Monday, December 31, 2012

I was Deceived by Bob Thiel

I first encountered Tomorrow's World, LCG's telecast, in early 2000. I became persuaded that they were the true religion and that God is working through them. I should follow them, I thought.

But I knew absolutely nothing about them. I knew nothing about Armstrongism, HWA or WCG. Later a saw a news report about a cult. In the course of this report it mentioned that the cult was started by ex-WCG members. This greatly agitated me. Because I this I decided I needed to know what this religion was.

I learned about HWA and his WCG, that his successor had changed WCG and that there were literally hundreds of Armstrongite COGs out there.

Because there were others it was difficult for me to decide which one I should align myself with. All I knew was from LCG, but their website did not provide information to decide what set LCG apart from the other COGs.

I went looking around and discovered Bob Thiel. I was informed before I visited that he supported Meredith. But I went there. He compared the major COGs (UCG, PCG, RCG, and many others) with LCG and confidently argued that LCG was where God is working today.

UCG votes among themselves unlike old WCG, but LCG has one man rule as HWA recommended, he said.

PCG has all these bizarre and crazy doctrines so God cannot be working through them.

RCG teaches that HWA was the end time Elijah, but LCG does not dogmatically assert this.

After reading things such as these I decided that LCG must be where God is working and gave my heart to LCG, thinking I was giving it to God.

Oh, what a cruel mistake that was. One of the worst decisions of my life. I did not suffer financially but it was terrible. I sacrificed peace of mind to follow what dictates of theirs as I could, straining relations with family and friends, only to later learn I was but chasing the wind.

Later, in late 2008, I discovered that HWA was a liar. I discovered that the failed predictions he made proved that HWA was a false prophet. I learned that he made many false predictions that Christ would return in 1936, after World War II, 1975, by 2005, etc. I was aware of some of these failed predictions before 2008, but being brainwashed as I was, I simply assumed he was off in his timing and that these events would occur later. I did not see that his many false predictions proved that God was not working through him.

Knowing this I had no choice but to renounce that wicked false prophet Roderick C. Meredith and his predecessor HWA.

Then I discovered about Divorce and Remarriage which Roderick Meredith enforced under HWA's dictates, the anti-medicine superstition he took from the Jehovah's Witnesses that killed many WCG members (and continues to do so in some COG splinter groups like PCG), that HWA took three tithes from WCG members and LCG continues to do so (second and third tithes were never mentioned in LCG's deceptive recruitment writings), that HWA had a ten year incestuous relationship with his own daughter, that there is no difference between the moral law and ceremonial law in the Old Testament (HWA took this idea from Seventh Day Adventists and related groups) and many other things that made me deeply ashamed to be a part of this false and disgraceful religious movement.

Now Bob Thiel has created his own COG. How I wish he broke away from LCG before. He would have saved me a lot of trouble.

He complains that Meredith said 'factually inaccurate' answers in response to his queries. The evidence that Meredith was a liar has been around for decades. He deluded himself into not seeing it. He should have seen through him during the split of 1998.

It is terrible that he has gone against just about all that he has said before to support LCG and decided, in his overweening arrogance, that Meredith and LCG are not good enough for him so he has started up his own COG as though he were another HWA or Roderick Meredith, and trying to get followers to give him tithes.

This Bob Thiel deserves absolutely no financial support from anyone. He has rebelled against the organization he has so long claimed to be the one true church. By his own previous standards he is a Laodicean hindering the effort of the so-called one true church in spreading its deceptive propaganda to lure people, like me, into a web of deceit and fear to get their money.

Bob Thiel must repent and renounce Armstrongism. I will not tell what he should convert to, but he certainly have no moral right to arrogantly and rebelliously set himself up as another little HWA to further delude and abuse deceived followers just like Meredith and HWA.

What a disgrace this man is. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bob Thiel Breaks Away from LCG

It has happened. Bob Thiel has now broken away from Spanky's so-called Living Church of God and is seeking to establish a new COG. Hat tip: Mr. Gavin Rumney.

It is hard for me to have any sympathy for Bob Thiel. Alas, I am embarrassed to say this, but he was one of the main reasons why I aligned myself with LCG, when I encountered his blog in 2000 while looking for information about the COGs.

