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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Great Falling Away?

Few "proofs" of Herbert W. Armstrong's claims to greatness are promoted quite like the doctrinal changes implemented by Joseph W. Tkach Sr. But I ask the question, is the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God the "Great Falling Away"?

(2 THS 2: 1-12) 1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Paul is referring to questions about the coming of Jesus and the gathering of His own to Him - ie. the second coming. Keep this firmly in your mind while you read! Though the prophecy of the Antichrist progresses over the millennia, this section is not speaking of anything other than the return of Christ. Not some wispy time previous, not another in a long line of inter-organizational disputes, not some minor blip in the overall workings of mankind, but the single greatest occurrence of the common era. Note that we have not experienced any second coming to date. Ergo, this selection in no way refers to either our current time or more importantly our past. 

Paul is calming the worries of the readers who have been troubled by deceptive reports, from false prophets. People were saying "it has passed", but Paul said "no, it hasn't", and he gives specific details of the very end. 
Notice how he says "as if from us". Someone claiming authority, special understanding, or some secret revelation, was troubling them. If I have demonstrated anything about Herbert Armstrong, it is that he claimed all three of these things, yet he was a false prophet. (See my posts on "False Prophecy" for more details. My blog is the least of sources on this topic! Try this article on for size.) Paul begs us "Let no one deceive you by any means". It's not some simple thing that we can just assign any interpretation we want to this. It is not a ball that we should just casually toss it about. I've read the writings of many COG splinters and they nearly unanimously say "we know the falling away has passed", one even claimed they could prove it! Honestly and plainly, think about it, if this day were past, Christ would be here. I asked you to keep in mind at the beginning that this section is about the return of Jesus Christ. Where is He? If He hasn't returned, then there is no great falling away.
It is currently 2009. The 'great falling away' is claimed to be 14 years ago. Where is Christ? Then that was NOT the great falling away!

Even the very so-called "ministers" who promote this silliness will say there is nothing unusual about the splits in Worldwide.

"Apparently, five of the seven eras were led into oblivion and disaster!"

What Gerald Flurry doesn't tell you is that he has no understanding of the history he claims. Most of the men Herman Hoeh claimed were ancestral leaders of the Church of God were actually Catholic reformers. Others were Baptists. Read my post "50 Truths - Part 1" for more info on that.

There are several things listed in the above verses by Paul, not just one. The COGs have been told the falling away has already come, as if it stands alone. It does not. Read it again. There is a falling away, a man of sin revealed, false miracles and wonders, the return of Christ, and finally removal of that man. He is alive when Christ returns. Anyone who says this particular falling away has passed is grossly misinformed. I remind you again that Paul said, "Let no one deceive you by any means." All the claims and all the boastful talk in the world cannot undo the plain words of this epistle. They are nothing but hot air.

I ask, how can a church who boasts that it proves what it believes from the Bible be so very far from the simple words therein?? No one can say "I have proved" that the falling away happened 15 years ago. It cannot be done! Where is the "man of sin"? Joseph W. Tkach Sr.? He's been gone since September 23, 1995! Read the words again "whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming." Where is the Lord? Has He returned? No. Have any saints been gathered to meet Him in the air? No. Did He destroy Joseph Tkack at His coming? No. Joe Tkach Sr. died of complications related to cancer. Was Mr. Tkach accompanied by "all power, signs, and lying wonders"? No. Not a single thing fits. Not one. Yet to bolster their own positions and use prophecy as a tool for control, most COG ministers teach the falling away has passed. This, dear readers, is the very deception Paul warned against!

I will say a third time "Let no one deceive you by any means." Have you allowed these false prophets to deceive you?
O, how very many times I have read damning accusations against the people who remained with the WCG - that they were sent great delusion so they would believe a lie since they do not love the truth. Who is it that believes an untruth? Anyone who accepts Joe Tkach was the "man of sin" and that the falling away has passed are the ones who accept a clear lie. Who, then, is deceived? And this after we were sternly warned by Paul not to be!

