Saturday, March 31, 2018


Pain comes in many forms. There is the pain of a headache and there are many kinds of headaches that produce various degrees and quality of pain. There is organ pain when something is wrong inside and muscle pain when they are pushed beyond the norm either by exercise or emergency. Pain can be mild and a mere annoyance, or brutal and debilitating.  
Emotional pain, and many say they'd much rather have physical pain than the kind of pain that spins the mind and weakens the body due to emotional upheaval is part and parcel with the WCG experience. I assume it is the emotional pain of having it that leads many here to BannedHWA as a means of processing the pain of good intentions gone south. 
All emotional pain is the body's reaction to the mind. There literally are molecules of emotion released into the blood by the brain, that find their ways to our cells and lock on to produce the effects we know all too well when emotional pain strikes. It may be that kicked in the stomach feeling, dizziness, crying or shock, but it all has its roots in the chemistry produced by the mind when the mind has to deal with the way things are.
It's why funerals are as they are and bad news sucks. It's why chronically bad thinking produces chronically bad health. We are both what we eat and what we think. Emotions can be checked by proper attention to the breathing which most never do properly. When we breath from high in the chest, as when under emotional stress, we literally send the message to the brain we are stressed and anxious. In response, the brain sends the appropriate chemicals for fight or flight. To change that, we simply need to breathe deeper and lower in the body which literally sends the message to the brain that "all is well." The brain then says "fine then, here comes the feel good stuff." 
Most people hold their breath more than they realize. It produces bad chemistry. Meditation skills emphasize attention to breathing for this very reason.  
The human brain is not just in the head.  It also extends into the blood where and how the molecules of emotion are delivered to the appropriate physical receptors.  We stay angry and can't calm down because the chemistry of anger is locked onto the appropriate cells and it takes time for the keys to fall out of the locks and normalcy returns.  "Just calm down" can take time physically.  It can take time in every context. 
My journey in WCG both as member for a very short time and minister for way too long a time was wrought with emotion and ,in hindsight, mostly negative as the Armstrongs  and Tkaches played out their dramas inflicting the pain of it all on those who did not come to the  Church, or any church, for such a stupid and reckless religious experience.    It almost killed me. 

Creating new problems trying to solve old ones is also a skill humans seem good at. Anger, fear, doubt, anxiety, depression, regrets and much head shaking and forehead slapping seemed pretty common. My reactions to the emotions were not always stellar or helpful to me personally or my family either. The art of numbing the painful emotions ignited by the all the problems such an organization can come up with, rather than face and address them, never solves and always magnifies negative emotions and problems that weren't even problems to begin with.
No you don't just have big bones...
In my experience we don't address problems head on because we don't feel we have the right to do so or the price of doing so is way too high. It is not uncommon to listen to a client describe the pain in their hips, knees and ankles but never mention the fact that they are obese which means they will always hurt.  I've been asked by clients that weigh 350+ pounds to "fix my hips" and again the voice in my head says "How?  I can't even find them."  I cannot, however, in my level of profession tell them they are too heavy. They'd freak out and I'd get fired for hurting their feelings. The topic of "I know I am too heavy and need to lose weight" never gets admitted to. It never comes up.
  I did get fired once when a client, after mentioning they might consider quitting smoking as their skin and breath was reeking of nicotine coming out during massage, got upset for mentioning it.  I asked the Christian owner if he'd forgive me but he said no. lol     
Perhaps there is another perspective about literal pain and that which is emotionally painful that would be helpful to keep in mind. Pain , literal or emotional, is also weakness leaving the body. Think of that. PAIN IS WEAKNESS LEAVING THE BODY.

