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Saturday, November 29, 2008

WCG splinters - modern day cults ??

[ Please note that the extracts below might not apply to *all* WCoG splinters.
List of splinters inside USA
List of splinters outside USA ]

While surfing around the Internet recently I found this blog post by Van Robison :-

Here are a few extracts :-

"The original Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong no longer exists. It can't exist because the founder deceased at the age of about 93 or thereabouts in 1986."
"It is astonishing that many still bow at [His] feet as if he were God himself."
"[He] still has many followers, including splinter or offshoot groups who believe they are the 'true church of God' on earth. From what I have read there are literally hundreds of splinter groups of the Worldwide Church of God, and since it was a church organization that spread out over the world into many countries, there have been many splinter groups formed."
"Being spiritually seduced by false teachers is a tragedy of life. Some human beings love to play the role of being God on earth and unfortunately often deceive many into following their deceptions."
"It goes without saying that the original Worldwide Church of God has impacted the lives of countless human beings around the world in many countries. The same can be said for many other church organizations. The common denominator for all these groups is that the "head" of all such groups is NOT Jesus Christ [or God, Jehovah, etc.], but human beings who usurp [His] place in the lives of the people."
"The great common error that millions of human beings make in life, is in following self-appointed 'spiritual' leaders, who proclaim 'authority' from heaven. It often results in such great disillusionment that many turn from God altogether and become 'bitter' atheists, while some even commit suicide...
"It is a mystery of life as to why so many human beings are seduced by deception and yield their lives to magnetic personalities..."

If you wish to know more about this "mystery of life", please go to my blog post here :-

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ron Weinland was on Australian TV

On Sunday November 23 the COG-PKG pastor Ronald Weinland took part in an Australian television documentary called Apocalypse Now? You can read a transcript of the documentary at this site :- http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s2428806.htm

Perhaps the most interesting parts of the documentary were the contributions made by four leading Australian commentators -- sociologist Richard Eckersley, biblical scholar John Dickson, literary academic Greg Clarke, and psychologist Susan Tanner.

These are a few selected highlights :-
“Surprisingly, being certain about the end can actually bring relief to those suffering anxiety…”
Susan Tanner:
“Apocalyptic thinking can be very useful to people who need to feel a sense of control, and they therefore feel calm because they know what’s going to happen. Living with uncertainty, living with a question mark is the hardest thing to do for all human beings. We like to know what’s going to happen. That’s why we visit clairvoyants and you know we have our tarots read and all sorts of things….”
“Such misunderstandings could well prove dangerous…Ron Weinland’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation gives him – as an end-time prophet - the right to injure or even kill those who oppose him.”
John Dickson:
“Is there a danger if an individual thinks that he or she is the witness, one of the witnesses? I think there’s a danger for that person certainly, because they’re going to be disappointed. I mean the reality is, I’m confident, they will one day realise that they weren’t, and so there’s a danger of a religious meltdown for that person. I guess it’s also dangerous if that person started to feel that they could perform great wonders in the world and tried to create a movement around him or herself, that’s possibly dangerous as well.”
Susan Tanner:
“There are massive risks when someone has extreme delusional thinking. There are risks to the individual. And there are obviously dangers to other people and that can be hundreds or thousands of other people, when someone is totally controlled by their delusional thinking. And you know we have lots of examples of that in our history.”
John Dickson:
“The danger really is to their faith actually, [when the apocalypse] turns out not to be true. And if you’ve pinned your Christian hopes not on Christ and the symbolic meaning of the Book of Revelation, but on the literal interpretation of it, you are bound to be disappointed because the book doesn’t mean those things. So my great fear for people like that is that they will throw the baby out with the bathwater and be left with no faith at all. That’s a great tragedy.”
Greg Clarke:
“Stories about the end will always appeal to human beings and that is part of our psychology. What I hope people will do is sort out the truth from the fiction and recognise what we can understand from the bible about God’s view for this world and not tip over into paranoia or confusion or fear, which often has terrible social consequences.”

