Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Invisible Man at the Podium: Ode to the Taped Sermon

One of the oddest, and most awkward part of growing up in the Worldwide Church of God was the experience of the Taped Sermon. Every one of us remembers the experience. 

We would all sit there - in dressed up suits and ties and dresses, mind you - briefcases on knees - staring up at an empty lectern, a waiting microphone, while an invisible voice boomed - oftentimes unintelligible - from the speakers in the hall. As a child, this was very confusing. What is it exactly that we were looking at? No one was there. Yet, there we stared. In retrospect, I think a good many of us were trying to simply interpret what in the world was being said!

Of course, because of the technology at the time, at some point, we'd get a break - often mid-word - for the sound guy to flip the tape over to side B. Oh good - we were halfway through! Commence re-staring at the empty podium and microphone. 

It was at this point in which I'd start to get genuinely antsy and bored. I would begin either: Staring at lights, or crossing my eyes to make two podiums. Or, I'd look around wondering how long people would stare at that empty lectern like someone was actually there. 

There was a time I remember very clearly when the Taped Sermon was absolutely unintelligible. A combination of horrible acoustics in the ramshackle meeting place and horrible tape quality combined to make a drive-thru speaker seem like high-quality sound. Eventually, the pastor decided to cut the tape halfway and I believe pulled a sermonette out of somewhere and just gave that. 

I always hated it when I saw "taped sermon" in the Schedule of Services in the bulletin. It just seemed weird and strange. Nowhere else, anywhere else, did we ever sit and listen to an audio presentation over tape like we did at Church. Even in school, it was video (even reel-to-reel projector in my elementary years!) Music class was audio - but we actually sang along with that. Secretly, I had always hoped that the tape would mess up. I had hoped we'd hear the Pastor speaking on Chipmunk Speed, or that the tape would break. I don't think I could have refrained from laughing if I had heard the Pastor on chipmunk speed, but it would have been a break from the sheer monotony. 

The Taped Sermon always seemed to be something absolutely uninteresting - usually a change in policy, or a new mandate, or some type of correction. Why did I have to listen to it all then anyway? After it got "played", it could be checked out from the Tape Library to be listened in the home anyway. It's not like I could understand what was being said anyway!

In what universe besides our Church did one go to Church to stare at an empty podium listening to a Cassette Tape, acting as if someone was really there? The only thing that ever rivaled that in strange weirdness was taped special music. Yes, that happened too, if I remember correctly. 

It would have been a memorable Church Day if someone had slipped the Taped Sermon out for a tape of Metal Rock. I honestly don't think the hearts of many could have taken that kind of shock! 

Perhaps if the audio was understandable, the sermon was at a decent length, the message wouldn't be completely interrupted at an awkward time to flip the tape, and we didn't have to sit and stare at an empty podium dressed formally it would have been a little better. 

But it would not have made it any less weird.

submitted by SHT

Friday, August 23, 2019

50 Years Ago: COG Member Tried To Start WWIII By Burning The Al Aqsa Mosque In Jerusalem

Armstrongism has produced a steady stream of zealots over its 70 some years of existence.  From prophets to apostles, Elijah's and Elisha's and Pharisees to Chief Overseers, the list goes on and on.  Each one gets crazier by the moment.  None though surpass Denis Michael Rohan, when after being influenced by the prophetic lunacy of Herbert Armstrong and others, decided to set fire to the Al Asqa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Excerpts from:  The Australian shearer who torched Al Aqsa Mosque in a bid to bring on the apocalypse

Fifty years ago, a young shearer travelled from Australia to Israel to orchestrate a plot he believed would prompt the return of Jesus Christ and usher in the end of the world.
Denis Michael Rohan started a fire which seriously damaged Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque — one of Islam's holiest sites — and shook a region already shrouded in tension.
Many Muslims believed the attack had been orchestrated by Israel, and protests erupted across the Middle East.
Carlo Aldrovandi, who researches religion, conflict and peacemaking in the region, says the political consequences still ring today.
Rohan, religion, and the radio
In the early 1960s Rohan was working as a shearer in Grenfell, in the central-west of New South Wales. 
He had suffered a mental breakdown in the mid-60s, and did a stint at Bloomfield psychiatric hospital in Orange. 
This was where he first discovered the Radio Church of God and an American religious broadcast called The World Tomorrow, which was syndicated on commercial radio throughout Australia. 
Its presenter, Herbert W Armstrong, was known for prophesising the end of the world that would dawn after a global war centred around Jerusalem. 
In 1969, at 28 years of age, Rohan travelled to Jerusalem.
Around four months later, on August 21, he carried a thermos flask of kerosene into the Al Aqsa mosque and started a blaze. 
"It has been proved that Rohan acted alone motivated largely by his own apocalyptic belief," Dr Aldrovandi says.
"[He believed] that destroying the existing Islamic shrines and replacing them with a temple would have brought about the advent of Jesus Christ." 
The result of his lunacy has contributed to the conflict we have today between Israel and the Arab world.  All because some crazy Armstrongite wanted to pave the way for Jesus to return!

Many Arab leaders were convinced the attack had been orchestrated by Israel.
"[Rohan's] acts were, and are still seen today by many Muslims and Palestinians, as being orchestrated by the Israeli government," Dr Aldrovandi says.
Muslim nations came together in Morocco and unanimously agreed Israel was responsible.
The move led to the formation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, an attempt to represent this pan-Islamic sentiment and unity.
You can listen to an audio production done in 2009 about Rohan here: 

Rohan and the road to the apocalypse

The Times of Israel has this story: 

How an Australian sheepshearer’s al-Aqsa arson nearly torched Middle East peace
One of the first stories I was assigned as a young journalist in Israel in 1969 was the trial of an Australian sheepshearer who set fire to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an act that threatened to unhinge the Middle East. It remains for me the most vivid story I covered during my 25 years with The Jerusalem Post, a period that included several wars.
August 23 marks the 50th anniversary of the event. The Muslim world assumed that Israel was responsible for the arson and Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal ordered his armed forces to prepare for a holy war. The Arab League met in emergency session, and from distant India came reports of rioting in Muslim areas, with many casualties.
As cries of jihad rose with the plumes of smoke over the Temple Mount and international condemnation loomed, the Israeli government gave top priority to apprehension of the arsonist. In annexing East Jerusalem after the Six Day War two years before, Israel had declared itself guardian of the holy places of all religions; its claim to sovereignty in Jerusalem rested on that pledge.
For proof on what Armstrongism did to this young mans mind, here is what he said talking to a psychiatrist:
“My trial is the most important event for the world since the trial of Jesus Christ,” Rohan told a psychiatrist who interviewed him. 

