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Friday, October 24, 2008

Armstrongism / Church of God / Ronald Weinland

Are you easily influenced? Do you have lots of heroes? Do you admire many charismatic people? Do you find it hard to criticize popular people, and is it easy for you to believe everything they say? Are you depressed because this is a low point in your life, and does it seem that everything is going wrong?

If so, it would not be a good idea to allow yourself to be *recruited* by any of the following churches. They are the main “splinter” groups formed at various times after certain doctrines were rejected by the Worldwide Church of God. The splinter groups have kept the doctrines of the original pastor-general, Herbert W. Armstrong. (The list below was compiled with assistance from an article about Armstrongism at the 4truth.net website.)

Church of God, International. (abbrev. CGI or COGI.)
-- Based in Tyler, Texas.
-- Armor of God television program and periodical.
-- Infuse magazine, and The International News.

Church of God, Pasadena. (abbrev. CGP or COGP)
-- Based in Pasadena, California.
-- Pastor is David Hulme.
-- Vision magazine and website

Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God. (abbrev. COG-PKG)
-- Based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
-- Pastor is Ronald Weinland.
-- The Prophesied End-Time book.
-- 2008 - God's Final Witness book.
-- The-End website.
-- History of church and pastor - 'false prophet Ronald Weinland'
-- A critical book review - Christian Media Research
-- June 13, 2012 - Ronald Weinland was convicted for tax evasion.

Grace Communion International (abbrev. GCI)
Name changed in April 2009.
ex. Worldwide Church of God (abbrev. WCG or WCOG)
-- Based in Glendora, California.
-- Original pastor-general was Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
-- Second pastor-general was Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. (1927-1995).
-- Third pastor is Joseph W. Tkach, Jr.
-- The Plain Truth magazine, plus various booklets.
-- Christian Odyssey magazine, website, and Together (WCOG News).
-- In the 1990s several of the Armstrong doctrines were rejected.
-- In 1997 it was accepted into the National Association of Evangelicals.
-- This church now appears to be less extreme than the others listed here.

Intercontinental Church of God. (abbrev. ICG or ICOG)
-- Based in Tyler, Texas.
-- Original pastor was Garner Ted Armstrong (1930-2003).
-- Current pastor is Mark Armstrong.
-- Associated Ministry :- Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association.
-- 21st Century Watch magazine.

Living Church of God. (abbrev. LCG or LCOG)
-- Based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
-- Pastor is Roderick C. Meredith.
-- Tomorrow's World television program.
-- Tomorrow's World magazine, booklets, and bible study course.

Philadelphia Church of God. (abbrev. PCG or PCOG)
-- Based in Edmond, Oklahoma.
-- Pastor is Gerald Flurry.
-- The Key of David television program.
-- The Philadelphia Trumpet magazine.
-- The Wonderful World Tomorrow book.

Restored Church of God. (abbrev. RCG or RCOG)
-- Based in Wadsworth, Ohio.
-- Pastor is David C. Pack.
-- The Real Truth magazine
-- The World To Come videos
-- _A critical article_ on the 'Living Armstrongism' blog.

United Church of God. (abbrev. UCG or UCOG)
-- Based in Milford, Ohio - east of Cincinnati.
-- President is Clyde Kilough.
-- Pastor is Roy Holladay, amongst other elders.
-- The Good News magazine and bible reading program.
-- United News, and Vertical Thought, Virtual Christian magazines.
-- World News & Prophecy website.

(A more complete list is here.)

If I can’t convince you that being *recruited* by any of those churches would be a bad idea, please carefully consider the following questions and information :-

1/ When you first join the group do you get any ‘instant’ friends?
2/ Does everyone dress more or less the same, act the same, and talk the same?
3/ Is questioning the group, or the group leaders, discouraged or frowned upon?
4/ Does everyone in the group believe exactly the same things (i.e. what the leaders tell them to believe)? Is there no room for individual belief or opinion even in minor areas?
5/ Is reading any literature critical of the group discouraged?
6/ Does the group believe that it is an elite and exclusive organisation which alone has ‘the truth’ and answers to life’s questions?
7/ Does the group pour scorn upon, ‘attack,’ and mock other Christian churches and their interpretation of the Bible?
8/ Does the group discourage association with non-members (except, maybe for the possibility of converting them to the group)?
9/ Does the group give you ‘black and white answers’? -- What the group agrees with is right and what the group disagrees with is wrong.
10/ Does the group tend to withhold certain information from you? Are the more unusual doctrines of the group not discussed with you until you are more deeply involved in the movement?

