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Monday, April 5, 2010

Could an Armstrong-style Movement Begin and Prosper Today?

One Friday night a number of years ago, I had put my son to bed, was working on an icy 16 oz can of Budweiser, and reading an Easyriders Magazine. Spider, as usual, had written an excellent editorial, and in this particular one had opined that if an inventor had just obtained the first patent for a motorcycle today, it was very doubtful that his invention would ever come into production, knowing the government, insurance industry, and the general public's preoccupation with safety. The motorcycle had been grandfathered in from a much more naive, and vastly less sophisticated era in societal evolution, and that and only that was why we still have them to enjoy today.

The fact is, we could probably examine any number of practices, commodities, pieces of machinery, or ideas which we have today, but which were more specific to, and appropriate for times long gone. These relics from the zeitgeist past still exist, but not in the massive numbers in which they once did. Take the oil light, for example. It was totally appropriate for its day, and makes for a nice conversation piece, decorative touch, or auxiliary emergency equipment yet today, but who could be bothered with the sheer messiness, odors, and perhaps hazardous nature of the oil lamp in our modern age? The incandescent light bulb is self-contained, turns off and on at the flick of a switch, is easily regulated for intensity, and is readily available at the local store. Much better!

I am one of the baby boomers, a demographic whose disposable income every manufacturer, every marketer, and every investment counsellor, health care organization, and virtually anyone else who wished to exploit Keynsian economics at its zenith actively solicited. Although I spent the latter half of my youth in WCG, even at that time, I could not fathom how a thinking adult could possibly be so radically indoctrinated into what seemed to be an intoxication based on religious obsessive-compulsiveness (think Philadelphian as opposed to Laodecean). Clearly, the marketing approach of Herbert W. Armstrong was designed for my parents and their contemporaries! These people knew what the Great Depression, Hitler, and World War II were all about, and were just learning about the awful potential of the nuclear bomb. Television might have been a new phenomenon, but radio had been somewhat ubiquitous for several decades. And, of course, we all know the history. Here was a polished, authoritarian voice, seemingly in control of the air waves, warning of a horrible apocalypse which would soon befall all of those who did not repent of their sins, and become part of a small elite group which would be spared from what was soon to occur. Obviously, this technique was both believable, and successful. The booklet "1975 in Prophecy" was freely given, but had it been sold, it most likely would have become a best seller!

Using the same techniques, could a similar group be started, and could it enjoy the phenomenal growth (30% per year) that the WCG once did? I believe that the prospects for such an event would be slim to none. The very concept has been marginalized by a number of external factors, to say nothing of the destructive powers wrought by internal factors specific to that particular group.

Whether or not you personally define Armstrongism (including variants and splinter groups) as a cult, there is today a much greater public awareness of cults and the damage which they do. This was largely unexplored during the 1920s through perhaps the first half of the 1970s. The hip generation explored virtually everything, leading to a much higher level of sophistication. So,
call it cynicism, or perhaps hyper awareness, but the public's current immunity to cults would tend to limit the growth potential of any non-mainstream religious organization, and even make people cautious about the mainstream! Bottom line is, whatever the non-mainstream beliefs happen to be, nobody in their right mind wants to wake up one morning in some compound (or place of "safety"!) owned by the next Jim Jones, or David Koresh. Think this can't happen to an ACOGger? Koresh's movement was actually another offshoot from Adventism!

Let's also examine the topic of fear motivation. This is something which has really come into its own. The World Tomorrow broadcast, and Plain Truth Magazine blatantly and shamelessly created and exploited fear! Today, politicians, environmentalists, conspiracy theorists, and other callers to action have discovered the amplifying qualities of a good dose of fear. How many existential threats do we have today, in addition to the bomb? I believe at last count, the number fell somewhere between ten and twenty. HWA, of course, exploited the bomb, the Germans, and the end times. Later on, GTA introduced environmental concerns into his broadcasts and articles, a passion which he apparently shared with the hippies. Taken in today's context, because of the fear over avian flu, global warming, golden algae, terrorism, horrific disease epidemics, the reversal of the earth's magnetic polarity, fear based preaching is not going to produce the effect it once did. It is a turnoff. Mainstream Christianity recognizes this, and emphasizes God's love and protection, as opposed to deliberately fomenting fear. Subtle difference, but very effective. Perfect love casts out fear. Meanwhile, the Armstrong movement has figuratively shot itself in the foot, destroying its own credibility by continuously setting or approximating dates for the start of the tribulation, or return of Jesus Christ, in spite of Jesus' own words on this topic. It would be downright comical if their actions were not so detrimental to their members' lives, and the lives of the members' innocent children. Yet, time and again, we've witnessed the splinter groups attempting to fan the flames, co-opt the existential threats, and use every tornado, tsunami, or earthquake to cause prospectives to bow to their agenda.

Not everyone who entered Armstrongism was attracted because of the scare tactics. There were a number of people who were attracted because "he teaches from the Bible." I really can't vouch for what mainstream Catholics and Protestants were doing back in our pre-WCG days, because my parents dropped us off at Sunday School while they attended church. But, if TBN,
Christian radio, Internet sites, Barnes and Noble, and Berean Bookstore are a small indicator, it would appear that mainstream Christians of today are doing a much more effective job of documenting their teachings with scripture. The basic problem shared by most Armstrong followers was always that the bulk of them were relative Bible illiterates before HWA began influencing them. Most obtained their entire methodology, logic, and interpretive skills directly from HWA! That is why so many long term members experience such incredible immunity to the works of vastly more educated scholars.

Imagine, prior to the advent of the Internet, how difficult it would have been to check into such things as the so-called lost century of the early Christian church. This is the time period during which a minor character of the New Testament, Simon Magus, a gnostic, had according to Armstrong hijacked the original Christian church and morphed it into Catholicism. Even if a typical working person had been willing to spend countless hours in the public library, how would he have known how to refute this theory? Would he have known to investigate the works of Irenaeus, or even known what an "Antenicene Father" was? Would he have taken the time to read the real history that existed, or simply take HWA's word that there was a lost century? For most of us, when HWA, or his top researchers such as Herman Hoeh lifted a quote from an historical doctrine, ignoring its original context, and creating yet another spurious proof text, we would never have even known what the original work was, let alone where to find it. Footnotes were rarely used to authenticate their contentions. Today, in many cases, all a prospective member need do is to Google "British Israelism" (a common example), and these cults are all finished before they ever get a foothold to begin their dastardly influence.

One of the very wonderful aspects to today's charities and church groups is that they have discovered accountability. There are standards for such things as the loading costs which tend to detract from accomplishing the stated mission of the organizations. The salaries of administrators, one of these loading costs, are held to public scrutiny. It all ends up being good business, and facilitating due diligence, but unfortunately this accountability has been instituted because of past abuses, the reporting of them, and the public's normal and healthy skepticism. This skepticism has been fueled by horror stories regarding expensive art collections, palaces and mansions, sex for hire, thousand dollar dog houses, tithes gambled away in Las Vegas, alleged overseas accounts, and just about every type of fiduciary irresponsibility or mismanagement possible. This accountability, or the lack thereof, factors in very heavily as a potential member considers single sourcing his or her spiritual guidance to one church corporate.

The leaders of Armstrongism, past present and future would probably all give God the credit for the past successes within that movement. Yet, for some reason, none of them seem to be able to completely duplicate that success. Some of the more charismatic ones have attracted significant numbers of the old school, long term members. But, unless you have been prompted as to where to look, the work that these groups are doing is largely invisible. And, they are not growing, at least not on the same level experienced in HWA's heyday. It is not as it once was back in the 1960s when there was tremendous street buzz, and heavy name recognition for both HWA and GTA. Truly, this is a movement which would do well to heed the observations of Gamaliel! Herbert's denials to the contrary, the original WCG was largely based on his personal modifications of Adventism, which as we know today had sprung from the Seventh Day Baptist churches. HWA took a very radical approach, often adapting fringe doctrines from the reject bin of historic Christianity. Most extreme or radical schools of thought cannot be sustained or perpetuated. They die out. Their primary role, when all is said and done, becomes one of either stimulating or influencing the mainstream.



Purple Hymnal said...

"Think this can't happen to an ACOGger? Koresh's movement was actually another offshoot from Adventism!"

And Jim Jones was ordained by GTA....

Purple Hymnal said...

"Their primary role, when all is said and done, becomes one of either stimulating or influencing the mainstream."

Which is why we have, today, Christian Identity (White Supremacy), Messianic Judaism, and "Hebrew Roots" Christianity. None of these terrible things would have ever been considered mainstream, had it not been for the dastardly influence of the church.

