Sunday, March 27, 2016

Living Church of God: U.S. Members Kept In Dark Over Defection of Popular French Minister to COGWA

From an LCG source:

LCG suffered a major loss a few weeks ago when a popular European minister,  Mr. Roland Lecocq,  decided to resign from serving LCG and aligned himself with COGWA. Although Mr. Lecocq has been careful not to sway any of the LCG brethren to blindly follow in his decision to leave LCG, it is anticipated that a large majority of the brethren in the areas he served will go with him to COGWA.  There are also concerns that LCG will not be able to continue with their planned Feast site in Carry-le-Rouet, France as a direct result of Lecocq's departure. 
It is not known specifically why Mr. Lecocq decided to leave LCG after so many years of faithful service. Although, it has been widely speculated that the domineering, uncompromising personality of Mr. Rees Ellis in combination with his lack of agreement with LCG's doctrinal upgrades is to blame. Lecocq was a close friend and confidant to the late Dibar Apartian and Dibar's concerns over the direction LCG was/ is heading likely factored into his decision to leave. 
In true Living Church of God form, the American brethren have not, as yet been informed of this information. Meredith and crew are renowned for lacking transparency, openness and honesty. 
Gerald Weston wrote the following update but it was not shared with the Americans: 
Mr. Roland Lecocq, our minister in Switzerland, and his family have made the decision to move to another Church of God fellowship. We are saddened by their decision, but wish them well. They have served the Church faithfully for many years and we appreciate that service. Since he served as Secretary and Treasurer for the French association, he is continuing with those duties until they can be transferred to another individual in the next few weeks and he is being most helpful and faithful in the transition. Please show the upmost respect and love toward the Lecocqs as each of us must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.


Byker Bob said...

Nice. He just had to get that little barb in about working out salvation with fear and trembling.


Anonymous said...

I think we should commend Weston for the graciousness of his response to this defection He could have sought to impugn the minister's integrity and be uncharitable And contrary to your take away, BB , his quoting of that text seems clearly to be saying let us not judge this brother as each must work out his own salvation This generosity of spirit is remarkable given our history in this movement I think Weston's response shows that not all of us Arnstrongites are irredeemable Actually, there is an underreported part of this movement which bears some mention and which gets lost in all this ain't it awful obsession on these blogs And it IS awful in
large sections of the movement, and for most of our history Whitewashing our history is simply futile in this internet age.

But as a CGI pastor I just came home this evening from an all-day fasting service organized by some ladies, one of whom gave an impassioned prayer for me ,addressing me by my first name and crying out literally in tears asking God to let me see my weaknesses and have the humility to change, while thanking me for my years iof service and faithfulness to the flock.
Imagine that some tears ago ! In Armstrongism? Women calling their own prayer meeting and praying for a "Minister of Jesus Christ" and having the gall to talk about his having weaknesses and In need of God's intervention in his life???
Earlier members confessed sins and talked openly about the problems In the church and the changes which are needed while I sat there saying not a word in defense.
This was unthinkable in Armstrongusm'. But this culture is changing in pockets In the interest of truth and balance this must be acknowledged, while nothing all the awful things still occurring
Here in Janaica we have a Minday night Bibke study where we invite Evangelical and mainline seminary professors,theologians and pastors to comein to give lectures showing why Arnstrongism misrepresents the Gospel and is plainly wrong We have done this for years We have even invited non-Christian religious leaders

We have open dialogue Also every member is free to present at that study and to criticize the pastor on any matter,ecclesiastical or Theological I have had members debate me publicly on tithing, man's becoming God,divorce and remarriage and other doctrines of the church Just think:Years ago members could not go to doctors;We broke up people's marriages because of our horrendously mistaken doctrine ;we had closed services ,we universally prohibited interracial marriage We did not celebrate birthdays;every section of our movement practiced shunning When you look at the larger COGs like Unuted,COGWA and even Living you see changes for good that years ago did not exist Armstrongism did not have all the plain truth it so boldly proclaimed decades ago But let us now not be guilty of partial truth Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with Douglas ad Byker Bob that Arnstrongism is a poisoned well It is being transformed in pockets and segments right before your eyes---hidden in plain sight Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

11.31 Bully ministers love your 'transformed pockets.' It's an opportunity for them to stomp on people, shift interpersonal boundaries, rub in their 'authority,' play king of the mountain. And all sanctioned by church culture and tradition.
Your 'transformed pickets' is the proverbial lipstick on a pig.
It's still a pig, Ian, it's still a pig.

Anonymous said...

Ian Boyne, people have been torn down and scarred ed for life by Armstrongite ministers. You trivialize this by accusing them of a 'ain't it awful obsession.' You have either lived a sheltered life, or are guilty yourself. It's a trait of thugs to lie to themselves about the damage and suffering they inflict on others. And they don't want to hear the groans of their victims.

