12 Responses to “The COGs and Their Thin Skins: Living Church of God (LCG), Continuing Church of God (CCOG), Bob Thiel and Some After-Thoughts”

  1. John G says:

    John D,

    I also agree that the answer is “Yes” …

    This present evil world is Satan’s world composed of his kingdoms and it reflects his thinking both in the world (Eph 2:2 “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” and more than we would like to admit Satan’s thinking is also evident within God’s Church (2 Thess 2:4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” PLUS James 4:5 “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”)

    So how much love, Godly love, and meekness (name a fruit of God’s Spirit) will any sealed Firstfruit have? It depends upon how much of the fullness of God’s fruits God wants to give out to fulfill His purpose in their lives. It is God’s Spirit that overwhelms/overcomes Satan’s spirit within human beings.

    This post has looked into what other’s think of Bob Thiel’s “fruits,” as well as by what Bob Thiel himSELF writes, and it appears that they are characterized more by Satan’s spirit having predominance in his life rather than God’s. Well, how does Rod Meredith stack up? Doug Winnail? Any of us?

    We all fall short to one degree or another. James 4:5 is true as is Romans 7:17, 20-21.

    This post talked about grace. Yes, we all will need grace, and mercy, and we’d all love to have the fullness of the fruits of God’s Spirit, but so far it appears that God has made that available to only one human being: Jesus Christ. Meanwhile we’re all learning to hate evil to one degree or another.

    Bob Thiel’s writing about brotherly love won’t “cut it.” People “see” through it…well, perhaps most people. Bob has been hypocritical to a big extent also regarding the Living group he was “part” of. Bob led us to believe he was supporting the greatest, only true, organization…God’s Church?…on earth, but in reality his mind was becoming double-minded, which I think reflects Satan’s actions/thinking in one’s life, but such is life…….life goes on.

    Enuf for now……some “2-cents” worth………although God is looking forward to more “broken spirits:” that spirit that dwells within human beings will one day be broken and it will one day benefit everyone of us.

    Time will tell……..

    John

  2. Paul says:

    It’s one thing for the average member to have differences of belief or opinion. It becomes much more problematic when when a high profile member with a significant internet audience does, and makes it known.

    It can’t help but create a problem.

  3. Big Red Big Red says:

    Well, I agree with your main point about brotherly love and the allowance for small differences of opinion. I think that Thiel’s case involved more than that, however.

    1. He had a habit of saying, “we in the LCG believe,” and that would turn out not to be the case, in many cases. I’ll call it a wash, because maybe he was mistaken. But there was a persistent pattern to it.

    2. He wants an explanation from LCG headquarters before he plays a video for the church group he hosts. Really? Nice of him to host the group, and everything, but they’re not “his” flock. Didn’t he know that?

    3. He promotes a mix of biblical and occult prophecy. That is a direct violation of God’s law, and a fairly egregious one at that. It’s not a small matter.

    4. By his own words, he had been lobbying for the LCG to recognize him as a prophet for some time. His own accounts of those events betray a spirit of vanity and desire.

    In short, I suspect that Thiel and the LCG had been having trouble for some time; and that it was the occult stuff and the prophet thing which brought the situation to a head. If you or I were a member of the ABC COG, and started telling everybody how we were prophets, promoting things in violation of God’s law, then it might raise a few antennas.

    • John D says:

      @Big Red: You may well be right about the whole situation, and only having one side’s opinion masks a lot of other things.

      In regards to #1, I guess I rarely backtracked on his assertions about what LCG believed. Perhaps he started believing his own press about being the “official unofficial spokesman”? I would like a couple of examples, though, as I don’t like it when things are just thrown out there.

      #3 is odd, I’ll admit. “Promote” may or may not be the right word, but he seems obsessed with such things. It’s one thing to say, for example, that Tammuz was miraculously born by a sunbeam, according to mythology, as a counterfeit of the Gospel message. It’s downright disturbing to never really move on from that point. At any rate, it teeters on idolatry, IMO. In his mind, he may not be putting Mayan and Catholic prophesies first, but what image is he giving his readers? At any rate, he’s not the first, and the ending is usually stranger than the beginning.

      One thing to remember, though, is that I’ve seen no official word that he was disfellowshipped. FWIW.

      And, no case study is going to be perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that. The majority of the time, at least in the reasonable groups, it is the individual getting all steamed up and stomping out the door over something. However, there have still been past exceptions.

  4. Big Red Big Red says:

    Well, I’m not sure that I’m right about the whole situation between Thiel and the LCG. I’m going by the publicly available information and looking at the timeline. Obviously, they’ve been having problems for some time. It looks like came to a head over the prophet thing.

    I want to address my first point. You’re right in saying, “I don’t like it when things are just thrown out there.” Yeah, no kidding. Don’t blame you for wanting examples.

    Providing a list of examples is difficult for me, however, because I never took notes. I would contact the LCG sometimes, and ask “do you teach XYZ?” And the answer would be no. The issue over Habbakuk is one thing that comes to mind.

