Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sexual harassment and the women of "me too"

Sexual harassment and the women of "me too" 
by Greg Doudna

This is from the ACPasadenareunion site and is used by permission of Gregory Doudna.  Besides being an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, he is the author of the excellent book published in 2006,  "Showdown at Big Sandy: Youthful Creativity Confronts Bureaucratic Inertia at an Unconventional Bible College in East Texas"

Before our eyes there is a sea change, a threshold, seemingly a quantum level, a tipping or turning point in America, on sexual harassment, with powerful men falling right and left, with a new reality that behavior formerly often considered a joke but which caused real pain to women, no longer beyond the reach of accountability. Is this what a national repentance looks like?

In retrospect, how would WCG history and our own AC experience have been different if the unspeakable allegation concerning HWA had been known?

"Unspeakable" because it is literally unspoken, like the family secret that is never named, including in my own book "Showdown at Big Sandy", even though I knew of it and believed it was true. I have never heard it even mentioned on this forum, perhaps for similar reasons as why I simply could not bring myself to do so when I wrote my book. When I first heard the allegation long ago I felt like throwing up, a feellng which lasted for days. That it was apparently true seemed indicated on a number of grounds brought out in past issues of Ambassador Report, with a long track record of consistently highly accurate reporting. Yet I could not bring myself to name it, it was so sickening to me.

There is a European tradition that politicians can have mistresses or infidelities and no one cares so long as they are competent at their job. That is not what the current issues in America, the "me-too" stories coming out like a tsunami, seem to be about. It is rather about issues of abuses of power, and nonconsensual violation of body.

In late 1973, just as the dissident outbreak of Shreveport and then the larger regional directors of 1974 was breaking, I among a thousand others heard GTA in a sermon at Big Sandy say that there had been an early allegation of adultery against his father, HWA, back in the early days in Oregon. GTA did not say the allegation was true. In fact everyone hearing it would have assumed it was not true, a false allegation, in GTA's telling, though to the best of my memory GTA did not directly say it was false either, even though that was the default assumption. But what was that all about? I had never heard of such an allegation before regarding HWA. Barely two or three months later, Ronald Dart (resident deputy chancellor at Big Sandy) in a sermon or a student forum (I forget which it was but I was present and wrote in real-time notes the exact wording), said with emphasis: that in all of the criticisms of HWA that were being voiced by dissidents one thing that was not being raised or questioned was the content of HWA's character. "His (HWA's) character is as pure as the driven snow" said Mr. Dart with great rhetorical impact and force. I interpret that as that by early 1974 Mr. Dart had literally not yet heard the allegation.

Yet the allegation did later become known, based on GTA's telling a few people and the word was out, GTA having learned it firsthand confidentially from the victim. The allegation was never denied by HWA or the victim, and as reported by Ambassador Report, both the victim and her husband had been receiving church payments for decades, even though not employed. As the story was being voiced privately among people in contact with GTA but before it was yet publicly reported or known to church members, I remember a co-worker letter of HWA in which HWA spoke of some undefined supreme, master stroke of Satan, some utterly devastating master blow against the church which may be coming which would exceed anything the members could imagine. I wondered what was that all about? Of course HWA spoke in hyperbole in nearly every co-worker letter, so it was easy to read and dismiss that as more of the same, i.e. nothing specific. But in retrospect that comes across in a different light, like a man fearing a horrible skeleton becoming exposed. The spectre of how effective that master attack of Satan (as HWA put it) would be in HWA's telling--how many brethren HWA believed would fall away as a result--reads like a fear of the effect of a devastating, true allegation.

That is past history now. But what should--should--have been the proper response, when this allegation became known? What should ministers and members do, if it occurred today? Should HWA have been forced to resign? But, the way it was set up, HWA alone decided who should be forced to resign at his level, and everyone else should trust in God who was responsible for guiding HWA in his decisions, and God had not led HWA to decide that HWA should resign. This was believed to be God's government in operation.

I cannot imagine that I, or my father before me in Akron, Ohio, would have come into the church in the first place with a leader credibly having the nature of the allegation against HWA. It would have changed everything for me, or my father. But, when the allegation did become known, it did not change everything, in fact, outwardly and seemingly, it changed not much of anything. How could people like Meredith and other old-timers with similar mindsets, for example, still have continued to uphold HWA without addressing that? Did they think the allegation was actually fabricated? Did they think that it was irrelevant?

Toward the end of my time at AC and afterward, I discovered and read what to me were riveting writings of John Howard Yoder, a Mennonite theologian, books like "The Original Revolution", "Nevertheless", and "The Politics of Jesus". Yoder argued with great intelligence, insight, and humility the anabaptist case for Jesus as a "revolutionary pacifist", who was nonviolently upsetting the political order, that the point of Jesus was changing history by means of the church being a witness and an example in history of doing things in better ways, demonstrating more peaceful social relations internally, witnessing against war, civil disobedience like refusing to pay war taxes, standing for the poor of the world, living the sermon on the mount, returning good for evil, proclaiming Jesus's message of a biblical Jubilee of economic relations, the followers of Jesus being the mechanism for at some point bringing about the possibility of the kingdom of God on earth. It was enormously inspiring to me, my transition stage to Quakers. It was so inspiring--something real about the Gospel and the sermon on the mount read in ways I had not heard before, and the history of anabaptists, that I thought: this is real, this is so different from the barrenness of wcg spiritual culture (despite some genuinely good people). The anabaptists of the 1600s had talked the talk and walked the walk, suffering martyrdoms in large numbers for nonviolent attempts to live out the sermon on the mount of Jesus. I learned some of the anabaptists had even been sabbatarians. Anabaptists, the forerunners of today's Amish and Mennonites, Hutterites and Church of the Brethren, pacifist honorable peoples all, at the time were the radical left wing of the Protestant Reformation, hounded and killed and massacred at the behest of Reformers like Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, all for having shockingly subversive views of equality of human beings and rejection of authority of nobles and priests and state apparatuses of such.

I applied to the Associated Mennonite Biblical Studies seminary in Goshen, Indiana, in order to study under Yoder, with a vision in my mind of truly living for God in a way that I had not found at AC. My application was rejected on the grounds that I had not completed my undergraduate degree at AC, which in any case was considered skeptically due to the lack of accreditation issue. I went on to find my roots and home among the Friends (Quakers), which were my ancestral roots which anabaptists from Germany were not. I spoke several times to Yoder personally, including at conferences where I would see him.

But in later years Mennonites have grappled with a wrenching and distressing problem involving much collective soul-searching: all the time of Yoder's brilliance at making the anabaptist case for the pacifist Jesus to the wider world, and inspiring a generation of committed pacifist Christian activists in the name of a literal interpretation of the ethics of the sermon on the mount, Yoder had been a serial assaulter of women. Not in a full-rape sense, but in repeated unwanted and disturbing physical interactions, unwanted graphic language, serially over many years despite many behind-the-scenes pleadings and appeals from administrators to stop. Meanwhile, the stories of women piled up. Eventually Yoder was disciplined and fired, but still the reasons were covered up until the point came when they no longer were covered up. Yoder died in 1997. Today, the Mennonites--good people, honest people--have sought to come to terms with Yoder's legacy, find out why this could have gone on so long, what kind of cultural changes and institutional mechanisms can protect women going forward. This is a drama I was spared by having been turned down for study for the ministry at the seminary at Goshen, Ind., where Yoder had taught.

