Ambassador Watch The Missing Dimension e-zine / 30






New Editorial: Wouldn't it be great if the windows could be thrown wide open on the more restrictive Church of God organizations. And there's only one way we know of doing that. The success story of the PCG Yahoo Group provides a model of how grassroots accountability can become a reality. Check out the new editorial.

Mailbag: WWJB (What Would Jesus Budget), Generation Y, a hot dog chain called Donald Duck's, and a call for Joe to "let my people go!"  All in the latest mailbag.

Whister's Xmas Cracker: You've got to hand it to the Whistler; it takes a certain degree of chutzpah to quote "Feazell the Weasel" in a favorable light on MD! Exactly how Mike will feel about having his pearls of dated wisdom (1995) cast before the MD readership we're not certain. And, migosh, he even gets referred to as "Mr. Feazell". Just goes to show what a benevolent and tolerant editorial policy we have here! You'll find the column we're referring to here. And you'll find the editor's review of Feazell's fascinatingly myopic and flawed book on the WCG here.

British COG News Page: Robert Taylor, webmaster of, has drawn MD's attention to his news page, which includes updates on what's happening in the various UK factions of the COG.

Poll Results: Last time we asked Should Mystery of the Ages still be available in print - regardless of whoever is doing the publishing? 71 readers responded. 20 said definitely (28%), 1 replied probably, 2 said maybe, and another 4 said doubtful (1%, 2% and 4% respectively). 44 others - a whopping 61% - said no way!

There is a new poll this week.

Sunday December 1 2002. Next issue due December 8

How times change: The following material was posted this week on Mark Tabladillo's JLF (Jesus Loves Fellowship) forum:

If WCG is so involved in promoting racial reconciliation, why are they publishing MOA without the rewrite they told the judges about? Clearly the judge spells out one of the chief reasons WCG stopped distribution and destroyed the remaining copies was to avoid racial conflict.

Argued and Submitted
December 6, 1999--Pasadena, California

SCHWARZER, Senior District Judge (Opinion)

Two years after Armstrong's death, WCG decided to discontinue distribution of MOA for several reasons, including the fact that the Church's positions on various doctrines such as divorce, remarriage, and divine healing had changed. The Church hoped to "prevent a transgression of conscience by proclaiming what the Church considered to be ecclesiastical error" espoused in MOA and it considered that Armstrong, who was ninety-two when he wrote MOA, conveyed outdated views that were racist in nature. Its Advisory Council of Elders indicated that the Church stopped distributing MOA because of "cultural standards of social sensitivity" and to avoid racial conflict. The Council noted, "Insensitivity in this area is contrary to the doctrinal program of WCG to promote racial healing and reconciliation among the races. " WCG disposed of excess inventory copies of MOA and stopped distribution, but retained archival and research copies. WCG never sought to withdraw or destroy personal copies or copies held by public institutions or any public library, nor did it request that its members destroy their copies. WCG has indicated an interest in publishing an annotated MOA sometime in the future but has not yet begun work on it.

BRUNETTI, Circuit Judge, (Dissenting):

WCG, on the other hand, has renounced many of Armstrong's teachings since shortly after his death in 1986. Although it had previously distributed approximately 1.25 million copies of MOA in book form and 8 million copies in serial form, WCG ceased publication and distribution of MOA in 1988. WCG then destroyed all excess copies of MOA in its inventory, retaining only archival and research copies. WCG has not printed or distributed any copies of MOA since 1988 and has no plans for publication or distribution of the work as originally written.

WCG took this course of action, at least in part, because it believes that MOA contains historical, doctrinal and social errors. Armstrong's successor at WCG explained that WCG has kept MOA out of print based on a "Christian duty" to keep Armstrong's doctrinal errors out of circulation. WCG has described MOA as "not in conformity with biblical teaching" and "racist." Although WCG claims that it plans to publish an annotated version of MOA, as of 1998, a decade after it ceased publishing MOA, testimony of WCG leaders demonstrates that the annotation of MOA is "not something that is going to be decided or happen any time soon." Apart from determining whether an annotation is financially feasible, WCG would need to take surveys of its membership, assess its priorities, determine the format, hire an author and researcher, and secure a publisher before any such annotation of MOA could be published.

Uh, "surveys of its membership"? Since when?

Meantime, Joe himself has commented on the surprising decision to reprint MOA in personal correspondence with a JLF member:

The preface explains that the booklet contain errors and do not represent the WCG's teachings but are being made available for those who desire to do research. I generally don't read the Journal because of the decided spin-doctoring that occurs even though I believe they have in a small way tried to make some effort to be objective.

What a superb compliment for The Journal, to be noted for "spin doctoring" by the King of Spin himself.

Latest on MOA case: From Helen on the PCG Board

On 11/25/02, Judge Snyder heard brief argument on the motions in limine (motions to exclude evidence from jury). Judge Snyder continued all motions in limine to 12/18/02 at 9:30 am.

Most importantly, the Court continued the trial schedule based on WWCG's trial schedule conflict; Trial is continued from 12/3/02, to 3/4/03, at 9:30 am; The pretrial conf is continued to 2/3/03, at 11:00.