Rohan’s performance on the witness stand was uncanny. Mocked as a fool all his life, consigned periodically to mental homes in Australia as his mother and at least one of his siblings had been, he jousted with the prosecution during the seven-week trial without faltering. Within the conceptual framework he laid down, he was consistent, logical, almost convincing. When the prosecutor, a future chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, asked whether God would have wanted him to commit a crime, Rohan was not at a loss.
“What did God tell Abraham to do?” he responded. “Sacrifice his son? Isn’t that a crime in today’s courts? First degree murder, isn’t it?”
What did God tell Abraham to do? Sacrifice his son? Isn’t that a crime in today’s courts? First degree murder, isn’t it?
When his court-appointed lawyer could not be heard clearly, a jaunty Rohan called on him to speak into the microphone so that his remarks would appear in the record. He displayed total recall of dates and incidents from long ago and was never caught out in a contradiction despite the intricate story he told.
“My mind has never been as well balanced as it is now,” Rohan said. “Satan has no more power over me.” 
Later in the article is this:

One day Rohan came across some pamphlets from a California-based Christian cult which he joined by mail and began tithing. He internalized the pamphlet’s prophecies and its biblical cadence before setting out to see the world. He traveled to England and was to continue on to Canada for work, but the prospect of a Canadian winter prompted him to come to Israel instead.
“In Jerusalem,” he told the court, “it all came together. I understand why I was born, why I had to suffer strict discipline from my parents, why I was rejected and despised.” The tormented figure was at last serene. Asked what his attitude would be if found guilty, he said “I am above earthly courts.”
This eerily sound just like James Malm, Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, Bob Thiel, Ron Weinland, and others, who hear the voice of some creature in their head telling them they are set apart and have a mission to accomplish. 


Remembering the arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque

Denis Rohan climbed a tree on the Temple Mount at five in the afternoon and settled down on a limb to wait for darkness. It would be a long wait.

COG Zerubbabel: The end-time Elijah, finally dressing like a real prophet as he talks about "flying rolls"

James Malm was seen whimpering at his kitchen table at the sight of the greatest prophet the Church of God has ever seen!  Never has an end time prophet to the church spoken more truth and dressed the part as Zerrbubbabl does (aka, Michael Noordhoek).  

We have Ron Weinland to thank for this Pharisaical mess of bullshit.

Why do all COG prophets need big thick bibles in their grubby little hands?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

UCG: As Membership Drops, it says "the world is falling apart around us," What are they to do?????

Those fun-loving boys in Cincinnati met recently for the Council of Elders meeting. As usual, the report issued afterward is a glorious slobberfest on how wonderful United Church of God is and how it is doing such a sueprfantabulous witness to the world.

Don Ward says,
Dr. Ward read James:3:16, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” He emphasized that we are members one of another (Romans:12:5) and that the members should have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians:12:25). Dr. Ward mentioned in this age when the world is falling apart all around us we should be asking, “What would God have us do?” during these times.
It is always interesting to see how after 26 years they still have no idea what God wants them to do.  I thought the entire reason for UCG's apostacy from the mother church was to do the will of God, as they imagined it, or was it actually to keep their salaries in place?

Two new council members were added. New fresh faces were added to the council.
The two new Council members were welcomed: Darris McNeely and Randy Stiver.
God forbid if any younger men were ever allowed to join the council and shake things up by injecting new visions of ministry.  These two are nothing more than "status quo" yes men.

Vic Kubik waxed eloquent on the internal treasure trove they have of "new members" to the church.  those new members should be the result of the UCG indoctrination camp for the church youth.
The summer camp program completed its 26th year. The preteen and teen camp program are a major way that United is “preparing a people”—it is the largest group of prospective members in the Church. 
The youth in ALL the splinter groups of the Worldwide Church of God are leaving in droves as they leave due to the fact of how incredibly boring services are and living in church areas with hardly any youth present.

Kubik is also excited about the HUUUUUUGE student body of members attending their mind-boggling "college":

  • Ambassador Bible College: ABC is about to welcome its 21st class of students. They are expecting about 20 students from 12 different states and one from South Africa.
Kubik also released the attendance numbers for UCG.  A drop in members over the 2016 numbers:
  • Average U.S. Sabbath attendance for June 2019 was 7,085. (7,459 in 2016)
Aas membership drops, UCG is adding more elders to the mix:
  • 391 elders in the United Church of God (UCG)  (374 in 2016)
Kubik, them mentions how many baptisms they have had due to their superfantbulous ministerial outreach to the world.  Hundreds of thousands hear their message and as a result, this many were baptized:
  • 25 baptisms since the May meetings (84 baptisms so far in 2019)
Billions of people in the world and God manages to only deliver 84 people to them. So much for saving humanity from the trials to come!  God's phone lines must have been down for most of the year as he was not able to call anyone.

