Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Plan of God: My Thoughts

This is my understanding of the gist of the plan of God:

It seems to me that Armstongists believe the whole of everything is: obey The Ten or you can't gain the Kingdom. The Ten is the whole of everything.

But here is what I see, seven things:

1. God says "I want children"

2. They can't be created like the angels of whom one third contemplated that which is no love.

3. So we'll expose them to the disease (sin).

4. But that means they can't have eternal life and then We will be without children.

5. But one of Us could pay the debt so that We can have children.

6. Then they'll need to understand the concept of governing themselves, so We'll show them through two juxtaposed covenants;

[The first one will be forced, coming from the the outside - which will change nothing in their hearts, meaning We could wind up with the same situation We had with the fallen angels...

Then We'll follow up with the second, which will demonstrate governing oneself, from the inside, internal - because the governing must come from within them, not from an outside force: "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

So by this juxtaposition of the two covenants, and by living exposed to the disease (thus seeing how horrific it is), there will be no chance of what happened with the fallen angels.]

7. And they MUST understand that the ONLY possible way for them to gain eternal life, the only way this plan can work, is by the GIFT from God of the payment of their debt by JESUS.

Without JESUS you CANNOT have eternal life. We must accept that gift. He then, gives us His Spirit, the vaccine, which begins it's work in us. Complete healing comes upon His return when we are changed.

That's my take, anyway. For all I know, it could go back to the angels. Were they part of the plan, or separate from the plan? Any thoughts...?


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


Sunday, July 26, 2009


I’ve written a number of articles on tithing, and one more can’t hurt. I intend to make this one a bit different, tackling the issue from another angle.

I learned a long time ago that in this world, everything boils down to economics.

This article then will make a few connections in the wide world of religion in regards to false prophets and money.

False prophets are given the distinctive by Christ as being wolves in sheep’s clothing, whose main desire is to feed their own belly while devouring the flock, all the while giving the appearance of being sheep-like.

I find it amusing that the ministers of the WCG and splinters like wearing wool suits, but perhaps that observation is merely a coincidence. Graduates of Ambassador that were put into the ministry program were given an allowance for the purpose of acquiring suits suitable for the ministry. The uniform of a minister was this ‘sheep’s clothing.’

Anyone who has had an association with Worldwide or the splinters knows the emphasis that was put on tithing. To not tithe was to rob God. Malachi 3:8 was drawn like a gun and held to the collective heads of the members. In order to justify tithing, several issues had to be overcome, some of which many members were never even aware of. If any subject ever was full of cognitive dissonance, this is the one.

First off, we need to establish the proper biblical definition of just what a tithe is. When it comes to deceptions and deceiving people, invariably words and terms are redefined to suit the purpose of the one “pulling the wool” over the people’s eyes.

The tithe that was commanded in the law was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock, or even products derived from the same. Wine was tithed upon instead of the grapes used to produce the wine for instance. One thing that was never commanded or required was that people tithe on the increase of wages. The land is what produced wealth, and it was that which came from the land and animals that was tithed.

The justification for teaching people to tithe of their wages today is the rationalization that we do not live in a predominantly agrarian society, thus the necessity for this change in the law.

Did you catch that? Armstrong and others changed the law in order to adjust to our modern times.

And yet, it was Armstrong who taught, citing Matthew 5:17-18 that the law remained intact and unalterable down to jots and tittles.

When HWA began preaching to farmers in the Willamette area of Oregon all those years ago, theirs was an agrarian society. Did HWA teach and demand their tithes of the land, or did he teach these farmers to tithe on the money they derived from the sale of their produce and livestock?

Whenever I have pointed out this anomaly to a “dyed in the wool” Armstrongite or SDA member, they simply refuse to see the cognitive dissonance between the two beliefs that cannot both be true at the same time.

What we need to ask ourselves, and answer, is whether any man or any organization has the right to alter any of the word of God and/or its application.

Some Armstrongites, when confronted with a new covenant theology that does not contain the old covenant law respond by claiming God changes not, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever as a rationalization for keeping that law. I had someone respond to me the other day that we are not to alter the Holy Scriptures by adding to them or taking away from them. Then they flip flop and take the opposite stance when it comes to altering that same law in order to meet with the “changing times” when it comes to tithing.

Does anyone really then have the right to alter Scripture and the application of Scripture?

I’ll leave that unanswered, but just point out that I don’t want to be the one who stands before Christ being asked that question of me.

