Saturday, December 29, 2012

Robert Thiel Leaves Living Church of God to Start a New COG Group

Bob Thiel has announced that he has left Living Church of God and he is forming his own group called Continuing Church of God.

Here is a link to his announcement:
http://www.cogwriter.com/news/church-history/announcing-the-continuing-church-of-god/

The reason, according to Bob Thiel, is he no longer believes LCG is the Philadelphia remnant at this time that Christ speaks to in Revelation chapter 3. He now believes that LCG lost the "Philadelphia mantle" in 2011 or 2012. Why? Dr. Thiel had been wondering about LCG being Philadelphia for some time, but he felt the proof that LCG is no longer Philadelphia was in a letter he received from Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, presiding evangelist of LCG. For Dr. Thiel, the "proof" was the letter's tone, statements Bob Thiel thinks are inaccurate, accusations, and unwillingness to directly address issues Dr. Thiel wanted to address.

In this matter, I think Dr. Thiel is wrong and is making a serious mistake.

I do not know the contents of the letter, nor do I know if Dr. Meredith told Dr. Thiel in the letter that he was being disfellowshipped. According to Bob Thiel's account, the initiative to leave LCG was his, so I will address this event from that point of view, that this was Robert Thiel's decision to quit, not Dr. Meredith's decision to disfellowship him. If that is wrong, if Dr. Meredith disfellowshipped him, then that information will come out later. But people who are disfellowshipped have the opportunity to repent, and if Bob Thiel was disfellowshipped for contradicting LCG or for wrong things he has said in his books that cause embarrassment for LCG, he should repent and submit to Dr. Meredith's authority.

Interestingly, Dr. Thiel stated that he had suspended his membership in LCG on July 14, 2012. This may be news to many LCG members who have been reading his blog thinking he was a member of LCG. I wonder if it will be news to the members of the video group he leads or hosts. If a man "suspends" his membership in an organization only in his own mind, but makes no announcement to the rest of that organization, what meaning does it have?

Although I think Dr. Thiel is making a mistake (I will say why later in this post), this may work out for the good of LCG in the long term, though not for the good necessarily of Bob Thiel.

Is LCG Philadelphia? By that I mean, is the spiritual condition of the majority of LCG's ministers and members that which is described by Christ in His message to Philadelphia in (Revelation 3:7-13)? I do not know. But it is clear to me they have an open door to preaching the gospel, which is one of the characteristics of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:8, 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:2-4). Now, that door is not open wide, but it is open wider for LCG than for any other group, in my opinion. So even if the majority in LCG are not Philadelphian, they may have more Philadelphians, both in numbers and in percentage of members, than any other Church of God group today. But only God knows that for sure - I do not.

Disagreements between Bob Thiel and LCG have been brewing for some time. I do not have all the facts, but I will mention a few things I have noticed. Bob Thiel has contradicted LCG's ministry in a few doctrinal areas. He has taught that it is wrong to watch football because it is a violent sport, but LCG does not teach that, and in fact, Mr. Wally Smith has taught in his blog that watching football is NOT inherently wrong. He has taught that Habakkuk 2:3, 5, 6-8 applies to the United States, but LCG has taught, correctly I think, that these verses do not specifically apply to the United States or to the tribes of Israel. LCG has recently taught that the great falling away referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 does not only refer to a falling away from the truth in the Church but can refer to a worldwide deception and turning against God among the general public that has never been in the Church of God, and when I heard an explanation of this, I felt that LCG is probably right, though I have not studied the issue in detail. Dr. Thiel disagrees with LCG about this.

I do not say that these issues are the only points of disagreement, or even if they are major ones that led Dr. Thiel to his decision, only that these are things I have noticed over the last 6 months or a year or so.

My view is that Bob Thiel should have submitted to the authority of Dr. Meredith and the LCG ordained ministry in these matters as long as he was a member of or attending with LCG. He should not have contradicted LCG in public, though it is not wrong for him to offer his views to the LCG leadership in private. I think that in contradicting the leadership of a fellowship he is attending with and presumed to be a member of, he has been disobeying the principle taught in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that we strive to all speak the same thing. If he felt that any of these matters are so important they justify leaving LCG (the ones I mentioned above are not that important), he should have left LCG first, and then he could teach whatever he wanted. By publicly contradicting LCG's ministry while he was attending LCG he has contributed to division and confusion in the Church of God, in my opinion.