Even their coworker count has dropped:
  • Our coworker count is at 6,276. That’s a 1.3% decrease over the same time last year, and a 1.8% decrease over two years ago.
Even worse is the donor list of people who sent them money:
  • Our donor list now includes 7,415 people. Our peak number was 9,564 in June 2016.
And then there is this:
  • Combined with our co-workers, we continue to have more of our readers and viewers contributing to the work of the Church than the total number of members in the U.S. and abroad—13,691.
Readership of their uninspiring rag is down too:
  • U.S. Beyond Today (BT) magazine subscribers are at 238,911. This is 91% of subscribers compared to the same time last year, 94% compared to two years ago, and exactly the same as three years ago.
  • The total BT magazine print run stands at 292,283. This is 7% below the same time last year, and 10% below our peak of 324,738 from November 2017. Our all-time high was 567,309 in May 2008.
UCG then blames this drop in readership to the cost of advertising.  Apparently reaching out to potential members with the witness of God's word is not that vitally important that they would cut back in other areas in order to spend more money as needed.
  • Due to increased printing, paper and postage costs over the past year (but the same budget), we have had to reduce our advertising—which has resulted in lower subscriber numbers the past year or so.
One positive sign for this is that phone calls and web traffic increased this past year:
  • The number of telephone and website responses from Beyond Today TV since 2006 stands at 334,971. Responses for 2019 will easily outpace 2018 by about 40%.
  • The Church’s Beyond Today YouTube channel at has had 11.22 million views (a 30% increase over a year ago), has 50,687 subscribers (a 42% increase over a year ago), and hosts 2,017 videos (8% more than a year ago).
UCG has wiped the gloating smirk off Dave Pack's claim that his web site for the Restored Church of God is the most amazing web site ever produced by a Church of God:
  • Website: We are pleased to report that has broken into the top 10 list of Christian denomination websites around the world. We are currently ranked at #9! This is the highest ranking we have seen to date. And is currently ranked #28 of all Christian websites globally.
Ever since the Worldwide Church of God imploded into an abominable mess of splinter groups, all claiming themselves as God's most favorite church, every single one of the splinter groups has failed to find any common ground with other COG's.  That comes from their self-righteous leaders who don't want to lose control of their little empires. And, God forbid if any church member gave money to some other COG.

Ever since UCG hemorrhaged COGWA into existence, it has never been an impactful, dynamic Church of God doing an amazing work that the entire world is aware of. Almost every world leader out there has no idea who UCG is and what it stands for.  Following in the footsteps of their previous leader apparently is not a priority.  But, then when has it ever been?  A money-making empire to fund the entitled ministry is all it has ever presented itself as.

Dreams In The Church

I'm going to talk a little bit more about dreams today in this post. 

Last night I had a dream. It was a very vivid dream - very detailed, very weird, very imaginative. It was about David Pack. Let me stop here and now before I begin and preface this by stating it was only a dream, for those whom should need this to hear. 

In this dream, I had to attend a service of David Pack's. It was set in a large, semi-circular auditorium laden with brown and gold overtones with a central podium and risers with warm-toned lighting. Why I had to go there, I really do not know. I was not alone - I was with someone - a tall, blond-haired gentleman who told me when I was there that I had to stay there. 

As the service began, well, just before the service actually began, a youth member way back somewhere (presumably a kitchen, or someplace) accidentally dropped and broke some dishes. Pack, in this dream, immediately got up to the podium and blasted out condescending and hurtful rebukes about how horrible it was that this young person broke dishes in the house of God. 

It seemed that Pack went on for a while, and I was getting absolutely disgusted. But no one else was. The entire congregation approved of how shameful the youth was, and in a rare vocal agreement agreed completely with Pack. No one left - or could. To the chagrin of the tall, blonde gentleman by my side, I decided I was going to leave. 

So, I tried to leave. I exited the tunnel that led to the concourse (seemed like an arena type exit) and I was met by someone who claimed to be an appointed Judge of the Church that I could not leave. I challenged him and said yes, I could - and he suddenly held some sort of a strange puzzle. The implication was if I could put the puzzle together, I could go. I wondered - who are you to tell me what to do and how I can or cannot go? At that point, I decided to run, as fast as I could, out of there, and ended up down a street. 

Other people on the street - I don't know who they were - suddenly realized I had left Pack's service by some sort of telekinetic or telepathic instruction (think the Borg), and attempted to stop me as well. However, it did not work. It was at this point that the dream ended. 

Thank God. 

Yes, Dreams happen. Some are extremely vivid. Some don't make any sense. Some make a lot of sense. Rarely do they mean anything at all. In this dream Pack was a jack-ass - which is fairly accurate -  but I can count on one hand the amount of dreams I have had throughout my entire life that I can tell you were proven to be either "prophetic" or inspired because of their accuracy and future-telling ability that actually came true. (I told only one person about them!) This? This was just a crazy, strange dream about David Pack that I probably had because I had just eaten a good bowl of raisin bran. So I'll tell you. 

In the COG Universe, so-called prophets put emphasis on dreams because they are already self-obsessed with their own grandiose ideas of their importance. They will assume that God is telling them something, but the only thing speaking to them is an astounding amount of carbs and protein from leftover pizza or lasagna! Their dreams are self-centered, self-absorbed, and usually absolutely senseless and complete nonsense. 

Now, about that Pack Dream. 

If it had happened to someone, say, like Thiel, or Malm, I can pretty much bet you they would probably get up, write it down, think it was from God, and run with it into some sort of strange interpretation. God forbid if it actually happened to Pack! He'd probably write a 356 part sermon about it, divided into twenty-four subsections and sixteen overtime segments. If Waterhouse was alive, could you imagine how he would run with such a dream? It would be one of the most rambling messages you could probably ever hear! The point is - this was just what it was - a dream. Exactly as the other dreams I've had I've told you about previously - such as the dream of Herbert In a Box some time ago that I shared. They. Are. Just. Dreams. 

People have got to stop attributing such grandiose callings to COG "ministers" like Thiel and others - including Thiel and others - with the idea that somehow God is talking to them alone with information that only they are privy to. This can become extremely dangerous, and downright delusional - especially if they are already entrapped in ideas, doctrine, and other complete crap ideologies that belong in the bottom of the sewer. Why is it that these people think so highly of themselves that they can't simply accept that they, too, are human, and dream like the rest of us? 