In my therapeutic massage practice, "I'm hurting" is always the theme of the day with clients. EVERYONE tells me "I tend to carry my stress in my neck and shoulders" as if they are the only ones who experience it there.  By nature I want to say "Really?, I carry mine in my big toe," but that does not help client/therapist relations. :) 
Much pain I see in clients is caused by the underlying emotions in their life which is why we have a chat before each session on what stresses are in their life. That tells me a lot about where it's going settle in the body.  
Sometimes we talk about the words a client uses to describe themselves, "I'm getting old," "I'm a mess," etc, as those words can also translate into pain in the physical body. I tell them that we only get old if we are lucky and that seems to help.  Self labeling can be a source for dis-ease.  I have clients that I know what they are going to say before they say it because they repeat the same litany of pain and symptoms every visit.   My dad always talked about his age as just laps around the sun and perhaps that attitude contributed to both my parents living to just under 100. 
One client walked in looking like he was carrying all the weight of the world on his shoulders. When I pulled back the blanket to start working on the back there it was.  A almost life size tattoo of Jesus on the cross complete with crossbeams and red blood flowing from a disfigured Jesus face.  It stretched from his neck to his hip.  He was literally bearing his cross daily and it showed.  
One client blew out a big sigh when relaxed and said "My boss is such a blowhard. He even said he knows he's a big bag of wind at times."  Interesting I said.  Let me ask you what organ "blowhard" and "bag of wind" corresponds to those words.  "Lungs?"  Yep,  I then asked if her boss had any lung problems?  She shuddered, looking up and asked, "Why did you ask me that?  He just told me has lung cancer."  Just a theory I said and we had a chat about the negative words we use that the mind buys into as literally true delivering the appropriate chemistry, in this case, did-ease in the lungs.  Or it's just a coincidence I also said.
All that to say, watch your words and labels and certainly the tattoos you choose. They can  set you awash in the molecules of emotion. 
It's painful when people we love or we ourselves become less than perfectly healthy. It's painful when loved ones die, either too soon or very late. It's painful when life changes, jobs are lost, careers change, relationships deteriorate or change. But all pain is still weakness leaving the body.
The pain of loss wakes us up to our emotional weaknesses and we either grow through or become bitter as some do. Most grow through and are stronger for the pain that comes into their lives. Without the pain, there could be no growth and no getting stronger. I suppose this is why we cling, at times, to "what does not kill me, makes me stronger." Very true.  "What doesn't kill me pisses me off " is also true along the road to healing. 

Life is a bit like walking. Walking is, in fact,  a controlled crash that comes out looking like the smooth and flowing experience it is. For every muscle that needs to engage in support and forward motion, others have to let go so movement can even take place.  It's quite amazing.  If your hamstrings don't relax at the same time the quads/Psoas etc, engage in lifting your thigh, you aren't going anywhere.  Letting go is part of the process of moving forward.
I've learned that I could not be here today if I had not been there then.  Somehow that helps. If you had told me a few years ago that I'd have a great practice in the Pacific Northwest , I would have said you were nuts and why would that happen?  Well it did and I do. Without all that transpired then I would not be here now.  
Whether pain is literal and hurts the body, or emotional and hurts the mind and spirit, perhaps if we remind ourselves that "Pain is weakness leaving the body," we can see the bigger picture of what it might be here to teach us. It is universally true that in our weaknesses and pain, we are made stronger, if we allow it and don't allow self pity, anger and "why me" (why not?) to distract us from an opportunity to learn the lessons here at Earth School.
BannedHWA is one way the pain of religion gone bad  can leave the mind for our healing and scars to fade.  

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Springtime Read: Going Beyond "Ask For Our Free Booklet"


Father Raymond Brown (1928-1998) was perhaps the greatest biblical scholar (certainly the greatest among Catholics) of the 20th century. As he did in his masterful book on the infancy narratives (The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library)), in this book (which received both the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur), he turns his keen analytical reasoning to the gospel accounts of Jesus' passion.