If you answered ‘yes’ to more than (say) two of the above questions you are in danger of being manipulated by con men and women who use powerful mind control techniques which bypass your ability to critically evaluate and question the group.

If you stay with the group for longer than the indoctrination period, these questions will become more relevant :-

1/ Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, the ‘good deeds’ you perform for your group are never quite enough? As a result of this do you often feel plagued with feelings of guilt?
2/ Have you attempted to disable your own critical thinking abilities by ‘shelving’ various doubts about the group or group’s teachings?
3/ Are others in the group, who do not conform to the requirements of the movement’s teachings, treated with suspicion and treated like second class members?
4/ Do you feel fearful of leaving the group? Many ‘cults’ use subtle fear tactics to stop members from leaving. For example, the group may imply that those who leave will be attacked by the Devil, have a nasty accident, or at least not prosper because they have left ‘the truth’.

However, do not become depressed - because all is not lost!
The option to leave the cult will always be available.
The last three paragraphs in this blog page should help you achieve that aim: Mind Control by Cults

Professional help from Christian counselors is available through this site :- http://christiantherapist.com/
(If possible, it would be wise to check if counselors have relevant qualifications. Recommendations from previous patients would also be very valuable.)

(Questions above originally supplied by Spotlight Ministries - page - Used by permission.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

"The Firmament" Video

On July 12 [2008] there was a post in the Two Witnesses forum about a video called The Firmament :- http://www.thefirmament.org/
The original poster said, "I just ran across this, and decided to start a new thread about it. What's your thoughts on this?"
The second poster said, "That is so cool, Roseanne!"

Since I knew some of the history of the second poster, alarm bells started to ring urgently.
After a critical review of the video, I realised that a prudent approach was indeed what was required. The makers of the video are obviously trying to recruit people who are vulnerable and easily influenced.
This was my reply on the forum :-

Sorry, but alarm bells are ringing! Please do not ignore the following!

The last message in the video is: "The time remaining is very short."
Who said that? How does he or she know?

One of the questions in the FAQ is: "Does it cost anything to subscribe?" The answer given is: "No, there is no cost to be added to the mailing list and there is no cost to view the presentation."
We know very well that there will probably be very substantial costs or tithes further down the line (as "the time" gets nearer).

Another question is: "Why are you using the imperial measure instead of metric?" The answer given is: "The imperial measures and those of the celestial bodies recur in the Bible. The metric will show no such parallels. A strong indicator the message is for those who use and relate to those measures and the evidences presented."
This is very dangerous. Please recall times in history when despots and dictators used this kind of racist nonsense.

There are many problems with the distances given in the video :-

They say the diameter of the Sun is 864,000 miles. NASA say it is 864,400 miles. (The equatorial radius x 2) http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Sun&Display=Facts&System=Metric

They say the diameter of the Moon is 2,160 miles. NASA say it is 2,159.2 miles. (The equatorial radius x 2) http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Moon&Display=Facts&System=Metric

They quote Ezekiel 43:13 - "A cubit is a cubit and a hand breadth." They admit that there have been many definitions of the length of a cubit in history ranging from 18 inches to 3 feet, and go on to say that they have decided that 24 inches should be used as the correct length. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubit
Their reasoning is faulty, and there isn't any evidence to backup their theories.

They define a hand breadth as the distance from the end of an extended thumb to the base of the little finger.
Who decided that the thumb has to be extended? Why?
They say that the distance from the outside of the elbow to the finger tips is 18 inches.
My distance is 18 and a half inches.
They say that that a hand breadth (as above) is 6 inches.
My distance is 6 and a half inches.
I'm not exactly a big person - my height is 6 feet - fairly average for a man these days. Who knows what the distances would have been on men living in the Middle East about 2,500 years ago?

Please be careful out there ....