The Mennonites had this discussion, hard as it was for those involved. It was wide-ranging, participatory, thoughtful, the women were listened to, there was repentance and there were outcomes. Have the WCG or any of the lettered successor Church of God groups had this discussion? No. Is there any mechanism by which such a discussion could even occur? It is hard to imagine. Are Church of God people better off for this "see no evil, hear no evil" practice toward iconic founder figures?  

Does the Bible matter?

This is from the ACPasadenareunion site and is used by permission of Gregory Doudna.  Besides being an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, he is the author of the excellent book published in 2006,  "Showdown at Big Sandy: Youthful Creativity Confronts Bureaucratic Inertia at an Unconventional Bible College in East Texas"

Does the Bible matter 
AC was based on an interpretation of the Bible. Post-AC this continues for many in various forms, while some reinterpret and others repudiate, the Bible as a basis for moral or social authority. Some find spiritual solace and meaning in passages of the Bible, others find such talk "triggering". Everyone here, no less than the first Christians, are atheists--in the classical sense of not believing in the Greek and Roman gods. No one here suffers existential angst or distress wondering whether Zeus maybe really exists and what if he will be wrathful in the afterlife for our lack of belief in him. But, Yahweh and Christ are live issues to many. 
70% of Americans self-identify as Christian. 25% of Americans are evangelical Christians (versus 15% mainstream Protestant and 20% Catholic). Evangelicals--a quarter of America--are the main voter base of the Republican Party and responsible for the Trump Presidency and several recent presidencies, for better or worse, domestically and for the world. Polls show evangelical Christian self-identification correlates with increased support for state torture (Pew Research Center). 65% of evangelical Christians reject the existence of macro-evolution as a scientific fact. This is compared to 30% of all Americans and ca. <1 and="" biochemists.="" biologists="" geologists="" nbsp="" of="" s="" span="" the="" world="">
We know cult-like thinking and how it operated, in our own past bubble experience. America, right now, is a bigger version of cult thinking. But this time it is not a church whose only barrier to exit are social and psychological ties.  
Unlike the old WCG, this modern cult environment is based on war worldwide. The cost of just the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone, none of which involved defense of territorial United States, begun by a President who believed God had guided him to do so, is calculated at $4.4 trillion (Brown U. study, just published). These wars have killed 250,000 in direct killings, half of which are civilians, and displaced 7.8 million people from their homes. American Special Operations forces are active in 130 nations, 70% of the world's nations. American combat operations are ongoing in at least a dozen nations right now.   
The WCG did not exercise civil power. But imagine Gerald Waterhouse, Roderick Meredith, or HWA or GTA types in control of the world's biggest military power in history, guided by the Word of God, the foundation of knowledge. Imagine? Maybe we don't have to imagine. Is it already here? 
I wonder if there are lessons that can be learned from our AC/WCG experience which could shed insight on actual causes and solutions to issues of war and peace, as distinguished from the bromides in the Plain Truth magazine and invocation of supernatural or extraterrestrial interventions.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

UCG: We are just like Noah when no one responded to him for over 100 years...

UCG has released their latest Council of Elders Report.
Review of Strategic Plan—Bob Dick 
Bob Dick, as the chair of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, led the discussion in reviewing the current Strategic Plan. He began by going over key terms and discussing the creation of S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. 
UCG, after 20 some years realizes they need some corporate goals.  It took them that long to figure this out? Using Jelly as your public face does not help matters much either.
The importance of having goals that can be measured was addressed. If you have a goal that can’t be measured then it is time to change your goal. You want your goals to be measurable. The challenge is to know what can be measured and what cannot. Sometimes it takes years to accurately assess a program. Mr. Dick encouraged the Council to get a copy of the United Way book on “Measuring Program Outcomes,” which is a good resource that can be found online. 
UCG has also realized they need to focus on the speaking quality of their ministers, the quality of their TV program and most importantly, the quality of their Feast sites.  Apparently, the speaking is so bad that they need fancier and fancier sites that people will find more attractive than the speaker.
The Council then began to discuss what the strategic issues of the UCG are right now. Some of the strategic areas discussed included youth education, engaging the young adults, quality of speaking, quality of the Beyond Today program and the quality of Feast sites.
Mark Mickelson commented that on the church website the people are already telling you what they like by the sermons they download. The problem can come from rewarding loyalty instead of quality of the message. The brethren listen and discuss the sermons they like.
Scott Ashley mentioned we have to acknowledge what we can control and what we can’t. We can control how many BT magazines we put out, but we can’t control the response.
UCG, for some reason, believes they are soon to be persecuted for their messages.  When have they ever preached anything controversial? When Jelly gets more viewers than sermons, that should say a lot!  Besides, UCG is of the opinion that it really doesn't matter in the long run.  Noah preached as he built the ark for 100 years and no one listened so why do we need to worry?
Mario Seiglie commented that we can’t always look at outcomes. The Church is to preach the gospel, and it won’t always be popular, but it must be done. Noah was a preacher of righteousness for 100 years while building the ark with no response, but to God he was a success.
The world is in such horrible shape that UCG needs to hone their message to the critical urgency they seem to think they have.
Dr. Ward mentioned the importance of discerning the times and looking at strategic planning from a certain worldview. We need to hone our messages to the critical times in which we are living with a sense of urgency.
UCG is building new recording studios where they will film their new awesome messages!
Preview goals and plans for the future of Beyond Today video and the use of the new video recording studio—Victor Kubik
President Kubik began the presentation by mentioning the need for and the current conditions of our public proclamations. This is not a new conversation. The modern Church has always been one of public proclamation. We are always to be seeking God’s will and seek what God want us to do. Currently we are strong with our video, Internet and content online. We aren’t talking only about television, but video for cell phones, Roku and other streaming devices down the road. He then turned it over to Peter Eddington for further detail.
Mr. Eddington, as media operation manager, then went through explaining the current state of the media department’s video content, what is being done, and future programs that are being looked at. He explained that video content has the opportunity for first contact, and leads different types of people to God.
The media department is looking to create more video and stronger video. Currently we have the following programs:
four-minute dailies—which supply personal contact daily
four-minute short films—we encourage church members to share them on social media
28-minute television programs—which are currently airing on broadcast and cable television and streamed online
Future programs could include the following:

20-minute podcasts—popular for driving time
25-minute live presentations—with space for a live studio audience. Eventually have BT live daily with a live studio audience as well.
50-minute documentaries—The goal is to establish BT as a quality brand that can be trusted. These will be on specific biblical topics through the use of captivating storytelling and engaging visuals. Produced every 18 months or so.
A Church of God program that can be trusted, now that is a novel concept!
About 25 percent of the media department’s time is spent supporting our ministry and congregations with sermon packs, camp videos and other services.