When Paul made his case for support in regards to preaching the gospel, he pointed out that Christ had ordained that those who preached had a right to support as a result of preaching the gospel. He also did not use tithing as a justification. Rather, he used the example of not muzzling the ox that treads out the grain. After stating this, he then went on to say he did not always avail himself of this right in order to be more effective in preaching the gospel.

This begs the question regarding false ministers; the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Would they preach for free, working at other times for their sustenance like Paul did, or would they teach people to tithe to them out of their wages, thus altering the Scriptures way beyond jots and tittles to their own benefit?

One last observation. The narrative of Peter going to the temple one day in order to pray there with John, and a lame man hoped Peter would give alms to him:

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. — Acts 3:1-6

The pillars of the church had no money to give to him. How odd, don’t you think, that if what Armstrong taught and claimed was true in regards to tithing, they should have been rolling in dough!


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


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Error and Condemnation

Lately (for about a year now) I have been struggling with ideas and concepts and various other intangibles. For anyone who reads my posts, you already know the outline of what I've been going through. For those who are unfamiliar with me, in August 2008 my family and I made the life-changing escape from Armstrongism. I left behind dear friends as close as family, people we called "gramma and grampa", and certainly others who are always in some form or the other traumatized by a loss in the group.

I know there are, and have had the privilege of talking with, many people out there who have shared a similar experience. You all know how difficult a thing this can be. For some of you it has been decades and you're still dealing with ripples in your life from this one event. Like a cosmic background radiation after a big bang or some such event, the effects of leaving never quite seem to go away. Well, God bless you and guide you and strengthen you. I am supremely confident that in the end this will all work out.

What concerns me in this post is not those who have left, but those whom we have left behind - those still in Armstrongism.

It is a tenant of Armstrongism that those who do not do four main things (according Herbert Armstrong's interpretation of them) will possibly suffer through a hellish Great Tribulation, will awaken in a second, lesser resurrection, and will then be given the opportunity to learn these four things; the refusal to adopt them will lead to permanent death. Those four things are: keep the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, keep 7 annual Holy Days, pay various tithes and offerings, and observe certain meats laws.
Other practices are required, of course, and vary by organization, but these are the main 4.

Chief among the 4 is the weekly Sabbath. This can be demonstrated since the one qualification Armstrongism used in which to claim a church was a direct ancestor of the Worldwide Church of God, or even a distant relation, was observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. Many times I heard the tale about an isolated Russian church discovered in the wilderness who kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Even though there is no proof of this group's existence, for the Armstrongist this tale is enough to both prove the validity of the seventh-day Sabbath as well as make this church a relative.

As an aside, I have never understood why the same is not so for the SDA Church, or the Jehovah's Witnesses for that matter. Especially given the easily verifiable fact that Armstrongism derives from the COG7 which itself split from the very same Ellen G. White group that became the SDA - thus making the SDA Church a literal ancestor of Armstrongism (a thing that was vehemently denied within Armstrongism). And if that isn't strange enough, HWA embraced a group of Seventh Day Baptists (out of which came William Miller's weekly Sabbath beliefs) even though the only resemblance they bore to Armstrongism was the keeping of a seventh-day Sabbath.
I know that some Armstrongists will say, "Those groups do not bear the name 'Church of God', so they are not from God." But I would like all who believe this to read this post on my old blog titled "The Name 'Worldwide Church of God'"

But I'm getting off topic. My point was to show that according to Armstrongism certain practices (chief among them being the seventh-day Sabbath) gain you entrance into the Bride of Christ or refusal will bring you to eternal death.

On the other hand, I have been reading the beliefs of several Protestant groups and many have various similar yet opposite beliefs. For example, I have read in one group that legalism is not just an error, but a sin.
It is no secret that in the past many people were persecuted for not keeping a special observance of Sunday. Persecution isn't what I'm trying to emphasize, but rather that the persecutors clearly thought that any other practice besides their observance is worthy of persecution.
I have read where many groups emphasize the heresy of not accepting a Trinity.
I've even read one group recently who appeared to say that failure to believe in eternal punishment in hell is a sin.
As an example of these opinions, John Ankerberg's website says this (emphasis mine):

"But there will come a point when certain issues can no longer be avoided [by the Grace Communion International, formerly Worldwide Church of God], such as the full truth about its own history and Herbert W. Armstrong’s status as a heretic. Armstrong was never a "minister of the gospel" and the old WCG was never a Christian church, although statements by the new WCG in 1996-1998 have allegedly said that the old WCG was Christian."

