Sunday, May 4, 2014

Reading Malachi's Message: Part 2

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 discussed here and here. We now continue from Part 1 of Reading Malachi's Message.

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.


Also Malachi's Message is greatly dependent upon HWA's teaching of the seven church eras. If that doctrine is untrue then Malachi's Message completely falls apart.


Chapter 3

In this chapter Gerald Flurry claims to reveal the nature of the Laodicean era and insists that the Tkach changes are the true fulfillment of the establishment of the Laodiceans. He does not view them as worthy of salvation but insists it is necessary for "Laodiceans" to become "Philadelphian" by joining PCG. As mentioned in the previous post Gerald Flurry, somewhat confusingly, wrote earlier in Malachi's Message that "(The Laodiceans are comprised of the WCG and other groups that have left the WCG—except the PCG.)" That is the true reason why he claims it is necessary to no longer be a Laodicean. Also PCG members are required to pay three tithes and extra offerings to the organization.

We now begin.  
We often talk about a Laodicean attitude. The truth is, many people are confused about what this is.
Indeed there was much confusion about Laodicea within HWA's WCG. And this book is not going to help matters.

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The Philadelphia era’s example and its works (led by Mr. Armstrong) set a standard for us to follow until Christ returns. We’ll see this demonstrated more and more as we continue. Major prophecies in Malachi 4, Zechariah 3 and 4, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 3 all discuss this Philadelphia standard.
No. They do not. There were no seven church eras. These false Armstrongite dogmas are simply being imposed upon these Scriptural passages.

***
The WCG strayed from the Philadelphia standard in the 1970s. Mr. Armstrong publicly repented of his part and changed. Today, the WCG is repeating what was done in the 1970s—moving away from the Philadelphia standard (Malachi 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Revelation 3:7-20). 
Actually it is quite inaccurate to say that HWA was losing control of WCG in the 1970s. This is completely untrue. It is true that WCG became slightly less authoritarian and more moderate on certain matters but the whole time HWA was perfectly in control. If he chose to put a stop to any reforms within WCG he could easily have done so the entire time. But later HWA removed his son and former number two man, Garner Ted Armstrong, out of WCG. In order to justify such a traumatic move on his part it was necessary to totally demonize him as the most evil thing imaginable in order to justify his expulsion from WCG. A lot of untrue things were said about Garner Ted Armstrong at this time and, because many WCG members steadfastly only read and listened to WCG writings and declarations, these untrue statement were accepted and assumed to be true by many WCG members. (For more elaboration on this issue please look though this blog's previous posts discussing John Tuit and David Robinson.)

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The Laodiceans “have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). This means they have a horrible self-righteousness problem. They have deep spiritual problems but don’t see them. That’s because they are self-righteous. They think self is right. This is a lot more than lacking “drive and energy.” A self-righteous person often has more “drive and energy” than others. But it can be very deceptive
Is Gerald Flurry talking about himself here? Is he projecting his own flaws upon these hated Laodiceans?

***
Do the Laodiceans have works as a Church era? If the Laodicean Church begins when the Tribulation begins, as the Church has believed in the past, the very elect couldn’t deliver this message to the people. Under the prevailing conditions, it would be impossible. The Laodicean Church must have era “works” before the Tribulation begins.
Here we see that already Gerald Flurry is changing what WCG taught under HWA.

It was indeed taught within HWA's WCG that the Laodicean church would begin with the Great Tribulation. I recall listening to a sermon by Gerald Waterhouse and he seemed to have that assumption, that Laodiceans would not be made manifest until the worthy WCG members had fled to Petra and it is only then that the Laodiceans would be clearly shown because they would be left behind. (It also should be stated that he taught that HWA would live until the Second Coming. Conveniently Gerald Flurry never mentions the widespread belief within HWA's WCG that HWA would live until the return of Christ.)

***
By saying, “I know thy works,” God is addressing the collective body—the era. Could the Laodiceans as a group have “works” in the Tribulation? The Laodiceans will be in the worst captivity ever known to man. What kind of works could they perform as a collective body during the Tribulation? None. Therefore the works must be prior to the Tribulation—the time period we are in now.
Here we see Gerald Flurry actually changing doctrines taught within HWA's WCG. There were all kinds of ideas about what the Laodiceans would be like in HWA's WCG, most contradicted what Gerald Flurry teaches here. He asks how could the Laodiceans have works if they are caught in the Great Tribulation? Actually in HWA's WCG many thought that their work would be to testify against the European Beast Power and the final Pope even at the cost of their lives. That is certainly what Gerald Waterhouse taught in 1979 with HWA's approval in the sermon cited above. He taught that the Laodiceans would have to make up for their (fanciful) failings by witnessing against the European Beast Power and the final Pope and they would be killed for testifying in this way. Their death was the price they paid for failing to be worthy of escape.

