Poof of the Bible

The Proof of the Bible

Herbert Armstrong wrote The Proof of the Bible in 1958 (no one can be quite sure if he plagiarized the material or who he might have plagiarized it from). Unfortunately, the so-called “proofs” are all based on Old Testament Prophecies — touted by him to be absolute proof because they were fulfilled, thus “proving” the Bible. Now those of us who have our own copy and have studied Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker’s Toolkit by Johathan C. Smith can spot the problems with The Proof of the Bible almost instantly. We won’t bore you with the disproved theory that Tyre was actually not destroyed — it still exists. No, we ask you to skip forward to page 22 and read the section Why Egypt is a Weak Nation. Herbert Armstrong quotes Ezekiel 29:15-16 where he makes a point that Egypt will be the basest of kingdoms! How did he do? How did the Bible do on this one?

It’s hard to get our arms around this because, really, the statement is pretty vague. Nevertheless, let’s use a commonly agreed upon measure of a country’s viability and ranking by selecting the List of Countries by GDP (PPP). Data from the World Bank ranking Gross Domestic Product for the years 2005-2013 rank Egypt #25 out of 179 countries with a GDP of $910 Billion. That’s fairly respectable. Of course, the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Brazil, France, United Kingdom are ranked at the top above Egypt as you might have suspected. What’s interesting though, is the nations ranked below Egypt: Countries such as Netherlands, South Africa, Columbia, Venezuela, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland (who knew?), Iraq (Iraq?), Sweden and Switzerland. The most interesting one, though is… wait for it… Israel! Israel was ranked at #54 with a GDP of $264 Billion.

So if Egypt is the basest of nations, are we to assume that Israel, the specially selected country chosen by God, is even more base? If you use the objective measurement of Gross Domestic Product, the answer is obviously, yes. So much for Herbert Armstrong’s Bible Prophecy (not that he wasn’t a huge failure in this department anyway). The Proof of the Bible is no such thing. And not to put to fine a point on it, The Proof of the Bible doesn’t even begin to address the New Testament, it’s provenance and the questions about such books as II Peter, the gospels and Revelation being forged: The Proof is more than a little thin — it’s only about a small part of the Old Testament and a few prophecies given there — it does not address the Big Picture at all.

Some of the ministers in the Armstrongist churches seem to have realized that no one can actually prove the Bible is true and may believe the information from Theologians, such as David Fitzgerald at Skepticon 3 “Examining the Existence of a Historical Jesus”:

Byker Bob wrote, over at Banned!:

Many groups over the millennia have taught the sabbath, the holy days, clean meats, the ten commandments, and either a tithe or voluntary giving of a generally recommended percentage of 10% as God’s basic standard.

People have been happy, they’ve lived exemplary lives, and they have raised fine families in peace and tranquility under those customs. Whether they are New or Old Covenant, whether certain facts are known or unknown that would make it possible or impossible to still observe those tenets, and whether the act of teaching them is the way of identifying “God’s True Church” rather than love, faith, and other Christian fruits, has been the subject of ongoing unresolvable debate for many years. Still, a once a week “special date with God” would certainly not harm self, or others, in and of itself.

What elevated Herbert W. Armstrong’s church and his heirs into cultic status was the addition of an extrabiblical theory (which can actually be disproven using the Bible, let alone archaeology, history, linguistics, and genetics) based on British Israelism and German Assyrianism. This was compounded by Armstrong’s pretentiousness in claiming to know something that Jesus said could not be known, I.e, when the end would come. Now, that is all cultic “gnosticism”, but it doesn’t yet rise to the label “toxic”.

Toxicity entered through Herbert using the apocalypse of Revelation, bolstered by the prophecies of Daniel, asserting that these would occur during our lifetime, applying it all to civilizations initiated by Anglo-Saxon gentiles, and leaving anyone from his primary broadcast audience who wanted to be spared and protected from these with the sole alternatives of joining his church movement, or suffering the brunt of the tribulation. It was a black and white ultimatum. He then introduced another bit of speculation, that the churches enumerated in Revelation were actually eras, thus branding anyone more liberal or conservative than himself who actually taught the same doctrines as “Sardis” or “Laodicean”. Some over the years have considered all of this intimidation to be special, privileged truth, while in the face of continued failure of the root prophecies, and witnessing horrible fruits, others have seen it as blatant, deliberate, false entrapment.

The final and worst toxicity came from Herbert’s doctrine of “government from the top down” (rather than the power of Jesus Christ converting and transforming one Christian heart at a time from the bottom-up), thus opening the door for all of the cruel, arbitrary, “our way or the highway” enforcement practiced in original WCG and the ACOG splinters. Basically, this is the “we OWN you” doctrine, making the leaders of these groups the gatekeepers to the so-called “place of safety” and supposedly to the kingdom itself. Members in good standing do not question their gatekeepers’ authority!