Loma Armstrong Dreamed That I Would Lead Second Edition Of The End Time Church

Just when you think the craziness of various splinter personality cult leaders can't get any crazier, along comes Almost-arrested and almost-ordained Bob Thiel making one his more idiotic baseless claims yet.  The blatant lies that come out of this man's mouth make Dave Pack's silliness look halfway normal.

Elijah Thiel bases his entire personality cult upon some nightmares that he and a couple other people had after eating some bad Chinese food.

Amos Thiel starts off with this:
Do dreams and prophets have any place in the Christian Church today? 
Did any dreams precede the start of the old Radio Church of God? What about the Continuing Church of God (which did not officially form as a declared entity until December 28, 2012)? 
The Bible records that God often has used dreams to give messages (Genesis 20:3-7, 28:10-17, 31:10-13, 31:24, 37:5-10, 40:5-18, 41:1-32; Numbers 12:6; Judges 7:13-15; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel 2:3-45, 4:4-27, 7:1-28; Matthew 1:20-25, 2:12, 2:13, 2:19, 2:22; Acts 16:9). 
I had a dream prior to the start of the Continuing Church of God, as did someone I then did not know who lived in New Zealand.
Joshua Thiel has been widely mocked for claiming his dreams validate his reason for starting a new splinter personality cult.  To further validate his apostleship he trots out Herbert Armstrong.  No shocker there.  HWA was exposed to hundreds and hundreds of crackpots over the decades that had dreams that they claimed were directly from God.  Herb had this to say about them (and Thiel):
While some may wish to discount what happened with me, let us also look at something that the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about dreams:
Let me say here that in about 99,999 times out of 100,000, when people think GOD is speaking to them in a dream or vision in this day and age, it is pure imagination, or some form of self-hypnotism or self-deception. I have only come to believe that this dream was a bonafide call from God in the light of subsequent events. (Autobiography of Herbert Armstrong, (Volume 1), chapter 10, 1973, p. 194)
Elisha Thiel believes thathe is that "1" person left that actually had a real dream channelled into his mind by his god. 

Bitter Bob next trots out Loma Armstrong's dream that HWA claimed took him many years to believe was true.
Within 30 or 60 days after our marriage God spoke to my wife in what might have been an intense unusual dream, or a vision — but it was years later before we came to realize that this really was a message from God. (Armstrong HW. Brethren and Co-worker letter, November 28, 1956) 
One night my wife had a dream so vivid and impressive it overwhelmed and shook her tremendously. It was so realistic it seemed more like a vision. For two or three days afterward everything else seemed unreal — as if in a daze — and only this extraordinary dream seemed real. 
In her dream she and I were crossing the wide intersection, only a block or two from our apartment, where Broadway diagonally crosses Sheridan Road. Suddenly there appeared an awesome sight in the sky above. It was a dazzling spectacle — the sky filled with a gigantic solid mass of brilliant stars, shaped like a huge banner. The stars began to quiver and separate, finally vanishing. She called my attention to the vanishing stars, when another huge grouping of flashing stars appeared, then quivering, separating, and vanishing like the first. 
As she and I, in her dream, looked upward at the vanishing stars, three large white birds suddenly appeared in the sky between us and the vanishing stars. These great white birds flew directly toward us. As they descended nearer, she perceived that they were angels. 
“Then,” my wife wrote a day or two after the dream, in a letter to my mother which I have just run across among old family pictures, “it dawned on me that Christ was coming, and I was so happy I was just crying for joy. Then suddenly I thought of Herbert and was rather worried.” 
She knew I had evidenced very little religious interest, although we had attended a corner church two or three times. 
Then it seemed that, from among these angels in her dream, that, “Christ descended from among them and stood directly in front of us. 
At first I was a little doubtful and afraid of how He would receive us, because I remembered we had neglected our Bible study and had our minds too much on things apart from His interests. But as we went up to Him, He put His arms around both of us, and we were so happy! I thought people all over the world had seen Him come. As far as we could see, people were just swarming into the streets at this broad intersection. Some were glad and some were afraid. 
“Then it seemed He had changed into an angel. I was terribly disappointed at first, until he told me Christ was really coming in a very short time.” 
At that time, we had been going quite regularly to motion – picture theatres. She asked the angel if this were wrong. He replied Christ had important work for us to do, preparing for His coming — there would be no time for “movies .” (Those were the days of the “silent” pictures.) Then the angel and the whole spectacle seemed to vanish, and she awakened, shaken and wondering! 
In the morning, she told me of her dream. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to think about it, yet I was afraid to totally dismiss it. I thought of a logical way to evade it myself, and still solve it. …
Do not hastily ascribe a dream to God. True, the Bible shows that God has spoken to His own chosen servants by this means of communication — primarily in the Old Testament, and before the writing of the Bible was completed. But most dreams mean nothing. And false prophets have misled people by telling false dreams, representing their dreams to be the Word of God (Jeremiah 23, where God sa ys, “I am against prophets who recount lying dreams, leading my people astray with their lies and their empty pretensions, though I never sent them, never commissioned them” — verse 32, Moffatt translation).  
Certainly I did not ascribe this dream to God. It made me feel a little uncomfortable at the time, and I was anxious to forget it — which I did for some years. I was twenty – five at the time. God left me to my own ways for five more years. But when I was age thirty, He began to deal with me in no uncertain terms… (The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 1973, pp. 187,193-194).
Loma and Herbert Armstrong were married in 1917. They were specifically told that they would have a work to do. Furthermore, the bright lights in the dream may have had to do with doing a work (cf. Matthew 5:16)–a work that seemed to vanish and return (flash). Thus, there was a dream from God given to a woman in the 20th century that preceded the start of the old Radio Church of God that Herbert W. Armstrong led. The Radio Church of God represented the start of the Philadelphia era and the Philadelphian work–a work that is not finished (cf. Matthew 24:14-15)–and Herbert W. Armstrong claimed that a dream given to his wife was from God, prior to the start of the Philadelphia era.
Elijah Thiel got all excited when he read that HWA's Philadelphia era was not finished.  Lightbulbs started exploding in Amos Thiel's brain; why not make the same baseless claims to justify my group! Let's claim that part of Loma's dream was about my group!  Yes!!!!!!!! Winner!!!
Since the Philadelphia era was raised up years after that dream, a question to ponder is would God do anything similar to point to the continuation of the end-time COG remnant of the Philadelphians? Consider that in Loma Armstrong’s dream that there were two sets of flashing stars–there were two parts to the dream. Herbert Armstrong is now dead and there was a pause between the work God had him to do and the completion of the final phase of the work to finally fulfill Matthew 24:14 (cf. Isaiah 29:14).
Habakkuk Thiel then claims that his group is the "transitional phase" of God's work, which he claims is consistent with Loma's nightmare.  Elijah Thiel claims that he and his group are the ONES that his god will use to finish the work.
In the past, like in 2013 and 2014, I have called the time between his death and the formation of the Continuing Church of God the transitional phase–which is consistent with Loma Armstrong’s dream. God will cut that final work short (Romans 9:28) which results in the famine of the word which is consistent with the vanishing stars in Loma Armstrong’s dream (though there could be other interpretations–we in CCOG are continuing the Philadelphia work and expect to be the ones God will use on earth to help finish it). 
Amos Thiel claims he is the 21st-century fulfilment of Loma's nightmare.

