Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Journal - the Curate's Egg issue

The expression "the curate's egg" is believed to date from an issue of the satirical magazine Punch in 1895. A curate is served a bad egg (on toast?) for breakfast by the bishop. Ever the diplomat, the curate remarks that "parts of it are excellent."

Which brings us once again to the 175th issue of The Journal. Parts of it are indeed excellent.

A reprint of a 1996 article (appearing in In Transition) by the late Gary Fakhoury exposes the Achilles heel of the Tkach reforms. I hadn't read this when it first appeared, but even now I feel some sympathy, at least in broad outline. Fakhoury raised important questions and the cabal simply obfuscated and prevaricated. Their position was never based on scripture.
Furthermore, I was reminded, WCG leaders have a moral obligation to challenge the teachings of Herbert Armstrong, even if it splits the church. But you, little member, have a moral obligation not to challenge their challenge, for that is divisive.
While it's now all history, in '96 it was very much an alive issue. The self appointed, self entitled leadership bulldozed through change in doctrine without any accountability and at huge human cost. Reasonable people like Fakhoury - multiple thousands of them - were completely frozen out of the process, ignored, sidelined, by a smug pseudo-evangelicalism that brooked no systemic change in hierarchic structure, and absolved itself from acquiring any mandate.

Phil Arnold resurrects the hoary old chestnut, what did the 'W' in Herb Armstrong's name mean? He goes with the official version - Herb just added it in for effect - and has a personal story that confirms it. I'm still a bit sceptical. Back in the early seventies the Australian church magazine The Lutheran ran a major article entitled "The Spiritual Wilderness of Herbert William Armstrong." Where did they get that little gem of detail from? Who knows? There are other alternatives that have been tossed around over the years, some credible, some simply mischievous. On balance the meaningless 'W' is probably the most likely explanation, but hey, the guy was a compulsive liar on most things autobiographical, so the case is probably still open - as if anyone cares. More to the point brethren, what does the 'C' in Roderick C. Meredith stand for?

Reg Killingley slams an ad in the previous issue from the Obedient Church of God which refers to the head of the Catholic Church as "the Poop".
Perhaps you could ask advertisers to follow basic rules of protocol in referring to others in their ads. They can disagree with someone all they want but the payment of money should not be used as a license for puerile disrespect.
Sage advice. Sadly, as noted in the previous posting, the anonymous moron responsible for writing that ad is back again this month with something equally as grubby and offensive.

Ken Westby, one of the "bad boys" of "the 1974 Rebellion" has an intriguing article entitled Splits happen, even to one true churches.
They called me “the devil” back in 1974. Well, maybe not the devil or the Satan, but a bad hombre under devilish influence. I was accused of being used by the Prince of Darkness to attack “the church,” to cause a split.
Ah, the good old days...
Big church splits, firings and purges produce strange phenomena. One day the church has loyal, faithful employees, effective and good-hearted ministers; the next day these same individuals are evil plotters, disloyal dissenters, snakes, inciters to rebellion (which, you must remember, is akin to witchcraft), attackers of the [One True Church] and the poor innocent brethren within, etc., etc.
Well worth the reading. You can download the PDF of the entire issue here.

It's for material like this - as well as the nostalgia kick - that I still read The Journal. It portrays all sides of the ongoing COG experience as it meanders down the path to its inevitable terminus; the outrageous and the considered both. Thanks Dixon.


  1. "Big church splits, firings and purges produce strange phenomena. One day the church has loyal, faithful employees, effective and good-hearted ministers; the next day these same individuals are evil plotters, disloyal dissenters, snakes, inciters to rebellion (which, you must remember, is akin to witchcraft), attackers of the [One True Church] and the poor innocent brethren within, etc., etc."

    This seems familiar... Where have I seen this sort of thing before?

    Oh, I know, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: And we do have experience in being Proles....

