Friday, September 20, 2019

A Darkness in the Armstrongist Heart: Blackwellian White Supremacy

A Darkness in the Armstrongist Heart: 

Blackwellian White Supremacy

Back in the Seventies, Dean Blackwell, an evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), was sent out to many congregations to present the official understanding of race then held by the WCG. I heard this special message in a large WCG congregation in the Midwest. To my knowledge, none of Blackwell’s material exists in official written form. I am working from memory in the writing of this op-ed. It is unfortunate that crucial elements of WCG dogmata are not documented. Two generations of Armstrongists have come and gone since the Seventies. Eventually and unfortunately, the doctrinal nature of Armstrongism at its roots will be lost to the passage of time.


While the WCG did believe in White Supremacy, it was not one of the traditional types of White Supremacy current in the USA. British-Israelism had to be accommodated. British-Israelism would dictate a different racial hierarchy that looks like the following list with the superior class at the top and then descending:

1. Whites descended from Ephraim and Manasseh (British-Israel; most  White Europeans of USA, Britain and former British colonies). 
2.  Jews and other Tribes of Israel (Jews and Northwest Europeans).
3. Other Whites (with purported descendants of Shem as defined by Herman Hoeh at the highest status among White people).
4. People of color (with Blacks occupying the lowest status). 
This was the WCG view of humanity as I understood it when I began attending the WCG in the late Sixties. Since this was never formally taught but existed as oral tradition, there may be slight variations in how this hierarchy is viewed by different WCG members. And it was not entirely without documentation. Herman Hoeh’s two volume “Compendium of World History” was dedicated to portraying the profound importance of British-Israel in all dimensions of world civilization. Point 2 is controversial with regard to Jews. An unofficial faction at Ambassador College, Big Sandy regarded Ashkenazi Jews as Gentiles in alignment with some of the right-wing, anti-Semitic White supremacist groups outside the WCG.


Blackwell taught that Israel, principally Britain as Ephraim and the British-Americans as Manasseh, would rule over all other peoples throughout eternity. It was not clear if this encompassed other “Israelitish” tribes (point 2 above). This was supposed to be for the good of all humanity. Afro-American WCG members, Blackwell asserted, were readily accepting of this idea once it was explained. Essentially, this was Manifest Destiny in a religiously intensified form. Implicitly, it denied the competency of all peoples to function as nations without the leadership of British-Israel. And these nations would be servants to British-Israel.

The momentum and pervasiveness of this belief in the WCG is illustrated by the following incident involving one of Blackwell’s sermons that I heard a few years later. Blackwell explained Isaiah 19:23-24 but altered its meaning even as members of the congregation were actually looking at the scripture in their open Bibles. He preached that the scripture stated that both Egypt and Assyria would be servants of Israel in the future. Whereas, from larger context, it is clear that the scripture refers to Israel, Egypt and Assyria all being one day servants of God together. And the status of the three is that of equality rather than a super-ordinate Israel with a subordinate Egypt and a subordinate Assyria. Blackwell’s mishandling of this scripture based on the already established WCG racial model provoked no reaction from the audience.

Error in Translation
Blackwell based the supremacy of the British people on a scripture in Deuteronomy 32:8-9:
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.”
This was interpreted by Blackwell to mean that God organized the nations in order to allocate them to the oversight of the “sons of Israel.” This was not just a transient, temporal plan but would extend into eternity.

The problem is, this scripture does not say that. It instead refers not to the “sons of Israel” but to the “sons of god.” The full passage speaks of “El” and “Yahweh” and the “sons of god.” The nations were to be parceled out by El to the “sons of god” and Yahweh was to receive Jacob’s descendants from El as his portion in this process. The Masoretic translators altered this to read “the sons of Israel” to expunge anything that would seem to even hint at polytheism (see Michael S. Heiser, “Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God” and also Peter Enns’ interview with Mark Smith entitled “Who is Yahweh and Where Did Yahweh Come From?” both available on the web.) Heiser concludes:
“In light of the evidence there exists no textual or theological justification for preferring the Masoretic reading of verse 8. That verse should read "sons of God," not "sons of Israel."