As for accountability, there's at least ONE professing Christian sect (no guesses which one it is) that refuses to be held accountable. Surely this would keep the membership at an all-time low, or at least restricted to those still hanging on, in the mistaken belief that it's still "God's True Church".

Unfortunately, as they have almost sucessfully divorced their "denominational leadership" from the individual congregations, while still stealing and squandering 15% of 900 congregrations' donations, and have instead focused their efforts on stealing from and oppressing the vulnerable and poverty-stricken in Third World countries, "Grace Communion International" (formerly known as the Worldwide Church of God) may NEVER be held accountable for its ongoing religious abuses against humanity (no matter how much smaller the group they are still actively abusing is).

Given the ministry's (and, one assumes, the membership's) horrifying apathy towards holding the church accountable, I doubt that anyone will EVER know where the millions Joseph Tkach Jr. (the unelected and self-appointed, infallible Pastor General) has squandered over the years, has gone, and continues to go.

The question that needs to be asked is, if "Grace Communion International" is no longer viewed as a cult by the other professing Christian organizations, despite their ongoing abuses of the membership...could this perhaps mean that their lack of accountability, and internal apathy towards providing typical of most corporate Christian institutions, but it's overlooked, so long as they profess the majority-voted theology?

I think everyone here knows which answer my money's on.....

Ralph said...

In my neighborhood, we have a cult which has made newspaper headlines, called "Word of Faith". Back when I was doing my part as a TV news reporter/cameraman, I interviewed a local congressman about his political agenda and various problems while he visited the "Word of Faith" church. Turns out the congressman was well paid by the ministers who started the cult, and not long before he was voted out.

The cult is pure communism. If you join, you pledge your worldy wealth to the church for future conversions, and you live in a community home, where you are trained to work for various businesses owned by the church, which have been bought from legitimate business owners using money extorted from the members, whose homes have been sold to raise the millions it takes to get control of both business and politics in this area.

Could an HWA style cult happen today? Oh yes.

The reason why such groups are no longer as dynamic as the old WCG, I believe, is that such churches came into existence during the "cog in the machine" industrial era. HWA was largely a break from the very mechanical, ritualistic churches that never questioned origins, but he replaced that form of ritualism with yet another form. His was a niche market that fit the obvious shift from industrial technology to information era technology. His use of the radio was quite effective because radio in its heyday was a kind of tribal drum that raised the emotional level of the listeners, just as Hitler effectively used radio to stoke the emotional fires of a very literate Germany. The Radio Church of God with its "hard sell salvation" and the associated rise of Hitler, was all the message HWA needed to make people think that the world was in need of desperate change, secrets hidden from the world that "you need to know". The tribal drum of the radio brought people to the fireside as in the FDR fireside chats, where the true church shared those secrets hidden from the rest of the world.

GTA, however was rarely gifted to shift from radio to TV, and he had that smooth presentation that made him a kind of TV idol. Had he been able to keep his eyes and other bodyparts to himself, he would have done quite well.

Herb was an ad man. He studied psychology and what people needed to believe. That was his success.

Ralph said...

Oh, and Purple, all corporate religions are false.

The Painful Truth said...

"The cult is pure communism."
Yes, yes, yes!

Don't get me started on health care or the green movement!

Allen C. Dexter said...

It is definitely harder in this information age to pull the wool over people's eyes en masse, but it will never be impossible. Each generation faces it's own perils, and there will never be any lack of opportunists who seek to mimic whoever Paul was as one of the greatest opportunists of all time.

Look at all the deluded people who are falling for the "birther" nonsense.

The would be exploiters have to develop new techniques and doctrines or carefully modify old ones, but homo sapiens is an ingenious improviser. There will always be a searching, naive element in society that is prime fodder for the kind of exploitation Armstrong so brilliantly carried out

Not everyone caught up in the WCG was a young country rube like me. Many had good educations and were successful in the world at large. I worked with Dr. Overton in Letter Answering. He had been a very successful pediatrician before he got hooked. Others had been successful in businesses and many professions.

All it takes is a psychological need some crafty con artist can find a way to fulfill for the same things to happen today. In the final analysis, we were a very small percentage of the overall population and very scattered around the world, but look at the financial impact we added up to for our masters.

Neotherm said...

Byker Bob:

You have given us the whole Armstrongist landscape to comment on.

I have always felt that the principal force behind HWA was the driving need to control. Consider that legalism is really just an attempt to control God. If I do A then you must do B. Recall that HWA was fond of "holding God to his promises".

The Branch Davidians are first cousins to the WCG. David Koresh felt that his mission was to restore the observation to the Holydays to mainstream Christianity. He seemed to have a very dim understanding of the relationship of his bizarre cult to the mainstream.

Fear was used liberally by HWA and GTA to control lay members in the WCG. After all, the principal source of funding for "the Work" was the many small tithes of lay members. Naturally, they would want to main tight-fisted control over this resource.

The Armstrongist card has been played. It is not likely that any of the splinter groups can replay it. Witness Weindland's blatant attempts. But there are other cards to be played. Some enterprising and ambitious type with a penchant for preaching will find a new angle. Cultism is not finished. What goes around comes around.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

It would be impossible to state that Paul or whoever wrote the book of Romans was an opportunist.

There is no way under any circumstances that Paul or whoever it was could have started a cult. His denunciation of any possible choice is too plain, too strong, too insistent.

If we were deceived, we were deceived by our own need to be led, which comes from within ourselves, not from Paul's statements. He logically followed a process of thought fully consistent throughout the New Testament, and neither his teachings nor Jesus' teachings permitted any possibility of anyone claiming to be God's children by our own will.

It's amazing that people insist on that when there simply is no evidence of it.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Some enterprising and ambitious type with a penchant for preaching will find a new angle. Cultism is not finished. What goes around comes around."

Yes, and there are many many many many MANY cults still out there today, in full swing (not all of them Bible-based, I add), and they ALL share commonalities with one another, and with our experiences.

Don't believe me? Do a little reading up on the techniques and beliefs of other cults. They really ARE all alike.

Ralph said...

Of course all cults are alike. Hoffer pointed that out in "The True Believer" back in 1951:

"There are vast differences in the contents of holy causes and doctrines, but a certain uniformity in the factors which make them effective. He who, like Pascal, finds precise reasons for the effectiveness of christian doctrine has also found the reasons for the effectiveness of Communist, Nazi and nationalist doctrine. However different the holy causes people die for, they perhaps die basically for the same thing."

That "same thing" was not identified by Hoffer, but Dawkins and others identified it as the genetic replicative algorithm. Genes seek to replicate themselves, and in doing so, they develop strategies that perpetuate control of the environment as much as possible. This results in what psychologists call narcissism, which is the linear extension of oneself into the environment, and in a religious sense results in the proselytizing zeal.

The "born again" experience that most christian religions teach is little more than an ancient rite of passage that occurs for both male and female at or near the age of puberty.

It is a most effective technique by which the genes may select behaviors via the memes that allow control of the replication process.

As a counter to that "leavening" process, the bible teaches that there are no such decisions we can make that will allow us to organize in God's name. Israel was told not to take part in the leavening of other nations, and Paul taught directly that if you are "christ's" then you are Abraham's seed, born of promise as Isaac: predestined, foreknown, called, and glorified(Romans 8:29-30). There exists no "works", no algorithm, no decision procedure by which we may achieve that status.

Claiming it so doesn't make it so.

Ralph said...

I noticed in the last discussion perhaos some things that would relate to this. Corky points out that the universe is not fine tuned to us. We are fine tuned to it by evolution.

I like evolution. I think it works quite well, and i think I can show direct parallels between biblical teachings, evolution, information theory, and the reasons wh we have such a confusions of beliefs regarding God.

Some people read jesus' statement, "Consider the lilies of the field..."

They then authoamtically think they should not care about anyting, don't bother to wipe their nose or other bodyparts, and simply wait for God to provide.

However, there is another aspect to this. Science, especially emergent biological science has started "considering the lilies of the field" so to speak, by examining interactions among living systems and how they function.

Quantum physics leads us more toward biology that the old linear mechanical principles, and the study of information leads to how systems process information, including epigenetics.

The process of epigenetics has also led to the realization that we may well be descended from a virus, which is something I've believed for 30 years now.

The recent April issue of "Discover" magazine, on the last page writes about how viruses inform organisms and create alterations in our genetic adaptive process.

That same parallel f information operates via Jewish history. Viewing civilization in history as an organism, and israel seeking to incorporate laws that allow it to adapt to various cultures places their entire society in the position of "informing cultures just as a virus informs biological systems. The resultant adaptive process causes a breakup of systems into more individual units.

I can show parallels of this written by those who are not religious in any sense.

What we increasingly see, by our discovery of the "lilies of the field", is a process of intelligence at work, but is so complex that there is no way for any human to capture its full complexity.

