August 2004 - Issue 52

Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups 

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The Evil Olympics: One of the problems you have when ministers are expected to prattle on for a full hour of sermonizing, is that their minds tend to wander into the fruitcake zone. Suddenly the scriptures are being inter-spliced with some very dodgy personal opinions and speculations. Could that be the explanation for Ken Martin's treasure trove of over-the-top remarks down in Macon/Columbus, Georgia?

Ken's latest pearl concerns the Olympic Games. Was his brain disengaged from free-flapping tonsils last Sabbath when he told the UCG faithful that the four-year Olympiads counted as "special days and months and times and years" of which God does not approve? The logic of such a position (if logic is the right word) seems to be that the ancient Olympics were held in honor of the Greek gods, so the US athletes (along with everybody else at Athens for the 2004 Games) are engaging in some form of pagan observance and idolatry. To quote Homer Simpson: "Duh"!

Roy wants his moolah back! Stories are circulating that UCG's Larry Neff is demanding that the newly departed Albuquerque congregation (pastored by Bill Jacobs) hand over funds in their possession. This isn't a new problem in COG splinters. When David Bell departed along with his congregation from CGI, the church unsuccessfully attempted to lay claim to funds and assets controlled by the locals. This resistance was characterized as "theft" by a current CGI spokesman.

Meanwhile, in darkest Kubikistan: We've also been told that UCG luminary Vic Kubik threatened this last week to disfellowship members in his Lafayette church if they spoke and gave special music in Jim O'Brien's COG-Cincinnati congregation.  An AW correspondent writes: Uh, it's still ok for Vic to preach in the Ukraine but his members can't preach in Cincinnati? Kinda weird, we admit. Vic is supposedly this wise, kind, compassionate guy who runs LifeNets: wouldn't you think he'd know better?

Elders who abuse: Also bubbling away in the background is continued disquiet about a non-salaried local elder who seems to have had a penchant for "hands on" experience with attractive young women (at least one very young - a legal minor). Compounding the problem is the perceived reluctance of sect functionaries to take effective action. Indeed, the family of the girl who was the victim of the alleged abuse seem to have been disciplined for complaining! Details have appeared on at least one discussion board. 

WCG and the Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow: It's been a long time coming, but it's here at last. Kind of. Well, it's in transition. Well, um... maybe we'd better just quote Ron Kelly.

By the time you read this issue of the WCG News, most of our U.S. congregations will have implemented the new financial model... That transition will take place during the rest of 2004 and be fully in place by the turn of the year. 

In the meantime, we will continue to have both centralized and local financial systems in place. By centralized, I mean that member donations are processed and receipted in Pasadena. By local financial systems, I mean that in the new model, the local church will be responsible for the collection, banking and receipting of contributions. As the months go by, centralized processing will be less and less, while local processing will become the primary focus of donation processing. 

However, we are in the early part of the transition, so centralized funds for July totaled just over $1.45 million. That compares to $1.44 million in 2004. Considering that two districts were processing donations locally in July, this indicates a good increase compared to the previous year. Because the centralized figures do not include the locally processed funds, we can’t provide exactly how much the increase totaled.

Centralized income for the first seven months of this year came in at $9.2 million. Last year income was $9.8 million for the same time period. But again, we have not factored in local donations.

Exactly what that means we're not absolutely sure. But...

Work at headquarters continues to focus on the transition to the new financial model, the ongoing sale of the final 17 acres of the Pasadena property and plans to relocate our staff.

We continue to receive significant interest from a variety of potential buyers. We hope to complete the campus sale by the end of 2004. However, we still have much work to do, and these complex sales have a way of taking longer than anticipated. 

We are also making progress on our headquarters relocation plan. We are evaluating several properties with a major concentration on an office facility in Glendora, about 20 miles from our current campus. We are only in preliminary planning, but hope to have more concrete information to share with you in the next month or two.

Love motivated leadership: Some of the WCG leaders have an amazingly droll sense of humor. Take Dan Rogers for example. The latest issue of the soon-to-be-terminated WCG News (a.k.a. Worldwide News) features an article by Dan (a gentleman well known for his compassion and forbearance) about love motivated leadership. And, wait for it, it's about the virtues of the Church Administration Manual!

The Rescue of Jerusalem: At the turn of the eighth century B.C., a mighty Assyrian army entered Judah and fought its way to the very gates of Jerusalem, poised, the prophet Isaiah warned, to "smash the city as easily as someone hurling a clay pot against the wall." But the assault never came; instead, the Assyrian army turned and fled, an event that has been called the Deliverance of Jerusalem. Whereas biblical accounts attribute the Assyrian retreat to divine intervention, journalist Henry Aubin offers an explanation that is miraculous in its own light: the siege was broken by the arrival of an army from Kushite Egypt--an army, that is, made up of black Africans. These Kushites figured in historical texts, Aubin continues, until the late 19th century, when racist scholars expunged them from the record--a process that, Aubin observes, coincided with the European conquest and colonization of Africa. The Kushite intervention assured the survival of the Hebrew people, Aubin asserts, and it deserves to be acknowledged anew. Well-written and carefully developed, though based on sometimes-uncertain evidence, Aubin's argument will doubtless excite discussion. review.

The week that was: Regular readers will have noticed that this AW update appears a full week after the previous upload. On any other COG website that would be timely, but AW has a reputation for more frequent postings. The editor apologizes and pleads insanity. Failing that, I'll plead a week of work commitments that pushed the little dramas of our favorite soap opera back to the bottom of the priority pile. One reader tactfully enquired: Did you die without notifying us? 

Weekly Mailbag

We send - You pay: Jim Franks made an interesting statement in his recent letter to AW: "The United Youth Corps Program has sent young people from UCG to Thailand to help with teaching in a Sabbatarian group not affiliated with United." Perhaps he would be willing to clarify what he means by sent. The average UCG sheep would take this as an indication that UCG somehow sponsored these young people, i.e. paid their way, or gave some kind of financial assistance. This subject was discussed in recent months on one of the UCG forums and the consensus, among those who know the young people in question, was that they paid all their own expenses, with no help from UCG at all. Is Jim doing some more spin doctoring?


Shades of Stalin: I found it very interesting to read the letter by Jim Franks entitled 'No Comparison'. In the letter, Jim gives examples where UCG 'allows' its members or leaders to interact with members of other Sabbatarian groups.

Makes me sort of wonder. How would church history have been different if the apostle Paul would have had to get approval from the headquarters church in Jerusalem before he went out to speak or preach to various groups? How would church history be different if small groups of believers and/or pastors would have had to wait until headquarters came out with a policy on evangelization?

Maybe the UCG thinks the early church would have been far better off if they would have 'clamped down' on evangelistic activity that was not sanctioned by headquarters. All that individual endeavor led by the Holy Spirit can be dangerous. I guess it is far safer to get everything approved by a committee at headquarters before people act. Everyone knows how much more efficient committees and central planning are.

With tongue firmly in cheek


Why Orwell Matters: Janet several times has complained of how unfair AW has been in publishing negative views of UCG. Yet AW recently was gracious enough to print Jim Frank's longwinded rebuttal to accusations that he is violating UCG policies by teaching a seminar for the COG 7th day. 

Ironically, I have yet to see a similar and fair minded policy of free speech and open expression exhibited in any UCG publication or hear of it being officially sanctioned in any UCG congregation. 

Of course all of this does not enamor me or probably anyone else with UCG. In fact all it does is make me want to rush out and buy a copy of Christopher Hitchen's latest work "Why Orwell Matters."

Dr. Richard Griffiths

Derriere: Jim Franks [is] covering his derriere... I don't know of one "minister" who ever stood up against the injustices in fear of losing their job and paycheck. When Tkach made the changes, not one of them took a stand until they knew for sure that they would have a big enough following to keep their lifestyles intact.

Steve Kissack  

The World of Tomorrow: While on my way to Radio Shack in our local mall, a movie poster of coming attractions caught my eye. In fact, it stopped me in my tracks. In large letters I saw "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". Thinking that Hollywood had finally made a movie about our favorite apostle, I looked it over for more details. Toward the bottom of the poster were these words: Some Material Not Suitable For Children. Yes, I thought, this must be about Herbert. 

The artwork suggested that this movie was futuristic fiction. Further reason to think it was about Herbert. When I got home, I learned on the internet that the plot has Sky Captain traveling to exotic places around the world to stop an evil mastermind plotting to destroy the earth. That sounded familiar. But alas. It is about another happy warrior with a strong arm. Maybe Hollywood will someday chronicle Herbert's odyssey to find gold to fleece. In the meantime I'll get out my copies of "Elmer Gantry" and "Leap of Faith". Or maybe "The Sting" for lessons in manipulation. But nothing could be more interesting than a movie about a real "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". JWG

G'day Graeme: Great work. Your site keeps me up to date with what is going on in all splits of the church. I was wondering if any of your readers know of the contact details of one Mike Sumner who was at AC, Pasadena, in 74-75. He was from Michigan. I'd like to get in contact with him if possible. Email me at and hi to anyone else I know.

Graeme Henderson

WCG woman: This article link, titled "Woman, Wife, Widow" is STILL listed on WCG's website. Any idea who might have penned this unbelievably antiquated document, even in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty?

Kind of interesting since Tkach and Company "seem" to be considering, or should I say debating the woman, wife or widow to possibly be ordained as elder, or even, shall I say, a more ecumenical stance?

Thanks in advance for your help!


A dissatisfied UCG customer writes: After almost 30 years in the greater Church of God community (20 in WCG, 10 in UCG), I have made the decision to move on. By that I mean I no longer wish to be involved in any religion at all. My resolve to believe in a kind and merciful God has been ground down to a nub. There are various reasons for this, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with church doctrines but rather with questions about the very nature and thought processes of God – questions I’ve had since I was a teenager and old enough to begin really thinking about the Bible. (It is worth mentioning that the constant lies, hypocritical behavior, and other generally unchristian actions by UCG haven’t helped my spiritual state any, but other contributors to this website have sufficiently addressed this matter already.)

The exact causes (or “trials” as most COG members would call them) of the questions are irrelevant for purposes of this letter, but suffice it to say that I know COG ministers believe themselves to be equipped with the answers. Maybe they are, but I wouldn’t know. I grew up in a church of over 500 people. The sister church had about 250. When I was a teenager my minister was too busy acting as regional pastor, regional Y.O.U. coordinator, handling various aspects of the Feast, etc. etc. to ever spend any time with me. Whenever I would call him on the phone, he would always talk about how much “work” he had to get done. He made it as clear as possible that he had no time for someone like me without ever directly saying it.

Then the church split. Everybody was so hung up on church government that for about 3 years nobody in my local (and neighboring) church area(s) gave sermons on much else. This is all they wanted to talk about before, during, and after services. The day-to-day battles of life paled in comparison to the ultimate question of personal salvation: is it ok for more than one man to run a church?

After UCG formed during my late teens and early young adult years (the critical years during which residents in most Western cultures form the set of beliefs they carry with them for the rest of life), I desperately sought answers. I’ve had 4 ministers in the last 8 years. None of them could ever spend more than a few minutes at a time with me. One of them used to even joke from the pulpit about how little time he had to fellowship with members. They were all too busy doing some combination of the following: running the local circuit, visiting residents who lived sometimes 150 miles away in the neighboring sister congregations, “serving” on the Council of Elders and on up to 5 different committees at a time, acting as festival coordinators, writing or reviewing doctrinal papers, micromanaging the administration of their local congregations, giving seminars at ABC, and flying halfway around the world to visit a few sparsely-populated congregations in third world countries.

