Another new splinter. Oh joy. NOT!

Tip to NO2HWA and his blog Banned from HWA. Out of the United Church of God is Church of God America formed by Leon Walker and Larry Salyer. How is the NEW splinter going to make a difference? Will it make new believers or new disciples? Will people have transformed Christ-centered lives?  Will it heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry,clothe the naked, give shelter to homeless? Or will personalities as usual be the focus of this new organization? I think we all know that it will be the latter than the former and this is sad.  As I posted before on the blog that those caught up in Armstrongism seem to be akin to drug addicts. Strong language and I meant it. I will even go so far to say that they ALMOST make crack addicts look respectable. Like drug addicts, Armstrongites need their fix and yes, those members who are currently in the UCG, planning to join this Church of God America are looking for their latest stimulation—only to find a few years later that this new high will no longer satisfy.

On the other hand, there are some who are looking for a detox and healthier alternatives. Douglas Becker had some constructive comments on my old blog as we were giving advice to one UCG member about his membership:

United doesn’t just have some problems: Somewhere along the line, it fell into being weird and creepy, totally unhealthy. The Good News started out to be a beautiful encouraging magazine for about a year and then it descended into the same tacky British Israelism based death, devastation, destruction as the old Plain Truth. Someone somewhere made a decision to go flat out secular. Howard Davis told me, “The Good Newsis horrible! Just horrible”. And he is right. It is.

The UCG website is a mess, often with little podcasts about how you can overcome mental illness by being happy instead of getting real help from mental health professionals and taking your meds — and their teachings are based upon the preachments of a mentally ill minister [to whom I have spoken] who hasn’t figured out how to take care of his own mental illness — a real case of denial.

It should also be noted that alcoholism is also rife within the ranks, although it is somewhat better than the other xcgs amongst the ministers. That is why I talked with Dennis Luker at the end of December 2006 after services and promised to write an article he could use about Alcoholism. I hope he will take it forward and get the head of so many ministers in the xcgs out of the bottle. It is truly disturbing to be at dinner with an xcg pastor who tells you after the third glass of wine, “I am a wicked, wicked man: Help me”.

Something Draconian has happened to UCG and it cannot be fixed.

The suggestion Felix made concerning returning to the Church of God Seventh Day makes sense for you. They have a style of the Feast of Tabernacles back East, so you lose nothing there. They are warm friendly people without the rancor of Armstrongism. They actually treat Jesus with great reverence and respect just as if they expected to be his bride at his return — they already love honor respect and cherish him in a personal way. It is not a bad choice. Many in United have fled for the CG7 and are quite happy there — they have told us they will never return to United.

And there is something you should think about: Herbert Armstrong rebelled against the Church of God Seventh Day. He went ballistic when they didn’t adopt his views of British Israelism. It wasn’t about the holydays! It was about something which is not just false, but the fruit of it has been false prophecy, dissension, anger and even hatred — it has produced nearly every evil work, ending in divisions. Herbert Armstrong was a very evil man just for rebelling against the CG7 leadership because of his childishness. All of us have suffered because of his sin of rebellion. And United is keeping a portion of that evil alive.

Felix is right. Now is the time to hit the road — and not the road to Dallas, Texas. It is time to find a group of godly people who are loving and not divided by their common roots.

This was commented by Douglas in 2007 and it still relevant as we enter 2011 in less than a couple of weeks. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Stay tuned for a Bill of Rights for members of the UCG. They sure need one and need one NOW. As one who rightly pleaded on Worldwide Church of God Alumni message board: Please people look to God and Jesus Christ……….and quit looking to church organizations and ministers…….they will fail. Tragically some will ignore this advice to their own peril. What stupidity.

Commentary on the UCG crisis: People matter, organizations are at best secondary

I did say that I was going talk about the current crisis in the United Church of God. I actually had a post about Richard Burkard’s “personal” crisis over certain hymns that he couldn’t sing to the audience. J of Shadows of WCG has his own take with his emphasis on his very firm belief in New Covenant Theology (I hope recognizes there are many other interpretations of law and grace and Christendom and that his is one of many, not the only interpretation) and “NO2HWA”  has chronicled the latest resignations, firings and shenanigans in the UCG in his blog Banned By HWA.