Byker Bob said...

CRA (cluster response alert)

Purple: I'd not heard that Jim Jones was ordained by GTA. Was this a tongue in cheek comment that went over my head, or fact that you can further document for us?

Allen: I certainly did not mean for my comments about country people to be taken as negative. Actually, some of the country people that I met at AC were amongst the more educated ones, but had also lived close to nature, giving them a more compassionate quality. I think that much of the cruelty documented on this site came into play following 1975.

Ralph: I agree. No structured church. Christianity is about transformation of the heart and changed lives. The vine, automatically bearing fruit of the quality described in the passages about the fruits of the spirit. We do have some resources to draw upon, those who are more mature and spiritually advanced, but our interaction with them must be voluntary, and only when appropriate. They are not to assume the stance of communist dictator over us all. That ruins a beautiful and wondrous process.

Neo: Criminals are noteworthy for their ability to advance faster than law enforcement. Religious charlatans have shown themselves capable of similar behavior. So, the card we must be anticipating, and on guard against, is one which comes after the Armstrong card.


Ralph said...

"Criminals are noteworthy for their ability to advance faster than law enforcement".

being a "criminal" is generally dependent on what the "law" or the state considers to be criminal. Any act prohibited by the state is generally considered weithin the class of crime, but what is a charge of not wearing your seatbelt, or any number of "victimless crimes"?

I must be a criminal, because I
like to stay ahead of the law! :)

We know that in any criminal case, the accused cannot be made to testify against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, which means the founders must have had some concern with what the law would consider to be crime or "sin" against it.

Did you know that when you, as the accused, in any court proceeding, swear/affirm and take the witness stand, you have automatically waived your rights and granted the judge permission to find you guilty?

In court, you cannot be made to swear or affirm, because all 50 states recognize the sovereignty of God in some form, so either swearing of affirming amounts to the same thing, but they don't tell you that!

However, if you are accused of murder, rape, pedophilia, arson, or theft, they bend over backawards to protect your rights!

Look at the 4th amendment regarding search warrants: " warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by OATH OR AFFIRMATION..."

Have you noticed the Supreme Court has never mentioned that simple phrase in arguing the right to issue search warrants?

Any person who acts in a legal fashion for the state, under oath or affirmation, has waived his rights to due process! That's why the founders put the phrase in the 4th amendment, just in case the courts started issuing warrants suspiciously. If the warrant is falsely issued, we can put their butts in jail.

Search warrants do not grant immunity, and were never intended to do so, but the Supreme Court wants us to keep us ignorant of that fact.

But if search warrants grant immunity under oath or affirmation, then so should oaths grant immunity to those accused of crimes. In the 14th amendment, just under the due process clause, is the equal protection clause:
"nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

You know where these principles of law came from? The bible. The "equal protection and due process" was developed about the 10th century by Maimonides, as a result of OT studies. 4th amendment protections against search and seizure go back 700 years before Magna Carta, to the jewish council of Mainz!

Laws against "corruption of blood" Deut. 24:16.
Right of escaped slave to live in freedom(contrary to the fugitive slave clause), Deut.23:15-16.

Right of property ownership against loan officers: Deut. 24:10-12

Protection against collective laws to control property:Micah 2:5.

Jesus, of course, told us not to swear to anything, and James 5:12:
"Swear not...lest ye fall into condemnation".

Your court system is based on common law that comes from the bible. When you swear in court, you give permission for them to fry your butt.

Allen C. Dexter said...

BB. I wasn't referring to your comment about country people. It never struck me as negative and I had frankly forgotten it.

Con men never give up. As soon as a law or technological difficulty comes into play, they are on the job looking for a way around it or to shift it some way to their advantage. It's just like weapons of war. As soon as an overwhelming tactical weapon comes on the scene, the other side begins to feverishly develop counter measures and weapons. It happened with radar and every other wonder weapon or technology.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Purple: I'd not heard that Jim Jones was ordained by GTA. Was this a tongue in cheek comment that went over my head, or fact that you can further document for us?"

Not CGI, this was during the days when Garner Ted was "the voice of the church". I don't have any links handy, but I recall in the documentary "Purple Haze", it was mentioned that Jim Jones had parted ways with the Worldwide Church of God, and ISTR it mentioned he was involved with GTA in some manner. A bit fuzzy on the connection with Ted, but I know I've seen more than one source that indicates Jones broke away from WCG with "the Peoples Temple".

FWIW, I don't recall them saying he was a higher-up, just your average hireling; much like our present-day version, "Yisrael Hawkins", AFAICT.

If I can find a link to a corroborating source, I'll post it. Hope that helps!

Purple Hymnal said...

"I think that much of the cruelty documented on this site came into play following 1975."

I agree wholeheartedly with this. The more I read of the pre-"get the church back on TRACK!" years, the more I understand just how conservative my upbringing was. You guys were practically the hippies Spanky used to rant about! ;-)

"So, the card we must be anticipating, and on guard against, is one which comes after the Armstrong card."

What are you saying Bob? There's no way in hell (literally, as far as they're concerned) Junior and his pet pastors are going to give up the gravy train, by returning to "the truth once delivered".

And, even if (big big BIG IF) they did change the changes again, that would probably drive their remaining membership DOWN, since all the Christians who converted post-changes and post-whitewashing of the doctrines and the name, would probably head for the hills.

None of the splinter groups are any kind of contender for "replacement WCG" church for, as I told the converted parent, when asked if I wanted to start attending one of the splinter groups, none of them are god's true church. "God's true church" wasn't even god's true church anymore!

That said, guaranteed the splinter groups wouldn't lose their members back to the mothership if Junior decided, this late in the game, to pull an about-face (not gonna happen), because each splinter believes it is the true church.

Not to mention how the church would be vilified by their evangelical bed-fellows, who were the ONLY people the Tkaches wanted on board with the changes. They didn't give a shit about members, and Junior STILL doesn't give a shit about the members.

All that said, on the world stage, WCG/GCI is now a very very small thorn, left in the sides of a dwindling number of us. Their influence and control lessens day by day, and hopefully Junior's carte blanche with both church doctrine and church funds, will soon be taken away from him. I'm not holding my breath, though, as the only thing likely to precipitate that, would be his demise. Junior looks pretty healthy, too, so I daresay that's pretty far in the future, as it stands. And even then, they're going to be small potatoes. I cannot think of one single person, in the last ten years, who I have mentioned the Worldwide Church of God to, who even knew what it was. Hopefully that trend will continue, with "Grace Communion International".

No, far better to focus our efforts on the other, more outrageous (and just as dangerous, if not more), non-Bible-based cults in the world today, IMO.

(Church of Happyology, anyone?)

Byker Bob said...


mala in se: Acts generally recognized in all civilized society as being horribly intrinsically evil. Murder, rape, theft, incest are a few examples.

mala prohibita: Acts which are only "evil" because a piece of paper says they are. Parking overtime or smoking in a no smoking area would be examples.

God gives us the free will to choose good, or evil. He has ordained human authority to police and control the cases where people make the wrong choices.

There are unfortunately nations where God's good is not written into their code of law. I believe that all of us would prefer to live in the nations where they do form the basis of our governance.

Truly, "the invisible things of God are seen...."


Byker Bob said...


Don't even worry about the Armstrong movement. They are so over!!! They just don't realize it yet.

Basically, HWA added some of his own theories, plagiarized theories, and added his personal analysis of world events to an existing package of doctrines. With his marketing background, he gave it just the right punch, and even appeared to believe his own stuff, probably right up until about the time that Loma died. But, this peaked, it has disintegrated, and quite frankly even if we believe that his little group had an endtime commission to preach the gospel, others are now doing this with a strength and power never imagined by HWA. We're talking entire TV networks, Satellite communications, ipods and other electronic devices, and scientific analyses and study of the languages and areas where this has not been preached. The project is being attacked with a vengeance, believe me!

But, what I meant by my comments, is that sooner or later what is bound to happen is that someone will eventually discover new marketing tools or the secrets to once again capture massive attention using some of the Adventist beliefs. HWA's students, and their students will be left out of this, simply because they are stuck. They are under the delusion that if somehow they can obtain massive funding, or media attention, they can revive the whole thing. They cannot. Their gameplan is passe.

BTW, these are my personal opinions, they are certainly subject to revision, and I'm not attempting to force them on anyone. They are based solely on what I see through my own particular world view. I'm not an aspiring guru, and most certainly don't claim any special guidance or divine insights.


Ralph said...

Actually God didn;t ordain the nations to control mala prohibita rules.

The right against self incrimination applies to both civil and criminal cases. It was the early catholic church, in fact, that created the power of civil laws over us, by using inquisitorial law and applying the "oath ex officio" to ensnare us by making us believe we were serving God.