These things precede the return of Christ. If there is any explanation for a deceiver that precedes Christ's return, it is here:
(REV. 19: 20) Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

What do we see here? 
Joseph W. Tkach: Deception? Check. (But no more than is common to all mankind.) Wonders? No. Powered by Satan? Highly unlikely. Destroyed at Christ's return? No. This does not meet the requirements.
False Prophet of Revelation: Deception? Check. Wonders? Check. Powered by Satan? Check. Destroyed at Christ's return? Check. This one meets all requirements. 

Are you willing to say Joseph W. Tkach Sr. is the False Prophet of Revelation? Hardly! Then it is high time we relegate all this slander about Mr. Tkach where it belongs, in the trash!! It is ungodly to misapply these things to someone, especially in such a malicious and deceitful fashion. The truth is in the Bible; the lie is in the slander of the ministry who love to perpetuate a blatant lie. This is not righteousness, but unrighteousness!
"...that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

What personally bothers me the most about all of this is how "the great falling away" is held up as the greatest "proof" of Herbert Armstrong's apostleship; I hear few things more often. But it clearly is no proof at all! These shameless self-promoting ministers twist the gospel for their own gain. Beloved by God, open your eyes and see the truth staring you in the face! For example, read the following:

"Several different churches have been formed by former Worldwide Church of God ministers. All of these churches—including the wcg—are Laodicean, except one. So says your Bible! Only one church has God’s lamp."

What is that? Slander. Pure and unadulterated, ungodly, self-promoting deception! Of the same sort which Paul warns us about in 2 Thessalonians. Though I am using him as the example here, Gerald Flurry is not by any means the only one caught up in this type of thing. Almost to the last one, most of Armstrong's ministers are engaged in it.
And it's competition as well. These ones say "God is unity in love", but they display in every way competition in bitterness. 
And for a group who claims their unique relationship with God is based on keeping His commandments, this grossly violates the 6th (EXO. 20: 13; MATT. 5: 21-26) and the 9th (EXO. 20: 16) Commandments. Paul tells us in Romans 13: 9-10, that love is the fulfillment of the law. Yet I see no love here. Christ says in Matthew 22: 39 that the second most important instruction God ever gave us it to love your neighbor as yourself. Are we to assume this is how the ministry would like to be treated? In Matthew 5: 43-47, Jesus takes it even farther and says to love your enemy. Yet I see no love whatsoever in such deceitfulness and opportunistic misapplication of prophecy. On one hand, they call each other "brother", but in the other hand is a knife.

(PRO. 21: 28) A false witness shall perish, but the man who hears him will speak endlessly.

Boy, howdy! Do they speak endlessly! Bearing their tale again and again against the ones they call "God's church" (the Laodiceans are still Christ's).

(PRO. 19: 9) A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies shall perish.

This type will tell you there has been the final and great "falling away from the truth", but over and again I have shown in this blog that the truth was not with them to begin with. Certainly not with men such as these! How do you fall away from the truth when there was precious little truth to start with? On the other hand, falling away from a lie is a good thing!

(REV. 2: 2) "and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars"

I'll let Mr. Flurry have the final word on this one:
"If the Ephesus Church members, in a right attitude, tried those who said they were apostles, shouldn’t you?"


Anonymous said...

I can remember this prophecy of the "GRRRREAT falling away" being fulfilled many times--usually when the church lost a few brethren, as in 1974 or 1978.

David Antion gave a sermon on the subject back in 1979, "Rebellion at the End". Concerning this subject matter, it's well worth listing to if you can find it!

Byker Bob said...

The WCG and daughter ACOGs have embraced this concept of a "great falling away" as one of their collection of all purpose, "catch all" cliches to justify their existence and alleged authenticity.

During the late '70s, and throughout the '80s, the falling away of 1975 was referred to in a similar fashion.

These people have no special insights into prophecy, and I've called them on it before. In fact, my screen name appears somewhere in the COGwriter site for that very reason, and Dr. Thiel lamely attempts to defend Dr. Meredith from my contentions and to demonstrate that RCM is in fact "the one". I think you might be able to still find that section of COGwriter by Googling "Byker Bob". It was right after the tsunami, and I had written to Ambassador Watch pointing out that none of the ACOG "prophets" knew in advance about this huge event.

