January 2005 - Issue 57

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

email AW at editor@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 

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18th Century French Cuisine: For a bit of light contrast from the usual stuff, why not sample COG member Carolyn Smith-Kizer's French cuisine blog site. Only clean meats, and a generous dash of French élan. Potato Galette, cherry leaf wine, Squash in Almond Crust with Spicy Applesauce... c'est magnifique!

Researcher needs information: AW writer Dateline Pasadena has already collated an extensive bibliography of publications on the WCG from outside sources. Now DP is tracking down several more obscure titles: can you help?

Armstrongism and the Plain Truth by W. J. McCormick

Armstrongism by James Lewis Buchner

Armstrongism in America: The Buchner Report concerning the Worldwide Church of God by J. L. F Buchner

Armstrongism bibliography by J. L. F Buchner

If anyone can provide some background on these authors and books, contact dp@ambassadorwatch.co.nz 

Harassment charges - still no closure: Time seems to have healed few wounds over the situation that surfaced last year in a West Virginia UCG congregation. Excerpts from a recent letter written by the father of the girl involved appear in edited form below. The original postings are available in full and unedited here.

I sit here with a copy of your letter... and I am so stunned that I hardly know where to begin...

[My wife] and I and our family have kept our horrible experience with [the accused elder], [the pastor], and the UCG ministry and council to ourselves, hoping all the sniping would soon cease so that we might heal. But no, people like you will simply not leave it alone. You [have] gone much further by exposing our names.

I am now going to go on public record to give the facts as they unfolded... insofar as our family and others were affected by [the pastor], et al.

You wrote that I "did have [my] ministerial credentials suspended." In mid-1995, then pastor, Dave Mills, and I disagreed on the interpretation of some of the results of the original Indianapolis conference which took place earlier that spring. He was so frustrated with my disagreement that he briefly suspended me from preaching. I say briefly because as soon as senior pastor, Lyle Welty, and council member, Victor Kubik heard of this ridiculous measure, it was immediately reversed, all taking place within a few days. I did resign from the ministry and membership of UCG in the autumn of 1997. As an aside, what did this topic have to do with anything else you wrote? I can only take it as a personal attack meant to reduce me...

[The pastor] sought to meet with [my wife] in order to correct matters. I told her she could not meet him without my being there. [He] has a reputation for bullying people one-on-one, especially women, and I told him the same to his face. [He] refused to allow my presence, and so a stalemate ensued. Unable to find remedy, [he] then resorted to using the sexual harassment charge against [the local elder] as a ruse to reign in [my wife].

You wrote that [her] suspension was "due to causing division." You now know that is inaccurate based upon Linda Pratt's postings, don't you? In [his] letter to [my wife], you can now see plainly that it was simply because of the fact that [she] brought up an accusation against an elder that [he] labeled her as divisive. He then gave [my wife] an ultimatum to meet with him without me (something impossible for her) or face suspension...

Now I wish to address the topic of [the local elder]. Nothing could express the anger and frustration of a non-member mate having his wife and teenage daughter come home from church services week after week complaining about an elder who was touching his daughter in a lewd manner and places, and who was also making lewd and sexual insinuations to her. It wasn't at all just about the hugs as you will see. In the process of working through this sexual harassment charge we discovered that a deacon in the congregation had gone to [this man] years earlier and warned him not to touch his wife or two teenage daughters. This man and his wife also joined [my wife] in bringing these charges against [the elder], and were involved in the ensuing investigation conducted by UCG.

When [my wife] first went to [the pastor] for help, he said she, a woman alone, would have to confront this elder by herself. To my wife's credit, she had the courage to do just that. [She] told [the elder] not to touch or talk to our daughter henceforth...

You wrote, [my wife] "brought it (sexual harassment charges) up months later." Yes she did, and it was because [the elder] violated the charge [my wife] gave him by talking to our daughter, and even saying disparaging things about [her mother] to [our daughter]. He said, "it's only because of your mother's attitude that I can't hug you anymore." It was outrageous!

You [wrote] "the two men [Victor Kubik and John Cafourek, who were finally sent to investigate the charges...] are friends of the family [which raised the allegations]." In my e-mails with council chairman, Clyde Kilough, I suggested several men as candidates to come out and meet in our home. All were rejected, and Victor, only someone we have known in passing over the years, and John, whom we had never met, were sent. Ironically, Clyde did suggest that a close friend of [the elder]... also attend. We rejected that, and so only the two men came. 

Most of the men you said were "involved with the investigation" simply were not. They never spoke to any of the people who brought forth the charges.

Following the resignation of [the accused man] as an elder in UCG, Richard Pinelli wrote a letter to our daughter offering the classic non-apology, "…I apologize on behalf of the Church 'if' (emphasis mine) there is anything we have said or done that has caused you any personal pain or discomfort."

To date none of the following: UCG, [the elder], or [the pastor] have apologized to our family or the local congregations for their actions in this matter.

Lastly, you wrote, "in my opinion, [my wife] used her daughter's situation to attack others, and to ultimately start her own group [and] to further her own agenda." [She] was put out of the church over something she had no power to control. And in fact the majority of the... congregation saw this act of revenge of [the minister], personally endorsed by his superiors according to [the minister], as so grievous and offensive that they chose to leave the UCG fellowship...

Weekly Mailbag

A study in contrasts: In the real world [with reference to the allegations made against Bill Cosby] an investigation is launched immediately, before the accuser is even interviewed. In a similar incident in the “church of God” investigation is stalled for months. Then, a month after the investigation is finally made, and the reports handed in, the senior official whose job it is to take care of such matters, attempts to cover it all up, sweep it under the rug, and make it all go away. Integrity is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Holy foot-in-mouth: I found this in an article by Ryan Malone at Gerry's Compound's Propaganda web site:

Although the [Ambassador International Cultural Foundation] humanitarian activities stretched from Bombay to Brussels, the Philippines to the Netherlands, Tokyo to Cairo [. . .] its most notorious achievement was undoubtedly its concert series, held in the incomparable Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, built in 1974. 

All I could think of was "high idiot factor." Apparently, in Malone's world, "notorious" is synonymous with "famous/renowned/anything-positive." I literally howled when I read that, and I just thought I'd send it your way to brighten your day!

"HWA Critic"

Could this be the mysterious Francois Lamoyne Norm Edwards is looking for? 

Weirdness at Port Austin: Looks like Norm Edwards' home base in MI has lots more Unidentified Flying Objects than just shady real estate deals:

http://www.bobpratt.org/greatballs.html. Beginning at one forty-five on the morning of September 7, 1976, a NORAD radar station at Port Austin, Michigan, one hundred twenty miles north of Detroit, tracked a group of seven unidentified flying objects moving west to east for about thirty minutes.

http://www.worldofthestrange.com/cev624.html. Aug. 6, 1952; Port Austin, Michigan. Case missing from official files.

http://www.michiganufos.com/miscellaneous.html. Feb. 17, 1953; Port Austin. Michigan. 10:04 p.m. Witnesses: two officers and three airmen of USAF AC&W squadron, visually and by radar. Visual object appeared to larger and brighter than a star and changed color; it was seen to move slowly for 5 minutes until 10:09 p.m. Radar picked up a target at 10:08 p.m. moving in a similar direction for 17 minutes, at similar speed.

Given Armstrongism and its track record of equating UFOs with demon activity, will Norm now claim "The Devil made me do it?"


In search of Don Plunkard: Can you tell me the whereabouts of former Worldwide minister Don L. Plunkard who used to work with Al Carrozzo? I would like both their mailing addresses and/or their e-mail addresses if possible. I am a former Worldwide member and supporter of the Ambassador Report... 

David W. Berryman


A decade of UCG: Has the United Church of God - an International Association really only been around 10 years? It seems longer. President Roy Holladay seems to be trying to stir up some enthusiasm for the anniversary. In a letter to the troops he writes:

Even though we are in the middle of January, many of us in the home office are starting to anticipate a special event for the United Church of God—our 10th anniversary, which takes place this spring. We will have more information about what has been accomplished in the coming months, but it is interesting and exciting to see how far we have come—thanks to God's blessing and mercy—in that short time. Of course, hopefully this initial decade will simply be a springboard to greater and better things in the future, according to God's will and direction.

From the beginning of United, one of the core values that was emphasized was working together. We did not simply want to be small, isolated groups, but rather a larger unit with the energy, effectiveness and efficiency that this brings. In my letter here, I would like to emphasize two aspects of this concept: first, that we are an international association, and second, brethren working together with the employees to accomplish even more in our biblical mission.

Comments: (1) it is interesting and exciting to see how far we have come—thanks to God's blessing and mercy—in that short time. Roy must have slipped in from a parallel dimension where David Hulme didn't lead an exodus away, the membership grew, and local congregations elected their own boards. In this corner of reality it seems that, if UCG is basking in "God's blessing and mercy", we'd hate to see a church organization He was unhappy with!

(2) From the beginning of United, one of the core values that was emphasized was working together. This seems to mean doing only what the Chief Scribes and Pharisees say you may. Independent thinking is verboten.

(3) We did not simply want to be small, isolated groups, but rather a larger unit with the energy, effectiveness and efficiency that this brings. Translation: congregations should know their place. Individuals should know their place. Sassy elders should know their place. Us important types are in charge!

Sadly, that wasn't the vision that burned brightly for many who were there 10 years ago. They saw huge possibilities in moving away from the rigidities of the past, and they were assured that was indeed part of the agenda. Ten years later the truth is hard to ignore.

Tangled Web offer: David Robinson's book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web is one of the most sought after among ex-members, and with good reason. If you're interested, Mike Minton over at The Painful Truth may be able to help. 

Fraud allegations rattle cages: Okay, so we're all sick to death of the Port Austin soap opera. And some of us have been biting our tongues in order to avoid saying "we told you so". 

Altruistic? No doubt. Naive? Probably. Unwise? Perhaps. Edwards is certainly regarded as a sincere and committed man. But this kind of enterprise, high minded as it may well be, may also be fraught with risk for all concerned. (AW49, 8 May 2004)

But the latest offering from Homer Kizer (January 24) is notable nonetheless. Kizer is characterizing the affair as "the most blatant case of fraud to have occurred in Huron County within the past quarter century". The key concern seems to be the removal of the three PASCC trustees, and the involvement of Arthur Hawkins.

Arthur Hawkins and two other defendants were involved in the largest fraud case in American jurisprudence, the case of Exide Batteries sending defective batteries to Sears & Roebuck, then bribing the purchasing agent for Sears to continue making purchases from Exide. Hawkins was convicted of wire fraud, and is presently serving his third year of a ten-year sentence in Federal prison.

Kizer provides a number of documents to back his allegations.

The three erased trustees have actual out of the pocket losses of about $300,000. So it is difficult for them to silently suffer being defrauded. None of them are truly wealthy. All of them are middle class wage earners who were willing to place their assets into an actual community of Believers, dedicated to being a light set on a hill.

Spanky - last of the line: From Bob Thiel's website:

In a sermon given right after Herman Hoeh's death which we watched this past Sabbath, LCG's [Rod] Meredith commented that it had just occurred to him that he is the only one of the five original [evangelists] ordained by HWA to still be alive. The other four were Raymond Cole, C. Paul Meredith (RCM's uncle), Richard Armstrong, and of course, Herman Hoeh.

After Rod
Will LCG survive Meredith's death?
They're toast!
I give them 12 months max.
There'll be splits but LCG will pull through.
They'll flourish and do the Work!

View current results
free polls and surveys @ www.votations.com

In that sermon my sermon notes show that [Rod] Meredith also stated to the effect of, "Petra is a place we may flee to a place of safety, but we do not know {the absolute location for sure} yet...We are the Philadelphians...though not everyone with us is...God will protect us in the Great Tribulation...We need to be right now sure that we are not Laodiceans [ourselves], but be Philadelphians...He {Herbert W. [Armstrong]} brought in truths that the Church of God had not had for hundreds of years...which we now call the Living Church of God...Do you want to be saved from the Great Tribulation? Be a Philadelphian...we are going to finish that work...If not us who?" (Meredith RC. Where is God Working? Sermon, Charlotte, NC. 12/4/04).

Unfortunately, "the divine Dr. M" (to quote Douglas Becker's colorful appellation) is rapidly using up his allotted number of earthly years. So, the question arises, (and I'm sure there's a booklet title here...) When Spanky carks it, then what? Off to Petra perhaps? Unlikely. A major schism? Indubitably. And which way will the "Philadelphians" jump then?

Here's our question. Given that Rod is indeed going to go to the Great Beyond in the near future, how will the "Philadelphians" know what to do? After all, simply following Rod's anointed heir doesn't seem useful advice given that Herb's anointed heir (Joe Senior) was a thoroughly bad choice (in LCG's opinion anyway). And if they decide to "go where God is working", whose opinion counts? Isn't that a question each individual would have to make? The truth is that Rod is going to leave a horrendous mess behind for his hapless devotees to sort out. 

Quotable: From Mark Armstrong: I recently had the opportunity to hear a copy of a radio broadcast my Granddad made back in the 1940s. He was convinced that the "beast power" was emerging under Hitler, and that the great tribulation was under way! Obviously he was way ahead of his time... [AW: obviously!]

The work we are involved in today, founded in the early 1930s by Herbert W. Armstrong... [AW: If you don't tell Joe Tkach, we won't]

Do amazing ancient prophecies mention Greg Albrecht? Move over Nostradamus! 


Greg Albrecht and Hank Hanegraaff in 1996. In a WN item headed "Friends in Christ" Hanegraaff enthused: "the Worldwide Church of God leaders are some of the finest people I have ever met." Apparently he doesn't get out much...

More Hankie hoo-hah? Hank Hanegraaff is back in the news. The "Bible Answer Man" who cuddled up to WCG reforms and drew his mantle around Joe & Co., has continued to maintain a high profile among WCG members, writing a regular column for The Plain Truth and even making a cameo appearance on the Called to be free DVD, where he again endorsed the leadership's reforms.

But Hanegraaff has been constantly dogged by controversy. His "takeover" of Walter Martin's Christian Research Institute has been criticized very publicly by Martin's family, and his management style has reportedly alienated supporters and employees. Now it seems he's up to his neck in new allegations about unethical fundraising and fraud.

“This looks like mail fraud to me,” said an investigator familiar with nonprofit prosecutions. “Hank could go to jail for this.”

PTM boss Greg Albrecht has never been afraid to ask hard questions about Benny Hinn and other marginal ministries. We await a similar statement in light of these new concerns about his good buddy, and trust Greg will consider pulling Hank's column from the magazine.

The Divine Dr. M: Douglas Becker has a timely reflection on Roderick C. Meredith and his continuing appeal.

In the end, Roderick Meredith's statement, "I have never committed a major sin since baptism" speaks to the character of the man. Repentance is not an option.