In fact, our "habeas corpus' is absolute, because as Paul said, if you believe in Christ, you are dead to the law, and that means human law as well as God's law, as long as you harm no other.

The "higher powers" of Romans 13 come into play only AFTER we try every other possibility. If you consider jesus' admonition to settle out of court(Matthe 5:25, 18:15-18) that is the only conclusion you can come to regarding Romans 13.

Placing governments over humans by popular vote is no advantage to religions that rule over us in God's name.

When Paine said government at its very beast is but a necessary evil, he was merely agreeintg with Matthew 4, and Luke 4, which says Satan is in charge of all world governments. And how could religions control us, if not by the support of government via tax write-offs and exemptions?

Jefferson was right: WE are the government.

The Painful Truth said...

Byker Bob writes,

"Neo: Criminals are noteworthy for their ability to advance faster than law enforcement. Religious charlatans have shown themselves capable of similar behavior."

The religious charlatans also have to their advantage the tax free status that allows them to play the scam without paying the piper.

"...our interaction with them must be voluntary, and only when appropriate. They are not to assume the stance of communist dictator over us all."

True as to religion and true as to politics. With that in mind I must wonder why so many of the x-wcg'ers are liberals. I believe that they are embracing the religion of liberalism that promotes such things as global warming, European socialism and a host of other movements.

It seems like the former members need another Herbert to lead them and take care of them, tell them what to believe. This is not free thought.

Why do you think Bob that so many x-members shun religion and embrace the liberal political ideology?

Allen C. Dexter said...

As for me, I see more in common with HWA and WCG in the conservatives than in the liberals, one of which I now am after years of voting for the other side because I still had too much of the Worldwide mindset. I hear a lot about "socialism" from people who say things like, "Keep your government hands off my Social Security and Medicare."

Thankfully, Social Security and Medicare, both socialist, were there or my wife, with four heart stents to date, would long ago have been dead and I would most likely be homeless because it takes our two SS checks and her state retirement for us to survive.

I pointed out to a friend who was ranting about socialism that the National Socialists took a prostrate Germany and turned it inot a powerhouse that almost conquered the world in less than ten years. I'm not in favor of all out ssocialism, but there are aspects of it that are needed in this modern world. Even Teddy Roosevelt knew that. So did FDR and to some extent Eisenhauer. Thank him for our wonderful insterstate highways.

Dogmatism in either religion or politics no longer appeals to me. Been there. Done that. Got burned really good, first by HWA,then by Reagan and the Bushes.

Purple Hymnal said...

"With that in mind I must wonder why so many of the x-wcg'ers are liberals."

I'm a Canadian Liberal...but that's a whole 'nother ball of worms entirely to the definition of "liberal" you are discussing here. (Think slightly-tree-hugging, centrist-leaning reasonable blokes, if you can/must.)

Which is, not coincidentally, where I fall out on the political spectrum myself. But I still fail to understand the two-party/two-legislature structure of politics in the US, despite numerous attempts by Americans to explain it to me.

I also can't understand why rich Americans want to deny access to healthcare for their poverty-stricken fellow citizens...some weird form of social eugenics? Or social Darwinism?

That said, I much prefer the UK model of socialized healthcare to ours, which most often resembles a patchwork quilt of failure, long wait times, and staff shortages, and WAY more two-tiered options than there (IMO) should be.

I can still go to any emergency room in the country and be treated (in an actual emergency) for free....The same is true for any walk-in clinic, provided my provincial health-care plan's card has not expired (some provincial plans require a new photo every five years, while some provinces just send you a new card in the mail after X number of years). Each provincial plan is different, i.e., you might get vision and dental coverage in some provinces, and not in others, and the drug plan for each province is staggeringly different enough, that sometimes people move when they get sick, just to be able to get the medications they need, if they can't afford it. Which is where the "patchwork of failure" comes in, and why I think the UK system (while not the best) is at least more universal in its coverage.

THAT said, I haven't had a family doctor since I moved out of my parents' place, and I've never needed one. I may have to wait four to six hours to see one, but at least I can see one (almost) any time I want, for free.

Which is why I just can't wrap my brain around the idea that Americans think socialized healthcare is such a Bad Thing....

Allen C. Dexter said...

Purple, it isn't a bad thing. It's desperately needed, and I don't mean the hodge-podge you've described in Canada. At least, we've got a start now, but the job is far from done.

I forgot to add to my former post that we already have socialism in this country, but it's for Wall Street, the banks and the billionaires and millionaires.

Ralph said...

National Socialists rose to power and almost conquered the world. And killed millions of innocent people who just happened to get in the way.

I'm not justifying the US, because I'm a Lysander Spooner type person(Constitution of No Authority).

As to Medicare and Medicaid, a number of people tried to warn us back when it all got started that we would end up with unaffordable health care for simple economic reasons. When the government subsidizes anything, it drives out all competition. When I was 19, I went in for a "turn-your-head-and-cough" physical exam, and it cost me ten bucks. Five years ago, I went in for exactly the same type, and it cost 230 bucks, with no bloodwork, and they lost my urine sample!

Suppose the government decided to subsidize only restaurants. Eveyrbody would start eating there, and groceries would not be needed, since they would all sell to restaurants. Employees from other trades or jobs would start working at restaurants because business was guaranteed, and pretty soon, famers can't supply enough, prices go up. Restaurants stat charging more because there is no competion see where it goes, same as Medicare and Medicaid.

Free medical exams? Ever hear of TANSTAAFL? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. You ALWAYS pay the price in one way or another.

Bush was a moron. I warned people for the last 6 years of his presidency, and started liquidating all my debt and investing in gold, which has rewarded me well. You can't run "guns and butter", along with guaranteed loans for bad risks and the create "money' based on bad mortgages AND cut taxes. Won't work, never has, never will.

Socialized health care? Who pays the taxes? Corporate conglomerates? Yeah, right. Every penny they pay in taxes, they simply add the cost to the products YOU buy from them. Why not just call us the United Corporations of America, cause that's exactly what you're doing.

Reagan preached free enterprise, but government grew by leaps and bounds. Paul Volcker had the right idea by raising interest rates to give more value to money, but small businessmen went out of business, and corporations bought them up for pennies on the dollar.

Who was the last president to keep the budget under relative control? Jimmy Carter(and I'm a registered republican!)

Folks, you want to talk economics? I was editor/publisher of a worldwide economics discussion group before there was an internet. My little newsletter included PhDs and professors as well as housewives and farmers, and it even went behind the Iron Curtain when there was one. People actually smuggled letters out to me.

I can tell you about socialism and communism.

Church and state are just two heads of the same devil, and we will be free when we take control at the bioregional and community level.

Ralph said...

BTW, wasn't there some guy named Herb something or other who promised a lot of FREE stuff?

"Send for your FREE booklet!"
"Send for your FREE Correspondence Course!"

Was it really free? Aren't we still paying the price for that one?

Really think there's such a thing as a free lunch?

Allen C. Dexter said...

Lunch is never free. There's always a cost. You can't operate as a ponzi scheme without getting into the kind of situation we're in now. Cutting taxes for the wealthiest and paying for obscenely expensive programs with manufactured money gets a nation into the mess we're in right now. It also results in the top tier going from getting 30 times as much remuneration as the average person to over 300 times as much. That's HWA type thinking and practice.

I really don't know how to straighten out the mess, but this situation can't go on forever. It's getting very similar to Czarist Russia, and we all know what happened there.

Neotherm said...

"Corky points out that the universe is not fine tuned to us. We are fine tuned to it by evolution."

That doesn't work as an argument. The tuning we are talking about is not something that simply influences the course of evolution -- something that operates within a small window. It is rather the configuration of the universe that permits life at all.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

First, get rid of the Federal Reserve Board, then stop printing money that is based on interest. You're right, it's a Ponzi scheme, but guess what? The bible told us not to do that a long time ago. It called usury an abomination, and in Nehemiah 5, we see directly what occurs from usury.
Habakkuk 2:5-6 speaks about governments that use pledges, as in pawn, or mortgage "that increaseth that which is not his".

That's exactly what almost caused the recent collapse; "pledges" that were bad risks, actually used as "value" to create the next round of money, and "Fannie" and "Freddie" were in big trouble.

It's easily explained. If I borrow a hundred thousand dolars at ten percent interest, I am loaned the hundred thousand by a simple keystroke that "creates money". But the ten percent interest is not created.

This works fine as long as people are borrowing, the economy is doing great. The ten percent I owed is paid back by the next round of loans.