A related question to the discussion above is: How did the Book of Revelation get into the New Testament? (It is obviously very different to the four gospels and the letters.) The author, Laurence Gardner has an interesting response to that question in his new book called The Grail Enigma (pp.250, 251) :-

“Given that so many texts were excluded from the New Testament when the selection was made at the Council of Carthage in AD 397, it is remarkable that [the book of Revelation] escaped close scrutiny at that time. It was greatly disputed however, and seems only to have passed the selection process because Eusebius claimed it was an authoritative work and, although he considered it in some ways unsuitable, he refused to condemn its apostolic provenance. Even so, the Church has since done its best to divert people from this book [Revelation] by portraying it as a sinister prophecy of foreboding and doom. By way of propaganda … even the very word ‘apocalypse’ has become [to mean the same as] disaster. But the fact is that John’s writing (esoteric as it is in some respects) amounts to precisely what its title conveys. The Greek word ‘apocalypse’ translates quite simply to ‘revelation’, and relates more precisely to the revealing of hidden truths.”
(Emphasis by ‘Que’.)

Note. See also this post by Mike from 'Don't Drink the Flavor Aid'.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Church of God - index of splinters (in USA)

-- Listings do not indicate any sort of recommendation. If you are thinking about being recruited by any of these churches please check this blog page: Armstrongism/Church of God/Ronald Weinland
-- There could easily be more splinters -- or splinters of splinters...
-- Compiled with some assistance from a sidebar at the (restricted) Ambassador Watch blog.
-- Please advise any mistakes by email to: stones[@]slingshot.co.nz
-- or make a comment in this blog page, thanks!

## --- name of church --- headquarters --- main pastor if known --- website

1 --- Christian Biblical Church of God --- Hollister, California --- Fred R. Coulter --- cbcg.org
2 --- Church of God, a Worldwide Association --- Orlando, Florida --- various --- cogwa.org
--- (2) A splinter of the United Church of God. It was incorporated on Dec 23, 2010.)
3 --- Church of God Big Sandy --- Big Sandy, Texas --- Dave Havir --- bigsandychurch.org
4 --- Church of God established in Modesto --- Modesto, California --- David O’Malley --- cog-eim.org
5 --- Church of God Faithful Flock --- Modesto, California --- Alton B. (Don) Billingsley --- cog-ff.com
6 --- Church of God Fellowship --- Spokane, Washington --- Harold Smith --- cgfnw.org
7 --- Church of God International --- Tyler, Texas --- various --- cgi.org
8 --- Church of God Pasadena --- Pasadena, California --- David Hulme --- vision.org
9 --- Church of God - Preparing for the Kingdom of God --- Cincinnati, Ohio --- Ronald Weinland
------  June 13, 2012 - Ronald Weinland was convicted for five counts of income tax evasion.
10 -- Church of God Seventh Day --- Denver, Colorado --- various --- cog7.org
11 -- Church of God The Eternal --- Eugene, Oregon --- Raymond C. Cole --- cogeternal.org
12 -- Church of God 21st Century -- San Diego, California -- Raymond F. McNair (deceased) -- cog21.org
13 -- Church of God’s Faithful --- Eutawville, South Carolina --- Robert Ardis --- setapartbytruth.org
14 -- Church of the Eternal God --- San Diego, California --- Norbert Link, etc. --- eternalgod.org
15 -- Church of the Great God --- Charlotte, North Carolina --- John W. Ritenbaugh --- cgg.org
16 -- Churches of God Outreach Ministries --- Tulsa, Oklahoma --- various --- cgom.org
17 -- Enduring Church of God --- Chandler, Texas --- Charles E. Bryce --- enduring.org
18 -- Eternal Church of God --- Billings, Montana --- Art Braidic --- eternalcog.org
19 -- Faithful Church of God in Laodicea -- Edmond, Oklahoma -- Frank Borg -- fcogl.org
20 -- Intercontinental Church of God --- Tyler, Texas --- Mark Armstrong --- intercontinentalcog.org
21 -- Living Church of God --- Charlotte, North Carolina --- Roderick C. Meredith --- lcg.org
22 -- Philadelphia Church of God --- Edmond, Oklahoma --- Gerald Flurry --- pcog.org
23 -- Port Austin Bible Center --- Port Austin, Michigan --- Homer Kizer --- portaustinbiblecenter.com
24 -- Restored Church of God --- Wadsworth, Ohio --- David C. Pack --- thercg.org
25 -- Sabbath Church of God --- Little Rock, Arkansas --- Warren Zehrung --- childrenofgod.net
26 -- Servants’ News --- Port Austin, Michigan --- Norm Edwards --- servantsnews.com
27 -- Stedfast Church of God --- McMinnville, Oregon --- Arlen Berkey --- stedfastcog.org
28 -- Triumph Prophetic Ministries --- Omak, Washington --- William F. Dankenbring --- triumphpro.com
29 -- United Church of God --- Milford, Ohio --- Roy Holladay, etc. --- ucg.org