My wife and I noted a woman who attends United part time. She explained to us that she went over and attended the Living Church of God because it had better prophecy.

Here's what she means: UCG hyperbole of death, disease, destruction and punishment of the United States and British Commonwealth is OK, but to satisfy the yearning longings of blood lust, nothing can beat Global... er... Living. You want massive destruction on a global [sorry!] scale, UCG has it's "World News in Prophecy" which certainly has its appeal in the gore department, but nothing, and we mean nothing, can even begin to touch the rantings of the first and last Living [sorry again!] false prophet of our age. Bloodshed and misery are from wall to wall. The wicked will be punished. [Self] righteousness will triumph!

Picture a sweet little old lady so modest and frail looking cheering on "the good guys" at a professional wrestling match and you get the idea.

M.T. Hall: The mysterious M.T. Hall is a continuing hit with many AW readers. Another dispatch is now available.

Fundamentally flawed: Dennis Diehl's latest column, Fundamentally flawed living, is now online. 

I'm not scoffing. Being accused of scoffing was a label for those in the early Church. The disciples expected Jesus return within days of his death and when they met him in Galilee, even doubted that. Its what you say to those that are becoming disillusioned but the others know that the return is still in their lifetime for sure. Scoffers were undermining the confidence of the early followers and disciples of Jesus. An observation is not scoffing. Observations are based on the passage of millennia. It's a 2000 year old observation. To motivate with fear, false prophetic fulfillment's of non- prophecies, and imagined prophetic accuracy on topics anyone could speculate somewhat accurately about, is simply foolishness and makes the Church, in any form look stupid and ignorant. Jesus said his generation would not pass until the Son of Man be come. He was wrong...

I know... and expect it to be said, "you'll think differently when Jesus returns, or you find yourself in hell with lots of time to rethink your position." I speak in the hope that the average Christian church member won't be motivated and won't tolerate pastors who use the fear of living on this planet to promote their own misguided agendas and speculations. One does not have to see the world only through the eyes of those that speculate on how things are or will be because frankly they don't and can't know. 

The Painful Truth parties hearty: The streamers and beer cans are still in evidence over at The Painful Truth where they held a 19th anniversary bash for HWA. Check out the various commentaries and help yourself to the salted peanuts. 

Weekly Mailbag

Selling off Ambassador: In doing the campus sale articles for The Journal I have made no speculation or editorializing about prices we do not know. But I hope readers will think about what is being said. Note that Ron Kelly denied $48 million as the east campus sale price. If it were $47 or $49 million he would have been right. Ed Eyerman likely gave an accurate price at about $48 million.

The former campus had three parts: east campus, lower campus, and upper campus. Ron Kelly said the lower campus did not sell at a discount but at "fair-market" value. The lower campus has anchorage equal to the east campus, is in an affluent neighborhood, and contains the best buildings such as the auditorium. Harvest-Rock church said they got a bargain. Ron Kelly said that is only if they had to put up those buildings from scratch at today's prices. The value of the east campus is only in the land itself. All the structures there will have to be demolished for a new development. The lower campus has value beyond the land itself - which in itself is of great monetary worth.
The upper campus has 17 acres, but most of the buildings there are not of the value of the lower campus. The old library, for example, is in bad shape and must be razed. But the "academic center" which also includes Ambassador Hall is still in good shape. And the land value of those 17 acres is high by itself.

Neither The Journal nor the Star News has been able to get official prices of the transactions. But why don't you think about it based on these facts.

Bill Stough

Charge! Recently members of the Likeminds forum discussed whether or not the COGs are actually moneymaking businesses. I thought this portion of a post by a very bright and hardworking former member of UCG would be of interest to UCG members that realize they will be held accountable by God for their stewardship of their money and yet foolishly continue to tithe to UCG.

"G. who used to be the local minister here and is now a UCG regional pastor was coming for a visit, but did not accept our dinner invitation. Turns out he never really accepts dinner invitations and chooses instead to eat in restaurants between visits. I could not understand how he could spend that much money until I realized he was not
spending it. It was on the [UCG] expense account."

What makes this especially pathetic is G's expense account is being paid for by UCG members many of them of elderly on fixed incomes.

Dr. Richard F. Griffiths

Bob Thiel's challenge: (1) If, according to Bob Thiel, Rod Meredith can be deemed to be God’s instrument sending a warning to the world due to his having “predicted” earthquakes, terrorist attacks, etc., then what about many other (competing) preachers of prophecy? Meredith certainly is not the only person out there warning of dire punishments from God, whether in the form of earthquakes, volcanoes, terrorism, drought, pestilence, wars, whatever. These preachers have been making these warnings for many decades, and of course, the warnings themselves are found in various places in the Bible, notably in Matthew chapter 24 and in Revelation. Byker Bob’s point was that none of the self-described godly watchmen gave a specific warning directed to the areas affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. It is one thing to give fairly generalized warnings, which many preachers do; it’s quite another to be able to warn specific populations in specific areas of specific events to come. A scientist spent months before the catastrophe trying to warn the governments and populations in that whole part of the world that all scientific indications pointed toward this event. HE was giving a warning—specific, focused, and too tragically accurate. What did Meredith do? 

A point may be made as well, that if some of these “punishments” are deliberately sent by God, then God is guilty of killing untold thousands of people who are not deserving of such horror. He therefore breaks his own commandments.

Francis Penkava

(2) Bob Thiel’s pathetic apologia defending Rod Meredith’s generic public announcements regarding “the coming prophetic events destined to strike America and the world” was simply dumbfounding! Somebody please inform me – is Thiel for real? ... Please, someone let brother Bob know that ANYBODY can constantly blurt out vague predictions in large quantity about any number of things, and chance probability alone will assure that at least SOME of them will have been stated in such a way that they can be spun into “accurate prophetic predictions” after the fact. This is a standard technique used by gullible followers of "future seers" such as Nostradamus, Jeanne Dixon, and all other prophetic gurus that have graced the stage of human history through the years.

What about all the times Meredith’s prophetic predictions have been proven wrong in the past? Look at his prophetic track record since the 1950’s – most of it is all there in writing via old issues of PT’s and GN’s. And in case anyone hasn’t noticed, Meredith is not exactly batting a thousand in the prediction department! For example, to cite just one of many, Meredith wrote this way back in 1963: "This coming, revived Holy Roman Empire which is prophesied to arise in Europe and CONQUER America and Britain within the next ten to twelve years...” (PT, June 1963, page 46).

Any comment on this proven historical fact, Bob, especially in the light of Deuteronomy 18:22? (And please don't give me that old worm-eaten chestnut of an excuse that this scripture is specifically referring to the office of a prophet only - it didn't fly well when the WCG tried to use it to cover up the 1972 fiasco, and it won't if you try it either. In broad principle, it clearly refers to anyone claiming to speak in the name of God.)

Randy Martens

(3) I will not be heeding Dr. Thiel's altar call to me, as I do not accept that the LCG has passed the acid test which I had put forth in my rhetorical question to the COG members following the Indian Ocean seaquake/tsunami. In fact, Dr. Thiel admitted as much when he stated that to his knowledge, Dr. Meredith had no specific prior knowledge of the forthcoming tsunami. Biblical examples indicate that the people through whom God was working always had specific advance knowledge of the events for which God was responsible. That is what separates prophets from someone who is simply playing a game of "Bible" to further their own agenda.

One behavioral pattern of the COGs has always been mind-boggling. Their leaders are in most cases endowed with above average intelligence. So, why do they pretend not to know about certain things, such as their errors from the past? Doesn't everyone recall that HWA had proclaimed that Hitler was the Beast, and that Germany was going to win World War II? He was so thoroughly convinced that this was true, that for the entire decade of the 1950s and much of the 1960s, there was frequent speculation in the Plain Truth (notably by Roderick C. Meredith) that Hitler had escaped to Argentina, and would soon make a reappearance to lead Germany in World War III. How could anyone involved in the WCG not recall that HWA forecast 1972 as the start if the tribulation, with Jesus Christ returning in 1975? Shouldn't somebody be just a little embarrassed over what this says about basic integrity, let alone be questioning whether they were ever inspired by God in the first place? Also, anyone of average intelligence can grasp the principles behind paternity testing and other genetic research. We live in a time when paternity tests are performed in connection with television talk shows, such as Oprah Winfrey, and Maury Povich. So, why is it that the COGs don't seem to be able to understand that there is no way the Anglo-Saxons living in the US, and BC could possibly be direct descendants of any of the tribes of Israel? The Arabs of the nations surrounding Israel actually have more of the genetic markers common to the Jews than any of the non-Jews in Europe or the USA. So does the Lemba tribe in Africa, who happen to be of the black persuasion. In fact, the Lemba had contended this for centuries, but could not document it until they were given the benefit of the same genetic testing which disqualified British and American Anglo-Saxons as candidates for this coveted status. COG leaders must also know that the Assyrians still live in Assyria! So, why all the pretense and willing ignorance? 

The answer is that if the cult leaders can succeed in making you believe in their theories and horrifying prophecies, they can scare you into doing anything they say. If they can convince you that God has inspired them, that further locks in the control. Welcome cultic mindset, goodbye life as you knew it! This method keeps the members totally on edge, and maintains a perpetual sense of urgency. "You are special! You do not need to suffer as the rest of the world will through these horrible disasters! You can be counted worthy to escape!" It's what drew many thousands into the church, and it's what keeps many inside. Never mind that no COG has ever been particularly effective in warning the world (their commission). But, that effectiveness, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with control. All they need do is demonstrate an outward show of warning the world for their members' benefit. If that effort is ineffective, blame the dumb sheep for not being diligent enough with tithes, offerings, and the COG's brainwashing version of prayer. I am sure that Dr. Thiel and others will rush forward to say that their efforts are effective, but the bottom line on this is that they have not yet begun to enter the public's consciousness. If Jay Leno were doing his man on the street interview, how many people would recognize names such as Armstrong, Flurry, and Meredith, or be able to provide a synopsis of the message which they preach? 

If anyone does not believe that God would allow his allegedly chosen COGs to be wrong about prophecy, go to http://www.hoselton.net/religion/hwa/plaintruth or to www.hwarmstrong.org and read from the entire unedited catalogue of WCG literature. Visit these sites, and you will see that being wrong has never fazed these people, who don't want to be known as prophets, but continually insist on prophesying! They might call themselves Elijah, Elisha, or even Apostle, but their record of failure proves that there is nothing special about them, no inspiration or anything else which would make them any different from any theorist, ideologue, or salesman. And, that is not just my opinion, it is based on Deut. 18:22!

Byker Bob

Meredith letter: I read with amazement Meredith's comments, quoted on your web site (Jan.8). Typical twisting of the truth. Here is what Spanky was REALLY saying.

"For God used Mr. Armstrong to preach the full Truth more powerfully than any other man that we know of in nearly 1,900 years." So, the original 12 Apostles were out done by Herbie then? And what about all the others down through the ages that gave their very lives to preach the gospel? And they didn't have a Gulfstream III to do it with either.

"Only a very few people still alive knew him as well as I did. For I spent thousands of hours with him, traveled with him, ate hundreds of meals with him . . . " And hopefully, Roddy, that doesn't include guzzling thousands of gallons of Dom Perignon with him, at $100 per litre -- all paid for by us suckers, of course...

"But Mr. Armstrong himself always put the emphasis on Christ and not on his own human leadership." Which is probably why Armstrong was constantly putting down challenges and rebellions to his throne, right? Let's not forget how Herbie would never allow us to forget that he was the number three man in the entire universe, right under the Father and Jesus Christ! And by your own accounts, you were number five, right under Herbie and GTA. So, have you moved up to the number three spot yet? 

"So throughout the first twelve years of this Work, that is what we have done and continue to do." Yes, Roderick, after you broke away from WCG and formed your own group, then formed another group . . . so nice to know you now have your own work to do. Along with moving up to #3 in the universe, this seems to be the fulfillment of your lifelong ambition.

"Mr. Armstrong himself deeply recognized the importance of certain numbers." Yes, the old coot was heavily into numerology, among other things. He kept us spellbound with his seven times nonsense, his 19-year time cycle nonsense, and his gun lap nonsense, all based upon his queer numbering systems. I guess that's what you meant about him putting the emphasis on Christ, right?


COG tsunami response: (1) The BBC recently posted a great example of Christ-like compassion for victims of the tsunami by members of the Vancouver Buddhist community.

"Temple sold to raise tsunami cash": A small Canadian Buddhist congregation has sold one of its temples to raise money for Asian tsunami victims. The abbot of the temple in Mission, east of Vancouver, handed a cheque for 500,000 Canadian dollars (US $405,000, £219,000) to the Canadian Red Cross. (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4164915.stm)

I hold faint hope that the majority of COG's will follow their Christ-like example.

(2) Does nobody think it strange that those COG give money, so they say, to the different Tsunami funds but they will not divulge the amount? Is that a secret? Our minister let us know last week that the UCGIA donated moneys but would not give us an amount. What is wrong with letting the people know how much was donated?

(3) I see many exploiting the tsunami disaster to make a religious point. "Satan did it." "God did it." Followed by cautionary sermons...
Ecc 9:11. I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Ecc 9:12. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so [are] the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

(4) I don't know if my UCG Pastor reads Ambassador Watch or not. (I don't think so.) But he brought up tsunami relief efforts again at church this Sabbath -- and again in negative, though this time confusing, tones.

"We're trying to buy lovers," he said of the U.S. tsunami relief effort -- referring to an Old Testament prophetic verse Church of God ministers often cite against U.S. international policies. Yet he went on to admit faith-based relief groups are "not proselytizing" in Muslim countries.

The Pastor repeated his claim the "charity begins at home," asking how many outside countries will help the U.S. recover from recent California mudslides and current Midwest flooding. Yet he quoted an Irishman who said long ago the American people are 'the most giving people on Earth" -- and added the U.S. gives to other countries because "that's the type of people we are." (This Pastor also suggested Indonesia's government had insulted the U.S. military by declaring it has to leave by March 31. "Well, that's a fine how-do-you-do," the Pastor said.) Perhaps it's no surprise that the LifeNets project in Sri Lanka never came up during the service at all. It's enough to leave a thinking Bible student dazed and confused.


UCG "problems": United News for Jan. is out. Ministerial Services Reports the following problems facing United:

Members with an independent spirit or philosophy. My answer is: You betcha. I’ve been hoodwinked before, never again.

Doctrinal differences within the Church and membership. Yep, I read the bible for myself this time, didn’t depend on the ministers interpretation, and yes, they are right, I found doctrinal differences.

Members with a lukewarm attitude. Yes, for too many years we just heard milk and mush, and I ain’t too eager to send my tithes to you either.

Members trusting information they find on the Internet more than what they hear from the Church. If it hadn’t been for Painful Truth, and Ambassador Watch, and all the others, I could still be believing all that cult teaching.

