Thursday, July 29, 2010

Support for Leaving the Worldwide Church of God

Today I hope to demonstrate that a lesson from the past can be a great support for the present. I would like to provide some support for those who are still in Armstrongism, but don't really know why anymore. It will be a round-about journey, so please bear with me on this.

I have been wondering what is an effective way to approach an Armstrongist with ideas that are outside of their usual circles. When I first started blogging, I wanted two things. The first was to share the joy I had in my heart after coming to grace in the New Covenant. The second was to highlight the judgment and condemnation that seemed to swirl all about in the writings and attitudes of Armstrongists. After a while, I learned a great deal more about how very misled we all were in the Worldwide Church of God by Herbert W Armstrong and his close associates. I can safely say that when I started I had no clue how deep that rabbit hole went. I personally refuse to investigate the more base accusations against HWA's person, I personally do not feel it is either necessary or dignified, but I'm certain the hole is deeper than I can tell. Over time, my posts have become more about details that show how far-off my understanding was, and less about that joy and support. I hope this post bridges the gap back to my primary goals.

I ask myself how I would possibly have been approached back when I was at the height of my time in the former association. I can tell you that should someone approach me with the shotgun method, and read me off just the highlights of the posts that are here on As Bereans Did, I would never ever have believed it and I would have gone straight away into fight or flight mode.

For me it had to be very slow and methodical. It took me no less than 6 years to come out of that group. Little by little, a crack here and a crack there, the dam began to burst. Most of the doctrinal studies I did, studies that opened my eyes, were things I had to accomplish on my own. I am unaware of very many similar studies on the Internet. Some of the things that helped me along the way were websites like Exit and Support Network and the Painful Truth, as well as several blogs like Life After WCG, Shadows of WCG, and Purple Hymnal's Weblog. I had friends who patiently helped me, and family that prayed for me with their church group regularly. I think in the end what broke the dam apart was a single question from an anonymous person on a chat group regarding if I could condemn someone for not keeping the Sabbath. I had to sincerely ask myself if I was qualified to condemn anyone at all. From then on all of the judgment and condemnation was plain as day, and my sins were red as scarlet. My whole standing with Christ was built upon how well I could say "Sure, I'm not perfect - but look at that guy!"

This all culminated at the same time that an Armstrongist minister, for whom I still have a great deal of respect, challenged us in a sermon that we had never actually invited God into our hearts. He challenged us to sincerely, with deep and heartfelt desire, consider actually asking God to reside in us. Since I was basically in a world of confusion over what I had been learning, I went ahead and did it. I prayed the prayer of faith. I had no idea it would lead to where I am today, but here I am and I wouldn't ever go back. The New Covenant is not just the better covenant, it is beyond superior. My heart was filled with ineffable joy. To this day I want to share that with everyone who is still shackled by their own hopeless inability to "qualify" for a legalistic system of fear and doubt, judgment and condemnation. I want us all to be free in Jesus Christ. So I continue to look into things and post them here, hoping that something or the other will aid in any way in leaving the old Worldwide Church of God.

Oddly enough, all of that intro is leading somewhere. I was reading a book. The book is "Creeds, Councils, and Christ" by Gerald Bray. The most incredible thing was said in this book, starting around page 68. I had never even approached the idea from this angle before in all of my days, nor had I heard it put forward quite like this. The thing I am referring to is how the early Christian church managed to convert Jews to Christianity.
I would like to take that idea and put it into terms a student of the various COGs can relate to.

Had you ever even asked yourself that question before? I hadn't. Yes, of course I have read a thousand times about Paul going to the synagogues on the Sabbath to preach, and Peter converting around three thousand Jews with a single sermon. But I am asking if you have ever wondered what they said that actually convinced a life-long Jew to give up nearly everything that made sense to them and convert to Christianity? Keep in mind, the people Peter preached to in Acts 2 had come to Jerusalem from all around the known world. There's a reason why "travel" is etymologically linked to "travail". Travel was hard in those days! These people were hard core! And the Holy Spirit, through Peter, managed to convert three thousand of them at the height of a holy day in Jerusalem!

