrong certainly went on and on about God -- how powerful He was, particularly -- but nary even a hint of a mention about who or what God, The Father was. Not a word.

It's because Herbert Armstrong had on conception of God Father, with the love, care and concern. He couldn't conceive of it because of the relationship (or lack thereof) with his own father -- rather arm's length, detached -- and because he was an absolutely horrible father himself. He had no way to understand God as Father and he certainly teach anyone else how to have a relationship with God as Father. Rather, God was a Corporate CEO of the Universe, with great power and influence and good luck getting an appointment to get in to see Him any time in all eternity. God only sees important people (and since Herbert Armstrong saw himself as the most important man on earth, he was the only one who would ever get into to see God). Herbert Armstrong didn't really believe members of the WCG could ever get into the Kingdom except for their supporting Herbert Armstrong. Otherwise, forget it. And even so, you'd still be relegated to be under layers and layers and layers of others above you for all eternity. The only good news was that you'd be able to lord over hapless helpless people inferior to you.

The whole thing was extremely sick.

Today, none of the leaders and ministers know anything at all about God as Father. It's never discussed, and good thing too, since they have no idea or concept of such a thing.

They don't accept Jesus. Jesus was to teach us about God as Father.

Therefore, absolutely none of them -- not a one -- can tell you a thing about Him.

Worse, everyone has missed the point.

Armstrongism is such a useless failure.

The Painful Truth said...

Eventually all the groups will declare themselves Messianic Jews without the messiah.

Vaughn said...

How about, instead: "A non denominational, non sectarian, anti-educational, group not in the public interest!"

Byker Bob said...

When you think about it, many of the sermons and articles were consumed with justifying and explaining away ridiculous and irrational (actually indefensible) positions. That can't help but rub off on members, who picked up on the whole being on the defensive thingie.

It's really become worse just in the past twenty years. People like Ron Weinland, Dave Pack, and Bob Thiel expend the majority of their energy explaining away, and defending their failures. Either that, or complaining that everyone stays away from their "work" or doesn't recognize and respect the titles they've given themselves.

Actually, it is really quite simple. When people become embarrassed, it is always over something that is embarrassing. There are very few things in this life that are more embarrassing than Armstrongism.


Michael said...

Good synopsis, although surprised to see Hulme's group not mentioned!

I would say that they are the absolute masters of being so embarrassed about the religious message, that you're hard pressed to even deduce that they are a church at all. Their Vision articles (the only ones the common plebe can get access to...) are general scholarly-like abstract discussions of various topics, sometimes ending with some comments like (not actual quotes but close-->) "the apostle Paul made some interesting observations that seem appropriate to our modern situation" or "the Bible's relevance is often overlooked"... In other words, very vague head-nods to some sort of religious bent, but to be too forthright about their beliefs might be looked down upon by those in the scholarly community, and that wouldn't be acceptable, now would it.

Anonymous said...

"...even though they proclaimed Jesus much more than the COG did."

actually, they proclaimed another Jesus, not the Creator.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any of the splinter groups having any growth whatsoever. It seems they all have x-worldwide members and maybe very few new "recruits" that have no previous "Armstrong" brainwashing. I happen to know that members of these groups have people that jump from one group to another. I've met some people that go from PCG to UCG to LCG to RCG to CGI to ICG. These people can't make up their minds where they want to attend.

Anonymous said...

The only group claiming growth is Bob Thiel's cult. Much of what he is reporting as membership totals is a lie. His actual numbers are far below what he is claiming. Of course lying has never been a problem for Thiel. From his double blessing to his self-appointment, it has all been one big lie.

Anonymous said...

Flurry And Pack Assume They Have A Strong Hold On Their Membership But Most Of The Older Members Have Learned From The Past That As Long As You Keep Your Mouth Shut About What You Do In Your Private Life You Can Pretty Much Retain Membership Status In One Group And Continue Being A Member In Another Group. I Myself Have A Couple Of Friends That Do Just That.

Byker Bob said...

So, what do these people do? Some of the ACOGs teach that you qualify for the kingdom not through grace, but by embracing their brand of gnosticism and submitting to their level of church authority. Are the wanderers trying to escape notice by the authority? To comparison shop for a tolerable or fair (impossible in Armstrongism) level of it? Independents say they love the doctrines but can't abide by wrongly exercised authority in the splinters. Splinter leaders teach that it's necessary to live under their authority to make it into the Kingdom. The fact that that's even being promoted should indicate to people who have read the New Testament that we're talking about a bogus institution to start with.