Notice that the dream was to go until the end of the world and the coming of Jesus–since Herbert Armstrong has been dead since January 16, 1986–if the dream was from God then, does it not make sense that the second half of the dream would be fulfilled by another in the 21st century? We in the Continuing Church of God are fulfilling that second part of stars. 
Perhaps it should be mentioned, Herbert Armstrong had more information about what I am referring to as the first set of stars in the dream. He wrote:
It was a dazzling spectacle…People by the hundreds came running into this broad intersection looking up to see the strange phenomena … A vast multitude of eyes were upon us… I have only come to believe that this dream was a bonafide call from God in the light of subsequent events. (Armstrong HW. The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 9th installment. Plain Truth, August 1958, p. 18). 
Eyes of a vast multitude suggest that the dream was saying that the work to be done was to have a witness to many. This happened with the old Radio and Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong’s leadership in the 20th century. The second set of stars in the dream, which he did not mention in the August 1958 Plain Truth, article, but did in his published Autobiography, may pertain to what I have called, for years, The Final Phase of the Work. But even if it had applicability to the ministry of Herbert Armstrong only, the dream, which he shortly before his death he confirmed he believed was from God (per Aaron Dean, who I discussed this with on October 30, 2015), shows that one did precede the COG work he was involved in.
Almost-arrested Thiel believes Herbert was referring to the "continuing" Church of God as that final work:
Consider that Herbert W. Armstrong considered that his wife Loma’s dream was from God. He also believed the first part of it had to do with the start of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God via the Radio Church Church of God. He did not discuss the fulfillment of the second part of the dream directly, however he taught another work would be done.
Next, Almost-ordained Thiel trots out Dale Schurter.  Yes, THAT Dale Schurter!  A man who has no more credibility that Almost-ordained Bob does.
Dale Schurter, a former WCG minister, reported that Herbert W. Armstrong stated the following in 1984/1985 (shortly before he died in January 1986). Here are two accounts of this:
“A few months before Mr. Armstrong’s death, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend several hours with Mr. Armstrong in his home in Pasadena. He spoke freely of the mighty work God had commissioned him to accomplish, and related certain heartfelt comments: ‘I can say that I have finished the work God has given me to do, and am at peace about it. I have preached and taken the Gospel of the Kingdom of God into all the world as a witness to all nations.’
“Mr. Armstrong went on to say, ‘I have come to realize there will be an even greater work to follow—to go again, to “prophesy again” to all nations tongues and peoples (Rev. 10:11) before the work of the two witnesses—but with more power and with a stronger warning message. But that will be for others to do.’ He continued, ‘It will be a short work (Rom. 9:27-29), compared with the longer time to complete the work I was given, and it will be cut short. That’s when the Great Tribulation will begin, as will the work of the two witnesses. These will last for three and one-half years, at the end of which Christ will return in glory.’” (“The Greatest Work Lies JUST Ahead…” as stated in RCG letter of May 31, 2013)
Herb's "great work yet to come" was a direct revelation about Elisha Thiel's personality cult.  Who knew!
Here is what was in Herbert W. Armstrong’s last letter:
The greatest work lies ahead…Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television...Each of you must commit yourself to support God’s Work…God’s work must push ahead as never before. God is opening up new doors in television (Letter, 1/10/86). 
Consider that since Herbert Armstrong did not teach that the second part of his wife Loma’s dream was fulfilled and that he also taught a greater work was going to happen after his death. It is greater because it will fulfill Matthew 24:14, etc. That is the work that we in the Continuing Church of God are leading. It appears that the second part of Loma D. Armstrong’s dream was pointing to the Continuing Church of God–the group that best represents the remnant of the Philadelphian portion of the Church of God.
Loma and Herb are rolling over in their graves at the thought of Elijah Thiel appropriating her dream as his own.

Now that Amos Thiel has used up all of Loma's dreams, he has to bring to the forefront his own nightmares as further proof he is the legitimate end time work.  He writes:
Several years ago I had a dream, which while I did not understand it at first, as it became more and more fulfilled over the years, I began to understand it and believe it was from God. 
I was 50 at the time (which essentially makes me an ‘old man’ per Numbers 8:25; cf. John 8:57). In my dream, there seemed to be two parallel lines. Living Church of God (LCG) evangelist, the now deceased Roderick Meredith, was on the top line and I was on the line much below. In the dream, I kept calling up to Dr. Meredith, but he never would respond. This lack of response made no sense to me during the dream. Then after what seemed to be a long time, the lines-crossed with his line dropping and my line going up.
Prophet Thiel just cannot get over Rod Meredith's deliberating ignoring of him.  The sting has been painful for Amos Thiel. Rod was wrong, but Joshua Thiel was right.
One reason that I did not understand it at the time was that I was on relatively close speaking terms with Dr. Meredith then (he repeatedly told me he considered me to be his friend, plus he had appointed me an adviser to LCG on matters of doctrine and prophecy), so that aspect of the dream made no sense. Also, since I had no intentions of leaving Living Church of God then (and certainly no plans to start a separate church), it was not clear what the dream was saying. Another reason I was unsure about the dream then was that I had not had any anointing for the Holy Spirit beyond baptism when I had that dream.
But these matters changed eventually. For one, I was unexpectedly anointed for a ‘double-portion’ of God’s Spirit (cf. 2 Kings 2:9) on December 15, 2011 by an LCG minister named Gaylyn Bonjour.
Gaylyn Bonjour never intended for his prayer to be anything of the sort. This is nothing more than a deliberate lie by Habbakuk Thiel. 

