Friday, May 2, 2014

Reading Malachi's Message: Part 1

Previously I have read a copy of an old 1990 edition of Gerald Flurry's booklet, Malachi's Message to God's Church Today, which was disucssed here and here. Here I shall now read the current edition of Malachi's Message and share my thoughts.

Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God teaches that Malachi's Message is the Little Book mentioned in Revelation 10. PCG leader Dennis Leap once even stated that Malachi's Message was not a human creation. PCG hails it as a part of the Bible hidden by God until its appointed time in 1989 to condemn the Tkach changes within WCG. Let us see what Gerald Flurry has to say.

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Preface
The book was primarily intended to alert the ministry of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) as to what was really happening, and secondarily to alert the Church membership. 
It should be stated that that was Jules Dervaes' aim as well when he wrote The Letter to Laodicea. It is widely known that many of the ideas within Malachi's Message were plagiarized from The Letter to Laodicea by Jules Dervaes, written December 1986-January 1988. It was sent to 237 WCG ministers including Gerald Flurry and John Amos. In fact on September 26, 1990 Jules Dervaes sent a letter to Gerald Flurry in which he denounces Malachi's Message as "a direct and clear plagiarism" of his work.


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Introduction
All of Mr. Armstrong’s major books and booklets have been abolished! 
This strikes me as sloppy English. What is he saying here? How can books and booklets be abolished? Clearly WCG no longer teaches what HWA taught. The doctrines are no longer taught or enforced, WCG stopped printing them, but how can books and booklets be abolished?

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Several groups have left the WCG since Mr. Armstrong died. Your Bible says only one of those groups can be doing God’s Work. That means only one church truly follows in the footsteps of Mr. Armstrong. If you make a wrong choice, it will bring physical and spiritual curses. A right choice will lead to incredible physical and spiritual rewards. It is crucial that we find the church which is delivering God’s final warning message. 
My Bible does not say that. Your Bible does not say that.

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Notice what a leader of one group that left the WCG stated about what would happen if Mr. Armstrong were to be resurrected (I have omitted the names he referred to): “But he [Mr. Armstrong] would look for [evangelist one] and he would look for [evangelist two] and he would see a work was being done, not perfectly. And he would say, ‘Well, [evangelist two], I didn’t think you had that good of a radio voice, but you’re doing a broadcast you know.’ And he’d kind of wonder and he’d say, ‘Well, you’re still preaching the truth. And [evangelist one] is there, your leading editor and writer. And he’s preaching the truth. And now [another minister], he’s there—oh that’s wonderful.’ And he’d think, ‘Well now, I knew [evangelist three] was a good man, and now I’m glad [he] is with you,’ he’d say. ‘And I’m thankful that some of my lieutenants have carried on the Work of God and it’s still being done.’ And he would be very grateful. And I mean that.” 
I cannot prove this but I strongly suspect the speaker mentioned here is Roderick C. Meredith. The speaker seems to have that way of speaking that he had.

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For years Mr. Armstrong said repeatedly that he fulfilled this office [of the end time Elijah]. He was an end-time type of John the Baptist. But only the PCG today agrees with Mr. Armstrong’s teaching on this verse. All—and I mean all—of the Laodicean churches say by their teachings that Mr. Armstrong “twisted and perverted” this verse—and many other prophecies that refer to his end-time work. They don’t believe Mr. Armstrong fulfilled this office, when there is superabundant evidence that he did.
Actually many COGs teach that HWA was some sort of end time Elijah. PCG is not the only COG group to teach this. Why is Gerald Flurry saying something that is so obviously untrue?

The introduction essentially states that there must be a one, true church (COG group) through which God is working today. It is necessary to find that one church and stay with it. All other "churches" (he means COG groups) are false churches, not so much because they don't teach what HWA taught, but because there can be only "one true church".

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Chapter 1
God calls things what they are! It all revolves around remembering—by Philadelphians and by God. Much of our remembering revolves around an “Elijah” [HWA] and the things God taught us through him. Then God remembers the Philadelphians, and He protects and rewards them in the future.
The entire book of Malachi revolves around two groups—those who forget (the majority) [he means WCG and other COG groups] and those who remember (the minority) [he means his followers, PCG]. Are you in that book of remembrance? Anyone who is not is destined to go into the Great Tribulation. And 50 percent of those who rebel will go into the lake of fire. We must take this warning seriously.
We see already how Gerald Flurry is trying to scare people into joining his COG group, PCG.