But what does any of this talk about converting ancient Jews have to do with a modern Church of God member?

Armstrongism (and I mean no offense by using that term) posits that Jesus did very little, really. Their "gospel" in a nutshell is that Jesus would return - in 2,000 years!! In HWA's doctrine, New Covenant Christianity was virtually indistinguishable from Old Covenant Judaism. The Commandments are there, the Holy Days are there, tithes, meats, and all sorts of things are still there. The only major difference is that sacrifices and circumcision are no longer required. (I know! I know. I'm glossing over the fact that Armstrongism in reality only teaches around 0.2% of the law. I'm not interested in the dirty little details of all that right now.) The other half of that is a story woven to make modern Christianity and its Gospel appear to be a pagan heresy, begun in the late first century, and perpetuated down through the ages by the accursed Catholic Church. This, says HWA, is a false Christianity, while the true Christianity, which is virtually indistinguishable from modern Messianic Judaism, was not preached for 1,900 years.
The large point I'm trying to glean from this is - if Christianity and Judaism are so virtually indistinguishable, and the gospel was that Jesus would return in 2,000 years, then what in the Sam Hill would convince any Jew to convert?

Think about it. They already had a means of atonement for sins; they believe they still do to this day even without the sacrifices. They already had the law; in fact their law was far more complete than Herbert Armstrong's cherry-picked version of the law. They were God's only special people (no Gentiles need apply); their linneage from Abraham was their major source of pride (see MAT. 3:9). They had symbols and traditions that separated them from the Gentiles (ACT. 10: 28). They already had an understanding of a Messiah who would save them from the Romans and set up Israel as a mighty kingdom (ACT. 1: 6). They had a priesthood, a temple, lawyers, scribes, orders, traditions, communities.... they had it all!

I never before realized the "truth" I was expected to swallow was that any Jew in his right mind would 1) change his whole worldview, 2) accept the loss of all public and private standing, 3) worship Jesus as Messiah... all because Jesus got rid of circumcision and animal sacrifice, and promised to return in 2,000 years.
I absolutely refuse to believe that any person in control of their faculties would make such a ludicrous decision! But that is precisely what Herbert Armstrong's version of history claims regularly went on.
So what is the answer to this riddle? What convinced the Jews to convert?
The most reasonabe solution is that Herbert Armstrong had a grossly incorrect view of the Gospel, and with that false premise all we can hope to do is come to false and confusing conclusions.

Perhaps you are still a bit lost as to what I'm getting at? I'm still trying to build the case here, please bear with me. I am trying to show how the conversion of the Jews to Christianity bears a great deal of lessons for us regarding the relationship between Arstrongism and mainstream Christianity. Perhaps if we can see a bit more about this, we can break down the dam that stops people from stepping into the New Covenant in Christ.

We have to ask ourselves what was so attractive about Christianity that the Jews would not only choose of their own free will to do those three things I just listed, but in droves. I cannot accept that "I will return in 2,000 years" would be much of a motivator for them. The Apostles followed Jesus because they believed He was going to set up a Kingdom now! Had they learned it wouldn't come for another 2,000 years, I doubt any of them would be so very excited and call it "good news."
You could say "They didn't know it was going to be 2,000 years." But that still leaves the barest minimum to go on. Why change anything at all if the entire change was no more sacrifices and no more circumcision?

Why do I keep coming back to that phrase "return in 2,000 years" anyway? Because that is as succinct a way I know of to describe what HWA taught is "the Gospel". HWA said over and over and over, and his ministers to this day repeat, the Gospel is "the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God." This is what the "Good News" was, according to Armstrongism. He was the first in 1,900 years to preach it. And mainstream Christianity has it all wrong.

"This world's so-called Christianity has taken the name of Christ -- has proclaimed to the world that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ -- has preached the name of Christ with a Message about His Person -- but they have rejected His Gospel -- the Gospel God sent for all mankind by Him -- the Gospel He taught."
-Herbert Armstrong, "The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What Will It Be Like", 1979 edition.