Scientist Responds to 2012 End-of-World Hype

Blog: 'Foresight of Hindsight'
Title: 'Scientist Responds to 2012 End-of-World Hype'

For a newer article on these subjects :-
A Scared Teenager Asks Questions About 2012

YouTube page :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_T7FTIFyAA
Subtítulos españoles - 2012: Una revision cientifica de la realidad
A 49 minute public talk on Ustream :- The Truth About 2012

A new video :- 12-21-2012 Just Another Day ... (March 7, 2012)

YouTube page :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4VuAeUO6yI

A new video :- The Truth About Nibiru ... (October 21, 2011)
A newer video :- The Science of Doomsday 2012 ... (March 18, 2012)

~ A more comprehensive 59 minute video is on Fora.tv ... here :-
David Morrison - Surviving 2012 and Other Cosmic Disasters

Articles on the NASA.gov website :-
Why The World Won't End ... The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare

(Answers below are by David Morrison, NAI Senior Scientist.)

With all this talk about Nibiru and 2012 its kinda hard to believe anything a government funded agency has to say. Because if this truly is real then I understand it would cause mass panic around the world so the government I believe would have good reason for concealing this. All the general public has to look into are either YouTube and other websites that can't really be trusted, and well you guys, who are also not exactly trustworthy either.
It is interesting that you ask me when your message is mostly assertions that NASA can't be trusted. But you did ask me, so I will answer.

I am telling you the truth, and honesty is a fundamental value of science. We seek the truth about nature, and we also communicate our findings openly, to other scientists and to the public. This open communication is what makes scientific advances possible. On matters of science the best authorities are the scientists themselves, professional scientific societies, and the peer-reviewed journals in which we publish our findings. Next best are the fine science journalists in our major newspapers, TV, and radio.

The fact that these stories about 2012 are not discussed in science journals, or reported at science meetings ... is a strong warning that Nibiru and pole shift and the like are not real. They represent a hoax, plain and simple.

Finally, I will comment on your assertion, which I hear often from advocates of catastrophes, that the government conceals information that might cause mass panic. This is wrong from three perspectives.
(1) Trying to keep a secret makes the bad news that much more dramatic when it inevitably comes out.
(2) The idea of mass panic is mostly the result of Hollywood and TV films, but social scientists know that historically there is very little panic in crisis situations, and people generally try to help each other.
(3) Far from concealing threats, the truth is that governments are always tempted to exaggerate dangers, especially when they can be blamed on other countries (or even other parties); think of the constant warnings about terrorists, for example, or the government color-coded warnings we are exposed to every day.

I realize everything that is said on 2012 is an internet hoax. The only concern I still have is the next solar storm in 2011 or 2012. I heard on PBS that the rays from the solar storm are blocked by our Earth's magnetic field. I also heard from another source that our magnetic field is getting weaker and it is almost not there. Do you know how well our magnetic field can protect us from the next solar storm?
Don't worry about the next solar maximum; this happens every 11 years (approximately) and is no danger to life on Earth. The small fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field are also not a concern; our magnetic field is plenty strong enough to protect us and is very unlikely to decline (or reverse) for thousands of years. The claims that the magnetic field may not be here 4 years from now are just another part of this big Internet hoax, which keeps coming up with one fictitious threat after another to scare people. The only real danger to life that I know of comes from a combination of global warming and loss of habitat. That is a global environmental problem that is serious enough for everyone to be concerned about and try to reverse.

Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
No, Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims, and most of them (such as that Nibiru has been hiding behind the Sun or that it will be visible to the naked eye from the southern hemisphere next year) are ludicrous. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.

Is it true that the Sun will be in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy [or aligned with the center] in December 2012 and that this will cause a pole shift and massive destruction?
No, this is an Internet hoax, with no basis in fact. There is no alignment of planets, or of the Sun with the Galaxy. As far as being in the center of the Galaxy, this is impossible; we are slowly orbiting the galactic center at a distance of about 30,000 light years. The idea of a “pole shift” is also unfounded. Most people seem to mean a rapid change in the rotational pole of the Earth, but this is something that has never happened and never will. Some people are confusing this with the reversal of the magnetic poles on Earth, which does take place regularly, every few hundred thousand years. But there is no evidence that this might happen soon, and even if it did, the magnetic shift would be gradual and there would probably be no consequences on the planet, certainly nothing catastrophic.

