2 Peter 3:
Members of the WCG knew these scriptures well and , in fact, all the scriptures that showed just how soon, around the corner, in the next 3, 5, 10, 15 (pick one) and shortly the Second Coming of Jesus was going to be. So do all Evangelical Fundamentalists.
We were in the final gun lap, which turned into laps until WCG/COG ran out of bullets. We all knew how the Apostle Paul went from all will live to see the Second Coming to some will die but not himself who would be changed to "oops, I fought a good fight and I'm outta here..."
We all should also understand the Gospel Jesus telling the disciples that they would see it in their time as well. "When YOU see..." meant THEM. I know we tried, but you cannot make "soon" or "shortly" in the New Testament mean "a period of time lasting thousands of years that is still within the parameters of the Bible meaning of 'soon' and 'shortly.'" That is just nonsense.
So as time went on and on and on and on to where members were joining On and On Anonymous just to stay on track, scoffers at the whole idea of "soon" arose in the Church. Is that really all that difficult for us to believe and in doing so were they really doing it because they had evil desires? Is that not a bit like saying "the only reason Scientists want to believe Evolution is because they don't want to obey or believe God and the Bible." Really??? Is that their motive? Of course not, but when scoffers, which is the church term used against people who merely notice things aren't going as advertised, arise, they have to be put in their place lest others start thinking this through on their own as well.
Peter (But not really Peter and rather a later Church Father type after time had worn on) goes on to say that they "deliberately forget," about Noah's Flood to justify their evil ways.
Can we see the hot button words that are used against those who notice such realities, to demonize them to the church members? Is the scoffer to blame for observing that nothing of what has been said to date about Jesus returning and the arrival of the Kingdom of God has happened yet or appears to be about to happen? Can we see that what would be considered mature and sane observations by those not in the Church are only called scoffers by those in? Can we see it is the leadership doing the labeling and it is the membership who is at fault? Can we see they are losing members over this? Of course we can.
Peter again goes on to say that it is obvious God is giving humans more time in his infinite wisdom. Sound familiar? This is a classic recovery used when some predicted event does not come to pass. Currently, Dave Pack is stuck in this mode. It is never that the prediction was slap wrong from the beginning. It is now that God is just so much more merciful than we thought and we have more time to get our act together. There is nothing new under the sun. It's a great out when a simple "I was wrong," would do.
And when all else fails, tell the brethren that while soon had dragged on and God has given us more time, Jesus will still come quickly and in a much more sneaky way than when we first believed. Dave Pack's current ploy.
So there you have it. Sincere observers are scoffers. They do it be evil and forget the Noah story. God is giving us all more time. But it can happen tonight so still send it in. 2 Peter shows that ministers have been using the same excuses and accusations against the observers among them for 2000 years.
Remember the buzz words and phrases used by WCG (and many many other fundamentalist organizations) when someone strayed for the "soon", "shortly" and "3-5 years and I mean it brethren"?
But one man's scoffer is another man's cautious observer and critical thinker. Let's face it... the scoffers that Peter rails against were right! Now whoever actually wrote the text adds the new twist that again it is the members fault as they need to know that "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day." You see, the problem is with the members misunderstanding how God views time. Of course this was not taught or mentioned in the early years when soon meant soon and shortly meant shortly. It is only something one throws in after years of disappointment, growing older and seeing the hopeful die like everyone else.
Kinda like Ron Weinland chiding the brethren for thinking some things he said were literally true when in fact they were merely "spiritually true." He made that up when what he also thought was literally true simply did not happen. Of course, rather than say, "I goofed," the whole thing is redefined by leadership and the blame for ignorance is put on the membership. Usually, "I NEVER said that," sneaks in there somewhere.
A good skeptic will keep you more on track than an unbridled theological fool.
When I or anyone else who has grown through the WCG years, observes the reality of this or that wrong idea in the past or the foolishness of the ones being currently offered to keep the faithful faithful, we are not scoffing. It is a realistic, up to this moment and a true observation based on the observable fact that yet another date for "Soon" has come and gone.
It is not scoffing to notice that 100% of the predictions of Jesus Second Coming have been 100% wrong, 100% of the time over the last 2000 years. That is just a 100% accurate observation. It is only leadership within an organization that wants to keep the system intact and the "just around the corner" motivator alive and running who calls people scoffers and full of evil desires.
Leadership must assign judgmental and negative labels to those who think outside the box and observe what any clear thinking human would observe in such situations.
The Apostle Paul NEVER admitted to anyone he was wrong about his soons and shortlys. He kept changing the meanings until all he could come up with was "I have kept the faith..therefore there is laid up for ME..." Kinda sad actually. While he does add "and not only to me," someone could have penned that in to fix the problem of all the others who had been faithful like Paul not being counted. Habitually it was all about him in his writings. Almost feels like the excuses the Captain of the latest Cruise Ship disaster made when he said he slid down the deck when the ship tipped and fell into a lifeboat that then left the ship. (His second in command also ended up in that very same boat of all things.) It is just terribly difficult to say, "I was wrong."
When "all those in Asia have forsaken me," Paul was unable and unwilling to ask himself why. He simply asked God not to hold it to THEIR charge. It would never have crossed Paul's mind to wonder why everyone thought he was nuts. And so it is today.
As a result of Peter's statements, the soon that wasn't has been dragged out into a "soon" that only has meaning if one reads the Bible. Bible "soon" and "shortly" as well as days far spent really mean long, longer and really long times. In the real world, we know better.
A healthy skepticism protects people from going down the wrong paths or at least recognizing they are on one and rethinking the trip. It is not scoffing. It is reality. That "Scoffer" label is what those who do not think critically, or refuse to see what they do see, or refuse to say what they need to say, or believe everything they are told in the updates by the church, use. Blame the messenger for the message is a very old old concept when it comes to Church leaders getting input they don't want to hear.
Noticing that nothing has happened in 2000 years since the story ended is not scoffing. The ultimate problem is that the WCG and the current COGs do not take observations from the bottom up. All observations and skepticism on this or that must come from the top down. If it does not, it is not a problem and the membership should not concern themselves with it. Problems the leadership does not notice or have a clue about simply don't exist. Problems the membership notices and has plenty of clues to work with are simply one of those listed on the labels for the lazy and lying slackards listed above.
To question Church teaching as part of the leadership is just endeavoring to stay on track and obey God with an occasional admission of "God is revealing more truth to the church." To question the church teachings, or even the Biblical text from the bottom up is rebellion and is nothing but trouble for the one who notices.
It's ok to be skeptical of claims made by Bible readers, including the minister. It's ok to not be impressed with his education or the way he cobbles scriptures together to weave a tale. The reason it is ok is because there will be things you will be expected to do because of his tale weaving. It might be to send more in than you can afford, do something you normally would not do or believe something and act it out hurting yourselves, your family and mind in the process.
The day might come when you will thank the Skeptic who opened your eyes to a problem that needed to be recognized and not just view the observations made as coming from unconverted, fallen away and whose end is to be burned Scoffers.