    And that holds true for other COG groups. I would ask them about a belief or teaching, and sometimes discover that Thiel misrepresented their position. His assertion on Pack’s view regarding the King of South is one immediate example that I can think of.

    In one post, Thiel heavily implied that Ron Billingsley (COG-ff) basically admitted to being a fraud during a phone conversation. Well, Mr Billingsley had a very different take on the conversation. And frankly, Thiel didn’t come off looking good over that one.

    Let me give you a specific example from history. Thiel claimed that HWA “went back and forth” over the issue of accreditation for Ambassador College. He implied that HWA was a confused old man who couldn’t make up his mind.

    Talk about rewriting history. HWA initially approved the idea of accreditation. After he learned that curriculum requirements mandated instruction in contradiction to Church teaching, HWA refused it. That’s a far different cry from the ‘he was a confused old man’ argument.

    Here’s the bottom line: Too many times I discovered that Bob Thiel misrepresented other COG groups or events. I don’t accuse him of being deliberate about it. Often, I think it’s a case of him trying to cover too much ground, making quick surmises on a thread, and then presenting his opinions as facts.

    What I do know? He isn’t as reliable as he presents himself. He’s not wrong about everything, of course, but trying to spot the falsehoods is like trying to walk through a mine field. You never know. Consequently, I pay little attention to his blog, anymore.

    My proof? Just do the backtracking and check out his claims. Don’t take what he says at face value. If you see something that concerns you about another COG group, for example, then just ask them. That’s what I did.

    Long story short, I suspect that there will be more information coming out about his break with the LCG. Causes and reasons.

  5. John D says:

    I received the following email from someone, and I wanted to share it with you. The name has been removed.

    Hi John,

    I appreciate very much the article you wrote on the thin skins of the COG organizations – which, it seems to me, has filtered down to their adherents (those who identify solely with a corporate organization, instead of the ekklesia – and, IMVHO, this is the root of the lack of godly love and brotherly love that we see).

    Dogma should be reserved as what God says, through His word, is absolute. I think God knew that humans, under Satan’s influence – and we battle that more pervasively because we are striving, with God’s help, to think, act, speak, be like God, following in every footstep of Christ’s example and Satan, still convinced that he will triumph over God, is determined to try to prove God wrong about everything and that means attacking us without cessation – would take opinions, ideas, speculation and present those as dogma (“God says”).

    That is why it is critical that we stay close to God, that we pray for wisdom, understanding, discernment, and we know God’s word inside and out by studying it daily. That close and “without ceasing”
    communication between God and us is the only way that we will ourselves know what God says is absolute and non-negotiable and what areas require us to apply God’s spirit and the understanding He grants each of us – and it’s not all the same, because God is not a cookie-cutter God – to grow up into His spiritual image.

    If we all understand the same things the same way, then why would there need to be more than one of us? It doesn’t make sense. And how are we going to be able to relate personally the wide variety of people in the millennium and the GWTJ if we don’t, to some degree, have individualized paths to the kingdom?

    All we have to do is look at creation. God didn’t make every tree an oak tree. He didn’t make every bird a robin. He didn’t make every dog a collie. He didn’t make every cat a Siamese cat. All though each of these shares characteristics with its species, the specific types look different, act differently, and have different functions. It is foolish, IMHO, to believe God would do anything different with the creation that He made with the purpose and intent that they become eternal members of His family.

    Take good care!

  6. Steven says:

    “If you are an outsider to the COGs”

    I am if you will an outsider. Perhaps more informed that the norm but still an outsider. I first came into contact with WWCG in the 80’s listened to Mr. Armstrong and believed he was on the right track…..those of you with the COG’s please forgive the pun. I was 16 at the time living in a rural community and though I did tithe my allowance and became a “co-worker” I was never a member.
    In the 90’s I had moved to the big city and kind of lost track…..got caught up in the world. One day while channel surfing I heard that the pastor general of WWCG was going to be on 100 Huntley Street …..I was like what? I watched it and learned that WWCG had gone protestant I was floored but bought Transformed by Truth, the index at the back of splinter groups was extremely helpful. It was shortly after this that I got my first computer and internet.
    So I began looking up splinter groups and also began reading COGwriter. So what do I as a somewhat informed outsider think? I am still in agreement with the central doctrines of the various COG’s but I really have to wonder…..if they all belonged to the same WWCG and all held at one time exactly the same doctrines why then the need to form so many splinter groups? Why not just leave WWCG and join an existing group? Could it be that there was more to it than doctrines…..like maybe a very human desire to be the one in charge? Again I’m an outsider and that’s what I see from the outside.
    In recent days UCG splits and COGWA is born…..because of a doctrinal difference? Again from the outside that’s not what I see. I acknowledge that I may be wrong…..when viewed from your position.
    Which group do you join ….and why? What for example is the real difference between UCG and COGWA?
    So what do outsiders really see…… a cult, but you know that already. But did you know that from the outside you really do look like a cult? I don’t simply mean the rejection of the trinity, any group that rejects the trinity is going to be labeled a cult. Now keep in mind that I accept the basic doctrines of the COG’s so I also reject the trinity. But aside from that take a look at the stories of former members of WWCG, wrecked marriages, ruined childhoods complaints about abusive leaders, sex scandals, money scandals…….are these all really just disgruntled ex members…..really? Throw in Mr Flurry who writes himself into the bible, oh and of course there is Mr Weinland one of the two witnesses ya ok, and now there is Mr Theil….a prophet…..maybe one of the two witnesses! It is little wonder the COG’s are seen as cults. Not because you are but because you keep doing things that look cult like. I don’t mean you individually but rather collectively.
    That’s what we see from the outside……is the view from in there really all that different?