Answers by David Morrison, NAI Senior Scientist
September 2008

  1. Question

    I have heard from a reliable source that NASA is covering up the 2012 doomsday. But due to a careless scientist, word leaked out. My question is could you give me proof? I want solid evidence. ALSO: If Nibiru is such a hoax on "the internet" then why was it on the History Channel and why don't you guys have censors for such "hoaxes" then? I have four little babies and I think all of the human race deserves to know the truth from you "experts". If it’s real then do the right thing; if not quit letting these hoaxes confuse true issues please.

    It saddens me to keep getting questions about the Nibiru hoax. Other recent letters have even asserted that NASA has posted videos admitting the reality of Nibiru. This is nonsense and shows how little the con-men and conspiracy websites respect the truth. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Just use common sense. Have you seen Nibiru? Last year these hoax websites said it would be visible to the naked eye this spring. They claim that it is a large planet or even a brown dwarf. If that were true, and if it were headed for the Earth in 2012, it would already be tracked by hundreds of thousands of astronomers, professional and amateur, all over the world. Do you know any amateur astronomers who are watching it? Have you seen any photos or discussion of it in the big popular astronomy magazines like Sky & Telescope? Just think about it. No one could hide something like Nibiru if it existed. ... There is no logic to these assertions. No one from NASA has “admitted” that Nibiru exists. Indeed, I have heard of no scientist who has made such claims. All I hear is lies, but NASA can’t stop that. We live in a country where there is freedom of speech, and that includes freedom to lie. You should be glad there are no censors. But if you will just use common sense I am sure you can recognize the lies. As we approach 2012, the lies will become even more obvious.

    Answer by David Morrison, NAI Senior Scientist
    May 5, 2009

Please go here to 'Ask an Astrobiologist', or search the database of previous questions :-

More articles :-
NASA on 2012: It's really NOT the end of the world as we know it
NASA.gov : Why The World Won't End
Dialogues on 2012: Why The World Will Not End
End of the row over Mayan doomsday belief?
Discovery News asks the experts
Nibiru and Doomsday 2012: [20] Questions and Answers
The Myth of Nibiru and the End of the World in 2012
Armageddon From Planet Nibiru in 2012? Not So Fast
Live Science: 'World to End in 2012: A Hoax Gone Too Far?'
Mike Brown's blog: 'Sony Pictures and the End of the World'
Washington Post -- 2012: Eh, It's Not the End of the World
The Portugal News - Is Doomsday Nigh?
Space.com/MSNBC - Good news! Solar flare won't destroy Earth!


More information

Extract below from: www.universetoday.com

When something ends (even something as innocent as an ancient calendar), people seem to think up the most extreme possibilities for the end of civilization as we know it. A brief scan of the internet will pull up the most popular, to some very weird ways that we will, with little logical thought, be wiped off the face of the planet. Archaeologists and mythologists on the other hand believe that the Mayans predicted an age of enlightenment when comes around [ie. December 21, 2012]. There isn't actually [any] evidence to suggest doomsday will strike. If anything, the Mayans predict a religious miracle, not anything sinister.
. . . .
Some of the most popular space-based threats to the Earth and mankind focus on Planet X wiping most life off the planet, meteorite impacts, black holes, killer solar flares, gamma ray bursts from star systems, a rapid ice age and a polar (magnetic) shift. There is so much evidence against these things happening in 2012, it's shocking just how much of a following they have generated. Each of the above "threats" needs their own devoted article as to why there is no hard evidence to support the hype.

But the fact remains, the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy is purely based on a calendar which we believe hasn't been designed to calculate dates beyond 2012. Mayan archaeo-astronomers are even in debate as to whether the Long Count is designed to be reset to after, or whether the calendar simply continues to (approximately 8000 AD) and then resets. As Karl Kruszelnicki brilliantly writes:

"…when a calendar comes to the end of a cycle, it just rolls over into the next cycle. In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So in the Mayan calendar will be followed by - or good-ol' 22 December 2012, with only a few shopping days left to Christmas." - Excerpt from Dr Karl's "Great Moments in Science".

Wikipedia article :-
2012 Doomsday Prediction

What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012 (very definitive)

"End of the World" in the Year 2012 ??

Foresight of Hindsight
"End of the World" in the Year 2012 ??