Darren C. said...

Armstrongites are not irredeemable; Armstrongism is. The person has to abandon it.

Anonymous said...

A feast site in Carry Le Rouet?

A couple of years ago I was close by. According to popular lore unknown to most armstrongists but storyteller Hoeh, it is a stonesthrow away from the apparant landing place of Mary after the crucifixion.


Anonymous said...

Actually a non-event...

Lecoq's area: Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva's congregation: Eight people (six of them are Lecoq's family)
FOT in France: Ellis is doing it for many years

Jean from QC

Anonymous said...

Having known GW for many years and seen his harsher side more than I care to remember, this does seem like a "fare thee well" acknowledgement rather than his past, "good riddance" attitude when someone leaves. My hope is he is finally gaining some mercy and even foresight in his older age, but I also believe if he wants any chance of a role to "lead" LCG away from the normal autocratic LCG ways, once he gains any control, he also has to soften his image, thus LCG's.

That said, a leopard's spots are usually for life and the proof in the pudding will be seen (or not), in any further attitudes of contrition or acknowledging that LCG isn't the only organization that has God's full approval (if any of them really do have it after all the infighting and competitive attitudes that show no real repentance) .....

Anonymous said...

For those wanting to see what the Poisoned Well is all about can see it at this link.

If there are transformed congregations (and we can be highly skeptical about that), then it is no longer Armstrongism. People can hug and cry all they want but if they still believe in prophecy based on British Israelism and pay two or more tithes, there has been no transformation. It's been a cult from the beginning and it isn't going to change, only be more of the same.

Of course, people are welcome to be delusional with distorted perception.

DennisCDiehl said...

Bitter Bob must be feeling he missed out on a big fish, in a small pond of course.

Unknown said...

In any other circumstance the LCG would have immediately marked and disfellowshipped him and publicly crucified him.

Because he is being cooperative in leaving the assets behind, they are treating him with kid gloves. Always a double standard when money is at stake.

Anonymous said...

I like the spirit displayed by Anonymous 6:21 He is willing to permit himself to believe that people can change,however atrocious they have been their past That is not just in agreement with common experience, but with neuroscience and studies on the plasticity of the brain. .His looking for further manifestations of change is also in order Incidentally, to be strictly correct, LCG,while holding it is doing the most effective Work ,does not actually teach ,unlike PCG and RCG, that it is the only true organisation I have a prediction to make (I wouldn't be an Armstrongite if I didn't !):LCG will morph into a kinder ,gentler organisation after Meredith dies. It will become less cultic Mark my word Armstrongism is going through a slow,painful evolution The worst days are behind us Today the cultic, oppressive groups are declining It is true the less toxic groups are not growing much either If you are acquainted with PEW research ,you will see that religion is declining generally in America Armstrongism is affected by that trend and ,of course, it has its own self-imposed handicaps But the Armstrongusm of the future will be far different in practice than the Armstrongism of the Fifties and the reactionary Armstrongism of the 1980s when HWA supposedly put back the church ion track You guys are unwittingly helping us to make Armstrongism more appealing by highlighting the awful stuff which holds us back By dropping the silly, exploitative and repressive stuff, Armstrongism will be a better product Armstrongism, Bkack Ops Mikey,does not need Bi, multiple tithing,right-wing fanaticism ,one man church government, ,autocracy, and legalism to be viable We have proven empirically in Jamaica that when marketed without the dross and excesses,Armstrongism can be quite viable It is no accident that I pastor one of the largest Armstrongite congregations anywhere in the world with average attendance of 230 any sabbath in Kingston There are four additional CGI congregations in the island And less there are some ignorant racists(a tautology) reading this ,Jamaica is not a backward Third World country, but a middle income country with high literacy, heavily influenced by American culture. In my congregation are a number of university graduates and professionals ,including MBAs;several of whom are in leadership in Jamaica Armstrongism rocks! I am giving the opportunity to prove by their innuendo that one does not have to accept BI to be a racist Let me hear the explanation as to why Armstrongism can only be appealing in a predominantly black country. Ian Boyne

Darren C. said...

Ian, how do you define good Armstrongism? If you strip away whatever you see as bad (such as false prophecy, racism, authoritarianism, etc.), what are the remaining tennets other traditions don't have that make it the best option for truth-seeking individuals? In other words, what are the core truths only Armstrongism is able -- or potentially able with Boyne's reformations in place -- to provide?

Are we just talking about sabbaths and soul sleep?

Anonymous said...

