I want to thank Teresa Beam for originally uploading this video earlier this year. This message is from a retired Eastern Orthodox priest who worships with the Seventh Day Adventists on the Sabbath. His message is startling and profound. The Armstrongist Church of God splinters are by no means exempt from this message. It is time for some to open their eyes and open their mind and start thinking outside the box.
Imagine for a moment—no more doomsday cult predictions! The future is to embraced with new and innovative opportunities. Blind and dumb faith, replaced with scientific fact and evidence. Sexism and racism is replaced by true egalitarianism between the sexes and co-operation between all racial and ethnic groups. Narcissistic selfishness and greed replaced with humanitarianism. We are definitely describing the “Star Trek” era where these things come together for once. Star Trek (the original series or the Captain Kirk era) begins circa 2200s (the 23 rd century). All of us living will not be around to see the 23rd century but the good news is that the splinters of the historic Worldwide Church of God will also not see that century either and the decline of the population of church attendance will sharply decline in the middle of this century (2050s). Grace Communion International (the WCG’s new and orthodox incarnation) will probably absorb into a larger denomination of Christendom ( I would say Presbyterian and one that would support the Karl Bathesque expression that it now holds)—but the future looks bleak for the Philadelphia, Living, Restored and any other smaller Church of God. For the rest of us, this is good news. No more children, teens and young adults in their early 20s getting indoctrinated. No more people will be stupidly spending nearly half their income to fat and rich elite who think they have a hotline to God to see how people live their lives and environment where people can think for themselves and think straight for once in their lives. These days are coming but it is not going to come overnight by no means and there is work to be done. We can thank God for the rise of the internet but one can only hope and eventually take action in getting the internet accessible in third world countries where some of these splinters will probably direct their focus because those in these countries are not aware of their con-man deeds. It has been a sad trend of late, that people are addicted to believing that the future will always be bleak and if anyone is optimistic, something is wrong with them. Attitudes like that only serve the pessimists interests substantially. It is time for a change of thought and attitude to finally challenge a negative worldview that seeks to imprison the souls of many. Do you want to be that change?
A man who is an evangelical Christian interested in apologetics goes to a Jehovah’s Witness convention and attempts to ask individual members, “Do you imitate Jesus?” The reason is that is theme at that convention. Notice how most ignore this man for asking a very simple, yet non-threatening question. Hopefully, in hindsight those Jehovah’s Witnesses who remember this man and decide one day to leave this religious doomsday cult. It will be the best part of their lives, for leaving a religious doomsday cult. 🙂
With the neverending crises in the Church of God splinters groups that still subscribe to the major tenets of Armstrongism (this time is now the Living Church of God in the latest soap opera), this is can never be more so important to appeal to a people to stop letting others do their thinking for them and start thinking for themselves. Also, these are not the only rights XCG members have, they have a lot more than they realize or want to realize.
You have the unalienable right to read the Holy Bible without any man telling you how it should be read or understood. You have the right to read scriptures without any aid of any of the church literature. You also have the right to read study and examine scripture through any concordance, Bible helps, scholarly works, books by theologians and scholars far, far removed from XCG background. Yes, the late great Samuele Bacchiocchi had some great Adventist works—but try something different—let say N.T. Wright if you dare!
You have the inalienable right to read ANY and EVERY book that has been critical of the Church of God movement. You have the right to know that these people had legitimate complaints. They were not under satanic control but had enough of the hypocrisy, deceit, the manipulation and other non-(and anti-)Christian behaviours that the XCG executives portrayed.
You have the inalienable right to read ANY and EVERY book (The Armstrong Empire and Kingdom of The Cults for starters) that has been critical of Church of God doctrines. You have the right to examine your Bible and to prove whether the doctrines do hold water or not hold water.
You have the inalienable right to disagree with doctrines that are NOT essentials to salvation. It does not matter who or what is the prophetic beast or what country is mentioned in Bible prophecy when it comes to the great plan salvation. What matters is that Jesus Christ exists as God in the flesh and is coming again and will be looking for his saints. That’s important.
You have the right to not attend every Sabbath service. You have the right to visit other family members whether members or non-members. You have a right to sleep in, for married couples to have a special time for lovemaking, to spend extra time with children, a weekend at the cottage or just taking the whole family out in the woods just to have a walk until sunset. Attending Sabbath services does not make any one a Christian just as one person who stands in a garage makes oneself a car.
All ethnic and racial groups who attend and are members, have every right to be respected in front of other members as they are in public and private. This means no calling African Americans (Canadians)and Carribeans and/or anyone who is from the continent of Africa themselves as “blackies”, no tasteless ethnic jokes on the Chinese languages, or even teasing Germans or people of German ancestry as cruel bloodthirsty Assyrian warriors. The scripture of Colossians 3:5 is the Magna Charta for racial equality and should be treated as nothing less.
You have the inalienable right in a democratic country to vote for your government leaders. Of course, ministers do not like this because this erodes their power of the XCG masses. This is not rocket science. By the way, if you feel like voting a right of centre candidate, vote! Likewise anyone left of centre or radical middle: vote! It matters what you feel in your heart, not the typical propaganda of a minister who shouts, “Democrats in power—THE END TIME IS COMING! Republicans in power—MORE TIME FOR GOD’S WORK!!!”