During the times in my life I most needed to talk to a minister, they were all too busy being somebody important rather than spending time talking to lowly members like myself. Hell, prospective members received more face time than I did. These ministers were acting like managers in a Fortune 100 company, not as pastors shepherding a flock. The same can be said for many of the local elders I have known. There have been times in my life where I have missed church for a period of several weeks due to various circumstances. The local ministers never even noticed. What happened to leaving the herd for a short while to go after the one lost sheep? Or for that matter knowing your herd well enough to recognize when one sheep has gone missing? What is the role of a minister? Is it not to minister? Why can’t ministers in the COG live up to the definition of “pastor” or “minister” and leave the logistical matters to others? After all, what does it mean to “pastor” or to “minister”? The UCG would do well to look up the roots of these two words and see where they come from and what they really mean.

Endorse and Deposit: Did you notice that in the linked pictures you provided of Pack's Palace that there was nobody there, except perhaps Dave himself, behind the camera? Dave has got all the other orgs beat. Who needs staff? Just endorse the checks and deposit them. What a great business!

Bob E.

Shock Horror! Not Ambassador Quality: Looking at Dave Pack's Restored Church of God Site, I noticed that Dave has been shopping at "Ashley Furniture" stores. This cut rate, made in China furniture, is flooding the U.S. market as it is being dumped due to overstocked inventories! Now as a good landlord, I realize that Dave is shopping for that "best deal" but does he need to carpet "Gods Church Offices" with that awful disposable college dorm carpet? And the ceiling tiles!!! How very tacky! Gods Church should have a Tin Ceiling at least! God loves quality, and the tithe payers will supply if Dave "barks a lot louder!!!"

Ruff, Ruff, Dave


Pack casino? As suggested in MD, I went to the Pack website to see pix of his HQ. Notice one thing the interior shots all had in common? No eye-level windows for looking out of! (Just like a casino).

Well, at least the staff won't waste their lives staring out at New Moons or barley ears.

Jonathan Higbed

From one derriere to another: I took the virtual tour of the Restored Church of God headquarters. I was disappointed that there were no pictures of Dave Pack's private bathroom. There should have been at least one photo of Dave Pack sitting [enthroned]...



The Edifice Complex: Which COG headquarters gets the most brownie points for its cool head office? UCG has a nice multi-purpose building. Gerry has enhanced his Oklahoma compound with the holy prayer rock, and LCG has a classy little recycled number in Charlotte. We've even seen snaps inside "Tedquarters" (now run by Mark Armstrong). But wait, what about Dave Pack's Restored Church of God? No need to lose any more sleep worrying that Dave can't play in the same league with the big boys. Reassure yourself by taking a tour at Peek at the podium in the main hall, admire the mailing room (by golly they do have hard copy of Dave's rewrites!), be blown away by the board room, rejoice at the recording studio... truly, the tithes must be plentiful.

Fundamentalism III: Here's the final installment in the series on fundamentalism, adapted from Simply... The Fundamentals, appearing in New Internationalist, August 1990.

AUTHORITARIANISM: An eye for an eye

FUNDAMENTALIST groups often have strict charismatic leaders, stern father figures who lay down the rules for their members. Fundamentalists reject leniency and believe that wrong-doers or even non-believers should be severely dealt with. Where they achieve some degree of influence the fundamentalists usually push for an authoritarian form of government that will enforce restrictive codes of behavior on non-believers. In the US the fundamentalist movement has been one of the main backers of the return to the death penalty now in place in a majority of states. Under Sharia law there are a wide range of severe sanctions including amputations, flogging and death by stoning. For the free-market fundamentalist the main crime is lack of initiative and laziness...

PESSIMISM: Doom, gloom and magic

Despite their absolute certainty about what is right and wrong with the world the overwhelming mood of most fundamentalists is pessimistic. They wring their hands over the devil’s work: the free-spending welfare state, the lack of discipline amongst the young or the evils of TV and strong drink. The world is held to be in the hands of the ungodly and hope for redemption seems quite slim. Even in Iran, where fundamentalism is very much in the saddle, the prevailing mentality is of a group under siege by the forces of the modern world. Fundamentalists of all types feel very much on the defensive in a world that they cannot control or even explain very well. The best hope for worldly redemption lies beyond the realm of politics in a magical second coming, a cathartic night at the revolutionary barricades or a purifying collapse of the global eco-system.

TOTALISM: We can explain it all!

Fundamentalists are obsessed with their philosophy which they feel is a total explanation for all that is wrong with the world and a complete prescription for setting it right. Marxism-Leninism has purported to explain away genetics and fundamentalist Christianity to explain away evolution. The experience and previous knowledge of the individual is submerged under the ocean of doctrine. If your feelings do not accord it is because you have a bourgeois mentality, are male-identified or are being influenced by the Devil. The thought-terminating cliché bludgeons individuals into submission to the group. They are encouraged to purge any feelings and characteristics that are identified with impure outsiders. They are thus made vulnerable enough to accept the discipline of the group and its leaders.


Weekly Mailbag

No comparison: I am not a regular reader of your web site, but individuals have sent me a recent copy of material from your web site that questioned my involvement with the COG7. It is not my desire to argue or debate with anyone, but recently a writer to your web site made a claim of a double standard within the United Church of God in my acceptance of an invitation to speak to a group of COG7 members. The author attempted to link this to recent actions in UCG with two elders who organized their own evangelism seminar. It would seem that the writer (evidently not a member of United, but of a COG7 congregation) is unfamiliar with United and its policies on such matters. He also seems unfamiliar with the issues that relate to the two elders. The audience for the evangelism seminar was never the issue with the elders. United regularly holds seminars and meetings that invite others outside the organization to attend-- GN lectures, etc.

It is inaccurate to compare setting up your own evangelism conference to accepting a speaking invitation to another Sabbatarian group. I was not involved directly with the two elders, but setting up your own seminar on a weekend which includes the Sabbath is hardly the same situation as accepting an invitation to speak to another group for an hour and a half on a weeknight. The two elders chose to resign from UCG. No action was taken by the Church. There was no willingness on the part of the two elders to cooperate with the administration of UCG in this matter, even though they were credentialed elders of UCG.

There is no comparison between this and an invitation to speak to another group. It is not uncommon for elders in United to speak to other groups. In United a policy was adopted in 1997 regarding speaking to groups outside UCG. This policy requests that elders of United seek approval before accepting such invitations. There are many reasons for this, especially in the case of someone who is an employee. Under this policy many elders have spoken to other groups. In the past several years dozens of elders and pastors have received approval to speak to groups of Sabbatarians in the US and other countries-- Thailand being one of the most recent examples. The United Youth Corps Program has sent young people from UCG to Thailand to help with teaching in a Sabbatarian group not affiliated with United. Other elders have spoken to Sabbatarians in India and Portugal. Two elders recently spoke to a group of Sabbatarians in South Africa. A member of the Council of Elders regularly speaks to Sabbatarians in Ukraine. Numerous elders have spoken to Rotary groups and other civic organizations. In the US several elders have spoken at the invitation of a group called "Friends of the Sabbath." In the past two years elders have been approved to attend the Feast with and speak to a Sabbatarian group in southeast Asia not affiliated with UCG. Another pastor received approval to travel to southeast Asia and speak to the same group of people. None of these groups has asked to become part of United, but simply wish to cooperate and have requested our elders to speak in their services or during the Feast. The current policy of United allows for these activities.

Calvin Burrell, the administrator for the COG7 education program invited me to show my slides of Sabbatarian history to a group of COG7 members. Approval was sought from the Home Office in Cincinnati per the UCG policy and only after receiving approval (the same approval that has been given to dozens of elders in the past-- some employed and others not employed by the Church) did I accept the invitation. The program is in Houston and requires no travel. The material is already prepared and has been shared with several other Sabbatarian groups, including the Global Church of God (currently Living Church of God) and the Friends of the Sabbath, so there is no additional work involved. There is no payment involved so there is no issue with moonlighting.

Sadly the author who submitted the letter expressing concern is not knowledgeable of the policies and processes of United nor of the issues involving the two elders who recently resigned. There is simply no link between setting up your own seminar and accepting an invitation to speak to a group of Sabbatarians who may or may not be affiliated with United. 

Jim Franks

The next Prez? Perhaps there is another explanation for Jim Franks being allowed to teach at a non-UCG seminar. AW readers should not be surprised if Jim Franks is the next UCG President. It is an open secret among knowledgeable UCG observers that Jim is the most likely candidate to replace Roy Holladay when Roy's three year "term" as UCG President ends next year. Although not yet officially decided, this month's council meetings will likely include the annual performance review of the President. Based on past indications, that review may well determine an end to Roy's tenure. In thwarting Roy's efforts, it is known even in local UCG congregations at some distance from Cincinnati that the council has micro-managed routine items in the Home Office in response to complaints made from the Home Office to sympathetic council members. Jim is not the only potential candidate to replace Roy, however. Some employees apparently would favor another opportunity for Les McCullough, which would give him a 2nd chance to fulfill his stated intention in 1998 to step down from the council if selected President.

Unclean unclear? I was a bit puzzled by the letter from Robert in [the August 14] mailbag... For the record, I was copied on his message to UCG last week and the reply sent to him, which I have copied below. It was sent to David Treybig because he was the primary author of the booklet (though I wrote the portion that included the quotes above regarding animal fat).

Hello Robert,

Thank you for your suggestion to add the paragraph below to our booklet, "What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?". I'll forward your recommendation to Scott Ashley, who oversees the review and reprinting of our booklets.

The paragraph you sent certainly includes valuable information. When we get ready for reprinting the booklet, perhaps we can do a review and consider your suggestion.

Kind regards,
David Treybig

Also for the record, the following appears on page 14 of the booklet:

“We’ve only discovered that animal fat is bad for us in the last 50 years. To the Christian a century ago, the directive in Leviticus 3:17 to avoid animal fat made no sense at all. Yet it’s clear to us today. What if there’s something in lobster that’s harmful to our health? What if we don’t discover what it is until 50 years from now? Do we require scientific proof before we give the Bible the benefit of the doubt?’ (Eating by the Book, 1999, p. 226).

Reginald Cherry, M.D., comments on why medical doctors and researchers have come to agree with the Bible’s instruction not to eat fat. ‘Why is this prohibition against fat so important for us?” he asks. “Over 53 percent of people in large industrialized countries die of heart disease. Heart disease is most commonly caused by fat deposits that build up in the arteries, often beginning in the teenage years’ (The Bible Cure, 1998, p. 34, large-print edition).

Scott Ashley

Roadkill considered: I do not know why the issue of blood and animal fat was glossed over in the UCG booklet on clean and unclean meats, because at least according to ABC instruction the doctrine has not changed. In our class on the Pentateuch we not only discussed the issue of fat and blood, but also such issues as eating roadkill or any clean animal that dies naturally or has not been properly bled (something also forbidden in those same food laws). Perhaps if there is an revision of the Clean and Unclean Meats booklet this issue could be addressed in detail. After all, the booklet was updated when it was determined that swordfish was unclean because it only had scales during its juvenile period and that including llama as a clean meat was mistaken.