To put it another way, according to HWA Jesus said, "I come to proclaim the Good News of what the you already know about, and had known for a long time, and you will be waiting several years more for. Oh, and I'm going to die for your sins, but never mind that."
The Jews didn't need Jesus to arrive and proclaim what each of them already accepted - that a Messiah would come and set up a kingdom. How can that be the Gospel? And to prove out his views, HWA went where? To the Old Testament!
HWA would tell us all about the Kingdom of God, and how lions would lie down with lambs, and how Israel would be restored. That may be good from a certain point of view, but it's not "news" by any means. HWA emphasized the portion that the Jews already full well knew, and de-emphasized the rest of the message. Why?

I maintain that the "gospel" HWA brought was a false gospel. (See the Categories page under the heading "What is the True Gospel" for more details.) It was a false gospel because it was only a partial, cherry-picked gospel, and because it de-emphasized the most important tenet of the Gospel: that Jesus was God and God died to truly atone for our sins. Here is exactly what Paul taught:

(I COR. 15: 1-4)  1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures ...

(II TIM. 2: 8) Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel

This is just a snapshot of the Gospel, but Paul emphasizes what HWA de-emphasized, and speaks nothing of what HWA said it was all about!

Now, what do you suppose caused the Jews to convert in droves? Was it because,
A) Jesus promised what they already had been promised [HWA's version of the "Gospel of the Coming Kingdom"],
or because,
B) Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, and as God He could live a sinless life, die a perfect sacrifice, fulfill the law and the prophets, be resurrected to life before hundreds of witnesses, truly atone for all of our sins, healing the breach with God and granting an opportunity for eternal life, completing what we could never accomplish by our own effort, in a way all of the laws and traditions of the Old Covenant could never do [the traditional "Gospel of Jesus Christ"]?

I'm going for B), and by far!

The Jews were not even convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, because He didn't set up a Kingdom at that time, they were convinced He was not! Peter went fishing, remember. What might convince them? 
A promise to set up a Kingdom some other day [HWA's Gospel], 
or,
His success at rising from the grave and proving He is who He said He is and He did what He said He would do [Traditional Gospel]?

I'm going for the latter, and by far!

I tell you the truth, it's the same thing that caused Paul to say this:

(PHP. 3: 4-8) If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Would Paul have said that over animal sacrifice? Not a chance.

So, what does Jewish conversion have to do with Armstrongism?
The Apostles, already having made the choice, approached their fellow Jews with what had convinced them... something far and away beyond what they already had. The book of Hebrews is mainly about how Jesus was far and away better than what the Jews had and His Covenant a better Covenant and His promises better promises. We sum this better way up in one word: "Gospel".
I feel the same approach is a fine approach towards Armstrongists seeking support for leaving the old Worldwide Church of God. Learn what the real Gospel is!


I was a second gen Armstrongist. When I came to understand grace after an entire life of legalism, immediately I knew the New Covenant was better beyond description. For the love of how much better the Gospel is than what I had previously believed, I started blogging. I simply had to share this with you, God's dearly loved and cherished children who are still in Armstrongism. That joy compels me to this day. The truth of the Gospel is something far and away beyond what HWA offered you. And if you won't take my word for it (and I'm not suggesting you do), or the testimony of the others here at ABD, or the witness of such a cloud of others who have left Armstrongism for grace, I believe the proof will be found in the Jews!

Armstrongists have been sold a faulty bill of goods; a partial gospel - a false gospel. This false gospel would never have convinced the Jews to come to Christ. Look where it leads!
How many Armstrongists are marching right back in the direction of legalism? With all the wrangling over laws, and days, and meats, and fibers in clothes, and calendars, and "one true church" and all that. They are vehemently against a great many things, but how many of them are for the Good News of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ? The Gospel brings us forwards, not backwards!
The Jewish converts began to leave those Old Covenant ways and move into the New Covenant. Sure, it was an imperfect process; we are imperfect beings in a process of justification. But our assured salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ. Isn't that great news to a weary soul?