Now, I, too, have a real dream. 

I have a dream that Bob Thiel would somehow learn how to preach. It's obvious he is batting way out of his league. If he had just stuck with vitamin pills, instead of getting his nose into people's spiritual lives as the world's biggest know-it-all, he might have earned some legitimate respect. 

I have a dream people like Jon Brisby would stop dreaming up fantasies that some sort of Christ reappeared - apparently, in the form of a man named Herb who came and went years ago. 

I have a dream that David Pack would realize the immense harm that he is causing people based on absolute delusion and self-fulfillment, bringing people to the poor house for more than "two trees" in his precious little mini-me "campus". 

I have a dream that Ronald Weinland would take the hint and just stop already. He's already the most embarrassing COG personality around. 

I have a dream that Gerald Weston would realize he isn't the big cheese in the minds of many he thinks he is, and sorely lacks respect from many of his own "flock". 

I have a dream that James Malm would stop idolizing and worshipping the Law, bringing people further into bondage with his legalistic long-obsolete crazy ideas. 

I have a dream that Gerald Flurry would stop focusing on the physical, and sit on that little Herbert Rock he loves so much and wake up to the harm he is causing within his own church by allowing, enabling, or enacting wickedness - and ask himself, was this all worth it? 

I have a dream that Armstrongism itself will completely shrivel into an even lower form than it is now, for all of its folly and shame with seventy plus years of nonsense proven as nonsense through the chambers of time. 

At least these dreams make sense. Now, maybe I will remember what I ate last night so I don't have another silly dream about that tall weirdo out there in Wadsworth who really thinks he is all that. Who is, after all, the biggest narcissist? Is it Pack? Or Flurry? or Thiel? or Malm? Or Weston? Or Brisby? Or Weinland? Or................

It would be a miracle if any one of them would focus more on Jesus then themselves and realize for once in their lives the infection of narcissism enabled by the teachings of a splinter Church from the Church of Christ back in the 1800s. 

Submitted by SHT

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

CGI Bill Watson: Is he waiting for God to punish the Globalists?

Is God ready to punish the Globalists?

CGI Pastor Bill Watson can't seem to stay away from politics. Like the proverbial moth that is drawn to the flame, Bill can't seem to resist denigrating the left and extolling the virtues of Trump nationalists!

Mr. Watson's latest offering "Is the USA on the Brink?" is a continuation of the themes he addressed in his MAGA presentation. The program opens with headlines like: "Biden Lays Out His Globalist Vision," "FBI Opens Investigation of Clinton Foundation," and "Leftists Demand: More Gun Control" (Can we discern a pattern or theme here?).

Mr. Watson goes on to state that "we're living in a very interesting world - especially in the area of politics." He talks about the "rancor," "disgust," and "hate" evident in so much of the public discourse about politics these days. According to the pastor, we find ourselves in these distasteful circumstances because there are two ideologies vying for supremacy within the U.S. Government - what he characterizes as a "socialist-globalist group" and a "nationalist group." And Mr. Watson makes it very clear which one of these groups he favors.

The pastor clearly sees the nationalists in the ascendancy. This, according to him, has engendered desperation within the ranks of the socialist-globalists. As proof, he offers the "Green New Deal" of freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He goes on to ridicule her statement that the world as we know it could come to an end in twelve years (which seems mild when one considers the preaching of Armstrongite ministers over the last sixty years).

Mr. Watson clearly doesn't believe that climate change is a real problem. For him, the Green New Deal is a diversionary tactic - meant to divert folks attention away from the real problems at hand. The pastor quotes an article from the conservative Aspen Institute about the cost of the program and concludes that it is not affordable or achievable. Moreover, he presents AOC's Green New Deal as the policy prescription of ALL of the socialist-globalists (all Democrats are NOT on the Ocasio-Cortez bandwagon).

Pastor Watson goes on to share his suspicion that "there's something that these globalists don't want you to know about." He speculates that this might involve further revelations from the Epstein story, or the government's use of tissue from aborted fetuses. In other words, these lefties are busy obscuring the things that everyone should really be focused on (pedophilia, abortion and Clinton's e-mails are more important than global warming).

After quoting from the prophets Jeremiah and Amos, Mr. Watson concludes his message by appealing to the peoples of North America and the British Commonwealth to heed their messages for ancient Israel. Mr. Watson says that the way to "Make America Great" is for us to become morally right and good. Unfortunately, Mr. Watson does not seem to appreciate the irony of making such a statement when our nation is currently led by someone who is as morally bankrupt as Donald J. Trump!

Mr. Watson tells us that "there are people that hate this country." For him, these are the socialist-globalist Democrats. Mr. Watson sees these folks as the enemies of Manasseh and the rest of the House of Joseph. For Mr. Watson, Trump is our good King Josiah trying to turn the hearts of the people to their God and stave off destruction. Unfortunately, this is the same old crap that Herbert Armstrong peddled for years and employed in garnering thousands of supporters. Let's hope that Mr. Watson is not as successful as he was in deceiving people!

by Miller Jones

From Christian to Christian: Standing Strong

Christianity in the Worldwide Church of God was relatively simple and actually contained in three simple words: Obey Your Minister. Regardless of how many may challenge this supposition, there's really no other way around it. If your minister was your link between you and Christ, of damnation and salvation, of in the Church and Out of the Church, then this statement is truth. The critically thinking individual was not regarded competent enough to understand the mind of Christ like your pastor. Members of the Church were admonished about this time, after time, and after time again, sometimes severely. 