But once a million dollars is loaned out, a hundred thousand must be repaid in interest, and that is nowhere created by the banks, which means that if loans stop, the system is shorted a hudred thousand dollars, which means those at the "tail end" get the shaft. Like musical chairs, somebody is forced out of the game.

In this fashion, no matter how much money is created, there is always a shortage, which means that any sudden stop causes a massive collapse.

The very system that caused it now can go and tell the people, "give up some of your freedom, and we'll guarantee your security!"

After so many rounds of this, the system is "too big to fail".

Simple stuff.

Byker Bob said...

Painful Truth,

This is in response to your question about ex-WCG members shunning religion and assuming a liberal posture. There are probably as many answers to that as there are individual people. We'd need to take a survey to be able to see if there is one major trend.

However, answering purely for myself, I'd have to say that part of WCG indoctrination involved systematically destroying our trust in everything which could be an influence in our lives that did not come from WCG. And, most of us took their word for it. I had trust issues for many years following my exit. We'd been told that other teachers did not have the truth, were insincere, ignored plain evidence which contradicted their approach, and were not looking out for our best interests, but were consumed totally with self interest. This ended up being another case where the accusers were more guilty of their accusations than the accused. It often takes years of study, and trust rebuilding to get past this. Even today, although I attend a non-denominational Christian church, I'm very guarded about my levels of trust, belief, and level of participation.

The Republican Party, and particularly the conservative wing, have been seen as the law and order party, the personal responsibility party, the rich man's party, and the war party. WCG was a paradox, in that while they acknowledged that Christians are ambassadors for Christ, and not of this world, for some reason they embraced conservatism. They'd tell us America had won its last war, and then HWA would proudly recite historical tales about Teddy Roosevelt's warrior type activities. You'd have thought that Israel were the Ambassador College basketball team, the way the church would root for them in war situations! The not too subtle message was that if we were allowed to be involved in politics, the Republican party would be the only correct choice. Evangelicals have also bought into this, with Pat Robertson even having run for President!

Ex-WCG members probably see conservatism as having been an integral part of what WCG stood for. I'm sure that some become liberal as a result of careful consideration of issues, but it's also probable that many take up the liberal position just as a kneejerk reaction against their WCG experience.

Today, I consider myself as being one of the NoTW set (not of this world). This does several things for me. The most important one is that it frees me up from all of the scare rhetoric coming from both political parties. The second thing that it does is to allow me to objectively consider not just an entire party line, but each individual issue. When I left WCG, I was part of the rock n roll culture for many years, avidly reading Rolling Stone Magazine, and often listening to the commentary of FM radio personalities. I was totally pissed when Ronald Reagan was elected President, for many reasons. I didn't appreciate his leadership and ideals until about the middle of the 1990s. By that time, I had finally begun to see the logical conclusion of some of the liberal policies and ideals, and swung over to just right of center in many of my outlooks. Basically this was a function of my convoluted learning process. And, by the way, I didn't need to give up my rock n roll, because we've got the Nuge!

There was also quite a bit of repression in WCG, particularly of teenagers. I suppose that a number of baby boomers who were raised in the church were angry that they missed out on being hippies, and have spent the entire rest of their lives making up for it.

Hope that helps!

Ralph said...

BB, you remind me of somethng i read from James Madison the other day:

"A standing military force, with an overgreown executive, will not long be a safe companion to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have always been the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

Against that, we have 2 Peter 2:19which says that while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption. For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved."

Religion once kept a "standing army" to fight the devil. Israel, the new nation under attack, was to be defended because they were "God's chosen people".

Not only that, but the US and Great Britain WERE children of Israel! :)

We were almost overrun by North Korea and Vietnam, and now "terrists" are going to come over here, so we got to kill them over there.

"Guns and butter", the shortcut to enslavement.

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...
I attend a non-denominational Christian church,

Why? Even though Paul said something about not forsaking the assembly - it was a different assembly than you will find today.

Since Jesus and the apostles said that "the end of all things" was soon, at hand and shortly and they were living in the last days 2,000 years ago, why worry about it now?

If they were telling the truth, the end already happened and it's over with and the "short work" is done.

If they were mistaken it is still over with and of no consequence.

Byker Bob said...


If that works for you, I'm happy for you. You wear your X and I'll wear mine! (LOL)


Byker Bob said...


It's like the old Bob Dylan song: "You've got to serve somebody....."

Quite honestly, we're all slaves in some way or other. As the quintessential example, we're all slaves to air! The best we can do is to exercise whatever decision making skills, control, or tools that might be within our grasp to make sure that our particular form of slavery is tolerable. If not, you vote with your feet.


Ralph said...

BB, you and Corky bring out a point in tandem. Jesus said the kingdom of God was at hand, and in fact it was at that time, and it is now.

It wasn't about "signs' and it wasn't about waiting for Jesus to come again, so much as it was about practice of law which brings freedom, here and now.

Jesus did fulfill it, and we are able to look anyt judge today straight in the eye and tell him, according to law, that we don't have to take his crap.

Studies into ancient law and the ideas of the founders demonstrate this clearly to me.

I recently sent a letter to the editor of the local paper and challenged the judges to show me what power they had. I said i was calling their bluff, and I wanted to see their authority from law, not from large uniformed men with guns.

Haven't seen it published yet. I sent another LTE challenging their law on search warrants and the 4th amendment, and showed why the Supreme Court's interpretation was totally backwards from the intent of the founders. Still waiting for that one.

The simple fact is, the emperor has no clothes, and when the govco doesn;t have legitimate authority, they rely on storm troopers with smoky hats.

Personally, I got my fill of smoky hats at Parris Island.

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph said...
"Church and state are just two heads of the same devil, and we will be free when we take control at the bioregional and community level."


Bob, Good answer. I agree with your premises. Pat Robertson is and was one goofball that would have lead us down the road of a theocracy no doubt. Just imagine what Herbie would have done or said if he was allowed to take office.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Today, I consider myself as being one of the NoTW set (not of this world)."

So you've fallen hook, line, and sinker, back into very Armstrongist mindset that you, only a few comments upthread, declared "so over".

Of course, you're now going to justify this by saying you're "the right kind of Christian", so that makes xenophobia and self-isolation all OK.

At least, that's how your comment reads to me.

Purple Hymnal said...

"The best we can do is to exercise whatever decision making skills, control, or tools that might be within our grasp to make sure that our particular form of slavery is tolerable."

Or, one can choose to never be a slave, ever again. And saying we are "slaves" to oxygen, is completely misusing the concept of slavery.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Just imagine what Herbie would have done or said if he was allowed to take office."

Not that he ever would have. "Man-made government" and all. "Vain men are they/delighting in craft..." yadda yadda yadda.

Purple Hymnal said...

"You wear your X and I'll wear mine! (LOL)"

Corky isn't "marked out" or "special in the eyes of God", Bob. Neither am I. Most especially are we NOT "marked with an X" by YOUR god.

You might wish it to be thus, but your god has no power or control, over anyone outside of your own mind -- and you've amply demonstrated by your last few remarks that you've convinced yourself that slavery and xenophobia is what your god wants from you.

Really, it's what your subconscious wants from you, Bob. Now why do you suppose that is?

Anon said...

BB said: "Christianity is about transformation of the heart and changed lives."

Bob, All I hear over recent years from you is evangelizing about Christianity. Transform your own heart and shut up about it.

It is arrogant/ignorant to consider your interpretation of the Bible and even the existence of God / Jesus is true.

Yet you keep preaching. Sigh.


Ralph said...

What's really funny about this is I find myself agreeing more with Purple than with Bob. I had the same thought as purple, when Bob wrote of being a slave to oxygen.

You really don't need to be a slave to anything, and your friendly neighborhood courtroom is scamming you big time.

They scam you by letting you "swear or affirm". If you don't believe in God, that's okay, you can affirm. Know why? because by law, they must have your mermission to prosecute. You have the ancient right against self incrimination, and you don't have to admit guilt in any courtroom. That's due process of law, and if you look at the definitions of due process, something very interesting comes out:

There's no mention of a judge anywhere! Judgement by peers, or IOW, arbitration with reasonable people in your community, and if they don't have time for it, you can walk. That is due process.

There's no mention of judicial review in the Constitution, and with good reason: there's no mention of judges in due process, only peers. That means we, you and I, decide what's "due process' and we CANNOT seek vengeance. The Supreme Court? They're telling you outright lies.

Recently, they ruled that you could swear on the Koran if you wished. They wouldn't care if you swore on a Spiderman comic book as long as you recognized their authority over you. They can threaten and intimidate and bluster, but they have no power whatever to declare you guilty if you do not accept their authority over you.

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...

If that works for you, I'm happy for you. You wear your X and I'll wear mine

The point is, Bob, that it doesn't matter and will do you no good to be a member of a church. If God exists, the work is done (according to Paul when he said it was a "short work"). If they were all mistaken, then it flat out doesn't matter because it was all a lie.