(ROM. 16: 1-17) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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24 comments:

PaidNfull said...

Awesome testimony in this blog.
I am taken back by the amount of truth and statements in such simple form.
Thanks for your continued willingness to be in HIS service to those truly searching.

gracefully said...

I vote for "B" too!!! Good job, XHWA! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

xHWA said...

Thank you PaidNfull! Thank you Greacefully! The praise goes to the One who deserves it, but I appreciate your kindness very much. :)

xHWA said...

I think the lie of how awful life is for a person who leaves the COG for grace needs to be smashed.

A nameless fear was instilled in me for years. I was told how God would remove His protection from me and Satan would punish me with his full fury. I had no idea that this was a typical Adventist line. But what's more, I had no idea how incredibly WRONG the lie was.

This post is about how much better the true Gospel is than what HWA taught. I wanted a positive message. But it goes hand-in-hand with exposing the lie of fear and doubt we were told.

I pray that everyone who reads this post has a chance to consider the testimonies of the people who went on ahead of them into grace, and to rethink what they have taken for granted. Perhaps they should start by looking at what Jesus did, really look at the Gospel, and allow themselves to accept one simple idea from God: "I love you. And I sent My only Son to prove it."

Luc said...

Fear was indeed the power of Armstrongism. The ones who came into it of their own accord probably couldn't relate to the shear terror of the imagery stenciled onto the psyche of still forming brains of children. Personally, after decades of considering the psychiatric fields as secular,demonic and utter foolishness (as taught by old WWCG), I took Russel Millers advice and went to see a professional and received a diagnosis of PTSD with a confirmation by an independent opinion. It will be interesting if the 6 sessions a month for a year of therapy I'm scheduled for will do any good. Moral to the story is that option B is the healthy choice for those who love their children. God is order, vitality, health and all good things, for God is good. How can something that is of God bring disorder and illness?

xHWA said...

Luc,

I'm not trying to make light of your situation, but a friend of mine and I were talking about how some people explain away Genesis 9: 3 by saying "you wouldn't eat a black widow spider, would you?" and now I'm feeling saucy. So...
Go to a psychiatrist? You wouldn't visit Nurse Ratchet or Dr. Jack Kevorkian, would you?

All joking aside, I hope you all the success in the world, my friend. God is love! And I'm glad to hear you're taking this opportunity to get some things straightened out.

Luc said...

Genesis 9:3 gives one choices. God doesn't say "I expect you to eat the spider." Psychiatric assistance isn't like one sees on TV. No couch or talking about one's childhood. There is more education and skills training involved. I don't know all the particulars now, but reprogramming might be a way of looking at it. It's interesting how the terrified parent can lead to permanent alterations in the offspring via the nr3c1 gene: http://www.stress2010.com/abstract/117.asp and http://www.epidna.com/showabstract.php?pmid=16891583
This has everything to do with the lack of perceived grace, but not by the person in question, but by the parent.This is one example of advancements in neuropsychiatry.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Some of the things that helped me along the way were websites like Exit and Support Network and the Painful Truth, as well as several blogs like Life After WCG, Shadows of WCG, and Purple Hymnal's Weblog."

Awww, thanks for including me on the list! I do have comments on your article though, I'm sure you're not surprised. :-) As a second-gen'r myself, one who was a "true believer" in the Hoffer sense, can I play devil's advocate, and point out some mental stumbling-blocks you may still have to get around, from those still in the church?

"He challenged us to sincerely, with deep and heartfelt desire, consider actually asking God to reside in us."

Here's what I would have said, back in the day, if I were still in the church:

"Um, the ministers tell us (yeah yeah red flag right there I know, I know, but this is coming from the true believer mindset speaking, remember) that we SHOULD cultivate a personal relationship with God, we've always known that! God the Father is who we pray to, God the Father IS in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit that we were given at baptism into God's True Church."

*urp* No, I am not going to make myself sick...I think....