The concepts of Critical Thinking were intentionally not developed within the Church. Any questions you had? Ask the minister. Any doubts you have? Don't discuss it with anyone else - lest you sow division and discord within the Church. Ask a question to the minister like you are supposed to do when you disagree? Find yourself on the bad list - at the least an "unconverted" , to a "bad attitude", to a "rebellious spirit" - and on the shortlist to discipline, up to and including disfellowshipment. More often than not, thoughts, opinions, doubts, and questions by many were pushed way back to File 14 (Not 13 - that's garbage, but 14, the Storage Area!). If you dared share them with anyone in the Church, you ran the risk of a ratter outing you to The Minister - which is worse than if you told him yourself - nearly guaranteeing you being labeled as one "Sowing Division" and risking immediate disfellowshipment for speaking out against Church Doctrine. 

This is why many believers on this blog react so strongly to posts on this blog that foster critical thinking. In the Church, we were not encouraged to use our heads and think. We were not ourselves allowed to "prove all things". We weren't confronted with hard questions - those were for the ministers to handle. We did not converse deeply and with prolonged debate (or were not supposed to anyhow) with those who thought differently than we did - whether it was a Mainstream Christian, a Street Hoodlum, a Buddhist, a New Ager, or an atheist. 

Years ago, while in the Worldwide Experience, I would have reacted in the way most probably would have expected. I would have immediately blasted any contrary opinion as - well, lost. You know, shake the dirt off your feet and don't even give a contrary person (derisively labeled a "dissident") the time of day. The biggest and most important function in the Church to keep it together was the appearance and misnomer of what we called "unity", in a religion where reality shows us that we were never truly unified. We were master illusionists. 

These days, in this generation of knowledge, information, history, and science, it's not only good to understand the opinions of other people - it's imperative. The approach we had of "don't look at this, throw it in the trash" these days simply fosters an attitude of ignorance. To understand how another person thinks, we have to understand what they think! And this is exactly what many who are Christians are afraid of. That deep down, they may fall victim to convincing argument and fall into what they perceive as "strong delusion". 

Truth is, every part of every religion - whether it's Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Muslim, or Evangelical Christianity - and yes, even Armstrongism - has a certain level of truth within. This is why all religions have massive numbers - because something clicks with somebody as true, therefore, it all must be true. This isn't so - as nobody has the "lock" on all truth as long as humanity is involved. This is why, in every sect of every religion, you will find literally hundreds and thousands of diverse opinions about how this is so and how that is so. You can be as sincere as you wish - but you can also be "sincerely wrong" - and no one has gotten it completely right. Not Herbert Armstrong, not Charles Stanley, not anyone of mortal flesh. This is why a personal relationship with a personal God is the basis of true and authentic Christianity. 

It shouldn't be scary to acknowledge and to hear other opinions. Rather, we have been given a Counselor, and a Teacher - the Holy Spirit - to help us personally where we are. In prayer, as we connect with the Heavenly Dimension, we can understand - personally. And with Christ in us, and working through us, we can stand and grow in both character and in faith, in the assurance of things unseen, growing daily in the assurances of what we know to be true by Him who works in us, and through us. Without the personal Christ within us, we are only as blades of grass blown by the wind. The danger comes when, in our zeal, we, as Christians, try to convince others of what we know personally to those who try to convince us of what they know academically. We will lose every time with this approach. They will blast us and rip us to shreds using academia against personal experience. This is not the way to go. 

The only thing that Christians have for proof are their fruits. The problem is that with many people who claim to be Christians, the fruits just are not there. Instead, there are the "Judgers" who condemn them. There are the "Angries" who blast them with vitriol. There are the "Pious" - the "I'm better than you's because I know the truth". There are the "Righteous Ones" who look down on anyone who believes differently than they do. And the only thing Christians have going for them - EVIDENCE of Christ - is dust in the wind, and then what is there? Absolutely nothing. 

The evidence of Christ - the only thing that shows who we are - and what we are - are the fruits of the Spirit. Gentleness. Love. Mercy. Self Control. Patience. Kindness. Meekness. Joy. This evidence is the only thing that is needed, and the only answer. It is the mind and the emotion of God in action. And as it is said in the Love Chapter - and in a song we all knew or know - we can talk in megaphones, as sounding brass and banging cymbals - but if we do not show genuine love in our actions, conversations and discussions with people of all belief spectrums - than our beliefs and our faith is as useless as bronze age encyclopedias. Because all of the knowledge in the world, and all of the knowledge of our universe, and science, and realms, and realities, and angels, and demons, and animals - and even, as scripture says, height and depth and all things physical - cannot compare to the power of one act of love and kindness. This - love and kindness - is more powerful than all of the knowledge in all of the internet. 

At the end of the day, The only thing that matters is exactly what scripture says - faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:6)  It's the most powerful force and witness in the Universe. Everything else withers, but love stands strong. This is why, and how, we can make it and show Christ in this age of incredible knowledge and understanding. Because there is an abundance of truth in today's knowledge. Yet, there is unbelievable power in love. And that is the narrow road to the narrow gate that is often missed, and few are those who find it.

submitted by SHT

Monday, August 19, 2019

COG Feast of Tabernacles: "...,if they cannot even gather together for a celebration of unity - in unity - how can they possibly believe they are truly foreshadowing what they claim they themselves will be leaders of? "

In just two short months, the Fall Festival Season for the Churches of God - dates may vary - begins once again. Members will be driving to their annual vacation destinations, meeting in lodges, motels, halls, and centers for another 8 days of what they believe is a foreshadowing of a future time called "the World Tomorrow" - a thousand years of peace and utopia under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. 

Yet the reality is, if they cannot even gather together for a celebration of unity - in unity - how can they possibly believe they are truly foreshadowing what they claim they themselves will be leaders of? 

As one with many memories of the Worldwide Church of God in the Armstrong era - the appearance of unity was strong. At least - at the very least, we tried. We were one body, despite all of the internally squelched, under the radar controversies and disagreements. We all met together. And all of us - in one voice - twice a year - sang as one body in unison, led by Judd, transmitted by Satellite - worldwide. For many, it was an emotional, unifying, well-remembered event of solidarity and focus on one mission and one purpose. 

