Saturday, July 28, 2018

Things Church of God Ministers Need To Think About

From a reader here:


As a person who spent decades in the Worldwide Church of God, who was pastored under all sorts of COG-type ministers from the more easy going to the tyrannical strict dictator – and a person who also for several decades lived in “the world”, as they call it – I've developed some personal observations that I wish to pen down.

1 .You Are Placing Yourself As Directly Responsible for Human Lives.

Every decision that you make impacts a human life, a marriage, or a family. You are placing it on yourself a family's stability every second of your ministry. Every time you give a mandate, you take their entire emotional stability into your hands.

I grew up in a family that was impacted severely by every decision that a minister made. One decision by a minister could easily cause a domino effect that could change the mood, emotions, events – every aspect of the life of a person or a family. It can't be underestimated what this can do to a person's emotional or spiritual stability as a person. Your simple order to “quit a job” can have consequences that can last a decade. Your order to “stop seeing a person” can have consequences that can last a lifetime, or it could be the best thing to happen to a person. The simplest “correction” could be the very thing that could throw a fragile person over the edge. The control you have over a person is directly proportional to who the person believes that you are. And you ministers in the COG have taught them that you act as a direct representative of God and Jesus Christ. They feel, through your teachings, that disobeying you is the same as disobeying God. That's an extremely heavy responsibility to carry for any person, especially if it was even possible to be true. But it's not a matter of concern, in reality, if it is true or not – it's what they believe. So if it's real or if it's a master deception – the impact is the same, because they're acting on that belief. Therefore, the power you have is nearly god-like, and too many COG pastors let that power go to their heads, directly affecting the entire lives of their congregation. You have them write down every word you say in notes. You issue edicts and orders with lectern-pounding authority. Don't underestimate the power you've convinced them you have – and you are responsible for the decisions you have made on every single life that passes through your congregation – good, or bad. Every moment of depression, every moment of tears, every moment of inner hate, worry, and fear. You've put yourself in a huge position that I would be terrified every second of every day to be in. You've put yourself between a person and God. Too many COG ministers take that with a grain of salt, consumed and drunk with the power and control they've convinced the congregation they have.
2. Most of You are Drunk with Power and Control.
Instead of being a representative of the love of Jesus Christ, too many of you are drunk with the power and the control that you have with people. What's important to you is not so much what happens in the lives of the people you pastor, but how well they listen and obey YOU. It's not so much the impact of what happens in their lives that's the issue – it's how much they listen to what you have to say and do it. Your concern is “who's in charge”, not what your decisions do to people. Your concern is “government”, and sheriff-like authority. Your concern is if they are obedient or disobedient, not what it does to their lives, their families, their everything.
3. These people pay your bills.
How many times do you think about the fact that you are directly supported by your congregation? Putting aside your constant commands to tithe you say are biblical, do you ever take time to consider the fact they these are the people who put food on your table? Who pays your bills? Who pays for the clothes on your children's back, or the car your drive? Does it ever click to you just how much they sacrifice so you can live in the house you live in, or enjoy the life that you have? Do you ever think about the laborer in your congregation who works 12 hours a day in back-breaking work so you can live a posh live as a church pastor? Do you ever think about the plumber or the electrician in their skill? These people pay for you to live the life you have, and yet most of you are more concerned about how much they obey your every word about even their jobs or their life yet you forget if they all decided to get up and walk out, you'd be in a creek without a paddle.

4. You've put yourself in a place of high judgement.

I don't think most of you in COG minister positions take seriously the place you are in. Everything you do in the name of Jesus Christ in the lives of your congregation is being recorded – not just in a legal sense – but in the emotions, the lives, the results, the decisions, the mindset, and the spiritual well-being of every man, women, child, and baby in the congregation. Every time you yell and pound on the lectern, scaring a little baby, to every time you throw someone out your doors for something trivial that causes a break-up of a family or a fight when they get home. To the teenager who is depressed because you don't “get it”. To the dating couple you order to break up. To the chastisement that you give them that causes discouragement, despair, sadness, feelings of failure, loss of confidence – you've set yourself in a place of watching that any person should take with the highest level of humility. Sadly, most are so drunk with the power they yield with rods of iron that the impact they have on lives, and the judgement they bring on themselves is blinded by their love of power and control. How many of your people have you turned from God and Jesus Christ by your ego, your pride, your hubris, and your love of power and control? How many of your people are gone to this day because of the decisions you've made? Have you even tried to bring them back? What would Jesus do? Does it concern you about the place of high judgement you're in, and the impact of human lives that is in your hands every single day?

5. Have you ever put yourself in their shoes before?

Many of you just don't understand what your congregation goes through every day. Many of you came right out of Ambassador College decades ago, and have lived quite the nice life. Maybe you were a Young Ambassador, met your Young Ambassador wife right there in the college, got married, went right to the field, and have lived a life of relative luxury and ease as a pastor, with everyone admiring and looking up to you your whole life. Maybe you just went straight into the field, and never had a real hardship. You've always had everything taken care of – your job, your car, your expenses. You've lived a relatively easy life. But do you, or can you say, that you truly understand the lifelong pressures of the ordinary person in your congregation?

Have you ever woken up worried and scared that your electricity might be shut off because they couldn't afford to pay the bill? Have you ever worked 12 hours a day, worried that one mistake could get you fired? Have you ever not had food on the table, where even buying a 2-liter of soda is a luxury? Have you ever been worried that you would be made fun of going to church because you just don't have the money to buy the clothes that are required of you? Do you understand the pressures and the tension that one of your teens is under? Do you understand what it is like to live in a chronic, lifelong medical condition with constant pain or immobility? 

Have YOU, as a COG pastor, ever looked at a fellow minister, not with admiration, but with fear? That one false thing you say could get you kicked out of the only church you have ever known? Or that one bad thing you do could, in your mind, cost you your very eternal salvation forever and ever? Have you, as a COG pastor, ever understood the pain that is felt when you are wrongly accused – and your pastor will not even listen to you over the word of someone else? Have YOU, as a COG pastor, ever even experienced a tenth of the things one of your members have? Or do you, as a COG pastor, simply brush off their very real concerns and fears and issues as just signs of weakness, or an attitude problem?

Have YOU, as a COG pastor, ever tried to “get rid” of someone because they aren't meeting what you want them to become? Have YOU, as a COG pastor, ever ignored a certain type of person, or treated them like dirt under your feet, because they are different? Or because you just know they aren't paying half or all of their tithe? Have you EVER put yourself in their shoes, or ever had even a little bit of understanding of their everyday issues? Or do you live in a bubble of ignorance because of the easy life that the Church has given you from day one – and just don't get what “their problem is”?

Have YOU, as a COG pastor, ever been so consumed with pride about who you are, that it concerns you? Have you ever walked up to the podium and thought “Oh, look at me, I'm a PASTOR, and I'm walking up to the podium, I'm so blessed...”? Have you ever thought to yourself how good you sound in the PA system when you speak, and hear your own voice? Have you ever yelled in the PA just to hear the power you have over people? Do you ever sit in your chair of power in your home office, with arrogance and cockiness about who you are? Do you ever get enraged when someone doesn't show you the respect you think you deserve, not realizing how hurt that the person might be over something they've never been able to tell you before, because they are afraid you'll kick them out?

Do YOU, as a COG pastor, even care if you hear rumors from your congregation that you might be prideful, arrogant, conceited, stubborn, cold, calloused, power-hungry, or even abusive? Or you dismiss those rumors as simply bitter, angry people who have attitude problems and don't have the proper attitude toward government? Are you more protective over your power than you are over their concerns? Is your love of your paycheck of more concern than their impressions of who you are, and the way they think and feel about you? Does it even concern you that they feel bound to go to your church, not because of any type of spiritual nurturing and food they get from you, but simply because they have to because they feel it's the only way they have to worship God, but inwardly know that you are thought of as corrupt, hard, and even maybe anti-Christ? Does that even matter to you? It should.

You are a pastor. You are occupying a place between them and God. Your congregations look to you on a level that is far higher than any pastor of a mainstream church normally has. They look at you as their intermediary between them and God. And it is no secret that many in the COG's right now, at this moment, are frustrated, discouraged, depressed, disheartened, sad, and in despair because they are not being spiritually nurtured or fed in their congregations. They can see your power-hungry, dictatorial, out-of-touch ways. Yet they feel if they say anything at all, they'll be summarily dismissed, or thrown to the curb because you do not understand them, nor do you listen to them. You are a pastor. Yet most of you don't act like it. You sit there, collect your paychecks, without regard of the immensity of your position or of your job. You are supposed to represent Jesus Christ. Most of you do not.