Armstrongism is even a worse mess than it was in the so-called golden era. And, speaking of gold, that gold stuff on the edges of the pages isn't supposed to be there to hold your New Testament together.


Arno said...

NO2HWA: Thought provoking observations shared in this post. I resonate with everything you've shared in this post :)

BLACK OPS MIKEY: In my opinion you've shared a spot-on "psychological" profile as to why HWA shied away from ever trying to get a handle (let alone share a handle) about God as a Father, with the then Church.

The Armstrong family of that time was just too dysfunctional to be able to share any thoughts about God's relationship with the Individual and vice versa, with the Curch Members, except for stating over and over and ad nauseum in the publications that God is a FAMILY.

It took a rather long journey until I was able to get a grip on the "Father idea," God as a caring, nurturing and loving Father, because I also happened to be a result of a dysfunctional family...

Once I freed myself from the bondage of Armstrongism and anything and everyrhing COG, setting myself to find knowledge about God and the Personage I came to know as Jesus of Nazareth, whether from the Xtian bible or extra biblical sources, my vistas broadened; but I made sure nobody, but NOBODY, except my personal search for the Divine and god-given reason, accompanied me on my search.

That is why I shy away from any organized religion or church group, and prefer to go it alone on my personal spiritual walk and search. Look, one good thing that came out of my years in Armstrongism, is that I've learnt not to put my trust in human creatures when and where "eternal matters" are involved.

The good stuff (some may call it >>spiritual nuggets<<) that happens to be here and there in the Hebrew and Xtian scriptures, I've isolated, but the rest I've rejected. In my worldview the atonement doctrine also have no place - not only is it irrational, but inhuman and ungodlike and some a slap in God's face to even think that He could contemplate and entertain such a barbaric and viciously cruel "way of salvation and reconciliation" between human and God. No wonder >>marking<< and >>shunning<< are so rife in the COG's! Why? Because that's exactly what the OT God as well as the Paulinian god-cocept and worldview entail...

Live and let live, and USE your God-given reason to determine what is right and wrong - not what someone else or some patchwork ancient old anthology of suspect old books are trying to force on you.

Anonymous said...

11.07 PM
Of course there can't be growth in the splinters. The reason is that time has run out. It takes many years for a person to mature, so God has stopped calling people. Where else on the face of this planet do you get congregations with a average age of 74 years or so?
The WWCG is now the Old Farts Churches of God.

Byker Bob said...

Actually there have been suggestions along the way that we refer to it as a movement (fine with me, so long as the modifier "bowel" is also applied) rather than a church, and look to HWA's secular accomplishments around the world rather than his theology as having been the lasting effect.

So far as Thiel's part in all of this is concerned, it is important to note that one important aspect of Armstrongism is that as a leader you must take and exert control. In his primary growth or poach area, historically the Africans are known for not ceding their control. They are smart enough to evaluate the relative worth of potential benefactors, and to invest their allegiance with the one or ones who are most effective on their behalf. In other words, he will lose his followers on that continent in much the same way as he acquired them. There was once an all inclusive statement used to describe various activities in Africa. Actually, it was an acronym. WAWA: West Africa wins again!


Sweetblood777 said...

'In the public interest?' Hardly! In the public interest means that what is being said or taught is helpful to the public. But in the case of the cogs, this just isn't so. What is put out there for the public is nothing but baiting under false pretenses.

The main goal is not to make new creatures in Christ, but to draw in people using fear in order to gain tithe slaves. This my friends, as HWA would say, is the plain truth. Follow the money is always good advice. Who benefits? Who calls the shots? Who is allowed to teach? Who gets to determine how you live your life? Who gets to make the decisions concerning your wife, your children, and who you may associate with?

When you get right down to it, to join any of these organizations is to give up your manhood/womanhood and allow others to dictate and rule over you. Is any of this right? Are we not to be obeying Yahshua/Jesus rather than men? Is not Christ able to correct us and guide us when we do wrong? Does He need to have every vain nut come out and be our master?

All of the OT prophets and famous men of old, answered to no one, but Elohim. We likewise do NOT need taskmasters over us. By not leading in our own lives now, how on earth is the Father going to use any of us to lead in the world to come?