Either way, you're left out.

Second point: You do not have to belong to a church to believe what you choose to believe anyway - so why do it? Is it because you just want to spend money or because you think that will get you brownie points with the Almighty?

Anon said...

Corky said:

"The point is, Bob, that it doesn't matter and will do you no good to be a member of a church. If God exists, the work is done (according to Paul when he said it was a "short work"). If they were all mistaken, then it flat out doesn't matter because it was all a lie."

That is only applicable if the biblical god is the god that exists. Mankind has created thousands of gods, so the chance that the biblical god is the right one is statistically and realistically insignificant.


Ralph said...

Anonseven21, Corky makes worthwhile points. Not only do you not have to belong to a church to believe what you believe, but direct statements from both Paul and jesus say you can't make the correct choice anyway. Therefore, as Jesus said, "If any man says to you Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not".

Paul, of course plainly stated that there exists no possible decision procedure by which we can correctly make such decisions.

Which leaves is with your statement of the God of the bible being the possibly correct one.

Since there exists no possibility of making such a choice as Paul and jesus clearly show, then the "God of the bible" would be the very God you have no way of chosing anyway. That makes Paul's statements logically correct however you argue it.

Since no such choice is possible, and since both paul and jesus agree with that fact, then all that matters is the truth of their statements, which are not dependent on the proof of any god's existence.

Your conclusion is logically irrelevant. By the conclusions of both Jesus' and Paul's teachings, you certainly can choose to believe in God, but there is no process by which you can prove that you either have the true God, or if there is a God. The very best you can do is to believe, and that, with about a buck and a half, will get you a fair cup of coffee.

Byker Bob said...


There are people in the ACOG splinters right now, as we speak, who are beginning to entertain thoughts of leaving. Perhaps they have a problem with three tithes, or are questioning the fact that their fearless leader has ordained himself as an apostle or prophet. Right now, some of them might be taking that fearless step of getting on the internet (forbidden by their minister), and seriously looking for solutions.

Now, put yourself in their place. They love their God, and they love Jesus Christ. Suppose they visit the Painful Truth website. Do you honestly want them to be scared to death, and to have an internet experience that convinces them that their ACOG minister is correct when he tells them that anyone who leaves "God's True Church" will enter the bonds of Satan, rejecting God? I sometimes shudder when I think of all the people I and others may have literally scared back into the ACOGs through some of our posts in the past. In our defense, we all certainly thought we were doing the right thing.

I respect what James is trying to do through this site. He's trying to promote healing. He's also concerned about outright preaching, and even you must be able to see that I've exercised some restraint in my posts. But, if more ACOG people are to be helped, we simply can't let atheism appear to be the only solution. You guys scare a lot of people, especially the family people who realize that their decisions are going to impact their children.

I apologize if my belief makes anyone uncomfortable, but people with the courage to post are only the tip of the iceberg on this blog. This site is bigtime, with high visibility.


Allen C. Dexter said...

BB, I agree that this site is bigtime and getting bigger. It's also true that Openmindedness and a less confrontational approach will scare fewer people away before they look at the facts and cautions we present.

There's a danger in getting so set in one's own opinions that we get just as unyielding and dogmatic as our former cultic overlords and start condemning each other for sincerely held opinions that arose out of our unique experiences and thinking processes. Sometimes our anger at being so deluded and misdirected for so long can lead us into being somehting close to what we now condemn.

Purple Hymnal said...

"That is only applicable if the biblical god is the god that exists. Mankind has created thousands of gods, so the chance that the biblical god is the right one is statistically and realistically insignificant.

Agreed 100%! Just do a little reading about Hinduism, if you don't believe me! (Fascinating religion. Far more interesting and intellectually-absorbing than Christianity.)

Purple Hymnal said...

"You guys scare a lot of people, especially the family people who realize that their decisions are going to impact their children."

Charming. I "scare a lot of people", Bob? Really? Really? Do I "scare a lot of people" because I insist on truth, integrity, and moral behaviour? Is that really so scary to "a lot of people"?

Pull the other one, Bob, it's got bells on!

Purple Hymnal said...

Huh, no mention of Worldwide on the Wikipedia article for Jones. But I'm almost positive the church was mentioned in "Purple Haze".

Jones did get his start in a SDA Baptist church, though, so like Koresh's Davidians, we are first cousins on the SDA family tree, to The Peoples Temple.

We are only fortunate that Armstrong had the foresight to realize that dead men can't pay tithes. Hopefully the other splinter leaders are following the same (gravy) train of thought.

Anon said...

BB said

"I apologize if my belief makes anyone uncomfortable, but people with the courage to post are only the tip of the iceberg on this blog. This site is bigtime, ...."

I acknowledge that you have toned down some of your rhetoric, unlike Ralph who just can't help but quote yet another scripture...

But, you are supporting belief in supernatural beings based on nonsensical evidence. Really just encouraging people out of one cult into another. Hearing you talk about being not of this world was just like the talk of the wcg cult members of old (and probably of new).

I don't profess to be an atheist, I'm not saying there is no chance of there being any god. But, if you are going to profess faith for the christian god, you have to do better than you are.

As far as the blog being big time, don't get ahead of yourself. Any blog with a big picture of someone as irrelevant as HWA on the front page will be ignored by all but a very few people.

My position is that I'm no longer a believer in the christian fable. The scriptures that believers keep using to justify things like healing and faith just don't work. I struggled with them when I was in the church. So, if there is a voice saying, hold on a minute, the fables are just that, it may not be so scary, but actually reassuring.

I have found happiness and contentment out side of christianity that I never found within it. If others hear that, it will scare some, but it will also give others the idea to think maybe their doubts aren't so silly after all.

Speak the truth, not fable.


Allen C. Dexter said...

Purple, thanks for bringing up the connection of Jones to the SDA phenomenon. It's amazing how many extreme cults trace back to that theological miscarriage. In my opinion, all churches are somewhat cultic, but most are now much more benign.

We were very fortunate to have fallen for WCG rather than one of those other extreme groups. It messed up our lives, but most of us survived long enough to come to our senses and get out. Those who came down with serious illnesses often weren't that lucky.

Ralph said...

Anon seven 21, if you have troubkle with my quoting scripture, let me repeat myself for the zillionth time: prove me wrong. Put up or shut up.

Prove me wrong. You can't, you know it, and you know I'll pin your ears back if you try. Act like you got some, dude.

Byker Bob said...


When I read your initial comment, it made me wonder what your thoughts might be as to how I ended up being guest editor for April.

It seems unimaginable that you'd think that somehow I'd hacked on here illegally, and was hijacking the blog. Or, had in some way misrepresented my intentions to James and subsequently began some sort of not too clandestine sabotage.

Actually, there were emails exchanged, and mutual agreement that it might be potentially beneficial for a certain type of experience to be shared here. Something that has not been before. Sharing is my goal, not arguing or defending, and certainly not ramming things down people's throats. I don't want to see it degenerate into an "us against them" type of verbal battle.

By the way, is that you, Nick? If so, I've been expecting you!


Purple Hymnal said...

Apropos of absolutely nothing at all (innocent look), has anyone here read Gavin's excellent paper -- on Paul and the Pastorals?

Here is a similar paper by Darrell J Doughty, which states in part: "A good while ago I was ready to write my book on the theology of Paul. It should have been easy. ... But this turned out to be very difficult. The problem had to do with the initial and basic assumption concerning the source."

Also of interest (to me, at least, for no particular reason whatsoever) is The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles by Hermann Detering has some interesting points to make as well, chiefly: "In W. G. Kümmel's well known Introduction to the New Testament we only learn that there is a theological school at issue here whose representatives denied the authenticity even of the Apostle Paul's so-called Principal Epistles in order to interpret them as deposits of antinomistic movements dating from about 140 C.E."

The timeline on Early Christian Writings tends to agree.

Just thought I would post these links. No real reason. Maybe I was "inspired"?

Purple Hymnal said...

"When I read your initial comment, it made me wonder what your thoughts might be as to how I ended up being guest editor for April."

Funny, I don't get that impression from the comment in question at all, Bob. I will note, however, that you have deftly managed to completely evade his questions to you in the first place, namely to prove that YOUR god is, in any way, shape or form, outside of and separate from your own ego.

You're acting rather slippery, for someone who has "discovered the ultimate truth", don't you think Bob?

Anon said...

Ralphs said: "Prove me wrong. You can't, you know it, and you know I'll pin your ears back if you try. Act like you got some, dude."

I can't get past the fact that my brain just plain switches off when you start quoting scripture after scripture to prove your point.

