The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God
 

DeNial is NOT Just a River In Egypt
 
Dennis Diehl
 
Tragedy has a terrible way of forcing us to either accept what is or to retreat into a fog of denial.  Usually, in time, we start looking for someone or something else to blame for what has befallen us, or the case of the LCG Tragedy, the group. 
 
  We assure ourselves, it can't be us so we have to look elsewhere.  It takes a mature human being, (or organization) , one centered and capable of accepting things as they are to successfully navigate a loss or tragedy without looking
insincere, panicked or simply loopy.   It takes a remarkable human being to translate that acceptance and genuine causes that might lead  up to a tragedy to an organization and accept how things might really work in the lives of real people. Churches typically do not have such skills, because they can invoke causes from a world unseen and unapproachable, and therefore, un-testable to explain why bad things happen.  
 
Perhaps not enough time has passed yet in the LCG tragedy to see how it plays out for better or worse.  But at this stage, denial, which might be normal, seems to have the upper hand.   So far as I can tell, Satan and all his demons are going to get the rap for this, which is good as it makes the sincere try harder, pay more and attend better in an effort to resist him.  It, however,  also postpones any introspection on the part of individuals or organizations as to what part they mentality of the organization might have on real people who don't have the power or coping skills we all need in life when we simply feel confused or marginalized and have the fear of not being as spiritually capable and strong as they perceive others to be.  
 
"though we need to be praying fervently that God will protect the Church from any further assault from Satan. Satan has certainly struck us!"
 
" After thinking and praying about it—and talking to some of our leading ministers—it is more evident than ever to me that Satan has indeed struck at us at a significant time. Truly, we were poised to grow more than ever before in the history of this little Work—and still are! But Satan knows this, and is trying to distract us and disillusion us and our people in every way he can. We need to realize this, fellows, and beseech God to thwart Satan’s devices. We all know that—near the end of this age—Satan will be enraged against God’s true Church and against His Work." (Rev. 12:7-13).
 
Roderick C. Meredith..Letter to Ministers  3-15-05
http://members.aol.com/cogwriter/da0317.htm and 3 17-05
[Links added by Editor. Blame me if they're broken]
 
I do have to say that hearing Mr. Dibar Apartian address the church with "Greetings Ya'll, and "Have a happy Sabbath, Ya'll" is really funny as you'd have to know just how French Mr. Apartian is.  When I hear non southerners use "ya'll" in a serious context,  being from NY. and living just down the road from LCG's headquarters in Charlotte, NC, it strikes me as trying too hard.  But that is just me.
 
At any rate, Satan is going to get the rap for this as he does with everything.  I remember years ago when GTA was first shown to be a bit too friendly with the women, Satan got the blame.  Oh Ted had to leave for a bit, but I remember him being in the "throes of Satan."  Maybe he was exhausted, or depressed Maybe he was just a normally repressed guy with a high profile in California, who flew his own Jet, was name recognizable, had two handicapped sons and went from the Navy to religion overnight to please and obey his dad...but...it was Satan for sure.  Maybe dad's work made him what he wasn't and couldn't be. Maybe he felt after he lost his brother in a car wreck, he just had to work for God. Who knows.
 
I remember the Receivership in '79 against WCG and all that I am sure I had no idea was really going on behind the scenes.  I was getting paid by the Attorney General of California, or at least with his permission while "Financial irregularities" were investigated...but you know what...it was Satan, trying to thwart the very work of God as it was posed to go to the whole world..yadda yadda.  I think I was living on the banks of  Da Nile at that time myself.   No wait....I was living in denial of the financial improprieties taken by WCG in the 1970's..there...that's better.
 
I remember so well knowing that 60 minutes was going to interview Stan Rader and I knew it was not going to go well.  I had such a nice church at the time.  It really was growing nicely, with really nice balanced people and now this.  I was so in denial that I deliberately went visiting members all day that Sunday into Sunday evening just so I would not be home to have to watch it or answer the phone over it.  No problem though...I had the rest of my ministry to answer questions about others intentions of which I knew nothing about. Plenty of time to vomit ahead.  But I just knew that, no matter what...I could blame Satan, the great deflector, I mean deceiver.  I spent a lot of years subconsciously embarrassed, and then not so subconsciously embarrassed to be a part of WCG.  I used to have dialogues with Satan in the car alone visiting.."Hey Satan, nice going...can't ya leave us alone...."  to be responded to by..."Hey wait just a minute buddy, I didn't do any of that...I'm not taking the rap for WCG.  That's all them doing that..no sir, I do not accept that...I was in the Middle East the whole time with my boys.  That bunch is quite capable of deceiving themselves without MY help."...etc...  I think I was losing my mind:)   You should hear me talk back to and mimic the reasoning of radio preachers..well never mind. 
 
The problem with blaming Satan and all his demons, with appropriate scriptures included, is that it side steps any real progress in understanding what might have gone wrong and what might prevent such things in the future.  I imagine for every one that acts out rage, anger, frustration, hopelessness or a need to get even literally, there are any number who have thought it.  I have.  And I am not real happy with that kind of personal spirituality.  
 
 My big statement came at my last Feast just after I had been terminated  (it was a mental habit to go, but I had lost any desire or feeling of a need to go anymore.), and Joe Tkach Jr.  saw me and came up behind me with a big slap on the back.  When I realized it was him, I simply turned my back on him, something I have never done in my life to anyone.  It was instant and instinctive.    I just could not talk to the man.  My stomach churned and I got internally very angry.  The air got a bit heavy. I never acknowledged him.  He had the opening prayer and prayed for me without my name.
 
