Ben Mitchell’s WCG Experience on Aussie Current Affair

Hat tip to Gavin Rumney. Former WCG member, Aussie soap star of the hit series Neighbours, author and blogger, Ben Mitchell had his life story in the historic Worldwide Church of God on the Australian edition of A Current Affair. Gavin was hoping for many to see this clip as possible. Never fear, if you have the internet and a computer you can see his story told in less than 5 minutes at this site here. Of course, with the comments section on the site there are some people that do not give up with their childish bullying mantra of “Take responsibility and get over it!” Ahh, excuse me Ben Mitchell found life after WCG and more abundantly, didn’t he? He became a soap star, didn’t he? I call that success! What I like about Aussies is they don’t mince words and the narration in the clip asserted that the historic WCG was a “wicked doomsday cult”.  There was evil and it is being exposed and the bullies who fanatically whitewash history are failing all the time. Truth can only be buried and hidden for so long.

A modcon theologian takes on the Jesus Seminar

Gavin Rumney of Otagosh blog fame has seen my clip from Robert Morey and let’s say he really hit the roof.  I just want to kindly assure that to Gavin that I have no plans of being a 5-point Calvinist. The idea of God predestining both the saved and the lost, frankly is repulsive to me. Let me make perfectly clear, that I believe the verse from 2 Peter 3:9 combats the concept of double predestination: From the Internation Version it states,”The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some people understand slowness, but is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to repent.”  But this is neither here nor there. This post is introduce you to a fellow Canadian scholar, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia by the name of Craig A.Evans which on this video clip is promoting one of his recent books, Fabricating Jesus which debunks the Jesus Seminar in which  Paul Verhoeven (director of RoboCop fame) is a part of. I am glad I got this book again from the library. I think I am going to get my own copy from amazon. I hope this is in some way a consolation prize for Gavin.  Gavin being in the pale of Liberal Theology and Professor Evans in the pale of moderate conservative theology in Christianity, I am sure that Gavin will be at least less objectionable to Evans than he is to Robert Morey. More importantly, I think Gavin will say Evans truly makes him think, whereas Morey just riles him. Watch the clip and form your own conclusions.

Liberal Christianity Explained by Reverend Scotty McLennan

About last year I took a survey on the social networking site of Facebook which focused on what kind of Protestant you were. Strangely, for me, it concluded that I was “Liberal Protestant”. I was (and still am to some degree) disturbed at that notion. Former Ambassador Watch (now Otagosh) blogger Gavin Rumney declared, that I should be “Liberal and proud!”  I would actually like to start another post about my objections. They are very real concerns. At age 40,  I have outgrown and have absolutely no use for fundamentalism—that ship has sailed! With evangelicalism, it has had it’s problems and frankly has developed into another form of fundamentalism and yes, legalism (ie. the “Christian sidehug” for starters). That might upset some people but I think I need to speak from the heart as opposed to being under the “tyranny of nice”. Liberal Protestantism has it’s good points with regards to social justice and standing up for the downtrodden but theologically it makes God into some kind grandfather who is powerless to do anything on earth. While Liberal Protestantism or Christianity does not entirely do away with the supernatural and the immaterial world, they in effect minimize it. This, as I see it, has  definately has a domino effect when it comes to the ressurection of Jesus Christ.  Famous Liberal theologian Bishop Spong believes that the ressurection of Jesus  is not a literal ressurection from the dead but believes it is metaphoric in the terms of a ressurection of “our hearts”. I simply cannot in anyway come to terms with that concept. Even the Early Church in it’s inception had no issue with a literal ressurection of the dead with Jesus Christ as it’s firstborn. Take away a literal ressurection, you do not have the good news. A metaphorical ressurection in it’s place, is simply nebulous and fluffy to say the least. As I said, I hope to write about my objections of being labelled a “Liberal Protestant”  in depth in another post.