I have no problem with the people who think that the New Covenant is simply the Infusion of Jesus into the Old Covenant. But, I have a huge problem with the people who would contaminate all of that with the various ingredients that Herbert W. Armstrong added as his own modifiers to that. The use of a special set of Armstrong gnosticism, combined with totalitarian enforcement, is what makes the ACOGs toxic. That is in no way spiritual guidance.

BB

Unfortunately, most of the Armstrongist churches have resorted to tactics which make them look more like George Orwell’s 1984 than a church.

Now no one needs to give up the Bible. It can still be used for inspiration. In fact, in some segments of the Armstrongist community, there are those who actually seem to be fine with the fact that the Bible might not be the inspired Word of God, absolute, with Authority. It is a growing community and there are some prominent leaders out there directing the charge. One such group is the Church of God Big Sandy, led by David Havir who is, in turn, supported by Dixon Cartwright and The Journal. Dixon Cartwright has declared that he does not believe in British Israelism: He responded to the PT Article, The Journal is Cursed! by saying:

Yes, the aspects of Armstrongism that I judge to be silly I try to be above it all, as you put it. You can say false prophet all you like, I don’t care. But I don’t think terms like that are appropriate for a journalist to use (except in quoting other people) because those are terms for Bible scholars and farmer theologians and church members. I don’t think Herbert Armstrong was a prophet, therefore I don’t think he could have been a true or false prophet. Just as I tried to remove myself from the Bible fray when I wrote my canon articles (because one cannot prove or disprove the validity of the Bible in the usual conservative-Christian sense by arguing from within the Bible), I think it’s advisable for a newspaper not to report from inside the Bible. Interesting you guys are always talking about British Israelism. I am not a British Israelist, but I don’t think BI is any weirder than certain important doctrines of mainstream Christianity.

It seems likely that David Havir and others at the CoGBS hold the same disbelief. Since the staff of The Journal has ties to the United Church of God an International Association, it is also likely that many of the ministers in the UC Gaia also tacitly realize that British Israelism is a dead issue, although, behind the scenes they still have a United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, they have backpedaled the issue and don’t promote the booklet actively. Certainly, Dennis Luker was moving United in another direction away from Armstrong during his tenure as President. In addition, “False Prophet” and “Heresy” are irrelevant terms, as Dixon Cartwrite wrote over at Otagosh:

To Black Ops: You do not understand where I’m coming from. I pick up from Gavin and his little comments now and then that he pretty much does. “False prophet”? Interesting that you still are tuned in to the concept of false prophet. That strikes me as a religious and conservative-theological way of thinking that I try not to do anymore. It’s like saying someone’s a heretic. For a person trying to stay above the fray, some of those concepts make little sense. People obviously have strong religious convictions, and I think that can be an objective statement. But lamentations about false prophets and heretics and interpretations of Scripture and doctrine are not. –Dixon C.

This would make absolutely no sense at all in the highly conservative pragmatic Biblical based world of Herbert Armstrong and the Radio Church of God. But if it is rooted in venue of high concept religious abstract fuzzy thinking of modern Christian Theology, it makes perfect sense. The Bible is not absolute — it’s just used for inspiration to pad out sermons and written material. No, what’s really important is the social group. Dixon Cartwright has validated this.

Now if you take a look at the Church of God Big Sandy, you can clearly grasp the concept. Youth Day includes the activities of the Boy Scouts of America chapter at Big Sandy during Sabbath services. The Journal reports on all the personal items of interest (as well as doing the Boomer thing of allowing everyone to have their say and go their way). People can believe whatever they want to and even have discussions about it as long as they don’t get too loud or pushy. As long as it doesn’t threaten the group in any way, it’s allowed — this gives people the Byker Bob standard, acknowledging that as long as the environment isn’t toxic and works for the group, it’s (mostly) OK. In this case, the Bible is just a prop and has no real relevance and neither does doctrine, heresy, false prophets, prophecy. In fact, the ministers could all be humanist atheists (and they may well be) and it would make no difference: The social group is together and everybody’s OK. Of course, some of the more retentive types soaked and locked into the ultra conservative arcane religious beliefs espoused by Herbert Armstrong haven’t got the memo (clueless, deliberately excluded from being able to understand what’s going on) but that’s OK too — there’s a safe place for them to hold their superstitious delusions.