Members who have difficulty with Church government. Now that’s a big one. Which government do I submit too? United? Meredith? Flurry? ???? Besides where in the bible do you go to learn about church government, and who is to administer it?

Evangelism and who should evangelize. Who indeed, who is qualified?

Poor health and aging congregations. I am too old and too late smart, and if I stayed with you it would be a spiritual condition

Church attendance and those who “float” between organizations. If I could find the right one, I wouldn’t float. Its all the same God we serve isn’t it? Maybe if all of them put a sign up over their door saying “we only accept those who believe that we are the right and only one, can come in”, maybe that would solve the problem.

[From] a long time member, and a loyal student from the school of hard knocks.

The 19-year cycle pedals on... With all the hoopla surrounding the anniversary of the death of HWA and the applying of the infamous "19 year time cycle" to it, I propose that there should be many areas of discussion for COG members to fight about and perhaps even split over. For instance, should the anniversary date of the death be calculated by using the "Pagan" Roman Calendar, for January 16th, or should only the Hebrew calendar date of his death from 1986 be used?

If we decide to use the "Hebrew Calendar" , should we use postponements or visual new moon observation to calculate HWA's death anniversary? Do we use Jerusalem time or should we use Pasadena time , etc. etc. etc. In all, we probably could come up with at least 7 different dates for HWA's death anniversary!

I think all of these questions should lead to many more COG schisms and divisions!

Bill Lussenheide

Apostolic hierarchies: I just read Anthony comments... I don't know that I'd call it "rigidly" hierarchical, but an incipient hierarchy can be found from the very outset, which is only what you'd expect from a new religious movement that came from Judaism. The leaders of the first century A.D. Church did indeed tolerate no dissent and were subject to no term limits, as Anthony said.

As for who was in charge during the first generation of Christianity's existence, all the available data points to St. Peter, whom the Gospels call "the first" of the twelve apostles (he certainly wasn't the first chronologically, so first must refer to his preeminence among the apostles), and who is named many more times in the New Testament than all the other eleven apostles combined. You said, "Hierarchies and episcopacy came later." Not much later, though -- one can find the nascent hierarchy and episcopacy right in the New Testament, and the letters of St. Clement of
Rome in the 90s A.D. and St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna around 110 A.D. all testify to a full-blown episcopate and an early stage of hierarchy, with some sort of special prominence of the Roman church being mentioned by St. Ignatius and implied by St. Clement. These men state, or at least imply, that the organisation of the Church as they knew it derived from the teachings of the original apostles, whose lives overlapped with theirs.

Jared Olar

AW: Jared, I seem to remember you and I having circled this particular mulberry bush before. "Incipient hierarchy" and "nascent hierarchy" simply means you're making up for the lack of data with wishful thinking. Exactly how you see this prefigured in the Judaism of the times baffles me too: Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, travelling exorcists and faith healers, zealots, apocalyptic preachers, messianic pretenders and cynic sages all rubbed shoulders... sounds pretty diverse to me. For a taste of the diversity in the early church, Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities is a "must read". Mind you, Gerry Flurry would certainly agree with you...

Pope Gerry: Flurry "annulled" a marriage of a couple that were having some problems. Is he now a "pope" of his

"After several years of marriage, they were experiencing difficulties with their relationship--though it was definitely not of a sexually immoral nature. They temporarily separated and asked for counseling to solve their problems. To their utter shock and dismay, Gerald Flurry took it upon himself to annul their marriage, though they were both still members in good standing. I have never heard of such a ruling before in a marriage of several years. They were so afraid of that man, and afraid to disobey, that they got a divorce." (from ESN)

Ron clocks up another year: Good ole Ron Dart celebrated another birthday during the Christmas season. I guess he's got one up on Christ, when it comes to birthdays...

And finally - those Sabbatarian e-cards... I couldn't help noticing there is no category for Channukah cards. What's up with that?

Maria Stahl 


Called to be Coy: Anyone who watched the impressive performance of Ron Kelly on Called to be Free - exuding wide-eyed sincerity and dripping piety - might be surprised by the response the WCG Controller exhibited when confronted with questions about cult mammon. An article by Bill Stough in the Nov. 31 issue of The Journal contains the following information:

Transparency and openness continue to seem concepts foreign to the WCG bean-counters

* Ron told The Journal that it was Saris-Regis (purchaser of the east campus) that "needed to keep the sale amount secret for business reasons."

* But a Saris-Regis official told the Pasadena Star News that WCG had paid "just over $4 million per acre for the 12-acre parcel". 

* The Journal draws the obvious inference: Just over $4 million per acre times 12 brings you to $48-$50 million as the sale price for the east campus.

* Ron however states "I can confirm that [$48,000,0000] was not the selling price" and refused to say whether the price was higher or lower than $48 million.

* Gary Scott from the PSN learned from Saris-Regis representative Ed Eyerman that "the original confidentiality agreement was the WCG's idea, not his company's."

* Eyerman also told Scott that the WCG "was the one that insisted on secrecy about the sale price, not the developer"

* The Journal asked Ron if WCG would release a financial report to members that discloses sale prices. Ron's reply... "Probably not [AW translation: definitely not] this coming year, but it may be done the following year."

Transparency and openness continue to seem concepts foreign to the WCG bean-counters. Just as troubling are the indicators in The Journal story that somebody is telling porkies about exactly who needed to hide the sale figures.

Book recommendations: In yesterday's upload AW carried part of Brian Knowles' article What is the real situation in the COG pod. In that article Brian refers to and recommends two books: New Testament Exegesis (Gordon Fee) and Old Testament Exegesis (Douglas Stewart). He describes them as "two smallish, easy-to-use books". Perhaps also worth mentioning is How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth: A Guide To Understanding The Bible, written by Fee and Stewart together and published by Zondervan.


Better late than never: It may be mid-January, but the November 30 issue of The Journal has just turned up, which sort of makes the slogan "time sensitive material" on the back page just a little incongruous. Apparently the team are now working hard to get both the December and January issues out. Despite the delay, this is a intriguing issue, largely due to Brian Knowles' column, which cuts straight to the chase. 

Those who are held in thrall by the “Armstrong mystique” cling tenaciously to HWA’s teachings as though they were Scripture itself. They walk through life with blinders on, not being able to discern truth from error. For them, truth by definition is whatever HWA said it was – in 1938, 1955, or 1980.

Look, truth is truth. It stands on its own... Truth isn’t truth simply because HWA said it was; it is truth because it can be demonstrated to be true, and for no other reason

Look, truth is truth. It stands on its own. It can be discovered through the leading of the Holy Spirit and through sound exegetical methodology. HWA didn’t have a corner on the market of truth. It’s available to the whole Church. Truth isn’t truth simply because HWA said it was; it is truth because it can be demonstrated to be true, and for no other reason. Truth is not dependent upon HWA or anyone else to convey it. It’s there for all of us to access...

Drawing the appropriate meaning and application from Scripture is not always as easy as some people think. Many times we practice eisogesis: reading into Scripture what we want it to mean. Old and New Testament exegesis are different disciplines, requiring different skills. Ultimately, Biblical exegesis answers the question, “What did the Biblical author mean?” Connected with this are what he said, and why he said it. A person who is skilled at New Testament exegesis is able to do eight things (assuming that he or she can read the text in its original language):

* Survey the historical context in general
* Confirm the limits of the passage
* Become thoroughly acquainted with your paragraph or pericope
* Analyze sentence structures and syntactical relationships
* Establish the text
* Analyze the grammar
* Analyze significant words
* Research the historical-cultural background

Each of these items represents an exegetical skill. Each must be learned. We never learned such skills at Ambassador College because to do so might have threatened the doctrinal status quo by enabling bright students to more competently exegete Scripture. In those days, the word of HWA was viewed virtually as Holy Writ. To question it on the basis of exegesis was to commit an act of heresy and disloyalty.

Most, if not all, of the doctrine that was formed in the old WCG was formed on the basis of English-language translations, not on the original texts. It was formed using what most scholars would recognize as inferior or outdated Bible helps.

Today, the handful of real scholars that functioned within the old WCG has been driven out, or is deceased. Doctrine and exegesis are now in the hands of largely unskilled ministers who hold various positions within hierarchies, or who operate independently... Some in the hierarchy of the Neo-WCG are acquiring a valid theological education, but they are also becoming steeped in Evangelical doctrine which is being given the same set-in-concrete status HWA’s teachings are elsewhere. In some ways, this compounds the problem.

It's amazing how perceptive Brian can be if you can keep him off politics! You can read the entire article online at the ACD site. 

Other features include an article on the Ark of the Covenant by Doug Ward, and an essay by Art Mokarow which possibly debunks tithing (if you have sufficient stamina to struggle your way through to the conclusion). Dan White pontificates on the question "do Seventh-day Adventists observe the Sabbath?" and quickly decides they don't (Why? Because - C'est Incredible!! - they don't meet sufficiently high pharisaic/legalistic standards!) There's a surprisingly brief obituary for Herman Hoeh, further FOT coverage, and news of the UCG church building being constructed in Big Sandy.

The Journal remains the best source overall for intelligent, in depth coverage of issues from a sympathetic "in-house" perspective. Even the dependably goofy ads (which are obviously not part of the editorial content) serve a function, even if only to provide unintentional humor. The Churches of God would be a good deal poorer off without The Journal, and it's worth pointing out that writers like Brian Knowles and Bill Stough perform a remarkable service without receiving a salary. The Journal website is www.thejournal.org

Awwwwww... Many thanks to DP who blessed us with this link. Only those with a strong stomach should attempt this one!

For the record: The Gary Scott referred to in the previous upload (Remembering Herb) is not the Pasadena Star News writer of the same name (the full Jan. 16 blog entry at www.matchingtracksuits.com is well worth the click through - the excerpt AW ran was incomplete). And the earlier Kizer commentaries on Port Austin are now archived here.


WCG scammed: An LA Times report reveals that the Worldwide Church of God may have been "taken to the cleaners" by a scam artist:

A federal grand jury Thursday delivered the first indictment in a wide-ranging criminal investigation of corruption in Los Angeles city government, alleging that a former public relations executive at Fleishman-Hillard defrauded city agencies and private clients.

The indictment accuses John Stodder Jr., a partner and senior vice president who ran the firm's local public affairs practice, of participating with "others known and unknown" to submit at least $250,000 in false billings to the Department of Water and Power. Also allegedly cheated were the Port ofLos Angeles, the Worldwide Church of God and the firm of renowned architect Frank Gehry...

The firm's alleged defrauding of the port, the Worldwide Church of God and Gehry's architectural firm was first disclosed in Thursday's indictment... Stodder also asked a Fleishman-Hillard employee identified only as "J.M." to fraudulently overcharge the Worldwide Church of God by $5,000, the indictment says. A spokesman for Gehry declined to comment; church officials did not return phone calls.

Armstrongism a hit with Al Jazeerah editors: Longtime COG commentator Bruce Porteous is a hit with Arabic news source Al Jazeera, which published a short article by him on their website in November. Described as "a New Zealander living in Auckland who has followed international economic [sic] for many years", Bruce is the local distributor for The Journal and a highly controversial provocateur on various COG newsboards whose apocalyptic predictions for the future of Western nations excite much outrage. 

The article, titled What the Collapse of the US Dollar will Mean to the World, carries a clear Armstrong message: 

The new Europe will be able to dictate the terms on how the global economy should be run. They will take over the administration of America and Britain, placing the Anglo-Saxon people in bondage for repayment of their debts. We are about to enter a time of tribulation for the Anglo-Saxon people. Some will ask why God has allowed this to happen to us. The answer is that as we have rejected God and His Laws, so He has allowing us to be punished for our sins. 

Remembering Herb: Gary Scott has provided AW with a sneak peek at a blog entry due to appear on his website, matchingtracksuits.com, on January 16. 

The end of the world came for Herbert Armstrong nineteen years ago today.

It’s been “five to fifteen years” for forty years

He’d been predicting the end of the world for some time, starting back in the thirties.

World War Two, he declared, would end with “the Second Coming of Christ!” It ended with the Iron Curtain, but never mind.

He then updated his prediction: 1975. He even wrote a “book,” for lack of a better term, called 1975 in Prophecy. Once again, Jesus was late for his own party.

Armstrong, founder of the now-evangelical, then-cultic Worldwide Church of God, had a fondness for the number nineteen. It was somehow of some Biblical significance. “Nineteen-year time cycles” and such. So here it is, nineteen years after the end of his world, and we’re still bumbling along.

The fact that Armstrong never got it right, and in fact failed in two predictions of Jesus’ return (not to mention a host of other failed predictions), hasn’t killed the hydra of Armstrongism. There are still true believers out there, waiting eagerly for the end of the world that’s supposed to come any day now. Men like Roderick Meredith, Gerald Flurry, and David Pack make the most of them, convincing their followers (“sheep,” as they like to call them) to donate thousands of dollars to their sects in return for a guarantee of personal safety when “the Tribulation” begins in “five to fifteen years.” 

It’s been “five to fifteen years” for forty years.

Armstrong’s been dead an entire “19-year time cycle.”

But cultic thinking and the need for security create a seeming perpetual motion machine out of Herbert Armstrong’s teachings. The world is a better place without Armstrong, but his ignorance continues to haunt.

Gary also drew our attention to an article by PCG dauphin Stephen Flurry which appears in an unexpected corner of the Internet (maybe Al Jazeera would be interested too?)

Hulme COG on tsunami: Amidst all the "God did it!" blather on various COG websites, who'd have expected the Hulme sect to have something moderately sensible to offer?

The Bible records the uncomfortable observation that time and chance happen to all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). For example, when 18 hapless souls were killed by the tower in Siloam falling on them, Jesus Christ made it clear that they were not more sinful than others, and despite all people being sinners and needing to change (Romans 3:23), sin was not the reason for that particular calamity (see Luke 13:4–5). Neither, we may conclude, is it necessarily the reason for every other calamity that occurs... Given the realities of time and chance, and of the nature of physics, there is no reason to suppose that God caused the tsunami catastrophe. Though the Bible shows that God is opposed to sinful behavior and sometimes punishes it, He is also a God of compassion and mercy who wants the best outcome for human beings. 

 The article by John Meakin appears at vision.org

British Israelism and Mrs Windsor: The throne of David, Ephraim, sea gates, yadda yadda. But what does Liz think of it all? And does Anne's choice of Zara for her daughter's name indicate anything? We know many readers have been horribly tormented by questions like these, but, thanks to John England and an American Methodist minister he's been corresponding with, we may now be able to put you out of your misery. Check out The Royal Connection.

The bun fight continues: A new and lengthy missive on Port Austin has appeared from Homer Kizer.