I have in the past given suggestions of where the UCG could go. My friend Douglas Becker gave me a reality check of  would anyone there (particularly the ministry) would ever listen. I knew anyway that the ministers from all the XCG splinters are poor listeners (they believe in the art of ignoring people) and their members are selective listeners (where they cherry-pick what they want to hear from others).

There are people whom I know personally who are in the United Church of God. I believe some are very decent people. They are sincere in seeking God. What I think the people of the United Church of God need to do is simply need to go directly to God. Forget HWA, forget the Council of Elders and I dare them to forget their own church literature. These things have just as served as bureaucratic roadblocks. Nothing more.  This is a scary step but a very necessary step if they want a radical change in their spiritual pilgrimage. It is time for ALL in the UCG, whether member or minister to recognize that the vehicle is NOT working. It is time to get a new vehicle.

I am not talking about a new splinter either. It can be guaranteed that if a new splinter takes place, sometime down the road some wild-eyed dreamy preacher (or wannabe preacher) will have some more eccentric ideas and create another split (how many times do I have really mention Ron Weinland?). What about the split from the split? Who’s legitimate? Again, splinters are ego focused and takes the focus off the real head of the invisible Body of Jesus Christ (Jesus, of course). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist that splinters are about following man and for those who angrily object are simply in denial.

Frankly and bluntly, those who are caught up in Armstrongism are just like addicts on hard drugs. They need a fix. The fix is an Apostle who is directly sent from God—or the fix is prophecy—they are so eager the world to end and be destroyed. Well God has for whatever reasons not ended the world yet (and believe me with the wickedness and injustice that run rampant in today’s world, I still have yet to understand God’s mercy). We all have to cope with that fact. It seems those in the XCG have the most difficulty doing that. They need that fix. This is why some very few would even go to a Seventh Day Baptist Church or a Messianic Jewish Congregation (with the exception to infiltrate that place with Armstrongite doctrines as been proven). The XCG’s just provide that boost—putting that person in a constant state of alertness and restlessness. Sad indeed, but the truth.

What would be my current wish for the people of the United Church of God? Note I emphasized people. I don’t care much of the organizational structure of that church. One UCG blogger wonders if the organization will last next year? Is this really a bad thing? If  it could create more independent thinkers I’d say it’s a good thing. If it could produce people who can innovate and think outside of the box, it’s also a good thing. Well what would be the best alternative for some to go?  Probably it is the best the thing for the people of the United Church of God to leave mass exodus from the organization and start knocking on the door of The Church of God (Seventh Day), where it may not be perfect but there is a centrality of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The CG7 does believe in celebrating the Seventh-Day Sabbath (and have grown up in recognizing some let’s say 21st century “ox in the ditch” situations), celebrates the Lord’s Supper (Passover) on the 14th of Nisan, believes in a 72 hour death,burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ,  believes in conditional immortality, premillennialism and other similarities without the stranger and ascetic peculiarities of Armstrongism. If a good chunk of the people do this, I will be doing cartwheels. This is not to say that one’s spiritual pilgrimage may end there. It may lead you to places and ideas unexpected.  Sadly there are those who are scared of using their own minds and wanting to be told what to do. My prayer that these people will be in the minority and may they only serve as a museum piece making no impact on the world scene being nothing but an object of humour in which the rightly deserve.  The rest who desire freedom and to recapture true sanity, need our support more than ever before. This is no time for tea but a time for action. May it be sooner than later.


Richard Burkard’s personal UCG crisis

(I did say that I would have my thoughts about the crisis in the United Church of God but here’s something a little different. Here’s one of the more prominent members of that group, Richard Burkard detailing his own personal crisis (originally posted in Mark Tabladillo’s Jesus Loves Fellowship Message Board). Believe it or not, this has nothing to do “directly” with doctrine but with “special music”. I wish some could take this advice from someone in the XCG movement who recently said, “Churches should not be in the business of micromanaging members’ lives.” That’s a first step of recapturing true sanity—Editor’s note)

I came home today from the Feast of Tabernacles, kept with UCG in Daytona Beach, FL.  It was a memorable Feast in many ways — especially for the song I was not allowed to sing.