***
The Laodicean Church [here he means Tkach's WCG] may be growing in membership until Christ returns, but does that always mean it is doing God’s will? No! We can’t use that criterion to judge. Other churches have millions of members and are not God’s churches. Actually, the Work of God could be declining in numbers and still do a wonderful job for God. So we have to look deeper than a growing membership.
Well, there is another speculation that we can say failed miserably. This is from the 1990 edition of Malachi's Message so this is not from a recent revision. Here is Gerald Flurry worried (or at least speculating) that Tkach's changes would precipitate a great increase in members for Tkach's WCG. Some "Prophet" Gerald Flurry is. He does not foresee that Tkach's changes will cause a severe decrease in members and income for WCG.

Also note how Gerald Flurry has changed another doctrine of HWA's here. Here he states that there is no need for "the true church" to increase in membership numbers.

***
This is a powerfully prophetic picture of the Laodiceans. A huge “earthquake” (the Great Tribulation) will strike them. Many of the members are going to lose their salvation. Matthew 25:1-10 indicate 50 percent. Their church and its Laodicean works are going to end in ruins—just like the ancient city.
Here we are first introduced here to Flurry's peculiar doctrine that fifty percent of "the Laodiceans"
(WCG members and ex-WCG who did not join PCG) will be killed in the Great Tribulation without "repenting" (submitting to Flurry's rule) and lose their salvation and go to the lake of fire.

***
Historian Edward Gibbon says, “Among the Greek colonies and the churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect—a column in a scene of ruins?.…” God has given us an exalted standard. The Philadelphia spirit will never be destroyed. The Philadelphians are to be pillars in God’s temple forever.
The Philadelphia era under Mr. Armstrong was a strong Church era. You would expect a peaceful transition of power and a smooth transfer of the “goods” to the Laodiceans. This is how Laodicea becomes “rich, and increased with goods” and has “need of nothing.” Then, if we look at Malachi, Zechariah 3 and 4, and 2 Thessalonians 2, we see a great falling away. The Laodiceans “fall away” from the truth, and many Philadelphians are cast out or leave.
This all assumes that the doctrine of seven church eras is true. It is not. The Waldensians were actually reformist Catholics who condemned tithing. The Church of God (Seventh Day) was actually an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventist Church which refused to recognize Ellen White as a prophetess. The Church of God (Seventh Day) were descended from the Millerite Adventists of the 1830s and 1840s, not from the Seventh Day Baptists. Once one realizes that the church era doctrine is total nonsense it will be completely evident that Gerald Flurry is reasoning from an incorrect assumption.

In other words, this is all nonsense.

***

In the section of Chapter 3 entitled "Sharing God's Throne" Gerald Flurry devotes himself to insisting Revelation 3:21 ("To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne") does not apply to the Laodiceans. He himself remarks that it is in the section addressed to Laodicea. But he cannot believe that God would love these Laodiceans in that way so he insists that it is not what it so obviously is. He vehemently denies that this verse has anything to do with these Laodiceans.
I was puzzled by a Bible verse for years [Revelation 3:21]. But now the understanding is clear to me. ... Why is this awesome reward mentioned after the Laodicean section of Revelation 3? The saints mentioned in this verse are going to share Christ’s own throne, ... This reward is not offered to the Laodiceans. Then why did God include it immediately after the Laodicean story? ... The Laodiceans will NOT be in God’s future headquarters temple, where God’s throne is. God does not promise them that reward anywhere in the Bible. ... It says “if any man,” or any individual, hears the knock and responds, he or she will be led out of the Laodicean Church. ... God is knocking—to a great extent through Malachi’s Message. ... There is no way verse 21 can apply to the Laodiceans.
I reread the relevant section of Revelation 3. I fail to see how Revelation 3:21 could not apply to Laodiceans. How can he say that?

It must be said that Gerald Flurry has just made up his own interpretation and fostered it upon his followers.

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All of the Laodicean churches reject Mr. Armstrong as being the end-time Elijah!
This is complete nonsense. This is a lie. Although LCG may not teach that specific idea, it is often taught among many of the other COG splinter groups that HWA was the end time Elijah.

Why is Gerald Flurry saying something that is so utterly untrue?

***

Considering that PCG members are required to have no contact with Laodiceans, it is astounding that at the same time Gerald Flurry teaches that the Laodiceans are the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation. He also teaches that they will all be slain in the Great Tribulation, even those who chose to "repent." As for the other half who do not repent they will be killed and later be cast into the lake of fire.

Consider that: PCG members are required to shun the 144,000.

***
Now the WCG teaches that “Christ is the central figure of the gospel.” That is tragically unbiblical! Gospel means “good news.” It’s the “good news” of the coming Kingdom of God.
Considering how Armstrongites claim to be Christian it is astounding how so many of them of so afraid of placing too much emphasis on Jesus.

***
The bad news is many of God’s people are not going to a place of safety. Even worse, many won’t be in God’s glorious Kingdom! 
Here again Gerald Flurry crudely intimidates potential converts into believing that they will be cast into the great tribulation unless they join PCG.