Nathan Albright

Ron's Yellow Pencils: Ron Kelly was amazed that anyone who knew a number of AC students would refer to them as Stepford-like. Well that is probably not the right description. It is entirely too human. Ron Kelly liked to describe himself as a "yellow pencil" for HWA. I reminded Ron Kelly in 1999 that we 60's and 70's AC students of Big Sandy were just "yellow pencils" for he and Les McCullough. He did not disagree. Has he forgotten how he described AC students in a less than human way. Stepford-like is rather kind.

Frank Ledford

Droids: I too was distressed to see the term "Stepford-like" used to describe Ambassador College students. I much prefer the term we always used to describe them: "Holy Droids."

Randy Karnes

Storey site returns: Thought you might be interested in this HIM (Harvest International Ministries) website- especially the article titled, "The Worldwide Church Of God In Prophecy" and the dreams of HIM followers that are interpreted.

Keep up the excellent updates. I am a daily reader of your website!


AW: Thanks Sheila. And just in case there was any confusion, the linked site is in no way associated with Ambassador Watch, despite the misleading URL.

Bliss: What a waste of time! Too much time on your hands? They say ignorance is blissful.

AW: Maybe so. But then again, here you are writing to us...

Herbal gall: Armstrong had the gall to hint he was "latter day Elijah" [because of] a "possessed woman" who recognized him?? I can not believe it...

Well, er, yes, I can! I believe. I attended the WCG and saw they had everyone believing a lot of nonsensical garbage. But this one, reigns king of crap. Armstrong didn't even know scripture. Unless he'd deny Matthew [11:12-14] as inspired words of God through Jesus Christ.

Sharon Mooney

A drought of independent thought: After reading the brief excerpt and definitions from Bob's article concerning the "Laodiceans", one may find himself scratching and shaking his head, furrowing his brow in deep consternation, and wondering how in the world did Bob arrive at such easily dismissing other possibilities and now seemingly accepting his own interpretation as "The Truth" itself? But in light of the influence that Bob and so many others have been subjected to (for so, so long in some cases) and by what appears to be a drought of independent thought and the desire and ability to reason and consider a subject for merely the sake of examining it and questioning really does help to clear up this temporary dilemma. 

As a suggestion, Bob, try to assimilate the difference between knowledge and spiritual understanding, as they appear to be separate and unique in nature and are not to be confused... Ask yourself the question...are you working to seek out understanding for merely the sake of achieving understanding....or just trying to sustain and justify your preconceived and biased notions in order to quell your own fears and insecurities which have been unduly fostered by the influence of these so called "God-ordained others"? In all sincerity, Bob, the best to you in your effort! 


Has David Hulme rewritten Pauline theology for TV?

The Quest for Paul: Okay, admit it. You've been holding your breath ever since the Hulme faction released Cheating God Out of Christianity, its first big-spending TV special. Now you can inhale again. They're about to release something called Quest for the Real Paul.

The idea seems to be to present Paul as an anti-antinomian (quick, grab a dictionary!)  Paul has been tragically misunderstood by everybody except the legalists of COGdom! This shaky proposition will apparently be tarted up with a light dusting of selective scholarly fluff, and oiled with slick video footage of the "High and Hulmerous One" posing outside the Parthenon in Athens and St Peters in Rome. Hulme writes:

We understand that the image that most people have of the apostle Paul is quite distorted. Paul did not overturn early Jewish Christianity and create a new world religion... The early Church of God, both Jewish and Gentile believers, continued to uphold the law. They continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath on Saturday. They kept to the food laws God defined for ancient Israel, and they observed the biblical Holy Days. This is clear from the New Testament record and the often misunderstood life and writings of the apostle Paul.

Often misunderstood. How true. The question is whether Dave will simply muddy the waters even more. 

Fundamentalism II: More from Simply... The Fundamentals. Next time we conclude with the final three categories, authoritarianism, pessimism and totalism.

Intolerance of Dissent

Casting out the unbeliever

The fundamentalists’ certainty in the rightness of their cause leads them to a condescending view of the outsider or non-believer that wavers between pity and hostility. The view of the in-group is that their special insight gives them the right to dictate to others so as to reform their thoughts and deeds. Censorship of ‘unhealthy’ books and films is a key plank in the fundamentalist platform aimed particularly at the politically or sexually unorthodox. For the militant free marketeer economic policy must penalize those who use the public purse to avoid the rigors of hard work. While on the Left the heretic is cast out or sometimes cast into prison for their bourgeois mentality. Extensive ‘reeducation’ is necessary to bring the unconverted and wayward to the true path. The insecurity of the faithful is seen in their preoccupation with hunting out heresy.


Right Living

Protecting us from ourselves

FUNDAMENTALISTS tend to be very prescriptive about lifestyle and personal habits both for their own members and the rest of us as well. In Islam the strict adherence to Sharia law contains a number of prohibitions around liquor, ... dress, and living arrangements enforced by a rigorous criminal code. These are meant to apply to non-Muslims living in the country as well. In Sudan, which has a huge non-Muslim population, the enforcement of Sharia is one cause of civil war.

The fundamentalist Christian social agenda is very similar to that of Islam with a tight family-centered approach... The zealots of both the New Right and the Old Left also glorify the nuclear family unit as the root of social stability.


Pledge to Mom and Apple Pie: According to a posting on JLF, "Dennis Pelley's group (Pasadena WCG) as a part of services had the entire congregation pledge their allegiance to [the] U.S. Flag, Christian Flag and Holy Bible." 

Laodicean etymology?  What is the deep meaning behind the name Laodicea? Bob Thiel thinks he knows.

... Laodicea is a combination of two words, laos which it defines as "people" and dike, which is also defined by Strong's Exhaustive Concordance itself as "right", "judgment", "punish", and "vengeance". Smith's Bible Dictionary defines Laodicea to mean "justice of the people". I personally feel that the term Laodicea conveys a difference in governance and that most Laodiceans have rejected the restored truth about governance. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:22). 

Uh. Um. Actually that has as much cogency as trying to determine the spiritual nature of the LCG by digging into the meaning of the name "Charlotte", HQ of the Meredith sect. How so? According to Britannica Laodicea is

the ancient name of several cities of western Asia, mostly founded or rebuilt in the 3rd century BC by rulers of the Seleucid dynasty, and named after Laodice, the mother of Seleucus I Nicator, or after Laodice, daughter (or possibly niece) of Antiochus I Soter and wife of Antiochus II Theos. The most important of the cities was Laodicea ad Lycum (near modern Denizli, Turkey); its church was one of the seven to which [the Apostle] John addressed the [book of] Revelation.

Singles site: The following announcement appeared on the UCG Yahoo board.

Attention all Church of God Singles: A new website is underway for all Church of God Singles. A new partnership is being formed by the founders of YACOG-(young adults of the Church of God) with a new site to be called SACOG- (single adults of the Church of God) The new site will be similar to the current format but will be geared to the 30 and over singles crowd. We are hoping to launch the site just prior to the Feast of Tabernacles or very shortly thereafter.

We currently have one new page up and ready to go. The 'Post your own Movies Review "Page is ready to accept posts. This page will only be available to registered members however we are opening it up for all
Church of God singles for a short period of time now. The link to the Movie Reviews page is: (any cog singles out there of any age, please go ahead and post your reviews of any current or past movie-thanks!)

The new site will also have a forum page, a chat room and many other features including an online magazine that will cover issues and news related to all the singles all the Church of God. More information and details to be announced later.

Founder of the soon coming SACOG.NET

New Journal: The front and back pages of the July 31 Journal can be viewed in PDF format at

Fundamentally true: Are COG sects fundamentalist? Kind of like asking if the Pope is Catholic. Alan Hughes has illustrated the following characteristics of fundamentalism (whether Christian Bible-belt or Islamic).

Over the next several days we plan to expand on these categories. The commentary (and artwork) comes from the article Simply - The Fundamentals, first published in New Internationalist, August 1990.

Loyalty to Scripture

Is it in the book?

The notion that everything in the Qu’ran or the Bible is literally true and must be obeyed is a firmly held belief of religious fundamentalists. A similar absolute faith in the economic and political prescriptions of books like Karl Marx’s Capital for communists or George Gilder’s Poverty and Wealth for militant free-marketeers marks secular fundamentalist belief. Power Within such groups derives from the ability to quote scripture to make ones point. The multitude of possible interpretations and contradictory passages provide fertile ground for endless dispute over the meaning of the text and split-offs to set up new groups of ‘true believers’.

Belief in Apocalypse

Five minutes to midnight

There are many fundamentalist versions of the Day of Judgment. Race Wars, nuclear holocaust, total environmental collapse, an Aids plague, economic collapse under a mountain of debt, cultural decadence and decay are all held up as possible scenarios for the undoing of the Wickedness of this World. In this way the fundamentalist transforms real problems and world issues into a satisfying catastrophe in which the sinners — atheists, socialists, liberals, the promiscuous, homosexuals, secular humanists, greedy consumers — finally get theirs. According to some versions of apocalypse the righteous are saved by the timely return of Jesus or Muhammad. Eco-survivalists, meanwhile, save themselves by abandoning corrupt civilization to set up pure communities as far as possible from the sources of pollution.


And now for something completely different!

Click on the graphic to view Douglas Becker's latest ALL2TRUE column

WGTM: Can't get enough COG? Need to hear more preachin'? WGTM may be for you. This is an online radio station that beams out messages by COG ministers David Antion, Ray Wooten and creator Lani Finley ("Biblical Teacher", no credentials supplied) along with Christian music and news bulletins (and anti-hair-loss ads!) from USA Radio (a fast connection is necessary to avoid repeated interruptions for buffering.) The website proclaims: 

WGTM is a non-denominational Christian radio station that is dedicated to teaching a balanced Biblical message, with Jesus Christ as the foundation of all church doctrines and beliefs. Our mission is to present a full gospel message, which includes the commandments of God and His Biblically ordained days of worship.

This internet radio station was created from a need to preach the whole truth of God, without interference from the established Christian radio and television media, which denies access to ministries that do not embrace their modern Biblical philosophies. Our goal is to preserve and teach the doctrines held by the first century New Testament church and to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Well, maybe "non-denominational" means something different in Lani's corner of North Carolina. When we tuned in Dave Antion was trying to explain a Greek term at some considerable length. You could just imagine all the congregants sitting uncomfortably with pens poised above the inspired wide-margins of their KJVs. 

For whom the Bell tolls: The folks at CGI are definitely not happy campers over claims made in a Baptist Press story AW linked to on August 6. Here's the reaction from Bob Swimm, sent to AW and Baptist Theological Seminary:

David Bell

Bob Swimm

I read with much interest the article about David Bell, and could not remain silent. The lies, half truths, and revisionist history is mind-boggling. For starters, Mr. Bell founded NO congregation for the Church of God International at Owensboro, KY, or anywhere. Area [Coordinator] Charles R. Tackett established that church, and David was permitted to serve as the “host” or “local contact” as we call them. It was only after Mr. Tackett listened to him that he was even allowed to give a sermonette (10-12 minutes in length). He served in this capacity at Mr. Tackett's pleasure. This was in 1995. Later David was permitted to give full-length sermons, again with Mr. Tackett’s permission.