I'm speaking out for those who can't. I don't have those concerns they have – my security is in Christ, not in any man. You will likely dismiss everything I have said here. That's your prerogative. But you cannot ever say you have not been told. It's being told right here. Stop the corruption. Stop the hubris. Stop the pride. Stop the attitudes. Stop the arrogance. Stop the lack of compassion. Start acting like the role you play – start acting like you know Jesus Christ like you claim you do. Because the way many you act right now makes you look like you are servants of the devil not of God. And that's something that should make you get on your knees, begging for forgiveness.

I can say these things because I don't have to fear your hand of dis-fellowshipment. It's too bad that those frustrated and sad in your churches who endure your heavy hands of spiritual abuse cannot say the same. More than this, I can say these things as a Christian in the spirit of love for those who don't feel they have a voice.
  • A Former Member of WCG, who sees what's happening to the minds and hearts of your congregations.

Gerald Weston Strikes Out At LCG Youth and Members Who Live Deceptive "Three Different Lives"

It is that time of the month in the Living Church of God.  It is time for the monthly flow of sex, gays, transvestites, pot smokers, sex and more sex.  Nothing in this universe seems to make these people happy. Can the world ever be more miserable than how the Living Church of God portrays it?

Church members and particularly the youth are getting sick of the constant put-downs and are starting to ignore LCG's stances.  This does not make Gerald Weston happy!  He has discovered, after all of these years, that there are three different ways COG youth and members present themselves.

This desire to live in two different worlds is a strong temptation. Many who grow up “in the Church” remind me of the 1950s television drama, “I Led Three Lives.” It was based on the true-life story of Herbert Philbrick. All that his friends and family saw was his role as husband, father and white-collar worker, but he had two other lives. He also worked as a communist spy, and he was actually a double-agent working for the FBI as a counter-communist spy. He was constantly on guard to protect his credibility with whichever side was watching him. One can only imagine the stress this created!
Similarly, some members and teens live three lives. Friends and neighbors see one life. A second life is lived on the Sabbath, around the ministry and members who are viewed as solidly in the Church. Then there is the third life, away from the Church and around friends who are wrapped up in the culture of this world. Many young people describe their experience before baptism as having one foot in the world and the other in the Church. They desire the world, but keep a toe in the Church, just in case.

However, this article is not about young people only. It is about all members, and about those things we may stubbornly hang on to. What is it that you have not been willing to give up? Do you disagree with our stance regarding marijuana? Apparently, some do. Do you believe that so-called “mercy killing” is okay, even though one of the Ten Commandments tells us “Do not kill [commit murder]”? What about abortion? And do you privately believe that God made homosexuals and lesbians to be “born that way,” that He put males in female bodies and vice versa? Or do you believe the Bible, that these abominations are choices people make (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18–32)?
Marijuana is an interesting case in point. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many people still believe it is harmless and beneficial. Please note: We do not deny that there may be medicinal properties found in part of this weed, but the medical benefits do not generally appear to come from the hallucinogenic ingredient, THC. “But it’s a natural substance!” some will say. “It’s now legal!” So are poison ivy and tobacco! Is it not odd that at the very time when there is an all-out war against tobacco, there is a push to fill your lungs with another kind of smoke?
So, let me be clear on this subject. We will not hold back from telling the truth to the world and to the Church! Have You Bought the Lies?
Oh my, "We are not holding back..." Such a forceful message.  This must make Elisha Thiel bitter with jealousy!

Month after month, week after week, magazine article after magazine article and booklet after booklet, LCG members are bombarded with one negative thing after another.  Everything and everyone is wrong, except for the "delightsome" LCG leadership and some of the members. There is an endless list of DONT'S in the Living Church of God and the list on the negative side is 95% longer than any positive listings.

Just imagine if a future issue of Tomorrow's World was filled with positive, uplifting articles with not a negative comment insight, what a novel concept that would be!  Imagine seeing articles on the beauty of nature, on the beauty and richness found in different cultures and even religions, and on how good people do good things for other people.  All of these are qualities of the Kingdom they claim to preach but never truly believe in. It is much easier to live a miserable life than it is to be joyful.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bitter Petulant Church of God Prophet Claims the Final Phase of the Work Is Here

The summer heat of California must really be zeroing in on Arroyo Grande, California this year.  More and more ludicrous things are flowing out of that city than ever before, all thanks to the official prophet of the end times, Almost arrested, but not arrested, Elijah Elisha, Amos, Habakkuk, doubly-blessed and ever so bitter, Bob Thiel.

Ever since he got a stinging rebuke and smackdown from his spiritual daddy, Rod Meredith, the bitter manchild has been working overtime trying to legitimize his bastardized version of what he imagines a  Church of God should be.

The Offical False Prophet of Africa has this to say:
The final phase of the work is continuing to move forward. More information is being put together, more people are being reached, and people are being reached in more languages.

What is the final phase of the work? How do biblical and non-biblical prophecies play a role? How will faithful Philadelphians be affected? And what is expected to be the Continuing Church of God’s (CCOG’s) part in it?

It is the highly dedicated in the real Church of God (COG) that will finish the human part of the final phase of the work before (Matthew 24:14-15) and during (Revelation 11:3-14) the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord. Presuming no significant organizational changes, for many reasons, the final phase of the work will be led by the Continuing Church of God (throughout Church of God history there have been significant organizational changes, so one must be cautious as more can happen).
Apostate Thiel was one of those "organizational changed" that happened when he lied that Gaylyn Bonjour doubly blessed him so he could start a new Philadelphian work.

This petulant man/boy believes that he and he alone truly understands how prophecy will be happening in the church. Elisha Thiel believes that of all the Church of God's out there today, no one has the sure word of prophecy nor the true understanding like he does.  In fact, all the COG's are so ignorant about prophecy that they will not know when the tribulation is beginning.
This final phase of the work seemingly will consist of identifying what is happening in the world (specifically also in Europe, the Middle East, and the Anglo-descended nations), preaching what Jesus commissioned in Matthew 28:19-20 around the world, finishing the proclamation of Christ’s gospel of the kingdom as a witness along with persecution (Matthew 24:9-14), the rise and work of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:2-12; which will likely overlap a few days with Matthew 24:14), the likely assistance to the two witnesses by the scattered flock (Revelation 20:4; cf. Luke 9:2-6), the three angel’s messages (Revelation 14:8-11; plus other angelic interventions), and the witness of those persecuted and martyred for Jesus (cf. Revelation 17:6). And then Jesus will return and establish the Kingdom of God.
Elisha Thiel has not preached any message around the world that has made an impact or has preached anything about the message of Jesus.  World leaders and nations have no idea who Elisha Thiel is, nor do they care.  If he can't appeal to the Church of God base then what hope does he have to witness to the world?
It should be clear to those who truly understand the warnings in the Bible that the final phase of the work for God’s people will also specifically involve dealing with the ecumenical religion that will rise up (cf. Daniel 11:36-38; Revelation 13:4,8; 14:8-13; Matthew 24:14-15) with signs and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) fulfilling Satan’s plan, while enduring the Beast power who will take steps to eliminate the faithful (Revelation 13:7,13-17; 14:12-13; Daniel 7:21,25).
The only "signs and lying wonders" I have seen has come directly out of Arroyo Grande!

Even though the message of the improperly named "continuing" Church of God is virtually unknown to 99.999% of humanity, the petulant man/boy believes he will be killed for his message.
Being killed as the result of persecution is seemingly also part of the final phase of the work that some of God’s people will endure: 
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:12-13; cf. 6:11)
Now notice who Elisha Thiel looks to for his prophecies:
Having looked over a variety of Roman and Byzantine Catholic private prophecies, I would suggest that Satan’s planning has not always been completely in secret and that such private prophecies will be cited as “justification” for some of the coming persecutions.
Anyone can read the ancient myths and prophecies uttered by the Mayans and Catholics and read into them anything they imagine.  Even so, it does not make them true.
In order to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20, personal visits, printed literature, and electronic media are key. In 2017, I both visited with leaders from seven countries in Africa, as well as established the website CCOGAFRICA.ORG, and went to New Zealand. In 2018, I also visited CCOG members in Europe and the USA, and wrote more booklets than in any other previous year. Evangelist Evans Ochieng has been visiting people in various parts of Africa as well and plans even more visits.
Notice the clever deception he used above:  "I both visited with leaders from seven countries in Africa..." One would assume that Elisha Thiel is mimicking Herbert Armstrong who actually visited REAL world leaders and political despots. Has Elisha Thiel done any such thing? NO! The only leaders he has visited is the representatives of various COG groups who decided that they saw a free cash cow coming their way and maybe with a local Chieftain that he needed to work through in order to build a structure for one of his African groups or to provide plots of land in order to plant seeds. Oh, and Elisha Thiel visited some of his members in Africa which apparently is another sign of a true prophet. And don't forget those booklets! Elisha Thiel has also written booklets in the last` year! Both Gerald Flurry and Dave Pack have written more than Elisha Thiel has and yet they are no more prophets than he is.