Brown describes the primary aim of this book as "to explain in detail what the evangelists intended and conveyed to their audiences by their narratives of the passion and death of Jesus," adding, "I do not think of the evangelists themselves as eyewitnesses of the passion; nor do I think that eyewitness memories of Jesus came down to the evangelists without considerable reshaping and development. Yet as we move back from the gospel narratives to Jesus himself, ultimately there were eyewitnesses and eyewitnesses who were in a position to know the broad lines of Jesus' passion." He candidly admits that "I can scarcely reconstruct how a book of mine published twenty years ago was composed. Therefore, I, for one, cannot hope to reconstruct with great exactitude the interrelationships of the Synoptic Gospels."

"Too often, however, the truth has led people to assume that everything related in the NT about Jesus has to be historical. The problem is compounded when it is assumed that the Gospels, the NT writings centered on his life, are historical biographies."

Raymond Brown 
The Death of the Messiah

"In particular, E.L .Martin assumes Matthean historicity and harmonizes Matt with Luke, which he assumes to be equally historical... It is regrettable that Martin mars his thesis with such extravagantly precise hypotheses reflecting overhistorizing."

Raymond Brown
The Birth of the Messiah
On WCG's Ernest Martins taking the story of Jesus birth too literally
Pg 608

Father Brown also always intended to stay in the good graces of "The Magisterium" of the Church and could pull a good punch leaving it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions without danger to his status in the Church

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Biblical “Truth” In The Wrong Hands Is Dangerous

While I don't agree with some of the things written below, much of it is spot on.  What say ye?  Who has the right to claim the exclusive "truth?"

From a reader here:

Biblical truth is a very dangerous thing. The Devil hates it, and sends his false prophets and other rebels to pervert it.

Vernon Howell changed his name to David Koresh and set himself up as a prophet leading his cult called the Branch Davidians. He wanted everyone else's wives and daughters for himself. He never had anything to do with the WCG. He was just another immoral disaster, and fire hazard, out in the world of false religions.
Gerald Flurry started his PCG cult supposedly to hold on to what HWA had taught in the WCG that the apostate Tkaches were destroying, but then claimed that he, rather than Jesus, was “That Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:18-19 that everyone had to listen to or else God would be mad at them. Flurry “flooded” his followers with much “new revelation” about how great he was. He caused great division among the COG people and wrecked their families while having his local goons promote sexual immorality.
David Pack started his RCG cult supposedly to restore HWA's teachings from January 1986, but then later started to change things in dramatic ways, such as by stealing everything in sight. Pack's changes were even more cruel and thorough than the changes made by the apostate Tkaches in their Great Apostasy of January 1995. Pack left everyone so totally betrayed and destitute this time that they might be unable to carry on any longer.
Bob Thiel started his Nigerian CCG cult because he wanted to be a prophet and make up his own stuff. It was not enough for RCM to gently humor Thiel that he might be considered a prophet by someone. Thiel had to be a real false prophet. So, right away he looked to the demon-inspired prophecies of pagan Mayans, Kenyans, and Catholics. Thinking that demons would helpfully share little tidbits about the future with anyone was so pathetic, but a mentally-challenged, self-appointed Seer could not see that.
James Malm rebelliously left the WCG in 1985 while HWA was still alive to try to think for himself. Malm and those associated with him got into things that proved they cannot think anything but rebellion and nonsense, such as sacred names nonsense, divorce, calendar confusion, a garbled gospel, and flat earth errors. Some other rebels think they can learn the “odd” thing from him. In a sense, they are right. It certainly will be “odd.”
David Ben Ariel, as someone renamed himself, wanted to be a prophet. He once proposed dividing up the world with Gerald Flurry. One could be the prophet of the east and the other the prophet of the west. Flurry rejected the idea, and David ben Ariel ended up being just another homosexual who died of AIDS.
Norman Edwards left the GCG with a stolen mailing list to try to start his own newsletter. He pretended to be very open-minded and reasonable by saying that he was willing to consider just about anything and everything under the sun about church government, and encouraged people to make up stuff to send to him. He said that the only thing that he would not publish in his newsletter, and would not even consider, and did not even want to receive, was anything in support of what HWA had taught about hierarchical government. Edwards sort of became the leader of the leaderless independents. Of course, the sheep ignored his voice, and his stray cats also left him to go off in all sorts of different directions.