In 1997, David was ordained as a DEACON (as an aside he showed up two hours late--said he forgot about the time difference from Owensboro to Morehead, KY.) At the ministerial conference in Tyler, TX, the previous summer, he questioned as to why he was “only” being considered for the deaconate at this time. So you see, at this point, he is still not a PASTOR.

On March 30, 1998 (not 1995), the same day, on the same podium as I, David was ordained an elder, or minister, in the Church of God International. It is CGI policy that the newly ordained serve one year’s probation before assuming the pastorate of the church they are serving. So you see David Bell was NEVER, EVER a PASTOR in the Church of God International. He has misled all of you, rather badly. And if he had such grave reservations about the theology of the CGI, how could he have stood by my side, and the side of two others of us, and accepted the ministry, and had hands laid on him. Might this tell you gentlemen anything about the real David Bell and his integrity? Also did Mr. Bell mention that he had a surreptitious meeting with Ted Armstrong in New Orleans before accepting his ordination? His several trips to Tyler are two. Sharing the pulpit with GTA? Never happened...

As an aside, why don’t you folks do your homework instead of throwing around this “Armstrongism” term? Just a little investigative reporting will find a rich history in the Church of God, Seventh Day that long predates the Armstrongs. There are books such as Dugger and Dodds “A History of The True Religion” that document the theology that we hold sacred, and you will see that doctrines like the rejection of the Trinity predated Mr. Armstrong. It is a bit humorous that Walter Martin jumped through hoops to avoid mentioning the Church of God, Seventh Day in his “Kingdom of the Cults” tome.

Again, thought you might be interested in a little bit of plain truth about David Bell from someone who knew him, and who knows the truth about him, and it does not resemble what is written in that article. But then, maybe you’d rather tell it your way. But I lie not.

Bob Swimm
Pastor, Fort Thomas, Kentucky Church of God International

Note: We've omitted a section from the letter which we'd like David's "side of the story" on before publishing. 


Ron protesteth: Back on July 20 an article about Bobby Fischer appeared in the Pasadena Star News which took a passing sideswipe at WCG.

Already living in Pasadena before becoming world chess champion in 1972, Fischer returned here to an apartment provided by the church near its Ambassador College campus. We Pasadenans are used to making nice with the church for two reasons: It kept up the beautiful grounds with a vengeance thanks to those Stepford- like students who weeded the massive dichondra lawns, and weren't those classy concerts in the gaudy auditorium swell?

But someone with some distance doesn't have to pay lip service. Chun says Fischer came to Pasadena and "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.'

You'd think Ron Kelly might be too busy checking the placement of his decimal points to fire off a reply, but not so. Here's Kelly's August 9 response. Hang on a moment while we grab a violin...

Editor Larry Wilson's July 20 column on Bobby Fischer seemed to deviate from an article about the chess champion to take a sarcastic look at the Worldwide Church of God, Ambassador College students and the Ambassador Auditorium.

As director of church relations, I was quite surprised at the reference he quoted from Rene Chun in the Atlantic Monthly to the Worldwide Church of God as "an apocalyptic cult." I can't imagine Wilson is not aware of the historic and monumental changes that have taken place in the Worldwide Church of God over the past decade and more. Many of those changes have been, in fact, covered in the Star-News.

We have corrected theological errors of the past and are now an active participant in the greater orthodox Christian community. We are members of the National Association of Evangelicals and our denominational President, Dr. Joseph Tkach, sits on the board of NAE. We maintain an Ambassador Educational Center at Azusa Pacific University and have sent many of our leadership staff to APU as well as Fuller Theological Seminary (in Pasadena). Be assured this would not have been possible with an "apocalyptic cult."

As to Bobby Fischer's connection to the Worldwide Church of God, Mr. Fischer was never a member of the WCG. Although he did have association with the church and did contribute financially to the work of the church, the church certainly never "cleaned out his pockets" (Fischer's claim, not Wilson's or Chun's.)

Chun's allegation that Fischer "retreated to the protective cocoon of the Worldwide Church of God," is certainly a stretch. True, he did occupy a church-owned apartment in South Pasadena for a short time, but his association with the WCG was not a lengthy one. And he was not in hiding or incognito during that brief time.

Wilson's reference to "we Pasadenans" as though our employees, thousands of college students and more than 2,000 church members were separate from the rest of our beautiful city. Why? Are we not Pasadenans too? Has not Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God been an important part of the city?

Further, why would he call Ambassador College students "Stepford-like?" Anyone who was ever personally acquainted with a significant number of students would not use such a pejorative term. The vast majority of Ambassador students were among the finest young men and women you would ever hope to meet. To classify them as "Stepford-like" as though they had no minds of their own is totally inappropriate.

Further, why would he ridicule the concert series at "the gaudy auditorium" in an article about Bobby Fischer? While his view of the architecture, decor and acoustics of the Ambassador auditorium is a matter of personal opinion, I can't believe he is not aware that most of the artists who performed in the auditorium considered it among the finest concert halls in the world - some even saying it was without rival. In addition to bringing some of the most renowned performers in the world to the Ambassador, the church sponsored scores of free concerts to school children and the community.

The Worldwide Church of God is now preparing to complete the sale of the wonderful campus we have been privileged to enjoy these past more than 50 years. We are proud to be a part of the resurgence and revitalization of the Crown City. We leave with a pride of developing and maintaining this garden spot in the greater Los Angeles community. We have enjoyed sharing it with our neighbors and with all of Southern California and trust that the new owners will continue the tradition of excellence we strove to achieve.

Ronald Kelly

UCG pastor moonlighting with COG7? This week we received a letter from a Church of God (Seventh Day) reader who expressed wonderment at what they perceived as an apparent double-standard by UCG officials. While lowly-ranked elders Jacobs and Swenson were firmly dealt with for having the temerity to organize an evangelism conference, a high profile elder is openly hawking his expertise to members of COG7.

Jim Franks

I was surprised today after services at the Church of God Seventh Day where I attend. I was signing up for a MTS class, which is short for Ministerial Training System. These classes are held for those who just want to study more about the Bible or for those who would like to pursue credit toward being a lay pastor or employed pastor in COG7. There is a fall semester beginning in September in Houston. 

What was so amazing and perplexing to me was that when I looked at the syllabus of class dates and subjects I see that Jim Franks, an employed minister of UCG is teaching three sessions covering the Sabbath from a Biblical and Historical perspective and on Research and the Internet. I was trying to square this with recent sanctions against Bill Jacobs and Guy Swenson for wanting to teach a weekend course/seminar on Evangelism. The reason I heard for the sanction was that they did not bring it before UCG hierarchy for approval and that it wouldn't have been approved because it was not originated by the "Home Office"... and that the evangelism committee had not fully discussed their direction yet... I believe they (Bill and Guy) were mainly wanting to expose United's own membership to this information although others could attend if so desired in the Christian community. Well what seems incongruous is that here is Jim Franks teaching completely outside of UCG altogether and it appears this is allowed...

Could one conclude that when you are the guy in charge or friends with the guys in charge your effort at reaching out to other churches and teaching in a non UCG forum would be looked on more favorably?


Weekly Mailbag

McNair & Herb's Demon Revelation: (1) Yep, that's definitely the clincher that Herbert Armstrong was Elijah -- a crazy woman once said he was Elijah. Of course, we have no way to tell what that poor delusional woman meant. She may have been referring to a man named Elijah that she had once known, or to a man named Elijah who never existed except in her malfunctioning brain. There's no reason to believe she meant Elijah the Prophet, or "the end-time Elijah."

Gavin, you just might be getting ahead of yourself when you advocate accountability among the Armstrongite and former Armstrongite sects. Accountability should be further down the agenda. Advocating sanity or common sense among the Armstrongites really ought to be at the top of the agenda.

[On other matters] Geoffrey Neilson quizzes: "What two servants of God would be more widely recognized/By Heads of State and average me and you?"

Oh, that's an easy one -- Pope John Paul II, Billy Graham, and Archbishop Rowan Williams would definitely be more widely recognized by heads of state and the average man. Most heads of state, and most people, have never heard of Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong, the Sr. and Jr. Joseph Tkaches, Gerald Flurry, Rod Meredith, or whoever if your "Armstrongian" flavor of the month. Poor Neilson just doesn't understand that, looking at the broader culture and the flow of religious history, seventh-day Sabbatarianism is far from the religious mainstream, and that the sects arising from Herbert Armstrong's activities are something of a religious backwater. But that's a forest you can't see when your nose is up against the tree bark.

Jared L. Olar

(2) To comment on Raymond McNair's "close encounter of the BS-kind": Although I must admit to only reading this information on this website pertaining to the story of HWA and the "sassy demon woman", I am hardly shocked to read his (Ray's) reaction and the apparent longtime influence it has had over him... I find it hard to express how hard I find it to believe that after reviewing the past 50 years of the "HWA/WCG/'end-time Elijah'/'apostle'/etc experience", that anyone (at this point) could believe the tall tales of Herbert? It must be very difficult for anyone with the kind of longevity that Ray has experienced to finally look at the situation for what it truly appeared to be? With all the "trees in the forest falling around him"...the "great leaders" of the 20th century faith passing away...the divisions of the faithful-living ever-widening...and the exposure to and of so many contradictions and circumstances related to "the work" in the must be taking its' toll? Question: Isn't basing your whole interpretation and concept on a subject such as "the Elijah", on no greater than second-hand hearsay evidence, by what appears to be the authority of a delusional individual (take your pick of which one) less than ridiculous?

(3) Considering Satan is the king of liars and his demons obviously so, why would HWA or McNair or anyone believe what a demon it because they like what is said?

Reply to Janet: The residents of the congregation in Tampa for the most part have been attending for 30+ years. There have been 8 ministers and two local elders (during the transition from WCG) with their own styles, preferences, and leadership qualities! There is more “history” in this congregation than anybody wants. More glossing over the issues and busying the “flock” with programs has taken place there than any other congregation I have experience in! Let me put it this way. From the history or tradition as we may call it, all of the ministers from the past and now including Mr. Treybig are visitors to the area. They do not have a long-term stake in the well being of the congregation! They get to move on. Especially when it gets to the point of diminishing returns. The people get to remain in the area for the rest of their lives, in many cases. Does their opinion matter? Who has the better perspective over the Tampa congregation? ... I submit it is those people who have lived there, who now live there and who will continue to live there in the future! By the way, is there one successful company in the business world who has had that many CEO’s in that span of time?

There is nothing cowardly about finding a way to get out the angst we have absorbed all these years. We come from a time when speaking out against the governing bodies was not tolerated. Ms. Treadway does herself a disservice by judging the person(s) writing what their experience is to this point! She gives us a great example of exactly the thing that adds to the fear of these people. People have been disfellowshiped for less and had their souls turned over to Satan! That is why people read this web site. That is why people are discussing more of the things that were repressed for years. That is why people are thinking, growing, and moving on with their spiritual lives in a positive way! The past can not be denied. The future can be changed! Will we change it? 