Dean Wilson dies: Another high profile WCG minister from times past has passed on. Dean Wilson, who finished his career by retiring as a pastor in the UCG, died January 11. The following details were posted on Victor Kubik's website: Mr. Dean Wilson died peacefully while asleep Tuesday evening after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. He was at home with his wife Marolyn under hospice care at the time of his death.

LifeNets project: LifeNets, a charity many COG people support, has announced its involvement in tsunami relief. Details are available online.


Like crumbs of unleavened bread through the hourglass... The Daze of Our Lives soap continues at Port Austin. First, this reassuring message from a source close to the riven community: Late Friday evening, the preliminary findings by the Port Austin Fire Department found no accelerants, but overloaded circuits had started the fire in a downstairs room, which spread through the walls to the upstairs.

Talk of possible arson had surfaced on news groups, but AW chose to not to feature this incendiary speculation. Our understanding is that the facility was simply sub-standard and a potential fire hazard from the start. 

Then, behold! Norman Edwards emerges from his Trappist isolation to light a bonfire of suspicion. The following comments were posted on Likeminds

1. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined--so it is amazing that people claim to know the cause when they have not been in the building or contacted any authorized investigator.

2. I called the Port Austin fire chief just today and he said that as far as he is concerned, the cause of the fire is still "unknown". He also said that he has had no requests for information, other than from the local media. Whoever claimed that they contacted the fire department and obtained the information is not telling the truth. That is why they are probably using an alias. 

3. Some causes of the fire have been ruled out, such as space heaters. The room where the fire started is known. We did not have a space heater in there and the investigators found no evidence of one in there.

4. There are still multiple unexplained things that have occurred in connection with this fire. Individuals were sighted in the area before, during and after the fire who are still unknown to the investigators.


It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.

Madeleine L'Engle 

5. The fact that several different people have claimed to know the cause of the fire, when no authority has released any information is disturbing to investigators. Why are there so many people anxious to put forth a cause for this fire with little or no knowledge of the conditions? Do they have a reason to want the cause to be a specific thing? Do they think their false statements will throw the investigators off the real trail?

6. If anyone knows who "Francois Lamoyne" is, I and probably other investigators would be very interested in talking to him or her.

Thank you for your help in this manner. Thank you for all who have prayed. We feel that God has been with us. This has been a difficult time, but it seems that none of us have been fearful at all in this matter.

The "Francois Lamoyne" mystery was quickly solved (or was it!?) by a Likeminds reader simply punching the name into a search engine...

Francois Le Moyne's career began when he won the Prix de Rome in 1711 after studying in Paris. He admired the work of Raphael, Correggio, and Peter Paul Rubens and aspired to paint ceiling decorations in their manner. In his work he blended traditional Baroque influences with Rococo colors and figures. In 1728, King Louis XV commissioned Le Moyne to paint the ceiling of the Hercules Salon at Versailles. Not long after, he was named first painter. However, distressed by excessive work, jealousy, and his wife's death, Le Moyne stabbed himself nine times and died in 1737.

Too bad the networks can't just cancel the series.

G.G. Rupert: The moderator of the Original WCG group has provided a link for those interested in researching the man who inspired Herb's holy day doctrine: G.G. Rupert, author of The Yellow Peril. Several documents have been provided in PDF format.

More discoveries! He's done it again... M.T. Hall has uncovered yet another document of ancient wisdom and prophetic lore. Remember, you heard about it here first!

Why not donate to PTM? Greg asked and AW readers responded. In case you missed it, PTM chief honcho Greg Albrecht wondered "WHY NOT GIVE A YEAR-END DONATION TO PLAIN TRUTH MINISTRIES?" Here then are some of the replies:

(1) Hello Greg. Surveys seem to conclude that most people want at least 50% more then they need. I would suggest you work on - 50%. Think how much less you would have to work to bank and bring in all the lucre. And how much excitement you would feel when you get more money next year. In immense anticipation of your new openness. Vic.

(2) Why not give another nickel, Greg? Because dictator for life Joe Tkach, and his bootlickers... WILL NOT DISCLOSE where the MILLIONS of dollars WENT from the sale of three college campuses. They refuse to DISCLOSE where millions of dollars of precious church assets WENT after wholesale auctions. Just what are you doing with the money...? [There needs to be a] complete BUDGETARY DISCLOSURE and an audited accounting of the money... Let's not forget these college assets were purchased from three tithes sent in by nearly starving members brainwashed into a grinding LIFETIME of POVERTY, without a dignified retirement, by a totalitarian propaganda system reminiscent of North Korea. 

(3) Number one reason why I can not support PTM. Greg's message concerning the incarnation of Jesus falls squarely among those the Apostle John condemned as Antichrist. Greg can not or will not realize how mistaken he is concerning the orthodox teaching of the two natures in Jesus Christ. Greg divides the two natures. He believe only the man "part" of Jesus died. He will not believe the Son of God died for humanity. Frank

(4) Because you don't need it and don't deserve it. And, even if I did you'd never admit how you'd spend it anyway. Ed Elliott

(5) Why should I give ANYTHING to you? So Tkach can BUG the new Glendora BUILDING loyal employee offices, washroom lavatories, classrooms, prayer chapel, computers, cash counting room, lavish executive offices and top secret boardroom before anybody gets there? Then maybe if he buys more electronic security bugging equipment than a major Las Vegas CASINO, we can finally figure out just how he really [used] the millions... 

(6) I suggest Greg and all associated with plain truth ministries heed their lords command to sell all that they have, give it to the poor and then follow Christ. Not likely to happen though. Seems they want the poor to give to them all they have, and then follow Plain Truth Ministries.

(7) "Yes, but only if you are putting all your begs in this one askit" 

"No. I know the difference between tsunami and baloney."

"Yes I will. Enclosed is The Autobiography Of George Mueller. Maybe you'd enjoy finding out how a real minister of Jesus raises funds." 

"No. Greg, I'm puzzled as to why you are begging for funds. Is not Jesus well able to provide for your ministry?" 

"No. I see a fracture in ministries that proclaim faith in Jesus but are always hard-up for money and begging. Where is your faith? "

"Here is a dollar patch to wear on your sleeve. When people ask just say that you're trying to cut back."

Ed Elliott 

(8) Dear Greg, I'll give you a "year end" donation, this "year" if you promise to "end" your crappy publications, and get a real job, in the real world. Oz

(9) Well, since I helped pay for the Ambassador College campuses and all the buildings associated, and since you have sold them over the past few years, I was wondering if you could give a donation to me since I am unemployed right now and could sure use the help?

(10) Tell you what Greg, you send me a copy of the audited accounts for both PTM and WCG and I'll exercise my responsibility to make sure that the money I donate isn't being poured down the plughole. I await your response breathlessly.

More COG responses to Tsunami: All Christians, and not just COG members, have had opportunity for serious reflection in the wake of the Indian Ocean disaster. At one extreme are Bob Thiel's comments (see today's mailbag), and somewhere not too far away are those of a UCG minister, as reported by a member of his congregation:

You might not believe how our UCG Pastor suggested our congregation approach [the disaster reports] last weekend. He warned about scam artists setting up tables for tsunami survivors outside stores. The U.S. government is contributing millions of dollars, "so you've made a donation already" -- your tax money. United Church of God also made a donation to the American Red Cross -- "so you've made a donation" there as well. Our tithes and offerings, you understand.

And a week later:

My UCG Pastor sounded awfully close to hard-hearted on this matter this past weekend. "I thought charity begins at HOME," he said admittedly stating his own opinion -- adding in the wake of the tsunami, some people are trying to be "more godly than God" or words to that effect.

I suppose the Pastor's reasoning is that if God caused the tsunami, we shouldn't rebuild the damage He brought.

One of the least adequate statements (in our opinion) comes from the pen of John Ross Schroeder in the latest UCG World News and Prophecy.

Weekly Mailbag

CGI donates to relief operation: It would be interesting to see how many COGs will follow the lead of the CGI who made a contribution to the Tsunami relief effort and provide information on their website to enable readers to make a charitable donation to one of the major relief agencies.

The Church of God International has made an initial contribution to the relief effort. Our home office checked into “highly reliable” agencies through the www.charitywatch.org, a web site that rates charitable organizations. Of those with high ratings we selected the American Red Cross. (If brethren would like to donate through this agency they can call the Red Cross at 1-800-435-7669). Our gift was forwarded to them this past week and should now be effectively helping in the global outpouring of concern. We specified that the funds be designated for their International Response Fund that is currently being allocated to the Tsunami Relief effort. The donation was made on behalf of the Church of God International’s membership and our supporters. We are blessed to be able to help in this way. http://www.cgi.org/booklets/tsunami.cfm


Herbal opus going cheap: Apparently, a lot of people are not willing to put in thier two-cents worth when it comes to buying Herb's magnus opus, Mystery of the Ages. Amazon has plenty of copies available for a penny.


AW: Yeah, but still badly overpriced... :)

Surprise, surprise: Well, whaddya know?

The [UCG] Council voted in favor of inclusion on the ballot of the following proposed amendments:
* Bylaw 8.2.1, which would remove the term limit that currently restricts the chairman of the Council to two consecutive two-year terms.
The Council did not favor the inclusion on the ballot of the following proposed amendments:
* Bylaws 7.9.2,, and, which would lower the threshold of GCE support needed for a proposed amendment to appear on the annual ballot from 25 percent to 10 percent. The Council voted to provide a statement of concern.
* Bylaw 8.2, which seeks to limit an elder to two consecutive three-year terms of service on the Council of Elders. The Council will provide a statement of concern.
* Bylaw 8.3.1, which would require that there be at least one elder on the Council who is neither employed by nor retired from employment with the Church. The Council will provide a statement of concern.
(COE Teleconference minutes, Dec. 31)

Against term limits and against financially independent Council members, eh? Anyone else detect an undercurrent of lust for power and control?


Here comes the big date: I just read your January 8 update to Ambassador Watch and saw that the 19th
anniversary of Herbert W's death is approaching. I had forgotten all about it. Coincidentally, I just threw out all of my Worldwide Church of God literature, starting with the first Plain Truth I received during the summer of 1977. I had been holding onto all of that rubbish to use as reference material for the occasional article I would write for your site or the Painful Truth. Since I haven't written anything lately, nor do I feel the desire to do so, I decided to get rid of the clutter. It was an impressive pile, and made quite a mound in front of my home, where I left it for the garbage collectors. It would have easily reached from floor to ceiling. Is there perhaps some spiritual significance in my throwing out my Armstrong literature around the time of the 19th anniversary of his death? I bet that on the Hebrew calendar, which is the only one that really matters, the date of HWA's death and the date I threw out my church literature are the same. Perhaps one of your enterprising readers can find out.

It's no surprise that the long-winded Rod Meredith is hinting that the 19 year anniversary of Herbert's death has some significance. Armstrongites are always finding significance in some obscure combination of numbers. The only
numbers they routinely ignore are the shrinking numbers of their church memberships. The churches of God continue to decline in membership due to attrition or dissatisfaction, but each little group claims to follow in the footsteps of Herbert W. Armstrong, powerfully carrying forward the work he started so many years ago. Little do they realize that in a few years, when Rod's generation fades away, Herbert W. Armstrong will be as forgotten as the fat cats who lived on Millionaire's Row in the years before it became part of Ambassador College.

You [also] brought back memories of my early days in the WCG when you mentioned Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons. Shortly after I was baptized, I met an older gentleman at my first Night to be Much Observed. This man seemed to have an unusual understanding of prophecy, and he was always talking about how news events fit into God's prophetic plan. For a newbie like myself, it was all very impressive because he was able to connect the dots in a way that seemed to make sense within the framework of WCG theology.

One fine Sabbath, another friend brought me The Two Babylons, which I asked him to pick up at religious bookstore. I was so excited because everybody in my congregation was talking about this book, and I had been unable to find
it. When I bumped into my news analyst friend, I excitedly showed him my new book. He looked at it as though he had never heard of it (which surprised me), and then struggled to read the title as he said very slowly, "The Two...Baby...Lions." I was shocked, stunned and disillusioned as I realized my learned news junkie friend was barely literate. I later learned that he was practically living in poverty because, although he did home repairs and improvements for a living, and always seemed to have work, he couldn't balance a checkbook. Being an accountant, I tried to help him out by putting his books in order, but I was limited in what I could do because he wasn't paying me, and I had a full time job. He needed a full time bookkeeper. I could only help out a few hours on Sundays.

Eventually, his prophetic pronouncements got him into trouble, and he was disfellowshipped. Around the same time, he moved to another state to escape his creditors. I heard through the grapevine that he managed to both get
himself reinstated in and disfellowshipped from the WCG congregation in his new state. I never saw him again after he left my congregation. A sad story, but he was just another poor soul whose path I crossed in the Worldwide
Church of God.


Tsunami punishment? I cam across an interesting article for all those people that subscribe the the "Tsunami was punishment from God" school of thought. According to the Asia Times many of the "pagan" stone age tribes on India's remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands managed to escape the Tsunami.

Unfortunately victims of the tsunami included members of one tribal group: Most of the tribal victims of the tsunami were Nicobarese and as many as a quarter of their population of 20,000 people, who are mostly coastal farmers and followers of the Christian faith, may have perished when the killer waves struck.


A gentle reminder to correspondents that letters should not exceed 700 words

Rod Meredith - a true prophet! On 1/08/05 'Byker Bob' had this comment about the 12/26/04 tsunami, "I have an open question (possibly the ultimate acid test) for all COG members: Was your apostle, local minister, pastor-general, or rabbi over there sounding a warning to these people? Or, is he now simply jumping on it "after the fact", and milking it for all it's worth?"

In his post tsunami commentary of 12/27/04 LCG's R.C. Meredith advised that people read his booklet Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return. In that booklet (the December 2003 edition), he wrote, "Watch, as the number and magnitude of earthquakes grow, because they will become extremely devastating...In the near future, there will be more earthquakes even in places where they are not normally expected... In recent years, scientists have come to a better understanding of the immensity and magnitude of the tremendous fault systems that trace themselves underneath the whole earth. However, not all the earthquakes of the near future will be natural disasters—the usual groans and strains of planet earth’s crust. Some will be directly induced by God as a sign of His power, and will be designed to help people wake up. God will take a direct hand in the affairs of men. The earthquakes specifically mentioned by Jesus Christ as a foreshadowing sign of His return will be unusual by their location or unparalleled magnitude..."

In his booklet Who Controls the Weather? (February 2002 edition) [he] wrote, "the Creator is going to intervene in human affairs through the weather, disease epidemics, earthquakes and other natural phenomena... The truth is that present and prophesied monster floods and droughts are going to vastly increase the potential for polluted water, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and other sources of disease... Chains of volcanoes and earthquake-prone areas rim the Pacific Ocean for thousands of kilometers. This perimeter around the Pacific Ocean is known as the Ring of Fire. Most of this century’s largest earthquakes, with magnitudes of 8.5 or higher, occurred in this region."