This reference to other divine beings as “sons of god” should not alarm Armstrongists. Ron Dart preached a sermon that included this topic back in the Seventies. He initiated the topic with the scriptures Daniel 10:13 and Daniel 10:20.


Deuteronomy 32:9-9 reads differently in various translations – sometimes “sons of god” is used and sometimes “sons of Israel.”  The text may be footnoted with an alternate translation.  The KJV, the likely text used by Blackwell, uses the phrase “children of Israel.”  We cannot fault Dean Blackwell for a mistranslation made by Masoretes.  We can fault him for not researching this passage further. And we can fault him for immediately jumping to the conclusion that this verse should be translated in a way that means that all nations will be servants to supreme Israel throughout eternity.   This verse, if it actually were to contain the “sons of Israel” phrase, would be much more compatible with the spirit of the Old Testament commission to the Jews to bring the knowledge of god to the Gentiles rather than the White supremacist declaration of Dean Blackwell.   As it has happened, this is now a case study in the particular way that Armstrongists gratuitously spun scripture to support White Supremacy. 


I spoke with Dean Blackwell in his office in the Roy Hammer Library on the Big Sandy campus back in the mid-Seventies.  This was within a few years after I heard his presentation on race and I had a number of questions.  Unfortunately, we did we did not spend much time on my interests.  His cordial discussion ranged across a number of other general topics.  The only substantive idea I remember was a statement by Blackwell that the WCG leadership in Pasadena was very hesitant about releasing Herman Hoeh’s two volume “Compendium of World History” to lay members.  The lay membership would be likely to misunderstand and misinterpret it. It may well be that Blackwell did not have a strong background in the WCG dogma of race and was using scripted ideas developed by others when he delivered his sermons on race.  I finally excused myself and felt as if we had not communicated much.  


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submitted by SHT

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

COGWA Spending More Money to Keep Its Ministers Comfortable In Their Assumed Lifestyle Than It Does On A Gospel Message

All of those rebellious boys of Church of God a Worldwide Ass. thought they were hot stuff when they decided to apostatize from United Church of God.  For a while, they did pretty well considering they took a huge chunk of UCG's members and ministers with them along with a huge amount of income.  United Church of God has never recovered from the royal humiliation they received.

Now, it looks like COGWA is starting to have its own issues.  Its ministry and membership are aging and they have been incapable of drawing in new younger members that are money machines.   More money goes to pay for the privileged lifestyle of the ministry than it does to their "gospel" proclamation to the world.  43% of COWA's tithe money goes to pay the ministry.

Too lazy to branch out and make contact with world leaders and other movers and shakers, they resort to the internet to get their message out.  Even that is not working for them as they have one of the most boring web sites out there, except maybe for Bob Thiel's. Their concern for getting a message out is not too important, as they have an outside source that serves as its media department.

Britton Taylor, reporting on COGWA’s audit for the year ended December 31, 2018, wrote: “… income received for 2018 was just under $12.7 million – the highest in our history. This was a 6% increase over 2017, which was a strong year with income close to $12 million. Total expenses for 2018 and 2017 were about $11.8 million and $11.3 million respectively.”
So how is the money being spent?
Salaries and related expenses represented 43.8% of income. The ministry is elderly, so the rate of this expense will increase, in order to fund ministerial retirement pay and sickness benefits, and the recruitment of replacement ministers.
Public proclamation of the gospel, the focus of most ministries, amounted to $1,216,976 – which is 10.3% of annual income. This low percentage is due to its public proclamation being currently restricted to its website, Life, Hope & Truth – which is not as effective as the leadership had hoped.
Visitor numbers declined through 2018, so in January 2019 the media department (which is outsourced) was given the task of improving website visitor numbers and page views by refining its search engine optimization tactics, redesigning the website, adding and changing content, and other techniques to enhance its attraction.
Jim Franks goes on to complain that COGWA's message is not "attractive" to people in this day and age.
Jim Franks, writing in his September 2019 member letter, now recognizes that the content also needs to be attractive:
“… we are working hard at upgrading our Internet presence. For the past 18 months, our unique visitors to Life, Hope & Truth has leveled off at just under 500,000 per month. This is about half the number we were getting at our high point. We are investing resources to develop a strategy to increase our numbers. There are some technical things that we can do with the Internet, but we also realize the need for more compelling articles that get people’s attention and that proclaim the true gospel to a world that is spiritually starving.” Church of God News