Leaving Bonjour behind, Elisha Thiel is still bitter about Meredith's willful dismissal. That dismissal of Bob set the groundwork for his apostacy from the Living Church of God.
Furthermore, over time, Dr. Meredith became more distant from me, would not keep various promises to me, and ultimately stopped speaking with me. And after I got an improper letter from him on 12/28/12, it was clear to me that there was no way that the Philadelphia mantle could be with him or any of his leaders. These subsequent events showed me that the dream was being fulfilled.
Bitter Bob is also ticked off that almost all of the COG's no longer believe there are prophets alive today and even worse, they do not believe in weird people having nightmares and starting new groups.
Despite what the Bible supports, most Church of God groups do not seemingly accept that there are any prophets today, nor do they seem to accept that God actually sometimes speaks in dreams in the 21st century–some, oddly, seem indignant of the very idea. Part of the reason for this is that those self-proclaimed ‘prophets’ outside of the Continuing Church of God have tended to be proven to be false.
But that does not mean God doesn’t ever use dreams or have any in the office of prophet or ever pour out a ‘double-portion’ of His Spirit (cf. 2 Kings 2:9-15) as happened when an ordained minister so prayed and anointed me on December 15, 2011.
Next, Almost-arrested Thiel drags a woman in New Zealand out as further proof he is the legitimate one.  She had a dream too, and it was all about Elijah Thiel starting a new splinter group.  This dreaming of dreams stuff is very similar to the dreams and visions that Joseph Smith had when he was starting his own personality cult.  That "burning in the bosom," was a sure sign that God was behind the dreams.
Unbeknownst to me until late September 2013, a woman named Fesilafai Fiso Leaana of New Zealand had a dream after going to bed on December 8, 2012.
A few months before my dream, my husband and I noticed a contradiction in practice, regarding the sabbath commandment in LCG, from there we started to pray continuously for God to lead us to where the truth is. It seems God has answered our prayers through the dream.
The dream began with myself and approximately 70 New Zealand Living Church of God brethren, then suddenly LCG vanished (I was wondering where is LCG?) and I was left standing with approximately 10 people excluding myself, on a very high building. We were standing on the very top of the building, where I couldn’t see the bottom, there were no other buildings, just this building. I could not see the bottom of the building but just clouds below the building and clouds surrounding the building which led to a beautiful white mountain – a mountain that had no ends on either side. The building was pretty close to the mountain, I could see the top of the mountain. The mountain was all white and so beautiful. I remember that I began to be filled with joy and peace. But also wondering how we got up on this building and confused why there were no other buildings but the clouds seemed like it was hiding the building and I felt protected or it felt like a safe place. I looked around there were still only about ten people there, the only person I could clearly recognize was Shirley constantly working, the approximate ten others were just sitting and standing around. So I walked around the building looking for the large crowd from LCG, but all I kept returning to was that Shirley was working and doing different types of work alone while the others were still sitting and standing around the building with me. I wondered why she was working a lot. I could not find LCG.
Then suddenly a message came to my mind: “There is a secret in the mountain”. And I was so happy to know that, I was still feeling elated and could still see the beautiful white mountain and wondered about the secret. Then I asked: “What is the secret?” Then the message said, nobody knows the secret in the mountain but only you have received this message that there is a secret in the mountain. Then I asked ‘what is the secret in the mountain?’ I received a message to my mind that told me that “the secret in the mountain is the Ark of the Covenant”. Then the dream abruptly ended because I woke up. And immediately, I woke up my husband and recounted the dream to him, and I told my husband that it reminded me of when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on the mountain and that the mountain was also covered with clouds.
On the same day after my dream, at church service Mr Penman warned us to be careful what we read from Bob Thiel’s Obama book, because they do not support everything he wrote in it. At the time I kept your name in my mind as I did not know who you were then.
Then 3 weeks later Shirley contacted me regarding your Chronology – the exit from LCG. Shirley had all of the Chronology and gave us all a print out of it and went over it with my husband and I. Shirley kept stressing the integrity of the LCG leadership and administration was compromised as proven by your Chronology account. Then my husband and I had to make a decision whether we would continue with LCG or go with Bob Thiel (you) since Shirley, John and Kayla had already decided to be with you 🙂
We decided to go with Bob Thiel and then left the meeting but a letter from Mr. Penman and a visit from the new New Zealand minister Paul attempted to obstruct our departure and tried to dissuade us from leaving LCG and coming with you. This forced us to carefully rethink our decision.
My husband and I were alone, that’s when my husband said to me, “remember your dream? This is what your dream means, that we need to leave this church and go with Shirley”. That’s when we knew what to do. And this dream is the reason most of us in the kiwi CCOG knew that we are in the right Church, God told us to come to this Church. We reaffirmed with Shirley and others that we were going to go with Bob Thiel and my husband told them the dream for the first time and that the dream is the reason my husband and I decided to come.
Not having all the details of the dream, Shirley then prayed about the dream. She asked God for more understanding on the dream. Then the next day she was reading the book of Psalm and Psalm 25:14 JUMPED out at her: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.” (email 9/29/13) 
Lest you think it can't get any crazier, another of his cult members dreamed a dream that most of Elijah Thiel's members would be black skinned.
On March 28, 2014, I flew into London for a two night stopover, before heading to Kenya for a CCOG leadership conference. Within an hour of arriving at my hotel, Senhor Pires came for baptismal counseling. As we walked from the hotel lobby to my room, he wanted to tell me about a vision he saw in a dream that he had.
Here is what he said:
I had this dream. In it was a vision of a congregation of the Continuing Church of God inside a transparent glass bubble (like a balloon). And everyone, I mean everyone apart from the speaker, was black. The speaker was white. And I was asking myself inside that bubble…”why is everyone black here?”
It made no sense to me. I wondered why I would see this. 
When Senhor Pires told me the above, I began to laugh. I said to him, “Didn’t you know that the vast majority of people in the Continuing Church of God were black?” 
And he said, “No, I figured that most would be white.” 
I then told him, “This is quite interesting. Your dream seems to be one of three or more directly related to the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) that has had confirmation.”
In the mind of Elijah Amos Thiel, dreams are the only legitimate way God speaks to his leaders today.  
While this may not seem to be a massive ‘earth-shattering’ dream, it is yet additional confirmation that God has used dreams/visions to communicate to at least three individuals who all later became part of the Continuing Church of God. Dreams and visions are something that God intended to use during the end times (cf. Acts 2:17-18; Joel 2:28-29). Elijah apparently once thought that God would be in something dramatic, but then only was in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13).
I believe that they are partial confirmations that the Continuing Church of God was to lead (two dreams happened prior to CCOG’s formation), and now is leading, the final phase of the work . The truths that we teach should be accepted as the other proof:
45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. (John 8:45)
Believe the truth, at least for the truth’s sake. Christians are to believe and know the truth (1 Timothy 4:3). The truth sets Christians free (John 8:32) from all types of error (including Laodicean ones, cf. Revelation 3:14-22). The Laodiceans and remnant of Sardis have so many prophetic misunderstandings that they will not possibly know when the Great Tribulation will start until it is too late!
Never has the Church of God seen such a miraculous church than the  Continuing Church of God!
While this may not seem to be a massive ‘earth-shattering’ dream, it is yet additional confirmation that God has used dreams/visions to communicate to at least three individuals who all later became part of the Continuing Church of God. Dreams and visions are something that God intended to use during the end times (cf. Acts 2:17-18; Joel 2:28-29). Elijah apparently once thought that God would be in something dramatic, but then only was in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13).
I believe that they are partial confirmations that the Continuing Church of God was to lead (two dreams happened prior to CCOG’s formation), and now is leading, the final phase of the work. The truths that we teach should be accepted as the other proof:
45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. (John 8:45)
Believe the truth, at least for the truth’s sake. Christians are to believe and know the truth (1 Timothy 4:3). The truth sets Christians free (John 8:32) from all types of error (including Laodicean ones, cf. Revelation 3:14-22). The Laodiceans and remnant of Sardis have so many prophetic misunderstandings that they will not possibly know when the Great Tribulation will start until it is too late!
Your salvation is at risk if you do not follow Bitter Bob.  Truth now only proceeds from his mouth and can only be found in the "continuing" Church of God.  All other COG's are far too ignorant to know the true signs of the end times.  Because of that, none of them will know the correct time to flee to Petra and escape the tribulation.  Join with Prophet Bob and you will know!