Passover 2018 Humbleness Not Required

Some Church of God leaders today...

Here we are in the year 2018 and hundreds and hundreds of splinter groups exist in the Church of God.

On what is considered the most sacred night of the Armstrong/Millerite COG tradition is the Passover service that practices footwashing and the commemoration of Christ's death with matzos and wine.

Even that sacredness is not sacred to so many of the leaders of the COG's.

They remain divided from one another to this very day.

Passover this year is being kept on various nights between March 29th - April 1st.  Talk about a theological mess!

Most of the leaders have set themselves up as people to be served instead of acting as servant leaders that serve the members.

While many members will have sincere thoughts and understanding about this night, most of the leadership do not. It is all about control and being seen.

Just look at how these men present themselves to the church today.  It is easy to fill in how they represent themselves towards their followers and the COG as a whole:

Gerald Weston

Rod McNair

Jonathan McNair

David C Pack

Gerald Flurry

Stephen Flurry

Cal Culpepper

John McDonald

Bob Thiel

James Malm

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

LCG: Seeks To Reign In LCG Members During Passover Season Who Continue To Question Doctrine

It is only a few days till the Church of God version of Passover happens and the Living Church of God has been plastering its member page with one "uplifting" article after another on how to "properly" prepare for Passover.  As the years go by the hoops members need to jump through get more and more frequent.

Did you know that questioning doctrine has the potential of making you take the Passover in a wrong manner? To do so means you refuse to submit to Gerald Weston, who is the FINAL authority on doctrine after Jesus Christ.

Isn't it refreshing to know that all doctrinal purity has descended to us today directly through Herbert Armstrong, Rod Meredith and now finally to Gerald Weston? No theological decision can be made without this mans approval.  No human on the entire planet has this much authority directly handed to them by Jesus himself. Both Dave Pack and Bob Thiel have been left whimpering in the corner.

Dexter Wakefield claims that LCG is always on a quest to "deeper and broader" in its doctrinal understanding, though for some reason they still refuse to follow the New Covenant teachings.

The notion that Living Church of God wants to go "deeper and broader" in their knowledge and understanding is a joke. They still are stuck in 1986 or earlier in all their actions and beliefs.
Beware of people who say that they have “new truth”—it’s usually old errors. The Church’s doctrines have been researched and thoroughly vetted for decades under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, Dr. Roderick C. Meredith and now Mr. Gerald Weston, and we are convinced that we have God’s truth. With God’s help, we want to go deeper and broader in our knowledge and understanding—but we should beware when someone wants to go differently.
The Apostle Paul cautioned the Church in Corinth to be constantly vigilant for those who preach doctrinal error. “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4, ESV). Here’s an action item: Don’t put up with it!
And God forbid of some lowly church member has an epiphany and knows the church is wrong about something. That member must remain silent and and maybe let his pastor know, who will then, nine times out of ten dump it in the trash bin, or steal the idea and run with it himself taking all the credit.  But usually, the minister will claim to be more intelligent than you and set you straight.
We always want to grow in grace and knowledge, and from time to time, a member may think we’ve made a mistake. Or perhaps he believes he has found something new that we should look into. When that’s the case, there’s a procedure that should be followed. Don’t advocate your idea among the congregation; rather, discuss it with your minister. But be prepared for him to engage in helpful analysis. The minister may have seen your idea before and, as a result, may have a ready answer with scriptures or related doctrines that you haven’t considered. That’s often the case. Or, if you both think that the idea needs to be considered further, it can be sent on to his Regional Pastor and possibly the Personal Correspondence Department.
If so, be patient in waiting for a response. If it’s worthy of further investigation, the Council of Elders does consider study papers and thoughtful commentary.
Notice what LCG believes will happen if that member strike out on his own. It is the very same thing that Rod Meredith did himself!
Often, the leaven of false doctrine is used by individuals seeking to form their own little church group. They need a different doctrine or two to distinguish them from others in order to corral the sheep they need to support their small ministry. Those who have done this typically have several characteristics in common:
•  They assert some unique doctrine or “revelation” that distinguishes their splinter group from others.
•  Their evangelistic work is ineffective, and few new people join their group. So, they seek to take sheep from other organizations and fellowships rather than evangelizing the world.
• There is often a high degree of control of the group.
Speaking of control, the irony here is astounding!  Are they so dense that they cannot see this is exactly that they are doing to their members? And what about their evangelistic efforts?  Their "evangelism" is ineffective and draw in no new people other than drawing in disgruntled xCOG members who jump ships like fleas from dog to dog.