I've bandied about the idea of whether or not I was ever a Christian as well.
Did I really believe in Jesus Christ? Most definitely I did not believe in the full glory and power of His saving grace! A good friend of mine, when running out of avenues to defend Armstrongism, said to me something like, "But Jesus' sacrifice isn't the end of it. It's a part of it, but not all of it." I agree! It's only like maybe 99% at best. But there is more, and that is for us to accept it, and allow it to change our hearts.

All Protestant groups seem to agree that salvation by works is clearly against Paul's writings. This is true even from the earliest Christian authors. Mathetes, in his Epistle to Diognetus, chapter 4, verse 1, says this:

"But again [the Jews'] scruples concerning meats, and their superstition relating to the sabbath and the vanity of their circumcision and the dissimulation of their fasting and new moons, I do [not] suppose you need to learn from me, are ridiculous and unworthy of any consideration."

Ignatius (lived 50-98 or 117 AD; disciple of John), in his Epistle to the Magnesians, chapter 8, verse 1, takes the idea even farther:

"For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace"

I wholly agree that attempting to keep a cherry-picked version of the Old Covenant law is utterly fruitless. But is it a sin to keep a seventh-day Sabbath or avoid pork? Was I really not a Christian? As sure as night turns to day, Herbert Armstrong did preach another gospel other than the one Paul taught. That has been clearly demonstrated. And we all know Paul's warning on that topic.

(GAL. 1: 6-9) 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

This appears to me to say that accepting another gospel turns one away from God and the grace of Christ (v. 6), and thus it appears to agree with Ignatius. It also carries a heavy curse for the one who presents the false gospel (v. 8-9)! [Why can't I help but think of Ron Weinland at this point?]
But are the people who unwittingly accept that error going to be lost forever? Many, but not all, Armstrongists are genuinely people whose one desire is to obey God and who love Jesus Christ (according to their understanding) more than self. They are just confused on the details.

Yes there are errors, but aren't there errors in us all? The case against them is that they don't accept the grace of Jesus Christ. In addition, they place a man between themselves and the true Vine. I know that in many instances that is somewhat true! I only need to present myself as evidence. But it's not entirely true, not in all cases.
Most Armstrongists accept that grace saves, but they also believe that sin can negate grace and one will find themselves worse off than they were originally. In other words, they disagree with Calvinistic "once saved, always saved." The difference between Armstrongists and non-Calvinist Protestants and Catholics appears to me to be in what the two sides define as "sin". HWA defines it as not keeping certain select the tenants of the Old Covenant; mainstream Christianity defines it as not believing in the Trinity or whatever else.

To play devil's advocate and take the Protestants to task, where is it written that "grace and belief in the Trinity saves"? Where is it written "thou shalt not keep a seventh-day Sabbath any longer or else thou shalt surely burn in hell"?

Paul says,

(COL. 2: 16-17) 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

But Paul also says,

(RM. 14: 5-6) 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

What I take away from this is that if you observe a seventh-day Sabbath or not, or if you observe meats or not, whatsoever you do, do that to the Lord with thanks. I quote Byker Bob, "There appears to be a great amount of freedom in the New Covenant." At least until we all come to the full maturity and understanding of Jesus Christ.

That being said, we now come to my main point in this entire post. One thing that is never given an ounce of freedom in the New Covenant is condemnation.

(ROM. 2: 1) Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge [condemn], for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
(ROM. 14: 3-4) 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
(ROM. 14: 7-13) 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God." 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
(MATT. 7: 1-5) 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I take from this that there is no reason for us to declare who will - or, more importantly, who will not - be in God's Kingdom. God will decide. Certain things are obvious that they should not be done, nor should they be tolerated in our lives (ROM. 16: 17; II JOHN 1: 10-11). But rather than emitting a steady stream of condemnation, one should pray to God for a righteous change of heart in whomever it is that sins.

Clearly we are to make a distinction between what is right and wrong!

(JOH. 7: 24) Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

But the trap of condemnation, playing the "who will be in the second resurrection" or "who will go to hell" game, is ungodly. It puts the self up and the other down. This comes from pride, not love. This creates an artificial distinction in our minds that did not come from God who judges righteously and who sees no distinction between men; He is not a respecter of any person (ROM. 2: 11; COL. 3: 25). Once we've set ourselves up, the other becomes lesser and eventually of little use and ultimately of no value at all.