In mid-2000 I saw a news report about a cult started up by ex-WCG members. I was greatly agitated by this and went looking around for information about the COGs, as by this time all I knew was what was presented to me in the Tomorrow's World telecast and in LCG's official website, which was not much. I then learned that there were many COGs around. With so many around which one should I choose? Alas, while looking around I found Bob Thiel's blog. He argued why all the other COGs were less acceptable than LCG. Alas, I found his arguments persuasive. I was already predisposed to LCG because they were how I first learned of Armstrongism and therefore I felt thankful to them.

His writings helped convince me to make one of the most terrible decisions of my life: to accept LCG as the true church in which God in working through. Alas, it was only in 2008 that I learned this was not the case and had to leave behind the lies of Armstrongism.

Because of his role in making me accept LCG I have no sympathy for him. His conduct in this dispute only confirms once again the complete spiritual and moral bankruptcy of Armstrongism. As far as I am concerned his conduct, spreading propaganda in favor of deceptive lies (which he may have honestly believed in) have earned him this set back. Like many Armstrongites he has refused to see the truth that HWA is a false prophet despite knowing that he made many false prophecies throughout his career and continues to uphold the lie that HWA was a man sent by God. This latest split are the wages of the terrible lies, strict dogmatic views and deceptive legalism that he has long spread.

How Bob Thiel expect anyone to follow him considering that he was never ordained is beyond me. I think very few will follow him. No doubt his past LCG self would have dismissed him as merely another sower of division among 'God's people' to be safely ignored.

As for his family, his wife and children, I do feel sorry for them. As Mr. Gavin Rumney points out, no doubt this will negatively impact them through no fault of their own and that is wrong.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Meredith's Fruits Revealed

Brilliant article from Banned by HWA detailing the terrible fruits of Roderick C. Meredith.

Living Church of God's Brotherly Love

Also note this comment:

I have a friend whose aunt and uncle work at LCG headquarters. From the stories I hear, LCG even at the top seems to be a very unhappy cult, full of crazy ideas and nasty politics and fear and meanness and nepotism and an overall mood that sounds to me alot like widespread chronic depression. People suck up to Rod to gain his favor, while Rod manipulates and uses people until he decides it is time to discard them.

From my own experience, I would say that my relatives in "the world" are much more Christian in their conduct than my relatives who follow the teachings of HWA.

PCG Serializing Basil Wolverton's Bible Story

If you look at PCG's website, the church one, and look at its For Youth and Teens section and look around you will find Basil Wolverton's Bible Story serialized in that part of the website.  The latest installment is of Chapter 95, 'The King is Dead'. (Unhelpfully it is not numbered at PCG. I had to look it up.) It details events surrounding the death of king Saul.

It includes the illustrations. There is a logo using the same typeface as used on the covers of the original publications.

Curiously there is absolutely no acknowledgement that it is made by Basil Wolverton.

Personally I wonder why PCG even bother. Anyone who knows where to look can easily read or download the whole thing. You can do it here. (Warning: page includes colorized versions of Basil Wolverton's infamous 1975 in Prophecy illustrations.) No need to wait for installments. If they can't, it's because the PCG ministers have intimidated them into not looking around on the Internet (or have no Internet access). 

I recall Mr. Gavin Rumney mentioned this when they apparently first started serializing it. That was literally years ago. It seems PCG is still going with it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

If the Holy Spirit is a Thing, How Does "It" Intercede for Believers?

"The Scriptures give clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force. The Holy Spirit has intellect (He knows the deep things of God-1 Cor. 2:10), sensibility or emotions (He can be grieved-Eph. 4:30), and will (He gives gifts as He wills-1 Cor. 12:11). No impersonal force has intellect, emotions and will. He also does things no impersonal force can do-He teaches (John 14:26), intercedes (Rom 8:26), calls (Acts 13:2), directs (16:6,7), and empowers (Rom. 15:19). The deity of Christ is also clearly established in the Scriptures. He is the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16), which reveals His omnipotent power as the eternal Son of God. However, He voluntarily gave up the manifestation of His attributes in order to take on Himself the form of man and to die on the cross for the sin of the world (Phil 2:5-8)."

Source: Armstrongism: Is It The Plain Truth? by Harold Berry, 1974, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, p. 6, as hosted on Banned by HWA.