God has given the leadership and ministry of LCG certain authority over LCG members. This authority comes from the top down from Christ through the ordained ministry in that Church. While that authority has limitations, it includes the authority to make binding decisions about what LCG will officially teach its members (Ephesians 4:11-16). Bob Thiel should have respected the authority of that office more and not undermined that authority in the eyes of LCG members by contradicting that authority. He crossed a line he should not have crossed, not once, but repeatedly as a pattern of behavior.

It is not a matter of LCG ministers not making a mistake. Of course they can make mistakes. But even if Bob Thiel is right and LCG wrong about one of these doctrinal issues, the LCG leadership and ministry have the official job from Christ, through ordination, of teaching LCG members, not Bob Thiel.

If Bob Thiel were not a member of LCG or attending with LCG, he would not be under that authority - he could teach what he wanted, just as ministers and members in UCG, COGWA, and other groups are not under Dr. Meredith's authority. LCG members would know he is not a member of LCG and would be more cautious when reading his blog, being diligent to separate the wheat from the chaff, always with the awareness that they were reading a blog by someone not a member of LCG. Some would not read it at all. But while attending with LCG and presumed to be a member, he has been under Dr. Meredith's authority and should not have been publicly contradicting him and other ordained ministers working for Dr. Meredith.

None of the matters of disagreement that I know of are so major that they are worth leaving LCG over. They are not foundational. Football is not foundational. The prophecy in Habakkuk about debt is not foundational. The falling away, whether it applies only to the Church or the world also, is not foundational. Bob Thiel could simply keep silent in his blog about these things - there are plenty of other worthwhile things to post about.

There is one major thing I find wrong with Bob Thiel's teachings, and I do not know LCG's position on this, so I do not say it is a cause of separation, but it indicates to me Dr. Thiel's lack of spiritual perception and lack of wisdom.

"Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:31). "For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you" (Deuteronomy 18:14).

Now, I am sure that Bob Thiel does not seek mediums, familiar spirits, soothsayers, and diviners in his personal life and decisions - I certainly do not accuse him of that. However, there is a spiritual principle involved here, and that is, we should not be paying attention to spiritual sources that are not from God to get insight into what the future holds as far as the fulfillment of prophecy is concerned. What God has given us in the Bible is sufficient. We can study the prophecies of the Bible and we can watch news and current events to see how prophecy is being fulfilled, but we should not be looking at ancient or modern prophecies of religious groups or teachers if we see their prophecies are not of God. We should not be following "prophecies" given by people or groups that show by their fruits they are not following the Bible in order to try to learn details about the future. Nor should we look at these prophecies and quote them in order to "back up" or confirm to outsiders what the Bible teaches about prophecy. If we do that, we are in danger of reading and spreading prophecies given to men by Satan and his demons. We should not do that. Satan and his demons may indeed know some details of future fulfillment of Bible prophecies, but they are not a trustworthy source. They do not have our best interest at heart. We should not knowingly listen to them.

We are not setting a good example to the world in this if we quote from pagan prophecies. We are not being consistent. How can we warn the public against reading Harry Potter books, watching movies about the occult, or dabbling in occult practices, while at the same time we quote prophecies possibly inspired by the spirit world, but not inspired by God in the Bible?

God tells us what we need to know in the Bible. We should not go to Satan to back up or confirm God's word or to get more details that God does not give us.

Yet Bob Thiel has written extensively about prophetic writings that are not from the Bible. I think this is a major problem.

I have read Bob Thiel's blog regularly for years for news about the Churches of God and about world events, but I have learned to carefully avoid reading his posts about non-biblical prophetic writings and I have not purchased or read his books, nor do I intend to do so. I feel an obligation to obey the spirit of Leviticus 19:31 and Deuteronomy 18:14 by avoiding those things.

While I see evidence that LCG has a significant number of true Philadelphians among them, and for their sakes Christ has opened the door to the preaching of the gospel wider for Living Church of God than for any other COG group, I do not see evidence that Bob Thiel has the characteristics described in Christ's message to Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13).