Monday, December 11, 2017

COG Numerologist Still Claiming HWA and GTA to Rise Again To Prophesy To The Nations and Kings

The world reacts to Herbert Armstrong's second coming.

For the people who think the Church of God produced sound theology and theologically educated members, this is for you:

Divine Arithmetic

If Herbert W Armstrong is who he said he is:
the endtime Elijah who restores all things;
the Zerubbabel who finishes what he starts;
the Philadelphia apostle sent to the 6th Church Era
--since there are only 7 such messengers,
and the last two are the Two Witnesses--
then HWA must "rise" to again prophesy,
to many nations and kings.
And surely be aided to garner many disciples, 
with revived 'Joshua' GTA, 
mercifully granted the opportunity
to set an example of repentance to all Laodiceans.

Only God can predict and bring about such an outcome.
All self-proclaimed 'Elijahs' and psudeo-'Two-Witnesses' are in for a shock.

Geoff Neilson
Cape Town
Dec 2017
This is just as stupid as Dave Pack saying that the first person to be resurrected by Jesus Christ will be Herbert Armstrong:
Mr. Armstrong literally will have the honor of being the first human being, at the end of the age, to be resurrected from the dead. Now, there have been other people resurrected in different ages, but I’m talking about resurrected from the dead to go on within Christ’s government to a position of enormous authority. I just find that easy to understand. 

Why Does Living Church of God Prefer Harshness Over Gentleness?

A reader here wrote:

Anon 620 "Did you notice that in Gerald Weston's December 7 update, he announces that Jonathan McNair will be moving to Charlotte to coordinate the new educational initiative?"

This made my jaw drop.

It is EXTREMELY telling of the direction in which Gerald Weston in going to take LCG. Jonathan McNair is as harsh, unloving, tyrannical, merciless, ego-centric and maniacal as his wicked little brother Rod.

Weston obviously prefers this brand of harshness to Doug Winnail's "softness". I've been waiting to see in which direction LCG would go after RCM's death.

I predict that this is the beginning of a further decline into the right ditch for LCG. I further predict that the Winnails (Doug Winnail - LCG Head of Church Admin and Scott Winnail - LU) will be "transferred" (aka demoted) from LCG headquarters.

When the Winnails fall from grace, it will be interesting to see if they wake up and make a move (likely to COGWA).

Doug and Scott are super indoctrinated but they are also intelligent (actually smart, not just in their own site like Wyatt Ceiseilka and Rod McNair who have a combined IQ of 150).

They have been making excuses to themselves for years to dismiss the wickedness they see at LCG headquarters. They tell themselves, "be patient, God will work it out in time".

When the machine turns against them, it will be interesting to see if Scott and Doug are able to maintain their cognitive dissonance!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Journal: Issue 200 Is Online

The latest issue of The Journal is out.  The lead article is about Herbert Armstrong's perception of "godly hierarchy" in the church, with him the human leader, of course.  The article is based upon a letter that a church member wrote to HWA asking for him to answer some questions regarding new moons, church hierarchy and other topics.

The part that I found interesting is the last couple of paragraphs.  The church always told us that various men were always trying to get doctrines changed.  In this letter, he blames a lot of this on women!
I have taken considerable time on this, because we have a history over 45 years of individual women trying to upset the whole Church by wanting to change God’s Festival dates. Especially we MUST ALL SPEAK THE SAME THING, and what we speak is put into the Church by JESUS CHRIST, through His chosen apostle. 
You did right in bringing this directly to me, and I trust I have made clear what we are all to speak in regard to this. But you MUST NOT carry this as a personal hobby to others in the Church, lest you come under Romans 16:17. Christ is now setting His Church back on the track of UNITY, rooting out all division. Nevertheless, I’m sure your research on this has given you experience. 
The front page also includes a short article about the Texas community that as shattered by the church shooting in November that killed 26 people and injured 20 others.  COG members know some of these people. Another article is on page 3 about the shooting and the heroes and the people first on the scene.

The second page has a snarky comment from Fred Coulter, the COG phrenologist, happy to see that The Journal is shutting down.

Page 3 also includes a story on, "How do churches protect members?" also in response to the church shooting. It includes a list of 18 other church shootings over the last 11 years, including the Living Church of God shootings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Page 5 has more from Dixon Cartwright on why he is shutting down The Journal.  It includes the reasons he started it and why he published some of the things he has over the years.

We were different from In Transition in that John’s aim was to have two of his trusted friends check out articles before they were published in In Transition for correctness of doctrine. 
The friends were Ron Dart and Leon Walker. 
Doctrinal opinions welcomed       
I did not share the view with John that that was an appropriate consideration for my newspaper. Rather, from the beginning I welcomed creative essays, even those advocating unorthodox versions of doctrines, and did not feel the need to make sure they were correct or for me to agree with them As a result, we printed many such opinion pieces—editorials, letters, essays—with many of them disagreeing with each other, frequently in the same issue of THE JOURNAL. 
My main consideration was that writers deal politely with each other in their doctrinal and political discussions, especially since people with different interpretations of Scripture can all reasonably prove their varying doctrines from the Bible.
In the beginning I believed my publication, at least my reason for publishing, was almost a necessity: if not a necessity then something that I thought would be a worthy service to the brethren. 
I still think that it is a worthy service, but not a necessity. Thinking THE JOURNAL was almost a necessity was presumptuous and naive. I can further make this point by mentioning my opinion about salvation. 
Later he has this to say:
I do get some flak from some of the anti-Armstrongism bloggers for supposedly being an “enabler,” as one of my critics likes to say. (He also likes to say I’m insane.)
However, I’m not trying to enable anybody. I’m trying to provide a forum and an avenue for fellowship.
I’m not concerned about supporting or refuting, for example, Herbert Armstrong or other preachers.
If I enable people to communicate and fellowship and voice their opinions, then I guess by definition I am some kind of enabler. 
While I have questioned some of the crazy articles submitted by COG leaders, I have never called him an "enabler."

Page 5 has another story regarding the Texas church shootings.  Page 5 also includes a letter defending William Dankenbring. It includes a story on how a bunch of mean ministers ganged up on him in Australia which led Tkach to start a witch hunt spurred on by these mean ministers who intensely persecuted Dankenbring.

