Thursday, December 19, 2013

Living Church of God Still Humiliating Bob Thiel

Ever since Bob Thiel stabbed Rob Meredith in the back last year by starting his own splinter personality cult, he has been repeatedly humiliated by Meredith and other LCG members comments about him.

Bob has produced yet another long missive about how the Living Church of God is picking on him. 

A reader sent me an email last week which mentioned that Wallace Smith of the Living Church of God had posted statements attempting to discredit the internet reach of COGwriter and the Continuing Church of God.  After responding to the reader, I decided to post a response on the News of Those Once Affiliated with GCG page.

Bob Thiel is just like David C. Pack.  Bob seems to think his new upstart ministry is the most awesome thing to ever hit the Church of God.  No other work is doing as might a work as he is.  Bob thinks he is doing a more powerful work that Dave Pack.  Pack thinks he is doing a work mightier than Thiel.  The pissing contests are getting to be silly and childish.

Bob has been claiming the Alexa web counter is saying he is getting more hits than other COG groups.  Wallace took him to task for his deceptive twisting of the numbers.  The COG, particularly in Pasadena, was great at twisting numbers to fit the scenarios they were trying to get across to members.  One Accounting Department manager told me several years ago that they could make numbers mean anything they wanted, even if the income was down.

Bob was particularly incensed that Wallace said this:

And as for the “flag draping” Alexa fan I mentioned parenthetically up there who keeps beating the same drum–no matter how tattered and torn that drum gets–forgive me as I mix my metaphors by recommending a prescription: (1) Read Proverbs 20:10 & 23, (2) consider what you’ve claimed of others concerning having (ahem) a “love of the truth”, and (3) prayerfully study Matthew 7:3-5.

My apologies for those who find all of this minutia boring. Frankly, I do too. But when minutia is used to deceive (even self-deceive) and accuse, it’s helpful to get some honest perspective. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be convincing anyone, as I have heard of literally zero people who find such figures convincing. But in the event that anyone ever does get confused by such nonsense and “horn tooting”, hopefully this can be a resource for them.
 Bob then responds addition to passing on insults, Wallace Smith is flatly accusing me of being dishonest or self-deluded. He also later in his post claims my use of (verifiable) numbers is deceitful.
The facts prove that neither of those accusations against me are true.

Bob wants everyone to know that the LCG no longer has God's blessing because Bob took it with him when he left.

Wallace Smith’s “perspective” on this is not, in my view, honest. I am also not ‘flag draping.’ Yet, if he is saying that most of the people he knows prefer to believe a lie than the facts, that is sad, though probably true. LCG simply does not have the Philadelphia mantle anymore, so it is little surprise that most there will accept these improper attacks against me as valid and will choose not to believe the truths I try to report. And the truths about CCOG’s and LCG’s Alexa rankings are so easy to demonstrate.

 You can read Bob's little snitfest here:  LCG Leader Again Continues to Attempt to Discredit

Talk about being thinned skinned!  Grow some balls and stop whining like a little spoiled brat!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

David Hulme and the Hulmerless Church of God Terminating Ministers and Losing Members

Another Church of God is having ministerial problems resulting in terminations resignations.  It seems that David Hulme's little personalty cult is having a rough time right now.  Ministers are leaving and taking members with them. 

Since Hulme's little group was never large, it is going to hit the pocket book of grandiose Dave really hard.  He has always thought of himself as something better than the rest of the world.  The Church of God has never had an minister as puffed up with intellectual snobbery as it has had with Dave. Maybe it's time that facade comes crashing down and he has to live like the lowly members he has sucked dry over the decades.

Malm had this up the other day:

Prominent ministers have been fired (resigned is their word for it) and brethren have left, resulting in declining income; while many more are deeply dissatisfied with David Hulme.  
David is an evangelical masquerading as one of the called out, and David Hulme has always been only about David Hulme, even when I knew him in WCG in the 80′s.  In the nineties David’s reckless spending on personal projects drove UCG to the edge of bankruptcy.

Hulme has had many issues over the years with ministers leaving hsi group, and rightly so.  Here are the points one minister bought up when he left:

Some indication of the unhappiness of John Meakin and ex-COGIC members can be garnered from studying David Hulme's church and personal websites.

 There is no attempt to preach the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15), even within the church's quarterly Vision magazine, which is the public's only acces to the church's teachings. In the Fall 2011 issue, a reader writes: "I have seen a recurrent theme presented and most recently stated .... that the church today as we know it bears very little resemblance to the church Jesus established. I have read this same basic statement many times .... I have yet to read any solid definition of how the church today should look and act according to Vision's writers."
Contact with members of other church groups is actively discouraged. Only church members and other financial supporters can gain access to the church web site.
David Hulme promotes himself, and not the church,  posting his personal profile on various websites dedicated to business professionals, such as the  Linkedin network, where "you can find potential clients ... be found for business opportunities ... search for great jobs ..."