Violent apostle: The story about how Herbert pulled a gun on Hub Evans tells us a lot about his violent nature. While most white Southerners of that era did believe in keeping the negro "in his place", the way HWA reacted to Hub's lack of manners was extremely out of place. If Hub actually attacked Herbert, he (Herbert) according to the mores of those times, would have been justified in pulling that gun on Evans and shooting him. Even though Herbert claimed he saved his job by this drastic act, I strongly suspect his boss, Mr. Hickman, wasn't too happy with the way Herb handled the situation. Herbert's move back north, supposedly to spare him from a recurrence of typhoid, might have been to prevent him from being hurt or killed by the blacks at that lumber mill. After all, the way Herbert behaved would have made him no friends among them. Also, it's interesting to note that nearly everything HWA said about the blacks he encountered in his early life was blue-penciled out of the Autobiography's later editions. I suppose "concerns" about racism and political correctness motivated the censorship of the holy tome.

Unclean issues: Have you noticed in the UCG booklet on Clean and Unclean meats nothing is mentioned about eating animal fats and blood in meat? The UCG clearly does not follow WCG teaching on this matter.

If you have the time I would like you to raise this with the UCG and would be interested to hear their reply. My email fell on deaf ears.

Notice what the WCG said about this: Principles of Healthful Living, page 22: "God forbids also the eating of animal fat, or blood (Lev. 3:17; 7:23-27). Butter, olive oil, and some vegetable oils and shortenings are acceptable, but animal fat should be cut off before eating meat. Cheaper hamburger is not good because it is mixed with much fat. Lard should never be used. These things will wreckany stomach in time."


AW: Somehow, Robert, I don't think my approach to the nice folk at HO would bring much of a response. Maybe one of our UCG readers would like to follow up.

A crazy religion: I appreciated your site. I grew up in WCG and it's so hard to realize your whole life was based on a lie, all those stupid rules we had to go by all for nothing.

We had no friends during our school years, and missed a lot of school every year because of the FOT. It makes me sick to think of all the bull crap I learned growing up just to realize as an adult now that all those ministers and deacons and elders were all crazy!! No one understands unless you were there. My parents still attend the United church services and cling to all the old teachings, it makes me so sad. Especially since my grandmother is 95 and she will probably die not knowing that she believes in a crazy religion started by Mr. Armstrong. She even gets tapes mailed to her from McNair I believe, its so depressing!!!! Thanks again for speaking out against the "church", someone needs to tell the truth, and stop sweeping all the details under the rug. 


12 August. COULTER

Fred the Scholar: Fred Coulter seems to be gearing up to sell his books on Amazon, judging from an ad in the June 30 Journal. Several titles are already listed there, but none were yet "in stock" when we checked. There was however an interesting review of Fred's Passover book by Jack Turner.

How can he be translating Hebrew and Greek when he can't even write well in English?

I wish I could give this book a lower review. Not only is the scholarship suspect, the majority of the scripture references are either from the KJV (which has its own set of scholarly issues) or the author's own translation. Of course, there are a lot of references, so that's a lot of translating, and there are NO credentials given by Mr. Coulter as to his fluency in Greek OR Hebrew OR his ability to translate. For that matter, how can he be translating Hebrew and Greek when he can't even write well in English? Most of the book is written in capitals and/or bold/italics, making for a very, very hard read. It gets better: the ideas and theology of Coulter are unorthodox at best and lean more towards heretical. Coulter is anti-Semitic, anti-Judaism, and anti-Traditional, all of which come across boldly, proudly in this book. He demonstrates a complete lack of historical understanding of the Passover ritual DESPITE pleading to history to legitimize his beliefs. In short, this book isn't worth the paper it's printed on... This book essentially amounts as venomous rage and misunderstanding masquerading as legitimate scholarship...

We also note that Fred claims to be have "graduated from Ambassador University with a BA in Theology in 1964." This is not quite accurate. Fred's degree was issued by Ambassador College (Ambassador University came decades later). AC, unlike AU, was totally unaccredited. We're sure Fred will want to correct the misleading information.

Fred, the canon and racial slurs: A copy of Fred Coulter's tape More on the NT Canon supports Turner's observations. Coulter's claims in this audio presentation are surprising to say the least. According to Fred:

There was, unfortunately, more. Coulter railed against the United Bible Societies and spat abuse at modern translators who, in his judgment, have all been deceived by the machinations of the Roman Catholic Church (this will probably come as a surprise to the genuine scholars who worked on such conservative Evangelical projects as the NIV and English Standard Version).

But Coulter's comments about the Jewish people are even worse. Here is a transcript of his remarks:

And the Jews to this day have not understood the severity of the sentence of their own judgment when they said to Pilate "his blood be upon our heads, and upon our children". And God took 'em up on that judgment. It's not that the world hates Jews. The truth is if you would read Jewish writings the Jews hate everybody else in the world, except themselves.

This is not scholarship. This is not even bad scholarship. This is sheer racism. 


Evangelism Roadshow heads South: Former UCG ministers Swenson & Jacobs are taking their evangelism seminar to East Texas on Labor Day weekend (September 4-5). The venue will be the COG-Big Sandy. Information is available at

New Zealand becomes ICG-free: One of the farthest outposts of Mark Armstrong's Intercontinental COG has disappeared from the map. Stuart Macmillan, formerly the only Kiwi contact and local host, advises us that he has left the embrace of Armstrongism "based on recent research that the 10 Commandments were the eternal law to now be written on our hearts and the rest, food laws, tithes, etc. ... are now done away with and therefore I can no longer support the promotion of the GTAEA and ICG doctrines."

This is the latest installment in the topsy-turvy history of ICG and CGI in New Zealand. The first attempt to establish a GTA group occurred soon after Ted's ousting from WCG, led by AC graduate Jim Bennett. It subsequently morphed briefly into a local variety of COG7 before self destructing in 1981. Several further attempts had been made, none of which were successful.

(ICG, CGI, GTA, WCG, AC, COG7... possibly a record for number of COG acronyms in a single paragraph. If you understood all the references then you can truly regard yourself as an initiate in the Herbal Mysteries!)

Elijah & Son: A couple of people have drawn attention to a contribution by Geoffrey R. Neilson in the Letters section of the last Journal. Pam Dewey comments: Seldom am I ever speechless, but this has made me so. So, why the fuss? 

Rise of the two witnesses

And what if God decides, in order to measure the Temple,
The Two Witnesses will "rise" from their earthly graves?
Waves of shock would reverberate, Laodiceans would tremble;
Assemble, all Philadelphians, in the Place of Safety caves.

To unify the scattered Church, God may bring back Elijah
To raise the Midnight Cry that wakes the Sleeping Bride.
Electrified, Philadelphians would all unite, confer.
Stirred, half Laodicea would admit what they denied.

Would this explain how Zerubbabel laid the foundation
Of God's third and end-time Temple, on the one hand?
And, on the other, how he can finish this spiritual Zion
So there's no denying that he is the Eternal's man?

And what if God forgave all the sins of Joshua?
Won't that great act of mercy be a sign to all
Stalled in sin, no matter how poor or posh you are?
Scarred Laodiceans can repent, and rise from their fall.

And what if Elijah stood beside his son, to garner the harvest
Of subscribers, viewers, and listeners from all clans
Spanned across the world? The countless millions they used to assist
Enlist their remnant anew, point them to the Promised Land?

What two servants of God would be more widely recognized
By Heads of State and average me and you?
Who could the Church worldwide more unify and galvanize?
Realize Elijah and son may have a second coming too.

And what if these Messengers, by Heaven selected,
Interjected: "We are the Olive Trees of the two final Eras;
"Wearers of Sackcloth for the Tribulation expected;
"Resurrected, mortal, to lead all God-fearers"?

Are these the reasons all Israel will know for certain
That a prophet has been among them? Who long warned--
Scorned though he was--of Jacob's final Dispersion?
Conversion will come quickly to them when Tribulation dawns.

And, if so, will Elijah's ire cleanse the Auditorium dedicated
To The Great God? Sweep away all the prophets of Baal?
Assail their abominations with fire? Eradicate?
Exterminate? Make them and their heresies disappear wholesale?

And what if this is the final test of your heart and mine?
Would we follow Elijah-to-come a second time?
Or would our new loyalties seem more sublime?
Would we be Philadelphians, measured by Zerubbabel's plumb line?

Any comment on our part would be entirely superfluous.

NY minister dies: We've been advised by a correspondent that WCG minister Dan Bierer has died, reportedly of a heart attack. He worked in the Westchester County and Manhattan churches.

The Lord's humble servant speaketh: Quotable quotes from the highly esteemed Gerald R. Flurry, Pastor General of the Philadelphia Church of God, can be found at


Sassy lady demoniac anoints Armstrong as Elijah: From Dateline Pasadena. 

Herb was the End Time Elijah and Raymond McNair can prove it! Ray writes to a news forum: 

I have believed that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was the "end-time Elijah" since I first heard him say, while teaching a Bible class at Ambassador College in 1949, that a demon possessed woman told him, in a sassy voice, "I know who you are. You're Elijah!"

"I know who you are. You're Elijah!"

Mr. Armstrong then mentioned, the New Testament explains that demon possessed persons often acknowledged they knew Jesus was the Christ, even though mortal humans failed to recognize Christ's Messiah-ship. In like manner, in Acts 16:16-18, a possessed woman shrieked, "These men (Paul and Timothy) are servents [sic] of the most high God...." In Acts 19:13-15, we are told that, when certain "vagabond Jews," who were "exorcists," tried to cast out demons in Christ's name, "...the evil spirit answered and said, 'Jesus I know and Paul I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" So, when the demon possessed woman told Mr. Armstrong that he was "Elijah," this puzzled him at the time. But when he pondered the incident, he concluded that perhaps this "demon" in the woman realized that Mr. Armstrong was the end-time "Elijah," which God had promised to send with a message for humanity, lest the Lord "smite the earth with utter destruction" (Mal. 4:4-5).

In August, 2001, I wrote a rather thorough paper titled, "THE THREE 'ELIJAHS'--Questions and Answers Regarding the End-time 'Elijah'!" That article of about sixty pages answers many important questons
[sic] concerning the end-time "Elijah." ...

May God guide all of our deliberations on this or any other topics which we discuss, so that we always prove our beliefs by the infallable
[sic], immutable and everlasting Word of God!

Weekly Mailbag

McNair charisma: Those worried about WCG and offshoots deceiving people and ruining lives have little to worry about from Raymond McNair. His charisma and speaking skills would be put to shame by a wet paper bag.

The longest elevator ride of my life was three stories with just the two of us!! I will share one of the stories he told us about once a month when I was in college.

On his wedding night he told his wife to put on his pants. She did not want to but he insisted and as she did she said, “Your pants do not fit me” His reply was “you need to remember that” And he would go on to pontificate about the man being in charge.

He told this story many times to almost the same group of people. After a while it became comical and was all we could do not to break out in laughter when he started.

We came up with a sequel to the story it was told widely around the campus and went like this: His wife asks him to try on her panties. He did not want to but she kept after him until he gave in. As he tried to put them on he said “I can’t get into your panties” Her reply was “And it will stay that way until your attitude changes”.

I think it was the humor we found in our crazy upbringing that kept us sane (if we are?)