This is not the case at all within the scattered Churches of God, it goes without saying, today. There is not even an attempt at a full-COG gathering - nor is such a gathering possible with the current politics; and that is a shame-based on everything that this Festival Season is supposed to stand for. 

A convention signifying a foretaste of ruling and reigning in the World Tomorrow? The bunch of buffoons can't even get themselves together for a day, nonetheless an entire week! Do they really, honestly believe in their mission? Do they even believe what they claim to be doing? If they are attempting to show the World that they are the future world rulers of a utopian empire, if the world was even listening, they'd be a laughing stock to the world as they are to the few that observe their escapades even now! 

It's not as if we've not brought this up before. It's been mentioned for years in conversation among "dissident" sites about how they all just can't get along - not even for one convention once a year. In fact, in these days, their "Feast of Tabernacles" are, in comparison to what they used to be, barely a sputter of what once was a roaring, well-oiled engine. Why is this? Because of the corruption of leaders and their lust for power, control, tithes, and members, which is well displayed from the small to the great in the sphere of the Churches of God. 

I don't think it's a stretch to say Herbert Armstrong would be absolutely enraged and appalled by what has come of his organization from corner to corner. I don't think it's a stretch to say that many of us watching are also appalled by what has come of the Churches of God. Theology and opinions of such aside, the Churches of God are a dysfunctional organism, wallowing in the muck and mire of the cancer of selfish ambition and arrogant narcissism, starved of life and barely breathing. It's leaders - some of them descendants of the Mother Church, others pissing on each other to get to the top - are an embarrassment and a joke to what actual ministers are supposed to do, and hardly an example of a future ruler. Truthfully - I would not trust ONE of them - not even one - to rule over anything. Not one thing. And yet, every year, they get together with the same tired, torn, worn-out message about how they alone are somehow in training to be the rulers and world leaders of the One World Government of God, Jesus, Herbert Armstrong, and the Chaotic Mess of Ministers and Members the Church of God has become. 

I cannot even imagine what it would be like to watch the World Tomorrow Government in action. What would happen when Herbert Armstrong would look from his Ruling Chair under Christ and see what he sees? Six-Pack? All Thing Common Pack? Lackadaisical Weston? And can you even IMAGINE him looking at Thiel? I can just hear him bellowing out in rage about his arrogant, pompous, know-it-all attitude and the assumption of ordination under less than ethical circumstances. I wouldn't want to be in the same room... Actually, yes I would. With popcorn. 

Can you imagine them even trying to rule? Can you imagine what the results would be? How many do you actually think would be qualified to rule in the Kingdom of God as they see it? Can you count them on one hand? How many of you would want to be the peasants of the Kingdom? Can you count those on one hand? If the current state of the Churches of God is any indication, most would rather take a bus to the Lake of Fire then endure an eternity with the Squabbling Wanna-Be Rulers of Armstrongism, who can't even get together for a Feast of Tabernacles as one body sharing one common goal. 

This alone is enough evidence to prove to me how absolutely ridiculous it is to even begin to imagine any of them holding any high position in the Kingdom of God, because they've made an absolute mess and wreck of the Churches of God, and refuse to hold themselves to any accountability to their mass failings because of greed, arrogance, and power. Indeed, the truth is, in my opinion, the only kingdom they really are modeling themselves after is the kingdom of Satan; and they are acting like his demons.

Submitted by SHT

Jon Bisby of Church of God, Eternal now claims Herbert Armstrong was Christ

Apparently we were to stupid to realize this was Jesus 
preaching to us about the "two trees."

For some time now there has been a flurry of posts here on a previous entry about Jon Bisby.  Some of them are outlandish, at least I thought so.  Now, this confirms more of the craziness that Armstrongism causes to the mental capacities of many people.

Church of God, The Eternal's Jon Brisby Sinks To A New Vile Low 

COGE Jon Bisby: "[my] time is reserved only for those who believe in the teachings of COGE" 

The following is from Exit and Support:
Jon W. Brisby Says Herbert Armstrong Was Christ:
August 19, 2019
I was raised in WCG in the 70's and in later years was jumping between the splinters. I'm out of all of them now but I still get curious about what they're saying. I've heard these ministers say that HWA was Elijah, Ezekiel, and everything else but one of these guys has topped them all. In his new book titled A Peculiar Treasure by Jon W Brisby of Church of God, the Eternal [sold on Amazon] says that Armstrong was actually Jesus Christ that came in the flesh in the last days. I was not sure if you all were aware of this new book yet. I can't tell what page in the ebook but it's chapter 20, I believe, and I highlighted and snapshotted for you. --[name withheld]
NOTE from ESN: Following are the words from the Jon W. Brisby's book which  this person sent to us (bolding is ours):
"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:2-3) [emphasis mine]."
"The Apostle John was not saying that the proof was in agreeing that Christ had come to this earth almost 2,000 years ago. The test is admitting that 'Christ is come in the flesh.' The term is definitely present tense in the Greek, not past tense. It is an admonition for the last-day church--upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Corinthians 10:11)--that we accept that Christ did manifest Himself by the divine inspiration of a chosen human servant in these last days, and that His revelation was true from the beginning of that work. All those now claiming we had to change doctrine forty years later to correct errors made by Mr. Armstrong are only admitting that they think it was a man's work all along, and not God's work after all. Whether they know it or not, they are actually saying that they do not believe Jesus Christ is come in this last time, having put His doctrine in the Church! And that is calling him a liar." [Excerpts from chapter 20 of A Peculiar Treasure by Jon W. Brisby]

Dave Pack: I will be Messiah and sit on David's throne

Why say the Scribes that Elijah must come first?
We never knew how to read it.
We didn't know he was saying Elijah would be here for 3 1/2 years, so I can confirm the covenant and become messiah and we can bring billions of Israelites back.
I can enter my glory and sit on David's throne.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Know-it-all Splinter Group Leader, Bless His Heart

It is that special day in COGland today.  It is time for the Chosen-One to speak for an hour and a half on 5 million different topics during that time frame.  Apparently still unable to form a single thought and elaborate on it, Bawana Bob Thiel has to spend eternity discussing far too many subjects for a sermon.  All he does when he "preaches" like this is prove he is incapable of doing research and speaking on ONE topic for a sermon.