This post was found on a forum called: ironwolf.dangerousgames.com
"... But anyway ... anyone else see this story the other day? http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=5301284&page=1 It details what one man thinks will happen in 2012 as far as the earths poles swapping ... thus killing half the planet. There is a link towards the end of the article to the guys actual site where you can find excerpts from his books ... detailing what is going to happen and what to do to be "prepared".

"But what I want to talk about is the bigger picture. Mayan calendar, Biblical prophets, solar flares and heightened hurricane seasons, and the real threat of the bad guys actually succeeding with a plan to nuke. Will the panic be worse then the catastrophe? Has the media already started to plant the seeds of despair and panic? I think some of these things are worse than the dreaded threat of traffic jams and empty bank accounts circa 1999. (thinking Y2k bug). Are we headed for a mass hysteria as 2012 approaches? More importantly ... if "doomsday" starts getting predicted by people who are not calling it "religious" ... will more people be "afraid", stop paying their bills ... etc. Equally so ... let’s talk about what sensible, un-afraid people can do to try to stop the panic. What can be done to fight the media machine? Yeah ... I like to speculate. Let this be the official place to do it. It's wide open for debate."

This was my response :-

In the article, this section gets to the crux of the 'debate' :-
Quote ---
"But for all the hype, there is little evidence the ancient Maya ever intended for the end of their calendar to be read as a portent for disaster. "These prophecies of doom really don't have any basis in what we know about the Maya," said Stephen Houston, a professor of anthropology at Brown University and a specialist of Maya hieroglyphic writing. "The Maya descriptions barely talk about this event." Instead, Houston said, the Maya saw their "long count" — the longest of their cyclical calendars — coming to an end in 2012 but also beginning anew on that date, without disastrous consequences. "Really, it's a conversion of people's anxieties about our times, and finding some remote mythological precedent or prediction of it," Houston said about the origins of the current 2012 myths. "People like to believe that ancient wisdom is somehow predicting this time of upheaval." John Hall, a professor of sociology at the University of California Davis who is writing a book on the history of apocalyptic ideas, agreed. He said movements predicting the end of the world often reflect a much larger nervousness about the state of our society. "Terrorism, 9/11, ecological disasters, floods and earthquakes," Hall said. "[There is] a sense that modern civilization has had its run. Those kinds of anxieties are much more widely shared than simply among people who believe in the exact date." To Lehmann, though, those very events are warnings of what's to come. "We had Hurricane Katrina, the recent cyclone in Myanmar," Lehmann said. "We've got major flooding in Iowa. We're always going to have natural disasters. But they are picking up quite frequently now."

So, there is little evidence that the Maya predicted anything in particular.
Forgive me for saying, but that's also the conclusion I came to a number of years ago. The '2012' sites have been on the web for a long time!

It is true that the sunspot activity looks to be high around 2011 or 2012, but it's only part of long established cycles. Quote from NASA: "Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max, expected in 2011 or 2012." http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2008/08-005.html
The Earth has obviously been through countless solar cycles that haven't caused "the end of the world."
What evidence is there that December 21, 2012 will be the peak of the activity?

There is apparently evidence that there have been pole reversals in the Earth's early history, but it is only wild speculation that it might happen sometime in the future. Again, what evidence is there that a pole reversal might happen on December 21, 2012?

Regarding "hurricane seasons", please supply links to information about any research projects - if they are available on the web.

Speculation about terrorists getting their hands on effective nuclear devices, being able to locate them in particular spots above and around cities, and being able to propagate effective electromagnetic pulses "relies on hype and distortion". Go here if you're interested: http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2005/11/checking_the_pu.html

That last highlighted quote above: "We're always going to have natural disasters. But they are picking up quite frequently now." is irresponsible in the extreme. Forgive me for saying (again!), that is exactly the type of comment that easily influenced people will latch on to and will refuse to relinquish no matter how hard you try. It has absolutely no credibility! The historical records simply do not show that that is true. We have tried very hard in other threads on this forum to debunk those crazy ideas. For more information, please go here: http://ironwolf.dangerousgames.com/forum/index.php/topic,293.0.html

PS. The original poster did not post a reply...
Wikipedia article :-
2012 Doomsday Prediction

What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012 (very definitive)

YouTube page : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB-7DZ426DI&fmt=18