Now it is the case that for the sake of the social group, there are still some unique Armstrongist things. The biggest of these is the so-called Feast of Tabernacles. There is no such thing, of course, because there is no Temple, no Levite priests (no matter how Herbert Armstrong tried to make his hirelings into them), no altar, no animal sacrifices… well, OK, sometimes they do have a barbeque at the “Feast” but you know what we mean. The “Feast of Tabernacles” allows people to get together for social activities, meet friends, make new friends, eat, drink and be merry, have a generally fun time. People can have the best of everything (up to a point) more than they can have any other time of the year. The physical rituals help bind the community together, and that’s all good. There are also all those Christmas / New Year socials for various social activities. With this approach, there’s absolutely no conflict with “Feasts of the Lord” because if it benefits the social group, there’s nothing wrong with it. They do it because they can. [Note: United recently published in The Good News that it is OK for the elderly and those with medical problems to eat and drink on the Day of Atonement, meaning that those “Festivals” aren’t as much an obstacle any more for those who don’t really want to keep them fully and it also means that it was just fine for Herbert Armstrong to have a cup of coffee and a donut on the Day of Atonement to “keep up his strength”. Nothing’s all that sacred any more.]

This is real freedom!

So now, people can whine about false prophets. Irrelevant. People can whine about heresy. Irrelevant. People can get all bent out of shape about doctrine and a million things associated with it, particularly the calendar. Irrelevant. British Israelism. Irrelevant. The Bible can go poof! No problem. Gee, about now, Joe Tkach probably wishes he had the idea back in the day with the Worldwide Church of God: Just allow people to have their local church buildings and build a local social community and people would be happy and it would all be good. None of this mucking about trying to change absolutely everything Herbert Armstrong stood for as a vendetta. Just let the people do what they want to do anyway, and sit back and collect the dough. Wouldn’t it have been so much easier? This is a successful business model that really works! It’s all good as long as the music’s good! After all, it’s just a social club.

Well, live and learn.

Or don’t.

And yet… it’s hard to know what to call these fun folks — Unarmstrongists, perhaps?

We do believe that those who have rejected British Israelism should be praised, it’s just that we would have hoped they would have been more obvious and public about it.

These days there are accounts of atheists yearning for a social group. They’d like to have something like a church, just without the religious nonsense that goes along with it. They’d like to socialize with get togethers, pot lucks, conventions, all without having to argue that the Bible is so much superstition. They need to take a page out of the book of these former Armstrongists. They could learn a thing or two.

Make no mistake: Most of those such as Roderick Meredith, David Pack, Gerald Flurry, Ronald Weinland claim to obey God and believe the Bible but prove by their behavior that they don’t.

24 Replies to “Poof of the Bible”

  1. This new “social” model that Douglas has observed and reported upon is breaking, emerging news at this point. I don’t believe that it has registered or reverberated through the ACOGs just yet, but probability is in favor of that happening in the very near future, because we do know that people from the various ACOGs have been assigned to monitor all of the blogs and forums which attempt to hold them accountable. This represents some forward evolution away from the cultic and toxic aspects which we’d noted, but watch for the more Pharisaic groups to condemn such growth as “Laodecean”. In fact, I suspect that some are even now thinking that the “prophecies” behind church “eras” are beginning to be fulfilled by the emergence of the Laodicean church.

    If we were to pick an ideal model for the Armstrongist churches, say fifty years down the road, one would hope that they would look more like the Seventh Day Adventist Church, now considered fairly mainstream. The SDAs have had time for growth beyond their own set of failed prophecies, and the kooky ideas of Mrs. E.G. White, said to suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy. Unfortunately, Armstrongism could also experience a resurgence of extremism, because the leaders generally act unilaterally, with no accountability to any sort of real board or council.

    The present seems to be an era of higher highs, and lower lows. The greater movement has not yet regained stasis. Incessant rubber band-like activity has got to be stressful for many. Because family members have been divided up in terms of their loyalties, nothing in Armstrongism happens in a vacuum. Hopefully, we humble observers and writers are part of a powerful magnifying glass, drawing more attention to, and providing better visibility at least into the aspects which are toxic, so that members will become more sensitized to these aspects and work to elliminate them.

    BB

  2. “Poof” of the bible indeed!

    The thing I find, well, “fascinating” might not be quite the right word, but ~whatever, is the “slight-of-mind” necessary to be a christian in an age of reason, brought home by the fact that I myself used to do this.

    It makes sense that if one is to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient god, that if such a god were to deliver to mankind a “manual” as I have heard it referred to many times during my Armstrong tenure, then it follows that one might expect such a volume to be inerrant. However, since it has been proven over the last several hundred years not to be inerrant, I suppose that has shaken the faith of a few, but mostly, christians seem to be able to hold onto their omnipotent, omniscient god, and yet either engage in denial, or else find some highly creative rationale for why such a god would go to press with such a deeply flawed book. I think it’s more rational, if one simply MUST continue to be a christian, to harbor the expectation that current science has just not quite got it all right yet, while keeping one’s faith as internally coherent as possible. The problem with this initially well-meaning plan however, is that it justifies the righteousness of a heck of a lot of fundamentalist intolerance, judgmentalism, and downright hate, made all the more convincing to the one indulging in it by its relative coherence.