Here is what [he] wrote in the current issue of Tomorrow's World magazine (before the recent tsunami), [emphasis] mine, "Events prophesied in your Bible are now beginning to occur with increasing frequency. In this Work of the living God, we are able to warn you about what is going to happen soon. We are not talking about decades in the future. We are talking about Bible prophecies that will intensify within the next five to 15 years of your life! Please understand. We are not "scaremongers." We love our fellow man. So it is our responsibility to warn our peoples—ahead of time—to prepare for the future. Most of our advice is spiritual in nature... So we must each examine our own situation to determine what action we should take. Are we living in a low-lying coastal area where we may be in danger at a time of increasing hurricanes, tsunamis or similar natural disasters?"

Lucky guess? No, I do not think so.

In his 8/04/01 sermon (five weeks before the World Trade Center attack and around 8 weeks before anthrax was detected), Dr. Meredith warned that terrorists may bomb the World Trade Center and that biological weapons, specifically including anthrax, could be released in the U.S. at any time (Prophetic Prophecies on the Edge, San Diego, August 4, 2001).

Now, I do not believe that R.C. Meredith believes that he personally was foretelling the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, the fall of 2001 anthrax incidents, nor the 12/26/04 tsunami (I suspect, based upon my earlier conversations with him, that he simply believes he is teaching what the Bible says he should teach in light of the current situations). However, as the human leader of the main remnant of Philadelphia era of the Church of God, I believe God did inspire R.C. Meredith to make both statements. I do find it of interest to note that R.C. Meredith alluded to both major catastrophes that have occurred in the world since LCG formed, just prior to their occurrences.

It should also be noted, however, that no COG member (at least none associated with the Philadelphia or Laodicean portions) died in either incident, thus it may not have been necessary for the members to understand this in detail personally (yes, I am aware that one or more associated with WCG may have died in both major incidents, but WCG is not a true COG). But God clearly did reveal these type of major incidents through the biblical writings of His prophets. And, apparently inspired R.C. Meredith to mention what those prophets understood prior to both major incidents.

The future? Here is another statement from that same article... "I also want to strongly encourage our subscribers—especially the Americans—to prepare for a financial emergency that may strike our nation within a very few years. Although I am certainly not a financial expert, I do have access to many very reliable news sources. Right now, more and more news reports are warning of an impending financial collapse that may devastate the United States within the next several years!"

He is correct about that. And that will probably affect the US more than the tsunami affected the coastal regions of southern Asia. Why? Because it would be part of the beginnings of the time of 'Jacob's trouble' [Jeremiah 30:7] 

'Byker Bob', it seems that LCG has passed your 'acid test'. Will you and other anti-COGr's now support LCG and heed what the Bible says or will you fail that acid test?

Bob Thiel (http://www.cogwriter.com/)

AW: I'd make a comment, Bob, but I'm still speechless.

The importance of numbers to Rod: "Mr. Armstrong himself deeply recognized the importance of certain numbers" (Meredith letter). Yeah! Like the "19-year time cycle", "FIVE years to go", "TEN years to go", "TEN percent of your money", "TWENTY percent of your money", ONE old apostle, "ONE True Church", "50% of you just don't get it", 144,000 nincompoops in Herbert's church, 100 Bottles of Don Perignon. 


Humble Greg Albrecht: (1) I saw Greg Albrecht in the video "Called to Be Free". It had been quite a while since I had the opportunity to see him and I was quite impressed with the substance of his comments. I am thankful that several key members of the WCG leadership had the honesty and courage to openly evaluate our beliefs without fear and choose truth over error. It takes faith to be willing to follow the direction the Word of God takes us even when it is the opposite directions of our long held beliefs. Like Greg Albrecht, I too look back in amazement of our ignorance as a church. "In a multitude of counsel is wisdom". The founder of our denomination didn't take counsel and as a result lived in a spiritual vacuum and in spiritual ignorance. He couldn't identify a Christian according to the definition given by Jesus, and those who follow in that blindness can't either. I feel for those who are blindly operating on the outside of Christianity, looking in on Christianity, and condemning it. 

God is FAR, FAR bigger and more involved with his creation than I ever dreamed. I am thankful He has come to open our eyes to see who He really is and show us what He is doing all over the world. I thank Greg Albrecht for humbling himself before God and repenting of his error, and allowing himself to be used in leading many others out of error into His Truth and understanding of His grace which has purchased our salvation. There is tremendous freedom in understanding that salvation is the work of Jesus Christ and not my righteousness. I have NO worry about my future; it is fully in the hands of the Resurrected One, who has given me eternal life just because of His goodness, not mine. And I do feel thankfully indebted to Him for His free gift. And because of His love for me how can I help but
desire to please him? Our works come from salvation, not salvation from works! And these "works" are the "works" of the Holy Spirit, not of human effort to attain or maintain salvation. Thanks for allowing me to comment.

M. L. Allison

(2) Today, I typed "Greg Albrecht" into Google and your website came up near the top... I read your review of "Called To Be Free." I liked it as a whole, however, I have to disagree with the following, where you said: "That particular 'veil' is still firmly covering the eyes of WCG's leadership..."

Greg Albrecht, without hesitation, calls HWA an heretic, but immediately applies the same label to himself. He includes himself as a victim, and expresses disappointment in himself for granting so much power to HWA in his own life, even though he supported and even administered that power in the various Offices he held. I had much respect for him and those others who said that it didn't matter how many members they would lose, they were going to preach the truth as they were beginning to understand it.

You also write that the vestige of cultic "top down" grip of leadership is firmly in place. You see that as a bad thing... the New Testament Church...was a group that essentially called itself the Leadership, tolerated no dissent, and was subject to no term limits in their performing their duties. They died in Office, so to speak.

If HWA was an unauthorized, uninspired, self-absorbed, heretical and power-mad leader of a Cult, why should any of those he taught, in spite of their eyes being opened to the errors of their beliefs, be trusted to lead, now?


AW: The link you provide just brings up an error message at EarthLink - maybe you'd like to double-check it. You characterize the leadership of the 1st generation Church as rigidly hierarchical. But if so, who was in charge? Peter? James? Paul? John? In reality it was extremely diverse. Hierarchies and episcopacy came later.

COG author responds: I was born David A. Hoover on January 10, 1960 in Bowling Green, Ohio. However, 
I legally changed my name to David Ben-Ariel in 1989, as clearly brought out in my article "God-given Names."

David Ben-Ariel

Counter-counterblast: Gordon Feil (A Canonical Counterblast, guest-writer column) should consider that maybe someone smarter than Sir Edward Clarke or Sir Lionel Luckhoo forged the NT Canon. I doubt Paul wrote in high Greek for the educated and in more common Greek for the uneducated since 99% of people were illiterate in those days and only the educated could read. Whoever wrote the letters with the poor grammar was probably doing the best he could. Finally, the Bible is not consistent throughout and is filled with contradictions, scientific mistakes, and accounts of acts of a grossly immoral god. The Bible is the beliefs, ideas and fantasies of men not the teachings of a god.


January 16 cycles past: January is a significant month for some. Joe Tkach writes: Nineteen years ago this month, Herbert W. Armstrong died at the age of 93... He proceeds to tell his version of the reforms that followed.

LCG's Rod Meredith has also noted the date on his calendar, and particularly the fact that it is the 19th anniversary of HWA's death. 

Dear brethren and co-workers, as this Work grows in power, we are humbly reminded that we are simply "carrying on" the Work which the living Jesus Christ began through Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong so many years ago. For God used Mr. Armstrong to preach the full Truth more powerfully than any other man that we know of in nearly 1,900 years. Most of you older members and co-workers remember Mr. Armstrong and the debt of gratitude we owe him for yielding to Christ in restoring so many Truths of God.

As one of the pioneer students at Ambassador College, I had the opportunity to work very closely with Mr. Armstrong for most of the last 36 years of his life. Only a very few people still alive knew him as well as I did. For I spent thousands of hours with him, traveled with him, ate hundreds of meals with him and-along with a few other early leaders in the Work-helped him build the Worldwide Church of God into a truly globe-girdling organization.

So, as we approach the 19th anniversary of Mr. Armstrong's death (on January 16, 1986), we do honor his memory and the powerful work he did. As many of you fully realize, we are actually "following in his footsteps" far more than any other organization on earth! But Mr. Armstrong himself always put the emphasis on Christ and not on his own human leadership. So throughout the first twelve years of this Work, that is what we have done and continue to do. Nevertheless, I feel it appropriate at this time to remind all of you of his pioneering leadership and of the fact that we are, indeed, carrying on that Work in a significant way.

Mr. Armstrong himself deeply recognized the importance of certain numbers. He often explained the importance of numbers such as seven and twelve. And, as he said, "Twelve is often used in the Bible as the number of organizational beginnings." For God had twelve "patriarchs"-the sons of Jacob. Later, Jesus Christ Himself appointed twelve apostles. Even into eternity, we find that the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, will have twelve gates and on them will be written "the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (Rev. 21:12).

The allusion to 19 year time cycles seems clear. Has Rod prepared a rabbit to pull from his hat on the 16th, or is he just incredibly naive? 

Michael Hubert update: In the January 5 upload we carried a report sourced from COG News about Michael Hubert and the situation in India following the tsunami. At that stage COG News noted: "it is not known if any of his two congregations are alive." Since then we have received the following advice from John Walsh:

None of the Church of God brethren in the area involved with Michael's ministry were directly affected and they are all alive and well. None of them live in the coastal area. Some of Michael Hubert's relatives who are not involved in the COG were not as fortunate. It seems that as they were taking a Sunday morning walk on the beach, they got wiped out by the wave and are reported among the missing at this point. As Michael does a lot of work with the poor in Madras on an ongoing basis, he had been active distributing water and food relief packages to families he already knew that lost all their belongings, as they lived along the coastal areas. I will file any other relevant update with you as I receive them from Michael.

OdysseyCover.jpg (228060 bytes)"Christian Oddity" launched: WCG has launched a new periodical called Christian Odyssey. However neither the contents of the first issue nor the design seem exactly riveting. Among the articles is one called Theology: What difference does it make?

LifeNets response: Victor Kubik has released the following comments to supporters: Hello to all who have inquired about what LifeNets may do to help victims of the December 26th Tsunami….. Events are developing quickly. In the shock and overwhelming magnitude of the natural disaster, we were at a loss to know what to do or where to start. Through a series of contacts with people we know in some of the affected areas, mostly Sri Lanka, there appears to be a way for us to help in a practical way where we can all see where our help goes. Also, our contacts on this end we are quickly developing a delivery vehicle for much needed supplies. We will begin the process of rebuilding starting in Sri Lanka. 

More information will be coming, but I simply wanted to respond to all of you who wrote in. At first we had no answer…now we see that there is a way and we will do our part in the tradition of LifeNets other successful ventures. Please tell your friends. All contributions are tax deductible. More information will be coming and full reporting will be available through our website at www.lifenets.org and newsletters.

WCG family missing in Sri Lanka: In the Jan. 5 WCG Pastors Update Rod Matthews reports: 

I have been in contact with Mohan again today as we waited for further information about the missing members in Batticaloa. Lynton Silva, pastor of our churches in central Sri Lanka, returned home to Badulla this afternoon (Tuesday) after visiting Batticaloa and was in phone contact with Mohan. It was a difficult journey because vehicles are still not able to get all the way to the town due now to flooding from heavy monsoon rains which have fallen on the east coast since the tsunami hit. 

There is still no news about the missing couple, Ravi and Mala, who host a developing Bible study group of about 20 people in Batticaloa. I am troubled to pass along that their two children aged 6 and 4 are also missing, as are 3 other adults from this study group. Mala’s mother and sister have been searching for them but have found no record of them in the mortuaries in the area. 

"We alone": A selection of quotes from cult leaders proclaiming their uniqueness and authority has been compiled that gives Herb, Gerry and Rod prominence. The website itself is a little suspect, promoting the teachings of a pseudo-Eastern sect, but the quotes seem completely genuine.

Kizer commentary: Homer Kizer has another commentary on what he calls the "soap opera" at Port Austin in which he relates the story of the fire, and seeks guidance on how a Christian should respond to an adversary's adversity. 

William Guthy: DP forwarded the following archived item from Forbes.com: 

Former Buster Keaton Mansion Sells

The 1926 mansion that once belonged to Buster Keaton was purchased by William Guthy, co-chief executive of Guthy-Renker (a privately-held infomercial company with annual sales of $700 million), and his wife, Victoria Jackson. The property itself is located in Beverly Hills and reportedly sold for close to the $20 million asking price. The 16,000-square-foot mansion includes a 50-foot-long living room and a 42-foot-long kitchen. Cary Grant and Barbara Hutton also owned the home during their brief marriage in the 1940s.

Guthy began his career in the late 1970s, when he paid his college tuition at the Worldwide Church of God's now-defunct Ambassador College by duplicating cassette tapes for the blind. He started his own business, Cassette Productions Unlimited, in 1977. The business flourished, and by the early 1980s, Guthy set his sights on starting an infomercial business, which he founded with friend and partner Greg Renker.

Guthy-Renker commercials appear on TV screens worldwide. Nice to see that an Ambassador education was useful for something.

New look BA: The Bible Advocate has a new look for 2005. While there are fewer issues, the size of the magazine has increased, and the layout has a contemporary look. Included in the first issue are two articles by former WCG minister Richard Wiedenheft, one of which is available online.

Rattling the can in Canada: Funds must be running low north of the border. Canadian WCG director Gary Moore has been rattling the can in a letter to the members.

Sadly, there are some Christians in virtually any congregation or fellowship, who give little or nothing to the cause of Christ.

How can this be? How can those who consider themselves part of the body of Christ, and who partake in its services and blessings, not take responsibility to do what they can to help carry the necessary costs? I strongly encourage any who are in this position to search into his or her heart, and ask if such an approach is truly justifiable. I am not implying anyone should do what they cannot do, but I believe it fair to ask that we all do our reasonable part.

As well as the practical aspect of helping provide the financial needs of Christ's work through the church, there is the part that worship and gratitude should play in our giving. Biblical giving is an aspect of the worship we offer God. To worship is to acknowledge the value or worth of something or someone. When we give of our time, our interest, or our wealth we are participating in worship. Further, such giving is an expression of gratitude toward God. God gave us this earth, our lives, and all we have in his role as Creator. In addition, as our Saviour, he has redeemed us by his own blood from spiritual death, and given us the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). Should not a deep appreciation of these facts stimulate a generous, thankful response in us?

Christians historically have been a giving people. In fact generosity is considered a characteristic trait of the people of God. Worldwide Church of God members and co-workers have been — and generally still are — very generous. That is a beautiful characteristic, and brings glory to God who lives in each one of his people.