And the lawyers got richer... and laughed all the way to the bank.

Not an "Imminent Adventist": There is an interesting article available online by Jack M. Lane called Why I Am No Longer An Imminent Adventist. The author, a conservative Sabbatarian Christian with WCG roots, debunks the idea that the WCG was just the latest manifestation in an unbroken line of the "true church." He identifies Gilbert Cranmer as the real founder of the COG tradition. 

Cranmer was a preacher and farmer in Michigan who became a "Millerite" in 1843. Following the Great Disappointment, Cranmer studied the scriptures even more intensely, and as a result still felt that Christ's return was imminent. Cranmer continued to preach Christ's advent for the rest of his life.

Gilbert Cranmer- the forgotten founder of the COG

The modern Church of God movement has been traced largely to this one man and his evangelistic efforts. He had apparently read about the Sabbath in 1843 in an Adventist publication, possibly in an article written by or influenced by the Seventh-Day Baptist Church, but didn't begin to observe the Sabbath until later.

In 1860, another independent Sabbath-keeping group began in Iowa. The churches in Michigan and Iowa continued to grow until they inevitably found out about each other. The two churches joined forces, and growth continued.

However, division arose because of James and Ellen G. White, and her prophecies. Both churches (Michigan and Iowa) had originally been founded on the basis that the Bible, and the Bible alone, was the source of truth and doctrine. But those who followed Mrs. White elevated her teachings and writings on an equal footing with the Bible. This split the church down the middle. Many of the church people chose to follow her as a prophetess, and left the church in order to form the "spin-off group" that became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDA).

Gilbert Cranmer continued to be a leader in the main group, which called itself by the biblical name, "the Church of God," and continued to follow the Bible, and the Bible alone, as its measure of truth. Cranmer died in 1903...

In 1923, the parenthetical phrase "(Seventh Day)" was added to the corporate name of the church, to distinguish it from various Sunday-observing groups using the name "Church of God."

This is a brief history of the Church of God in America. From what can be gathered in the scanty historical records, Cranmer was not ordained or credentialed by any group. He simply did what God compelled him to do, and we, today, are the result.

Here is a major paradigm shift that needs to be faced as a result of this history: The Church of God movement in the U.S. apparently had a definite beginning. Even if the Seventh-Day Baptist organization pre-dated the Church of God organization, perhaps by centuries, still the Church of God did not arise out of the Seventh-Day Baptists.. From this, we can conclude that (1) there was no unbroken line back to first-century Jerusalem, and therefore, (2) there is no "apostolic succession" in today's Sabbath-observing Church of God groups, particularly in the WCG!

Of course, Seventh-day Adventists would consider the COG the "spin-off group." Despite some uncritical assumptions, the information does help establish some historical perspective. Lane also quotes the following fascinating remarks by Andrew Dugger, a prominent COG7 leader in the years just before Herb's apostasy:

"The end is very near at hand. Signs throughout the world show the Lord is soon coming. European diplomats are prophesying a world war involving all nations in 1934 which they say the League of Nations is powerless to avert. We know what this means. Conditions of the world, and also of the Holy Land, are set in order for Armageddon. Therefore the church must also be set in order, to meet the bridegroom. ... It is now time for his wife to make herself ready."

Sound familiar? The passage dates from 1933.

Lane also suggests that Herb's Steuben-crystal tours to meet the world's most infamous dictators and tyrants was a calculated response to the failure of his prophecies which came to nothing in the Seventies.

But 1972 came and went, and the Church didn't flee to the Place of Safety. Then 1975 slipped past without Christ's return. The leaders lost face, the WCG began to float aimlessly, and the momentum was lost. They were, figuratively, "dead in the water." A new direction had to be sought. Even HWA drifted for a time, until he found a new unifying factor for the Church: his new commission to visit heads of state! This was a way that seemed right to that man, but its ends were the ways of dissipation, worldliness, extravagance, taking his eyes off the goal, and more financial and personal trouble than he could have imagined!

Fischer age 14 and on the cover of Tiempo de Ajedrez

Another reason to stick to checkers:: Former chess grandmaster and onetime WCG member Bobby Fischer is the subject of a major article in the December issue of The Atlantic Monthly. And the church gets some free publicity (but not the sort current cult apparatchiks probably appreciate.)

Instead of playing tournaments, Fischer retreated to the protective cocoon of the Worldwide Church of God, an apocalyptic cult that predicted the end of the world every four to seven years and whose members tithed up to 30 percent of their income. Such protection came at a steep price. It was reported that out of his $200,000 income that year he donated $61,200 to the WCG. "They cleaned out my pockets," he later said. "Now my only income is a few royalty checks from my books. I was really very foolish." To show its appreciation for such a generous contribution, the WCG treated Fischer almost as if he were the very deity the Church's members had been waiting for. He lived in WCG-owned apartments, was entertained at fancy restaurants, and flew to exotic spots in the Church's private jet. And Fischer was set up on the first dates of his life, with attractive WCG members. A fellow WCG member, Harry Sneider, says that this hedonistic lifestyle had a detrimental effect on Fischer: "He got pampered and got a lot of attention. It made him soft."