(MATT. 5: 21-22) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ [worthless] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Let's read this again from the Message Bible:

(MATT. 5: 21-22) [MSG] "You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill."

Makes it quite plain there, doesn't it? And here we sit, the Armstrongists waiting for the Tribulation to scorch mainstream Christianity to ash and blow them away while using phrases like "harlot", "so-called Christian", "lost", and "worldly". I was an Armstrongist. During my time I used to imagine the day after the Millennium when people would kneel before me and confess how right I was and how wrong they were. That is precisely what Herbert Armstrong taught! Seeker points out to me that this teaching comes from HWA's desire to be worshipped. I would tend to agree.

Buuuuuuuuuutttt.... On the other hand we have the mainstream Christians contemplating eternal painful damnation in hell for every error of the Armstrongists. How many have been impatient for hell and burned "heretics" at the stake? Even Martin Luther and John Calvin both did as much while clearly knowing and teaching that murderers do not deserve the Kingdom. Will they escape God's judgment just because they are who they are?

Dear reader judge righteously, which camp seems to be right in the eyes of God given the words of Matthew 5 above?

So, as a Protestant, what will I do?
I will refuse to believe that the innocent followers of Herbert Armstrong are lost (certain ones are not so innocent).
There is yet hope! And what will I say if I condemn a person now who later comes to glory? What will be my excuse, or what will remove that shame from me? So I will love them as God commanded me to. As they say, "Love the sinner but hate the sin." I will have hope in Christ that He knows how to save them too.

We have ALL sinned. We have all fallen short! One day we will all stand before God. As He lives, every knee will bend and every mouth confess that He is Lord. And in that day will all know that He is Lord.

(ISA. 45: 22-25) 22 “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. 24 He shall say, ‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him. 25 In the LORD all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.’”

Yes, there are errors on both sides. But are all things equal? I do not think they are. There are very grave dangers lurking about that must be warned against. Pursuing a cherry-picked set of Old Covenant laws places one precariously between the two Covenants and not firmly participating in either. Preaching another gospel is clearly a deadly pursuit. But what does that mean for me? Does it give me the right to condemn? NO! I have errors too.
Even so, I see a great deal of difference between "Look out! That way has these errors which will lead away from Christ!" and "Those people are going to hell when they die. They deserve no accommodation from God."

The peace I seek is something that I know will not come in this lifetime. I've tried with many men that I believe to be open-minded. 'Us vs. Them' is just too strong a motivator for some people to overcome. The Sabbath is too large of a stumbling block in many people's minds, even with sabbatarians outside of Armstrongism. Then there are issues of pride, issues of fear, issues of following a man rather than Christ, issues of being too invested in a certain way to change it, issues of specific teachings which promote condemnation, issues of fallen human nature, issues of legitimate theological disagreements - it just goes on and on. My desire to put Armstrongism in the past keeps me at arm's length. But I believe this peace will come. I see hints of it here and there. And I look forward with great anticipation for that time.

I've just heard about a minister who recently gave a message in one of the smaller splinter groups where he identified several errors taught by Herbert Armstrong. He admitted his list was not comprehensive, and invited people to discuss their own findings. I have yet to listen to this message, but it gives me clear hope. One person described it as "the ice is broken .... for the future ....." I rejoice in praise to God for that!

To my old friends, I still love you and miss you deeply; you don't know how very much. I don't long for any day to come when I am shown to be right and you wrong, but only that we can be together again in the peace and unity of Christ's love (even better than before). May God be right and every man a liar (ROM. 3: 4).
And to my new friends, every one of you have been a blessing to me beyond what I can possibly articulate. I am filled with joy to know you. Thank you. And thank God for you.
And to the reader, I pray we can agree on these two things: 1) that faith in Jesus Christ alone brings salvation (ROM. 9: 16), and 2) that we should put away all condemnation.


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


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tithe Debate

This post is simply a place marker for anyone who wishes to comment on their views of tithing in the New Covenant era. Mike's blog post was getting overrun by a tithing debate. I offer a free place here for anyone to air their views on tithing. I don't personally care which side you take. By now everyone who is familiar with me should know my position, and I don't demand anyone agree with me.
I would like to see if there is any Weinland follower or Armstrongist who can come up with a convincing stance on tithing that I (and many other people besides) haven't already thoroughly covered.

This is an Bible-based, open discussion if anyone wishes to participate - but keep it civil. I will moderate out any comment that I personally feel crosses the line. I need to give no explanation for my moderation. But I will be fair.
Who's interested?


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