With Gerald Flurry's writings I have been noticing a theme. Gerald Flurry takes a book of the Bible and then asserts that it is actually talking about the Tkach changes, the rise of PCG in opposition, PCG members going to a place of safety and all others are cast into the Great Tribulation. I wonder if things will change here.
The name Zephaniah means God hides or God protects. That name carries important meaning. This world is quickly entering a time when the number-one concern will be a “place of safety.” People will need protection from some of the greatest horror this world has ever seen. God promises to protect or hide His loyal people during the Great Tribulation, which culminates with the Day of the Lord. This is very good news. God always provides good news that overshadows the bad news.When mentions "His loyal people" he really means PCG members.
Zephaniah also has much to say about God’s own people—the Church. As God continues to reveal new truth from the prophets, we see that when the Church is mentioned, God is referring to His own end-time Laodiceans, or lukewarm Church, much of the time. In general, the worldly churches are lumped together with the nation of Israel. Zephaniah gives the Laodiceans grave warning concerning the Day of the Lord. (p. 1.)
At last even Gerald Flurry is admitting what everyone who reads his writings know, he is just saying the same thing over and over again. PCG is not flooded with "new revelation", he just recycles the legend of Malachi's Message over and over again.
Actually it is widely known that many of the ideas within Gerald Flurry's booklet, 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.
Flurry starts off by fear mongering that the end of the age will be extremely horrifying.
It is hard for us to get a clear picture of what is about to explode on this Earth. The Revised Standard Version reads, “I will sweep away man and beast” (verse 3). God plans to just sweep away man and animals. The destruction that is coming will far exceed any previous global devastation. God specifically says that He will destroy the fish in the sea. He did not even do this at the time of Noah’s Flood. When this destruction comes, it will be very difficult to find man or beast alive!As is his standard operating procedure he then claims this Book of the Bible (in this instance Zephaniah) is really all about the Tkach changes and the Book of Zephaniah is God ordering people to join Gerald Flurry's PCG and pay him three tithes immediately or else.
Descriptions like this should make us realize what a huge job of rebuilding we will have in the Millennium. Sinning mankind will be punished horribly. After Jesus Christ returns, He will rebuild a devastated Earth. (p. 2.)
We must remember that Zephaniah is an end-time book. The word “temple” in prophecy always refers to God’s Church today. So the temple priests in type must represent God’s own ministry in this end time. God’s ministers have been introducing Baal worship into God’s Church. Have any doctrines of Baal been introduced into God’s Church in our time? Yes! Which ministers have been doing this? The Laodicean ministers!Of course the one exception Flurry speaks of is his own PCG which he founded and leads.
The Worldwide Church of God (WCG) leadership underwent a dramatic doctrinal transformation after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986. The same thing was happening in Zephaniah’s time. God will severely punish His Laodicean ministry for introducing false religion into His Church. Verse 4 is all too descriptive of what has happened in the WCG and all but one of its branches today. (p. 3.)
Of course this all assumes that there really are seven church eras and that they actually refer to Armstrongism. Is that really the case?
God is very angry with His ministers because they pretend that their religion—doctrinal changes and new teachings—are of God, when those doctrines are really rank paganism! ... God’s Church is turning away from Him. This is the sign—the strongest warning sign to God’s Church—that the Day of the Lord is very near. It is a gigantic sign that every member should clearly see. But most refuse to understand. (pp. 3-4.)This alludes to the teaching HWA took from Alexander Hislop's book, The Two Babylons, which asserted that Roman Catholicism was really a revival of Babylonian paganism. Hislop was a Presbyterian minister condemning Catholicism in the 1850s but HWA used his ideas to claim that it is sinful to celebrate many mainstream holidays in order to isolate WCG members from mainstream society and become socially dependent upon WCG.
However The Two Babylons is complete nonsense as memorably shown in The Babylon Connection by Ralph Woodrow. His testimony is particularly noteworthy in that he had previously published a fairly popular book claiming Hislop was correct and was forced to suffer a significant drop in income in renouncing Hislop.
Flurry then goes onto to say that his PCG has a mission from (PCG's) God to warn the Laodiceans that they must join PCG to escape the Great Tribulation.
Who is God using to deliver His message? Is God delivering it personally? No. God always uses men to do His Work. God is warning the Laodicean Church. He is knocking on the Laodiceans’ door (Revelation 3:20). They must respond while God is present. Soon it will be too late. But who is delivering a message telling the Laodiceans to be quiet and listen to God? Who is delivering the message that God is about to consume nearly every person from this planet? We must take this message very seriously! (p. 5.)Flurry then responds to people criticizing PCG for being to harsh. Although he does not mention it directly here PCG's leadership require PCG members to shun contact with members of other COG groups even if they should be close family members. This has been PCG's practice since 2000. Very likely Flurry is obliquely defending his mass shunning policy here.
We occasionally receive letters from people who are upset by what we teach concerning the Laodiceans. Some people say we are too critical and harsh. They feel we do not have enough love for the Laodiceans. But what does God say to the Laodiceans? The Laodiceans’ spiritual lives are so corrupt that God says emphatically, if they do not repent, He will destroy every last one of them! The Laodiceans will be destroyed with the beasts, the fowls of the air and the fish in the sea. God will severely punish these people. To warn the Laodiceans is to show them great love! That is their only hope of escaping this catastrophe.Elsewhere Flurry states that part of "warning Laodiceans" is to have no contact with them and shun them.
What is far worse, 50 percent of them will lose their eternal lives. (p. 5.)