    On the other end of the spectrum there’s the liberal christians who simply couldn’t be bothered enough to notice any such incongruities. Their christianity is nearly totally divorced from their bibles anyway. Whether they literally believe in a god, his word, or salvation is anyone’s guess. It all seems to be entirely dispensable. In a word, “POOF!” The concept of a “prophet” whether true of false? “POOF!” I guess these folks like to hear positive affirmations, and way off in the clouds, who knows, there might be a grain of truth in it, but even if not, it still feels good for so long as you are able to think there could be a grain of truth in it. Proofs for the bible are about as far from these folk’s mentality as are the clouds. Meanwhile, the complete disregard for their bible stands them in good stead when it comes to being relatively decent sorts of folk vis-à-vis all that hate so well-represented in said bible. Far from rational, perhaps, but certainly nicer and more decent folk to be around then the “Rational Christianity or Bust” type of fundy christian that I used to be, before I went bust. But you have to know that it was the liberal christians who abolished slavery, not the legalists, who did not need to go out on any limbs to establish it as a thoroughly christian, albeit “peculiar,” institution.

    In case you missed it, there’s a definite trade-off here, if you’re going to insist on continuing to be an Armstrongist or a christian, between a literal, jot-and-tittle, by-the-numbers, I-am-definitely-going-to-be-in-the-first-resurrection traditional Armstrongist, and being a decent, pleasant, sociable human being. It is the nature of a spectrum that one cannot be on both ends of it at once. One can bounce back and forth even, but at any given moment, certain sacrifices will have to be made. It’s the nature of the beast. If you aspire to be a decent sort of folk, the sacrifices you will need to make to consistently live that out will probably mean that you’re never going to “qualify” by-the-numbers for that “first resurrection” thing. Sorry. Jesus came not to bring peace or human decency, but a sword. Meanwhile, blessed are the peacemakers. But not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law till all be fulfilled, including hating anyone who stands between you and überfaithfulness. Meanwhile, turn the other cheek. Meanwhile gay people are the enemies of god. Meanwhile love your enemies. It’s enough to give a legalist whiplash, but it all flies over the heads of liberal, big-picture, pie-in-the-sky decent-folk christians. Rational is in the eye of the beholder. No form of christianity is *remotely* rational.

    Calling these Journal folk “Liberal Armstrongites” seems like an oxymoron, since those 2 things have historically been so much at odds in the past, but that’s exactly what they are. If we cease to be too surprised that people can be christians and yet also be decent folk by playing as fast and as loose with the word of god as necessary to make the priority of human decency attainable, then how surprised should we be that folk can be Armstrongists and yet also be decent folk by playing as fast and as loose with the word of their god Herbert as necessary?

    In the end, it all boils down to priorities. What your priorities happen to be determines what sort of “slight-of-mind” you’ll have to perform so as not to allow something that at least vaguely resembles the comforting ancient superstition you were raised with as a child to be torn from your white-knuckled grasp by the relentlessness of your own latent common sense. But as long as you’re going to fancy yourself a christian of any sort, then some kind slight-of-mind is an absolute necessity. Nobody said it was easy kicking against the pricks.

  3. Absolutely brilliant comments so far, as I had hoped.

    There is one disturbing nagging thought in all this: Any group derived from the domination of Herbert Armstrong is not really viable in the long term because any social group founded in this environment is a totally artificial construct, bringing people together who had absolutely, positively nothing in common. One of the consequences of this was that when the WCG reversed everything that Herbert Armstrong established, suddenly people who sat side by side for decades suddenly realized they not only didn’t know what the other people were thinking or believed, they also didn’t agree. I would submit that any artificially assembled group from random participants forged by a powerful dominating personality cannot be a healthy one. Furthermore, by virtue of the fact that they had to make extreme changes to adapt to the environment and one another in an unnatural construct, it is clear that it simply isn’t a healthy social group and no amount of tinkering can fix that.

    Case in point, the CoGBS: The people don’t really have an homogenous belief system — it’s just covered up at the moment by several factors, one of which is the personality of David Havir. If you go back in history a ways, you will find that originally this group was a part of United, but United had two problems: 1) they realized that David Havir had too much power and influence over the people in the area and so they felt they had to move him; 2) The UCG was in dire financial straights from the disastrous ~$15 million video shot by their erstwhile president for life, utterly bankrupting United. Behind the scenes, businessmen told me that they were two months away from going bankrupt and going out of business. Well, the CoGBS had a nest egg in the form of their building fund which United insist that they send in for the good of the UCG. Neither proposition was acceptable to the people and so one Sabbath, they just bolted and took the assets away. After that, they built their church building and the rest is happy history.