Reg Killingley has an article on the Protestant Reformation, which is far more informed than Rod Meredith take on it in LCG's latest magazine article.

Check out the full issue here: Issue 200

Friday, December 8, 2017

My first encounter with a Minister from WCG was with Fred Coulter. I was 14 years old and he was the Pastor in Boise, Idaho where I first visited WCG and got hooked.  I had taken the train from Rochester, NY all the way to Boise at 14 to visit my sister and brother in law, who at the time was a forest ranger but eventually ended up at Ambassador and into the ministry.

The fateful moment in my life was to ask if I could go to church with them. 

Fred always struck me as an austere and unreasonably opinionated  and incredibly intolerant of anything but himself and his views. He wasn't even satisfied with the scriptures as sold in stores so he made up his own edition to hawk.  

True to form, Fred's "me only" and "not you" attitude has shown up in the comments section of the latest Journal.

"Better late than never.
 Congratulations on shutting down THE JOURNAL. 
It should have been done years ago." 
Fred Coulter Pastor, Christian Biblical Church of God Hollister, Calif.

Small minded , intolerant and arrogant "theologians" have always gotten under my skin evidently and still do.  In his great mind, Fred evidently feels that others views and experiences with WCG aren't worth expressing or sharing with others. He must also feel that if you aren't following him, you aren't following "CH---RIST!"

(These guys aren't Fred. These guys are like many I have known)

Going off on the brethren...

Don't interrupt me

"Uh oh...I gotta go....."

Living University: Take Our Class On How to Be A Masculine Man

The soon to be defunct Living University is going full steam ahead with its spring semester and is offering this tantalizing class:
THL 345 – Christian Men. This course examines God’s expectations for true Christian men. It deals with Christian men as husbands, fathers and masculine leaders of the family and society. Topics include the purposes God made men for, being a loving leader and head of a family and key areas in which Christian men are challenged to mature and excel. This class is a must for any man wishing to develop his true God-given potential as a Christian man. It is also helpful for those married to and even raising Christian men (ladies).
Why is it that the Church of God has to teach its men how to be men?  I see plenty of masculine men in the neighborhoods around Pasadena, along with men who know they are men at church. yet the COG has a problem with this. Why?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Living Church of God: 19 Million Dollar Income - What Do They Have To Show For It?

Living Church of God released its financials this week.  They took in a total revenue of 19 million dollars.  That sounds like a lot for the church to take in considering tithing is not a new covenant command.  Since they still enforce tithing, what do they really have to show for it?  LCG is virtually unknown in the world.  They have no churches in communities that do good works or provide stability to neighborhoods.  Turn on a TV anymore and one will be hard-pressed to find their program.  Sure it may be on Roku and other streaming devices, but truly, who watches it?

Its track record of instilling fear in humanity no longer works like it did for Herbert Armstrong.  People are sick of fear mongering and endless articles and programs on war, famine disease, death, gloom and sex, and sex, and more sex. LCG obsesses over the dumbest things while ignoring the Jesus they claim to follow.

Never mind the message of grace and reconciliation though, it is more important that the money goes into the pockets of Meredith and McNair kin keeping them endlessly comfortable while the member struggle.

"You" meant them. Now what?

All fundamentalist and literalist Christians have grown up with the following scriptures burned into our minds....

I Thessalonians 4:15-17 "...For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout...Then WE which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..."

I Corinthians 15:51,52 "...WE shall not all sleep, but WE shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump...and WE shall be changed."

Romans 13:11-12 "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for NOW is OUR salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand..."

James 5:8 "Be YE also patient; establish YOUR hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."

I John 2:18 "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby WE know that it is the last time."

I Peter 4:7 "But the end of all things is at hanbe ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
Revelation 22:20 "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly..." 

Millions in Fundamentalist and Evangelical Churches have grown up with the idea that the return of Jesus, a return which will fix everything that is wrong with everything and reward the true saints, is always imminent. We read the above scriptures as if they were written for us, as it is we who are finally the ones "upon whom the end of the age has come." Unlike everyone before us, we really really are the ones who will see it and be changed, avoiding the reality of physical death.

There never has been, is not now and never will be a shortage of preachers and pastors who just know we are living in the final, absolutely last days. They make their living off it.

The signs are everywhere and every world event is assigned biblical import and meaning.  It's how you grow a church.  Not by teaching to enlighten the inner self, but live out a life of fear and "it won't be long now" and spread the fear to as many as possible, which is defined as "Doing the Work."

In Fundamentalist movements, the tradition goes on and becomes more pronounced as , earthquakes, floods, fire, volcanoes and "unusual" (they aren't)  events, or wars and rumors of wars, especially in the middle east rear their ugly heads. If someone blew up the Dome of the Rock, well... there... see, now tell us that Jesus is not a few minutes away from returning.

The fact that most wars are waged by either the Christians, Israelis or the Islamic nations, among and between themselves, which are the religions whose teachings are supposed to save us and make our lives better, doesn't seem to strike us as odd. In fact, at some deep level deeply religious fundamentalists, seem to believe that millions must die violently, so that "all these things can come to pass" and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit can be visited upon the Christian survivors... or Islamic or Israeli depending on who wins. Well of course, the Christians win.

Each knows who that it will be themselves that overcomes the other. It's in the book, all of them.
The most popular New Testament "proof texts" for this thinking among Christian Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, comes from Mark 13 and the parallel passages found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. These written in answer to the disciples question... "WHEN shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of your coming?"

It's all about WHEN. The "when" is unknowable even if one believes with all their heart it has to be soon. The faithful forget that speculation on the future is always just that. It is not fact. It is not how it will be and all speculation over the past 2000 years as to "when", to date has been 100% wrong.
Far too many Pastor types base their entire ministry on the imminent return of Jesus.

It's all about the second coming and it's all about SOON for the most rabid and judgmental COG splinters. Those who question the wisdom of this mistaken approach to life become the scoffers who nip at the heels of the saints.

"...there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,"

But running that risk, and with all due respect to the sincere seeker of Biblical truth, I predict that Jesus will not be returning any time soon.

Why not? Because in the very predictions of Jesus lie the fact that he was himself wrong about them. Jesus put a time limit in the context of his own predictions that has long since passed no matter how apologists endeavor to resurrect his prophecies for a yet future time.

"Verily I say unto you", This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34).

We simply have to admit, at face value, Jesus was wrong and not only DID that generation pass away, but so have countless others that followed. Jesus has not been misunderstood in this statement. He was wrong. Sincere not doubt and it simply will not go into the bible-reader mind that this might be the simple truth of the matter. There has to be another explanation that makes Jesus right in this perspective not 2000 years past.

And there is! We have read it wrong. Jesus did not mean what he said and we can relax. Jesus wasn't talking to those people at that juncture in history.

"This generation" was not the one Jesus was talking TO, but rather the generation that "these things" would begin to happen IN. Whew! It's in the far future and means a future society when all these signs accelerate and come to a crashing finale ending with the Second Coming.