Seriously?  When has the Church of God EVER proclaimed a "true gospel"?  It denies and mocks the one they claim to follow and places all of its emphasis on keeping the law and a pathetically disproven belief in British Israelism.  Jettison that belief and COGWA and the rest of Armstrongism falls apart.

COGWA is never going to amount to anything spectacular,  None of the COG's are today, either.  They are just mere shadows of the grand scheme they all try and imitate and fail miserably in doing so.

Monday, September 16, 2019

How would you rate your personal experience of the Worldwide Church of God in the Armstrong Era?

There is a new poll in the right-hand column under the revolving world map.

Cunning Self-Proclaimed COG Wanna-a-be Prophet Still trying to Prove He Is Legit

The great Bwana of Africa and deluded dreamer is once again trying to prove his self-appointment as a COG leader is the result of dreams.
09/03/19 p.m. Should any Church of God actually have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18? 
The late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, basically said so in a 1981 sermon:
Joel 2:28-29 And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (29) And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
So there is a time coming when God will start pouring out His spirit on human beings. … Day of Pentecost, 3000 were baptized. Peter preached a sermon. They were pricked in their hearts. God began to draw them. God was now… Remember He said, “I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh.” All right, there’s a duality of that. (Armstrong HW. Building The Temple. Sermon, February 14, 1981)
Herbert W. Armstrong was correct about the time coming when God would pour out His Spirit as well the duality. There was a duality to what Peter preached in Acts 2–and that duality is for our current time! 
Do dreams and prophets have any place in the Christian Church today?  
Notice what the Apostle Peter taught: 
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them,“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16
 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.  (Acts 2:14-18)
We are in the last days.
Dreams and prophesy were expected for our day! In addition various fulfilled predictions and prayers, at least seven associated with the Continuing Church of God have had prophetic dreams which were later confirmed.
The Continuing Church of God is the only GCG-connected organization, and seemingly the only xWCOG-related organization, with so many of the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18. 
Would not that be expected of the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphian era in the last days?
Sadly the Church of God has been filled with hundreds of false prophets and outright liars over its 8 decades of existence. Never has a year gone by when there has not been some fool who has risen up in the church declaring himself a prophet, an Elijah or Elisha.  For 80 some years now every single one of them have been proven to be liars and frauds.

This has not stopped Bwana Elijah Elisha, Joshua, Amos, doubly blessed, self anointed, Bob Theil from self appointing himself as the end time Elijah, Elisha, and prophet for the end time church.  He seeks to prop up himself by declaring he has had dreams that prove he is the true prophet of God.

I can state for a fact that God did not appointed, anoint or give Thiel any vision in his dreams that sets him apart as a prophet.  He is a lair and a fraud.   He has bastardized the gospel message just as much as James Malm has. Why these men seek to whore themselves out to the law instead of following Jesus is beyond me. Sadly, their followers are being led into bondage instead of freedom.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Child Shall Lead Them

A Child Shall Lead Them

Is there a difference between unshakable faith and unshakable arrogance? I was 15 years in the churches of God and had it all figured out in those first 5 years... so this young kid of 19 in Seminary had nothing to offer me as we talked religion. Jed would only be here for the summer so I had a small window of opportunity to "enlighten" him. He asked many great questions and did a lot of listening. Our lunch hours often went longer than the company would have appreciated.