The Armstrong movement would have been much better off if they had stayed out of prophecy, and just concentrated on teaching Christian living principles (the real ones, not "let the dead bury the dead").
Prophecy was their chief weapon for scaring and manipulating all of us, and boy did they ever have our minds locked tighter than a 55 gallon steel drum!

xHWA said...

Thanks, Anon. I do not have any recollection of that. But it sure is helpful to know!

The falling away is a slide-rule, it seems. Par for the course!

xHWA said...

What timing, Bob! By the mouth of two witnesses!
So, the WCG certainly used the falling away trick before. They must have done that with everything. They certainly predicted the certain return of Christ multiple times.

You see, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me write this blog. These kinds of things are not commonly known to those in the COGs. I am certain if people were made aware, some of them would come to their senses.

"Prophecy was their chief weapon for scaring and manipulating all of us"

Byker Bob said...

Well, xHWA, I've been totally baffled by the abilities of the COGgers to reprogram themselves again, and again, and again, to continue their allegiances to their favorite organization. So many have been confronted by conundrums, conflicts, lies, immoral leaders, failed prophecies, and other things which just simply could not be. Somehow, it doesn't faze them.

I wish these people could just focus on a one on one relationship with God. I guess that scares people, though.


Purple Hymnal said...

"and throughout the '80s, the falling away of 1975 was referred to in a similar fashion."

Small correction. By the 1980s, "the great falling away" was assigned to first GTA's sect, then Flurry's, in that chronological order.

xHWA said...

Bob, I was in that group until recently. You'd think I'd have some insight. I really don't. It baffles me too. I simply don't understand the mechanics of it.

If you ever figure it out, please do tell!

If anyone has an answer, or some form of insight, please share!!

xHWA said...

That's awesome, PH!! Thanks for contributing that.

xHWA said...

I keep thinking about Bob's question. Why did I do everything to defend my belief in Armstrongism in the face of all else?
Was it the reward promised? Was it fear? I think the drilling of fear into my mind was key. I was conditioned to believe anything else wasn't from God. In a way, that's fear. And that above all else prevented me. I always thought that even looking at opposing views was dangerous and could lead to me losing my salvation, my "crown", and being sent into Gehenna fire.
Was it Armstrong I was defending? I don't think so. Just the beliefs. But realizing what kind of man Armstrong was certainly was integral in my escape. I realized there's no way that man was an apostle.
Was it my very close friends in my congregation? I think closeness to them certainly helped. I didn't want them to think the less of me.

The problem is so complex, so multifaceted. It's a wonder how the mind works. Once you are convinced you need to keep the law, it's hard to imagine anything else.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Once you are convinced you need to keep the law, it's hard to imagine anything else."

Also spare a kind thought for those of us who had no need to be convinced --- because we were raised without there even being an idea that there were "other options", never mind any options at all, that we were to take.

That part about fear, and losing your salvation, that really hit close to home, xHWA. I was exactly like that. It's a wonder the (rightfully) rebellious kids my age didn't take me out on the back forty and shoot me! :-(

xHWA said...

All that fear. I was right there with you. I think that's why I feel so compelled to have this blog. I need to help others see there is an alternative to worry and insecurity.

I believe the alternative is a loving God. A God that doesn't dangle a crown in front of you like a carrot. A God that would actually die for us. Armstrong was so very far from correct.

If there is a God, and if He loves us... all that power and all that intellect working on getting us to Him.. how is it possible to fail?

It's like my minister said, "Jesus Christ is the greatest gift a person can receive." I try to share that gift here. Armstrong, on the other hand, did everything he possibly could NOT to share that gift. We're all the worse off for it.

Corky said...

The great falling away is to occur before the man of sin takes over the temple in Jerusalem and fools the whole world into thinking that he is God.

That is, according to the Didache.

However, taking into consideration that the temple Paul mentions in that passage was destroyed in 70 AD, it is highly unlikely that any of this crap will ever happen.