    This is a local phenomenon which is not likely to be repeated. The CoGBS is “one off” and the dynamics which came together were unique.

    You have to ask the question: If the record of the ACoGs is to split and split and split, how long do you thing the CoGBS could last? All is well right now and folks are happy in their ersatz community of delusional and less than honest people, but all it would take is a major event and the chances are that eventually the whole thing will be blown away in the wind. How long do you think it would last if something happened to David Havir?

    There’s also another question: Would this group work for you? For me, I know the answer. Even setting aside the question that no matter how flexible they might be, I cannot abide the remaining doctrines. Keeping a Feast of Tabernacles in remote business convention centers away from Big Sandy is inconvenient and irrational. In addition, these jaunts have to be funded and we already know about the viability of ‘second tithe’. Beyond that, this social group has nothing to offer me: I have structural visualization and most of them do not. I don’t have any interests in what ever they may have to offer. I would find the people “two dimensional” at best. It would be instant boredom since we would have nothing in common and they simply could not understand my thinking… ever. At least here, Byker Bob and James (and I suspect a few others) do have Structural Visualization and it gives us a great deal of common ground. We can at least have sensible discussions not possible with others who may be found deficient in that regard. (It does get tiresome to explain rainbows to earthworms — and yes, I also note the hubris of the representatives of The Journal and the CoGBS, as if we are soooo much inferior to them we just can’t understand where they are coming from when in fact we understand the arrogance perfectly well.)

    Oh, well, no matter. If the Armstrongists (and now the Unarmstrongists) have demonstrated is adaptability to the most insane of destructive stresses. They are abuse tolerant to a ridiculous degree. These sorts of changes could remain for decades to come. They might even transmogrify to a more stable environment later on, because, let’s face it, this is an house divided against itself. It doesn’t look like it, but there are, as pointed out, ridiculous extremes stressing the structure several deviations from the mean. It is also quite uncomfortable that most of the CoGBS don’t actually realize what has gone on. Heaven help us, if Dixon Cartwright hadn’t made comments here and on Otagosh, we wouldn’t know either: Lies and secrets — they are the basis of all this and you have to suspect that’s not a very solid foundation.

    As for praising the SDAs, there’s another view which is not as obvious: They are abusive and controlling. I’ve seen what happens when they get power over people — they are plunged into slavery. It all looks fine from the surface, but the zealots controlling the SDA and its finances are extremely abusive. They have threatened to sue the CoG7D over a logo (without any real cause except they love to hastle perceived competitors). They get downright nasty. They are a lot more oppressive than you may think. And if you think they don’t still worship Eg White, you are sadly mistaken: Her (plagiarized) word is still law and they have made extreme ‘accommodations’ to keep it that way. And by the way, my inside source tells me that they actually got Sabbath keeping from the Seventh Day Baptists. If you think Armstrongists are bad with their small amount of power, you’ve seen nothing compared with the SDA.

    Getting involved with any of these groups is like entering into a walk-in hornet’s nest and hoping that they continue to sleep and not notice you.

  4. Danny, I think what you are talking about is “compartmentalization” — it is the insanity of being able to live with two completely diametrically dichotomous ideas / realities at once. It is, as you say, the ability to perform “slight-of-mind”.

    It’s powerful to understand this: It resolves the mystery of how an oil CEO can pollute, murder, abuse people and the environment and then, go home at the end of the day to be a totally loving husband and family man and take out the recycle. It’s nuts of course, just as Armstrongism is nuts, but if you don’t know about compartmentalization it will drive you nuts trying to understand what is going on. Just how are Armstrongist leaders able to violate Scripture and lie and still think they will not only be in the Kingdom of God, but lead others there too? They should be quaking in fear and hiding in a cave… under a bed. They aren’t because they just don’t let the two opposing metrics trouble their impermeable brain barriers.

    I myself can’t compartmentalize. I used to think that this was a great deficiency on my part. Now I’m not so sure.

  5. Douglas,

    At one time I attended a Adventist church. I was not a member but was interested in the Sabbath question bought up by old jowls Herbie. There was a lot of literature on and by Ellen White on the premises. In the end I saw her as a false prophet and told them so. It was not warmly received. So what did I do? Joined the WCG. It was a subjective choice which is to say ‘an opinion’ that Herbie had it right. It was my faulty interpretation (and ignorance) of armstrongism that snagged me into the hopeless fray of a cult.

    The stress of trying to be super-human was unrealistic. Forcing yourself to believe some of these extra-biblical theory’s like B.I., The USA in prophecy, the 10 Nation beast power of the E.U., etc, it skews the mind. In this information age only fools can accept these theory’s of Herbie Armstrong. Theory’s that have no proof what-so-ever. Herb used library information that was available to him in the era he lived in. In the modern age we live in, we add to this something called ‘scientific’ information. If I wanted to see if Anglo Israelism was true I would develop a hypothesis to test. So we might test the theory that the lost 10 tribes traveled to Europe by known trade routes of the day. What else can we test? How about DNA. In DNA we reach a definite conclusion. Herbie was flat ass wrong.