When I read this I thought this has to be one of the most elegant rebuttals against Herbert Armstrong's anti-Trinitarianism I have ever read.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cults Surviving Failed Prophecies

Just read this fascinating article from the BBC, Mayan prophecies: Life after the (non) end of the world.

For those who paid heed to their dire warnings, learning that life will in fact carry on as normal might be expected to be a deeply traumatic experience.
Surprisingly, however, groups which predict the end of the world have quite a good record of carrying on after the world is supposed to have ended, says Lorne Dawson, an expert in the sociology of religion at the University of Waterloo.
"The vast majority seem to shrug off the failure of prophecy fairly well," he says.
Of 75 groups identified by Dawson which predicted the apocalypse, all but six remained intact after catastrophe failed to materialise.
Indeed, many have gone on to flourish. Jehovah's Witnesses are viewed as having predicted some form of end several times and yet still have more than seven million followers.
The Seventh Day Adventists, who have an estimated 17 million members, grew out of the Millerites, whose failed apocalyptic forecast in 1844 became known as the Great Disappointment.

I would add that often failed prophecies caused much turmoil within these groups, but some remained within the group and kept it going. After the failed prophecies of 1914, 1925, and 1975 the Jehovah Witnesses saw many of their members leave after becoming disillusioned because of the failed prophecies.

Also within the old WCG there was a lot of turmoil after HWA's failed prediction that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972. No doubt once WCG members were no longer worried about an immanent end it gave them the freedom to question what they were taught by HWA and many saw through HWA's deceptions and courageously strived to change the situation in old WCG.

The article also states this:

For Jenkins, the appeal of leaders preaching the impending apocalypse down the ages has always been about far more than the specifics of their prophecies.
"It's a kind of rejection of the order of the world as it is," he says. "It's to do with imagining something far better. After it becomes apparent that the new order isn't going to come, there are ways of adjusting the message."

Indeed the hope for a better world arising out of the destruction of the old world seems to be a very common trope of end of the world beliefs.

Monday, December 17, 2012

LCG's Purpose: One Man Rule

Thanks to Banned by HWA I rediscovered this link to a website which extensively discusses the 1998 split between Global Church of God and the Living Church of God.

I find it very sad to read the Board's account of events. I so wish I read these things before choosing to follow Meredith. It could have saved me a lot of trouble.

Member's Comments noting that Roderick Meredith's behavior during the split contradicted his earlier agreement and support for collegial government. Bolding is mine.

IF there was no takeover attempt by the Board then they would have been justified to remove him after he initiated the split by telling people to leave with him and join his new group in his first crisis letter since such an act would consititute church division.

IF there was no takeover attempt by the Board then they would have been justified to remove him after he initiated the split by telling people to leave with him and join his new group in his first crisis letter since such an act would consititute church division. 

Such an action is ONLY justified in this case if there is proof that the board was trying to take over the church. I haven't seen any clear proof so far. If there is proof on the tapes I'm more than honest enough to change my views since we have nothing to fear from the truth and looking fully at both sides of the story.

After saying he still intended to leave on the day, he chose not to give a written resignation in order to induce the board to terminate him so they would look bad in the members' eyes. They accepted his crisis letter and spoken intention that he was still going to leave as his resignation or they fired him depending upon the semantic point of view one decides to take.

Dr Meredith has contradicted his own written statements at least 10 times from the documented evidence that I've seen. Some of those include:

- Saying repeatedly that there is no voting or committees in Global when the Board and council has always voted on motions proposed and there was an executive committee(not to mention the council which fits the definition of a committee also).

- Saying we have had complete unity and harmony at HQ's weeks before the split and then saying they had been plotting for a year or two to take over.

- In his first crisis letter saying he was already starting to incorporate and then in the next letter saying that he hadn't started to incorporate when he wrote his first letter.

- In the October 30, 1998 Journal paper he said that the council, including the other board members, were spirit-led and filled and then the next month says that they are "misguided" and "very political individuals" in November? You have to wonder how men change that fast if that is true? 

- Four times he and the council unanimously agreed that rule by the council is how the church should be run and now he says the Bible never supports that point of view when he wrote so much different to that in the June 1998 co-worker letter. 