In this sermon Dr. Thiel mainly asks questions he has recently encountered. Questions were asked and addressed about the opening of the (1)second seal of Revelation and its timing in relation to the(2) Great Tribulation and the (3)‘gathering together’ (Zephaniah 2:1-3). Questions were asked and answered related to (4)Solomon, (5)Canaan (and it (6)Jesus was a black African), (7)angels, the (8)unpardonable sin & (9)Freemasonry, (10)Samson’s long hair, (11)if the Sabbath has been lost, (12)the risks and ‘medical benefits’ of marijuana ((13)including CBD oil), (14)how far Christians should go in telling others about the truth of God, and (15)whether or not wine (as opposed to grape juice) was discussed/used in the Old and New Testaments. (16)The ‘baptism by fire’ and the (17)‘synagogue of Satan’ were also discussed.
17 different unrelated topics in a sermon.  Seriously, who does that?  Poorly trained speakers, that's who!

Here are a few tips for our favorite Bud:

Apparently, Spokesmen Club didn't work for our glorious Doubly Anointed Dear Leader so perhaps a course with Toastmasters International would help.  

I can now see why Rod Meredith did not let him speak in church that much! Bless his heart!

History of Governance in the Church of God

History of Governance in the Church of God

While many churches of God consider WCG as the parent church, the WCG is actually a spin off from another parent church that was called the Church of Christ. Gilbert Cranmer is credited for starting our church in March of 1858. In 1831 at the age of 17, Gilbert was baptized in a Methodist church and started preaching. After 2 years, he quit over the trinity doctrine and joined the Christian Connexion or Christian Church which was made up of loosely affiliated Christians that had abandoned the colonial churches like the Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist.

In 1844, he joined the Adventist movement started by William Miller whose prediction of Christ’s return between 1843-1844, spread like wildfire. After the “great disappointment”, Gilbert moved from Michigan to Illinois to escape the ridicule and mocking from his neighbors when Christ did not return.

Sabbath-keeping started being preached by Joseph Bates in the 1840’s and 50’s among the Millerites/Adventists. Gilbert Cranmer began observing the Sabbath in 1852. James and Ellen G. White began raising up Sabbath keeping advent churches at this time and Gilbert Cranmer became associated with them. In 1858, the White’s refused to give Cranmer credentials to preach in the Advent churches because of his tobacco use. By 1860, Gilbert Cranmer raised up 12 congregations made up of mostly Adventists who wished to distance themselves from Ellen G. White’s prophecies and James White’s desire to create a top-down government structure for the church. It is interesting to note here that it was a government issue and prophecy that created the split from SDA and the creation of the Church of Christ. The first structure of our parent church was Congregationalist and strongly opposed Episcopal top-down governance. Over the next 24 years, congregations were raised up and by 1884, they came together under a General Conference. This is when they settled on the name, Church of God.

In Robert Coulter’s book, “The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day)”, he says
on p.109:

“It is interesting to note that the Conference was organized as a membership movement that did not require negotiations, concessions, or preconditions among its varied membership in order to organize. The Conference came into existence as a spontaneous action of its membership rather than of its leadership, and it was to serve its membership rather than govern them.”
It was under the oppressive drive of James and Ellen G. White to define doctrine of the church for everyone else and concentrate power and authority unto themselves, that helped ensure a congregational culture and governance of the Church of God and led to publications that had an “open creed” where critical thinkers of the church could get Bible studies published. Any idea that truth could only be introduced into the church from the ministry was utter nonsense. This was the culture that enabled the Church of God to develop its core doctrines during its first 70 years in existence. This period was not plagued with politics, infighting, division and chaos. No, all of that happened under Andrew Duggers’ watch. He was the next “James White” to come along and try to concentrate power unto himself and dictate a new long list of official doctrines. Andrew Dugger managed to split the church in half by 1933. After 16 years, the church merged again but not after membership went from 40,000 all the way down to 10,000 thanks to Andrew Dugger’s “skills in governance.”

It was in the atmosphere of those divided and divisive years that HWA himself railed against Duggers’ oppression and believed as long as he received a paycheck from the Church of God, he would have to preach only what men ordered him to teach. HWA claimed he stopped receiving pay from the Church of God in 1933 and only loosely affiliated because he was not going to be told by men what to preach. But the truth is, and it is in the Church’s records, that he remained a credentialed and paid minister until 1938.

It is ironic but quite possible that some of those 30,000 members who left the Church of God during this time period because of the controls implemented into the church by Dugger, went with HWA because of his stance against top-down governance. HWA clearly railed against one man rule, top down government in his 1939 article, calling it the “image of the beast.”

HWA claimed later he did not know what church government should be and it wasn’t until the 1950’s that it started coming to him. In the GCG booklet on government by RCM in 1993, RCM says it was he and Herman Hoeh that essentially introduced top-down government into the church by a series of articles in the 1950’s. By 1978, HWA had taken on titles to himself like “Apostle” and later, “Elijah” and brought the church so in line with Roman Catholic Church governance that some began questioning this obvious heresy in the church. His delusional concentration of power, in my opinion, is the reason there was no smooth transition after his death and directly contributed to the collapse of ‘his’ church. Just like William Miller, James and Ellen G. White and Andrew Dugger before him, HWA came along to concentrate power, make false predictions in prophecy and the return of Christ (1975), enforce his version of truth, and ultimately cause mass confusion, politics, infighting and chaos.