Perhaps it was via these web pages that he was able to obtain work at the Media Relations Summit 2008, where he gave a lecture in Increasing Traffic to Your Corporate Website. In the Autumn/Winter of 2008-9 he lectured in Middle East Politics at the University of Southern California.

David Hulme's profile on Linkedin (shown below in red type) lists his recent work experience as :

1977 — 1979
Circulation Manager (Africa) of Quest Magazine
(Writing & Editing Industry)

David Hulme added this entry in 2010. Although Quest was owned by the Worldwide Church of God, TIME magazine described it as: "nonetheless thoroughly secular. [Herbert] Armstrong gave editorial control to Robert Shnayerson, 55, a former TIME senior editor and Harper's editor in chief, who dedicated the magazine to what he called 'the pursuit of excellence' in fields as diverse as mountain climbing and genetic research."
1986 — 1995
Vice-President of Ambassador Foundation
(Non-Profit Organization, Management industry)
Supervision of Ambassador Auditorium's performing arts program

This foundation was also a secular part of the Worldwide Church of God.

David Hulme's highest profile role was as a presenter of the church's religious TV program, The World Tomorrow, but he seems not to want to admit having worked for this church.

Joseph Tkach,  leader of the Worldwide Church of God after the death of Herbert Armstrong in 1986, soon began to transform its fundamental doctrines. David Hulme was a leading advocate for the doctrinal changes,  as the Director of Public Relations. However, growing opposition to these changes by the majority of members, and their desire for a new church that would retain the former doctrines, prompted him at the last minute to attend the conference that would form the United Church of God in 1995.

1995 — 1998
President of the United Church of God.

Again, he prefers not to have a church association in his personal profile.

David Hulme is highly intelligent and possesses superb presentational skills, but knowing his previous role in Worldwide, why did the majority of ministers vote for David Hulme to be President?

In 1998 he was removed as President by United's Council of Elders for excessive and unauthorized spending, which had plunged United into serious debt.

He then left United, drawing away many members to his new church, the Church of God—an International Community, where he would have the full control that he felt he ought to have had as President of United.
But is it a church? Not according to his personal profile.
1998 — Present
President of Vision Media
(Privately held, Marketing and Advertising Industry)

 He changed this entry in 2010 from Writing & Editing — now he's in Marketing and Advertising?

Although the large outlay necessary to publish the lavish quarterly journal Vision is provided by the tithes and offerings of members and other financial supporters of COGIC, David Hulme considers Vision to be his magazine -his
personal website link in the Linkedin profile page will take you to the Vision magazine website.
1990 — 2003
Education: MA, Ph.D International Relations
Specialized in Middle East and Foreign Policy

The web site proclaims as its purpose: "Vision examines the historical and philosophical origins of current social issues and explores ways to restore peace of mind to our daily lives."

Vision Foundation International was launched in 2010, ostensibly with the mission to assist communities in developing countries to find practical solutions "to improve their physical, mental and spiritual resources, by supporting sustainable humanitarian and educational programs."

However, Vision Foundation International states that donations will be used for:
providing support for Vision Media Publishing, which publishes the international quarterly journal Vision—Insights and New Horizons; providing support to Vision Media Productions, an independent TV production company, to produce documentaries on historical, social and environmental issues; providing funding for documentaries which examine the historical and philosophical origins of current issues; supporting and producing conferences which examine complex issues from a cross-disciplinary viewpoint by bringing together scholars and experts from various fields of study.
From: David Hulme's "VISION"

Dennis muses...

"I am NOTHING without you..."

What would the Churches of God be without the Book of Revelation?

When I was a Pastor in WCG, I asked a Presbyterian Minister what he thought about the Book of Revelation.  He calmly said, "The man had good drugs."

Practically everyone on the planet knows something about the Book of Revelation.  It's blood dripped, vials, trumpets, demons, death and destruction filled pages are a part and parcel of much of our culture.  Every dis-aster ("bad star")  in our world that is of "Biblical proportions" can end up as the final Armageddon event.
"Har-Megiddo" or "valley of Megiddo" is where all the nations of the earth will gather to fight the final battle before Jesus returns.  I worked for a month at "Har-Megiddo" digging through it's history with a shovel and I can tell you, there is no room for all the nations of the earth to meet in that valley.  While beautiful and the gateway between Europe and Asia to Africa, the phrase spoken to me by an Israeli when he showed me the real Mt. Zion , "We Israelis exaggerate," comes to mind.  A few miles to the north in the Caves of Carmel, evidently Neanderthals liked the place as well, 200,000 years ago and  30 feet below Elijah's keister while cowering in the same caves afraid of Jezebel's wrath for his killing off her 450 prophets. Men don't fear other angry religious men, but they do fear an angry pagan woman.

