Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Journal - Kobayashi Maru issue

The latest Journal has a few items other than the Sexton piece (see previous post) that might be worth noting. These include:

* A letter from James Bandy inviting Journal readers to experience the "exquisite delight" of visiting the Jehovah's Witness "offices, printery and education center" in New York! Cheeky bugger.

* An article by Robin Wansley with the intriguing title, Just What do you mean Kobayashi Maru? Star Trek fans will get the reference immediately. It turns out, though, that Mr Wansley ("a longtime member of the Church of God") simply wants to discuss the Hebrew calendar, postponements and suchlike. I cried bitter tears of disappointment.

* Ray Daly ("a longtime reader of the Journal") wants us all to know that the apostle John didn't write the book of Revelation. Well done Ray, it's about time you caught up. But then he spoils it by opining that the real author was John the Baptist. Don't give up your day job Ray.

* The list of upcoming 2015 Feast of Tabernacles sites now stands at 221, including those sponsored by the following alphabet soup: CGI. ICG, LCG, CCG, UCG, CGMI, CGWA and RCG. Not included above (but listed) are the single Feast site groups of which there are a surprising number.

* The Obedient Church of God is back with one of its tastefully written and designed full page ads, as is Willie Dankenbring with two pages promoting his latest $20 (plus postage) books - one on the Holy Days and another called America and Britain in Heraldry and PROPHECY! (the capitals and exclamation mark are his). Oh yeah, and Willie has his own Feast site in Omak, Washington and wants you to know that "It could be the final Feast before the Great Tribulation starts in earnest." Got to hand it to Dankenbring... he's never bothered by disconfirmation.

* There is also a lengthy follow-up interview worth reading with Patt McCarty regarding the pre-1974 Divorce and Remarriage doctrine - now there was a real Kobayashi Maru predicament.


  1. Maybe the Washington State fires will be out around Omak just in time for the Feast. Don't count on it. Be prepared for driving through heavy smoke.

  2. I read the follow up article with Pat McCarty with some interest. It is informative to see how an Armstrongite (Cartwright) and an ex-Armstrongite (McCarty) approach this issue. The interview (debate?) immediately went off track into the area of grace versus the law. This rabbit trail made McCarty look confused. He was unable to find in the Law vs. Grace domain a suitable defense of his new view on D&R. He could have met the issue head-on if he had simply gone to the GCI website and looked at their extensive article on this topic. But if McCarty had simply narrated the points in the GCI article, I doubt the interview would have gotten published in The Journal.

    The biggest downside of how the debate developed is that the wrong impression was given of the Christian doctrine of grace, an impression that would no doubt be well received by Armstrongite readers. I would imagine many such readers, unable to understand that grace is their only life-line to salvation, will chuckle at how looney grace is as believed by mainstream Christianity. They would conclude that it is an argument used to oppose any moral good. This is decidedly not the case and all the chuckles are a signal of misunderstanding.

    Contrary to what Cartwright asserted, Herbert did not believe in the Christian doctrine of grace. He believed in a very weak and tiny instance of it - just enough to account for it in his writing and preaching. After all the word "grace" was in the Bible - he had to say something. The closest writing that the Armstrongites have to a Systematic Theology is the "Mystery of the Ages." You will find almost no information in this book concerning grace. I believe there is one reference to how it is incorrectly taught by mainstream Christianity. And another reference that defines grace as the act by which God forgives the sinner at the moment of repentance - or some such. I do not have the book here with me. Thereafter, it was up to the sinner to work his way into salvation by keeping the commandments and other laws and regulations. This is an old Adventist concept about earthly perfection. Grace fell away at that point and perfectionist law-keeping took over. Herbert only threw a sop to grace - he otherwise never understood it or never wanted it understood. It is hard to tyrannize people when you have an active belief in the doctrine of grace.