LCG then takes another swipe of Bob Thiel and others who have left to start their own personality cults.
Christ warned us about these false ministers when He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15–20).
Obviously this never applied to Rod Meredith when he apostatized from the WCG to start two new COG's.  None of the scriptures ever seem to apply when the various COGs are doing exactly what is spoken about.

LCG members apparently don't trust HQ to make wise decisions when it comes to doctrine, because many still question them, even in 2018.
In the ministry, we have dealt with many of the same doctrinal questions for years: the proper dating of the Holy Days and calendar issues, private prophetic interpretations and many others. These issues come back year after year, decade after decade, as new people discover old errors. The Bible teaches us that Satan stalks about the fringes of the flock “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Those who regularly search the Internet for doctrinal issues probably do not appreciate the precious truth we have and may find themselves within that lion’s range of attack.
Satan is the one behind all questions, so LCG members had better learn to be subservient and never question. Plus they need to examine their lives during this season to understand why they cannot submit to HQ.  Their salvation depends upon it.
God said that He uses His ministry and His Church to maintain doctrinal integrity. The Church is the bulwark of the faith. The Apostle Paul reminded the evangelist Timothy, “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14–15).
The ministry has both the responsibility and authority to maintain the doctrinal integrity of the Church. Even in the world, we don’t give a person the responsibility to do a job without also giving the authority that is required to accomplish it. Failing to do so would defeat our own purpose. And God is far wiser than we are.
God uses His faithful ministry to preserve the truth in His Church. That’s a big reason why the Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” And we’re required to judge who is a true minister of Jesus Christ, and, again, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). But what are our obligations when we identify a true minister of Christ? We gladly accept the authority and service that Christ provides through His ministry and His Church. Sheep flee a wolf but follow a shepherd.
The sheep should flee the wolf presently leading them astray and away from the New Covenant. The wolves have been devouring members for far too long now.  When will the captives be set free?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Former COG Member Now Part of Branch Davidians

American Cult: 5 Spiritual Groups That Went Too Far

I remember when the Branch Davidian siege was underway how some ministers in Pasadena were quite concerned.  They admitted that we had loose ties to the Davidians because of the Adventist Sabbatarian connections.  They had had some conversations with some COG ministers over the past and the church was concerned about being associated with them.  Plus, James Tabor was working with the authorities trying to get them to understand what was happening with David Koresh and his apocalyptic visions.