The next objection is going to be to this:

"Since I was basically in a world of confusion over what I had been learning, I went ahead and did it. I prayed the prayer of faith. I had no idea it would lead to where I am today, but here I am and I wouldn't ever go back."

Here's the child of the church's objection to this:

"What does this mean? Do we not go to our Father on our knees, every morning and every night? Did you not pray and study daily? If you prayed for faith, and were given faith in false Christianity, how do you know that faith came from God? And why were you not daily praying for faith in God's Truth to begin with?"

*barfs* Um, yeah, gotta stop here....But that's what I think the major "plot-hole" is going to be, for those still in. Dunno if that will help you reword your argument any, or not.

As for the rest of your article, the major plothole I can see (not necessarily one that's going to come to the forefront of an Armstrongist's mind) is this: They didn't convert ALL the Jews during that story from Acts. As a matter of fact, completely OPPOSITE to what we were taught in the church, Judaism is NOT a "dead and dying religion", made up of only a few thousand Holocaust survivors. (I still feel bad I used to believe this. *cries*)

That isn't the truth of Judaism as it exists today, and any Christian religion that tells you that, is basically all wet. Never mind the fact that "the lost ten tribes" are neither lost, nor white. Judaism is thriving in the diaspora, which puts all those Christian theories (right along with the church's theories) that they were ALL "converted", right to pot.

Even back then, "three thousand" (if the number wasn't inflated by the subsequent redactors/editors/re-copiers of the text) Jews was not a significant portion of the Jewish world. Regardless of how much of a "travail" it was to get there. (BTW, equating the English word with its French equivalent to make a point about the Middle East 2000 years ago? How very Herman Hoeh. ;-) Just kidding, just kidding!)

Judaism and Christianity originate from two separate sets of books (the Tanakh and the Septuagint), and they are two completely separate religions. This "Jesus was a Jew" (if you believe there was a historical Jesus, he was likely a Hellenized Essene, NOT a Jew) and "the Jews killed Jesus" anti-Semitism is just that, and should be dispensed with, post-haste, in my opinion.

Purple Hymnal said...

"The ones who came into it of their own accord probably couldn't relate to the shear terror of the imagery stenciled onto the psyche of still forming brains of children."

This would be the "get over it" crowd. I recently read a post on one of the discussion boards, where the (clueless) author stated he thought those who were "converted" and had 20 years in, as adults, had it worse than we did!!

(Yeah, I didn't bother responding. The blinders were clearly still on.)

Purple Hymnal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cammie Novara said...

"The first was to share the joy I had in my heart after coming to grace in the New Covenant." I can totally relate to that from my own experience.

xHWA said...

PH,

The only thing I have a real disagreement with you on is "Judaism and Christianity originate from two separate sets of books (the Tanakh and the Septuagint)".
I know that you believe this, and have for some time, but I simply disagree.
That position relies on what I would call "liberal theology" to make such a claim. I am more convinced at this point by the opposing camp.
The simple fact is the Septuagint is a Greek translation, not an entirely different book. To say there is one Septuagint and to imply it is wrong because it was used by Christians is an untenable assertion. To say that there is one Tenakh and to imply it is right because it is in Hebrew is also an untenable assertion.

Other than that, I'm sure you make some valid points.
But if I may point out, my article wasn't about converting the Jews. It was about the differences in the orthodox Gospel and Armstrong's Gospel and how the latter could never have converted the Jews at all.

I especially agree with you that a true Armstrongist like we used to be will have a lot of things to say about what I write. Back when I was in the former association I would feel amiss if I didn't at least attempt to refute what someone said that disagreed with HWA.
I'll go you one further and speculate that any member of a COG worth his salt would just come straight out and say I'm flat wrong on what the Gospel is.
But my article is to the person who sees the cracks in the dam. I am saying to people such as these that they should take a good look at the Gospel.

As for inviting God into our hearts... the minister who told us to truly pray and invite God in was himself a dedicated minister of Armstrongism. He was not seeing cracks. So there was enough difference in what he was suggesting that we do to prompt him to say that he had never done or been taught to do what he suggested.