France has always had a long history of issues in the church. Even in Apartian's time there were widespread issues. Then LCG's gestapo agent Joel Meeker hit the scene and more issues developed. The so called "French Work" is next to nothing now. The French are not interested in an American religion.

Anonymous said...

Very good questions ,Darren As soon as I have some minutes to spare I will post Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

In reading over my post I see I had "less"when I should have had "lest" Proving that Armstrongites are error-prone,after all Lol Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

Or, Armstrongists could leave and go to the Church of God Seventh Day from whence they came for that kinder and gentler religion. There is also the Seventh Day Church of God with Pastor Paul Woods with associated congregations around the world, one of which is the New Life Church of God with long time pastor and former Pierce County Jail Chaplain -- they don't just keep the Sabbath but the Feast of Tabernacles as well.

Out of some 41,000 Christian sects, you'd think that those leaving the poisoned well of Armstrongism could find a group to join somewhere and not reinvent the wheel and not take the risk of being a cult whose members focus on a leader. Those who think they can reframe Armstrongism into something benign are creating a new cult sect, isolating themselves in a holier than thou dysfunctional group. It would be better if they became Trekkers, dressed up as Klingons on Saturday and went out to help the homeless and feed the hungry -- as some of the Star Trek fans actually do.

Actually, there should be some question that if you want to abandon the main precepts of Armstrongism (the bad parts making up 99.9%), you could have gone with GCI. It would hold the group together (for no discernable reason than you've become accustomed to their faces).

Or some other waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Darren C.: Ian did not answer, so I will answer for him, since I have asked him about this before.

These three concepts are at the heart of Ian's Reformed Armstrongism: 1) God is reproducing Himself. 2) All will be given a full and fair opportunity for salvation. 3) Those who ultimately refuse God's offer will be annihilated, not suffer eternally in hell.

Let's move on to a summary of how these three views coalesce into a belief system that, for a good many folks, has proven to be far more satisfactory than traditional rescue-mission Christianity.

Most Christian churches present only a rescue plan of some sort. They almost never define any real purpose for human existence. It's as if there's a heavenly soul factory continuously producing new souls and putting them into new humans, most of whom will probably go to hell after a brief time on earth. The message: Look how much God loves you. He sent His Son to die so you wouldn't have to go to hell. There's something terribly wrong, or, at the very least, unsatisfying, about this scenario. Is that what God is really all about? Armstrong came along with some answers. For many of us, the Bible finally began making sense. There was real purpose for human life. The horrifying idea that our unsaved but "basically good" loved ones were suffering in eternal hell because they didn't grab the rescue line could now be thrown out. At last--something that REALLY makes sense!

The Sabbath and holy days are not an end in themselves; they're a means to an end. They picture the unfolding plan of God for all humankind. Salvation is so much more than merely a rescue effort; it's God's purpose for humanity. Christ was foreordained to become the means through which Man would become God (i.e., become a part of the God Family), but it became, in part, a "rescue mission" only after sin entered the picture. All this is pictured in the holy days, and that is why they are important in Armstrongism, and perhaps especially to Ian's Reformed Armstrongism.

Ian's Armstrongism is "Reformed" in the sense that it eliminates HWA's bad proof-texting methodology and replaces it with sound exegesis, making use of the scholarship of today's theologians who have devoted considerable time to rethinking Pauline soteriology, hell, immortality, and the significance of the Hebrew background of the New Testament, among many other things. It is also "Reformed" in that it eliminates "headline theology" and prophetic sensationalism.

Having discussed this with Ian, I think that's a pretty good summary of his view. Hope this helps. -- T. Carson

Anonymous said...

Ah ,T Carson ,you summarise my ideas flawlessly !!! Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

Bkack Ops Mikey,I hope T Carson has demonstrated why COG 7th Day is no option at all Even if combined with feast keeping Feast day observance outside of the most far-reaching Armstrongite doctrine of post-mortem salvation is just not enough. It seems you guys were fed
so much BI(and therefore B...),prophetic speculation , nineteen year time cycles and Petra nonsense that you never really plumbed the depths of Armstrongism while you were there. Did the corruption,oppression, abuse,sexual immorality ,hypocrusy so emotionally drain you guys that there was no intellectual energy left to properly interrogate Armstrongute theology ?Is that your Painful Truth,Black Ops Mikey??? Ian Boyne

Darren C. said...

Thanks to T. Carson for the flawless summary.

As gifted as you are with a keen intellect, I would think you should want to discard Armstrongism altogether for its fundamental shortcomings.

(1) God is reproducing Himself?

For that to make any sense, one would have to redefine "reproducing" to mean something other than . . . reproducing.

Regular ol' Christianity says God's plan is to share His divine life and love with mankind forever in a family relationship. How does that need improving -- how does that fall short?