But in this clip,  form FORA TV,  Attorney and Unitarian minister Reverend Scotty McLennan would agree with Gavin Rumney that there is no shame in being called a Liberal Protestant or Christian. Wherever you are in the theo-political spectrum, everybody should watch and listen to this clip. Forget about what religious right wants you to believe about Liberal Christian Theology. Yes, you can have objections but slandering them as “ungodly” does no one any good. Speaking about Unitarianism, James Pate as of recent said he was considering to attend a Unitarian church. Everybody knows James is the “arch-conservative” when it comes to religion and politics. I can only conclude again, the American Evangelical Christianity is in trouble (unpopular as that may sound but tough). At least with Liberal Christianity, they are at least a little more pro-intellectual and maybe that’s a reason (but definately not the only one) why James may be attracted in attending a Unitarian Church.

The long version of this is here.

The Painful Truth BLOG

 

Thanks to Otagosh’s Gavin Rumney for giving the tip. The Painful Truth franchise has recently expanded itself into the world of blogdom. The website editor James has appointed an “blog editor” of the month by the name of  Ralph Haulk, a former long time member of the Worldwide Church of  God.  PT website editor, James briefly states, “On this blog, we are going to use a rotational system of guest editors.
The rules are as such:
Each guest editor invokes their own standards as to what is acceptable or unacceptable. Please abide by their rules.
We are all adults, but keep in mind that we will not allow certain behavior from certain individuals. We will not lash out against anyone, except those individuals that compose paeans to pharisaism.”

“The ancient Greek dramatists may have discerned a peculiar virtue in being tragic.
The Painful Truth discerns the tragedy and the consequences of our common heritage.”

It is my hope that the PT blog will be the successor to Gavin’s Ambassador Watch and have a long run (perhaps a longer run that Gavin’s blog). Let’s face it, Armstrongism will be with us in the 2010’s and possibly in the 2020’s. Many cults have lasted a long time like Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though the Armstrongist splinters maybe smaller than the above mentioned groups, let us not underestimate that they share the same tenacity.  To simply brush them aside because of their low numbers  would be to our peril as opposed to our benefit. North Americans in particular need to get over the “size is everything” mentality but I digress. May the leaders and prominent members of the XCGs still be watched at like a hawk! No breath easies for them! Trolls included.

PS–for those who want to download Gavin’s stuff from his old blog at AW, do so qucikly (I only got up to April 2009 with copy and pasting to Word). February 1st is coming quickly (As I write I got 8 hours Eastern Standard Time) and that blog will cease to exist!

We’ll see you around Gavin

This past Wednesday was the last post on Gavin Rumney’s Ambassador Watch blog. Effective February 1, 2010, the blog itself will cease to exist. It seems like yesterday when he shut down his original website during the end of 2005 but I was glad that a few months later in ’06, he changed his mind and continued his work on blogger.com. As Gavin said,  he will still blog on his other site Otogosh which I hope is to last for some years to come (I wish decades but that may be pushing it. After all this is cyberspace and it thrives on a nanosecond culture). Also, I consider it a privilege to be his Facebook friend which in effect we can contact each other at anytime at our choosing, while e-mails as usual are easily forgotten. This is probably the “right” time for Gavin to wrap it up. The XCG’s in general are still in circles, still are bickering and fighting at each other, still in doctrinal confusion (after shown many, many, many (did I say many?) times where their errors lie but like the “insane” wing of the Republican Party, think by only getting somewhere is just being more screaming loud about their so-called principles), unhappy and unconfused members, egotistical jerky ministers thinking that they are God’s gift to the world, traditionalist factions demanding total submission from the progressives, progressives scared of making their move to recapture true sanity and freedom for the sake of  “church unity” (which is not really unity but uniformity).  I believe there are many good people in these groups being taken advantage of.  I can hope that it will be a matter of time that these people will stand up and fight for their rights. Covering these never ending soap operas for a little over a decade from the late 1990’s to the early 2010’s (which Gavin exactly did) in NO  doubt takes it’s toll. It is safe to say Gavin has developed new interests in the field of theology. With his mission with Otagosh he states,”For one thing it will continue to take a wider view, reflecting my passionately held belief that the problem isn’t just with the dying world of Armstrongism, but with fundamentalism, evangelicalism and conservative Christianity in general. Unlike many of those who comment here however, that doesn’t mean – for me at least – a rejection of either the positive side of Christianity or the fruits of biblical scholarship, any more than spurning quack remedies means rejecting medical science.” While he told me a few months ago that I should consider myself “proud” to be a “Liberal Protestant”  when a poll I took on Facebook declared that I was, I still have problems coming to terms with that and I hope (time permitting) will write an point-counterpoint commentary on the subject. I still support the Creeds of Christendom (well maybe not so dogmatic on Chalcedon but that’s another story but I am very dogmatic on The Apostle’s, Nicene and Anathasian Creeds,  they are simply non-negotiable. The historic WCG and many other cults take a millitant stand against these creeds. So it doesn’t take an Einstein why I am so dogmatic) . On certain issues the where the church (I’m talking mainstream Christianity of course)  has taken (and I’m not spelling them out today), I would probably take a more progressive approach. Also where I feel the Bible is silent on some issues, I again take a more progressive approach. I am very wary of a broad use of “progressive revelation” (but that is for another time). Well, anyway for those who want to use their minds and “think”, I am sure Otagosh will definately come in handy. Now the responsibility of the other blogs like Ambassador Report, Aggie’s site, J Shadows of WCG, As The Bereans Did,Living Armstrongism and those who are battling the pop-fanaticism of Ron Weinland their work is cut out for them. For myself, I want to continue to be a hand for people who want to exit out of Armstrongism and find them healthier alternatives. Also for those who suffered injustice and abuse in Armstrongism, this blog will be their home to tell the story. Thanks Gavin for the wonderful work you provided. Everyone says it’s an end of an era. It’s a beginning of a new era. May it just be as worth while. See you around (in Otagosh), Gavin.