I have my own pet theories on the Jews not converting to Christianity which I won't get into here. But suffice it to say God has not abandoned the Jews by any means (and I'm not talking British Israelism either).

xHWA said...

"This "Jesus was a Jew" (if you believe there was a historical Jesus, he was likely a Hellenized Essene, NOT a Jew) and "the Jews killed Jesus" anti-Semitism is just that, and should be dispensed with, post-haste, in my opinion." -PH

No one here has said "the Jews killed Jesus." I believe we all killed Jesus.

I certainly hope you're not addressing us here, rather perhaps a passing reader or some such thing, but you mention anti-Semetism here regularly. Do me the courtesy if you would of affording Christians the same level of protection you
offer the Jews. :)
I find anti-Semetism disgusting. I also find anti-Christianity disgusting and should be dispensed with, post-haste, in my opinion.

Purple Hymnal said...

"To say there is one Septuagint and to imply it is wrong because it was used by Christians is an untenable assertion."

That's not what I'm implying though, and that's not what they said...nowhere in my comment did I say it was wrong, I just said it was different; which fact is quite apparent, if you read an English translation of the Torah....

Purple Hymnal said...

"But if I may point out, my article wasn't about converting the Jews. It was about the differences in the orthodox Gospel and Armstrong's Gospel and how the latter could never have converted the Jews at all."

My comment wasn't about that, either, but unfortunately it is a trap evangelical Christians tend to fall into sometimes. Not one of the better "by their fruits", IMO....

"Back when I was in the former association I would feel amiss if I didn't at least attempt to refute what someone said that disagreed with HWA."

"Always be ready with an answer." Even though we weren't supposed to evangelize!! Cognitive dissonance much?! ;-)

"As for inviting God into our hearts... the minister who told us to truly pray and invite God in was himself a dedicated minister of Armstrongism."

I still don't get why this was such an odd (or professing Christian), "non-Armstrongist" thing to say. I heard that from the pulpit, back in the day, but it had nothing to do with professing Christianity! You're going to have to close up that hole in your argument; regardless of "cracks in the dam" for current church-members, it still doesn't make any sense to me (from an Armstrongist mindset) why praying for faith would lead you into Christianity...we were supposed to pray for faith daily, after all....

"I have my own pet theories on the Jews not converting to Christianity which I won't get into here. But suffice it to say God has not abandoned the Jews by any means (and I'm not talking British Israelism either)."

Meh, I know we'll disagree on this, but I still think they're two different gods entirely. :-)

"I certainly hope you're not addressing us here, rather perhaps a passing reader or some such thing, but you mention anti-Semetism here regularly."

Errrr, from my comment:

"As a matter of fact, completely OPPOSITE to what we were taught in the church, Judaism is NOT a "dead and dying religion", made up of only a few thousand Holocaust survivors. (I still feel bad I used to believe this. *cries*)"

I mention anti-Semitism because the church was (and still is, under the banner of evangelical Christianity) virulently anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, so is a lot of evangelical Christianity, these days; I post about it as a warning, to any who might be swayed over by such disgusting, and insidious sentiments; FWIW, I used to post about anti-Semitism as lot on Shadows as well, but other than the outrightly anti-Semitic stuff that was inadvertently posted there,I've seen no (zero zip zilch nada bupkus NONE) anti-Semitism here on ABD, at least not the kind I'm speaking out against....Which I speak out against regularly, and everywhere. So, not potshots at you guys at all. :-)

xHWA said...

"That's not what I'm implying though" -PH

Fair enough. My apologies. I don't want to put words into your mouth.

"I just said it was different" -PH

Agreed. It is different. But they're all slightly different.

"which fact is quite apparent, if you read an English translation of the Torah" -PH

Without delving into quantum mechanics, just translating the Tenakh to English changes it. IMHO, it's the overall meaning, not the specifics of each and every detail, that should matter.

The major direction of the flow is resilient enough to not be stopped by any of the differences. (I can draw a picture of Darth Vader in a thousand ways and still have a picture of Darth Vader.) From the Jewish POV, none of their major doctrines are changed by the differences, and the same is true from the Christian POV.