During the summer I recorded a rendition of “Amazing Grace – My Chains Are Gone” (the CCM version Chris Tomlin made popular a couple of years ago).  I did the recording after a Sabbath service, to submit as possible Feast special music submission.  The Pastor came to me after the last note, and said I needed to sing that song during a service.  (In fact, I already had for Pentecost last year — and I sang it again in my congregation before the Feast this year.)

The Special Music Coordinator for Daytona Beach invited me to sing that song and one other at a Sabbath Senior Brunch.  I prepared accordingly, taking my accompaniment tracks on the road.

Then at 5:15 Friday afternoon, the coordinator called my hotel room — to tell me “Amazing Grace” had been vetoed and would have to be replaced.  He explained in Canada, “out west” and in some places “up the Eastern seaboard” it would be fine.  But in the Southeast U.S., it’s considered “too controversial” a song.

Talk about a 5:00 surprise!  I live in Georgia — as Southeastern a state as they come.  But I had a backup song ready since I was scheduled as a backup Special Music singer, so I replaced “Amazing Grace” with that.

Yet I was stunned and saddened by what happened.  In 2010, UCG (or at least some members) apparently still can’t handle songs about grace?!  Not even at a brunch, as opposed to a worship service??  After all, grace is the way by which we’re saved (Eph. 2:5) — and God’s grace was good enough for Jesus as He grew up (Luke 2:40).

By the way: UCG President Dennis Luker was not the one who made the veto.  He told me so himself.  He was at the brunch, and I told him practically everything I’ve written here.  Mr. Luker didn’t know anything about the veto — but he agreed with my disappointment and promised to “look into that.”

I don’t have any idea what will come of this.  I still don’t know who vetoed the song.  But when I sing “Amaizng Grace” from now on, I plan to introduce it by mentioning how controversial it is — even to the point of being banned from a Christian church convention.

All I know about Chris Tomlin is his music, so I can’t really say if he’s a Christian or not.  I realize not everyone who sings “Christian music” always acts like one.  (Examples: Michael English, Kirk Franklin and even Amy Grant.)

As for defining worship music — ohhhh, you and your tough questions! :-/

I’d say real worship music should relate directly to God or Christ.  I call some songs “pseudo-Christian” because they really don’t do that.  Such songs could include CCM “love songs” such as God Gave Me You, as well as classical music compositions played as offertories at COG Holy Day services.

I’ve heard BBN’s Lowell Davey (who refuses to allow non-traditional music on his radio network) point fingers at CCM songs for not mentioning God or Christ.  I e-mailed Dr. Davey a reply several years ago, pointing out the standard verses of Amazing Grace don’t mention those two words, either!  (The Chris Tomlin rework adds the line, “My God, my Savior has ransomed me.”)

Worship music isn’t an issue of drumbeat or orchestration to me — it’s more the words and the direction where the music is pointed.  Classic hymns have been turned into nice CCM versions in recent years.  I hear a CCM cover of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing on Christian radio in my city, for example.

P.S. I’ve now been told Amazing Grace was one of the musical selections at another UCG Feast site in Branson, Missouri.

An inspiring message from Dr.Pryor about the Book of Hebrews

No comment about the current state of the United Church of God, Felix??? Don’t worry, I’ll try to work on something with more detail but I think J of Shadows of WCG has some good stuff and has done a great job. The blog Ambassador Reports has also pulled it’s weight too and there a whole host of others that are not giving the protectors of Armstrongism an even brake and I salute them all to keep up the good work.I don’t want to dwell too much on it but this means I do not care the people in them. I do. This is the “light side of the force” in me that I can be humanitarian. My heart is very concerned and it is my hope and prayer that in 2011,  the people in the UCG whether they are lay or clergy will finally have their patience run out and have the testicular fortitude to come out of this spiritual Babylon.  As I have mentioned before, alternatives do exist and they should be examined.