We now have wiggle room to account for the fact that Jesus has not returned yet. Jesus wasn't mistaken about his own times, he was referring to another time.

Gleason Archer, who offers this solutions to the "Jesus didn't mean it would be in his time," notes accurately what we all know 2000 years later.

"Obviously these apocalyptic scenes and earth-shaking events did not take place within the generation of those who heard Christ's Olivet discourse. Therefore Jesus could not have been referring to his immediate audience when He made this prediction..." (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pg 338).

Archer has to say this as he cannot possibly entertain the idea that Jesus was himself wrong in his perceptions of the times in which he lived and his role in those times. Later in the Gospels, authors would lower the expectations of the early Church, who thought Jesus meant them by reminding them late in the game when it was obvious Jesus wasn't coming any time soon that "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Sorry, we forgot to tell you that in the beginning." As long as one is incapable of thinking Jesus was himself wrong the Kingdom of God being just around the corner if he did his part, the doctrine of disappointments would have to be addressed as time went on.

And so we simply need to ask a very simple question. To whom was Jesus speaking? From the opening NT texts, it is obvious that the disciples, apostles and members of the church thought it meant THEM and did not get any hint of Jesus meaning anything other than THEM in THEIR time, which was short. The idea that Jesus would "build my Church" came decades after Jesus death when most were dead or dying of old age and yet the end did not come. Jesus never envisioned a Church that would follow decades and millennia after his death. Jesus life would always be lived and lost in the context of Judaism and the Synagogue.

But back to the original question. To whom was Jesus speaking when he said the words and to whom did he mean for it to apply? The answer is within the context, plain and simple.
"Take heed that no man deceive you." (Matt 24:4)

" shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars..." (Matt 24:6)

"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted..." (Matt 24:9)

"When ye therefore shall see the the abomination of desolation..." (Matt 24:15)

"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter..." (Matt 24:20)

"Behold, I have told you before." (Matt 24:25)

The context in which Jesus spoke was his own. The "you" that he was addressing was the group he was addressing then and the group to which all these things would happen for, and soon. Jesus was telling those disciples that these things would happen in their time. Jesus made a mistake in his perceptions.

In our time, Christians read the same words and see the "ye" and "you" as "me" and "us" just as the original disciples would have. The only difference is that the disciples actually were disappointed and this generation has yet to realize their own disappointment to come.

The proof that Jesus himself meant the people he was talking to is found in the fact that the "this generation" comment is actually the tale end of a much larger, often overlooked quote taken in it's entirety.

"So likewise YE (THEM) when YE (THEM)  shall SEE ALL these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto YOU, (THEM) THIS (THAT) generation shall not pass, till ALL these things be fulfilled." (Matt 24:33-24 emphasis mine)

There is no reason to twist the words of Jesus to mean more than they were ever intended to mean. A scripture can never mean what it never meant. The early disciples and infant Church, knew it meant them and we see the gradual deterioration of their personal confidence in the immediacy of the Second Coming promise throughout the NT.

I Thessalonians 4:15-17 "...For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout...Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..." Meaning...some would die, but not us who tell you this. Jesus still means us.

I Corinthians 15:51,52 "...We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump..."  Meaning...some but not all of us would die, but it still means us (THEM)

Romans 13:11-12 "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand..." Meaning...we had some doubts, but now we know it's almost here. Jesus still meant us.

James 5:8 "Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Meaning...impatience was growing, hang in there. Jesus still meant us.

I John 2:18 "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." Meaning...Jesus still meant us.

I Peter 4:7 "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
Revelation 22:20 "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly...." Meaning...ok, it's been about 60 years, but Jesus still means us.

Obviously, everyone of these quoted hopes and statements were wrong. Jesus did not return for them and to date has not returned for anyone. Paul and the early church who wrote in his name was just as wrong as the many COG prophetic types are wrong in this time. And it is based on the fact that Jesus himself was wrong which I know most Christians can never come to admit.

For Paul it becomes....
" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Meaning...Ok, I give up, Jesus didn't mean us, or at least not me. I was wrong. 2 Timothy 4:8-9

...and at best, this will also become the reality for those alive today seeing the imminent return of Jesus in every newspaper and on every turn of the dial in this dangerous and contentious world of ours.

I'm not scoffing. Being accused of scoffing was a label for those in the early Church. The disciples expected Jesus return within days of his death and when they met him in Galilee, even doubted that. Its what you say to those that are becoming disillusioned but the others know that the return is still in their lifetime for sure. Scoffers were undermining the confidence of the early followers and disciples of Jesus. An observation is not scoffing. Observations are based on the passage of millennia. It's a 2000 year old observation. To motivate with fear, false prophetic fulfillment's of non- prophecies, and imagined prophetic accuracy on topics anyone could speculate somewhat accurately about, is simply foolishness and makes the Church, in any form look stupid and ignorant. Jesus said his generation would not pass until the Son of Man be come. He was mistaken.

So bent on not allowing the member to even remotely entertain the idea that Jesus was wrong, Paul was wrong and the Church is wrong , it was prudent to shift the blame for doubt to the member and thinker and away from the clergy, and thus we have...

2 Peter 3:3 "Knowing this first, (meaning---we forgot to add this apologetic) that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of....."

Obviously, the Church took Jesus words literally for them and not for some future generation. But still Jesus doesn't return to them. This shifts the problem to the scoffers, doubters and those that misunderstood Jesus and not the Church who needs to keep the hope of imminent return going like a carrot before the horse. The Church never entertained until they had to, the idea that Jesus didn't mean what he said about soon. It also implies that this doubt is deliberate and calculated. It can never just be doubt based on evidence and time just going on without any evidence of Jesus return.

Even with the temple gone and the Romans more in power than ever, He didn't return. It must have felt for them then as one might say today. "If Jesus didn't return for the Holocaust, what will it take."
The "scoffers will come" scripture was added when it was obvious to the Church that people could and were scoffing. And what some consider scoffing is merely noting that the thing spoken is not so. It's not evil, it's just stating the obvious and putting, in this case, the church on the spot to explain its continued use of imminent return going long.

It also lends credibility to Jesus mournful cry at the end of his life..."my God, my God...why have you forsaken me." I expect Jesus really meant that. It was a real shock not to have had things work out as one had supposed. Jesus had done his part. He had pushed the Romans right up to the edge and himself, right up to execution...and still, God did not intervene, sweep the Romans from the earth and set up the Kingdom. Only after Jesus actually died did the followers of Jesus have to rethink it all.

I know... and expect it to be said, "you'll think differently when Jesus returns, or you find yourself in hell with lots of time to rethink your position." I speak in the hope that the average Christian church member won't be motivated and won't tolerate pastors who use the fear of living their real lives, planning for futures and loving in the present to promote their own misguided agendas and speculations. One does not have to see the world only through the eyes of those that speculate on how things are or will be because frankly they don't and can't know. They have never gotten it right yet.