He says that the letter he received from Dr. Meredith is proof that Living Church of God is no longer Philadelphia based on its tone, inaccurate statements, accusations, and unwillingness to address certain issues Bob Thiel wanted to talk about.

So what?

So Dr. Meredith writes a letter to Bob Thiel that Dr. Thiel doesn't like. Maybe the tone is harsh. Dr. Meredith writes things in the letter Dr. Thiel thinks are mistakes. Dr. Meredith accuses Dr. Thiel of doing something wrong (this is called "correction" I think). And Dr. Meredith declines to discuss the subjects Bob Thiel wants to discuss. Suddenly, many members of LCG that have been Philadelphian, members whose prayers God has been answering for LCG's work of preaching the gospel, are no longer Philadelphian, all because of a letter Dr. Meredith wrote to Bob Thiel. That makes no sense to me.

What about LCG's TV broadcast that brings in something like 5,000+ responses weekly? What about LCG's magazine circulation, the Bible correspondence course, the inventory of booklets, the website, all working together to preach the gospel to the world as a witness and the Ezekiel warning to Israel, a warning our nations desperately need to hear? What about the growth in LCG, the new people coming in and being baptized every year? What about the top-down government LCG practices? What about the public meetings that LCG conducts, meetings which have helped to bring many people to conversion? What about the fact that LCG is doctrinally sound, not necessarily perfect in every doctrinal detail (we won't be perfect till the resurrection), but overall balanced and sound? What about the fact that LCG yearly publishes its budget and financial situation as audited by a respected public accounting firm and that these financial reports show that LCG is spending a relatively large amount on preaching the gospel and a small amount on administrative overhead compared with other COG groups? Then there is the work everyone does to build Living University to teach the next generation of LCG leaders.

For the work that LCG employees are doing, when I think of their small numbers in comparison to the work they accomplish, I tend to think they must be one of the hardest working groups of people employed by any COG group. I think these people must really be sacrificing, putting in long hours, and I do not think most of them are doing it just for a paycheck. I think their heart is in God's work.

I do not remember the details, but it seems there was a time when Mr. Armstrong dealt somewhat harshly towards Dr. Meredith in the old Worldwide days and excluded him from important influence in the Church. But later, Mr. Armstrong brought him back and once again gave him important work in the Church. Did Dr. Meredith get offended, walk out, and start his own group? NO. He remained faithful during that time. That is a good example of respect for authority, but Dr. Thiel is not following that example. Perhaps Mr. Meredith was being tested by God at that time, and perhaps because Mr. Meredith passed that test God later entrusted him with leadership of the Living Church of God.

Where is the sense of proportion? What is more important, the work that LCG is doing overall, or a corrective letter Dr. Meredith sent to Bob Thiel?

Let's put it this way. Suppose a member of LCG was harshly corrected by his pastor or even Dr. Meredith himself and wrote to Bob Thiel in the past for advice. Who knows, maybe this has actually happened from time to time over the last several years. Would Dr. Thiel have advised, "well, if Dr. Meredith wrote a letter to you that was harsh in its tone, corrective or accusatory, contained errors, and would not talk about what you want to talk about, then that is proof LCG is not Philadelphia"? I doubt Bob Thiel would give that kind of advice. Yet when the letter is to him, it seems he can't take it.

I don't know what Dr. Meredith said in his letter, but I think Bob Thiel NEEDED to be corrected and corrected STRONGLY. I think he has been way out of line for some time in his teachings in his blog. LCG would have been justified in disfellowshipping Dr. Thiel, and perhaps that would have been the next step if Dr. Thiel had not quit. Or, it may be that Mr. Meredith in the letter actually did tell Bob Thiel he was disfellowshipped. That much is not yet clear to me.

Sometimes I receive email. I corresponded with a lady who agreed that there is a need to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning, but did not want to support Living Church of God, and one of her reasons, maybe a major reason, was the division that seemed to exist between Bob Thiel and the Living Church of God ministry and also something Bob Thiel taught that she thought was an error. So here was a situation where it seemed, as far as I could tell, that Bob Thiel was hurting LCG. This woman saw Bob Thiel as a "spokesman" or representative of LCG, and because some of the things Bob Thiel taught offended her, she would not support LCG. She also seemed to be offended by the fact that LCG did not deal with Bob Thiel and correct him.