    -- Neotherm, Part 1


  3. Cartwright also made a classical Armstrongite error about the covenants. Cartwright states "But I don't see the difference in the two covenants as big a deal as you do. I think people do and will have eternal life whether they believe in law, grace or a mixture. I think God is much less picky than humans, especially Christian humans, are." Armstrongites could never understand how you could take the holy OT and the holy NT, mix two holy things together, and come out with something unyholy. But the foundation for the covenants is entirely different. And the OT was abrogated entirely and replaced by the NT (God apparently thought the difference was a big deal. Considering this explicitly state abrogation, did Herman really have to look into the OT to find out what was "still in force"?). The OT is based on performance and the NT is based on grace. So even though some of the OT high principles were carried over to the NT, they were implemented with a new heart. Galatians hammers this concept pretty extensively and apparently the epistle is not understood or believed at all in the Armstrongite congregations.

    McCarty did a commendable job in defending the Christian position of Grace versus the Law. It was just the wrong venue. And what he said about Hebert, in the part of the article I read, rang of truth. It just was not the argument that was called for in this case. McCarty ended up struggling to make his statements fit the issue. This incorrectly made Cartwright look like the master of the debate. But the extensiveness of the article and the fact that it got published at all, given this awkward dance, seems to indicate that Cartwright was happy with this situation. He seemed to be fine with letting McCarty hang himself with his own rope - perhaps to the amusement and glee of his Armstrongite readers.

    -- Neotherm, Part 2

  4. Appreciate your comment, Neo. But, as you correctly quoted me, "I don't see" the covenants as a big deal. You're reasoning from inside the Bible, and even from inside Mystery of he Ages, and I'm not. The same rules do not apply. Armstrongism, Church of Godism, has nothing to do with my current views of things. Actually, I doubt that the "Armstrongite readers" you mention will react gleefully to my quotes. One could infer (correctly) from my quotes that I do not believe the Christian (including the old or new WCG) view of grace is the only lifeline to "salvation." I was not thinking of my conversation with my friend Patt as a debate. I'm pretty sure that, no matter how the conversation had gone, I would have printed it. --Dixon

    1. I am surprised at your viewpoints. "For by grace through faith you are saved" is the backbone of the Reformation. Even Armstrongism acknowledged this scripture though they added another term to the equation of salvation: Works. That is why Armstrongism is classed as a Jesus Plus Cult. They do not deny grace as a way to salvation, it just does not stand alone. Works must be factored in as causation.

      I have sympathy with Patt McCarty for the adversity he faced. For the upper caste people AC was highly rewarding. It gave them esteem, rank, servants and compensation. McCarty was upper caste (I remember him and his station clearly when I worked at AC) but because of his marital circumstances he oddly met the side of AC that the rest of us who were persona non grata knew. Further, it always seemed like those who were the strongest advocates of the original D&R doctrine were the Armstrongites who were not affected by it. No doubt they believed that the fact they were not personally in D&R prison credentialed them in some special way - made them a cut above those who were affected in righteousness and future rewards. Armstrongism sucks. Pardon my French.

      -- Neo

    2. As DCJ says in debate:
      wait, wasn't Mark written after the Pauline crap?!

      I think the Catholic church was with HWA on their take on this, so Neo/McCarty would have to believe a Conspiracy-Theory that mainstream Christianity was fatally flawed with heresy for most of its history until the Reformation. As bizarre as HWA's similar theory.

      The dilemma can only be resolved by seeing the NT as contradictory. First century Inter-faction friction.

      As Ken Humphreys says: "More Astounding Rubbish from the New Testament!"

  5. Readers should contrast the current The Journal with the current Bible Advocate. Note the article about the General Conference Convention where 1,100+ people attended.

    Armstrongism collectively represents only about 10% of the Sabbath keeping churches of God. Comparing The Journal with the Bible Advocate demonstrates what a sick corporate cult Armstrongism really is, although those who are still a part of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia are unlikely to see the obvious -- that a religion we can prove scientifically is rubbish and whose prophecies have had an excellent record of failure simply isn't that healthy for the participants.

    It is true though, that The Journal is interesting from a sociological point of view as an exploration of the fringes. Nevertheless, those who want to explore journalism from the realm of Armstrongism should probably consider the works of John Trechak as representative of the best of the craft.