Norman Zimmerman

Wannabes & Knockoffs: After reading the post about Raymond McNair's Web site, I wondered: is it a requirement of all fledging COG wannabes and knockoffs to 1) use the 1995 version of Microsoft FrontPage to create a site with massive flashing GIF files?; 2) buy a template for Dreamweaver and then populate it with COG acroymns? (who else but us recovering Armstrongites, Tkachites, Meredithites and Flurrybites know what the hell they mean anyway?); 3) Consult Strong's Concordance to determine the proper biblical direction for HTML code (perhaps the Oklahoma worker bees can dish up a new booklet: "That Prophet speaks out on the evils of Javascript"). 

Zen master Flurry: Ken Ryland was editor of WCG's Spanish publications for many years, up until 1979 or 1980, when presumably many of the translations Gerry is objecting to were done. I loved Ken's response and asked him if he'd mind if I forwarded it to you. Flurry's nonsense is at least partially offset by such witty repudiations! 

Ken's response: "Use what you want, including my name. I don't think, at this point, that my rep[utation] can be sullied by the likes of Zen master Flurry."

Although I don't give a lot of thought these days to what Gerry thinks, I believe that I, as former managing editor of the Spanish PT, am to a great extent responsible for the miscarriage of justice done to the works of HWA. Who would have thunk that my heart was filled with such evil and deceit? Not I!! Of course, since Mr. F. (like his "master") speaks no Spanish either, he may be being fed a steady diet of saccharine tripe by a host of his own Quislings who think that truck is "troca" and wife is "waifa." That kind of Spanish works in the barrios of L.A., but not in the real world. Quien sabe y a quien le importa? Ay yay yay, Lucy!!

[Note: "Quien sabe y a quien le importa?" means "Who knows and who cares?"]

Reg Killingley

Tampa: I know David Treybig and he is not at all what is being portrayed by the member that sent this letter to you. It is a bit like a trader to attend services and without talking to Dave about this sending his letter off to be published without his permission, behind his back. And it is a bit like a coward to do this.

No one is forcing the man to attend there! No one is holding a gun to his head to attend the church in Tampa. IF he indeed has so much fear then why attend?

I also appreciate Nathan's letter about ABC. I work across the hall and can hear these classes and he is indeed correct.

Now I know my letter will appear at the bottom of AW as it seems that most positive letters do. 

Janet Treadway

AW: Trader?? ... There was no direct criticism of David Treybig, other than crediting him with the letter and asking a question about the tone of the congregations he pastors in.

Fear is a double edged sword. Some people fear not to attend, as I'm sure you know, lest they "fall away", alienate family members or end up going through the Great Tribulation or being turfed into the Lake of Fire. Should the writer have cleared their letter with David Treybig first? Well, did David clear his letter about Swenson and Jacobs with them first?

As for the order of letters in AW, I try to group them by topic. In Nathan's case I received his email after formatting the upload, and tagged it on at the last moment. I think if you dig back through all the "tail enders" over the various issues, you'll find a wide assortment of viewpoints.

Unbelievable contradiction: Thank you for publishing AW. It is a huge service to everyone in the church of God community, and those who have left it.

The latest United News is out from Cincinnati. There is a section on the Winter Family Tournament. Notice the absolutely unbelievable contradiction in the following two questions and their respective answers:

Q. Did not Richard Pinelli say that United would not establish a competing weekend during the Q&A session with the Cincinnati North congregation on Saturday night, May 15?

A. Yes. When Richard Pinelli made his statement, he was answering a question specifically regarding the Winter Family Weekend sponsored by UCG-Cincinnati North. He said that if the UCG-Cincinnati North or the UCG-Lexington congregation wanted to continue to sponsor the weekend, the home office would not compete with them. The home office would support them. At that May 15 meeting, no members of the UCG-Cincinnati North congregation had left United, and there was no new church organization in Cincinnati. He was therefore answering the question based on the only Winter Family Weekend in existence in this area, the one sponsored by UCG-Cincinnati North and UCG-Lexington. Obviously United would not set-up a competing activity with a United congregation. If it was meant to be a hypothetical question asking whether we would set up a competing weekend with a new church organization, that should have been clearly stated, not assumed.

Q. It is alleged that the administration intended to take the family weekend from the UCG-Cincinnati North congregation. Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that Mark Winner was asked to check out the facilities in Lexington before the May 15 meeting?

A. The home office never had a plan of "taking" the Winter Family Weekend from the congregations that had always sponsored it (UCG-Cincinnati and UCG-Lexington). By the Sabbath of May 8, some members of the Lexington congregation had already left the United Church of God and organized an independent congregation. Mr. O'Brien had already had a meeting with them and a private meeting on the same Sabbath with the UCG-Cincinnati North congregation. Richard Pinelli asked Mark Winner to make inquiries only after the split in Lexington because we were already beginning to receive questions about the family weekend. Richard did not want to upset anyone, but asked Mark to inquire since we did not know what the status of the weekend was at that point. Obviously, we wanted to be able to continue a weekend that had been sponsored by United, and we were reacting to find out information. To our knowledge, no contracts were signed at this juncture, but negotiations had begun.

Ok, so we have two congregations both pastored by the same person, and one leaves because the pastor has been mistreated.... so I guess according to UCG logic that means the other congregation would never consider leaving? What kind of BS is this? It's totally obvious from the answer given to the second question that they were anticipating a split in Cincy North. Otherwise why would they have asked Mark Winner to check out other facilities? Pinelli had to know what they really meant when they asked him if UCG would form a competing tournament to the Family Weekend. He was one who asked Mark Winner to start looking for a venue! 

Pardon my disgust... but I am totally besides myself right now... I better go before I say anything else. This is my first email to you...

Unknown Nazis? I heard from a reliable source that UCG has called for emergency meetings in Cincinnati, and at the "deacons" and "elders" meeting something was mentioned about some congregations are wanting to vote on who their "ministers" will be. More trouble in Paradise?

The "pastor" in UCG discouraged his sheople from using the internet because it promotes gossip. He said that he could be called a Nazi and that he himself wouldn't even know it. He must be reading Ambassador Watch. ;-)


UCG Journalism: I thank Nathan Albright for explaining how one Ambassador Bible Center class has a "unit" of journalism in it. I didn't realize that before, and I don't recall the A.B.C. staff even mentioning it. Many in the United Church of God probably assume "Bible" means Bible, and nothing more.

There are many kinds of "journalism," of course. The college I attended has sequences in advertising, public relations, "news-editorial" and radio-television (my major), among others.

I would sincerely ask which of these kinds of journalism UCG is practicing -- and which one it should be practicing.

Richard Burkard

Rappin': If people who are so outspoken with their strong views, comments, and criticisms and dislikes, for some administrative decisions in leadership of their church organizations or congregations, and write in with comments, should they not be insisted upon to disclose their NAME, in full... Or is this a secret sounding board - for the disgruntled members of COG, and just a rap sheet...

Paul Dzing

AW: The letter policy is clearly stated at the bottom of this page.

Spirituality and Pooh Bear: I agree with Jim Baldwin that we are left with just two basic observations. Either we are merely hairless apes or we were hairless apes, evolving over the past 2 million years into our present humanness with the unique quality of consciousness. That being the unique ability to question, to think, to be aware of being aware. The topic of our having consciousness and it's implications are fascinating and yet, who knows? I am not ready yet to conclude that we are merely a fancy meat tube that consumes and then is gone as if we were never here. But, of course, that could be the truth of the matter as Jim might feel. Truth is Truth. yet, who knows? I still want to look. 

An example of a channeled "collective entity" 25,000 years into the future is a bit extreme, but then so is the God of eternity past divesting Himself of godness and becoming flesh for one or three years depending and leaving such a confused mess of religious thought for humanity to argue, conquer and kill over. I used to say I had met at least 26 of the Two Witnesses and now we can say we know of at least 300 of the one true church. 

Spirituality is generally more vague to others than perhaps the one experiencing it, and it can be very unfulfilling if pursued as another fix for the standard line of human fears, phobias and shortcomings. On the other hand, it is a wonderful experience to be around someone who simply is who they are, no pretence, nothing to prove, nothing to get you to believe or do or contribute to. As the Tao of Pooh notes. The reason we like Winnie the Pooh is because "Pooh just is..." That appeals to me even if there is nothing else. Bitterness and anger does not serve anyone, though it must be processed and then set aside. 

"The God that we know is not the God that is," simply is a way to say don't think all you can know or all that there is to know about who and whatever God might be, or not be, is not exclusively experienced in the Bible or Christian writings. They are simply another attempt to answer the why's and how's of life. It's what humans do. The hundreds of non-canonical books left out of the Bible were also attempts at such. 

Words are devoid of meaning only to those for whom they are devoid of meaning. One mans spirituality is another's foolishness and that's ok too. It's not a group effort as religion is. It is personal and only needs to satisfy the conscious seeking of the seeker and no one else. This is why individual spirituality has always been discouraged by the organized Church. Those Spirituality minded from the inside out and not outside in don't need prophets, priests and pastors to tell them what is what. They don't make good tithers and can't easily be herded into programs and seminars on how to be or do. They don't obey the "powers that be" very well either and of course that is why the organized church has spent a lot of energy chasing, jailing, killing and tormenting those who think for themselves. It's why one gets "disfellowshipped" to put the fear of God in you and set you outside the tribe to think about your fate if you don't tow the line. It's scary and it's phony. The historical fact is that had there been no free thinkers and those more spiritually minded from within, regardless of the cost, the church would still be repressing and suppressing science, medicine, real history, knowledge and freedom, much more than it still does. They now find themselves having to be more creative in enticing adherents and loyalty. The SDA's have been so successful at growth not because of the Sabbath and Vegetarianism, but because of public prophecy seminars that are weeks long, that fascinate, scare, program and appeal to the human need to survive it all. (Sound familiar?) Fear works wonders for organized religion in this time in history. It is however, not a spiritual experience to be motivated by fear and self preservation. Prophecy, as Keith Stump pointed out, is suspect. And so much of what the Christian Church takes as prophecy, even those that wrote it, is not and never was meant to be. 

I was [also] amused at Gerry Flurry's rantings about translation problems with HWA's writings. With just a bit of editing, say changing the dates and a few names and language references Gerry will more completely understand the historical problems with the book that he thinks makes obvious reference to his own faux pas ministry. Mistranslation, forgery, ulterior motives, changes in meaning, devious motives, deletions, additions, redactions, alterations, agendas and manipulations have brought us our current "inerrant and inspired" Bible as well. A simple study of how we REALLY got the Bible, added to his current uncovering of the nefarious Spanish plot, will pretty much catch him up on the reality of religion and his Gerry-Act-Trick Church.

Dennis Diehl



CGI pastor converts to Southern Baptist: What happens to old CGI members? A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Garner Ted Armstrong led a "liberal" remnant out of the Worldwide Church of God. Unfortunately, Ted being Ted, the whole thing started to unravel (or maybe "unzip") within months, and kept unraveling until Ted was ousted. CGI still exists, its promise of being "a new beginning" and doing "the work of the watchman" unfulfilled.

Yet there were some interesting folk who went with Ted in the 1978 "Texodus". Many are still active a quarter century later in various nooks and crannies of the Churches of God. George and Pam Dewey for example, Ron the Republican, Ian Boyne (still flying the flag in Jamaica) and even, albeit briefly, the AW webmaster.

And then there's David Bell. David is making headlines in the Baptist Press as a former CGI elder (one of the youngest on record) now working on a doctorate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It makes an interesting story, a COG version of "I was a teenage werewolf" perhaps? 