Let's determine to make 2005 a year in which the legitimate financial needs of the congregation we attend, its ministries, and our denominational needs will be met. Further, it would be wonderful to see enough funds given that would enable us to reach out beyond our doors to help others — in our country and abroad. We have a history of doing this — let's maintain that wonderful giving spirit into next year, and the years beyond.

Hislop's Ghost: While we're still flying the maple leaf, some readers may be interested in an article called Hislop's Ghost, by Glendora pastor Neil Earle, which appears in the Nov/Dec Northern Light. Hislop was the author of The Two Babylons, a book much cited in the WCG once upon a time.

Advice for Greg: AW has received quite a number of responses to Greg Albrecht's question. Greg, as you'll remember, asked PTM supporters WHY NOT GIVE A YEAR-END DONATION TO PLAIN TRUTH MINISTRIES? (emphasis in original). We'll publish those that we can (sorry Leigh, hilarious, but not for family consumption!) next week. Any late entries can still be sent to helpgreg@ambassadorwatch.co.nz

Cringe Britannia: Meanwhile, back in dear old Blighty, the lads have gathered for their first "ministerial conference" at the new cult facilities at Market Harborough. But perhaps we're being a bit tough describing the British WCG as a cult... let's see...

David Silcox then began another session by stressing that the ministry is a team, and that all ministers need to look to our denomination and to teach according to the mandate it gives to us. We are not to teach our own ideas, or according to any personal agenda. Even where we are not employed by the church, we have placed ourselves ecclesiastically under the control of Pasadena. Our priority is to follow Jesus Christ and the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Division comes from not following the lead, from following our own agenda. Division harms the body. We must allow the denomination to drive the agenda, and to accept and believe, in faith, that Jesus Christ is in charge.

All ministers have huge areas of discretion, but still their guide for the welfare of the congregation must be that of the denomination. For example, just avoiding certain areas supported by our fellowship, is not acceptable. Our Mission Statement is central and sacrosanct. Rumour and apocryphal stories must be scotched. (British WN, November)

Of course, all denominations need to exercise internal discipline, but then all denominations have member representation and systems of checks and balances. Does WCG? The WCG "reformation" was, after all, created through the "personal agenda" of Joe and the "gang of four". Nonetheless, David Silcox seems relaxed about grabbing hold of the Pastor General's coat-tails and denying any form of personal responsibility to Joe's client-ministers in the UK.

Poll results: By a remarkable ratio of 2 to 1, it seems AW readers believe that Pastor General Joe might indeed lay aside his crown and scepter this year. Of the first 100 votes logged, 34 said they'd be surprised, while 66 thought it a distinct possibility. The poll is still open.

The Rhetorical News: One of the most delightful features of COG journalism is the use of rhetorical questions in article titles. The January/February Good News provides some outstanding examples.

Successful Parenting: What makes it work? Dunno, but if you can bottle it, you'll never have to worry about tithe income again.

Is the United States still a Moral Nation? Was the United States ever a Moral Nation?

When do I get a break? Well, hopefully as soon as this darn rain stops and the sun shines again - probably about April!

Today's music: what's the message to our kids? The Rolling Stones do gather moss.

Ten Commandments or Ten Suggestions? Read David Albert's book.

Where are women's magazines heading? Straight into the recycling bin.

Christian in name only? In the case of the YMCA, yup. And as GTA used to say, the "young" and the "men's" bit might be dubious too.

Is it anti-American to criticize the moral conduct of the United States? Absolutely, judging from some of the posts on the COG boards.

Why Prophecy? To keep the fear religion fresh.

Why so much conflict in the Middle East? Will it ever end? (This is an extremely rare two-for-one question.) Why so much conflict in the COGs? Will it ever end?

Want to learn more? Better read something else.

The latest GN is available as a PDF file here

Weekly Mailbag

Called to be free: (1) Thanks for the review of Called To Be Free. I have been under a lot of pressure from a WCG member in my family to see the video. It's supposed to show that "everything's okay now" and that all that ucky stuff endured by our family in the past should just be forgotten because the problem was apparently just that God took his time correcting them, and well, what can you do about God's timing, when it comes right down to it? If anything, it's God's fault because the church sincerely sought Him, and he just didn't fix things. Until now. But now "everything's okay". I will undoubtedly end up watching the video. At least now I know what to expect.

But I do have an additional comment. You criticized (rightly, I suppose) that the reforms didn't come from the bottom, from the membership. Surely you know that would be impossible? No one in the church is allowed or encouraged to question anything, they never have been, and anyone so inclined left or was kicked out. I am constantly amazed at the ease with which my family member made the transition from angrily and fiercely defending Armstrong's Biblical interpretations to saying that they were totally wrong and he now believes everything that he angrily railed against before, and all because his church leadership (not friends or family) told him (not showed him) that he was wrong.


(2) [The] editorial on the DVD was exceptionally well done... As always, the AW site continues to be a fantastic source of info and links. My past is long gone, but far from forgotten.

Colin Ward

(3) Just a note to let you know I thoroughly enjoyed your impartial review of the DVD "Called to be Free." Your insight and writing skills continue to impress me. I'm looking forward to your review of "Difficult Scriptures." It's a book that I felt really helped me during the church transition era, although it never seemed to get much publicity. Thanks for keeping my Whistler site linked to yours. I'm hoping one of these months to put together and post an article on divorce and remarriage, but we'll see.

The Whistler

AW: The Whistler was AW's original columnist. You can find his articles archived at http://members.tripod.com/whistler4truth/

Tsunami reactions: (1) Here is a e-mail of concern that I sent Joe Tkach. It seems that Joe is either hard of understanding, or the alternative, tight fisted in putting into place the practice and the works of his friend Jesus! 

AW: Read on... here

(2) Amos 3:7 reads, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." As posted on the PT Forum, we now know that Dr. Kerry Sieh, professor of Geology at California Institute of Technology, was actively warning the Indonesians, and other residents of the North Indian Ocean seacoasts, of an impending earthquake and tsunami. He had been doing this since June of this past summer, and had distributed booklets, and posters, and met with various church groups and schools over there. This was based on his measurements of the pressures building up on the tectonic plates in that area. 

I have an open question (possibly the ultimate acid test) for all COG members: Was your apostle, local minister, pastor-general, or rabbi over there sounding a warning to these people? Or, is he now simply jumping on it "after the fact", and milking it for all it's worth?

Byker Bob

(3) Apparently Tom and some other CoGers are selective in their choice of Scripture regarding "the wrath of God" and the tsunami catastrophe which struck south Asia. Surely their eyes skipped over Luke 9:51-56, which reads, from the NKJV, as follows: "... they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?' But He turned and rebuked them, and said 'You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." !

Warren J. Carlson

Return to Jewish roots: I noticed a comment from Fiona & Simon Hodgetts. In my opinion, not much changed in 1995 except for the 'deregulation' of the church... Joe Tkach Jnr joined Armstrong in the pantheon of control-freaks. However, the 'free market' swept through the cult and provided a rich smorgasbord of choice. Nevertheless, WCG today is riddled with as much doctrinal nonsense as it was in its heyday. In joining evangelical Christianity it has taken on board a whole set of new beliefs, for instance the one in an 'everlasting hell'. Do I care? Absolutely not. Several years ago I discovered that I have Jewish ancestry on both sides of the family. I decided to return to my roots and today worship the G-d of Avraham, Yitzak and Yaakov as a Jew on Shabbat in a Synagogue. Now, Christianity is an alien religion to me and the more I learn about Judaism, the more I realize that Armstrong knew nothing about the Tanakh ('Old' Testament). Any moderately educated Jew would laugh at the nonsense he taught on Torah. As for British Israelism, it was surely the pinnacle of Armstrong's folly. I continue to enjoy the stimulating updates MD provides on the freak-show of the leaders of the Churches of God (including WCG I might add). It is indeed the sweetest irony that the changes of 1995 resulted in my discovery of the beauty of Torah and Shabbat and the spiritual bankruptcy of an American cult. Baruch HaShem. 

Thomas Amiel Smith

Move over Garrison Keillor: I believe that American humorist Garrison Keillor and England’s Monty Python would worship and bow down before M.T. Hall’s excellent style. Please extend to Mr. Hall my deep admiration and respect, along with my hope that he will uncover many more scrolls in the future. I am attempting to find a suitable font for this latest scroll, and I will frame it (with full credit) and hang it upon my study wall.

Kathleen Kakacek


COG situation in India: The following report appears on the Church of God News page produced by Steven Kieler and Richard Nickels. 

Michael Hubert with children at cancer center (photo from COG News)

December 26, 2004: Prayer request for M. R. Hubert, 5 Buddha Street, Madras 600024 India and his congregations... At this time, it is not known if any of his two congregations are alive.

I am making this letter in a sad state, when things just over turned and in few minutes everything went off just like that. The tsunami hit the costal areas of my state, which is called Tamilnadu. I live in Chennai, also known as Madras. It has hit the people, their belongings and everything inside the coast. I am and some of our members are safe. The worst part was people who went jogging and walking on the beach that morning. My cousin and his family were walking there on Sunday early morning of December 26th. The whole family was wiped out. It was a very bad day. I was running from pillar to post to find people who were safe or to find bodies. Our state was not prepared to face this disaster and our rescue missions are so poor. As a matter of fact, the decayed bodies are still not able to be cleared, the government does not know what to do. Few people volunteer to clear this great mess. Actually the people I work with such as down trodden poor families and others, are lost, and some have recovered. The people who are saved have lost every belonging. There is no food, dress, shelter, or utensils to cook with. Many are receptive to the truth, but since they come from a Hindu background, there are lots of cultural clouds from their relatives. It’s quiet now and many are sick and tired. All I request is that I need your prayers for me to stand up and continue the work. Our people need help and support to start their lives again. We need to help around 50 families at least, and we may need around 300 U.S. dollars per family. If you can help as much a family, I would send you the complete report about their well being. If you wish to know more, please write to me. Once again, I need your prayers. Thanks.

AW understands that Michael Hubert was formerly a deacon in the WCG, and now leads an independent group which has had contact with UCG and the Legacy Institute (Leon Sexton). According to Sexton "Mr. Hubert is a long-time COG member who started a foundation called Shabnam (Early Rain) Foundation to educate the poor and destitute, former prostitutes and street children of Madras. He and his wife, Terencia, also are trying to serve the scattered and spiritually battered members of God’s Church throughout the Tamil Nadu state of southern India. Michael used funds donated from western brethren to build a meeting room on top of his house. Here he holds classes for street children and the room doubles as a place for Sabbath services and Bible studies. Michael Hubert and another young COG member named Wesley Lucas also hold Bible studies at 3 “house churches” in the Madras area and travel to evangelize and counsel prospective members throughout southern India."  COG News provides a US contact address for anyone willing to assist (bottom of linked page).

Gerry Flurry - visitor from another dimension: We're not sure which particular time-continuum the PCG prophet comes from, but it certainly isn't this one. Proof is easy to obtain. Take a close look at the inscription in the photograph (the full image is here). Gerry was naturally distraught when he discovered that the original plaque in a Jerusalem children's park (acknowledging a gift from noted philanthropist Herb and the AICF) had been removed. Generous Gerry agreed to shell out a few tithe-payer bucks and get it replaced. But notice who the founder of the Philadelphia Foundation is on Gerry's parallel world. Yep, where Gerry comes from Herb established PCG's Philadelphia Foundation, not the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. For more information check out re-runs of The Twilight Zone

Ossuary outed: Israeli police have charged four antiquities dealers with no less than 17 counts of forgery, including the infamous ossuary that was featured in the January/February 2003 Good News. Detectives said they had discovered a sophisticated laboratory in the home of one of the dealers, who had been successful in fooling some of the world's leading experts. A number of press reports can be found online, including Melbourne's Herald Sun, Auckland's New Zealand Herald and The Australian.

UK franchise finances: What was founded in 1960, registered as a company (ENG:654913), employs 25 people, and has a total income of 1.45m British pounds? According to charitiesdirect.com it's ye olde British WCG. What's more: CharitiesDirect.com can provide a detailed profile of Worldwide Church of God, or any other charity listed, featuring their full accounts, details of activities and named trustees and executives. Faxed to you inside an hour.

Whither Joe?
Will Joe Tkach retire in 2005?
I'd be surprised if he did
I wouldn't be surprised at all

View current results
free polls and surveys @ www.votations.com

Will Joe jump ship? Someone who knows the Pastor General contributed this comment to a news group recently: Now that escrow for the last portion of the campus is slated to close in January, let's see how much longer JWT remains in his pastor-general position. I'd say NOT LONG. 

This isn't the first time that the suggestion has been made that Joe will retire once the assets have evaporated. How likely is it? Your guess is probably as good as anyone else's. Check out the poll.

Please help Greg: Greg Albrecht needs your help. A recent issue of Greg's PTM Update asks this question: WHY NOT GIVE A YEAR-END DONATION TO PLAIN TRUTH MINISTRIES?

Well, why not indeed. Actually, we can think of quite a few reasons. If you'd like to join us in coming to Greg's assistance by submitting a pithy (but publishable) answer to his plea, email us at helpgreg@ambassadorwatch.co.nz. The responses will appear in a later AW issue.

Port Austin addendum: On January 2 Homer Kizer added a new section to his webpage on the Port Austin fiasco. It appears half way down under the title "addendum". It appears nobody is backing down in a hurry.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse:

Very early yesterday (Monday, 01/03) fire broke out at the residence of Norm and Marleen Edwards and their family. Although there was extensive damage, everyone in the building did manage to escape. The specific cause of the fire has not been determined... The family has not been allowed into the building to retrieve any personal items as of this time and are not sure when they will be allowed to do so. 

Cracked skulls and Satanic slander? The January 1st report on how various COG bodies had reacted to the Asian tsunami disaster brought immediate and negative comment from several quarters. Colorful COG identity David Ben-Ariel (a.k.a. David Hoover, he was deported from Israel in 1996 for allegedly planning to blow up the Al-Aksa Mosque) sent a blistering quote from - himself:

When SUPERNATURAL DISASTERS strike, God’s representatives assist us in understanding what’s going on. They offer advice in how we can take proper precautions to AVOID FURTHER INCIDENTS. They let God’s message sink in and hit home—they don’t just give money to patch things up! What will it take for us to WAKE UP—more suffering and misery? ... We’re about to have our skulls cracked! (Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall, page 167)

Jesus may have been moved by compassion, but David, it seems, has no idea what the fuss is all about. 

A UCG member wondered: 

What God can kill, God can make alive again. It's called the second resurrection, and COG's have taught that for years. Why isn't UCG rolling up its sleeves and helping at the scene? ... I have mixed thoughts about that one. UCG is a small denomination, and doesn't have the people to provide emergency disaster missions -- certainly not the way LDS and SDA do, for example.