 This was my first and last experience with the Feast being a praise and worship format, and having to watch a huge purple draped cross carried down the isle to the stage to open the service....It's jut not me.  Knock yourself out,  I grew up with all that, but  it was the end for me.  Nothing against' Jesus.  I think he was in Cancun at the time.
 
 I wanted to put him (Joe not Jesus)  up against the wall and ask him if he had the foggiest of an idea as to what he was doing to every sincere believer in our "old and foolish perspectives."   Jerking the theological rug out from sincere people and then scorning them for not getting with the program might just not be the way to be. But I never sensed the small gang of four or five cared about how many people got burned for good.  WCG's lack of any statement on the LCG tragedy...which they own every bit as much WCG owns it's history, is beyond comprehension.  The also live close to the banks of De-Nile.  Any statement now is superfluous and self serving. The funerals are over.
 
So what will anyone learn from this?  Will LCG do the work to find out what Terry might have been struggling with, even if it is painful to the leadership of the Church?  Will Terry be labeled, "not a real member and certainly not a converted Christian" to further distance him from the group so it won't have to change anything.
 
 An aside....Gosh, didn't Peter kill two members in church to scare the congregation into being a bit more giving and forthright?  Did he just wrap up the sermon after they hauled the bodies out and did the Romans not care all that much about killing members of your church for not giving up property to the church? Did Non-Christian relatives speak up and ask why a son, daughter, aunt, uncle , mom or dad, didn't come home from church?  Did they have a funeral?  Was it nice?   Did anyone leave after this and imagine Peter to be a bit whacked?  Could Peter not have had a chat with them or was it better for the fear upon the Church factor to just zap em?  And of course...it wasn't any human who did it.  It was the Holy Spirit.  See when it's a bad thing to good people, it's Satan.  But when it's a good thing (murder) that needs to happen to bad people, it's the Holy Spirit or perhaps Israel in the name of God and per instructions in the OT.  Just like when  a great bible man is born, it is often by an infertile older woman, but when that man is God, it is by a young, fertile virgin.  Bible speak...I spare you.   Don't worry, I seriously doubt this event following actually and literally took place.  But it serves a purpose for those that read it that churches are good at...fear, and obeying out of fear that similar things can happen to you if you aren't careful.
Acts 5

1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."  
 
 
 Is RCM, or any of the theological blusterers, Apostles, Messengers, Watchers, Elijah's, Prophets, That Prophets, This Prophets, Pastor Generals, General Pattons, and both of the Two Witnesses  capable of looking inward a bit and accepting that words have consequences.  Even.....even........the US President finally admitted he wished he hadn't said "bring em on" in the early days of the Iraq war.  They did and still are...  
 
I'm not optimistic.  Bob Thiel's COG writer site states...

This is the personal home page of Bob Thiel. The opinions expressed are my own, based upon my understanding of history, various facts, and the Bible. This is not an official Living Church of God site. This site is maintained by a Living Church of God member who is solely responsible for its content... The purpose of this web page is to help unify the remnant of the Philadelphia era of God's Church so that it may more effectively get the Gospel out as a witness (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 3:8) and so be kept "from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).

 but understanding history is not a forte of this site. It places the events of the last month in Milwaukee under  "News of those once affiliated with the Worldwide Church of God." rather than "History of the Living Church of God."  Perhaps a small need now. But that's denial and perhaps, for now, we can leave it at shock.  But it is dishonest and probably a precursor to how this will all be viewed in time. 
 
We are all "once affiliated with the Worldwide Church of God" , save for those few who have no idea who that is, having come into a splinter since it split. Terry Ratzman is now a WCG affiliate.  LCG won't own him, never heard of him.  WCG won't own it's part in producing him and RCM won't own his part in perpetuating him.  Jesus worked a miracle in WCG that has spiritually and emotionally hammered thousands of sincere believers (you'd think Jesus could have had a better way to introduce his old evangelical self),  and Satan has attacked the only true true splinter, well you'd have to check with Gerry and Dave on that, so see we are right after all...for Paul warned us.......
 
It's all denial... for now, let's call it shock caused denial, but time will tell if there is any maturity and common sense in those that read the bible as newspaper and newspaper as bible. 
 
Human beings, unable to accept responsibility, either in part or full, invent Satan every time he is needed to get the heat off those who may actually be responsible. 
LCG will do this and RCM, like others who simply have to hold onto the reins of power and authority in their small ponds, have raised this skill to an art form.  It's automatic. a Bad event, terrible attitude, personal attack = "Satan is out to destroy me and our huge, theologically threatening, eye opening work."  
 
I doubt they know they do it as a form of denial, but then Satan seems an invention for humans to slip blame off on the unseen and supernatural.  I would suggest a slow read of Ellaine Pagels,  The History of Satan.   Just get it over with and send every literalist COG Poopa a copy.  Well, don't.  When one lives on the banks of De-Nile, it just gets thrown away in the river.   I doubt most devote literalists would read it either.
 
Satan did not shoot these innocent people through Terry Ratzman.  Terry did it for reasons we may never understand, but as was well noted somewhere...Terry didn't choose to commit this act on a Monday morning at work. 
 
I am not a stranger to denial anymore than the next guy.  But I have examined those personal denials enough to accept them, even though I might not personally be able to un-ring the bell of life.  Bells don't un-ring. You can only choose not to ring them again.
 
Satan is more than the scapegoat we always found in the symbolism of the Day of Atonement.  It's so easy to invoke his name to "explain" how things really are and keep the system alive that is really living, not in Egypt, but non-the-less, close the the banks of De-Nile.
 
Dennis Diehl
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10/26/2006

 


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