Worldwide News disappears: It was called The Worldwide News, but in recent days it was re-titled WCG News. Now it is about to disappear to make way for something called WCG Today. A second publication, not yet named, will have an "outreach" focus. Details (if you can call gushy PR pabulum "details") can be found in The Beloved Leader's August member letter.

Talking about the Holy Family, what a fun loving bunch! Take Tammy Tkach, the super recycling lady of Fontana. And then there's Joe (though we're not sure whether it's Joe the Pastor General and President-for-Life, or son Joseph III) who likes it hot! Hey, what neat lead stories for the first issue of WCG Today...

The Great Translation Hoax? The Word has gone forth from Edmond. The forces of evil have been messing with Herb's inspired writings. The translations of the Apostolic classics were fudged, changed, tampered with and distorted by the WCG's translators! Poor Gerry has been forced to get the sacred texts re-translated faithfully. Here's the spin. soon as a serious comparison of Mr. Armstrong's original booklets in English with WCG Spanish translations was made, the department was shocked to discover how altered some of the texts were, even with respect to publications going as far back as the mid 1970s. Clearly THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN had been guilty of perpetuating corrupt translations for years. Yet many of the WCG's Spanish speaking ministers must have been aware of what was happening and took advantage of the fact that Mr. Armstrong was not bilingual. None of them brought these goings-on to Mr. Armstrong's attention.

While the main thrust of the message remains intact, most of the changes in meaning and corruption in the texts are subtle and devious. These are not simply the faux pas of bad or clumsy translators. There is a consistent, conscious agenda, directly by or indirectly through very capable translators, to undermine and alter Mr. Armstrong's messages, especially where certain specific ideas, beliefs and doctrines are concerned.

... Men with agenda's against Mr. Armstrong's teachings were trying to thwart the true impact of God's Work in foreign languages not long after English stopped being the only vehicle for spreading the gospel around the world.

Mr. Flurry's initial reaction when learning of the extent to which these corrupters in foreign languages fiddled with these INSPIRED writings, says it all "What an abomination!" ...

Pray that by the power of His Holy Spirit, God will give our translators the ability to correct the wrong introduced into Mr. Armstrong's foreign language booklets by weak-in-the-faith WCG translators, under the sway of Satan, so people respond and those God is calling, who speak languages other than English, will be able to enjoy the full benefit of the meaning as God inspired it.

Yeah, right. So how come the Oklahoma Prophet has changed the text in the English language editions produced by PCG? Here's what Robert Kuhne says on his website.

Having purchased from the WCG the copyrights to a number of Herbert Armstrong's writings, Gerald Flurry is now proceeding with alterations to the original text.  Primarily this is being done to either insert himself into the text, or eliminate contradictions between HWA's teachings and his own.  The first example we have is the removal of the following sentence from the 2003 PCG copyrighted second edition of Mystery of the Ages (top of pg. 245): No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church. [MA, pg. 245 top, PCG first edition]

Could it be that Prophet Gerry has another reason to withhold the printing of expensive foreign language editions of Herb's books?


Journal site makeover: The Journal's online edition at has a spiffy new design. There are several new sections offering enhanced content, including one of the best listings of COG websites we've seen anywhere (but there are some significant omissions) and some very ancient audio content - 1950s sermons from Herb, Dick, Ted and a smattering of others (come to think of it, didn't this stuff appear on Alan Ruth's site before?) Unfortunately access to past editions seems to have disappeared.

Another downside to the new version are the ads, which appear to be generated by an algorithm at Google. Google scans each page for key words then attempts to link relevant content. If you've seen Alan's website then you've got the idea. In fact the new design seems to be cloned from that website. In any case, the online Journal currently promotes COG-eim (the post-Billingsley Modesto sect), Pack's RCG cult (no, the R doesn't actually stand for "revolting"!) and, perhaps appropriately, even links to "the Spiritual Help Channel" at Christianity Today!

And for those who might like to catch the eye of wider COGdom, you can now even buy your own advertising space on the website! 

Conference aftermath: Comments from several people who attended the Indy Evangelism Conference on the weekend indicate that it was a positive experience. Presenters Swenson and Jacobs stressed that the first step in evangelism is making sure the local church is a healthy, welcoming place. Cincinnati North's Jim O'Brien was MC for the event. The experiences of Seventh-day Adventists in growing house churches was apparently a focus of the presentations.

All of which was very divisive of course. You can see why Roy and Clyde were beside themselves in fear at the prospect of such explosive issues being discussed. Yes, far too dangerous. Heaven knows what these people will want to discuss next... before you can blink they'll be wanting to applaud after special music! 

Meantime all loyal UCG functionaries should beware, Bill Jacobs has written a short article with the suspiciously innocuous title "Coming Alive!" (Bill seems to be one of the very few COG ministers who knows how to write with an economy of words - obviously a demonic trait!) and Bill and Guy have penned the following concise response to the mammoth Holladay/Kilough missive of July 23. We quote it in full.

In response to the letter of July 23, 2004 by Roy Holladay and Clyde Kilough, we want to say we love and respect those many brethren and ministers with whom we worked. We fully support the efforts of UCG to engage their members and ministry in making disciples. We honor all those who seek to fulfill the mission of evangelism that Jesus gives to every Christian.

We're not sure if Roy has noticed any live coals settling on his pate over the last day or so, or whether Guy and Bill had Romans 12:20 in mind. Nice touch though!


UCG posturing: UCG's Home Office praised its own efforts in evangelism last week with a letter that began: 

Dear Brethren, It's been wonderful to see the amount of local congregation support for various evangelistic efforts over the past year!

Uncanny how the paean of self-justification that followed was released just a day before the Indianapolis Evangelism Seminar kicked off. And, one might wonder - if one was given to cynicism - how such a statement might mesh in with the sect's reluctance to let lowly half-salaried and unpaid elders say anything on the subject. There were even charts to illustrate the letter. C'mon guys, who do you think you're kidding? An AW correspondent summed it up nicely: Notice the timing of this update. Right on the heels of their blunder with the evangelism seminar. Spin it boys, cover your backside. These guys will never quit. The whole remarkable epistle can be found online. Has UCG's reality check just bounced?

The latest "eNews" also beats the drum. Title? Unity - Working Together.

[The Holy Spirit] should lead them to work together in unity to accomplish the mission Christ gave the Church as its ministry when He said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you ..." (Matthew 28:19-20).

David Treybig

Fear Religion in Florida? What is happening on David Treybig's turf in Florida? Treybig is understood to be the author of the letter attacking Guy Swenson and Bill Jacobs that appeared on AW July 19. At that time we withheld details of its origin. However this week we received several communications from another UCG member in the area. If Treybig's intention was to reassure the flock, he seems to have been spectacularly unsuccessful. 

The correspondent has provided their own name, and is exactly what they claim (and yes, I checked). Reading through the material they sent indicates a person trying to be scrupulously fair. There is no "gossip", no name-calling, no harsh judgment. Just a sincere individual trying to honestly (and painfully) work through the issues. The full correspondence is quite lengthy, however you can find excerpts in today's mailbag under the heading A View from Florida. We hope David Treybig takes the time to read it. And maybe he might like to take a moment to seriously reflect on what is happening in his congregations at the people-level. 

All too true: Douglas Becker has added two new items to his website. There's a new editorial called Proper Form (which those of us who avoid gyms like the plague might well find scary). Douglas also introduces a new series on Hope. Dennis Diehl has also provided a new column, and an opinion piece by Reg Killingley on the Iraq situation, published in the Longview News-Journal on July 24, is available on the paper's website.

McNair - interesting, dynamic & effective? Raymond McNair - a truly modest chap - makes the following claims in his latest letter.

Brethren, we believe God is enabling the CHURCH OF GOD-21st Century to have one of the most interesting, dynamic and effective Websites to be found anywhere on the Internet...

My wife and I will continue to do all we can to encourage all of God’s people, both ministers and laymen, to begin tearing down the BARRIERS of separation, and building BRIDGES of understanding, reconciliation, cooperation and genuine Christian unity!

There might be some who suspect Ray got just a little muddled. Could he possibly have meant "building the barriers of separation, and tearing down bridges of understanding..."  No? Well, perhaps not, but we think those choices would fit the gaps more appropriately. How can you tear down the barriers that separate COG believers by setting up yet another sect that competes for tithe dollars? Ray has ministered in the WCG, Global, COG - a Christian Fellowship, Living, and now his very own COG21. Dateline Pasadena

Weekly Mailbag

Gullible "Sheople": Doc Holladay and his sidekick Klyde only open their mouths long enough to change feet. Reading their long-winded justification for the Swenson-Jacobs debacle was amusing, to say the least. By quoting scripture and then Barnes notes, they can rely on the fact that most of their gullible sheople won't bother to go to the source and read for
themselves. According to our dynamic duo, they would have their go-fers believe that Paul and Barnabas came cap-in-hand to the head office honchos in Jerusalem to get permission for their evangelizing. Are you listening Guy and Bill? What they fail to point out is that Paul and Barnabas were merely making a courtesy visit to touch bases with their fellow Christians. Far from asking permission, they were there to inform them of the successes they had been having for the past fourteen years!

Maybe Gamaliel was right after all. And I think the analogy fits closer than Doc and Klyde would care to admit. Gamaliel was, after all, addressing the highest ranking Pharisees of his day.

Bob E.

PS: In case anyone, besides me, is keeping track, the count of UCG splits is now up to 40.

Multiplying division:I find these two supposed leaders of UCG's comments interesting with regard to division. If UCG followed this recommendation to pull back from actions that cause "division", much of what they do as a church on a regular basis would cease. They have divided flocks left and right in the name of unity. I guess this rule doesn't apply to the ivory tower boys.

Stephen M. Clouthier

The Gamaliel Principle: Have Richard Pinelli and Roy Holladay conspired to repress the commission that Jesus Christ demanded of his church? If so, will the UCG Council of Elders dismiss them for this violation of doctrine?

The suspiciously timed teleconference of July 7, stated that a restricted fund, separate from tithes and offerings, would be allocated for a Media Center at UCG Home Office. It also stated "that members would assume that we are making a commitment to the production of a broadcast television program." The resolution clearly states there is no plan to produce a commercial television program without further council approval. So what is the Media Center for?.....Is this fraud?

Regarding a February 2004 UCG study paper, since when is preaching the gospel an option? If preaching the gospel throughout the world is the commission, then splintering of UCG over the methods of evangelism is ironic, because UCG is not involved in that effort.

Regarding the evangelism conference in Indianapolis this weekend, in a home-office to all ministers letter dated July 23, the Gamaliel principle was misquoted. The authors dwelled on Acts 5:38 but conveniently omitted verse 39 which says "but if it be of God you can not overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God." 

Should the UCG mission statement of "Preaching the Gospel, preparing a people" be changed to...Ignoring the Gospel, preparing our pensions?

"mt"? Shouldn't we consider that UCG is upset over the "ntevangelism" because UCG actually practices "mtevangelism" (mt - empty)?