To use the word "reproduce" gives a wrong and illogical impression, since God cannot (repeat: cannot) make new Gods within time whose nature is to exist. Angels, who are pure spirits, are "sons of God" in a way, but not via reproduction. They had a beginning, as creatures. Mankind had a beginning, too, and therefore cannot become infinite. He is and always will have a "lesser" nature than God, so to use a term like reproduction is bad. Very bad. Reformed Armstrongism here is misleading at best.

(2) All will be given a full and fair opportunity for salvation?

Who says otherwise? Perhaps Baptist types, but Catholics for example teach that everyone's opportunity for salvation is fair in this life. God is not unfair. Now if salvation is a matter of learning and committing to memory a catechism or free booklets or Bible study CDs, then perhaps we could make a case for unfairness. But if God is able to judge every heart fairly according to each person's response to the light he has, there is nothing unfair. Example: The thief on the cross did not get the shaft as opposed to the Apostle Paul. Different experiences; perhaps (but not necessarily) different levels of glory after this life -- but not unfair. God knows what He's doing. He's the one who made great mountains as well as individual blades of grass, all for His glory. He can make great spiritual giants as well as simple small souls -- without being "unfair."

(3) Annihilation rather than eternal hell?

If God is not a monster by letting the demons exist in perpetuity (they're in a hell of a state), then why not do the same for humans who make a free choice to reject God?

If the sabbaths of the Old Covenant are twisted to show a plan for something necessarily illogical (like God reproducing Himself), then they need to be reexamined, because God is not illogical.

If Reformed Armstrongism is an attempt to make more sophisticated a belief system invented by a guy who knew no better than to rely on bad prooftexting -- whose teachings were born of such methods -- we ought to consider Armstrongism as something that simply needs to be discarded.

Despite how my tone appears right now, I mean all this respectfully. I disrespect HWA's falsehoods, but not the individuals who still follow them for various reasons. Except maybe Dave Pack. But . . . yeah, I have to acknowledge that he, too, is a victim -- a product -- of deceit. He just needs to repent. We all do. I do.

Anonymous said...

Connie hit the nail on the head. If this minister wasn't currently holding purse strings, they would have worked on destroying his character so as few members as possible followed him into COGWA. That's been Meredith's standard operating procedure for decades.

LCG treats it's members as nothing more than merchandise. It's despicable and they will have to answer for their behavior on judgment day.

Anonymous said...

The only reason the LCG has not crucified Roland Lecocq is because it would offend quite a number of members of the LCG who have known him and the administration of the LCG would lose most or all of them if they practiced character assassination.

This very thing happened in 2005 when a leader censured someone in his church who was well liked and well respected: About 75% of the congregation world wide left -- and formed a new independent entity.

It's still the case that anyone who is vulnerable that the LCG (or any of the cult sects) could impugn with abandon will be excoriated. This has happened repeatedly and there's little indication that it will ever end.

Anonymous said...

Black Ops Mikey said...
"This very thing happened in 2005 when a leader censured someone in his church who was well liked and well respected: About 75% of the congregation world wide left -- and formed a new independent entity."

Do you speak about Hulme's CGIC?

Martha said...

As stated on another recent thread, Gary does an excellent job of bringing the "crazy" of Armstrongism to light. Thank you, Gary!

But then, from time to time, folks like Mr. Boyne and T. Carson try to make the point that when you cut out all the crazy, Armstrongist doctrines essentially stand. Or, as Mr. Boyne stated, "Armstrongism Rocks!".

That's where we come in at As Bereans Did. We address the problems and prooftexts that formulate Armstrongist doctrines. Not for the purpose of ridicule, but much like Darren said, to educate and liberate victims. By the way, Darren, thanks for your explanation here, and your kind comment at ABD last week.

As Darren said, God is NOT reproducing Himself. It's a nice platitude, it feels good, it gives us the purpose that "empty" mainstream Christianity endorses. That is, if you feel that eternity must be all about you and not about the Creator.

Is God reproducing Himself to rule the universe with what amounts to a Pantheon of lesser deities? What does the Bible say?

(Isaiah 43:10-11) “You are my witnesses,” says the Lord. “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed. Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord.”

(1 Timothy 6:13-15) I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will display at the proper time - He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords..."

(John 10:30) I and the Father are one.

(Isaiah 44:6-8) "This is what the Lord says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty; I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come - yes, let them foretell what will come. Do not tremble and do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

The Armstrongist theory may make you feel more important, or be easier to understand, but it's also unbiblical. It essentially leaves you with Zeus and his crazy kids, part 2.


Anonymous said...