If he changed his beliefs the proper thing he should have done was to put that new idea of how the council is ONLY to advise him and not rule on motions to the doctrinal committee and then for the whole council to decide on the matter rather than try and by- pass that established procedure in the church.

These plain written contradictions should bring one point to all the members' attention - do not take Dr Meredith's words at face value - PROVE ALL THINGS AS THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT WHAT ANYONE SAYS, NOT JUST RCM! 

The number of people I have ran across and heard about who just take Dr Meredith at face value without any back up and who won't thoroughly look at both sides is amazing. I mean, what can it hurt to do just as the Bible says and thoroughly look at both sides and then make an objective decision? I don't mind people eventually deciding to go the opposite way than me just as long as they've thoroughly looked at both sides of the issue. 

There's far too much emotion involved and not enough sound logic being applied in the decision-making going on. I hope we can all be thorough and make calm rational decisions in all of this and love and respect each other regardless on how we all choose and who's side we end up on. I, for one, want to be on God's side whoever I see that He is with regardless of who it is, what people say and whether they have a majority of members or not!

Also here is Raymond McNair's account of the GCG-LCG split.

Raymond McNair noting how Meredith used to support collegial government then rejected it.

Compare Dr. Meredith’s own words regarding Church government—as found in the 1993 booklet titled Church government and Church Unity—with statements he recently made. "Very SELDOM a Central Government in God’s Church Mr. Armstrong knew and many of us who have studied church history know, that in fact very seldom in its 2000 year history has God’s Church ever had one administration, with ONE MAN in charge [including] the Paulicians… the Bogomils of Bulgariathe Petrobrusians of Provencal, the Henricians, Albigenses and Waldenses…. There was NEVER ONE MAN in charge of all these scattered groups, never any central government—though some of those groups were contemporaneous" (p. 8).
Now compare the above quote with a recent statement by Dr. Meredith: "God has virtually ALWAYS worked primarily through ONE MAN in leading or guiding any particular phase of His Work down through the ages" ("Dear Brethren" letter, Nov. 21, 1998). Which of these statements are we to believe?

Here R. McNair notes how Meredith would not listen to criticism and became increasingly autocratic.

In our November 1997 Council of Elders’ meetings, members of the Council (D. Apartian, C. McNair, D. Pack and R. McNair) pointed out to Dr. Meredith numerous instances in which his autocratic decisions were eroding the ministers’ confidence in his leadership. Would he accept this criticism gracefully? No! Instead, he repeatedly accused those who brought this grave matter to his attention of "attacking" him.
By the time the Council again convened in February 1998, it was becoming quite clear to most of us on the Council and the Church Board that the [Presiding Evangelist's] increasingly autocratic approach toward certain important matters was not only contrary to the teachings of the BIBLE (cf. Mt. 20:25-28; 1 Pet 5:3), but also ran counter to our Church Government BOOKLET, and was in direct violation of the BYLAWS of the GCG! During those February Council meetings, we had a two- day discussion on the subject of the proper form of N.T. Church government—and all 13 members unanimously concluded that our "collegial" approach to Church government was correct, according to the Bible. We, therefore, unanimously agreed to support such government in Global. Then, in May, we re-visited this subject, again unanimously agreeing to employ Church government by CONSENSUS, as explained in Dr. Meredith’s booklet.

Here R. McNair notes several instances in which Meredith acted unwisely and the Board tried to save him from his own foolishness.

Did the Board ever attempt to "oust" him from his job, as he [Meredith] charged? Never! Neither did members of the Board of the GCG ever "tie his hands," or "put him in a box," as he claimed. Though we did not "tie his hands," or "put him in a box," we did do certain things to try to protect both him and the Church:

Example # 1 We held back one TV program that he wanted to send out. Why? Because it contained unduly offensive language. In fact, WGN later informed us that they would not air that particular program unless the offending words were removed.

Example # 2 On occasion, we insisted on removing certain offensive or inaccurate statements from his sermon tapes. During one such Headquarters sermon, a couple of ladies actually walked out in disgust.

Truly that Meredith is a scoundrel.

If the Board is right it would appear that Meredith decided he wanted to rule alone. The split was really a plot by Meredith to destroy the collegial government within GCG so that Meredith would be able to rule alone.