At summer's end, it was time for Jed to move on in finishing his religious training so that he could start a ministry in the worst part of the city with his new bride. I heard later his apartment was broken into 3 times in the first 2 months he lived there. Oh well, I chalked it up as another dumb decision made in zealous youth. (I told him so!) And all that preaching at Jed was all for naught. Not only did he move his beautiful bride into the hood for "Jesus" but responded to all my pontificating with a set of books as a gift to me, written by an Anglican Priest. The nerve! Those 1500 pages of nonsense sat on my bookshelf for 10 years before I ever even cracked one of them.

But there I was at the Feast of Tabernacles last year getting more spiritual meat from one of those books than all the Feast sermons and sermonettes in the last 10 years!

Hitting "mid-life" is erroneously labeled a crisis. For most, it is actually a time of evaluating your first 20+ years as an adult. Then, after evaluating, we begin formulating the direction of our next 20+ years. If we are being honest with ourselves, we even evaluate our sacred cows and allow those to be challenged genuinely for the first time in years. (Maybe this is why this time of life is called a crisis)

For me, it was a humbling awakening. I was so busy working hard, providing for my wife and our growing family, that I didn't have time to question my "unshakable faith." That part of my life was on solid ground so I had no need to revisit it periodically, nor the time. That was settled in my early 20's when I knew everything.

The miracle of children is their ability to ask questions that cut deep through all the bullshit and force us as parents to carefully consider our answers. When it was Jed, it had no effect. I was unshakable. But now it was my own teenage flesh and blood. Dad was being forced to put his religion on the examination table also. The nagging questions about "church" that were suppressed for years were now being forced into the light of reason. Maybe I should thoroughly give this another look for the sake of not being labeled a hypocrite or a religious minion in the eyes of my own babies.

Mid-life showed me (and others may attest to this as well) that we spend much of our lives on "auto-pilot." Striving for the "American Dream" is a real thing and for the most part, a soul-stealing endeavor. This time of life is bitter-sweet. We can be deeply saddened by coming into the realization that we really know very little about anything. We can anguish (but hopefully for only a little while) over bad decisions; forks in the road of our lives where we went left instead of right or ducked when we should have jumped.

But on the other end of this examination, we can choose to rejoice in a recovered zeal for the next 20-year journey. We can be excited about lessons learned and make the course corrections now. We can be content in not knowing everything and instead, move forward with our minds more open and teachable than ever before. I suppose this is the hidden lesson God had in store for us when he gave us our own children to raise. Yes, as parents, we owe it to our children to be critical thinkers but we really owe it to ourselves first.

Probably, the most depressing and disappointing article I have ever read in the churches of God to date is Gerald Weston's, "I Was Wrong." The title was nothing but misleading click-bait full of arrogant apologetics for the ministry. Many people in LCG were hopeful that after the death of RCM, the church would begin to listen and grow and change for the first time in 25 years. Instead, GEW has chosen to double down like Rehoboam, making his pinky thicker than the waist of our Golden Glove champion.

NEWSFLASH: You are not going to win the hearts and minds of our children when you dwell on legalized marijuana and our daughter's shorts as being the biggest problems in the churches of God today.

Older people spend a lot of time criticizing and putting down the younger generations that will inevitably replace them. The churches complain that kids today are less this and more that. One thing is sure: whatever the churches are doing to reach the next generation, it's failing. The death to birth rate in the churches of God is 4/1. The teenagers are not sticking around, once they leave home. New people are not flocking (not even trickling!) into the churches of God. Is it because the world and our children are more evil and less receptive to God and His way of life? Or could it be that the organizations are refusing to open themselves up to their own mid-life examinations, admit to bad decisions, make course corrections and save themselves from being what the children see: religious hypocrites and mindless minions betrothed to a gnostic theology developed by a narcissist of below-average intelligence almost 100 years ago?

submitted by Stoned Stephen Society