5.56 PM Many people know from personal experience, that people with demonic minds ( called psychopaths today) are better off dead than being alive. These people have torn themselves down, and are in a state of mental agony. My belief us that God has allowed demons to live as long as they have, as part of their punishment, and as a warning to others. My bible does say that God will destroy Satan and his demons at a future date.

Anonymous said...

Darren C. - March 28, 2016 at 5:25 PM & Martha (ABD) March 29, at 6:21 AM

Amen and Amen!

I would like to include to what you both have already mentioned that because the Hebrew word for GOD - "Elohim" - is plural, as can be seen from the ending -im, the Armstrongist doctrines erroneously claim that this plural form indicates that there is plurality in the Godhead and therefore conclude that the biblical references to a Father and a Son are a biblical way of supporting the idea that God is a family of divine beings headed by the Father, and that GOD is reproducing Himself in humans so that humans will be born again to become GOD.


Anonymous said...

nice try Martha, but those verses simply say that God is supreme, always has been and always will be.
that in no way negates the fact that when we are resurrected we will be like Him, god beings, the same type of being that He is.
and Darren seems to be quite the confused one. everyone's opportunity for salvation in this life is "fair", really??

Anonymous said...

Darren C. makes some valid points. I agree with objections to statements such as "We will be EQUAL with God" and "Man will become God AS GOD IS GOD!" GTA himself admitted he cringed when he heard such statements. I also reject the notion that we'll be "composed of Spirit." Paul's expression, "spiritual body," refers to the Source, not the composition, of the resurrection body, just as "spiritual food" and "spiritual drink" refer to the Source of those material realities. They were supernaturally produced.

That being said, I do hold strongly to the doctrine of theosis, or deification. It is biblical, and Christians have taught it for some 2,000 years. It also helps us make sense of the Atonement and think of it in terms other than "penal substitution," or the idea that God forgives us but still requires payment in full, as a matter of divine justice.

Simply stated, theosis (deification) means that Man was deified in Jesus, the God-Man. Man is permanently united with God in the Person of Jesus (the "hypostatic union" of the two natures). Thus, humanity is deified--made God--in Jesus. If this is not true, then Christians who call Mary the "mother of God" are guilty of blasphemy.

Just as our connection with the true "Seed of Abraham" makes us children of Abraham, irrespective of race, nationality, etc., so our connection with the New Adam (the God-Man, in whom humanity is deified), makes us children of God and partakers of the divine nature. God is our Father--and that's not a metaphor. -- T. Carson

Byker Bob said...

Several years ago, I read a statement in a magazine, possibly "People". It was in an article on the hip-hop craze, and why it would appeal to young white teenagers. One lady who was interviewed stated that she thought that the teenagers saw minority culture as being exciting, because white people have no culture of their own. I am no supremacist, in fact I've embraced other cultures in many ways, enriching my life along the way. But I felt that the woman's statement lacked depth and understanding. What white people was she speaking of? Germans, French, Dutch, English, Russian or dozens of other nationalities who have very deep and rich individual cultures of their own? Apparently, she meant the Heinz 57 variety present in our melting pot, but even there, continuing rich cultural contributions and a way of life are evident. "White people" are not an amorphous blob, nor are they monolithic.

So when I read statements regarding the emptiness of mainstream Christianity, I see a similarity in lack of depth or understanding. Not that this is the end all for discussionary purposes, but the people who have died in the past for their faith, and the ones who are being exterminated for it today in Middle Eastern countries certainly don't believe that their faith is empty, or provides no real answers. The reality is that, yet again, that idea was part of the careful programming we received at the hands of WCG. It is also Salesmanship 101: If you want to sell your product, you must carefully and creatively create and magnify dissatisfaction with the product which your prospect is currently using. And the efforts were successful. It was another one of Herbie's time bombs, still affecting peoples' lives and thinking today.


Anonymous said...

Anon March 29, 2016 at 8:21 AM - You make some good points, however Armstrongism doesn't believe nor teach theosis - the understanding that human beings can have real union with God, and so become like God to such a degree that we participate in the divine nature ( Armstrongism explicitly teaches that "We will be EQUAL with God" and "Man will become God AS GOD IS GOD!" Although GTA may have cringed at these statements, he taught the same things that his father taught as can be seen in his interview on the John Ankerberg show ( The Armstrongist understanding of the word "Elohim" and the "God family" concept of Armstrongism is in definite opposition to what God Himself said in Isaiah 43:10-11.


Darren C. said...

T. Carson:
Theosis, or deification, is not to say God is "reproducing" Himself. If Ian Boyne wants sophistication and the respect of the theological elite, then he might want to try using their language. He could use the theological term "Theosis" (or "deification"), if that is indeed what he means, instead of using a horribly inaccurate term like God "reproducing" Himself. And if Boyne means the same thing that Eastern Orthodoxy means, then why in the world should anyone call that "Armstrongism"?