    • John D says:

      Frankly, Steven, a lot of what you said are the same things I’ve been harping on for some time now. Some of the groups are more dysfunctional than others, but at the end of the day they all have a lot of problems. I have the advantage of being introduced to WCG early in life, then going my own way for a while and returning later in life. I really sometimes think it does take an outsider’s view.

      It’s always been that way, granted. The first century church wasn’t any less dysfunctional, and we see that in the writings of Paul, Jude and John. Even James talks about actual warfare, so you have to wonder if he’s talking literally or not.

      Now, we can blame some of this on Satan. I cannot deny that. What is shameful, however, is the extent to which we allow his influence in our midst. You know, when we are told to avoid evil, stay away from the unclean thing, etc., it is also talking about Satan’s influence in our own lives as well. He preys on weaknesses that are already there, though. If we could all learn to check our egos and our “certainty” about disputable things, then perhaps there would be a lot fewer groups.

  7. Steven says:

    Hey John

    I reread my post and kind of thought that it might have been a bit harsh for a first post. I’m glad you didn’t take offense.
    In some ways I think the breakup of WorldWide was one of the best things that could have happened.
    If you go on the internet today and type in COG you will get the following result “About 48,100,000 results (0.30 seconds) “ Had WorldWide not gone into apostasy I don’t think this would be true. There is so much material available, tonight for example is FI online which I will attend, while next week will be a double feature, UCG’s bible study followed by FI online. On Friday night there is Ron Darts Weekend bible study. None of this would be true (well probably Ron Darts Bible study)if WorldWide were still functioning. Everything would be done at one site with only one vision and there would not be 48 million Google hits. And to be frank from everything I have seen they were too controlling to have allowed anyone else the freedom to have a blog or website.
    The downside of that is the current situation where Mr.Thiel seems to have gone rogue. All in all I would prefer the freedom that we currently enjoy.
    I wish we could all get along and agree to disagree privately rather than airing our dirty laundry for the whole world to see.

    Steve

  8. Big Red Big Red says:

    John D hit the nail on the head in the second paragraph of his reply to Steven. When we read the NT, we discover that the early church had a lot of problems with false ministers as well. The book of Jude is shouting at the top of its lungs, with triple exclamation points.

    If the early church went through these kind of trials, should true Christians of today expect anything less? No. Satan is going to hammer on the Church like nobody else.

    Frankly, most of the turmoil in the the COG happened because ministers sought positions or influence out of vanity. Plus, you had lay members who joined the church for the wrong reasons. It’s the same type of thing that happened in the NT church. “Outsiders” look on this and label the COG a cult. Yet, they don’t look at the simple, common folk who follow God’s word as best they can.

    In his second comment, Steven suggested that he might become a member, or he might be thinking about it? Something like that? I apologize if this sounds a little presumptuous, but I like to offer some advice to anyone thinking about joining the church. I’m just speaking as one regular guy to another:

    Better be sure of what you’re doing. You’re life is going to get several times harder. Satan is going to come after you with a vengeance. You’re going to get hit with a blizzard of problems. Satan will find any little crack in your life, and he’ll drive a Mack truck through it. If there’s any doubt in the back of your mind…. guess what.

    Am I trying to discourage any prospective members out there? Yes. But I’m only trying to do it the sense of being straightforward about it. Jesus Himself warned His followers to “count the cost.” He wasn’t joking.

    • Steven says:

      Hi Big Red

      Yes I have been considering joining for a while now.

      There is only one group near where I live….about a 2 and a half hour drive. If that’s considered near. The church in question would not necessarily be my first choice, but maybe I am putting to much emphasis on the church and not the members.

      I understand the cost in joining any group but I have to say that there is a big price to pay for not being in any group. I go to the web cast services and bible studies but I find the complete isolation difficult. Not knowing anyone with similar beliefs and being completely out of step with everyone I know is hard. This season in particular is difficult to go through alone.

      There is also the issue of baptism, since I have not been. This has been playing on my mind a lot lately.

      Steve

  9. Big Red Big Red says:

    Steve,
    You made a really good point in your third paragraph. Having the support and fellowship of those with similar beliefs is important. After all, nobody understands a soldier better than another soldier.

    The issue of baptism? I would only suggest that prospective members give it some time. Be sure that’s what they really want to do. You know. It sounds like you have a really good head on your shoulders. You’re not walking into something with closed eyes. (I’m just speaking as an older guy whose been around the block a couple of times). My best to you!