  2. As I stated in an earlier post, Fakhoury's account strikes me as a little odd. I detect a melodramatic effect that might play well with readers who already have their minds made up. Fakhoury did not have to go to the then WCG leadership to find out about the Trinity. And if the WCG leaders were unable to make a satisfactory response, this meant little. The great momentum of Christianity is behind the Trinity with the attendant scriptural support. What Armstrongism offers as an alternative, ironically referring to the Trinity as pagan, is polytheism. They get around the monotheistic issue here by stating that the oneness criterion is satisfied by the fact that "god is a family." But this is not an antidote to polytheism. A family consisting of many separate and individual gods is still not monotheistic but simply polytheistic.

    In another part of the article, Fakhoury counterposes Christian tradition against "what the Bible says." This is a very popular mom-and-apple-pie slogan made, usually passionately, by Armstrongites. As an Armstrongite told me in a restaurant discussion one time: "I don't believe what Christian theologians say. I believe what it says in the Bible" as she rejected commonly understood, scripturally based Christian doctrines This, of course, is learned propaganda that emanated form HWA himself (the W apparently stands for W). It results in people believing in British Israelism, racism, an almost non-existent doctrine of grace and a conflation of the OT and NT. And it apparently ignores all of the scriptures that are compatible with the Trinity. Fakhoury presumes, because he has been taught this, that anything within the bounds of Christian tradition must be wrong. The "Christian tradition" label is itself evidence of paganism, has no Biblical foundation and no further analysis needed.

    To state "their position was never based on scripture", is to ignore the fact that the WCG leadership at that time was moving the organization from cultism to Christian orthodoxy (for which there is scriptural support). Subsequent developments in WCG/GCI indicate there was a genuine commitment to theological development here, not just political expediency. Let me hasten to add, I believe WCG Leadership at that time greatly mishandled the transition. Avoidable offense was given and many people left the fold unnecessarily. This is mostly due to the societal configuration of the WCG at that time. It was bound to the hierarchical, top-down view of who was important. While the ministry attended supportive workshops, the average lay member received squat - they were thrown to the wolves and many congregations imploded. But how many church managers deal with a sea change like this? What body of experience can be drawn upon?

    I always thought it was interesting that Armstrongites sing a Trinitarian hymn at their services. It is called "Come Thou, Almighty King". They have elided the fourth verse to make the hymn less obviously Trinitarian. It is amazing how close Armstrongites can be to something and not see it. Willful myopia.

    -- Neotherm

  3. I believe it was Plato who said: "We was lay hold on the best opinions of men, as borne on a raft, to take us over the dagerous waters of life, unless we can find a more sure word of God to take us safely." Well, The Journal publishes the worse opinions of men. But I thank God for revealing that sure word to me.

  4. An intersting aside, Gary Fakoury was a Unitarian. He (as I do) did not believe Christ pre-existed. Christ, after all, is our older brother. A huge topic/doctine and, yes, it is true that there are about fifteen scriptures in the New Covenant that clearly indicate Christ did pre-exist. Hopefully, one is aware that some scriptures, especially in the NC, have been corrupted from the original language. It often only takes one word to change the meaning of a scripture and the
    the tranlaters back in the day did have an agenda. Another doctrine they tampered with involves scriptures referring to governance. Consequently we have
    the Roman Catholic goverance. Just one example, in Hebrews 13-- Obey those that have the rule over you. Complete nonsense.

    There are any number of people in some of the churches of God that do NOT buy into all the doctrines taught in the organization. One of the reasons I still
    attend is they are, to my knowledge, the only Christian organization that teaches this is not the only time of salvation. A teaching that should be obvious, not from scripture, but from understanding the love of God and his nature. It's amazing that many Christians believe that those not saved will burn and be tormented for all eternity. Now that really shows how great God's love is. I don't think anyone could come up with a more monstrous doctrine.

    Another aside. There are many (not a large percentage) in the Church of God that are Unitarians, including six (that I'm aware of) salaried pastors that are
    Unitarian. Sadly, they are not willing to make that well known. Perhaps a little "ashamed of Christ" as scripture mentions??

    God is looking for people that are learning to be honest. A rare characteristic. And if they learn to be honest they will have no problem being humble. Those people, whom God will choose, will be able to help Christ govern in a godly way. Something humans haven't been able to do from day one.