Then, as usual, the bitterness that still consumes Elisha Thiel's brain about when Rod Meredith rejected him and his foolish rantings is still a bitter pill to swallow. After years of stroking Elisha Thiel's back and patting his head like a poor little stepchild, Meredith thrust his knife in and eliminated all doubt that he thought Thiel to be a fraud. Living Church of God ministers, members and leaders swiftly discarded Thiel to the sidelines. Never has a splinter group like the improperly named "continuing" Church of God been ridiculed more than Thiel's.
About a decade ago, the late evangelist R.C. Meredith and I were talking and he agreed with various points I was raising about the end time work. And back then, I was able to help lead him to essentially state that in the end it would not mainly be the message of the COG vs. the Protestants, but it would be the COG basically vs. the ecumenical religion that will rise up in the end that will likely (for a while) refer to itself as “Catholic.” In 2005, during the Feast of Tabernacles in Clearwater Beach, after a private lunch, we and our wives met at his hotel room and I also discussed various aspects of the final phase of the work with him–and I had other meetings, discussions, and emails related to that with the other Charlotte evangelists through December 14, 2012. Yet, even though he and others in his church agreed to take many steps related to the final phase of the work, few, if any, of the promised steps were taken by his group–this is a major part of why the Continuing Church of God needed to form.
Interestingly, in December 2015, Dr. Meredith lamented the slow growth in his church. He said that 30% should be attained, but he hoped for at last 15% growth per year–something his church does not attain. Consider that the Continuing Church of God has been the fastest growing COG since its formation in late 2012. On a compounded basis, it has exceeded the 30% growth in both membership and income since it formed in late 2012. Even exceeding the percentage the late Herbert W. Armstrong often pointed to as a proof of a blessing from God. While our growth rate will fluctuate, the Continuing Church of God is the only one of the ten largest COGs whose leaders had origins in the old Worldwide Church of God to do so. Currently, we have over 3,000 people with us. The Continuing Church of God has been the fastest growing COG in the 21st century.
Herbert Armstrong lied about church growth and income levels, just like Rod Meredith twisted those figures around. Numbers and rapid growth do not make a "true" church! The LDS church is drawing in huge numbers which no more makes them a true church than Thiel's.

If one wants to compare Sabbatarian groups, then the Church of God 7th day has been showing steady growth for years now, much better than ANY Armstrongite COG out there. These people are certainly BETTER Christians than you will find in many COG's!
The gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed more powerfully to the world as a witness and the end will come (Matthew 24:14). We in the CCOG are reaching people in over 220 countries and territories and expect to continue to lead the humanly-involved portion of that, and certain other aspects, of the final phase of the work.
Elisha Thiel really needs to stop trotting out how many nations he has reached. Web trackers do only that, someone clicked on a link to his site. If he wants to be truly picky, he has to admit that the Gospel of Banned by HWA has also reached 220 different nations through this blog!

The amazing work of Banned is going forth into all the world!

It is possible that this short work will temporarily swell the ranks of the Church of God (including some Philadelphians, but perhaps with many Laodiceans and many others not truly faithful—many may well fall away—though some of the first will be last and the last first, cf. Mark 10:31). Some will be faithful and bear fruit, while many others may leave (cf. Matthew 13:18 -23; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) once the persecuting tribulation that seems prophesied to occur prior to the Great Tribulation hits (cf. Matthew 24:9-10;21). Then the end will come.
Elisha Thiel fantasizes that the worldwide media will soon discover his forceful message and start attacking him. He imagines himself being ridiculed! Shocking! WHY would anyone ever do that??????
Partially because of the message of the COG, the people of the holy covenant will enrage the upcoming prince/king of the North (Daniel 11:28-30). One or more associated with the Continuing Church of God will be identifying that the European “prince” (Daniel 9:26-27) who is rising up to become a king, will not be able to truly bring peace.
The coverage by the worldwide media will thrust Elisha Thiel into the forefront of the news because of his message, thus guaranteeing billions will hear his message.
Media coverage would then be expected to cover more of the COG message and this may be associated with the “short work” of Romans 9:28. Since the true COG is so small, it is highly likely that it getting significant media coverage will help fulfill Matthew 24:14. Some of the Philadelphia remnant will be explaining that it is Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God and not the rise of a militaristic leader that the world needs. According to Daniel 11:32 it is “the people who know their God [that] shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Hundreds of millions, if not billions, will receive at least a partial witness.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

COG Prophet Upset That Another COG Member Knows More Than He Does

It has been another tough day in Arroyo Grande, CA as the self-appointed prophet to the Churches of God has been preempted with another book by a COG member.

Almost-arrested but not arrested Elijah Elisha, Habakkuk, Amos, and doubly blessed Bob Thiel is swiftly seeking to discredit Hayden "Chip" Fox and his new "bestseller" The Ultimate Guide to the Book of Revelation.

Elijah Elisha Thiel is adamant that no other COG member or leader has the correct revealed knowledge for the end times.  The only person on this earth to be God's mouthpiece, due to his double blessing, is Elijah Elisha Thiel.

Elijah Elisha Thiel black marks Fox right out of the starting gate by labelling him a "preterist". Most COG members have no idea what a preterist is, but it sounds dangerous coming from the mouth of a COG prophet, so it must be something heretical.

Here are some comments from Chip Fox about his prophetic interpretations in his book:
Seals start immediately after Christ’s resurrection and continue up to sealing of God’s servants in sixth seal just prior to destruction of Jerusalem and nation of Judah.  Seventh seal includes the seven trumpets that run from when the Romans first started (66 CE) conquering or destroying cities of the nation of Judah, then (70 CE) the destruction of Jerusalem.  Third trumpet is the pollution of Christianity starting with the Christian/Pagan mix in the 300s CE.  Trumpets continue up to the sixth trumpet which ends with the Ottoman empire in 1923.  Within the sixth trumpet, prior to 1923, there is an assessment of Christianity, and then a major change in Christianity because of the two witnesses. 
The seventh trumpet is not chronologically subsequent to the sixth trumpet, but concerns a much broader time span from prior to Christ’s birth to sometime after the conclusion of the sixth trumpet to the end of our age.  The seventh trumpet includes the seven bowls or vials, which are a subset within the seven trumpets.  They explain in detail what was given in brief in the second trumpet, i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the political nation of Judah.  It also includes, so importantly, the shift completely away from physical Israel and toward the importance, promises, and reality concerning spiritual Israel. 
The seventh trumpet gives the whole background of Christ and the people of God, and all the things leading up to the destruction in 70 CE.  It gives details of the destruction. And then there is a chapter in Revelation, chapter 13, that explains why this destruction had to be done.  Chapter 14 gives the aftermath of the destruction.  Then we come to the symbolic description of New Jerusalem, which is stated to be the bride of Christ.  A physical city is not a bride. The body of all Christians, spiritual Israel, is the bride of Christ, but the symbol of a city that far surpasses the beauty of the Jerusalem of the first century shows how much more precious spiritual Israel is than physical Israel could ever have been. 
At the most, only one of the seven seals of Revelation have been opened as of now. Hence, the idea that any of the seventh seal trumpets already were blown, etc. is simply wrong
People who believe that most of the Book of Revelation was already fulfilled are termed ‘preterists.’ 
In general, preterists believe that prophecies that have not been fulfilled yet, have been historically fulfilled. Full preterists do not believe in a coming Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21), whereas partial preterists believe some future prophecies were only for the past.
OMG!  How dare Fox interpret the events in Revelation as things that have already happened in history!  Oh, the heresy!  Never mind the fact that every single interpretation that Armstrong, Thiel, Blackwell, Hoeh, Waterhouse, Flurry, Pack, Meredith and others have made has been 100% wrong makes no difference.  Thiel is not wrong but Fox is.  Typical Armstrongism, but that will not stop Elijah Elisha Thiel!  He continues:

COG groups like ICG, CGI, UCG, COGaIC, CG7, CGG, and the old CEM do not officially teach and/or do not believe in the idea of Church eras (The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3), though they sometimes teach about the churches of Revelation. They tend to take more of a preterist (past) view of those churches, despite the fact that many statements made to them had to have future prophetic ramifications (e.g. Revelation 1:19; 3:3; 3:10). Because of that they do not teach certain prophetic aspects of this, most do not see their own problems and will have to go through the Great Tribulation.
Let me also add that, like many Roman Catholics, many COG groups believe that certain remaining parts of Daniel 9:27 were fulfilled anciently.
Furthermore, many COG groups and independents do not believe that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God still needs to be preached to the world as a witness per Matthew 24:14 (e.g. GCW, PCG), do not really make that a high priority (e.g. COGWA, CGG), or do so in less than truly loving the truth (cf. Jeremiah 48:10). Some either believe that Herbert W. Armstrong fulfilled it–which, in my view, is another preterist view–or it is a job only remaining for the two witnesses, which is an improper interpretation of what that verse actually says.
Some teach that there is no biblically-required King of the South as that supposedly was fulfilled, while at least one group is unsure (CGF-NW)–but this is an error. This is not considered by most to be a preterist error, but since that prophecy has not been fulfilled, I consider that to be one.
Most COG groups fail to teach Habakkuk 2:2-8 is an end-time prophecy, hence are not properly getting the warning out to the USA and UK. PCG totally misses it, and LCG, while it once would teach it, has backed off because of what appears to be internal politics–it basically believes that Habakkuk 2:2-8 was fulfilled anciently, despite it clearly being a prophecy for the appointed time of the end. So, yes, in that way, LCG is being a bit preterist.
According to Jesus’ words to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3, relatively few Christians will (the remnant of the Philadelphia Church Era only) truly understand the Book of Revelation and various other matters.
Elijah Elisha Thiel wants to know if you will listen to him and heed his words!
I do not believe that preterist books, like the one Chip Fox is promoting, are correct.
Will you truly listen and truly understand the truth?
Or do you prefer preterist and/or other improper interpretations of prophecy?
The apostate Thiel has been blabbering for some time now that any who do not heed his words will NOT know the correct time the tribulation will start and will suffer the consequences.  No one in their right mind should be listening to anything that comes out of Thiel's mouth and his improper interpretations of prophecy.  No one!

Hayden "Chip" Fox has this to say about his book and as you read it you will see it is a typical COG belief that he knows everything about everything regarding the book of Revelation.

Up until now, the book of Revelation has been one of the most mysterious books of the Bible. 
Interpretations of time-line sequences are have been varied and confused, and there is a widespread misunderstanding of what in the book is symbolism vs what is literal. This book will clarify the entire book of Revelation for you, and take the mystery out if it. Once you’ve read it, you will understand the logical sequencing of the book, and how amazingly accurate and applicable are all of its symbols. You will understand the time lines and the meanings of the prophecies from the time Revelation was written all the way up to today and beyond. This is unlike any other book you’ve ever read about Revelation, and will give you greater insight into the book than ever before.
I am more inclined to give Fox more credit than I do India diploma-mill Thiel.  Fox actually has real degrees and knows scientific study techniques, unlike Thiel who relies upon homoeopathic quackery models for his "study" and Herbert Armstrong booklets.  Even so, whenever a COG member or a former COG member comes out and says, "up until now" or "revealed at last" some biblical form of interpretation my resistance goes up.  We have had 80 some years of men doing this sort of stuff and there is no end in sight!

"Sickened in Charlotte" On Living Church of God Issues

This is a commentg left for this posting: "A Challenge For Gerald Weston On How To Improve Vi...": 

I've been in LCG for a long time. In the beginning, I was 100% enthusiastic and fully invested in the work. After the split there was an air of wanting to be better, to do better and to genuinely SERVE the brethren but it didn't take long before the same ego-driven attitudes of the leading men started to taint the waters. It progressively got worse as the years went by. I stuck it out for the last years of Dr. Meredith's life even though, at times, it was gruelling. The constant begging for money and emphasis on negativity in his letters prompted me to stop even opening them. The tedium and boring repetition of the magazine articles and the telecasts was just as predictable and BORING as the letters so I stopped watching and reading them. The frequent "next 3-5 years" failed prophecies were disheartening at first but then they just became cliche and made Mr. Meredith look foolish. 

When Rod McNair came to Charlotte the slow, downward path of LCG seemed to really accelerate. The back-biting and lies grew tenfold. The spying on my fellow brethren and the unfair (seemingly cruel) punishments that were doled out with regularity were even more discouraging and upsetting than the lameness of the work (there's a reason for the very limited growth). I watched the ministers of my church do horrible things to good people with no explanation or remorse but I still believed in keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days so I didn't know what to do. I convinced my self that it was a trial by God to check my faithfulness and loyalty, so I stayed but my heart wasn't the same. I was so disappointed in LCG.

The sermons on submitting to the ministry and the ruling with fear instead of love (example: If you don't obey the ministry you won't be a pillar in the kingdom because God won't know that he can rely on you. Or, if you don't blindly obey the ministry, you might be disobeying orders that are preliminary to instructions on how to flee to the place of safety) were so repetitive that I could have easily given them myself because I heard them week after week, over and over again. I started doing my own Bible studies to for spiritual fulfilment because we certainly weren't getting it at church. I still looked forward to Sabbath services because of the fellowship.

Government, government, sex, government, death, mayhem, tribulation, destruction, 5 to 10 years, homosexuals, government. I sit and wonder, "the Bible is SO full of things to preach about, why is this all my church ever talks about???"

It was plain to see that Dr. Meredith wouldn't be around for too much longer so I told myself to stick it out until he died. Maybe things would be better under a new evangelist, right? Maybe a man who cared more about God than his own agenda and politics would get the position and LCG would be renewed. Maybe Dr. Meredith's replacement would fire the vain, tyrannical boot-lickers that had risen to the top and become the cancer that was killing the whole operation. Maybe.

I was actually very pleased when Gerald Weston was announced as Dr. Meredith's successor. I knew him socially and he seemed like a guy that wouldn't respond well to corruption. He obviously wasn't warm or overtly loving and kind but he seemed steady, fair and honest. I had hoped that he would weed out the bad seeds at LCG headquarters and get the ship back on track.

Gerald Weston has all but doubled-down on everything that was ruining LCG under Dr. Meredith. The McNairs seem to be able to tell him what to do and when to do it without limitation. Instead of breathing new life into the church, the downward spiral has again been sped up.

Am I the only one who sees this? I'm scared to talk to my LCG friends about it because you can't trust people not to turn you in. I don't know what to do. I had really hoped Mr. Weston would fix things. With no fix in sight, I am left feeling so discouraged. 

Sickened In Charlotte 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Life at Herbert W. Armstrong College by Kieren Underwood

Life at Herbert W. Armstrong College
by Kieren Underwood
feel free to contact Kieren here (remove spaces)   
kieren j underwood @ gmail .com