After that he continues to claim that Tkach's WCG has fallen into paganism and that the leaders, including Tkach Sr., are evil.
Then he discusses about how some have left PCG and accuses them of being bitter and not wanting to let God truly rule their lives.
From time to time, people develop problems within the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG). Some people get bitter and leave. What is the root cause of these problems? Often it all gets back to government, or Aaron’s rod. God always wants to know what His people really believe about His government—based on His law. ...In a mind control cult there is no legitimate reason to leave. It would appear that PCG fits that definition of a destructive cult.
God took Mr. Armstrong out of the way in 1986. What did the leaders of the WCG do? Almost immediately, they began to move the Church away from God’s law and government. And many people wholeheartedly support what they have done and are doing.
From time to time, similar things happen within the PCG. Maybe a minister gets sick for a while, or he is visiting another area. God tests His people in these situations. If God notices a bad attitude in a certain area, He may just take the minister away for a while to see what people will do. Do we need some man standing over us, watching us, to ensure that we make it into the Kingdom of God? God wants to know how you and I will react to His government individually—when no human government is present! (pp. 9-10.)
He then mocks the other COG groups and Tkach's WCG for being sentimental in their approach to religion.
Verse 12 perfectly describes the Laodiceans today. Their religion is syrupy and overly sweet. The Laodiceans do much talking about love while they do violence to the Ten Commandments. Oh how they talk about love as they reject God’s government! The Laodiceans can no longer be moved by God. Spiritually, they have become thick like syrup! ...He threatens those who do not join PCG that (PCG's) God will hunt them out and punish them.
If we “settle on our lees” spiritually, our religion is of an inferior quality. We must follow God’s law to produce sterling character. If we don’t follow the law, we become syrupy and overly sweet and lose sight of God’s true religion. (p. 11.)
Verse 12 also describes the tragic attitude of one of the Laodicean churches which teaches that God does not directly lead His Church. What will God do to these people? He will search them out and punish them because they do not believe His prophecies. God is directing His Church and Work! (p. 12.)Flurry of course claims the end of the age is nigh.
We have to deeply understand the urgency of the times we live in! There has never been a time like this! Events are moving along with lightning speed. It seems as though major prophecies are fulfilled virtually every week. God says that time is quickly running out. World crisis is dangerously close and speeding very quickly! Are we heeding this warning? (p. 13.)It has been nineteen years since this booklet was first published. Is nineteen years such an urgently short amount of time? Is nineteen years evidence that "time is quickly running out"? That is nineteen years of "major prophecies [being] fulfilled virtually every week." That is 988 weeks in which "major prophecies" have been fulfilled. Is nineteen years a time of no more delay?
Then Flurry says Satan is trying to get you if you are a believer in the truth taught by HWA. He also alludes to some PCG members who have since left.
At this time, Satan desperately wants to destroy God’s Church. Satan has great wrath toward each one of us individually. We must never relax when it comes to dealing with Satan. He is relentless in his plan to destroy us. Some of our beloved Philadelphia members have fallen prey to Satan. Remember, the devil is as a roaring lion seeking prey (1 Peter 5:8). Let’s be especially careful not to fall short spiritually at this time. (pp. 13, 15.)The wrath of the Day of the Lord (the one year before Christ's return according to HWA) will be very severe according to Flurry.
During the Day of the Lord, God will finally get mankind’s attention. He will devour the land with fire. This means nuclear fire! God will make a speedy riddance of men. The time is coming when our sin-sick world will be gone in a heartbeat. But all is not yet lost. (p. 15.)Flurry says the only way to escape this fate is to join PCG and pay him and his collaborators three tithes and extra offerings. How convenient for him.
Flurry continues to fear monger that the catastrophe is very near. I have highlighted some parts of this paragraph to show some of the fear inducing statements Flurry makes.
For God’s faithful people, this prophecy should help us realize what a critical time this is for God’s Work. God’s people must take advantage of this little window of opportunity. We have to perform great works now, before it’s too late. When I study the book of Zephaniah deeply, I realize that I’m not as urgent as the spirit of this message! I believe that none of God’s people are! We must realize and keep in our minds where we are in prophecy and how urgent these times are. We must make sure to do all we can before, before, before, before the Day of the Lord or the time of tribulation begins for Israel. (p. 16.)Some wonder why PCG members stay there. It is partly because they listen to words like this and believe them. They are indoctrinated to believe that great disaster is coming and only by staying in PCG can they escape it.
"When I study the book of Zephaniah deeply, I realize that I’m not as urgent as the spirit of this message!" Maybe that is why Flurry spent more than PCG's annual income in building Armstrong Auditorium during PCG's "little window of opportunity".
Then at the very end Flurry includes two little paragraphs assuring readers that after Christ returns all will be well. He ends with these words.
There is a time coming when we shall never see evil like we see in our world today. What an awesome future lies just ahead of us. What a time it will be when the whole Earth breaks into singing at the presence of Jesus Christ! Let’s seek God now so we can be there to assist Christ after His return! (p. 17.)However considering HWA's WCG made numerous false prophecies it is very likely nothing will happen because of Flurry's statements.
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22.)So we see that Gerald Flurry has used Zephaniah to once again claim that it is all about the Tkach changes and the rise of PCG in opposition and that great catastrophe is coming and only by joining PCG can one escape it (and conveniently for Flurry any new convert is required to pay three tithes and extra offerings to PCG).
Gerald Flurry simply uses this booklet to induce fear among PCG members and potential converts in order to get more of their money and to keep loyal despite the various grievances they may have, not least Gerald Flurry's requirement that PCG members are to shun "Laodiceans".