I am coming to see that there is little value in striving over jots and tittles. I would much rather focus on the simplicity of the goal, which is faith and love.

xHWA said...

Thanks to J from "Shadows of WCG the Next Generation" for the mention in his post,
"King Herbert, I Presume".

J is always good readin' and makes some very poignant statements. I do suggest you visit.

xHWA said...

Cammie Novara,

Amen to your comment. I am happy to hear that you have escaped and come to know the joy. Better news would be hard to come by.
:)

Purple Hymnal said...

"Fair enough. My apologies. I don't want to put words into your mouth."

No problemo. :-)

"From the Jewish POV, none of their major doctrines are changed by the differences, and the same is true from the Christian POV."

Have you read an English translation of the Torah, that was translated by faithful Jews, though? It's not the doctrines that are radically different between the Tanakh and the Septuagint, it is the deities that are worlds apart! "The Old Testament God" complained of by Christians and atheists alike, the one we (as Armstrongists) "worshipped in Thy fear towards Thy holy place", is absolutely nowhere to be found, within modern Judaism. (I say modern Judaism, and mean moderate Judaism, not the extremist sects, obviously.) Read any Jew waxing rhapsodic about their god, and nine chances out of ten, you will read of a faith-filled ecstasy that rejoices in the loving-kindness of their Eternal (single, monotheistic) god.

Hardly the picture the canonical Christian Old Testament text gives, now is it??

xHWA said...

Other than the Christians didn't canonize the Old Testament, I like what you're saying.
The Tenakh and LXX are the same book, same doctrines, but one shows God is not at all the monster some fundie atheists have made a career painting Him to be? Nowhere to be found, eh? Awesome!
That means the "God monster" is really only an unfortunate translational issue, more a point of view than anything else, and He's not at all such.
The Gnostics wouldn't like that too much, I'd suppose.
I think I need to own the Tenakh.

Bill said...

Okay, here's the fly in the ointment.

HWA's "gospel" did result in Jews coming into his church. It was a palatable "gospel" for Jews who wanted an old covenant Christianity.

when I was at AC, there were three Jewish students that I can remember; the Seagal brothers, and another whose name alludes me right now.

xHWA said...

I wouldn't say three wayward Jews in AC are a very accurate representation of throngs of Jews in ancient Palestine.

Did they by chance say why they didn't choose Messianic Judaism?

Bill said...

Never discussed it with any of them. But then, there isn't a whole lot of difference between Armstrongism and Messianic Judaism to begin with.

What it did do was allowed them to basically remain old covenant, yet accept a messiah that was made over into their image.

Purple Hymnal said...

"But then, there isn't a whole lot of difference between Armstrongism and Messianic Judaism to begin with."

Agreed --- I even read a Messianic rabbi's web page, warning about ex-WCG members coming into MJ congregations --- he said they were too Orthodox and judgemental!!!

Oy vey.... (J/K)

There used to be a website on the Internet, from Keith Hunt, with the now-deceased Jessie Alcona's articles, about her experiences with Messianic Judaism. (Predictably, they were miserable, because she was viewed as "too orthodox".) James Bradford Pate is, IIRC, MJ, but attends a Catholic church (yeah, I don't get it either), Robert Taylor spews an anti-Semitic variant of "One True Church of Me, Myself and I" British-Israelism, even though he was only in the church a few years before the changes.

I think Felix Taylor tried it out too, but didn't find it a good fit...IIRC, he fell in (and then fell out) with Sacred Namers, who are a whole 'nother bunch of crazy, right there.

Since I view Christianity and Judaism as two completely separate religions with two totally different deities, Messianic Judaism never appealed to me. Well, that, and we were neither Christians, nor Jews, as Armstrongites; we were a religion unto ourselves, a religion of "King Herbert", as "J" says.

Judaism appeals to me, at least reading about it does, but I could never in good conscience sign up for the religion, given my anti-Semitic past. :-(