Many stories of life in the PCG have been told before (on sites like this), but there is precious little information on what it is like to be a Herbert W. Armstrong College (HWAC) student. I’d like to remedy this.
Let me first preface this story by letting you know that I enjoyed most of my time at HWAC. (The actual classes stand out as the worst parts.) Perhaps this seems weird, given I now despise everything the PCG does. Yet ignorance is bliss. I still had friends, sports, trips, and all the good stuff. It just happened to be based on lies. 
A big picture before I embark on the details: I spent three and a half years at the college, meaning I left one semester before I would have graduated. Two and a half of those years I worked as a junior writer for the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine and website. I attended “editorial meetings” with the big dog writers and watched exactly how we produced our propaganda. After my second year, I went to the Edstone, England campus, living in the huge mansion along with Stephen Flurry’s and Brad Macdonald’s families. My also sister attended HWAC, starting 2 years before me. And my best friend, who can remain nameless, was eventually the Student Body President (of the 2017-18 class).
I was accepted to HWAC in the 2014-15 year, but I had applied the year before and been rejected. Something about too rebellious and immature. It was about the time I was leaving from Wollongong, Australia that my local minister (John Macdonald, at the time) let me know, “Kieren, you are too insular. … And think that you’ll either be very successful or a failure.” 
I had to look up insular at the time. Here’s the definition: “adj. ignorant of or uninterested in cultures, ideas, or peoples outside one’s own experience.” Now, this seems, all things considered, to be a rather rich insult, but I don’t believe even he really knew the definition of the word. Perhaps what he wanted was “dismissive.” There is a distinctive culture of submissiveness amongst the COG community, as if their ability to challenge the usual “argument by authority” is slowly whittled down with each spurned attempt at critical thought. My intellectual compliance, apparently, hadn’t been sufficiently confirmed. 
Freshman Year
What every Freshmen remembers of Orientation is the opening lecture from the Assistant Dean, Eric Burns. It’s the dos and don’ts lecture (but mainly it’s a don’ts lecture). The overwhelming message of this lecture is “if you have to ask if you can do something, the answer is probably no.” Actually, Eric Burns says this straight out. Add to this a long list of things you definitely can't do. I wish I had a better memory, but a partial list of the weird rules at HWAC will have to suffice:
-       No underclassmen are to own cars (upperclassmen only).
-       No underclassmen are to borrow upperclassmen’s cars.
-       No alcohol on campus (not to mention drugs).
-       Maximum of 2 drinks when off campus.
-       No stargazing.
-       No sitting on the same towel or blanket of someone of the opposite sex. (Something weird   must have gone down in previous years….)
-       No underclassmen are to take other underclassmen off campus to date.
-       No walks with girls on campus after 10:00pm.
-       No inter-racial dating.
-       No dating a girl twice before you have dated every other girl at the college.
-       No dating college alumni (this was a recent rule update).
-       No “pairing off” with anyone of the opposite or same sex. (This essentially means spending “too much” time with someone and not spreading your time equally with all.)
-       No persons of the opposite sex can sit next to each other in the back of a car. (Apparently, there was too much butt-brushing.)
-       No going off campus on a group date if there is not an even number of people of the same race. This could give off the wrong impression (horror!) that one of the couples is actually interracial! (This actually stopped me going out many times in a group with one of my black female friends.)
-       No touching the opposite sex. (This became stricter as time went on. Hugs were not allowed. A touch on the shoulder was frowned upon.) 
-       No hoodies in class. (I was brought into the dean’s office because of this rule.)
-       No watching movies on a laptop with anyone else. (I remember students circumventing this rule by watching the same movie on different laptops, while sitting next to each other.)
-       No eating at the cafeteria without slacks and collared shirt.
-       No “thinking about marriage” until final semester of senior year. (Yes, I’m not making this up.) 
-       No girls are to walk outside after dark.
-       No two-piece swimsuits.
-       No interracial dancing. 
-       No soda on campus.
You can add to these the numerous clothing guidelines for females. No miniskirts. No skirts above the knee. No butt-hugging pants. No low-cut tops. No showing your midriff. Etc, ad nauseum. The female RAs are told to check girls’ clothing before they leave the dorms and report back to the ministers. My sister, a fashionista of sorts, brought across thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing from Australia for her Freshmen year. Very soon after she arrived, Eric Burns told her to throw most of them out, the style being too “out there.”
Now, of course, many of these rules you cannot find in the HWAC handbook. Eric Burns and co. don’t want these to be official rules, just in case any of the strange ones get out into the public. And on top of these, there are many other un-written-un-written rules determining what you should do and how you do it which are just a part of the culture:
-       If your room is not tidy, expect the RA to report it to the Dean.
-       If you’re not praying the recommended 30-60 minutes a day, the upperclassmen will be thinking bad thoughts behind your back.
-       If you don’t have two dates a week (Friday and Saturday) you’ll be reported for not dating enough.
-       If you go off campus too often for snacks, you’ll be reported. 
-       If you are hanging around a girl/boy too much, expect to be both gossiped about and reported to the RA’s and Dean.
-       If you talk back to an RA, or think that they are being overly demanding, expect to get a reprimanding by “having a government problem.”
-       If you do anything out of the ordinary, expect it to be reported to the Dean and Dean’s assistant at the weekly RA meeting. 
I could tell literally dozens of stories about people being ratted out for things that would seem ridiculous to anyone outside the COG community, but your attention may run thin. One sticks out to me. The Sophomore and Senior classes were having a get-together (apparently, to remedy our problems with disunity). I had a lively argument with my sister, who, being related, clearly realized underlying joviality. But the room quietened, and suddenly everyone was staring at us, brother and sister, arguing over the state of my shoes (which were unpolished). Shock! Despair! Disunity in the family of God! But it ended soon after, and was, in a similar timeframe, forgotten. 
Well, so I thought. Later I found out that the “incident” had been brought up at the weekly RA meeting. In a stroke of universal luck, I was walking past Gerald Flurry’s office and saw some pieces of paper on his outside desk. (Assistants and helpers leave papers on this outside desk so that they don’t have to “disturb” the great master in his mediations, most likely because he is receiving important revelation from god.) I turned them over and had a quick read. Lo and behold, there was a message from the Student Body president, discussing the disturbing incident between my sister and I! “How petty,” I thought. This man-child is being sent the juicy gossip about each and every student. … And this useful idiot [who I had known for about 15 years] is feeding it to him.”
Now, to some of the actual classes. I’d love to be able to question a few of my former lecturers on the utterly useless teaching they provided during my three and a half years at HWAC, but I’m sure this will not happen any time soon. A brief synopsis of some should be adequate.

Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ– Wayne Turgeon
Wayne Turgeon may just win an award for the most banal lectures delivered about Christ in human history. This is a man who has his entire lecture notes written out, including the jokes! Previous students had already nicknamed this class Life and Sleepings, because of the … well, need I explain? It consisted mainly of reading through A.T. Robertson’s Harmony of the Gospels, reciting a few Greek words, and explaining how all of Christ’s words fit into Herbert W. Armstrong’s doctrines. By the end of this class, you would have absolutely no clue that there are different interpretations of Christ’s message, and you would have essentially no understanding of the debates over the historicity of the gospels. About a year after I finished this class, I read through the gospels myself—this time without the commentary. What I learned in the week it took me to read them was worth ten times the semester of lectures. 
Principles of Living– Stephen Flurry and Eric Burns
This is the class on how to live—Herbert W. Armstrong’s way. The most amusing part of this class was that the first-semester textbook, The Closing of the American Mind, was written by a homosexual atheist, Allan Bloom. If Flurry realized this, he would have to take it off the curriculum, given these are almost the cardinal sins of the PCG. Not that Bloom’s atheistic viewpoint really affected any of the students, because they barely did the assigned reading anyway. (One student argued with me that Bloom was “too intellectual, and just trying to show off how smart he was.” It was more likely that he just didn’t understand the book.) Among the other assigned readings were sections of Augustine’s City of God, Gibbon’s 15thchapter of The Decline and Fall, and Plato’s Apology. I don’t think even a handful got through the Gibbon handout and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who read the Augustine. I always wondered why these were even a part of the curriculum, considering the authors. Augustine is the chief of Catholics, Plato’s Apology is literally the work of anti-dogmatism, and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall originally scandalized the public with its rationalistic view of Christianity’s origins. I think Stephen Flurry is just too stupid to understand what’s actually in the readings, and just blindly follows whatever Ambassador College did.
Now, the real fun started when we arrived at the so-called “German rationalism” and “biblical criticism” of the 18thcentury. By this time, Eric Burns had taken over the lectures. Before Burns became a lecturer at HWAC, he was a Parks and Recreations manager, so he was almost overqualified for the position. At this point, Burns would just throw out names like “Immanuel Kant,” “Fredrick Nietzsche,” “Max Webber,” and “Martin Heidegger” along with adjectives like “very bad Basic Writings of Nietzsche and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. I had the strange feeling that no one in the room knew what they were talking about; that they all just expected someone else had done the thinking so they wouldn’t have to. This was to be a feeling that became more familiar as time went on. Someone smarter than me, someone higher-ranked than me, had done the thinking and had proved all this stuff. Until I was sitting in editorial meetings with the senior writers and I realized they hadn’t proved it either. 
History of Western Civilization– David Vejil
Just one story needs to be told of this class. We were given a written assignment with the question, “Who built the Great Pyramid?” Those familiar with Dr. Herman Hoeh’s crazy Compendium of World History may know that he posited it was actually Job who built the pyramids. After referencing some obscure historians, and doing some crude linguistic analysis of names, he closed up shop, concluding the Egyptian “Khufu,” “Cheops” and “Saaru” were all manifestations of the Hebrew name Job.  We were thus to read Dr. Hoeh’s articles on the subject, do a little “research” and write an essay proving that it was in fact Job. Everyone in the class did so, and no one thought anything else of it.
After I left the PCG, I read the essay again. This time, I googled “Khufu.” His reign was around 2570 BC. The earliest Jew in history, Abraham, if he existed, dates to around 1800 BC. I just shook my head. How could I be so stupid?     
Sophomore Year
Fundamentals of Theology– Andrew Locher
I must preface this one by recognizing Andrew Locher as one of the better teachers, and one of the nicer ministers within the PCG. Unlike many of the others, Locher never patronized those who didn’t maintain our beliefs. He was just earnest. And that’s to his credit.
We took some big topics on in this class, like the PCG vs. WCG court case, and the charges of Herbert W. Armstrong plagiarising The United States and Britain in Prophecy. It was at this time that I read Stephen Flurry’s Raising the Ruins. (It was recommended reading for the course.) It was very inspiring—“faith building,” as the saying goes—and I even sent Flurry a long email expressing my gratitude that he wrote the book. When I took the time to read it a few weeks before I left the PCG, I was sad that I hadn’t seen through the ridiculously flimsy logic and outright slander. (If Stephen Flurry ever wakes from his stupor, he ought to send a long apology letter to Joseph Tkatch Jr., perhaps with something along the lines of “sorry for mistaking you for Satan.”
In any case, Locher took us through the debate surrounding J.H Allen’s Judah’s Sceptre and Josephs Birthright and the USBIP. The plagiarism charges really hit me at the time, and I had some serious doubts about whether Herbert W. Armstrong’s “lost master key” for prophecy was really given to him by god. Then, by some strange coincidence, I walked into a friend’s study and found a paper he had written on the topic. His conclusion (obviously) was that there was no plagiarism involved. (Imagine submitting a paper with the opposite conclusion!) This shored me up for a time. Little did I know at the time that the British-Israelism theory had originated in 1794, been through numerous interpretations, and had been given a thorough demolishing by David Baron in 1915—decades before Armstrong even went into religion! If only they had mentioned that in class. 
Oh, and also: Hislop’s The Two Babylons. For anyone that was forced to read this indescribably complex and convoluted collection of myths, Greek gods, symbolism, and dubious history, you know the drill. I believe there is a technical term for the method Hislop used in his book. It’s called the gish gallop—where the arguer provides an almost Niagara Falls flow of facts and arguments (with little regard to their integrity) in the hope that the effect is to convince the listener of its overall truth. Since HWAC students know little of history and Hislop seems like he knows his stuff, we just trusted that he lined everything up. I believe all you would have to do to debunk his ridiculous theory is to check the Wikipedia entry on “Semiramis.” As you can expect, no one ever did.      
For the second-semester term paper, we were to research a topic related to The Mystery of the Ages. I chose to study the Paulicians, the Armenian Christian group Armstrong mentioned in the chapter on church history. I researched hard, reading the entire Key of Truth manuscript, which was essentially a catechism for 8thcentury Armenian Paulicians. Armstrong had mentioned it in a sermon or two. (Perhaps he never did read the entire thing, or if he had, he decided not to take it at its word.) I even asked for Ryan Malone’s research on the subject, because I heard he was the actual researcher for Gerald Flurry’s book The True History of the True Church. 
I found the Paulicians weren’t really what the COG’s described them as. Most scholars see them as solid trinitarians (oops!), although some say they believed in the ancient heresy of adoptionism (the belief that Christ was originally a man who adopted the characteristics of the son of god). They practised a triple baptism, which scholars point to as a sure sign of trinitarianism. Apart from avoiding physical idols, infant baptism, and hating Catholics, they had little else that would link them to the COGs. No ham-hating, no keeping of the Jewish festivals (besides Passover), no “holy-spirit-is-the-power-of-god.” They looked pretty much like an early form of Protestantism. In fact, some Baptists claim them as part of their own unbroken lineage. This didn’t stop me, though, from going along with the farce, and deciding to leave out all the contrary evidence from my term paper. What I submitted looked exactly like the party line. In fact, I had managed to convince myself that there was probably something wrong with the Key of Truth manuscript rather than with my analysis. 

I think a brief interlude between sophomore and junior year is in order. Because it was during my sophomore year that I had my first spell of serious doubt. At the time, I believe Armstrong Auditorium was running an exhibit on Jeremiah, and our “tour guides” were ending by telling the story of how Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant and the heir of Judah, “Tea-Tephi,” to Ireland. One student told me a story of a man who balked at this crazy idea, asking where we got this nonsense idea from. “Oh the poor man, hopefully, one day god will open his eyes,” was the typical response from other students. In any case, I took to researching the subject since I had never proved it for myself. I read Mystery of the Ages and found nothing to support the claim. I read The United States and Britain in Prophecy and found about a sentence or two on something about “Irish historical documents.” I read the Jeremiah booklet and found nothing. I read PCG articles on the subject and found similar hand-waving. Where was the evidence we supposedly had by the bucketload? 
I took to the internet to find some proof, but found precious little apart from what looked like sketchy conspiracy theory sites. On the other hand, there were sites that were telling me the whole thing was a farce and there weren’t any historical documents. Whenever I would read such sites, my heart would start racing and I would become jittery. I’ve never had a panic attack, but I imagine the beginning is what I felt during those times. 
One night, after a little too much searching (and without even coming across any anti-Armstrong sites, mind you), I had this sickening feeling that it could all just be a big scam. I had a vision of how my whole ideological edifice was built upon a few core beliefs (Israel being England and America, Assyria being Germany). The rest of my beliefs were piled up, one after the other, and for fear of a crushing existential crisis, I hadn’t brought myself to question whether the bricks at the bottom existed. To examine the foundation meant questioning whether all I had believed for my entire life were ridiculous absurdities. It would mean my whole life consisted of lies built upon lies. My entire day consisted of listening to these lies and then writing about them for a magazine. I got on my knees and prayed like I’ve never prayed before. And then I got into my bed and cried myself to sleep. 
Perhaps the main thing I prayed about in the following months was Father, show me some proof that this is real. This, put in a multitude of different ways and phrasing, was the only thing I wanted from prayer at that time. Forget health, work, and relationships. I wanted Truth of the capital T type. And I received nothing either way. 
A few months went by, and I managed to stop thinking about the hard questions. Students at HWAC talk of how busy the schedule is: 20 hours of classes, 20 hours of work, an hour of prayer each day, an hour of study each day, compulsory sports, compulsory dating, compulsory extracurriculars, choir, music lessons, homework, speeches, and (if you do it) compulsory reading. The Assistant Dean, Eric Burns, used to give assemblies where he calculated the hours in the week and compared it to the hours of things we were required to do. There were always more hours of activities than were possible to squeeze into the week. The point was to make you “rely on god to get everything done.” I had another theory: it was to make sure you never had enough time to stop and think. I like to subscribe to Hanlon’s Razor, which tells me to “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance.” This leads me to believe there probably was no conscious effort to waste all our time. But it sure did mean a lot of students never had the time to think about what they were doing. 
In order to counteract this severe lack of time, I would stay up into the early hours of the morning, reading philosophy and studying a lot of (biblical) history. It meant passing through much of my Old Testament Survey and Fundamentals of Theology classes with glazed eyes, but it was worth the perpetual tiredness. At least I learned something at the end of it.  

Junior and Senior Year

The later years came with two of the better courses taught at HWAC: History of Ancient Israel and Biblical Archaeology. Perhaps the only reason was that they were taught by one of the more sane lecturers (and fellow Australian), Brent Nagtegaal. I think he realizes that much of the PCG is hyper-dogmatic and relatively uneducated, so he tries to provide some balance. His classes were the only ones I looked forward to attending. 