Anonymous March 29, 2016 at 7:21 AM:
If God is a family of divine beings, then you are a polytheist, not a Christian. But I imagine you mean a family of Persons within the one divine Being. So if that is the case, then how can God turn a created person -- a created person -- into an un-created being? (That would be a contradiction, and therefore cannot be true.)

Martha said...

I'm sorry, Anonymous at 7:40, but your statements contradict both Isaiah 43 and 44.

While the word for "the first" in 44:6 can mean "the head" or the chief, the word for "the last" means behind or after, from a root that means remain behind or tarry.

According to 43:10, no other gods will be formed. Certainly "God beings" formed after the second coming would qualify as gods being formed after the Lord.

I don't have time to get into this now, although I'd like to write about it sometime soon through the post-Armstrongist lens. But Christianity teaches that Christians WILL receive a new, glorified body like the glorified body that Jesus received, the one which Thomas touched, the one to which He warned Mary not to cling. You can't cling to an ethereal spirit. That is how we will see Him as he is and be as He is. For now I'll include these two links:

Anonymous said...

How apropos of Le Cocq to ram his job up the latently homosexual bum of RCM.

Anonymous said...

Darren C: In case I was unclear, I was speaking for myself in my last post. I agree with deification/theosis as taught by early church fathers, the Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants. That teaching is about the Incarnation--the event of Man being assumed into God, or the Eternal Son permanently taking to Himself a human nature. Ian knows Orthodox deification/theosis doesn't take in his view of human destiny. He has elsewhere said so. -- T. Carson

Retired Prof said...

Oh man, this argument is wonderful.

Theology is a branch of philosophy, and the theological discussion here illustrates my favorite definition of philosophy: "A game in which persons with large vocabularies dither over the definitions of abstract nouns." Theosis/deification vs. reproduction. Christianity vs. polytheism. The confusing semantics behind "the first" and "the last."

As long as the game is on, let me put different English on the ball, to borrow an idiom from pool.

Instead of judging god's intentions according to words passed down by people who claim to speak for him, let's look to his works for analogies. Maybe he is reproducing himself using the same system he designed for reproducing human beings. In that case, our individual odds for salvation are dismal.

In a single ejaculation, a man produces somewhere around 500 million sperm. If that ejaculation results in a fertilized ovum, that means the odds that a particular sperm would succeed was one in 500 million, since once one penetrates the cell membrane no other can get in. Remember, though, that most acts of generation do not result in pregnancy and not all pregnancies result in live births. In fact, even exceptionally fertile couples seldom produce more than one offspring a year. If we count a year's worth of attempts, three times a week, the man has sent about 75 trillion sperm swimming up the fallopian tubes, all but one entirely in vain. And speaking of vain efforts, we really should tally a man's lifelong production. In addition to the sperm that run fair races and fail to win, we need to add all the ones lost to wet dreams, self-abuse, birth control measures, and copulation after menopause. I can't begin to estimate how many quadrillions to one the odds have sunk to for any particular sperm cell.

A human being is like one of god's little seeds, sent forth to unite with the spiritual ovum in the spiritual fallopian tubes and gestate in the spiritual womb until time to be born into heavenly glory, where he/she will be divine: a god as god is god.

The chance that any one of us would actually make it to that ethereal state has always been infinitesimal. Two thousand years ago, though, the odds dropped to zero. Jesus Christ won the race. It is all over. None of the rest of us can penetrate the membrane of the holy cell. We are left here to perform in vain the action sperm were designed for. We must swim unceasingly, frantically seeking some blissful fate we can only dimly imagine, cannot begin to understand, and in no wise can ever achieve. The best we can do is argue about it.

This situation is just fine. If god is reproducing himself, he doesn't need to start a whole dynasty--just engender one heir to turn the operation over to. This principle is the same as reproduction of earthly species. An oak tree produces billions of acorns over its lifetime, but to maintain the balance of trees in the forest, only one of them needs to grow into a mature oak as its replacement.

Darren C. said...

T. Carson: Sorry. You were clear but I was reading fast and responding too quickly with assumptions. My bad.

So, since the Reformed Armstrongist has gone quiet, I'll ask you: Does he believe what "God reproducing Himself" sounds like?

The idea flips me out.

Surely he has written on this or recorded a sermon explaining the position with brilliant clarity. I'd like to examine this essential tenet of Reformed Armstrongism in his own words.

Darren C. said...

There exists soundness of good philosophy, and then there is the silliness of imagination.

Byker Bob said...