The Churches of God would not survive or have much of a message were it not for the Book of Revelation and its Grandfather, the Book of Daniel.  Revelation is the grease that promotes the fear needed to grow their kind of religious organization.  Nothing generates income faster than "Soon" and "3-5, no more than 10 15 tops."   It is being used today, perhaps, even as a script, by some powers that be to wage war and achieve devious ends by any means possible it seems at times. Humans and sociopaths play such games in high places.  They know the memes that motivate.

The author of Revelation fed off Daniel for inspiration using many of the same characters and for many of the same reasons.  Revelation is full of astrology and astro-theology and the Greek writer was brilliant or demented depending on one's point of view.  Demented types can be brilliant I suppose. If you wish to find a woman clothed with the sun, the moon at her feet and 12 stars in her crown, you can find it on Stellarium in the summer of 69 AD by just looking up. I spare you.  The astrotheological nature of the Bible and many of it's stories and characters drives some readers to livid distraction.

 Daniel was written, not in the 500's BCE but in the 160s BCE to encourage the Jews during the Maccabean Revolt to hang in there until God took the Romans out.  In the same way, Revelation was written to encourage Jewish Christians stuck in the same disaster 200 years later with the same Romans running Jerusalem

Mr Vespasian the Beast              

     Mr. Paul the Front Runner for False Prophet in Revelation                       

Revelation may have been written shortly before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD or shortly after.  Internal evidence concerning the nasty types who were and are and shall be fits the times very well.  In my current view and in that of others, Vespasian was the Beast power hated by the Jewish Christians and the Apostle Paul was the False Prophet that got bounced out of Ephesus for claiming to be an Apostle but was not.  The Jesus of Revelation congratulated the Ephesians for kicking him out.  It may have been this embarrassment that Paul was referring to when he noted that "all Asia had forsaken him."  All Asia is a lot but it never seems to dawn on Paul that it might not be them who were the problem but himself. He asked God to forgive them. Whoever the author of Revelation was, and most do not credit any John of Jesus fame with being the author, did not like the Apostle Paul as a Jewish Christian.  Peter, James and John didn't like the man nor he them according to Paul's view of himself in Galatians, so this should come as no surprise. The Book of James is a direct rebuttal of Paul's book of Roman's but if you spend years in denial over the opposite views each author gives, you can come up with them all speaking the same thing, just differently.

Ellaine Pagels, one the world's leading biblical scholars, has written an excellent book on  "Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the Book of Revelation."

Pagels writes about the four big myths surrounding the Book of Revelation that most swallow hook, line and sinker in many, too many, religious organizations.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::
1. It’s about the end of the world
Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.
Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.
“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”
The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.
For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.
The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.
Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.
“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”
2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil
The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.
The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satanwho would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.
Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”
Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.
Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.
Mr. 666
The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.
But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.
Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.
Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.
Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:
“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”
3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian
The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.
There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.
Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.
That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

Mr. Claimed to be an Apostle but John and the Ephesians said "No"
The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.
This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.
The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.
That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”
John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.
“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.
The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.
“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”
4. There is only one Book of Revelation
There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.
Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.
There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.
So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?
Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.
Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.
Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”
Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.
Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.
“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’
Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.
Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.
“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”
In the Religion of the Occident  by Martin Larson he concludes his chapter on Revelation with:
"Revelation was the swan-song of Militant Jewish Christianity.  When Jerusalem was destroyed, when Rome waxed greater and more powerful, when the False Prophet  (Paul) gained more and more followers, when the book itself was proved totally false within two years, when it became evident that the Jewish Messiah-Christ would not come, the Hebrew Christians lost their virility and their cult faded under the combined assault of orthodox Judaism and of Gentile Christianity."
Prophecies are not written for too far into the future.  They are written just a little into the future and expected to come to pass in the lives of the writers and readers. It's why the Book of Revelation speaks of "soon" and "things which must SHORTLY come to pass."  The Apostle Paul made that same mistake with his assurances that "we who are alive and remain ..." ended in "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course."  In other words, he was wrong and it finally dawned on him. At least it dawned on him and he didn't go into endless excuse making as we see in a Dave Pack who slaughters Biblical intent at every turn and just makes stuff up making scripture mean what it never meant or ever could mean. 
If the Churches of God, whether United or Living, Restored or Brotherly Lovers ever figure this out, they won't have much more left to say.  Poor Bob Thiel will have to pack his Prophetic bags and go back to work.  Dave Pack will have to offer his half built campus up for outsiders to use as a playground.  The Journal won't have any more endless advertisements for folk to come on over and hear this or that twist on the whole end time theme.  
Making Revelation mean what it never meant and a book for OUR times is a huge mistake theologically and literally.  Believing that the Jesus of the Gospels is the same Christ/Jesus of Revelation is also a huge mistake.  But without the Book of Revelation to be twisted and finagled to mean what a Ron Weinland, Dave Pack, Bob Thiel, Gerald Flurry and others need it to mean, we'd not have all the Witnesses, Watchers, Apostles, Joshuas, Prophets or theological nut cases we now have would we?  And without it, they would have little left to preach it seems. They would be nothing...nothing at all.