Let that sink in.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, the comments about UCG and the public profile/acknowledgement of Jesus Christ seem to be a bit out of date. A simple search of “Jesus Christ” on ucg.org yields more than 24,000 links. The current issue of the UCG magazine is focused on Jesus Christ. Following are just a few links (including a new booklet on Jesus as Savior):

“We meet all around the world to worship together. Some congregations are big. Some are small. Jesus Christ unites us all as one Body.” (opening statement on ucg.org -- and by the way, UCG does not claim to be the exclusive "one church")

(New UCG booklet) Jesus Christ – Saved by His Life https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/jesus-christ-saved-by-his-life

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread Point Directly to Jesus Christ as Savior https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/passover-and-the-feast-of-unleavened-bread-point-directly-to

Christ the True Passover Lamb https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/christ-the-true-passover-lamb

Jesus Christ – The Lamb Foreordained Before the Foundation of the World https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/the-lamb-foreordained-before-the-foundation-of-the-world

The Greatest Sacrifice (What Jesus gave us for us) https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/the-greatest-sacrifice

Anonymous said...

Many years ago when I joined WWCG it became obvious that HWA and GTA were being worshiped instead of our Creator. The lack of focus on Christ examples and teachings about how a minister is to behave was to avoid shinning the light on their own bad behavior. I once told a top minister that in my decades of experience, Christ was mostly made to sit in the back of the bus. In on survey by UCG, I told them that the Protestants don't own Jesus Christ.

All that said, I can honestly state that UCG has made significant progress overcoming that old bias. In a previous Good News that covered the Holy Days, it focused on how Christ was at the center of each Holy Day. Our current Beyond Today magazine focus is how Jesus is the Lamb of God in Passover.

So things are better. You do still have some old time ministers who avoid using the name of Jesus, but over all things are more balanced.

Why did I stay when I saw the Armstrong cultish leadership? Where was I to go. I wasn't going back to being Catholic. The Protestant churches taught some Christ like behavior, but their over all theology was too pagan. So I stayed and now UCG overall is better, but still has some steps to take to be more "Christ like".

But you say where is the growth. Before Christ was crucified He told his disciples that the world would reject His Gospel. That people will kill His followers thinking they doing God a service. God's Church was never going to be popular or accepted. The religious establishment couldn't tolerate Jesus pointing out their hypocrisy. So they murdered their own Savior and Creator.

Yes, the HWA legacy has brought on it's own reasons for rejection, but even if done right, Christ told us ahead of time that His message would be not sell to this evil world.

Anonymous said...

'Church authority' is the ministers protecting the church crazies that everyone complains about, and rigging the rules to create a paradise for crooks in the church. Note how the ministers give no or next to no scriptures to justify their 'authority.' It's all play acting as if they do. Their 'real' authority comes from church culture, ie, it's OK since Herbie said I can do it.

Byker Bob said...

Agreed! I've always said no ACOG minister is ever going to repent of sins he knows he has in common with Herb. Those sins ironically end up being part of the officially sanctioned "good" example package, although they frequently fall at odds with Jesus' own examples.

The splinters also laugh about the Pharisees' extra dos and don'ts, and the secret knowledge of the Gnostics. HWA traditions like two hour sermons, and the conspiracy theories he embraced end up being just as much a part of church government as their first century counterparts. This is what happens when church government involves making its leaders into quasi-Biblical figures, like apostles and prophets. How is it that COG people are blinded to seeing these things? They are forced to via "church government".


Anonymous said...

7.38 AM
The lack of focus on Christ stems from a Cain Vs Abel reaction. They hate Christ and what He stands for. This is discernible in how ministers respond to the responsible person. It's war against that person.

Sweetblood777 said...

Anon 7:38 I do not think that they actually hate Christ or other people, it is because they do not possess the spirit of love, first towards themselves, their family, and then others.

People, even many who are not religious, have shown forth love to their fellow man even to the point of dying for them. One witnesses this in war, when a buddy would put themselves in harms way to save their friend, or a parent would step in and protect their children to the point of suffering death on their behalf.

Those that don't have this level of love, for whatever reason, do not have this spirit of love. Cruel 'ministers' do not have this quality. They take out their own lack of being loved, on others. Anyone who shows this type of behavior, has been mistreated along the way, or was given far too much as they grew, making them selfish and self centered.

Anonymous said...

The way the world works is that people either embrace virtue or declare war on it. Over time, there is a natural polarization toward one or the other. This is implied in Gods 'choose life or choose death.' For instance, society is getting worse. It is not standing still or getting better.
According to professionals who study criminality, this 'they have been mistreated' is a myth. People are evil by choice. God holds people responsible for their sins, and does not accept such excuses.
Many times in John, Christ mentions people hating God and Christians. The hatred toward the responsible in the church is discernible, the hatred toward God is not, but it must be there. I assume its repressed.