From a paucity of scriptures we glean that the angels, as created beings, were perfect. Yet, apparently, they had individualized personalities and free will, otherwise, how would 1/3 of them have decided to follow Lucifer?

Humans are described as created beings who were good, but fell, or sinned, nearly immediately following their creation, and have continued to sin through their entire history, collecting experience, and learning in the process.

One of the cliches perpetrated by Armstrongism, is that God is making certain that there is no possibility that there would be any more Satans in His kingdom throughout eternity. Yet the only way this could be possible would be if at some point, free will no longer existed. And, this would be true, regardless as to whether the creative process involved humans, or angels. You can call that "having the character of God" but realistically, it means no longer having free will. Perfection is something nobody can build during this lifetime. You can do your best, but if at the end of your life, your character were simply "frozen" you would still be far from perfect. As an example, look at the things the aging ministers who have taught this to us are doing on a continuing basis! Listen, as some of them even forbid working around old folks, saying that older people are more susceptible to demons.

The people (gnostics) who claim to have insider answers to such things that are unknowable, are simply full of Bandini! And, if a false teaching gives encouragement to people, or adds depth to their lives, thus distinguishing the teachers from the mainstream, that is still manipulating people through false teaching. It doesn't need to be a negative false teaching to be manipulative. The so-called Church of God, Armstrongism, was always effective at manipulating people by claiming to know things that humans cannot know, mostly negative things, but occasionally positive as well! We cannot know that in humans, God is reproducing Himself. That is yet another bizarre extrapolation of scripture, at best a theory. They can't just say, "Whatever we become in the Kingdom will be glorious!" They just seem to have to go to the ultimate extreme in every single area, whether good or bad, substituting their "gnosticism" for the unknowable, or incomprehensible. That is advertising junk, plain and simple. Hyperbole. It is more of the "stuff" you would need to elliminate to truly reform Armstrongism.


Retired Prof said...

Darren C., let me recommend the book *Hume's Fork,* a novel by Ron Cooper. It is available on Kindle and in hardcover. Ron Cooper is himself a philosopher who explores the spectrum on which both sound philosophy and silly imagination sit (not necessarily very far apart).

If you prefer something with the gravitas conferred by longstanding esteem, pick up a translation of *Candide, ou l'Optimisme*, by the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire.

Anonymous said...

Darren C: I think he's pretty comfortable with the "God is reproducing Himself" language, but there might be a chance that he will abandon it...if he thinks it through. He abandoned the "as God is God" language years ago. He points out in his booklet that God is uncreated---He has no beginning---and that's essential to the definition of "God." He concludes that man will not become God in the absolute sense. He may not have put it just that way, but that's essentially what he was saying.

You asked previously about HWA's defective proof-texting methodology: If that's what his theology is based on, why not abandon it. Ian would say that some of it should be abandoned, but he would answer your question by pointing to recognized scholars who now teach some of the things HWA taught, but they present it in such a better way. For example, an HWA booklet on hell hardly compares with Edward Fudge's book, The Fire That Consumes. Fudge's exegitical skills are vastly superior to HWA's "Now, NOTICE, in your own BIBLE..." methodology. A growing number of Evangelicals, some of them notable, accept annihilationism, and of that number, a good many of them believe there is no conscious intermediate state. I've read (and listened to) their works on these subjects, and I can tell you that they're far more sophisticated than anything HWA ever produced. Whether they're right is not the question. I think you know HWA doesn't measure up to the theological standards of, say, Clark Pinnock or Greg Boyd or Phillip E. Hughes.

N.T. Wright and other "New Perspective on Paul" specialists have presented material on law and grace that align in many ways with COG doctrine, and some well-known Evangelical scholars, in pointing out the problems with first-day Sabbatarianism, have stated that seventh-day Sabbath-keeping is more consistent with the view that the Sabbath was instituted at creation and that the Fourth Commandment is still in force. They observe the Sunday Lord's Day, but their arguments for the Sabbath are better than HWA's. Ian's reforms call for making use of all this more sophisticated material. --- T. Carson

Martha said...

Before I forget, Retired Prof, I really did enjoy Candide. It's been a long time. Maybe I should pick that up again.

T. Carson, I may be hazy on this point, but it is my understanding that the New Perspective on Paul folks still accept salvation by grace through faith, but teach that works are the proof of that salvation. That works on some level are necessary, but only because they demonstrate what has already happened. And that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit empowers those works. Further, we see what kind of works the New Testament discusses as binding upon Christians. They are all over the Sermon on the Mount and the book of James, for example.