I find it ironic to find such behavior on a blog that deals with the painful past we had in WCG, a place where sermon after sermon quoted scripture after scripture, just like your posts.

I can imagine the howls of protest I'd get if I started quoting from Alice in Wonderland or Dr Suess to prove a philosophical point about the existence or otherwise of god, yet you keep doing so from a very similar book of fables.

The purpose of my criticism of your quoting of scriptures wasn't to prove you wrong but to advise that for some of the audience of this blog (possibly only me) it invalidates what you are saying. When I've tried to pay attention to what you are saying with your scriptural quotes, I think maybe there is some of it I agree with, but I just can't get past the reaction I have to excessive quoting of scripture.


Ralph said...

Anon, the fact that your brain switches off when I quote scripture is your personal problem, not an indication of truth.

As I've shown from Godel's theorem, the brain doe not naturally register truth. And guess what? TRhat's what Paul said in Romans 8:7, which makes it true.

Therefore, if your brain switches off when you hear the bible quoted, that describes your unwillingness to consider poits of truth, but in now way reflects on the truth or falsehood of the bible.

Anon, let me see if I can use small words and write simply for your benefit.

You are entitled to your opinion. I will not challenge you on that, I will respect you the same as I respect Allen. But you are NOT entitle on this form to attempt to censor someone else's statements simply because you have decided in advance it cannot be so.

I like the statement attributed to Voltaire, but I doubt if I'd do it. he said (paraphrase)"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

Anon, I will defend your right to say whatever you believe, but I will challenge any presumed right you claim to censor what I say or write simply because you don't agree.

The logical and correct way to "shut me up" is to simply prove me wrong, which you have completely avoided, mainly because you can't.

I'm sorry that you have the reaction you have, but if you're going to challenge me on any point, then do so, and quit tryimng to censor my statements with ad hominem and unfonded accusations.

The fact that you wish to compare the bible with Alice In Wonderland does not make it so. But I remain in the position that I will defend your right to believe that, as long as you allow me the right to demonstrate what I believe, and let the others decide based on their own thinking minds.

Ralph said...

One other thing, Anon, your comparison to my quoting scripture after scripture with the WCG doing the same is irrelevant. The relevant question is, can i show what i say to be correct? Answer, Ywes, I can and I have, evren by showing mathematical parallels.

Quoting the bible was not what caused your pain. Seeking to reduce the bible to that which you could control and regulate by your own beliefs is what caused your pain.

We were all suckered into HWA's trap because we want to see things in simple black and white. Herbert said all the rest were wrong, so we placed him in the 'default' position. "Well if everyne else is wrong, then HWA must be right!

It's a simplt psychological ply, and its used by SDA, JW, Mormons, and most any other such religion.

All you have learned in your experience with HWA, is that the only true "default" position, is you, yourself, amnd if you and i had been able to look at Jesus' and Paul's statements, from scriptures I quioted, we could have spared ourselves the suffering and perhaps spared others.

The bible didn't cause your suffering. The bible plainly warned against your need to follow the leader, whether you like to believe that or not.

Corky said...

Ralph said...
Anon seven 21, if you have troubkle with my quoting scripture, let me repeat myself for the zillionth time: prove me wrong. Put up or shut up.

You are wrong because you quote Rom. 8:7 out of context:

Rom. 8:7 "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

But, you leave off that he goes on to say: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit . . ."(v.9).

You also ignore what he says above your Rom. 8:7 quote: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (v.6)

Then he, more or less, sums it up right here:
Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Then you yank Matt. 24:23-26 out of context and leave off the next verse that says: "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."(v.27).

Which shows that Jesus is talking about his return and for his followers to not be deceived by preachers (such as the Mormons and JWs) who claim that Jesus has returned in secret to them.

Then you ignore that Jesus instructed his disciples to preach the gospel and baptise in his name.

You are doing the same thing Armstrong did, yanking texts out of context to make it say what you want it to say.

In Romans Paul is talking about being saved by the spirit of the word of God. It has nothing whatever to do with the stuff you have been talking about.

Happy now?

Corky said...

PH, the epistles of Paul are not quoted by any of the church fathers until after the advent of Marcion of Sinope.

How would anyone today know that Marcion did not write those epistles himself?

Of course, the pastorals are known by most biblical scholars as being pseudo-pauline and written long after the time-line for any Paul who may or may not have existed.

Ralph said...

Well, your finally getting somewhere. Let's take a look. We've done this before, but let's look at context. It would seem you just stopped short of the very next statement:
"IF so be that the spirit of God dwell in you..."

If your mind is natural, and if enmity against god, how would you know "if so be" and then prove it to someone else? Couldn't do it.
If you can, you're welcome to try.

"But to be spiritually minded is life and peace". Where's the contradiction? First, you would have to define for me what "spiritually minded" is, and if we all have natural minds that are enmity against God, we would quite logically end with the 38,000 flavors we have today.

Next, you point out Romans 8:13 and 14. Who exactly lives after the "spirit"? Again, definitions would lead to exactly the division we see above.

Verse 14: Who exactly is led by the spirit of God? You have to provide a definition, and you haven't done that. TRhat's because it can't be done, and if it could, we wouldn;t need over 38,000 versions. Your argument so far fails miserably.

Okay, Matthew 24;23-27. No need to follow anyone claiming to be Christ or saying "here is Christ". Verse 24: You can be deceived by signs and wonders, and since you have a carnal mind that is not subject to God, how are you going to tell which is which? Best to do exactly as jesus said in verse 23. Don't follow any opf them.
So, we're at 26: Here is Jesus saying pretty much the same as he said in verse 23. Wherever men tell you Christ is, don;t believe it.

And now 27: "For aas lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the son of man be".

I haven't seen anything like that, have you? And in the meantime, is there any reason to follow anybody? DUH.

Then we see that jesus instructed his disciples to preach the gospel and baptize in his name. First, that's been challenged by good ol' Bart Ehrman, but let's say it;s true, that jesus did indeed do that.

What "gospel", exactly, would he tell them to preach? Maybe that they're free? Maybe that they shouldn;t follow any man who said he is Christ?

Of course jesus is telling his disciples not to believe those who say he has returned in secret. But if you look at the verse, there's no qualifications, like, "don;t follow anyone EXCEPT...".

"If ANY MAN(boy,girl,woman) says to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not".

Simple logic. If your mind is carnal and enmity against God, anyone who claimns to represent Christ or be Christ would be impossible to determine. I merely quoted the scriptures as they were wrote. You interpreted them.

Next, you point out that Paul is talking about being saved by the spirit of the word of God. Well, define the spirit. If you can, you got me, but you can;t, and neither can anyone else, so we have, (tada!) over 38,000 versions of christianity.

So, I will even concede that I am "yanking scripture out of context". You know what that proves, don't you? Exactly what I've been saying, that there are no authorities that can represent god and prove it, and that is exactly what Paul and jesus taught.

Since there can be no agreement, since there is no proof, obviously there can be no decision procedure to "choose Christ", no way to get from "here" to "there" and no need to follow any person claiming to represent Christ, which is what Jesus told us.

I'm even more happy now, since you've proven my point. Thanks.

Ralph said...

Again, Corky, the time-line would be irrelevant, since there's no deicsion procedure thast will get you there anyway. The statement would be true in any case.

Anonymous said...

"But, if more ACOG people are to be helped, we simply can't let atheism appear to be the only solution. You guys scare a lot of people, especially the family people who realize that their decisions are going to impact their children."

When I was leaving Armstrongism, it was atheism that offered me the best hope of a peaceful and sane future. The doctrinal arguing of the religionists is what woke me up to the fact that there is no god.

This site was helpful to me in my exit from Armstrongism and finally religion. I am so glad to be free from religious delusions!

Thomas Munson

Purple Hymnal said...

"Prove me wrong. You can't, you know it, and you know I'll pin your ears back if you try. Act like you got some, dude."

Yeah, that's not an ad hominem attack, nope, nuh-uh, nosirree, what ad hominem attack, don't see none of that here, nup.

(that was sarcasm BTW)

Purple Hymnal said...

"Anon, the fact that your brain switches off when I quote scripture is your personal problem, not an indication of truth."

Yet another ad hominem attack, with a side-helping of victim-blaming thrown in.

Biblical scholarship conducted over the past hundred years adequately supports both Anon's and my contentions, that the Christian canon is wholly incomplete, badly-mistranslated, and totally out-of-context for the world and society that we experience, here and now and today. (Even the "scientific" passages in the Tanakh are examples of bronze age thought, completely disproven by the science of today.)

We just want you to think outside of the very narrow box that the canonical Christian text restrains its worshippers to (for you are, indeed, acting as a bibliomancer here Ralph), and not for the better.