Epistles of Paul – Stephen Flurry 
For a man who has taught a class on St. Paul for 11 years, Stephen Flurry knows abysmally little about him. Flurry teaches from Conybeare’s and Howson’s The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul, which despite its brilliant style of prose, was written in 1865 and lacks much of the needed historical scepticism. Not, again, that students did the assigned reading. I can recall one story, related to the now-wife of Grant Turgeon (son of the then Assistant Dean, Wayne Turgeon). In order to speed along her marriage with Grant, given there was no marriage until graduation, she was allowed to complete the year-long course during the summer. I asked her how she managed to get through the 900-page Conybeare reading. “Oh, I haven’t really worried about that,” she replied. 
It’s sad really, because if students had read through it, they might have picked up on the idea that there are Christians outside of the PCG who dedicate their life to the study of Christian history and actually care about truth as well! Imagine that! Reading books like The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul, Wordsworth’s A Church History (Until Nicea), Lord Lyttelton’s Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul, O.T. Allis’s Two Views of Prophecy, C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and Heretics are some of the books that got me thinking there might be other people who know about this Christ thing apart from the PCG. Alas, to the student at HWAC, this is merely wasting your time on “worldly scholarship.”
It was while taking this class that I thought seriously about baptism. I was one of the last in my year to be baptized, mainly because I was scared of doing it for its own sake. I wanted to know for sure. I was talking to a female friend and found myself justifying why I was waiting on the decision. Since a part of the Epistles of Paul class required us to actually read the Epistles, I asked if she had read through Galatians. As any Christian should know, Galatians discusses grace and the law, in, as I discovered when I read through it, rather dogmatic terms like “bond,” “slave,” and “free.” She told me she hadn’t read it. “How can you get baptised and give your life to this church,” I asked, “if you haven’t even finished reading the book its all supposedly based on?” She told me something along the lines of “I know its true and I’ll get around to reading it later.” What was really happening was that Stephen Flurry would tell her what Galatians said and she wouldn’t worry about checking it for herself. And then she would read the scriptures he mentioned in isolation (and with his commentary in mind) and you could manage to miss the fact that it said the exact opposite. 
When I finally left the PCG, I tackled Peter Watson’s mammoth tome titled Ideas: A History. I learned from Watson in the dozen or so pages where he discussed Paul than from the whole year we studied him in class. 
(On a personal note, Stephen Flurry and his family displayed many of those traits some would call “Christian.” On several occasions, they took me into their house and helped me when I was sick. During one Philadelphia Youth Camp, I had a fever which was then followed by a bout of fainting. Amy Flurry, who has gone through some severe health trials, gave me a room and meals and made me feel at home. It is not their charity but their ignorance at which I feel so much sadness.)

Minor Prophets, Marriage and Family, Church History, Comparative Religion– Brian Davis
It is at times where you need to describe a man like Brian Davis where you wish you had the literary genius of Voltaire in order to adequately satirize his blubbering foolery. Alas, I am no Voltaire, but I’ll try on behalf of the hundreds of people who probably fume at the mere mention of his name to give a worthy description of this man and his classes. 
Brian Davis is the most arrogant man I have ever met. It’s bad, obviously, because he happens to be wrong. But it’s worse because he spends a great amount of the time in his classes telling students about how amazing he is as a man, father, husband, masculine handyman, scholar, king of logic, etc, along with amazing stories of bravery and southern wisdom that he forgets he told us earlier in the year. You might think I’m bitter and prone to exaggeration. Not at all. At the end of the semester, he found himself having to provide summaries of the remaining lectures because he spent too much time telling us how he could solve all the world’s political problems with his back-of-the-envelope, common-sense legislation. He wanted to expand the Minor Prophets course from a 2-credit-hours a week to 3, all because he couldn’t stop talking about President Trump during the lectures. 
In his defence, there is perhaps no one who could get away with teaching the Minor Prophets course without seeming like an idiot. According to Gerald Flurry, every minor prophet had nothing else in mind but the Philadelphia Church of God, and all the prophecies mentioning Israel, Judah, Zion, priests, or specific people are actually code-words for the PCG, WCG, Herbert W. Armstrong, or himself. 
Marriage and Family is an incoherent mess of misogynistic rantings and stories about PCG or ex-PCG members who could have solved all their problems if they had “just listened to my advice.” In regards to his misogynism, I was told there were certain lectures where the girls left feeling anxious and depressed because of how bad they were at “fulfilling their roles” or just how much worse women were compared to men in general. How do I know this? Brian Davis’s own daughter, taking the class, told me. She told me other things as well, such as the fact that he was struggling at the same time with terrible marriage problems with his own wife. As his daughter recalled it, in previous years Brian “Just Follow My Lead” Davis would come in, after constant arguments with his wife, to tell the class just how easy it is to fix up your family if you just “applied god’s clear rules on marriage and family.” His daughter, because of his brilliant and godly parenting, hated it so much that she moved out of home to live with her grandparents for the last half decade before she was accepted to college.   
But Church History was the class where I realized Brian Davis must really know more about his church than he puts on. It seems obvious enough that Davis reads some of the anti-Armstrong blogs on the internet, considering he would tell stories in class about those that mentioned him. I’m yet to figure out whether he realizes it is all a farce and just continues to go with it anyway, or whether he truly hasn’t figured it out yet. Upton Sinclair tells us “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” so we could go with that hypothesis. But there is evidence to the contrary. 
At one point, he read out a significant portion of the article “In Bed with Garner Ted,” which documents a particularly problematic libido problem with the Apostle’s son, produced originally by the Ambassador Report. Now, this is not just an article which you “stumble upon.” You can find it on the Painful Truth blog and a few others, but forget about finding it without some specific searches. Based on the stories he told about Ambassador College, its obvious he’d read more. Even his daughter confided in me after an especially revealing lecture in Church History, “it’s hard to believe that the WCG was even god’s church in the 1970s.” (‘Hard to believe’ is not a phrase I like to divert any real-life effort towards anymore.)
Yet no class compares to the sham which was Comparative Religion. I’d decided in the summer break prior to taking the class that I would do my own research. I read two textbooks covering Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and the various forms of Christianity during that time and was fairly familiar, because of prior studies, with Daoism and the overall structure of Eastern philosophy. I walked into the class at least expecting some coverage of the basic tenants of these religions. What we actually received was mockery. It seems Brian Davis can rally all the forces of scepticism to every religion but his own. Buddhists just worshipped fat people, Hindus were idiots who went off and abandoned their families in search of enlightenment, and the Koran’s factual inaccuracies were picked apart like Martin Luther searching through the Catholic Catechism. He once played a 20-minute clip of a Harvard Professor of Philosophy discussing life after death just so he could spend the rest of the class mocking how ignorant the man was. Really? Talk about picking the wrong fight. 
The problem is that students at HWAC never get to hear the other side of the argument. It’s very easy to seem right when no one is there to challenge you. Want to claim the Epic of Gilgamesh is a clear forgery of the biblical account and not the other way around? No problem! There’s no other historians in the class to tell you otherwise. Want to claim that nearly all the Greek myths are really referring to Noah and Nimrod? No worries! No one has even read them anyway. Davis would find a way to connect any amount of dubious characters in secular and biblical history, never minding whether they were real figures or completely mythical, and my friends sitting around me would just eat it up, questioning nothing. 
After the first few months, I gave up showing myself at lectures (I took the class for audit), and only attended when there was a religion of my own interest he was discussing. At this point, I was at the Edstone, England campus, meaning we would watch the live-stream version of the lecture given in Oklahoma. A few times during class, I told my classmates he was just simply wrong, and that they could get a better understanding of the religions in question by a quick read of Wikipedia’s entry on the subject. They paid little attention, and probably just thought I was an arrogant prick. Perhaps I could have gone about it better, but really, how else was I to respond to such garbage? 