We weren't suggesting UCG should send medical teams, rather the concern was at the attribution of immense suffering to God who, if the church president is to believed, is prepared to wipe out human life in a kind of divine advance publicity stunt for an even greater slaughter to come. To imply that everything will be okay because the victims will simply rise again in the second resurrection seems somewhat perverse.

Janet Treadway, who works at UCG Home Office in Cincinnati, was deeply offended by AW's coverage:

I have never read such a spiteful, fault finding news page as yours! You look to find fault and put people down. You love to twist things and make it evil. How can this be of God or of God's spirit? ... You make judgments and you don’t even know their hearts? ... I know Roy Holladay. He is one of the most compassionate ministers I know and deeply cares about what is happening ...Your website does not promote unity but divides and sows hate. Satan is the accuser of the brethren!

Photograph taken by Michael Hubert of Indian tsunami victims

Roy is certainly a fine and sincere man with many excellent qualities that put the rest of us to shame. To adapt a memorably droll phrase Ron Dart once used in speaking of Ernest Martin, he is also doubtless kind to small children and animals. But if UCG's president is going to pontificate on the religious significance of world conditions he's got to expect something more than choruses of "amen", "yes, lord" and "hallelujah" from the choir. UCG's leadership, however, at least seems to understand the need to react in an appropriate way. Consider these comments from LCG's Dibar Apartian:

One can’t help but feel a strong sense of urgency after reading the tsunami reports and listening to the dramatic, heartbreaking descriptions of the damage, primarily the loss of human life, reported by the media the last few days. As we mentioned above, almost immediately after the earthquake, Mr. Meredith delivered a forceful Internet commentary, showing that PROPHECY COMES ALIVE. That’s exactly what we have been proclaiming on our Tomorrow’s World telecast and magazine. There is no time, brethren, to remain lukewarm. No time to relax or to pretend that things aren’t as bad as they seem. We must heed Christ’s warning and watch and pray more than ever before. We must keep closer to God and ask Him more fervently every day, "Thy Kingdom come!"

So there you have it: a mixture of "pray and pay" (checks to be made out to Living) with a dollop of "we told you so!"

And finally, Tom, whose news board posting appeared last time, contacted us with these further observations: 

I have so far seen nothing that refutes my comments, which are based on sound doctrine. But, then, since AW is not a theological publication, I would respectfully suggest that its publisher is not qualified either by reflection or experience to comment on what the bible teaches, as the bible is a theological book.

In addition, the responses I've so far seen on COG boards and even in the national press are all based on sentimentality and false compassion. A careful study of the Scriptures will show why the "wrath of God" comes of the children of disobedience; and why there will be more earthquakes and other so-called natural disasters to punish man for his sins. This teaching may not be popular, but it is biblical.

God the sociopath? Or does he just have an anger management problem? Go figure.

Bookshelf Top Ten: Here's a list of the 10 most popular book orders placed through AW over the last 2 years.

1. The Lost Tribes of Israel. A serious treatment of the missing tribes that fuelled Herbert Armstrong's imaginative version of British Israelism.

2. On Angels' Wings. A semi-autobiographical account by a former WCG member.

3. Dare to Think for Yourself. Betty Brogaard, a former WCG employee married to a minister, tells why she has now moved beyond religion, and recounts some interesting anecdotes about WCG personalities.

4. When Jesus Became God. A history of how the Trinity doctrine developed in the early church.

5. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.

6. Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self Inflicted Wound. Written by former WCG insiders Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting who argue for a form of Biblical unitarianism.

7. In the Beginning. The story behind the King James Version.

8. Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong tackles Christian fundamentalism.

9. Healing Spiritual Abuse.

10. Twisted Scriptures.

The five most popular books in 2004 were: (1) Lost Tribes of Israel, (2) Dare to Think for Yourself, (3) When Jesus became God, (4) Doctrine of the Trinity, (5) In the Beginning.

In 2003 the 5 top books were: (1) On Angels' Wings, (2) The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, (3) Twisted Scriptures, (4) Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, (5) The Jesus Mysteries.

More links to books that have been mentioned on AW can be found here.

Weekly Mailbag

COG compassion: (1) The remarks of Roy Holladay, Mark Armstrong, Rod Meredith, and the rest regarding the Tsunami are chilling in their lack of empathy. To such shameless men, every tragedy that affects mankind is an opportunity to milk the sincere and the simple. If such men are the representatives of God, then as my late dad said, “the Almighty and I wouldn’t get along all that well anyway.” ...

Kathleen Kakacek

(2) [So] God did it, not nature. It was God's intervention to shake the nations? Why didn't He start by shaking big nations instead of tiny insignificant nations? Wouldn't that have gotten the attention of the MAJORITY? If He wants to get mankind's attention, why not blast the hell out of China, United States, France, Russia, Australia, Germany, India, and other places where there is a great populace, and why not hit them all at once? Then, God would have everyone's attention, if that's what He wants, and there would be no "MAYBE God did it, maybe He didn't" scenario. Why pussy-foot around about it? Why not kill millions upon millions, rather than thousands, mainly poor destitute people? Is God a respecter of persons? Is this the kind of God you serve? One who metes out punishment and death on a vast majority of poor people? Why not strike at the rich, powerful, and famous, you know, the movers and shakers of societies and nations, those who set the trends and lifestyles? Why stop at impoverished, little areas when you can go for the bigger enchilada?

Does God want to get "church" people's attention? Why not blow the hell out of all the churches who seek money and membership for more money, who rule with an iron thumb, who get and maintain a rich lifestyle off of the have-nots, especially those who are so smug that think God won't touch them because they are so righteous in their obedience, humility, and "open-mindedness"?


(3) I keep checking Lifenets (Victor Kubik's charity) for ways I can help -- and as I write this five days on, he's posted NOTHING about the tsunami. To borrow a U.S. TV phrase, I'm fearing Lifenets has "jumped the shark."

It's nice to read UCG has made a donation to the Red Cross. But isn't it interesting that the announcement doesn't say how much? When UCG'ers give Holy Day Offerings to the church, a financial breakdown comes back pretty quickly.

But perhaps UCG has a long memory -- of the Joseph Tkach Sr. donation on behalf of WCG, after the 1989 Bay Area earthquake. That donation came out to about 50 cents a member, yet still apparently brought some complaints.


(4) The real cause of earthquakes? Click here: Plate Tectonics, the Cause of Earthquakes. Our old friends the prophets knew nothing of the dynamics of weather and geology so attribute all to "god". What is scary is that in this day and age, minister go back to that ignorance and treat it as special insight we have lost, when , in fact, it is what we know today that makes statements of old so ignorant and controling.


AW: Mr. Hall has uncovered yet another ancient scroll with deep prophetic significance for today. Somebody really should inform Hershel Shanks. His first discovery is still available for the delectation of the scholarly community.

(5) It's certainly no surprise to see the response of many of the C's of G to this natural disaster. If the area around the tsunami is so hideously sinful, I expect to see Rod and his cavalry send every spare magazine and booklet in to help these families that are now homeless and starving, perhaps delivering them personally. I can just hear the cries of relief when, disease ridden and dying of exposure, these souls are met by tract-wielding Christians who truly care about their welfare. "You don't need food and clothing. You need the love of God...". Yeah, right! So long as no one from a local church is injured, the waves can just keep coming.

This freak of nature is certainly NOT God's judgment on anyone. If God is involved at all, I would venture to say it's to see how certain reprobates of the Christian world react to one group of people's most unfortunate circumstances. Will their love be demonstrated by beaming a gospel message into the area, urging them to be of good cheer? Or will individuals buck the leadership and actually throw next week's tithe into a truly worthy cause? 

Be sure to check with the local minister to see if it's all right!!

Colin W

Hoeh: (1) David Anderson's letter on Herman Hoeh and his omerta on Armstrongism to the end discussed the WCG justification for racism as a mechanism of protection in a hostile world. In South Africa, the excuse against inter-racial churches was always the need to be low on the radar screen, to protect us from the attentions of the (then) right-wing Government, and a (future, according to Waterhouse) fascist dictatorship. The ministers from Cape Town pushed for mixed services (morning service was for brown/black, afternoon for white), but Bob Fahey consistently rebuffed this with the aforementioned excuse. When Mr Amstrong visited Cape Town in 1976, we had a combined, mixed service, and the (brave) minister just continued with that arrangement. The next year he combined the Spokesmen's clubs, and Passover services the following year. The sky didn't fall in, and the whites adjusted to us - though the different groups tended to sit on opposite sides of the room. Cricket and soccer games, and picnics, were all integrated. A mixed cricket team visited Johannesburg in 1978, and the concept was not universally welcomed. But the visit was intended to teach them about being human.

I have no doubt that British-Israelism reinforced racist attitudes by whites, and attracted those with such views. Waterhouse was the biggest cheerleader for this. Herman Hoeh's articles on race from the 1957 Plain Truth were never repudiated by him, though, as he said, he loved mixing with people who were different, e.g., Tongans, Fijians, Thais, etc.

UCG and LCG are still coy about racial mixing, and hide behind study papers and commissions on the subject. Just one sentence would do. Or they could try to write a computer program that will classify someone's race when physical characteristics are fed into it. All it will differentiate is melanin level - skin colour; the rest (hair, lips, nose, eyes) are shared by all "colour" groups.

HWA grew up in a culture that looked down on blacks, and he never changed. GTA was more liberal. Hoeh chose not rock the boat or make waves, and stayed enigmatic to the end.

Another example of omerta is Dorothy Armstrong, who has never confirmed or denied her father's alleged incest with her.


(2) I "knew" Dr. Hoeh during fours years of at AC and David Anderson's comments confirmed a few thoughts I have had about Dr. Hoeh. While some few might have known him very very well, he always impressed me as a man who either knew more than he would say, and thus his rather shy and reserved demeanor, or a man that was somewhat detached from the teachings of the Church proper but concerned with security needs. I remember once when he was asked to comment about some controversial topic he said he could not as it might affect his retirement...and then chuckled as only Dr. Hoeh could. Perhaps a bit of a nervous laugh. This was years ago... 

On another occasion, I brought a beautiful 12,000 year old Clovis point that I have in my collection to a conference to show him and get his comments on. As a student of archaeology, I thought he would be fascinated. Wrong! I chatted with him during a break at the refresher and showed it to him with a bit of a history of it and he simply said, "that's nice" and walked away! He never even seemed to want to touch it. Well, so much for that! I never understood but perhaps the idea of it being so old in America contradicted his understanding of chronology. I mean the Clovis culture did not drown in the flood!

I think David is correct to note that if Dr. Hoeh felt differently about things, he was in a position to share that and respected enough to not endanger himself if that is what he thought. I doubt anyone would think of him as a usurper or one who had to explain as, say Rod Meredith did, just what number evangelist he was in the "work." Rod always had this seriously silly thing he told us when it struck him that "Jesus is under the Father, then Mr. Armstrong, then Garner Ted and then we who are the Senior Evangelists..." I always thought "we" meant "me next." Very weird feeling to hear that I remember, but then I was 18 years old so who knew.

I suspect Dr. Hoeh felt more at home with Eastern thinking in his latter years and after all he must have known about Western religious types, who could blame him. He was a very genuine human being in a world where finding one was difficult at times.

Dennis Diehl

(3) To offer a partial answer to Dave Anderson's questions about Herman Hoeh's Compendium and whether and how he renounced it, I would say that he renounced almost all of it. The central argument of the Compendium is that
history and archaeology has been corrupted through satanic influence, and the Compendium was supposed to present "the truth" about ancient history and archaeology. The Compendium's wholesale recasting of ancient Near Eastern archaeology was heavily based on the pseudo-scholarship of Immanuel Velikovsky, and the Velikovskian interpretations of archaeology are not borne out by the evidence.

I have a letter from Herman Hoeh, written in his own hand in 1987 in answer to some questions of mine about biblical chronology and archaeology. I had noticed that the Compendium said one thing and later WCG literature (including some of Hoeh's writings) said something contradictory. I wanted to know which was right. Hoeh told me the Compendium was wrong, that his archaeological theories had been decisively disproved by, of all things, Ambassador College students participating in the Jerusalem dig and seeing with their own eyes that the strata in Israel weren't laid down in the way they would had to have been laid down were Hoeh's theories true. Hoeh wrote to me at that time that he believed the first six dynasties of Egypt were pre-Flood, whereas in the Compendium he had endeavored to cram all recorded ancient history into the post-Flood era.

However, I think Hoeh still believed in some of the things he wrote about in the Compendium, particularly the legendary synthetic accounts written in the Middle Ages about the Trojan and Patriarchal origins of various peoples of Europe. I know this because around 1990, a friend of mine in the WCG came back from the Feast of Tabernacles in Germany and shared with me her notes of a sermon Hoeh had given, in which he sketched the purported ancient history of the Germans. What her notes showed was pretty much identical to what you'll find in the early chapters of Volume II of the Compendium, where he adapted the "history" of the German Renaissance writer Aventinus (Johannes Turmair).

Of course, I can't say what he believed in the last years of his life, but I do know that when he renounced the Compendium, it was not a wholesale renunciation of every single thing he'd written in it, since as late as 1990 he still adhered to some of the things he said in the Compendium.

Jared Olar

(4) I think we owe a debt of gratitude to David Anderson for his efforts to find out what influenced WCG's policy on race. I too have been trying to get answers to this burning question. So after Raymond McNair's series of articles in The Journal trying to prove that HWA was the Elijah to come, I wrote to him pointing out that his arguments were fundamentally flawed; because both he and HWA failed to challenge racism in the church, especially in South Africa. Yet the bible says that Elijah would restore all things. At least David got a reply, but I have not yet heard from Raymond. But I am not holding my breath.

However, Dr Hoeh's reply to David shows that the leadership of WCG was not interested in what the bible teaches on how the children of God should be treated. It was more concerned with conforming to the prejudices of a godless society, in order to win "friends" and influence people. No wonder God spewed WCG out of his mouth.

Still, no lessons have been learnt. For racism is still endemic amongst all the divided groups in cog-land. And in spite of all soul searching that has been going on in WCG under the 'leadership" of Joe junior, racism is still as evident as ever.

What will they say to God in the day of judgment?

Tom Mahon

Port Austin: It seems as if Royce Mitchell [on his website] has taken Matthew 18:15-17 to a whole different level. I think he needs to read the instructions a little more carefully. It says, "If your brother (fellowship believer) sins against YOU" (not someone else). Since it didn't concern Royce, why get in a person's face? ...

In Royce's mind, these men have already been "put out" of "the church", but "the church" hasn't even decided the matter yet. Royce calls upon "the church" to "put out" Kizer and those on Kizer's side. By whose authority? Certainly not "the church"...