 At Bible Study With David Koresh’s Last Followers
Every Saturday afternoon, on the Branch Davidian sabbath, Clive Doyle drives to the North Waco home of Sheila Martin, where the two old friends study the Bible together, often joined by a small group of spiritual seekers and curious interlopers. Doyle grew up in Australia, Martin in Boston, but both are now in their seventies and have lived in McLennan County for decades. In the Waco area, where many residents would just as soon forget the tragic events that embroiled the Branch Davidians 25 years ago, Doyle and Martin are unique. They are the last two people living there—and among just a handful left in the world—who fervently believe that their former spiritual leader, David Koresh, was not a crazed cult leader, or a delusional narcissist, or even merely a gifted interpreter of scripture, but a genuine prophet of God.
One of these Saturdays, I drove up to Waco to join Doyle and Martin. Outside, it was cold and raw, with low-hanging clouds throwing off an occasional mist of rain. Inside Martin’s living room, the climate was far cozier, with potted plants, soft lighting, and religious paraphernalia cluttering the space. Martin—who is petite and African-American, and still speaks in a pahked-the-cah New England brogue—took her usual hostess’s position at a small table next to the kitchen, ready to accommodate anyone who needed a glass of water or something to eat. Doyle—jowled and a little stooped as he nears eighty—lowered himself onto a worn couch, taking charge of the room. Seated around the two Branch Davidians were Doyle’s roommate Ron Goines, a messianic Jew who first came to Mount Carmel in 1998, and Marlene Joyce, a former follower of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God who has been attending Branch Davidian services since the mid-nineties.

Read the entire article here:  At Bible Study With David Koresh’s Last Followers

Here are various articles describing James Tabor's work on the Branch Davidians.

Waco Redux: 25 Years Later
April 19, 1993–Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy Going on 25 Years
Sacred And Profane: How not to negotiate with believers.

James Tabor also wrote a book on the Davidians: 

Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America


As a former pastor giving sermons every week, in hindsight, I found I was quoting scriptures for one reason or another for effect and yet many times the little observer in my head was asking while I was quoting it, "what exactly does that mean and how does that translate in real life? I am sure those listening may have been asking the same thing at the same moment.

The classic WCG practice of endeavoring to apply James 5: 14

"Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

,,,was particularly difficult to practice and to do it exclusive of medical opinion and help could be debilitating or fatal.  Personally I erred on the side of  "Lets get you to a doctor and I'll anoint you on the way..."  Thus no regrets personally in this area or horror stories I contributed to personally because of too rigid a view.  I have always been grateful for my more metered beliefs growing up before I came to WCG in such areas.  James 5:14 was way below the Presbyterian radar. 

Growing up, no Presbyterian would remotely think to only get anointed for "healing". My sense is that they had learned long ago not to take things too literally or seriously in  some areas and that some demands of scripture, even in the New Testament were based in the naivetĂ©' of the times. . So they didn't and thus no drama, trauma and controversy over such things ever happened.   On so many topics in WCG, it was years of chaos over such topics with consequences for minister and member alike. 

Being sick and dying was even the result of not discerning the Lord's body correctly during the Lord's Supper or Passover depending on your Church.  What was the connection between that and being sick from time to time or even dying?  Both are quite normal things if you show up on the planet. 

I do know that when we did not receive all one asked for it was because ...

 2You crave what you do not have. You kill and covet, but are unable to obtain it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures.

The following are also New Testament scriptures that I probably quoted depending on the topic yet quietly wondered, "what exactly does that mean?  It simply doesn't seem to be true or really work that way."  And yet still, when quoted, everyone somehow believed them though never quite knowing in what way they did or in what circumstance it was proved they delivered as advertised.  

1) And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.  “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:21-22 NAS)

2) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NAB)

3) Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)

4) Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. (Mark 11:24-25 NAB)

5) And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-13 NAB)

6) And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)

7) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 NAB)

8) It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:16 NAB)

9) On that day you will not question me about anything.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.  Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24 NAB)

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Exodus: A Meaningful Story But Let's Not Take It Literally?

“Yet all agree that the Pentateuch is not a single, seamless composition but a patchwork of different sources, each written under different historical circumstances to express different religious or political viewpoints.”
Israel Finkelstein, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Sacred Texts

“biblical history did not take place in either the particular era or the manner described. Some of the most famous events in the Bible clearly never happened at all.”
Israel Finkelstein, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Sacred Texts