But sometimes correction takes time. LCG's correction of Bob Thiel may have been slow, but they did finally correct him. God himself is waiting six thousand years to remove Satan. Mr. Armstrong sometimes was slow to correct a situation, but he did correct situations. God can test our patience and faith by letting a problem go on for a while before dealing with it.

This all may work out to the good for LCG in the long run. Many people thought of Bob Thiel as an unofficial spokesman for LCG and attributed his own problems as problems in LCG. Now that is over. No one should blame LCG for anything Bob Thiel writes or teaches. He is on his own.

I am sure many in LCG have been reading Dr. Thiel's blog for news about the Churches of God, and probably his blog will continue to be a good source for news for those who read it, but I hope no one in LCG, or as few people as possible, divert any contributions from LCG to Bob Thiel's new group "Continuing Church of God" (CCOG). Yet, I suppose some will, simply because I think Dr. Thiel would not have made this move if he could not count on a few people he knows to support him. But I hope for the sake of God's work it is only a small number.

I continue to believe that Living Church of God, despite it not being perfect in doctrine and practices (and no Church of God is perfect), is the best of all the Church of God fellowships for any COG member to attend and support with tithes and offerings. I think they are doing a better job of preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel and of feeding the flock than any other fellowship in existence today, as far as the larger and better known groups are concerned. And this is true even if less than 50% of their members and ministers are Philadelphian in character. In my opinion, neither is a majority of members in any of the other major groups Philadelphian.

And I think it is extremely unlikely that many true Philadelphians will be attracted or gathered to Bob Thiel's new group, nor do I think his group will show the fruits of Philadelphia overall.

If there is any chance that Bob Thiel may reconsider, repent of his actions, and come back to LCG and submit himself to the authority of Dr. Meredith in regards to official LCG teaching and not contradict LCG in his blog, I hope he will do so. He can be a valuable tool in God's hands for helping the work of God, within LCG, if he does so.

If he does not, and if he does not attract many members to his group, he may seek an alliance with some existing small COG group or leader and try to build from there. He has a relatively large Internet presence and can bring a lot of web traffic and attention to a small COG group if he forms such an alliance. I would be surprised if much good for God's work comes from that, however.

By the way, the timing of Bob Thiel's announcement of this must seem inconvenient to faithful LCG members attending the video group he supervised. Some may not want to attend with him now that they know he is not with LCG, but this gave them and LCG little time to organize an alternative for meeting on the Sabbath for services. Perhaps some did not know till they showed up at Dr. Thiel's video group and heard him criticizing Dr. Meredith. Perhaps it would have been better for Dr. Thiel to make his announcement just AFTER the Sabbath so everyone had a full week to make adjustments rather than just before the Sabbath.


Is Robert Thiel a prophet?

In the "News of Those Once Affiliated with the Global Church of God", Dr. Thiel lists a chronology of events leading up to his separation from Living Church of God. This chronology is given in the 12/28/12 p.m. entry.

Here is a link to that page:
http://www.cogwriter.com/gnews.htm

In this chronology, Dr. Thiel describes a series of events (referring to himself in the third person) regarding his relationship with LCG and certain leaders over the last several years, and in this list of events he implies the possibility that he is a prophet. Here are some highlights from Dr. Thiel's chronology, summarized in my own words. According to this chronology, Dr. Meredith and other LCG leaders discussed with Bob Thiel the possibility that he is a prophet. Bob mentions that a number of predictions he makes in his book, 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect, have turned out accurate. He states that he had an apparently prophetic dream. Though he does not give the details of the dream, from the way he describes it, it seems as if it was some kind of dream like Joseph had or like Isaiah's vision indicating Isaiah would be sent by God. The time of the dream is given as around the summer or fall of 2009.

He also states that LCG minister Gaylyn Bonjour anointed him for a double portion of God's Spirit. According to Bob Thiel's description of the event, he went to Mr. Bonjour to be anointed for some "non-debilitating matters" (a minor physical illness or injury I would presume) and for the minister to pray that God give Dr. Thiel wisdom for meetings he was to have. Without Dr. Thiel expecting this, when Gaylyn Bonjour anointed him and prayed, he asked God to give Dr. Thiel a "double portion" of the Holy Spirit. The way this is described, I get the impression Mr. Bonjour did not plan this ahead of time. The date of this occurrence is given as December 15, 2011.