    Blood sacrifices, new moons, calendars, coming nuclear holocausts, starvation, famines, droughts and those armstrong cults who claim to be unique are going to explain all this crap to us. In the end it all leads to a crazy world view and mental illness. That’s the price to pay for trying to live you life by the writings of a bronze age religion as taught by our modern day pharisees from the cultist armstrong group. Calling your current cog way of life joyful is like saying your prison sentence was a vacation.

  6. Sure, it’s compartmentalization. No problem with that analysis. It’s a higher-level analysis that doesn’t trouble itself with the nitty-gritty. I’d say that I wasn’t good at compartmentalizing, except for the evidence of decades of Armstrongism in my past that tell a different story. But that still doesn’t mean I claim to comprehend it with the same brain that did it. I guess this brain is better at some things than it is at others! Still, what are the nitty-gritty mechanics of this compartmentalization? How is it even possible for the human brain to do it? I guess that’s what I’m more interested in, how we strategically block out certain things without noticing, let alone breaking a sweat. Sort of like how an apologist will use Kalam to argue for the god-of-the-gaps and in the same breath operate as though Kalam just proved Jesus who died and rose on high so that he can and will answer my prayers, without noticing how he just spliced in the christian god, or the grandeur of the logical chasm he just lept over. And good luck in pointing out the sheer scale of the fallacy he just committed to him, because he will never, NEVER see it, and you’ll get more, “Well isn’t it possible blah blah blah…”

    Also, one amendment I’d make to the above is that I think it’s more tenable to see both abolitionist and slaveowners as spanning two very different brands of christian spectra, both of which had their liberals and their close-reading, bible-thumping, militant fundamentalists. Pro-slave senator Preston Brooks may have beat abolitionist senator Charles Sumner to within an inch of his life in the senate chamber, but abolitionist John Brown et. al. hacked five slavery-sympathizers to death with swords one fine evening, neither of which were particularly liberal deeds. People who are truly “live and let live” don’t make very good activists, irrespective of political leanings. But the fundys on each side were being very literal in reading of selected passages of the bible, while electing to not read other passages at all. At any rate, if there is a christian god, then Jefferson Davis would not be wrong in claiming slavery was established by his decree.

  7. Compartmentalization is certainly one way to deal with cognitive dissonance. Another way is to have a mind similar to that of attorneys, but that often involves discerning relative merit, or being able to orate articulately in favor of things not fully believed in. It gets confusing for people who like everything to be real. (wysiwyg)

    I was quite surprised to learn several years back not only that members in good standing of BSCOG are permitted to be active on the internet, but that apparently there is much latitude extended towards the range of beliefs amongst that congregation. There is no gag rule, either. Different members share and teach their own personally held beliefs, such as the “one God” theory (making Jesus a created being whose existence actually began with his birth to Mary, while the Holy Spirit remains the classic WCG “impersonal power”), sacred names, different interpretations of tithing which vary from the Armstrong model, and ecumenism in that people from other ACOGs are permitted to visit and speak. In other words, it pretty much reflects what you see in the Journal! In a sense what Dave Havir has accomplished (after he splintered), was to create the tolerant environment which would have prevented much of the splintering of the main body had they developed a similar philosophy from the beginning. You might call BSCOG and the Journal the “Democrats” of the ACOG world, the big tent or umbrella where diversity is welcome and applied to their common goal of getting out their message. The problem for believers in the church era theory who consider themselves “Philadelphian” is that this dilutes everything Herbert W. Armstrong ever stood for, and the way of life which he promoted. As I understand it, what really decimated the large WCG/GCI congregations was that leadership gradually imposed zero tolerance towards members and employees who remained in the classic Armstrongist mind set. The Tkach’s practically forced the first splinters, perhaps not realizing how deeply opinions and beliefs ran.

    The reason I had used the SDAs optimistically as a possible future model for Armstrongism is that based on my positive interactions (even deep friendships!) with individual SDA members throughout the past, I just didn’t get that cultic vibe like you would typically from individual Jehovah’s Witnesses, extreme Evangelicals, or even Scientologists. But, I need to temper that with my own memories of my behavior as a WCG member. I attempted to mask all of the cultic aspects of my life by being the quintessential “nice guy”, who was unobtrusive and tolerant, except when he needed to ask for time off for the holy days, or to be excused from the Christmas party. My public behavior in no way reflected the savagery of the WCG ministry, or the weird theories and false prophecies of old Hog Jowls. It is possible that the SDA people I knew also used corrective techniques in their personal images, blunting the weirdness of Mrs. Eggwhite. Or, they might have been Laodicean SDA members, if there is such a thing.

