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Why Political Speech Is Inappropriate from the Pulpit!

For years now, I have been criticizing the preaching of politics from the pulpit. Why? What's so wrong with talking about issues and can...

Monday, July 29, 2019

God is NOT a racist, but you might be!

Like the society that produced them, some Christians are blind to the racial prejudice that exists among them. I am reminded of a devout aunt who once proudly proclaimed that she was "not prejudiced against n-----s" as long as they "stayed in their place."

These folks fool themselves by supporting their prejudices with various distortions of the Bible's portrayal of God's racial attitudes. I'm thinking of things like pointing to the "Table of Nations" in Genesis and concluding that since God created the races that "He" must have intended for them to remain separated from each other. Others point out that God favored the Jews - that "He" blessed "His" chosen people over all of the other nations which surrounded them (even helping them to defeat, despoil and oppress them). And, once they have settled on an interpretation that favors their group and its beliefs, they conclude that they can't be considered racists because God isn't a racist. Talk about circular reasoning!

The delusion that they are immune to charges of racism also stems from the way in which they perceive themselves. Many of these folks point to interracial situations within their own families, their own love and kindness toward others or the fact that they don't use racially derogatory terms as evidence that they are not racists. In other words, racists are bad people - they can't be kind and good. As a consequence of these "facts," they reason that no one could ever fairly paint them with that brush. Satan truly has deceived the whole world!

Unfortunately, our darkest sins are often hidden from our eyes by the stubbornness of our own ego and vanity. I'm reminded here of the old Jeff Foxworthy line "You might be a redneck if..." The truth is that if you tend to make generalizations about whole groups of people (e.g. those folks are dirty, lazy, violent, etc.) there is a good chance that you're a racist. If you believe that your tribe is spiritually, physically or intellectually superior to other groups, there is a high probability that you are a racist. Likewise, if you truly believe that God has favored your tribe above all others, it is very likely that you are a racist. If you believe that other folks are responsible for what's wrong in your life or society (e.g. it's the Jews, it's those illegal immigrants, etc.), then you might be a racist!

The good news is that we all have the ability to learn new things, repent and adopt different viewpoints. As with all sins, however, the first step is being willing to acknowledge that we have a problem. Like Satan before us, if we can't do that, then we will continue to believe that we are in the right and others have wronged us with false accusations of racism. And, finally, if this post makes you angry, that might indicate that you need to take another look at yourself vis-a-vis this issue! 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Would My Life Have Been Better Without My Worldwide Church of God Experience?

Like many of the folks who have left the Armstrong Church of God movement, I have had many years to contemplate that experience. Yes, I have thought about the what ifs - What if I had never heard the World Tomorrow? read The Plain Truth magazine or taken the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course? What if I had never allowed the Sabbath, Holy Days or other church teachings to interfere with my career choices? What if I had had the full use of my entire income? What could I have done with that other 20-30% of my financial resources over the years? What would my friendships and familial relationships have looked like without Armstrongism?

The problem with that kind of thinking becomes obvious when we realize that our list of what ifs could go on and on, and that such thinking often leads to feelings of bitterness - the sense that one has been cheated out of better things. Martin Luther King Jr. warned his followers to "never succumb to the temptation of bitterness." Maya Angelou compared bitterness to a cancer that consumes its host. Robert Menzies observed that "It is a simple but sometimes forgotten truth that the greatest enemy to present joy and high hopes is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness."

In thinking about writing this post, I was drawn to an old post on philosiblog entitled "Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely." (12 Nov 2012 - taken from a quote attributed to Auguste Rodin) And I have found that it is exactly this kind of thinking that has proven to be the most useful to me in evaluating my experiences in Armstrongism. What did I learn from those experiences? How have I used those experiences to forge a better life for myself in the present? In short, would I be the person that I am today without those experiences?

I have always liked Garth Brooks' The Dance. The lyrics are about a romance that ended, but they could just as easily be applied to life in more general terms. I hear those words, and I think about the things I experienced directly and indirectly as a consequence of my affiliation with the Worldwide Church of God.
"And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance" --The Dance
Yes, I could have skipped the pain, but I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be where I'm at today without every bit of it.

Was it an expensive lesson? Sure. Aren't most of the things in life that are worthwhile expensive? (and I'm not just thinking about money - I'm also thinking about investments of time, effort and emotion)

But I guess that's part of it too, isn't it? You have to believe that you are better off today for having escaped the cult and having been forced to reexamine what you believe and reorder your life priorities (and I do believe that I'm better off today). As for me, one thing is certain: this blog would not have been possible without my experiences in Armstrongism. What do you think?      

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Forget Apostle or Evangelist, Did HWA or GTA Meet the Biblical Standards for A Church Leader?

Luke 22:24 (NLT): Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Matthew 23:8 (NLT): “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.[d] 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

I Timothy 3:1 (NLT): This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader,[a] he desires an honorable position.” 2 So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife.[b] He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. 3 He must not be a heavy drinker[c] or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. 4 He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. 5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6 A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.[d] 7 Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.

Titus 1:6 (NLT): An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife,[b] and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7 A church leader[c] is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker,[d] violent, or dishonest with money. 8 Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9 He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

And, if after reviewing the above scriptures your answer is NO, what does that imply about their ministries and the churches they founded?

Monday, July 8, 2019

The New Testament refutes the notion of Divine dictation!

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." -Luke 1:1-4

"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." -John 20:30-31

"This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen." - John 21:24-25

"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach," -Acts 1:1

"I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord." -Romans 16:22

"The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand." -I Corinthians 16:21

"Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction." -II Corinthians 13:10

"Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand." -Galatians 6:11

"The salutation by the hand of me Paul." -Colossians 4:18

"Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ" -I Thessalonians 1:1

"Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" -II Thessalonians 1:1

"The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write." -II Thessalonians 3:17

"And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words." -Hebrews 13:22

"By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand." -I Peter 5:12

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you" -II Peter 3:15

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." -I John 1:1-5

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." -I John 5:13

"Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full." -II John 12

"I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face." -III John 13-14