These organizations appear to be splinters with milder versions of Armstrong’s doctrine :-

A1 -- Association For Christian Development --- Seattle, Washington --- Ken Westby, etc. --- godward.org
A2 -- Associates For Scriptural Knowledge --- Portland, Oregon --- David Sielaff --- askelm.com
A3 -- Born To Win --- Whitehouse, Texas --- Ronald L. Dart --- borntowin.net/newsite ..or.. rondart.com
A4 -- Grace Communion International --- Glendora, California --- Joseph W. Tkach Jr. --- gci.org
(ex. Worldwide Church of God - name changed in April 2009.)

Main pastor cross reference :-

Robert Ardis --- 13
Mark Armstrong --- 20
Arlen Berkey --- 27
Alton Billingsley --- 5
Frank Borg -- 19
Art Braidic --- 18
Charles Bryce --- 17
Raymond Cole --- 11
Fred Coulter --- 1
William Dankenbring --- 28
Ronald Dart --- A3
Norm Edwards --- 26
Gerald Flurry --- 22
Dave Havir --- 3
Roy Holladay --- 29
David Hulme --- 8
Homer Kizer --- 23
Norbert Link --- 14
Roderick Meredith --- 21
Raymond McNair --- 12
David O’Malley --- 4
David Pack --- 24
John Ritenbaugh --- 15
David Sielaff --- A2
Harold Smith --- 6
Joseph Tkach --- A4
Ronald Weinland --- 9
Ken Westby --- A1
Warren Zehrung --- 25

Go here for splinters outside USA :- Church of God - index of splinters outside USA

Sunday, November 9, 2008

End-Times Reaches Mainstream News Media

"Hidden End-Times beliefs still steer politicians, despite exit of Palin"
by Douglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun, November 9, 2008.
(Note: this article has been removed from the Vancouver Sun website.
More recent blogs are here :- http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/blogs/index.html)

"One of the most forbidden religious topics in recent years, including during the run-ups to the Canadian and American elections, has been the End Times.
"Some Christians, in Canada and the U.S., say it's unfair, an act of persecution, to publicly raise such explosive doctrine. They act as if their view of how God will end the world is just a private matter.

"Judging from the extremely limited amount of attention the media have given to North Americans' popular beliefs about Armageddon, most journalists seem to have bought their argument.

"But Christian views about a biblically predicted Apocalypse will remain influential in North American and global politics despite Tuesday's defeat of John McCain and his Pentecostal running mate, Sarah Palin.

"Beliefs about the Last Judgment have been shaping political attitudes to the environment, war and the Middle East. They're not going to go away because of this Republican setback. Besides, they remain important in Canada.

"Doctrines about the Second Coming of Christ are key in the churches attended by some of North America's most powerful people and their supporters -- including outgoing President George W. Bush, hundreds of key U.S. politicians, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and many of his cabinet ministers"