This leads me where I really want to speak about. On this blog I have spoken a little bit about a scholar who specializes in the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith by the name of Dwight Pryor who leads the Centre of Judaic Christian Studies. I have advertised his Feast of Tabernacles celebrations on this blog a few times and have linked to some insightful articles from his ministry. Doug Ward of Grace and Knowledge fame had these kind things to say about Dr.Pryor: “I highly recommend the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, the teaching ministry of Dwight A. Pryor. I think of Dwight’s congregation, the Church of the Messiah in Dayton, Ohio, as a model for what WCG could have become (Editor’s note, sadly that ship has sailed both for the WCG/GCI and the UCG). Dwight teaches about Jesus and Paul in their first-century Jewish context. He upholds the teachings of historic Christianity and at same time brings out the value of Hebraic traditions like the Sabbath and biblical festivals. He’s a balanced, inspiring Christian teacher.”

Yes, I want to link you up to his site again and be inspired. He has an audio presentation discussing The Book of Hebrews. I hope all will enjoy it and be furtherly enriched by it.

Notes and a video

  • Read Aggie’s account and J’s account with the upheaval going on in the United Church of God. It’s President Clyde Kilough has resigned but the Chairman of the Board will take on the UCG’s presidential duties. I have been firm in my opinions on the UCG’s compromise on the essentials of historic faith and I am still firm. There are many people whom I know in the Living Church of God and the United Church of God that are very sincere in their belief and I do highly value them. Yes, there are those in the splinters who are like the late Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker and have dealt with such toxic personalities but I am not talking about them. There are some in the UCG and other like groups who are honest, decent, God-fearing folk who I think that the establishment has used them to no end. I can only pray that they recognize that “enough is enough”. Refusing to tithe to the headquarters is only a bandaid solution. A mass exodus to freedom (wherever it may take them in their faith). Frankly, I wish ministries like Doug Ward, John Valade and Pam Dewey will finally take root after a mass exodus in the UCG or the LCG for that matter. These people mentioned were never ordained in any XCG ministry, are pretty sane minded people who are not prone to fanatical wild-eyed private interpretations of scripture and were never in it for the money (all more the reason).
  • For those wondering about the condition of former WCG evangelist Ron Dart, this is from Pam Dewey about approximately an hour ago from the Facebook site called Praying for Ron Dart.

Current info at the caringbridge site: They began to give him Vitamin K to speed up the clotting time, and it appears that the bleeding has either stopped or is very slow. He has a blood clot where he has been bleeding, that will need to be absorbed by his body. The doctors believe he will be okay, but it will take a… while for his body to absorb the clot.

For those who don’t know what happened to Mr. Dart, the Facebook site explains,

Ron Dart suffered a fall on Thursday night, 8 April. He hit his head and lost a lot of blood, but was checked by doctors and returned home. A CT scan at that time showed no bleeding on the brain and he was coherent and lucid.

However, during the day on Friday, he had growing problems with his speech and he returned to the doctor. He was then transported by ambulance to ETMC where is currently in the Neuro ICU.

I will admit that back on my previous blog in 2006, I  was “gloating” that Christian radio stations were taking his Born To Win program off the air getting on the “evangelical” bandwagon. I remain firm on my then concerns about Ron Dart’s teachings but I could have taken a more “humble” approach than I did in 2006. I must give him credit for a splendid essay on the Christian Woman in which he rightly criticizes the sex-negative early Church Fathers and their misogynistic worldview on women.  Also FYI Again rightfully told me and others of the dangers of equating all XCGs on the same footing. Yes, as scripture states in 2 Peter 3:9,”The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” As Gavin Rumney once stated that we have arrogantly assumed knowledge of things. God can and will correct errors whether moral or doctrinal of EVERYBODY (that includes me). I join in the chorus of the prayers for many to restore Ron Dart to health and let God lead him in the way that he should go.

  • A fellow Canadian by the name of Rand Zacharias who is a former WCG member now his autobiography about his time in the Church  for all to see here.
  • Here’s tip to PasedenaGuy 10 who found this inspiring video from Adrew Rieu in which he performs the “Hallelujah” chorus! Enjoy!