Thoughts on the Jackson tragedy and the other departed celeberties: The spiritual and theological perspective

MichaelJackson-FarahFawcettkarlmaldenAll of us (including myself) were stunned and surprised at the death of pop music star Michael Jackson since that warm but surreal and strange evening a week ago (hard to believe) this past Thursday. I could write an essay about Michael Jackson and his pop culture influence in my life.  Seriously, I don’t  know where to start. I can even remember the historic Worldwide Church of God’s “war” against Michael Jackson and the rest of the Jackson family. In my current affairs blog, The Way I See It, Anyway— I suggested that the historic WCG should have concentrated on serious objections to Michael’s abusive father Joseph (but the ministers would have loved to lick Joseph Jackson’s you-know-what. He was just like them!) . Back in 1984, at age 14 I remember when Mr.Waterhouse came for his visit to Toronto, Mr. Waterhouse ranted (as usual) about  Michael Jackson “perverting” his vocal chords and will not “inherit the kingdom” unless he repents. Well, excuuuuse me!!! Did Mr.Waterhouse just kicked God off his throne and made a coup-d’etat??? No way, not a chance in the universe buddy (but ONLY and the word ONLY must be stressed,in Mr.Waterhouse’s mind he did just that). This is not to say Michael Jackson was a “holy saint” (in the stereotypical Catholic sense). We all know about his eccentricities (which sometimes frustrated me very heatedly at times) and his serious controversies (we know what they were and those controversies did also make me very heated too) but no one can dispute his transformational music of our time and that alone has to be strongly admired.

I have not been beer buddies with bloggist of COG Writer Bob Thiel and I want to do an unusual move for praising Dr.Thiel’s  from departing from what the historical WCG would say about a tragedy like this. Read his article about the Jackson tragedy plus the other celeberties lost that same week at http://www.cogwriter.com/news/doctrine/can-god-save-billy-mays-michael-jackson-farrah-fawcett-and-ed-mcmahon/. With saying that, I want everyone to know that I do accept orthodox Christianity (yes, I am a Walter Martin-Kingdom of the Cults type when it comes to the essential doctrines of Christian faith) but I do agree with Dr.Thiel that God will make a righteous provision for the unevangelized dead.  Some of you might be familiar with a former WCGer, who has his own Christian apologetics site by the name of Robin Brace (UK Apologetics). He too, has embraced orthodox Christianity but like myself has rejected passionately (and rightly so) the Augustinian-Calvinist position of the unevangelized dead and has embraced the Patristic, ancient Eastern Church thought. Read his article here at http://www.ukapologetics.net/07/INC21.htm and  this one at explaining theological inclusivism as opposed to exclusivism, pluralism and universalism http://www.ukapologetics.net/1theoterms.htm.  While I may respect those who may have the exclusivist view on salvation, I think this Pastor Bill Keller of Live Prayer online church who declares that Michael Jackson’s spirit as we speak is  in hell is simply in a spiritual jurisdiction he does not belong. That is simply, God’s perogative and as one of Pastor of a fellowship (post W/XCG mind you) told me, “Doesn’t ONLY GOD have absolute truth?”  While mankind only sees the surfaces, doesn’t God really knows what is in any persons heart?  Also what about 2 Peter 3:9? God does not want anyone to perish—shouldn’t that be the attitude of believers too? It may be tough sometimes but it’s an attitude that I think is worth it. You could see the article about Pastor Keller’s assertion at God Discussion at http://www.goddiscussion.com/6955/church-reactions-to-michael-jacksons-death/.