The turbulent 1930’s in the Church of God produced 3 splinters from the church:

1. C. O. Dodd formed the sacred names movement.

2. Andrew Dugger established a headquarters in Jerusalem to convert Jews who he
believed would be the 144,000 in Revelation.

3. Herbert Armstrong split over the Holy Days and British-Israelism.

Something important to realize is that while HWA claimed to restore 18 truths to the church by direct inspiration from Jesus Christ, the truth is, HWA came into contact with the Church of God in 1927 and began reading all the materials that church produced in its publications that had that “open creed.” He said when he came in contact with “Sardis”, they had very little truth. But the truth is, the focus and culture of the Church of God was to avoid “officiating” doctrines and beliefs held by the members. What that means is even though there was not a webpage with a laundry list of teachings one must agree to in order to fellowship or be initiated into a corporate body, almost every single one of HWA’s “divinely” restored truths were written about, published and discussed in the church; some of those ideas for many years. HWA did not leave because no one would believe his teachings on British-Israelism and the Holy Days. He left because the General Conference would not make them official doctrines as something everyone had to believe.

[John Keizs, who was a close friend and fellow minister of HWA from 1935-1945, says HWA had a persecution-complex and the church was glad to see him go as he was difficult to work with. Keizs also stated that HWA told him he planned to start a college where he could train men to teach only what HWA told them to teach.]

There were people in the church that believed those two doctrines and observed annual Holy Days. HWA learned it there! HWA continued sharing a feast site with John Keizs until 1945. And there are still people in the Church of God (Seventh Day) and the Seventh Day Adventist Church that believe and observe the annual Holy Days to this day.

As a prelude and summary statement about his research, Robert Coulter says this on p.18:

“The history contained in The Journey, from the Church’s founding to the present, has not always been uplifting. Sometimes it reflects the triumph of the Christian spirit and faith. At other times it reflects the selfishness of human nature. But since the church, as a part of the body of Christ, is composed of frail human beings, the modern church, like the imperfect church of the first century, reflects both the goodness of God and the depravity of the human spirit and the need for Jesus Christ to recreate it after His image!”

Herbert W. Armstrong died 33 years ago. The churches of God birthed from the Worldwide Church of God are but a shell of a former work and zeal. It’s time to look in that mirror and reflect on the truth of our roots and our history.

Something we have been hearing over and over for years now is, “If God has top-down government He plans to implement on earth during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, why would He NOT want us to practice that government in the church right now?” I have three reasons why NOT:

1. We are not God. We are men and incapable of ruling justly over others. The proof of this is human history and the record of abuse in all top-down structures including the ones implemented in churches.

2. Only the ministry gets to “practice” this government now. The only thing the rest of us get to practice is I Peter 2:18-21 and quite frankly, I get to practice that enough in the world.

3. The New Testament does not clearly endorse any form of government and that is why we see evidence of multiple structures utilized in church history. [I have come to believe through further study that the New Testament does endorse Congregational Polity]

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When you compare the Church of God (Seventh Day) early days of congregational polity and open creed, encouraging all brethren to study to show themselves approved to the years they dealt with James White and Andrew Dugger trying to concentrate power unto themselves and dictating doctrine; which approach bore fruits of growth and peace and brotherly love and which bred politics, division and strife?

The so-called "Sardis era" of the Church (Church of God: Seventh Day) has 400,000 members with congregational governance. The WCG legacy is an aftermath of roughly 30,000 people divided by a divisive ministry drunk with top-down power and dependency on tithe payers for their livelihoods.

Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

“philosophy” is PHILOSOPHIA: “not philosophy in general but the teaching of a syncretistic religious group that claims special insight into God, Christ, astral powers, creation, that imposes a set of rules on its members and that bases the authority of its message on its age or esoteric (secret) nature.” –p.1272, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

Philosophia is what destroyed families because of an ungodly understanding of divorce and remarriage in WCG. Philosophia is what ruined thousands of brethren’s financial lives as they believed Christ was returning in 1975 in WCG. Philosophia is what enabled a whoremonger to remain the spokesman (GTA) of the WCG through the 1970’s because when he was initially removed, the income dropped 30% so he was rushed back. Philosophia is why one-man-rule, top-down government was used in WCG to maintain control and keep people focused on HWA as their mediator to Christ. Philosophia is what produced the “true church” doctrine that tied people’s salvation to membership in WCG and put people to sleep.

In Robert Coulter’s concluding statements in his book, “The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day)” he points out that, “all churches have skeletons in their proverbial closets if their historians choose to reveal them.”

As long as LCG and all other splinters from WCG refuse to shine the light of truth on church history, an unforgiving internet will continue to do so for them. Unacknowledged ecclesiastical sins will never be forgiven. You will go down as the church who had a name for being alive (The Living Church of God) but continued only as the walking dead, arms outstretched, falling forward from the white-washed sepulcher of the Worldwide Church of God.

HWA was a failed businessman that turned his marketing skills to selling religion for gain. HWA taught many truths that he learned in COG7D and pawned them off as having received them directly from Christ. HWA was a gnostic who pushed his own “philosophia” without grace and without love; two things unconverted men can never understand.

In Philippians 1:15-18, Paul says that there are those who preach Christ out of envy, strife and selfish ambition, while others, out of love. Paul asks what we are to make of this. Should we give up? Discard everything that was learned as lies? No. Paul says, whether in pretense or truth, Christ is preached. And I want to make that clear. I did not write this to take away from what Jesus has done for me by bringing me into contact with the churches of God. Despite the messengers, I learned many truths of the Bible. I am not advocating that there is a “best place to be." There is only the best place for you where Christ wants to put you in your journey. The most important thing is to never turn off the most important aspect of your humanity that is created in the very image of God. John tells us that the name of our God is “Rational Thought.” Please, don’t ever trade that in for a quick fix into the Kingdom of heaven promised by teachers. Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.