Especially when the texts are placed in their appropriate context, which is a small portion of a larger library now lost to us, amidst the vast collection of other Middle Eastern literature of the time, including Mandaean, Manichaean, Judaic (Kabbalah), Hindu, and Buddhist.

You come so close, in saying that all religions are false; but where you miss the mark is acknowledging the fact that your own, personal religion is false as well --- false for everyone else but you, that is. And we circle around to the reality tunnels concept once again.

You can still be a believer, and let go of your Bible-worship, Ralph; have you heard of panentheism?

Panentheism (NOT "pantheism", note the extra syllable) is, in my opinion, the closest thing to the church's concept of the Holy Spirit that is present, in this universe that we find ourselves in.

Does it exist? I would like to think so, but I have no evidence for that, either subjective or objective, so for the time being, I think of it as an interesting concept, and nothing more.

My rather long-winded point is this: We want you to broaden your horizons, Ralph. There is a vast and fascinating universe out there, beyond the narrow confines which you have set out for yourself.

If you choose to remain in your own small, blinkered version of reality, wrapped in the clouds of your comfortable dogmas, that is your choice. Unfortunately, it is impossible, by the very nature of your particular reality tunnel, for anyone to join you there. Or even attempt to meet you halfway, as most of us here have tried, repeatedly.

Purple Hymnal said...

"It's amazing how many extreme cults trace back to that theological miscarriage."

Weeeeelllll, to be perfectly honest, I side with Dennis in that respect; to wit, I don't think it was the theology of the church in and of itself that was overtly-flawed, rather it was the implementation of same. Especially, as we have discussed in another post, after 1975 during the "back on TRACK!" days.

(When I say "theology" I'm referring here to the binitarianism, and the Holy Spirit viewed as an elemental force, not British-Israelism and tithing, both of which were purely manipulative thought-reform tactics, and NOT "theology", no matter how much Herbie tried to push them as "God's way".)

I find myself with less and less patience for Christian trinitarianism, as time wears on, and I only wish the church had not been a massive ponzi scheme, pulled off by a sociopathic child-abuser with a drinking problem.

Purple Hymnal said...

"How would anyone today know that Marcion did not write those epistles himself?"

Excellent point, and one shared by the Dutch Reformers I linked to earlier.

Therefore, any kind of adherence to the Pauline texts as "inerrant" is simply Marcionite idolatry.

Byker Bob said...


I can't prove to another poster that the God I worship exists any more than another can prove to me that He does not. Attempts to do this from either side are nothing more than spiritual masturbation. There is more than logic and rhetoric to the picture.

One man's scatology is anothers eschatology, and I suspect that's been the case throughout modern man's history.

By the way, if an attack is pronounced the same, but is spelled slightly differently and has a different meaning, does that make it an adhomonym attack?


Ralph said...

Actually Purple, I didn't make an ad hominem attack. I challenged him to prove me wrong, and then I said he couldn;t because he knew I'd pin his ears back if he tried.
I never attacked him. I attacked his argument, which is perfectly permnissible. Damn, ytou can't seem to win at all, can you?

Ralph said...

So Purple, you are now disagreeing with me emphatically that I am limited in my beliefs and that my quote of the bible is wrong?

So, logically, let me get this straight, you are saying there actually IS a decison procedure to get from "here" to 'there", and that there actually IS a religion we can truthfully follow and prove it so?

Becuae I have to underatand if your position is consistent here.

Since I have stated repeatedly with no wavering that there exists no decison procedure by which we may get from here to God, and you also have stated almost word for word the same thought, then you would have to be concluding somehow that you are right and I am wrong while you state exactly the same thing!
Interesting. I've never confronted anything like that called logic.

Purple, it's interesting you keep accusing me of having a religion. But i have maintained its impossible to make any decision procedure by which anyone can prove ny special relationship to God. If I have a religion, then you must have the same religion, because I can't tell any difference.

Again, Purple, constant statments ABOUT what I say, buit no proof whatever showing the logical flaw in my statements. Is it possible that you are too limited to be able to make such a response?

I have stated a position clearly, adequately, logically, which, as far as i can tell, corresponds to your own statement, and which is fuly consistent with the statements of both jesus and Paul, yet you have simply rejected the statements outright and shown nothing whatever except the "authorities" show the statements to be false.

But here's the problem, Purple, if the statements I quote are false, and if your "authoprities" are correct, then you would have to logically conclude that there ARE decision procedure by which we can prove,God, thus destroying the logic of your own position, and your "authorities" would actually be proving that there does exist some process by which we can actually prove a special relationship to God. Since I have maintained there exists no such decision procedure, and have shown directly the statements of Paul confirming that fact, then if Paul and Jesus are wrong, then you and your authorities contradict themselves.

So, now you argue for the possibility of Panentheism as the closest thing to the church's concept of the Holy Spirit, but you say the bible is wrong?

Let me try to get this straight. You're arguing for a religious concept close to church concepts, from your opinion, as close to truth, yet you state there exists no way to get from "here' to 'there', that no one of us possess any ultimate truth. I've never tried to make such a comparison. I've stated flat out there is no such possibility, and now you're arguing that a particular human concept of God is close to the church concept of Holy Spirit? Seems you're limited in your thinking.

I suppose I believe in a dogma, if you can call complete freedom from all religion a dogma. I guess I'm dogmatically free, yet you seem to entertain possibilitires that there is asome religion that somehow is close to truth.

Guess what, Purple, I know better, so I'm not limited by entetrtaining such ideas. How do I know better? Godel's theorem. Do I have to keep explaining that to you? It says there is no point in trying to package ultimate truh in any one package, yet you just suggested a religion to me, showing that you have not gone to the level of freedom in knowing that I have reached. Shame.

In my blinkered reality, as you call it, I need no religion or religious idea, and I have shown directly that statements of both Paul and jesus confirm it.

The shame is, while you keep arguing around it, you have merely confirmed my every conclusion, and offered not the first shred of evidence as to its falseness.

And to top it off, in suggesting I overcome my blinkered limitations, you offer religion!


Retired Prof said...

Ad homonym? Nice insight!

To show you how ignorant I was, I thought "ad hominem" applied to gruel that was too thin and meant "put in more grits."

Purple Hymnal said...

"I can't prove to another poster that the God I worship exists any more than another can prove to me that He does not. Attempts to do this from either side are nothing more than spiritual masturbation. There is more than logic and rhetoric to the picture."

You're still missing my point, entirely, Bob; your God does exist, that is beyond question....Your god exists for you. Did you read the post on reality tunnels at all? My comment about "the nine billion names of god" has fallen off the first page, but it's still correct.

The key is not letting your superego enslave you, Bob; but unfortunately, it's already too late.

"So, logically, let me get this straight, you are saying there actually IS a decison procedure to get from "here" to 'there", and that there actually IS a religion we can truthfully follow and prove it so?"

No, Ralph, that's not what I'm saying. That's not even what I'm saying you're saying; it has become painfully obvious, over the course of these discussions, that your entire universe is limited to a reality tunnel that makes up one person - yourself. You do not connect with others, you do not attempt to connect with others, and you rebuff all attempts of others to connect with you.

You are trapped in a lonely existence, indeed, Ralph, but you serve as an excellent living parallel of the Gnostic myth of Samael, the blind god wrapped in clouds, who thought those clouds (in the story, his own breath) were the whole and sum of his entirely limited existence. He could not see the Pleroma, the vastness of the panentheism, nor feel it, nor even understand it, had he been able to comprehend it.

The Gnostic myths take the story a little further than that, and spin it from there into a creation-myth, but hey, it was three thousand years ago in the Middle East, the texts are far from 100% applicable to our world and our lives today.

That said, if the "Pauline" myths and parables speak to you, and inform your reality, there's nothing wrong with that; when they begin to constrict and restrict your reality, so that you cannot even connect with other human beings, because you feel yourself to be the ONLY "special chosen elect" of God...there's kind of a problem with that.

I do feel sorry for you, Ralph. But as my personal gnosis instructs, you provide a mirror that shows me that which I must NOT be.

Purple Hymnal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Purple Hymnal said...

This seems relevant to most of the discussions that we are engaged in here; for a larger version of the MC Escher print, click here.

Reality tunnels, again.

Ralph said...

M.C. Escher was big in Hofstadter's discussion of Godel's theorem.

Purple, you keep accusing me of claiming that I am one of God;s elect, or somehow have somne proof of such a thing. Yet I have never stated it, nor is there any reason to believe it, since even if it is true, the sheer odds would be against it.

OTOH, any concept of God developed in ahny sense, panentheism or even gnosis, would have to demonstratre something not provable.

So, while accusig me of somehow living in persona;l clouds, you point out that which in no way can be proven. Strange.