Xmas gleanings: Thought you-- and your readers-- would find this column of mine interesting coming from the pastor of a COG! In fact, I have been getting some hate mail from Christians attacking me for my "anti-Christian views"! All I am trying to do--which has been the thrust of my journalism over the years-- is to get people to THINK, to question long-held assumptions and to expose people to the rich intellectual diversity which exists. Incidentally I just won the prestigious Morris Cargill Award for Opinion Journalism for 2004, an award given by the Press Association of Jamaica. Interestingly, too, Gavin, it was actually HWA and the WCG contact which pulled me from a life of aimlessness and academic failure at 15 when I came in contact with the World Tomorrow broadcast. Armstrong's booklet "The Seven Laws of Success" really transformed my life and led to many personal accomplishments. Amidst the wreckage of Armstrongism, I not only survived but thrived. It still makes me sad to know so many did not do as well, but, in fairness, it must be pointed out that some, apart from salaried Ministers, did benefit from the Armstrong Experience.

Ian Boyne

Fellow escapees: Hurray for Tom & Josie Smith. I am very glad to hear that they join the ranks of those who have had their eyes opened to the 'truth' about Armstrongism. We too pity those (especially other family members) who still sadly remain entrenched in the cultish lies and theological nonsense of the Armstrongism offshoots. We too have been freed of the burden of Armstrongism since about 1996 and often wonder about acquaintances and old friends from WCG days. We would like to send our sincere congratulations to them.

Fiona & Simon Hodgetts

David Albert review: (1) I am happy that you are reviewing Dave Albert's book. I just hope that it is analyzed in an honest fashion without the deep cynicism and mocking that comes across from some of your writers and readers on your web page.

Dave does an excellent job of showing where we had been wrong. When we said the Law of Moses was done away, HWA thought it only pertained only to the temple, priesthood and sacrifices associated with the temple. But when we look at scripture, Jesus, Nehemiah, Paul, Samuel, Moses and Luke all referred to the the Law of Moses as either the entire Old Testament or as the Torah (Pentateuch) that Moses wrote. We have two mediators--one is Moses and other is Jesus. The mediation of Moses is finished according to Acts 15. The two covenants are mutually exclusive. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by keeping the law of Moses. HWA took his theology from Ellen G. White. (Autobiography) His theology was actually heresy that was condemned by the book of Galatians. For so many years we were on the wrong side of the Galatians argument. 

I am very much looking forward to reading your analysis. I have read the book about 8 times because it was so profound. I would be happy to answer any questions about the book that anyone may have. 

Oleh Kubik

AW: Oleh Kubik pastors a small WCG congregation in New York state. The review is now scheduled for next weekend.

(2) Dave Albert's book... was sold in the lobby of the Ambassador Auditorium when it first came out. That in itself caused a big stink. Herb had always demanded that nothing be sold inside the building as it was 'God's dwelling place.' However, when all the changes came about they let Albert sell his book there. By that time Albert was working in Big Sandy. His book had a big impact on many people in Pasadena, but was never promoted beyond the congregation. 

Nothing new: I must say it must be rather humiliating for Spanky to realize his website is getting more and more behind when compared with all the other Church of God organizations. He keeps the same booklets online, and actually it seems as though the  "Laodicean" spirit has really set in for him. Nothing new. He seems more  concerned with getting on more radio stations than actually feeding the flock...

But, then again, that seems to be the result when one only surrounds himself with sycophants who only know when to nod in approval!

Robinson bio: Someone asked for a small blurb on David Robinson's bio, and this is what I have... Someone else can maybe flesh it out a bit more.

Mike Minton (Painful Truth editor)

Miserly offer: It is interesting all the things the WCG headquarters said in the past but doesn't appear to be true. I can remember when the WCG first talked about selling the campus, they said the proceeds could be used to do things like provide church buildings for local churches. For some reason, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting. Our local WCG congregation is looking at the possibility of buying a church building. We are presently looking at one that is very intriguing, but we don't have a sufficient down-payment. (We have 10%, but we need 20%). If we had the down-payment, then we would be better off owning compared to renting as far as monthly cash-flow is concerned. In a committee meeting last weekend, one possibility suggested is maybe Pasadena (pardon me, is it Glendale now) could loan us the money to do it now that they sold the rest of the campus. How much does anyone want to bet that we will get no answer on this request.

It sure would be interesting to find out exactly how much money Pasadena actually made on the various sales, and what their tentative plans for the money would be. My personal experience has been that when matters like this are so super-secret - nothing good comes out of it... If there is nothing immoral or unethical taking place - then why can't Pasadena be honest and 'transparent' with their financial matters??? If they can't find the funds to properly compensate their own employees who were given solemn promises, then where exactly *IS* the money going???


In search of Ernie: Do you know where I could get a copy of [Ernest] Martin's work called Healing, Medicine, Physicians?

AW: Try the ASK webmaster.


Special Report: 01 January

COG Response to Tsunami Disaster

The horrifying scenes that have emerged since December 26 have aroused huge compassion and generosity from around the world. Who can forget the images of burning bodies, photographs of missing people posted on notice boards, the grief of parents cradling their dead children.

AW begins its coverage for 2005 by focusing on how the Churches of God have reacted to this disaster. Responses range from the adequate to the obscene.

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Worldwide Church of God: The Pastor General's Update (December 29) carried a brief expression of sympathy and concern from Joe Tkach, followed by an account on the welfare of members in the region by Rod Matthews:

We are stunned by the disastrous tsunami that has devastated numerous nations of Asia and Africa. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families as cleanup and relief efforts get into full swing. I received the following note from Rod Matthews. He wrote:

Having heard the news reports and seen images of the incredible destruction caused by the massive tsunami created by the exceptionally powerful earthquake that occurred on Sunday morning off the northwest coast of the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia you have undoubtedly wondered whether any members of our fellowship were directly affected.

I have been in contact with our church leaders responsible for India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, and only one member family has been directly affected as far as we know at the moment. John Mathai and his family live in an apartment block close to the sea in Chennai (formerly called Madras) in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal. This area was the one most badly affected in India. The water entered his apartment block but not his apartment and as a precaution he has moved to stay with friends on higher ground. But no other members in Chennai live close enough to the coast to be affected. 

About 50 miles further south of Chennai is the church's regular festival site at the Scripture Union camp at Mahabalipuram used only two months ago and which is right on the beachfront. Joe D'Costa, pastor for southern India, was able to ascertain that the surge of water from the sea came over the sand hill at the back of the beach and flooded the areas between the buildings but did no structural damage nor injured any staff.

North of Tamil Nadu in the state of Andhra Pradesh, we also have a member living in the coastal city of Vishakhapatnum but he is safe and was not affected according to his daughter who was contacted by north Indian pastor, Danny Zachariah.

Joe D'Costa has been able to contact some members living in coastal regions of the south-western state of Kerala which was also affected even though it is on the other side of India. No members there have been affected by the tsunami.

In Sri Lanka, we have a small developing Bible study of about 20 people who meet in the house of Ravi and Mala, members in the city of Batticaloa on the south-eastern side of the island. Their home is on the inland side of a large lagoon which borders the beach. Pastor Lynton Silva who lives many miles away at Badulla has not yet been able to make contact with anyone in this group due to communication difficulties. We can only pray that everyone is safe and has the necessary basic needs and support in this crisis.

I heard on one television news report an interview with someone from Batticaloa who lived on the inland side of the lagoon and who said that the lagoon had helped dissipate the strength of the tsunami wave as it came inland and prevented more significant damage. Although this report is rather general, it does gives us some hope that those living on the inland side of the lagoon were spared the worst.

We have a small congregation in Colombo on the south-western part of Sri Lanka and all miraculously escaped damage to their homes. The surge of water created devastation along the coast and entered the coastal suburbs of Colombo where it did much general damage. Mohan Jayasekera, pastor in Perth and overall coordinator of pastoral services for Sri Lanka, told me that his mother's house in Colombo which is about 400 metres back from the sea was flooded to about one third of a metre in depth but that she escaped any personal injury. Mohan's brother who was with her at the time sensed that something strange and dangerous was happening when the sea receded suddenly before the tsunami came in, and upon his advice she went upstairs in the house and waited there. So she was fine. Miraculously, no church members living in the southern suburbs of Colombo had their homes flooded.

Many coastal people in Sri Lanka were lost when they took advantage of the receding sea to collect stranded fish and other seafood from the now-exposed sea floor near the beach, and could not flee quickly enough when the wall of water came in.

Our church-owned school (Worldwide Educational Institute) in the inner northern suburb of Colombo called Wattala was not affected even though it is within a couple of kilometres of the sea, and several staff members who live in the area but closer to the sea just escaped having their homes flooded by the water which was deflected into several canals in the area. There are a number of canals in suburban Colombo built by the Dutch hundreds of years ago when they ruled Sri Lanka.

In Malaysia we have three members living in Penang on the north coast of the country and about 300 kilometres south of the resort island of Phuket in Thailand which was devastated. But the Malaysian pastor, Wong Mein Kong, has been in contact with them and they are all fine because they live back from the sea. Beach resorts in northern Malaysia suffered severe damage similar to those in southern Thailand.

Legacy Institute: Leon Sexton's Legacy organization works with members of Church of God groups in this part of the world. A brief statement from Sexton appeared shortly after the devastation occurred:

We are ok and all brethren in Thailand are ok. But we have brethren in other countries who may have been affected. we will inform as we learn their status.

for these Churches of God it's simple and straightforward: God deliberately killed all those people to get their full attention

United Church of God / Living Church of God: The following comments come from Aristophanes, an AW correspondent who has been monitoring the major COG splinters:

When tens of thousands have died in one of the worst natural disasters for decades, many turn to religion for comfort. Religion, after all, is dependable. Certainly some of the CoGs are.

The day after the earthquake and tsunami, United's website featured a taped talk on "Natural Disasters" by Church President Roy Holladay, who eventually referred to the disaster after first talking at length about how UCG's Winter Family Weekend in Louisville, KY, had had to contend with really bad winter storms, but what a great time they'd all had despite that... He also says that, with more earthquakes to come, "I think finally God will get the attention of the human race." To bring the point home there are links to a bunch of reprint articles including "Superdisasters: Growing Weather Danger?", "Disastrous Weather — Acts of God?" and "Cause and Effect: An Often-Overlooked Principle" which includes the truly sympathetic passage:

"When thousands die in natural disasters—hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes and droughts—people blame God. Yet, as God told the ancient Israelites, He would bless them with favorable weather only if they obeyed Him (Leviticus 26:3-4; Deuteronomy 28:12). Most chose not to obey."

On New Year's Eve the website was updated to say that United had made a donation to the Red Cross, but there was still the End Times message, and this:

We have three free booklets that explain how you can be one of God's children and—according to the Bible—why such tragic events are prophesied to occur in the context of our modern age. For help in putting all of this together in a meaningful biblical perspective, be sure to request or download your free copies...

But for a true insight into God's thoughts on this last week's events we need to turn to Living's Rod Meredith, who thunders:

"This recent enormous earthquake is not a "once in every 40 years" incident! Unfortunately, it is only among the very first of an entire series of natural disasters which are destined to shake the entire world in a manner never before experienced!" 

He goes on:

"We are now just beginning to experience the direct intervention of Almighty God to shake the nations until He gets their full attention! May God grant you the humility and the "open mindedness" to be willing to see what God Himself is doing..."

All religions have to deal with the age-old problem of theodicy: how to reconcile the existence of a loving and all-powerful God with all the pain and suffering in the world. Many religions have complicated solutions to the question, but for these Churches of God it's simple and straightforward: God deliberately killed all those people to get their full attention. That makes me feel so good about God. Thank you, Rod Meredith and Roy Holladay.

A December 31 letter from Holladay contained a belated expression of concern. But it also included these comments:

Part of the job of the Church today is to be a watchman and to proclaim an early warning message to this world of repentance from sin and impending worldwide disasters. Notice God's instructions to Ezekiel... (Ezekiel 33:2-4, 8).

Just like the prophets of old, the Church in the end time has been chosen by God to proclaim that early warning to the nations. Those who heed the warning and seek the spiritual high ground have the possibility of escaping future disasters outlined in the book of Revelation. Our job is to give a message of hope today and to pray that many will heed it and join us in broadcasting that message of salvation and hope... When the Millennium begins, these will be the conditions the resurrected family of God will face. It will be our job to bring both physical and spiritual aid to the suffering masses.

AW comment: The Christians in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other affected countries - along with all people of goodwill - are not hiding away in some safe spot feeling smug. Their sleeves are rolled up, helping bury bodies and working to secure clean water and shelter for the homeless. They share in the tragedy. Whether or not bringing relief is a millennial task is beside the point.

A Message for Tom: AW is not a theological publication, nor do we take delight in beating readers about the ears with Bible quotations. But in Tom's case we'll make an exception.

Somebody told Jesus about the people from Galilee Pilate had killed while they were at worship. Jesus said, "Do you think they were singled out for that fate because they were bad people, worse than other Galileans? No, it doesn't work like that. But if you don't mend your ways, a similar fate will be yours. Remember those eighteen people who were killed when the Siloam tower fell on them? Were they more wicked than all the other people living in Jerusalem at the time? Of course not! But if you don't come to your senses, you'll all die under a heap of rubble." Luke 13: 1-5 (Good As New)

Our advice to Tom? Stay away from beaches and avoid high structures.

News groups: A number of decent and compassionate posts have appeared on various COG boards, but there have been exceptions:

If there are any of God's people in the areas affected God will watch over them. Also, Christians pray for one another every day, not only when they are in trouble.

You must also try to understand that the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience because of their sins. Many of those holiday resorts are frequented by homosexuals looking to pervert the young people in those areas, because they are poor. Also, many men and women who travel to those areas are just looking for sex, to get drunk and to behave very badly. In fact, parts of those areas could be described as Sodom and Gomorrah.

So to request prayers for them is to be just silly. For God will not hear you!

What is more important is, what will you do when it happens in your area?


Mark Armstrong's ICG: "Last week, my son Michael and I headed for the high slopes of southern Colorado for a few days of skiing.  While away, we were shocked to hear the news of the tsunami, that deadly wall of seawater that crashed ashore on the northwestern coast of Indonesia and also hit the coastline of India and washed over various islands in the Indian Ocean.  I know that my Dad would have been quick to address an event of this magnitude, resulting in such massive loss of life.  Looking to his example, a commentary entitled The Great Tsunami, Was God Involved?  is in the process of being posted on the GTA web site."

Restored Church of God: The Pack cult has produced a predictable piece of "prophetic" exposition. The emphasis, not surprisingly, quickly slides away from the crisis in hand to verses wrenched from apocalyptic literature and applied to fearful prospective tithe-payers closer to home:

Like the lull before a mighty tornado, fury will surely come—but there is a way of escape. To learn more, read our prophetic conditions report EARTHQUAKES and VOLCANOES in Prophecy.

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


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