Dr. Thiel also seems to say that he predicted Mrs. Meredith's illness.

Now, I have no way of knowing if this chronology and account of events is accurate. But suppose it is. Does this constitute solid evidence that Robert Thiel is a true prophet of God?

In my opinion, it does not. At best, the evidence is very weak. At worst, it is no evidence at all.

Let's take these things one by one.

If Dr. Meredith and other leaders in LCG thought Dr. Thiel is a prophet and discussed this possibility with him, does that make him a prophet? No, it does not.

Does laying hands on a man and praying that a double portion of God's Spirit be given make the man a prophet? No, it does not, not necessarily anyway.

Let me ask a question here. If a minister lays hands on a man and prays that God give that man a double portion of the Holy Spirit, does that mean that God must immediately do so? If the man is anointed to be healed of a sickness or injury, does that mean that God must immediately heal the man? No, we know that does not always happen. Sometimes God heals, sometimes He does not heal immediately but heals later, and sometimes God withholds healing even to the time of the man's death. Some are never healed in this life. Likewise, just as anointing does not guarantee healing in this life, so asking for God to give a double portion of His Spirit does not guarantee that God will do so in this life. Sometimes we pray for something, and God's answer is, "no". But even if God gives more of His Holy Spirit, there is simply not enough Bible evidence to indicate that is equivalent to becoming a prophet. There is the occasion of Elisha asking for a double portion of the Holy Spirit, and Elisha was a prophet, but that is all. That is not strong enough evidence in my book.

Also, it seems unlikely that God would have Mr. Bonjour, a minister under Dr. Meredith's authority, ordain Dr. Thiel a prophet, without going through Dr. Meredith. If Dr. Meredith made the DECISION (not just conversation) that Dr. Thiel should be ordained a prophet, and then laid hands on him directly or instructed Mr. Bonjour to do so, that might help make Dr. Thiel's case. But that did not happen.

God's government is hierarchical. If God wanted this done, doesn't it seem logical that Christ would inspire or somehow lead Dr. Meredith, in consultation with other evangelists, to make that decision, then give Mr. Bonjour or whomever clear instructions regarding that? But that never happened.

What about the dream? Does that prove that Dr. Thiel is a prophet? No. It could be just a dream. People have dreams all the time. I have dreams almost every night. Most of them are crazy or silly, and most I only remember vaguely when I wake up. Sometimes people have dreams they remember vividly, but they are still just dreams.

What about Dr. Thiel's predictions in his book, 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect? If they have come true, is that evidence he is a prophet? This is problematic for me because I have no idea what those predictions are, since I refuse to read a book that quotes and describes prophecies from pagan and non-biblical sources, contrary to God's instructions in Leviticus 19:31 and Deuteronomy 18:14. But that itself may be evidence that Bob Thiel is NOT a true prophet of God, for why would a true prophet of God disobey God's instructions in Leviticus 19:31 and Deuteronomy 18:14 and not only disobey but lead others to disobey by promoting or spreading pagan garbage?

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.' 'I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty' " (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

"Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons" (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

"Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:31).

"For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you" (Deuteronomy 18:14).

I avoid movies and entertainment that deal with the occult. I won't watch the "Exorcist", or "End of Days" or any movie dealing with the occult, or witchcraft, or pagan teachings and prophecies. I have made mistakes in the past in this area, but I am trying to learn my lessons. I won't read Harry Potter books. Why would I read Bob Thiel's posts or books that quote from non-biblical prophecies? I do not want Satan's garbage coming into my mind. Garbage in, garbage out, and some kinds of garbage are more poisonous than others. I feel I would be risking my eternal life to read some of the things Bob Thiel publishes.

There is also the matter, which I have already talked about above, of Bob Thiel not fully obeying the principles taught in 1 Corinthians 1:10 and Hebrews 13:17 (obey those who rule over you). "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Corinthians 14:32-33).

Can a person receive a dream from a spirit source that is wrong, misleading, deceptive, and not from God, in effect, a lie from a demon or from Satan? Yes, it is possible. God allows that. "Then Micaiah said, 'Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, "Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?" So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, "I will persuade him." The Lord said to him, "In what way?" So he said, "I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets." And the Lord said, "You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so." Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you' " (1 Kings 22:19-23).