Speech and Homiletics– Roger Brandon, Joel Hilliker, Wik Heerma
Fundamentals of Speech is no doubt the most useful class HWAC has. The only reason for this is that the skills are transferable. If you are taking Advanced Homiletics and attending Spokesmen’s Club, you could find yourself giving a speech every week. You might be speaking claptrap for 10 minutes at a time, but you’ll find after four years, you get better at delivering it. 
What is truly sad is watching your friends turn into walking mouthpieces for Herbert W. Armstrong and Gerald Flurry. In Freshmen year, they barely know the doctrines. By Senior year, they are preaching them like attack dogs, mocking “worldly scholarship,” and ridiculing other Christians for not understanding “the truth.” 
An example. My best friend (and also the Student Body President) was giving a sermonette in Advanced Homiletics and managed to slip in some obligatory slander: “Other Christians don’t even read the Bible!” I was lucky enough to be called on to deliver an evaluation. The room we were in happened to function as a makeshift library, which made it easy to turn around and point to the 63 Volume set of Lange’s Commentary that was sitting on one of the shelves. “Now you may be able to make the case that they don’t understand the Bible,” I said, “but please don’t tell me they haven’t read it. Do you believe Lange wrote that commentary without even perusing the Book?” The sad thing is, I was the only person who would ever call speakers out for making ridiculous statements like the one above. Everyone else would nod their heads and deliver banal evaluations: I think you could use some more eye contact…or Perhaps you could repeat your main points at the end for emphasis….
I could go on, but Christ could return at any moment and I need to get this published. I remember the time where I had to give an impromptu speech on “Why we don’t use vaccinations.” It ended up as six atrocious minutes of stumbling over words while I thought to myself why don’t we use these obviously beneficial things again? Then there were the attack speeches. In these monstrosities, you are meant to come out mad and finish screaming. Now, there happened to be three German brothers attending HWAC at the time (one of them writes for the Trumpet magazine) and two of them were in my speech class. Both arrived at the podium screaming incoherently and god would have had to pull out a big one for me to comprehend a mere majority of what was said. At one point during the older brother’s “speech” he began smashing the podium. It was on small rollers, so it began to move precariously with each smash towards the middle of the aisle, finally stopping just short of an audience member. At this point, the podium was at a 45-degree angle, but our German friend continued to power through. My best friend and I were trying to hold in hysterical laughter. At any point in the speech, I genuinely would not have been surprised if the Nazi SS had barged through the doors and reminded the speaker that he had some important missions to complete. He was exhausted when he finished. I believe the speech topic was “The Benefits of Religious Freedom.” I don’t even….    

On Worshipping Gerald Flurry’s Words
On leaving the PCG you might wonder how you can get your money back—all those tithes and offerings! You might wonder how you can get your time back—all those wasted years! You might wonder, if you abandoned them in the process of joining the PCG, how you can get all your friends back. I, for one, wonder about how Gerald Flurry can refund me all the hours I spent reading his ridiculously boring books. I used to admire the statistics you can find on the back on all PCG literature: “Gerald Flurry has written over 50 books and booklets….” Wow, this dude is productive! I have since realized his “productive” capabilities are so high because of the paltry effort he puts into writing. It’s easy when you don’t bother if your facts are true and you can pull your reasoning out of your ass. Flurry’s books on the Minor Prophets are brain-numbingly boring. One is tempted to use Clive James’ classic review: “Here is a book so dull that a whirling dervish could read himself to sleep with it. If you were to recite even a single page in the open air, birds would fall out of the sky and dogs would drop dead.” God’s Family Government is just incoherent ranting. The True History of God’s True Church (there are perhaps two more Truethan necessary) is simply plagiarized from Andrew Dugger’s A History of the True Church, and besides that, Flurry didn’t do the research—Ryan Malone did. Much of his writing assumes you already have familiarity with all the COG doctrines, so I can only imagine what some poor fool feels when he requests Daniel Unlocks Revelation, expecting biblical exegesis and instead receiving a rant about how Worldwide Church of God ministers didn’t have the “Father focus” and didn’t see just how important Herbert W. Armstrong was to the flow of world history. 
You’ll often hear COG members talk of “following the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong.” You wonder why they don’t say “teachings of Jesus Christ.” During one college-wide assembly, Wayne Turgeon told us that the best way to “stay faithful” (codeword: “stay in the PCG”) was to “keep your nose in the books and booklets.” No, not keep your nose in the Bible. Keep your nose in the booklets. When asked to give Bible study tips during a Homiletics class, I gave the seemingly banal advice of reading through entire books of the Bible to get the context. My teacher asked my classmates if they would follow through on the advice. Jack Wood, who now writes for the Trumpet website, replied by saying he “didn’t have enough time” to do that, and that he would give priority to studying all of Gerald Flurry’s books and booklets.  
Any of the writing that doesn’t put you to sleep was done by Flurry’s ghostwriter—Joel Hilliker. There has been a significant increase in the writing coherency as the years have gone by since less and less of the writing is done by Flurry. As one friend who still attends put it to me, “it was a real struggle to get through articles in the early days.” One day at an editorial meeting we had a special lecture from the big dog himself. Flurry proceeded to rant for an entire hour and a half about a “supercritic” who walked up to him at services and told him: “I know you don’t write your own articles.” We were asked to set straight anyone in the congregation who asked any questions about this, the justification being that Flurry’s ghostwriter was simply a useful tool for the ageing Apostle in the same way that Baruch was assigned as Jeremiah’s scribe. 
What makes it worse is that editors and copy-editors are literally scared to change anything the great man of letters writes. (They would feel free to edit my work into oblivion, and I had a scrap at one point with a junior copy-editor who tried to change too much in one of my articles.) Obviously, to question if Flurry’s words are not god-inspired would be heresy itself. 
An example. For many years, Gerald Flurry has claimed that 50 million people died in the Inquisition. E.g.,
During the Inquisition, over 50 million innocent people were killed in the name of “Christianity”! That’s right—50 million! – “The Last Crusade” by Gerald Flurry 
You can find this claim in around 10 different articles and several published books. Now, a simple Google search can show you that even the most generous of scholars puts the number at a mere 50,000. At the time I came across these claims from Flurry, I was reading Toby Green’s Inquisition: The Reign of Fear. He puts the number at definitely below 30,000 total deaths across a span of 300 years. Yes, many more were tortured, and I am in no way defending the Inquisition; but its one thing to hate it and another to tell blatant lies about it. 
In order to treat this hazardous situation, I sent an email to some senior editors and fact-checkers, asking whether they would fix the outrageous claim. I told them they might want to change it, “considering the figures are off by a factor of approximately 1000.” They thanked me for the concern. Nothing was changed.
PCGers would often tell each other, reassuringly, that they did not worship a man—everything was based off the Bible. But their actions said otherwise, because every time you were to claim something Armstrong or Flurry said was wrong, they would go into a fit. At one point, Armstrong had claimed music with a beat faster than your heart rate was unfit for Christians. I told my mother this was clearly ridiculous and asked her whether she would stop listening to essentially every piece of music Bach or Mozart ever wrote. Outrage ensued. The funny thing was, she didn’t even agree with Armstrong’s comment, but was just furious that I would point out he was wrong. 
Another time, while I was in England, a group of students were discussing Steve Jobs. Flurry has a strange fetish for Steve Jobs, and has mentioned Walter Isaacson’s biography of him on a number of occasions. This means that all the HWAC students like to buy copies of the book and pretend like they have read it as well. Now, one particular Freshman had had a conversation with Gerald Flurry and was told that he should instead read Becoming Steve Jobs by Schlender and Tetzeli. Apparently, it detailed more of Jobs as a human and Isaacson’s biography was too “scholarly”—a word Flurry and Armstrong loved to use to demonize people who knew more than them. The Freshmen relayed this information to the group. I then told him, because he clearly had read neither, that Isaacson was not too scholarly at all and was, in fact, very readable. This set some people off, who accused me of disagreeing with “Mr. Flurry.” They literally said: “No! But Mr. Flurry says that it is!” By the end of it, I was just talking with automatons. I had read the book and knew Isaacson’s style. They had heard Flurry say something. There was now nothing you could say to win the argument. To think this was not even a doctrinal issue! This was just an off-hand comment. And they would tell me that they didn’t worship Mr. Flurry! I left the room and gave up reasoning with that Freshmen ever again.
When I sat down to write this, I thought it would be several short comments on some of the classes I took at HWAC. The more I wrote, though, the more ridiculous nonsense I remembered. Brian Davis once had the gall to claim “worldly” colleges were the ones who were really brainwashing their students. I’m now attending university, trying to make up for the four years I lost studying cult propaganda. More than a few lecturers at my new university have told me to “question everything they say”—and these are lecturers from the hard sciences! If you even thought about questioning what a lecturer said at HWAC, you’d be in Stephen Flurry’s office getting a lecture on why you had a “government problem.” In fact, I was—after I sent an email to Stephen Flurry questioning a multi-choice answer on one of his quizzes. 
I have been discussing an institution whose most educated lecturers claim “going to Ambassador College” (Wayne Turgeon), “writing instruction manuals” (Dennis Leap), and “being a Green Beret” (Mark Nash) as their academic credentials. With this incredible arsenal, they have decided to wage war against the accumulation of 2000 years of Christian scholarship and a few hundred years of scientific research. All this is then occurring in an obscure campus located in Edmond, Oklahoma, with 80 other students who’ve never had the chance to demonstrate a shred of independent academic thought. It’s plays like a Shakespearian tragic-comedy, although I’m hoping it doesn’t all end as usual, with everyone dying in the last scene. In the meantime, HWAC can have its “Truth” with a capital T. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be busy, living in the real world.