    Unfortunately, I really don’t see much difference between the mentalities of Islamofascists and Armstrong extremists. it would be easy to see stonings reinstituted in some COGlodyte “places of safety”, women being forced to cover up 90% of the real estate of their bodies, and fervor for their version of jihad, which is the apocalypse of Revelation applied to the world in such a way that the survivors would have no choice but to accept Armstrongism as God’s government on Earth for all eternity. The only difference is that you could pretty much forget about the virgins promised by Mohammed as reward for faithful Muslims. So far as rewards go, ruling with a rod of iron would be a mighty poor substitute for that!

    BB

  8. Off topic, but can anything be done about the Captcha situation? Frequently, It makes me do 25-30 of these little equations (all correctly) before accepting my comment. Does anyone else experience this? I can’t help but wonder how it could affect someone who might be less persistent.

    BB

  9. Bob, this captcha system keeps out the spammers. I had endless issues with this issue before I installed this system. If someone can’t do the math then they must be a bot trying to post something inappropriate.

  10. Well, I’m talking about getting the math right 25 times in a row, getting told each time that I entered an incorrect value, and then repeating the process until the system finally picks a correct answer that it will accept. It would be difficult to find someone who couldn’t do 2-1=1 even if they’d been smoking some of the medical stuff. Is there any way that the process could be getting out of sequence until it finally resets itself?

    I agree, spammers and such need to be flushed from the bathroom of our hearts, denied access, etc. Just wondering if there is any way to improve the system for those who play nice.

    BB

  11. I looked into the problem your having with the Captcha. Considering your posts at times gets flagged as spam, the problem is how your browser communicates with the .php form that this blog uses. What browser do you use? Does this happen with other browsers. This has been a issue for several who may be using an older browser.

  12. You are right in that it could be something on this end. I had not thought of that because the only site that I do have Captcha problems with is the PT. You may have better safeguards in place, as well you should, considering the wealth of material on the site, and possible vulnerability.

    Most of the time that I post, it is from my ipad, and I use Google as my browser. Safari may also be a factor. I have it set up for private browsing, but to accept cookies from sites visited.

    One very positive thing I might mention, and that is I do actually prefer the equations (when they work) as opposed to the horrible unreadable psychedelic letters on some of the other blogs.

    At any rate, thank you for investigating.

    BB

  13. In HWA’s oft-repeated tale how he was led to the truth, he mentions the two challenges, Evolution and the Sabbath. In at least one account, he tells how, after “disproving” Evolution, he was going to research to find “the true religion.” His intention was to analyze every religion, and deduce which one was the world’s only true religion.

    Since the “Sabbath Challenge” was in progress, he says he would consider Christianity first. His proof of Christianity was apparently through the Proof of the Bible, and the Proof of the Bible was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. So, he reckoned fulfillment of prophecies written by Hebrew prophets proved Christianity as the true religion. And since he proved Christianity to be the true religion, all the others must be false, so he didn’t need to analyze them and the search ended.

    Then there was the Good News article where Dr Hoeh admitted the Proof of the Bible was wrong. What seemed to be the “key prophecy” was that Tyre would never be rebuilt had not been fulfilled as HWA proclaimed. Of course, Dr Hoeh was scooped by an article in the Ambassador Report. So, shouldn’t HWA have resumed his search for the true religion? From what I understand, he instead issued a recall on that edition of the Good News. Like the story of the old lady and evolution, “I hope it’s not true, but if it is, I hope no one finds out.”

  14. Hoss, the Apostle Paul did say “prophecies shall fail” and the flat Tyre was one of them.

    But there’s actually a bigger one: At the end of the Booklet, there’s “and the Romans too!”

    Hooh, boy, what a mistake that was! The expectation was that in the book of Daniel, there are 4 world ruling kingdoms: The last one was the Roman Empire. The question is, where is the Roman Empire today? Wasn’t it supposed to last until the third coming of Christ? (People forget that he ascended to heaven for the supposed “wave sheaf offering” and came back.)

    Now, now, I know what you’re thinking! You’re going to say that it’s now the Catholic Church as the Holy Roman Empire! Let’s explore that. Are you saying that the Roman Catholic Church is a world dominating Empire? Gee, the Chinese might be a bit surprised at that. To tell the truth, except for maybe the Vatican and parts of South America, the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t seem to have much influence. These days, in the United States, most of us don’t pay attention to the Catholics. In fact, we pay a whole lot more attention to Islam, for better or worse.

    So the prophecy that is interpreted to be that the Roman Empire was to rule and dominate the world until Christ returns is something of a bust and certainly deflates the momentum of support for Biblical validation as being absolutely true and having any sort of authority.