You are entitled to the concept of that every believer is part of a kingdom of priests, a concept that every man, woman and child if they want to have free open access to their Creator and to freely read scripture as they see it. This is a concept from The Reformation (Oh, by the way you might want to study about The Reformation and forget the ‘60’s articles on The Plain Truth About The Protestant Reformation) and the irony is that the ministers like the Catholic position sooo much because they ALONE believe that they have access to God. How selfish!
You have the right to use any and social media without the approval any minister telling which to participate or not participate. You have the inalienable right to tell a minister who wants to spy on your regular routines on the internet that it is none of his business and he should spend his time on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless and taking care of the poor. If he is doing absolutely none of these things, he is not a minister but a hireling.
You the unalienable to seek higher education. Get weary of one who speaks of “God’s college”.
You have the inalienable right to seek professional help dealing with issues of mental health. An issue of mental health is not necessarily 100% demon possession. Frankly, it has more to do with chemical imbalance than with demon possession. Yep, science triumphs over superstition. Any minister who wants to argue otherwise and says that it can be cured by simple prayer and study or vitamins is simply giving “quack” advice. Ignoring that kind of silly advice will not make you lose salvation one bit.
JOHN A. HALFORD
A good man has passed away today. After a long battle with esophageal cancer this summer, Grace Communion International Pastor John Halford finally passed into the fullness of His Wonderful Kingdom. Those who were hoping that he would conquer this and even one individual very high up in GCI even suggested that there was a “Divine Appointment” a misdiagnosis of tumours but another pastor gave the grave news that it wasn’t so. During the ordeal, John Halford was handling this very well, even getting ready for certain divine appointment from Jesus: Today, you will be with me in Paradise. Nobody can ever have any greater “divine appointment” being with the Master in Paradise despite it is a sad thing for the rest of us because we will be missing him for a very long, long, long time.
Before Grace Communion International, there was the Worldwide Church of God—-a cult labelled by many evangelicals which eventually steered to orthodoxy in the early 1990s. John Halford was a long time minister in the historic Worldwide Church of God and yes, there are some who hold that against him. Some will say he was just a hireling with a superior sense of humour. He might have been a product of the environment and yes there was a toxic environment which I am acutely aware but I cannot deny that there individuals who were different, dared to be different and some even payed the price for being different (John was never raised to evangelist rank in the historic WCG) and I still can only conclude that he was truly a “voice of reason” through it all. Can anybody attribute that to then top evangelists like Gerald Waterhouse, Rod Meredith, Raymond McNair—-or even the founder Herbert W. Armstrong who could make Alice in Wonderland’s The Queen of Hearts seem rational and reasonable? I think not! These so-called top men who had nothing better to do to make stuff up (most of the time it made no sense) can never hold a candle to a man who always thought outside the box much to the chagrin of many—and did so until his dying day.
I remember his visits to Toronto in the early ’90s. His sense of humour could not be ignored. His cheekiness was somewhat to be admired where there was a multiple number of those who were “holier-than-thou” and literally believed that lightening up was a sin. I read his articles in The Plain Truth magazine back in the mid-90s and other church literature he written. A cut above the rest. The mid 1990s came and the historic Worldwide Church of God faced it’s massive doctrinal upheaval (New Covenant theology was “introduced”) in it’s then 60 year or so history. It made the 1973-74 debacle (Divorce and Remarriage policy and the so-called proper day of Pentecost) look like a Muppet movie. John Halford had a wonderful taped message called a “New Frontier of Faith”. It was positive, upbeat and futuristic oriented (John was a futurist like me while others were just simply joyless, dull fatalists) . I also appreciated his jab at what I would call “grace Nazis” in what he said, “Hey I live and believe the New Covenant but I eat like if I’m under the Old.” Some wanted to show ( I say bully) their righteousness by “eating pork” over the ones who are “weak in the faith”—which in my opinion is stupid and shallow to say the least and a poor measuring stick but that’s simply neither here nor there. In the late ’90s, John Halford had a video called Creation or Evolution. Some thought he offered no firm conclusions and that was a bad thing. I thought the opposite. It was refreshing to see somebody who seen no tension between science and faith or even believing in God and evolution simultaneously. It was time for people in the Worldwide Church of God TO ASK QUESTIONS about science! At the same time he was Regional Director of WCG in the United Kingdom and published their own version of The Plain Truth which was reported to be the number one Christian magazine in the U.K. I, for a while subscribed to it and even helped contribute to their magazine by converting what money I made into British pounds. I would do it over again, if I could and had a better job (so I would have given more)! It was that good that NT Wright could probably read an issue or two. I still believe that the UK Plain Truth back in the 90s should have been the standard one over the American evangelical Plain Truth hands down. Sorry, I take the Neo-Anglicanism of John Halford and his sidekick Jim Hurst—over the clap happy American evangelicalism any day. I will even dare to suggest that probably the Neo-Anglican route was probably the best, non-confrontational way for the then WCG to steer towards orthodoxy than the hot mess that the leadership imposed in ’95. If only…
Whether you agreed with his decision or not, John Halford decided to stay and lead the WCG into becoming Grace Communion International. He was sincere in his decision. I thought he should have started his own ministry back in the late 90s but he kept writing articles for Grace Communion International and advising congregants ministers and members alike right until the end. I thought this video would be an appropriate one of what he was all about during his later years. Rest in paradise,Mr. John Halford until we meet again!
Also, his nephew Ben Beath wrote a superb pre-obituary article here.