Alas, his plot succeeded brilliantly. He foresaw that in such a contest he was able to get most GCG members to follow him. About 80% of GCG's membership chose to follow Meredith and set up the Living Church of God, one of the most largest Armstrongite splinter group there is.

Meanwhile the Board, with only 20% of members remaining, was saddled with unpayable debt and inevitably quickly disintegrated, while Meredith had bought himself a get out of jail free card by simply starting another group free from any liabilities GCG had acquired under his watch.

I am disgusted that I associated myself with an organization created specifically to destroy collegial government and establish one man rule.

LCG is a dictatorship and was created for that very purpose.

LCG is the daughter of Meredith's authoritarianism.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

M. John Allen's Aliens and Other Heretical Nonsense

From Banned by HWA, M. John Allen: Yahweh is a Reptilian Extraterrestial from the Planet Nabiru.

Apparently M. John Allen now believes God is the Universe, and that Yahweh is not God but a leader of a bunch of space aliens who live on a planet called Nabiru.

I ran into M. John Allen's website early on when I decided to look for information about HWA's WCG beyond the little that LCG wrote. This was around mid-2000, less than two years since the split within the Global Church of God. I have discussed of him before here and here.

I know I am wasting my sympathies but I feel sorry that he has fell into such craven nonsense. It is terrible that he is tries to lure people into believing these absurd and ridiculous ideas.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Debt to Rudyard Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

I was just going through some of my old blog posts and found this one, Fiction is Not Stupid, HWA. In it I wrote this:

I am sorry to say this but I was so taken in by HWA that after I read these words [of his which criticized fiction as 'lazy man's reading'] I very seriously considered giving up reading fiction all together. I shudder at the thought of how much power his words had over me.

Thankfully after reading a particularly exciting story I decided that reading fiction and dreaming up your own fictional scenarios was perfectly fine and did not contradict God's will.

I am surprised I did not mention the story by name. It is Rudyard Kipling's

I shall always remember with fondness how this story made me reject HWA's narrow minded view on fiction. I have no doubt that my experience with Armstrongism would have been even more miserable than it was if I avoided fiction because his HWA's words.  

Deceased Serial Killer Linked to Christian Identity

Just found this story from the Southern Poverty Law Centre's Hatewatch blog about a recently deceased serial killer's links with "Christian Identity", a racist off shoot of British Israelism which claims that white Europeans are the lost tribes of Israel and that Jews are not descended from the Biblical Israelites but are imposters who are literally descended from Satan the Devil. I have discussed "Christian Identity" in other posts here and here.

Hatewatch Exclusive: Alaska Serial Killer Exposed to Christian Identity

A confessed serial killer and bank robber who took his own life in an Alaska jail cell on Sunday was exposed to the racist and anti-Semitic beliefs of Christian Identity theology during his childhood in a rural corner of Washington state, Hatewatch has learned.
Israel Keyes, 34, now linked to at least eight murders throughout the United States in the past 11 years, was a childhood friend and neighbor in Stevens County, Wash., of terrorists Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe — two racist brothers now serving lengthy prison sentences for murder and attempted murder.
“The two families, the Keyeses and the Kehoes, were neighbors and friends and lived about a half mile apart off Aladdin Road north of Colville” in Stevens County, Wash., a source with direct knowledge of the situation said. “The kids in both families were home-schooled and they sometimes attended a Christian Identity church called The Ark, just up the road from their homes,” the source said.

More Links Between Alaska Serial Killer and Racist Theology Emerge

The Keyeses, who homeschooled their children, were neighbors and friends of Kirby Kehoe and his large family, including sons Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe, whose white supremacy beliefs in the 1990s led to a notorious series of violent crimes.
At some point, various sources say, the Keyeses and the Kehoes attended Christian Identity services at a church near the Canadian border, north of Colville, Wash., called The Ark. The Ark, which is now known as Our Place Fellowship, is headed by Pastor Dan Henry. The Keyes and Kehoe families also attended services at another nearby Christian Identity church, the Christian Israel Covenant Church, headed by Henry’s neighbor and friend, Pastor Ray Barker, sources say.
Christian Identity is an anti-Semitic theology that sees Jews as an evil force and claims the Bible is the history of white people. The most virulent Identity followers believe that Jews are biological descendants of Satan and are working to prepare the earth for the return of their progenitor, the Devil.