What if the prediction is true? Does that mean the person is a true prophet? Can Satan and his demons sometimes predict things accurately? "If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods'-which you have not known-'And let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

While teaching Church of God members or the public, "Let us read some pagan religious prophecies to see the details of future events", may not be exactly equivalent to, "Let us go after other gods and serve them", I think it comes dangerously close.

In 1 Samuel chapter 28 is an account of King Saul of Israel calling upon a medium to "bring up" Samuel, who had died, to inquire of him. So the medium "brought up" Samuel, who told Saul, in effect, he would die tomorrow. Was this really Samuel? Of course not. Samuel was dead, asleep in the grave. So who was this who spoke? It must have been a demon impersonating Samuel. The demon correctly predicted that Saul would die. But mixed in with the correct prediction was error or potential error, the error of teaching that Samuel had an immortal soul that could speak from the grave, the error of saying that God was Saul's enemy, etc. So even if a man can make some correct predictions, that does not mean that man is a true prophet of God.

Look up in a concordance or online Bible or in Bible software the word "Balaam". He is called a prophet. He even prophesied correctly about Israel. But he was not approved by God. Peter called his spiritual condition "madness" (2 Peter 2:15-16).

What about the service and the good that Bob Thiel has done over the years for Living Church of God? Has he not supported LCG? Has he not helped bring members into LCG through his writings? Does that not mean he has God's approval for what he does?

It is not enough to serve God's work for a time, then quit. We must be faithful to the end. Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong worked for Mr. Herbert Armstrong for many years and helped to build the Worldwide Church of God. His was the voice on radio for the Church for many years. But that does not mean God approved all his actions later. The same could be said for many other ministers in Worldwide who served God's work for a time, but did not endure.

Look at Judas. He was one of the twelve. He, along with the others, cast out demons. He healed the sick. He preached the gospel. His preaching may have lead to the conversion of several members just like the preaching of the other apostles. But he did not endure to the end.

I do not say that God will never put Dr. Thiel into the office of prophet. That is God's call. But God has not shown the Church at this time that He has done so.

In fairness to Dr. Thiel, he has not specifically claimed to be a prophet, not yet. He has simply related a series of personal events that seem on the surface to suggest the possibility that he may be a prophet, now or in the future.

Before I would regard Dr. Thiel as God's prophet, I would have to see a track record of obedience to God's word in what he teaches people. I would have to see him pull his books out of publication and delete his past posts that deal with pagan prophecies. I would have to see him repent of creating division in God's Church by contradicting the ministry in Living Church of God while he was attending LCG, and I would have to see him delete or edit those posts that have contradicted the LCG ministry up till now. I would have to see some solid messages from God through him correctly predicting the future in a way that cannot be explained simply by shrewd or insightful guesswork or by coincidence. All of his teachings would have to be pretty consistent with the Bible, not perfect in every detail, but overall according to God's word.

These are the same characteristics I would have to see in any servant of God before I would consider that person a prophet.

4 comments:

Charles Breidenthal said...

Thanks so much for your post on Dr. Thiel. When I saw his new church announcement, I thought "no ,not another one"! I am a member of UCG but admire and respect Dr. Meredith and LCG and LCG brethren. At times, I loved going to Dr. Thiel's cogwriter site to see news and read church related history. I was always puzzled why Dr. Thiel would access pagan prophecies in combination with biblical prophecies and I did approach him about this and he said its a means of preaching the gospel to those who watched pagan prophecies....which still puzzled me. Thank you for clarifying what I felt all along. In my mind over the past 3 months I was wanting to tell Dr. Thiel that to me he appeared to be going in the wrong direction about prophecies and would use safe words in the sense of speculation...like "it appears" "its possible" rather that directly pronouncing a prophecy like God's prophets do. I saw that in WCG with Dr. Hogberg....
I recall that usually demons predict negative things happening to people which sometimes comes true. I just wonder but if God chose Dr. Thiel as a prophet then why the need to go to pagan sources. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

In Exodus32:9-14, God offered to make a "great nation" of Moses. As Dr. Meredith has pointed out, God was probably testing Moses. But Moses kept his focus on God's word and the promises God had made to Abraham. In Moses' mind, God's promises and faithfulness meant more to him than the opportunity to have a great name.

