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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Key of David isn't a message!

Gerald Flurry, the founder and current leader of the Philadelphia Church of God, broadcasts his message to the world via The Key of David television program. Flurry claims that he and his followers constitute the "Philadelphia era" of God's Church, and that all of the other groups which attempt to adhere to the teachings of Herbert Armstrong are "Laodiceans." In other words, Christ has given his message to Flurry and the PCOG to deliver to the world.

Why did Flurry decide to call his church’s television program The Key of David? “We took that name right out of Revelation 3:7 and a couple other scriptures,” he explained in an article entitled “What is the ‘Key of David’?” (https://www.thetrumpet.com/10776-what-is-the-key-of-david)

In that same article, Flurry calls the key of David “one of the deepest truths in the entire Bible.”  He goes on to claim that “it is a message from God—the message that Jesus Christ gives His Church to deliver to this world in this end time.” Flurry then proceeds to summarize his teaching on the subject with seven bullet points (God named his message after King David, “Jesus Christ is the head of the church,” “Christ has the key,” Christ has set “an open door” before the PCOG, “No man can shut it,” PCOG has “kept His Word,” and they “have not denied His name”).

How do all of these claims square with the Bible? The short answer is:  they don’t!

Let’s take a closer look at the actual scriptures which Flurry is using to make his claims about himself, his television program and his church. In the third chapter of the book of Revelation, we read:  “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works:  behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:  for thou has a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)

First of all, it is interesting to note that the language employed in this verse was borrowed from a passage found in the book of Isaiah. This particular prophecy foretold that Shebna (the then administrator of the palace in Jerusalem) would fall and be replaced by Eliakim. Through Isaiah, God says that he would clothe Eliakim with Shebna’s robe and commit the government into his hands. (Isaiah 22:21). He goes on to say:  “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” (verse 22) Hence, Isaiah is saying that Eliakim will receive the position/power/authority which previously belonged to Shebna.

This language agrees with what Strong’s and Blue Letter Bible have to say about the Greek word translated here as "key." In their outline of the biblical usage of this word, we read:  “I. a key A. since the keeper of the keys has the power to open and to shut B. metaph. In the NT to denote power and authority of various kinds” (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G2807&t=KJV). In this connection, it is interesting to note that this is the same Greek word which is used to denote “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 16:19. It is likewise the same word that Christ employs in the beginning of the book of Revelation when he proclaims that he is in possession of “the keys of hell and death.” (Revelation 1:18)

Hence, just a modest amount of research clearly demonstrates that “the key of David” is not a message, but a symbol of Christ’s power and authority. Notice again in the verses that Flurry is using (Revelation 3:7-8) that it is CHRIST who possesses the key and is the one who has the ability to open and shut. Moreover, I can’t find anywhere in these scriptures where either the key or that ability to open and close is given to the Philadelphians (and they certainly aren’t given permission to give that key or ability to others). And, as for the significance of the key bearing King David’s name, doesn’t that clearly suggest that Christ is the chief representative and power within the House of David?

We will lay aside the arrogance implicit in claiming to be the Philadelphia era of God’s Church for the purposes of this article. We cannot, however, allow such a clear perversion of the obvious meaning of these rather obscure verses in the book of Revelation to go unchallenged. Once again, it appears to this writer that an Armstrongite has misapplied Scripture to himself and his followers and twisted it to reinforce his own message and agenda.

7 comments:

  1. Normally I can see why you post what you do, but this time....? What possible relevance does Gerald Flurry's theological opinions have to anyone except his own followers (who aren't likely reading your blog anyway)? Are you trying to talk yourself out of joining? lol

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    1. A friendship which I valued was destroyed by that church, and I happen to know that the PCOG is a particularly pernicious brand of Armstrongism. As you know, one of the chief purposes of this blog is to discredit the small-minded and mean gods of folks like Flurry and his followers.

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    2. You're a very capable writer, and I think that your story (about the destroyed friendship) should be told in your blog....how it has affected you. Who knows? The ex-friend might read it and see things in a new light. I think that if I was ever pig-headed enough to let religion ruin a friendship, I would more likely be swayed by seeing the effects I was having than I would by theological argument. I notice that Paul sometimes used emotion rather than logic to try to sway his readership.

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  2. After several conversations with one of my coworkers, it became obvious to both of us that we shared a background in the Worldwide Church of God. From that point forward, we weren't just coworkers - we were also friends. She knew that I was fellowshipping with the Church of God International at the time, and I knew that she associated with the Philadelphia Church. We discussed family, shared stories and books and talked extensively about religion. Through all of that, a harsh word never passed between us.
    Then, one morning, I saw a troubling article about Gerald Flurry castigating his flock for associating with people who belonged to other Armstrong Churches of God. That same afternoon, my friend approached me with tears streaming down her face. I had never seen her so distraught, and I asked her what was wrong. "We're not on the same team," she replied. "I'm so very sorry, but we can't be friends any more!" she finished.
    I tried to reassure her of my respect and friendship, but she turned and walked away weeping. "There has got to be something seriously wrong with any minister (or church) who would do that to one of his flock," I remember thinking at the time. My opinion on that subject hasn't changed in the years since the incident occurred.

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    1. That is a really sad story. Obviously, your friend was deeply hurt by Flurry's policy, yet although internally conflicted, still acted in accordance with her church's demands. I also must comment that I admire her style, at least at that point in her life. Cultic zombies generally handle this sort of thing in a very impersonal and emotionally uninvested manner. The typical programmed Armstrongite approach generally involves such things as invoking Lot's wife, or quoting "Let the dead bury the dead". Clearly, your friend had not allowed her conscience to be completely seared and reprogrammed. Perhaps there is hope for her, because it seems she was resisting being totally assimilated by the borg. Since this was years ago, do you have any idea what ever happened in her life?

      BB

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    2. She continued to be a very sweet and humble person. We worked together for over a year after this happened. When I was preparing to leave that place, I approached her and told her how much I had appreciated our friendship and assured her that we would meet again someday in God's kingdom. She started crying again and simply said, "I hope so." We haven't had any contact since I moved.

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    3. I suggest you phone that work place and ask for her. Tell her you were just thinking about how much you valued her friendship in the days when you still had it, and that you hope she is doing well. Maybe ask about her family and the work place and perhaps she will talk.

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