A cogent case? I have always thought that the UCG leadership was sincere even if I didn’t agree with their decisions, and [the] letter published by you July 29 is an example.  Having given a very cursory read to the Holladay-Kilough dispatch, I think that you have done them a service by printing it.  They make a cogent case from a perspective I had not considered.  I had assumed that the presenters of the evangelism seminar at least had some hands-on experience with successfully applying their subject matter, but it appears that they may have given no evidence of it upon invitation.  I can understand the UCG concern that what might be an ill-conceived seminar might have been connected with UCG by reason of the presenters’ former UCG credentials.   As a manager and a strategy consultant, I think it’s a good argument, but I still think that the principle of freedom of the individual to respond to what he believes God is leading him to do is a higher principle.

Gordon Feil

UCG leadership role models?

Elder Frank Burns? I actually have a grudging respect for Holladay and Kilough in their letter, but as it can be summarized with the statement "WE get to decide what goes on in this church" it is both unchristian in spirit and makes the case for their detractors: the church is ruled with a heavy hand from the top. It also calls to mind Frank Burn's quote from MASH: "Individuality is fine as long as we all do it together" :-).


AW: The next UCG prez should definitely take after Burns. But I'm undecided whether Frank or Monty would make the best role model...

A View from Florida: (Excerpts) Here is a response to [the] letter you posted on July 19. (the UCG minister who discouraged his congregation from attending this weekend's evangelism seminar in Indianapolis.) Please remember, don't print my name. I'm still living in fear. The [writer] is my "minister".

When anyone puts themselves over a following of people, they stifle those abilities of those people to freely follow Christ's example of personal evangelism that is our responsibility. Do we go through those narrow gates as a "team", as a "group"? Does the culmination of our life boil down to what we did as a group, or as an individual? 

We are kept busy with the group work. We tend to blur the important spiritual relationship with God with the very real physical relationship with the group. They are not the same. The WORK of a group, is not more powerful than the INDIVIDUAL WORK. I will always maintain this to be true. Love is not spread through magazines on a doorstep. Love is spread individually by touching people and helping them through their trials. 

Love is not spread through magazines on a doorstep. Love is spread individually by touching people and helping them through their trials.

Just understand that both the writer [of the ministerial letter attacking Swenson & Jacobs] and those he is writing about are both victims of group abuse and group-think. Continue your personal journey of following God and nurturing a personal relationship. 

This is all a CONTROL issue. That's all it is. They don't want anyone stepping out of the perfect lines of the pyramid government and thinking individually. [The minister's] words are very revealing of what really is wrong with organizations that claim to be following God. Their words reveal otherwise without their knowledge. 

Yes sir Mr Boss: I'm curious. By any chance would you have an idea as to how many employees are actually working on Ambassador College campus. Are we talking 100 or 50 or three guys and a cocker spaniel? The church at one time use to employ close to 1500 employees. Would you know from any of your contacts as to how many full time people they have now. 

Also... I find your position (as well as others) regarding the Jacobs and Swenson controversy difficult to understand. Jacobs and Swenson were told not to do something by their supervisor and they have a big hissy fit over it and quit their jobs. Have they gotten to the place in their thinking that they are unable or unwilling to be subordinate to their supervisor? When I think of the crap that I had to endure at work on a regular basis from my supervisor for years but being mindful of God I endured it. I find it difficult to reconcile their behavior in the light of scripture. 

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.

I Peter 2:18 Servants, [be] subject to [your] masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 

So... What's the straight poop here? Are the scriptures only for the proletariat and not for the ministry as well? This is what my Grandmother use to say, "The Boss might not always be right but the Boss is always the Boss."

AW: Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that among the Gentiles the recognized rulers lord it over their subjects, and the great make their authority felt. It shall not be so with you... (Mark 10: 42-43, Revised English Bible. cf. Luke 22:25-27)

The 1 Peter passage is addressed to slaves. It was, naturally, a favorite text for slave owners who opposed emancipation. There are few scholars who regard 1 Peter as genuinely Petrine. The nicest explanation (used by Paul Achtemeier in the HarperCollins Bible Commentary) is that it was "probably written from Rome around the end of the first century, by follower(s) of the apostle Peter... the letter sought to add the authority of the apostle Peter to those who lived in a traditionally Pauline missionary area." Less diplomatic writers brand it as entirely specious and undeserving of inclusion in the canon. As late as 200AD the Roman church did not recognize 1 Peter as scripture.

As for Hebrews, notice the words "must give account". No accounting, no obedience. And this was written in the context of a very undemocratic culture. There is absolutely no requirement to follow either idiots or spiritual Nazis. There's a discussion on this verse that might interest you here.

New Ageism? Mr. Diehl's recent paper on spiritualism vs. religion is now a foray into the world of New Ageism. Those people will often try to distance themselves from the Christianity to which they were originally committed by attempting to draw a sharp line between the two pursuits. But one dictionary definition of spirituality is "Sensitivity or attachment to religious values."

I first learned of the alleged difference from a friend who exited from the WCG during the receivership crisis. I'd had no contact with him for about 13 years. After I exited I wrote him and some other exiters I had known of to find out how they were getting along after the WCG experience. He told me he had finally found true "spirituality" and how different it was from his religious experience in the WCG. I was suspicious. Turns out he was paying some guru to communicate to him the thoughts of a "collective entity" in a different dimension and 25,000 years in the future. He knew what he was receiving was true as it "resonated" with his inner god. 

My friend sent me a number of tapes and suggested readings on the subject of "inner spirituality." A careful reading and thoughtful auditions only showed me that spiritualism is vague, unfulfilling and generally incomprehensible. It all sound so erudite and enlightening. But it is as substantial as an air pie. Mr. Diehl writes on the subject of spirituality: "The God we think we know is not the God that is."

That sounds so, well, spiritual. But it is a collection of words devoid of meaning. If it means anything to the writer, he has carefully concealed it. There is no "there" there.

Mr. Diehl draws on a statement that suggests we are born blank slates; that we arrive with some high measure of purity and then are sullied by our culture. The psychological phrase is "tabula rasa" and is linked to the nature or nurture debate on human nature. I suggest Mr. Diehl do some reading in twin research and meme theory. These two disciplines alone throw out the idea of arriving in the world blank. There seems to be stuff already there.

One of the outstanding findings of research into the dark reaches of the mind is that we are our own worse enemies. "We have met the enemy and he is us," said the cartoon character with amazing insight. The capacity for self-deception is one of the most frightening aspects of our nature. This capacity led us into the mad world of Armstrongism. Exiting that experience in no way guards us now against further damage from our own nature. It's just as the patient said to his shrink, "Wherever I go I have to take me along and that spoils everything."

My point is that the alleged god within has no more substance that the one without. They are both make-believe entities seemingly helping us cope with the harsh realities of life. The one good thing about the inner god is that if you have to make some financial offerings to it you'll be paying yourself first. Then we can kid ourselves by saying, "It's just you and me, god."

Mr. Diehl suggests we are spirits having a human experience. No, we are flesh having a physical experience. And the sooner we come to grips as to the reality of what we are, the better off we'll be.

The reality of the human experience was colorfully stated by an important American writer, Tennessee Wiliams. He wrote, "We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it."

I know most of the readers here will thank themselves that they are not as cynical and brutal as this writer. But I think we all have to face objective reality and quit making believe some god can help us either from within or without.

Jim Baldwin

AW: Hmm. Maybe you should refrain from reading Dennis' follow-up piece

Evangelism baggage: Reading the July 23 "Letter From the Chairman and President," I'm more inclined to think I might be on the right track in suggesting that the reaction of Roy Holladay to Bill Jacobs and Guy Swenson has something to do with the question of what the evangel is and isn't... Sounds like the UCG might need to study the subject so they can write a booklet entitled, "Just What Do You Mean . . . 'Evangelism'?"

Jared Olar

Website additions: I have a website you might want to include in your Links page. Or rather, a couple of them.

One is my personal website, "Music for the Church of God". It's primarily intended as a worship resource, with hymn words and MIDI files for the tunes. I have most of the contents of the major CoG hymnals up through around 2001. The site has been up since May of 1998. Of interest to your visitors is the fact that I also have traced the original words of about a third of Dwight Armstrong's work back to Protestant rhymed versions of the Psalms (metrical psalters) The URL is: 

The other is a new site, just online in the last week, for the Tyler Church of God. We're an independent group from the WCG tradition. Originally formed by a group that left CGI around 1995 over Ted's antics, now has folks from many other WCG traditions, plus some brand new to the CoG. Of note: this is the church where Ron Dart gives most of the sermons he records to send out to CEM's mailing list. Ron, however, is NOT the pastor there. That is John Reedy. Ron is simply listed as one of the church's three elders. URL is 

Jim Ross

AW: Thanks Jim, your links have been added.

ABC Journalism: I noticed the following passage as an insult towards United Church of God: 

Thankfully Ambassador Bible Center is NOT teaching courses in journalism. If it did, more members of UCG would handle difficult or bad news the way North Korea does -- and hardly ever admit it.

I would like to correct a misstatement in this comment. While Ambassador Bible Center does not technically have a journalism class (I know, since I am a student of the 2004 class), there is a unit of journalism contained within the Practical Christianity class. Besides this, there are several students in each ABC class who serve as staff for the ABC Times (I know, I was one myself). In addition to the lecture from Mr. and Mrs. Bennett about Church Magazines, there are also teleconferences with Mr. David Treybig (the UCG pastor of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida and the editor of Vertical Thought, UCG's magazine for teens and young adults) where ABC students participated in reviewing articles for the magazine, as well as photos for the cover. In addition to that, also during Practical Christianity, Mr. Harold Rhodes, the editor of Anchor Magazine (UCG's magazine directed towards struggling homosexuals), came to speak to us about the magazine and its purpose. While few ABC students take advantage of this instruction in "journalism," some of us do. Also, I disagree with you that if ABC taught classes in journalism that it would cause people to lose their ability to accept reality. ABC contains, for the most part, people who are genuinely interested in finding out about the Bible. While most of us are loyal members of UCG (if one takes a broad definition of loyal, at least), that does not mean we ignore the problems of the Church of God. The ABC class of 2004 in particular had to deal with numerous serious issues involving UCG as a whole. Some of us, like myself, are readers of your humorous and incisive report. I realize you probably meant this little passage as sarcasm, but I wanted to correct you of any misunderstandings you had concerning the facts of the matter. Keep up the good work, just make sure your facts are straight. In particular, I thank you for posting the letter from Mr. Holladay and Mr. Kilough, as well as your posting news from all over the world. Your site is a great resource of information, as well as a source of amusement.

Nathan Albright
ABC Class of 2004

AW: The quote is from a letter (written by a member of UCG) which appeared, as yours does, in the mailbag. As you point out, "technically" the correspondent is correct. However your further clarification is very welcome.

Letter policy: AW understands that some people may not be comfortable with their names appearing in the mailbag. A problem can arise when it isn't clear whether a writer wishes to remain anonymous or not.

If an email is received which is signed at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear under that name unless there is a note attached which asks for anonymity. When signing a letter, writers have a variety of options from full name to initials, and everything in between (e.g. Bart Simpson, B. Simpson, Bart S., BS ...) If the email is unsigned at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear anonymously, unless the writer has already expressed their willingness to have their name attached. Letters are always published at the the webmaster's discretion and may be edited for clarity and content.

AW sometimes receives mail that is "not for publication." This is always respected. Just be sure to clearly state that the content is private. 

This website is independent from, and in no way affiliated with, the Worldwide Church of God or any derivative sect.

email MD: email Dateline Pasadena: 


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