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There is no greater honor than being in the ministry. Also, there is no greater responsibility. The ministry must always be spiritually alert. The history of the Church of God is filled with disasters when the ministry failed to do its job! 
In the hierarchical world of Armstrongism a minster has great power over the lay members and is greatly revered. I have no doubt Gerald Flurry really means this.

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We started mailing Malachi’s Message in January 1990. Since that modest beginning, God has raised up the Philadelphia Church of God with thousands of supporters and readers worldwide. As time goes on, many more members of the Worldwide Church of God are becoming deeply disturbed by the Worldwide Church’s movement away from what Jesus Christ taught through Herbert W. Armstrong.
He means what HWA taught through WCG.

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Who else but God’s Church keeps His law today? 
God's Church does not keep the law. No one does.

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Mr. Armstrong clearly did the work of John the Baptist. That work intensified at the end of the Church’s second 19-year cycle. [1972.] That is when Mr. Armstrong began to travel around the world, meeting with world leaders, proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God. 
Actually HWA taught that the great tribulation was to begin in 1972. The failure of his false prophecy proves that HWA was not sent by God.

Also HWA began meeting with world leaders before 1972.

This statement seems to be alluding to HWA's November 19, 1976 co-worker. This letter states that Revelation 10 refers to his preaching among world leaders. This contradicts Gerald Flurry's teaching that Revelation 10 is about PCG condemning the Tkach changes with that booklet, Malachi's Message.

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Every book by Herbert W. Armstrong has been abolished! It’s as if Mr. Armstrong has been disfellowshiped—postmortem!
There is that odd expression of his again. How can a book be abolished? You can abolish a rule but how can a book be abolished?

Claiming HWA has been disfellowshipped by Tkach's WCG. Here is emotive language designed to incite the reader to indignation and make the reader prone to making a drastic decision.

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Chapter 1 essentially insists that Malachi is really talking about the Tkach changes. I really would like to meet a Bible scholar outside of PCG who thinks that would be the case.

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Chapter 2
Mystery of the Ages was removed from print in 1989. At that time, Mr. Tkach admitted the book contained “fundamental truths of God’s Word,” but said that “peripheral or incidental points … give occasion to critics to fault the whole book.” Do WCG leaders fear the critics and the world more than they fear God? (Malachi 2:4-8). 
But what if the "critics" were right? Shouldn't it be changed then?

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In the final meeting between John Amos and me and two of the top leaders at Pasadena, one of them said Mr. Armstrong put the book together by “just combining many different articles.” Mr. Armstrong’s letter of September 12, 1985 (quoted above), refutes that statement. 
Here Gerald Flurry seems to be ridiculing this idea. In fact large parts of Mystery of the Ages are simply taken from other HWA writings. Large parts of Chapter 7, particularly when he describes which Biblical personages would have specific roles in the World Tomorrow after Christ's return, are taken from his booklet, The Wonderful World Tomorrow. Also sections describing the God Family doctrine and how a WCG member can become a member of the God Family are largely taken from his other book, The Incredible Human Potential.

It is perfectly understandable why he should be hostile towards men orchestrating Tkach's changes but that does not change the fact that this Tkachite just happened to be telling the truth.

Why is Gerald Flurry mocking a statement that just happens to be true?

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He also talked about “racist statements” in the book. We strongly disagreed with what they both said and told them so.
Actually Mystery of the Ages does contain racist statements, specifically Hervert W. Armstrong's condemnation of "interracial marriage" which he made in Chapters 3 and 4. It is hard to be more racist than that. It took a political struggle before racist restrictions on interracial marriages were finally abolished in the United States.

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(The Laodiceans are comprised of the WCG and other groups that have left the WCG—except the PCG.)
I guess we can stop reading now and see that the author wants the reader to believe that PCG is the one true church that we must belong to or else we will go to the Great Tribulation and the Lake of Fire.

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It is often asserted in Malachi's Message that "the Bible" teaches that there will be an end time falling away from the truth within Armstrongism (God's Church). Actually HWA and HWA's WCG never anticipated that the organization would later move away from Armstrongism into another religion. It was not expected that WCG as an institution was in danger of turning away from Armstrongism.

In many ways HWA's WCG's teaching regarding the nature of these Laodiceans was quite vague. There was much discussion about the exact nature of this Laodicean era. Would there be a Laodicean work composed of a leader and a prominent COG organization or simply a bunch of Armstrongite persons who were somehow morally lacking. David Robinson in 1979 wondered if the Church of God International was the Laodicean church.

HWA's WCG did teach that a WCG member had to be zealous (send in lots of money to WCG) in order to be judged worthy of going to the place of safety (often thought to be Petra, Jordan). Those WCG members left behind were said to be Laodiceans.

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To be continued...

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