Fischer's relationship with the WCG, like all the others in his life, didn't last. In 1977, after a bitter falling-out that led Fischer to claim that the WCG was taking its orders from a "satanical secret world government," he cut all ties with the Church.

(The Painful Truth site has the full text of the Ambassador Report interview Bobby Fischer Speaks Out, published shortly after he left the church.)

Cardinal Greg and the Thanksgiving Spirit: Dateline Pasadena reports.

Greg Albrecht has had  a history of refusing to allow employees off early for holidays.  When ever the subject is brought up he always says no,  expecting that WCG employees will NOT be given the day off.  Even though the WCG STILL pays the salaries of his employees, their medical, insurance, vacation, etc, Greg will not let them off.  His people are really going to have problems once PTM becomes a separate company in 2003, even though they are working rent free in the Hall of Ad with WCG paying ALL of their expenses.  The poor response by WCG members in subscribing to his pay for view magazine is really disappointing to them.  Many are hoping this is the end of the PT magazine.

Here's the announcement: 

The Executive Office would like to give Worldwide Church of God employees the afternoon off tomorrow in order to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.  All WCG offices will officially close at noon on Wednesday, November 27...

Because of deadlines and scheduling needs, Plain Truth Ministries employees will not be able to take the afternoon off and should plan to complete their  regular work shifts.

Herb on demand: The WCG's decision to make Herbert W. Armstrong's dubious "literature" available again comes with an interesting twist. The company selected, 1st Books, is not a traditional publisher. 1st Books uses sophisticated technology to produce items from its catalog "on demand", one copy at a time. Setup costs, especially for a work that has already been designed and is print-ready, can be relatively low (the WCG would pay this directly to 1st Books). WCG would then receive royalties from each copy sold. WCG needs to do little to promote the Armstrong material as it will be listed with the major Internet bookstores. A cost-effective way, it seems, to thumb the nose at PCG's claim that it is suppressing MOA and other HWA classics, while keeping the Armstrong association at arm's length. To quote Richard Burkard on JLF:

And who is most likely to buy this "historical collection" of Herbert Armstrong literature? PCG members -- because you simply can't understand Gerald Flurry's writings without them, now can you? WCG earning royalty money from PCG. Priceless.

All the News that's fit to Spin: Forget about TIME or Newsweek. Why bother trawling through your daily paper to keep abreast of  today's "whirled news"? Spending up on magazines and newspapers is wasteful anyway, those dollars could be going into God's Work! Beside, God's right hand man has produced his own insightful bulletin of news in the light of Bible prophecy, and it's free (to tithe-payers.)

We're taking about Crown Productions News Bureau's International News Report. AKA Gerry's predigested news-rag. The latest issue, in PDF format, was posted this week to the PCG Yahoo group, with these comments from the sender:

PCG members are told not to share this with anyone outside the church so I wanted to make sure it is available to anyone who wants it.

In the same spirit, we're passing on the opportunity to AW readers. Aren't we lucky! (NB. this file may take a while to download.) 

What goes around comes around: This item from WCG's British site:

Jose Ribeiro, the Portuguese [WCG] National Leader, received a distressed phone call from a local leader of our Angolan brethren, Noah Tembe, with news regarding a major trial they are having to face.

They have been informed by the authorities that a dissident group has started legal action to ensure that the name IDM (Igreja de Deus Mundial – Portuguese equivalent to WCG) is their exclusive property. This may not seem like much of a problem but our brethren are being given the option of reconciling with the dissidents or stop meeting as IDM. If they don’t do this yet continue to meet as IDM they may be prosecuted and imprisoned.

This problem occurred because the name IDM was registered by them with the help of Carlos Tavares who visited them occasionally. Carlos left our fellowship and as Jose understands, a deep division had already begun when the doctrinal changes took course. The dissident group is part of Graham Davies’ fellowship (who visits with them).

Time warp back to 1979 (or thereabouts) and there are those that remember how WCG set about registering the name "Church of God, International" as its own, to stop Garner Ted in his tracks. Even here in New Zealand the WCG went as far as registering that name locally (under the companies act, moreover) despite the fact that CGI was already active in the country under the direction of AC graduate Jim Bennett (who would probably be embarrassed to be reminded of that fact.) WCG's lawyers then sent Jim a letter advising him that he was guilty of "passing off at law" the (legitimate) Kiwi CGI as being the newly-minted paper corporation WCG had just established. How quaint that WCG is now getting a dose of its own medicine.

Meanwhile, back in the City of Sails: On a related note, it appears Ted still has at least one devoted follower in New Zealand even now. A reader pointed MD in the direction of a Geocities site which appears to be the work of Stuart Macmillan, the Auckland ICG host. Stuart is also involved with something called Character Education, a program aimed at school children. 

The Middle of the Movie: And, if you're still hungry for another provocative link, why not try a recent addition to Ed Mentell's Painful Truth site. John B, like Jack Lane, attempts to provide a little historical perspective; this time on Herbert W. Armstrong himself. His reconstruction is admittedly partly speculative, but nonetheless has a definite ring of truth.

email MD: email Dateline Pasadena: 


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