    This doesn’t take away from the Bible being inspired. It’s inspired the same way someone is inspired by a beautiful sunset or music, but just because you’re inspired doesn’t mean that you are necessarily writing down the very Words of God — you might just be writing down your ideas inspired by an… inspiring event.

  15. The people who have taught us that you should not give your tithes to support someone who teaches a Sunday sabbath should be made to to realize a much more poignant and relevant truth: If you believe in tithing, it would be downright sinful to send your tithes to a ministry whose gospel is contaminated by the lie that R1B1 IndoEuropean Anglo Saxons were spawned by J1 or J2 Middle Eastern Semitic peoples, and are going to be obliterated, enslaved and tortured by Nordic and Slavic “Assyrians” for forgetting their culture and “God’s” laws.

    That would be a great starting point in detoxing Armstrongism. Everything else would fall into play once that were acknowledged. The effect would be not unlike imposing the RICO statutes on the Mafia.

    BB

  16. Talk about hubris! “I have structural visualization and most of them do not. I don’t have any interests in what ever they may have to offer. I would find the people “two dimensional” at best. It would be instant boredom since we would have nothing in common and they simply could not understand my thinking… ever. At least here, Byker Bob and James (and I suspect a few others) do have Structural Visualization and it gives us a great deal of common ground. We can at least have sensible discussions not possible with others who may be found deficient in that regard. (It does get tiresome to explain rainbows to earthworms” Sounds like the same old stuff you are criticizing in others – I’m special, I have the truth, I know things you don’t know. They may claim to have special insight because they have God’s “Holy Spirit;” but I fail to see how your claim to superior understanding through three dimensional thinking is really any different from what they are doing.

  17. Those with Structural Visualization are an oft persecuted minority: As a minority, the majority does not understand them and since the majority generally has the power, they abuse those with Structural Visualization.

    For example, consider Galileo who didn’t just have Structural Visualization, he was brilliant. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic Church Pope, Cardinals and Bishops who had abstract visualization didn’t just think he was wrong (he wasn’t), but under threat of death (many with Structural Visualization were routinely burned at the stake in the Dark Ages because they saw the truth and it went against Those in Power): Either recant your silly idea that the earth is not the center of the Universe, or you will burn. Fortunately, the Roman Catholic Church issued an apology to Galileo when they finally realized the truth 400 years later.

    You should take a look at Aaron Schultz and see what happened to him.

    What I’m saying is that the Armsrongists really don’t understand those with Structural Visualization and call us names, tell us we’re wrong and, if we were in one of their cults, kick us out and ostracize us. We’re the stupid ones in their eyes and they have the society around them to reinforce their ideas to reject anything we might say. We’re out. And we don’t have any rights.

    We have tried to explain nicely (but sometimes somewhat stridently) exactly why British Israelism is wrong and why it is important. You’ve seen though, if you’ve been following this blog recently, that those of reputation have come by to tell us we’re full of it and that we should “rise above it all”.

    To be rejected and ignored is irritating and it is tiresome when we do attempt to communicate the realities of the Universe, but you know, when people (for example the PKG) are so determined NOT to listen even though it would be in their best interest and call names with ad hominem arguements to protect their delusions — the ministers also making excuses and lying with whatever magical scenario that makes no sense but will be accepted because it is popular — well, it gets to the point that we have better things to do. You know, like fix your cars, build your technology, make sure your government workers are paid using complex technology and a whole host of services that 75% of the population couldn’t understand, let alone fix and maintain them. We build. The others use.

    And as long as you continue to pay us our salaries and let us live in your neighborhoods in relative peace, fine. You can feel better and superior to us because you go in through the front door of the Country Club as members along with the 1% and we still go through the side door to make sure the Country Club facilities work in good order.

    So it’s really the other way around. Those without Structural Visualization feel superior to those who do and, as a result, they often persecute us because they can.

    You know though, sometimes those without Structural Visualization (like Herbert Armstrong, for example) are so full of themselves, vain, arrogant, filled with hubris, look mighty silly to those of us who do have it.

    We do the work. The others use it. And they have absolutely no appreciation of what’s been done for them. And that includes the material at Ambassador.Report.

  18. Thanks for the explanation of what motivated that quote. By the way, I do agree with much of what you say; and I do think that you, Byker Bob and James are brilliant. After my experience in the WCOG, I’m a little touchy on the whole exclusivity/superiority thing.

  19. ‘After my experience in the WCOG, I’m a little touchy on the whole exclusivity/superiority thing.’

    Yep, and so was I and most others that walked away from a toxic faith. It is indeed hard to take that the whole spin the guru gave you was bullshit. Now you start over as I and so many others have successfully done and begin to live the life of a human being.

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