 –Dr. Steven DiMattei
PhD New Testament studies

"Despite its provocative and even misleading title, “Contradictions in the Bible” is a website devoted to bringing biblical scholarship to the public, what experts in the field now know about the Bible’s various textual traditions, the historical and literary contexts that produced these texts, how they came to be assembled together, and even the competing aims and agendas of their diverse authors. Thus, this website’s primary aim is to reclaim the topic of Bible Contradictions for its proper field of study—biblical scholarship. In other words, biblical scholars have known and written about the Bible’s Contradictions for centuries now—what has traditionally been labeled as source-critical scholarship, that is the study of the Bible’s numerous, and often competing, textual traditions! "

"In its present form, the book of Exodus is a composite of the Yahwist, Elohist, and Priestly sources. These biblical traditions, which record the story of the Israelites’ enslavement in and exodus from Egypt, maintain that the Israelites were oppressed by an unnamed Pharaoh, used as forced laborers in the Pharaoh’s building projects, and were subsequently liberated by Moses, under Yahweh’s guidance, with signs and wonders.
Yet despite these traditions, historical specifics are never described, and neither are there any extent extra-biblical sources nor archaeological data to corroborate these narratives:
No Egyptian records of a large number of, nor any, Israelites in Egypt during the alleged time periods proposed by our biblical sources

No  literary nor archaeological records of a mass flight of 600,000 males (Ex 12:37) accompanied by women, children, servants, and livestock in what would have been a heavily fortified Egyptian presence from Egypt to Canaan
No archeological record of settlements in the Sinai peninsula in and around the time of Rameses II, or the whole New Kingdom period (15th-11th c. BC) for that matter—especially true of Kadesh-barnea where this one million plus troop allegedly encamped for 38 of the 40 years spent in the peninsula!

No trace of Egyptian influence on Hebrew material culture and language as the result of four centuries of direct Egyptian contact."

...At the other end of the spectrum, there is significant archaeological data confirming the re-importance of the city of Rameses as well as the foundation of Pithom (Ex 1:11) in the 7th century BC. In fact, all the major places in the wilderness narratives have settlement layers in the archaeological record for the 7thcentury BC, especially Kadesh-barnea where the Israelites allegedly remained 38 of their 40 years in the peninsula—at least according to one tradition. In other words, the authors who sculpted the Exodus narrative were familiar with the geopolitical world of the Egyptian delta and the Sinai peninsula as it stood in the
7th century BC!"

Additionally, such stories need to be assessed from within their own historical and literary culture, and not from modern reader’s agendas, presuppositions, or whims. For example, the biblical plague narrative itself was influenced by older ancient Near Eastern literary—and not historical—traditions. There are a number of Sumerian tales that narrate how the goddess Inanna brought forth three plagues upon the land, the last of which was turning all the water of the land to blood. Various plagues and skin diseases, such as boils, are prominent curses among numerous different covenantal treaty documents in the literature of the ancient Near East. Hail is visibly one of the plagues sent by Inanna as well, and swarms of plant eating locusts are a popular divine punishment in Assyrian vassal treaties and other texts from Mesopotamia. Moreover, in the ancient Near Eastern world one of the most significant ways a scribe could argue for the supremacy of his national deity over and against another nation’s god was to present his god, in the present case Yahweh, as ultimate sovereign over the forces of fertility, life, and death—and this is exactly what the whole plague narrative accomplishes. These stories must be understand and read as products of their own literary and historical contexts.

Thus, far from being a work of historical fact or the recollection of an historical event, the Exodus traditions were most likely the product of centuries of accumulated and shared cultural memories of past events in the long history between Egypt and the land of Canaan: the expulsion of the Semitic Hyksos; the fact that the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom regularly used Semites in their building projects; and the underlying political reality that the Canaanites did in fact liberate themselves from Egyptian control in the 12th century BC, but it was the Egyptians who were expelled from the land of Canaan, not the Israelites from Egypt! As some scholars have suggested, the shared cultural memory of the liberation of Semites in Egypt might have been a powerful enough narrative to have been the catalyst for creating a shared ethnic identity and past which took the form of the Exodus narrative."
Is the Exodus History?

We at the Continuing Church of God offer a  rebuttal