Armstrongism, however, teaches that our salvation is contingent upon those works, and that "missing the mark" to some unquantified tipping point lands one in the Lake of Fire. If your isolated enlightened congregations don't teach that, I applaud that, but LCG, UCG, COGWA, COG-AIC, PCG and RCG all do. Further, the "Christian living" works of the New Testament are lauded as good things, but the works emphasized are the Sabbath and Holy Days. Perhaps this is inadvertent side effect of their a strategy of ongoing attacks on mainstream Christianity.

I do believe that the New Perspective on Paul folks have it right on the consistency of the Reformed Theology and the Sabbath. Granted, I don't adopt that view, but instead think that New Covenant theology makes much more sense. I attend a church that espouses Covenant Theology, which is one of the branches of the Reformed movement, and see how it opens up cans of worms on things like the Sabbath, tithing and other practices from Sinai. Worms everywhere. I believe those things were part of a covenant that ended, per Hebrews. They believe some of them somehow carried forward, some didn't, some were transformed... worms everywhere. My pastor is a brilliant PhD raised in a Covenant Theology tradition... when you explain to him the difficulties with their thinking, they follow for a while but they just don't see it. They've been steeped in it so long they can't see it. I don't blame them. I was steeped in Armstrongism for decades and it took a miracle for the scales to fall. You're right, the Covenant theologians and certain brands of Reformed theology aren't doing Christianity any favors with some of their arguments. These loopholes are what give cults footholds in the first place.

Martha said...

Further, if our salvation depends on getting every point of these doctrines right, or at least to the unidentified tipping point I mentioned earlier, then we are basically screwed. We shouldn't approach that as license to sin or be sloppy with study, but in the end, it's hard to find even two who are COMPLETELY agreed.

Which, again, is another reason I believe God established salvation by grace through faith.

Retired Prof said...

Martha, glad to hear you enjoyed *Candide*.

By the way, Byker Bob, *Hume's Fork* is right down your alley. I think for you it's worth reading, whether Darren C. ever takes it up or not.

Anonymous said...

Lets see, Rod Meredith, Rod King, Rod McNair, Dick Ames and Lecocq what???? a theme even in French

Anonymous said...

Retired Prof said:"A game in which persons with large vocabularies dither over the definitions of abstract nouns."

That is all too often true. Buffering philosophy with mathematics can help though.
"Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules. Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives." anonymous

I enjoyed you're perspective, and I think that maybe Bateson summed it up well with “We do not live in the sort of universe in which simple lineal control is possible. Life is not like that.” If you think about it, we all started off as just one cell. How could one cell know so much as to grow a whole human being?


Anonymous said...

Martha I've been saying that to my ACOG friends for years. They still think they can save themselves. Sadly many of them (and I can only speak for LCG) are so focused on the letter of the law that they spend absolutely no time focusing on the spirit of the law. Talk about being screwed!

Retired Prof said...

Hey, DBP, thanks for the quotation: "Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules. Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives."

It's great. I had never run across it before.

I'm passing it along to a guy I know in the philosophy department at Notre Dame who says he never quite fits in because he's too mathematical for philosophers and too philosophical for mathematicians.

Anonymous said...

That mathematics is an end to itself rather than a means to an end is ridiculous. Every engineer knows this,and everyone experiences this when filing in their tax form.

Anonymous said...

Martha: I'm not very familiar with what PCG, RCG, etc., teach on the role of works in justification/salvation. I have read very little of their material. I only know what's been taught in CGI (and some of the independent COGs) in both articles and sermons: Salvation is by grace through faith, not works. A person's faith is shown in his behavior. That's what James was talking about when he said that a person is "justified by works and not by faith alone." The person is *shown to be righteous* (justified, in this sense, means "shown to be righteous"---i.e., shown to US; God sees the heart) by his good works. A mere "said faith" or faith that is nothing more than mental assent is not "saving faith." We can do nothing to cause God to give us salvation. We can, however, through evil works, "earn" for ourselves the death sentence. "New Perspective" theologians have pointed to evidence indicating that second-temple Judaism did NOT teach that salvation could be earned by doing good works. (The Reformers brought their own presuppositions, which grew out of their own experience within the Catholic Church, to the Pauline "justification" texts.) Paul's criticisms concerned the false teaching that a person could not be justified/regenerated without first being adopted into the Hebrew nation through circumcision, which meant putting oneself under the covenant (one that was now obsolete). In some cases, when Paul speaks of "the law," he's speaking of the covenant in general. The laws, commandments, statutes, and judgments within the covenant pertain to a mix of universal, cultic, and nation-specific features. The entire system is founded on the unchanging will of God, hence its value to NC believers. It's generally not too difficult to separate the universal and NC-related features from all other features of the law-covenant. I have understood and believed that for many years. --- T. Carson

Martha said...

Thanks for clarifying!