We all have to decide if self is more important than submitting to God's word. In my opinion, Dr. Thiel put self before submission. It is a test that so many, including Lucifer, have failed. Someone may have the correct understanding of a matter, but the test is this: Can I with all this understanding submit to the "lesser person" whom God has set over me? Do I give more credence to God's word to keep the unity of the faith than I give to my own self-rightness? "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2). I do not hereby infer in any way, that whatever the doctrinal differences between Bob Thiel and LCG Dr. Thiel had it right and the leadership had it wrong.

LCG is correct that what is coming is a great rebellion (along the lines of Nimrod's rebellion). Satan is going after everything God has put in place. Remember the warning to the Church before Christ returns is for the Church to come out of Satan's system. Christ implores the Philadelphian remnant to "hold on to the truth." If we think fighting among God's Church is how we hold on to the truth, we have something else coming. In a few years we will see who the real Philadelphians are. Thinking that what happened in WCG is the fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2 is to take the entirety of what Paul was saying out of context. We simply cannot get away from the fact the "falling away" is tied to the man of sin and great false miracles and deceptions. What happened in WCG was one of several "falling away" from the truth through the centuries. Paul said that “all those in Asia" had turned aside. How great was that turning away at that time?

Mr. Armstrong was willing to be corrected. I have personally heard him tell his radio audience that if he found he was in error on any subject he would look into the matter and make changes where they were needed. LCG has that same attitude. All LCG did was look more closely at the Scripture and courageously (and humbly) point out an obvious error regarding the term "falling away". Rebellion fits the context; "falling away" does not. Those who pretend that Mr. Armstrong was definitive on subject on which he spoke do no do justice to Mr. Armstrong legacy. Remember Mr. Armstrong did not witness the break-up of WCG; so he never commented on it, in spite of what some would have us believe. I believe many in God's Church (all the scattered brethren) will fail to separate themselves from Satan's system when the real test comes.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your concern about Bob Thiel's evaluation of (or attention to) non-biblical prophecies. God's instruction is not to "seek after" them and he is certainly not doing this. God says "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." I believe that that is exactly what he is doing. While watching world events and comparing to bible prophecy, he is also watching what Satan is doing (wise as serpents). In doing so, he can possibly identify how and where Satanic deception may be occuring. This can be very valuable in protecting against deception and warning others. Studying and commenting on marian apparitions and other phenomena is nothing more than "watching and waiting" which we are instructed to do.

author@ptgbook.org said...

The best way to avoid being deceived by Satan's deceptions is NOT to study those deceptions in advance but to so immerse ourselves in God's word, the Bible, in believing study, that we will know the scriptures backwards and forwards. Then we trust God to use His Holy Spirit to bring those scriptures to our minds when we need them (John 14:25). That is how Christ countered Satan - He answered Satan's temptations with scripture (Matthew 4:1-11).

If we PROVE every doctrine we believe by the Bible and make believing and obeying God's word our way of life, our habit of thinking and acting, we will not be tricked by Satan's deceptions.

In fact, Bob Thiel doesn't just use pagan prophecies to prove them false, as far as I can see. He also seems to refer to them to learn and teach details of the future that God does not reveal in the Bible, and he seems to do it in such a way that ASSUMES those pagan prophecies are accurate and true - otherwise he would not refer to them the way he does.

Here is an example. You can find the details about this in my "Don't Play with Fire" and "Bob Thiel Response and My Reply" posts. He posted something about a non-biblical prophecy from some non-Christian prophet in an African country saying something about one of their sons destroying the United States, and Bob Thiel seemed to be referring to President Obama. Why did Dr. Thiel post that? To show from the Bible that this prophecy from an African prophet is false so we will not be deceived by it? Of course not. Few would ever have heard of this prophecy had Dr. Thiel not given it publicity. Rather, Dr. Thiel presented it as something that may be TRUE, to give us the detail, which God does not give us, that President Obama may be instrumental in helping to destroy the United States.

That is absolutely wrong, to read pagan prophecies to try to know details that God does not give us in the Bible.