Also in another unsual move, I praise United Churchof God President Clyde Kilough’s video which was shown on Gavin’s site at http://ambassadorwatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/thriller-final-note.html. Again I must caveat with Gavin’s statement when which he said, “I did gag a bit at the end when he talked about encouraging “normal” childhood. He should listen in to the testimony of the lost generations of “church brats.” But, all said and done, it gets a 6/10.” Maybe if Gary Antion (who has some professional expertise in marriage and family counselling) did the tribute, I think I and Gavin might give him a 9/10.

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, of “Shalom in The Home” fame on TLC was Jackson’s spiritual advisor. Rabbi Boteach articulated his emotions about Michael Jackson in life and death (and boy I can transparently identify with the Rabbi’s rollercoaster of emotions on Michael Jackson). Read this here at: http://www.shmuley.com/articles/details/master_of_an_empty_kingdom_the_tragically_short_life_of_michael_jackson/

As I have said on The Way I See It Anyway in my 39 years I have seen many episodes of let say, “the day when the music died”. I remember the death of Elvis in 1977 at age 7, been through the assassination of John Lennon in 1980 at age 10, the murder of Marvin Gaye in 1984 at age 14 and the tragic suicide of Kurt Corbain in 1994 at age 24. As long as you and I live and if Jesus Christ does not return to swallow death forever, I am very sure there will be episodes of “the day when the music died”. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the Victor of Death. He conquered His own death at Calvary and presented ALL mankind the offer to live forever. In that day, those who have accepted that opportunity will finally receive it.  I firmly support CS Lewis assertion that in the day, there will be those who WANT to be with God and those who DON’T want to be with God. Those who want to be with God will say to God, “Thy will be done!” Those who do not want to be with God, God himself will say, “Thy will be done!” Christ’s death and ressurection on the cross provided the opportunity that Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays and the recently departed Karl Malden of The Streets of San Francisco  and American Express commercial fame these people don’t have live a short measly several decades on earth but to have glorified human bodies that is completely free from sin, disease and death! I am sure Karl Malden  who lived to 97 this past Wednesday is looking for a new glorified body after the health problems he had in the final years of his life!  Those of us who believe, need ever so vigilant and enthusiastic to know that in spite of recent events the Good News remains the Good News.

Intelligent Quote of the Day

                                          “croportWe don’t read the Bible to learn about science, and we don’t need to believe six impossible things before breakfast each day. We read the Bible to engage in an ongoing adventure that holds a mirror up to reality, that challenges us to live justly, that directs us to realign our lives with the Good Spirit, that enables us to become authentic, free and compassionate people. If reading the Bible doesn’t do that, then we’re probably better off not reading it at all. The kingdom of God isn’t just some future pie in the sky hope, it’s supposed to erupt in our midst and spill over as a blessing for those around us.

Which is why so much that goes in the small sectarian communities that make up the Armstrong diaspora is unhealthy. If we read the Bible to fuel our “prophetic” conjectures, if we read the Bible to discover “new truth” that will make us special and better than other people, then we’ve exchanged the bread of life for junk food. ”

—Ambassador Watch’s Gavin Rumney discussing on his blog that the Bible was meant to be a book on how to live and not a text-manual for science as fundamentalists constantly presume.