***

Chapter 4

In Chapter 4 Gerald Flurry expounds on "his" teaching that HWA and Tkach are the end time fulfillment of Zerubbabel and Joshua from Zechariah 3 and 4. Zerubbabel is portrayed as a good and faithful leader but is succeeded by Joshua, who has ruined Zerubbabel's good works. Here Flurry insists that they were a forerunner of HWA and Tkach. He claims the rise of HWA's group and the Tkach changes were written in Zechariah.

But is this Gerald Flurry's idea? Actually Jules Dervaes taught this idea in his fourth scroll of The Letter to Laodicea, which was written April 28, 1987. This was long before Flurry wrote Malachi's Message in 1989.

Let us now look at the chapter.
Zerubbabel [HWA] did finish it. Mr. Armstrong not only laid the foundation, as we often say today—he built the whole house. When he died, the Philadelphia era was completed. He restored all things (Matthew 17:10-11). No more foundational doctrines need to be added to the house. All we need to do is walk in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps, which is what Mr. Tkach SAID he would do. Primarily, we just need to maintain the “house” and do God’s Work.
If "All we need to do is walk in Mr. Armstrong’s footsteps," then why did Gerald Flurry proclaim himself to be a Prophet? HWA's WCG always taught, from 1953 till the day he died, that Prophets under the New Testament dispensation have no administrative power whatsoever. Their purpose is simply to proclaim the will of God which is revealed to them by direct revelation but now that we have the Bible there is no need to have such Prophets. They were needed in apostolic times because the Bible was not yet finished. That is what HWA's WCG always taught.

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On October 9, 1933, the first radio program in the Philadelphian era of God’s Church aired on a 100-watt station in Eugene, Oregon. The Plain Truth magazine, mimeographed by hand, began in February 1934 with 234 copies. Ambassador College began in 1947 with four students and eight professors. It all seemed so small and insignificant. (Just as the work of the PCG began very small.) But from its small beginning, the WCG grew into a great and powerful worldwide organization.
Here we see that Gerald Flurry is comparing himself to HWA once again and implying that he had the same type of beginning as HWA did in starting up a COG splinter group.

***
The WCG leaders [under Tkach, Sr.,] are rejecting what Christ built through Mr. Armstrong. These leaders have an attitude problem toward what Christ restored through Mr. Armstrong—which means they are rejecting the very government of God. It wasn’t the work of Mr. Armstrong—it was the Work of Christ.
One thing non-COG readers getting drawn into PCG will not know when reading this is that Armstrongite ministers often claim that someone has an bad attitude when trying to bully them.

Also we see here Gerald Flurry using HWA to say Tkach and Co. are working against God into to exploit WCG members' love of God into submitting themselves under Gerald Flurry's rule to pay him three tithes and extra offerings.

***
We must also remember what and how Zerubbabel (Mr. Armstrong) built.
Maybe you should remember his teaching regarding the nature of New Testament Prophets.

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The inset is called a “glaring interruption.” That means it interrupts for an essential reason
No. A glaring interruption just means the interruption of its narrative is quite noticeable. It does not mean there is an essential reason behind it.

***
Mr. Armstrong said people in the 1970s wanted him out of the way; some even wanted him to die. And when it happened, look at the disaster that resulted.
Again, HWA was never in danger of being overthrown. But he decided to remove Garner Ted Armstrong it was necessary to demonize him and accuse him of everything under the sun to make such an act seem necessary to WCG members, many of whom had joined because of Garner Ted Armstrong.

***
The Zerubbabel inset is another way of indicating that Mr. Armstrong is dead. 
Wait. What does this mean? Oh I get it now. Gerald Flurry means that this inset is written from the perspective of one living after HWA's death. Or does it? Why do I need Zechariah to know that HWA is dead?

***
Mr. Armstrong is dead, but we must remember what we learned from him and his example, which was inspired by Christ. We must “remember” and “DO”!
Maybe you should remember what he wrote about New Testament Prophets?

***
We must always keep the overview in mind. Again, there are seven lamps, or Church eras, which are the eyes of God mentioned in Zechariah 3 and 4 (Zechariah 3:9; 4:2, 10). These seven eras extend from Christ’s first coming to His Second Coming. If we don’t keep this overview, Satan will deceive us. 
Once again Gerald Flurry is trying to scare the reader into joining PCG.

Gerald Flurry also claims that he is specifically mentioned in Zechariah 4, that that vision predicts there will be two righteous messengers in the days before Christ's return, HWA and Gerald Flurry.

Let me say again that HWA's WCG never anticipated that there would be a mass falling away from Armstrongism after HWA's death. They did anticipate that some members would because less zealous and this was used to make WCG members conform to ideals that benefited WCG ministers under the threat that to be less zealous is to be cast into the Great Tribulation. But they never anticipated that the leadership of WCG would transform WCG into a non-Armstrongite church. Unfortunately this idea of Flurry's that the Tkach changes and the establishment of PCG in response to that are written in the Bible makes many Armstrongites forget that HWA's WCG never anticipated anything like what happened under Tkach. The Tkach changes were totally unexpected.

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To be continued...

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