Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is Bob Thiel Focusing His Message Towards the World or the Church of God?

Bob Thiel's CCOG (Continuing Church of God) has reached a milestone, the first 30 days of its existence, during which, Dr. Thiel claims, he has reached more people with parts of the true gospel in the first 30 days than other Church of God organizations have done in their first thirty days. You can read his post announcing this by following the link below:

He cites this as evidence that CCOG is committed to preaching the gospel to the world.

In spite of certain mistakes I feel he is making, I am glad he wants to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel, if his desire is genuine. All in the Church of God should want to do this. I think Living Church of God is doing this more effectively than any other group right now, including CCOG, and I hope that few members of LCG will be drawn out of LCG into CCOG.

I have not heard Dr. Thiel's radio interviews, nor have I read his books (if he ever publishes a book without pagan prophecies, I might read it, but I am determined not to sin against God by reading any of his books filled with non-biblical, possibly Satan or demon inspired prophecies about future events). But I have watched some of his Youtube videos.

As far as I know, he has three Youtube channels. They are listed in his post I cited above, and you can find links to all three in his post if you are interested. He cites statistics from those three Youtube channels to support his claim that he reached more people with the COG message in CCOG's first 30 days than any non-GTA group that came out of Worldwide did it its first 30 days.

One is the Continuing CoG channel. This Youtube channel contains sermons for the Church.

Another is the Bob Thiel channel. This channel contains videos that seem filled with pagan prophecies from the titles and descriptions, so in obedience to God's word, I cannot watch them with a clear conscience even to review them. This channel may be designed to promote the sale of Bob Thiel's books, but since I cannot watch the videos, I do not know for sure.

The one I will talk about today is his Bible News Prophecy channel. This is a Youtube channel that I think Dr. Thiel started after or around the time he left LCG to start CCOG.

Statistics for all three channels are cited as evidence that he has reached more people in 30 days with the COG message than other groups, and that in turn is cited as evidence of his commitment to preach the gospel to the world as a witness. One of those channels contains sermons for the Church of God, not the world (Continuing CoG channel). The other two are presumably for the world, since stats for those channels are cited as evidence for preaching the gospel to the world. But are they really?

There is a trap or a mistake some Church of God leaders and their supporters make when a leader starts a new fellowship and begins a public proclamation effort. Often, such a leader preaches "to the public", but the message is more directed towards members of other Church of God fellowships. The mistake the leader makes is directing the message primarily towards COG members, to attract them and pull them out of other fellowships, instead of orienting the message towards the public who know little or nothing of the true gospel yet. The mistake of members who sometimes go with such leaders is thinking that if the message is broadcast or published in a way that is accessible to the public, it constitutes preaching the gospel to the world, even though the message is shaped for Church of God brethren, not the world.

You can sometimes tell if a message is constructed for the Church, to pull members out of other fellowships, or for the public, to teach and warn people who never heard the truth before. There are clues. A message for the public often emphasizes certain basic and important aspects of the true gospel that most people do not know, either pertaining to prophecy or to doctrine. A typical message for the world might teach, for example, that the great tribulation is coming in our lifetime and will fall primarily on the English-speaking nations as punishment for our sins. It might correct a major doctrinal error, such as humans not saved in this life burning forever in hell-fire, the immortality of the soul, or traditional religious practices such as Christmas and Easter. It might show the biblical identity of our nations. It might show that the law of the seventh day Sabbath is still in force for Christians today. It might explain how the Bible teaches that we should be keeping the holy days. These are all major subjects and doctrines, ones that the public needs to be taught about and warned about so they can begin to learn the truth and have a chance to repent before the tribulation begins. These are also good topics to begin to teach those God may be calling into the Church. Each of these can begin to separate those who are willing to give up the traditions of their mainstream churches to follow the God of the Bible and those who are not. Each of these can clearly show the difference between mainstream traditional beliefs and what the Bible actually teaches. Each of these can easily be handled in a single program. These are just examples, there are many other topics that can serve the same way.

But if the message is really designed to pull Church of God members out of the fellowships they are attending, the focus may be different. Again, you can find clues. Often the message will presume knowledge that Church of God members have but the world does not have. Also, the messages will sometimes focus on minor details that separate the new leader from the fellowship he just left, or from other Churches of God. They can be designed, not to warn the public of the tribulation to come if they do not repent, nor to give them the good news of the kingdom of God, but to convince Church of God members that the leader was right to break free of the fellowship he just left and that other members of that fellowship or other fellowships should also leave to join the leader who just left.

A message can be focused towards the Church of God even if it is delivered through a communications channel available to the public, such as TV, radio, or the Internet. Why would a leader focus a message towards the Church of God if the communications media he uses is available to the public? He knows that many Church of God members will be watching, listening, and reading the messages to evaluate the leader, to judge if he is being faithful to God, to know if they should leave where they are to support him.

So a leader of a new group may say, "Look, I am preaching the gospel to the public, here are my videos [or public articles or TV stations or whatever]", and Church of God members will look at that material to see how the leader is doing. But then, the material may be designed to persuade those members to join with the leader, but not really designed to warn and teach the public what the public needs to hear.

Thirty days is not a lot of time, and things can change in the future. Nevertheless, since Dr. Thiel has mentioned the first 30 days in the context of evaluating how he is doing, I do not think it is too soon to look at his Youtube videos in his Bible News Prophecy channel from the point of view of evaluating his focus: is he really focused on witnessing to and warning the public or is he focused on gathering a following by pulling members out of other Churches of God?

Here is a link to his Bible News Prophecy channel where you can watch his videos and see for yourself:

As of now, I see five videos. Here are the titles and links to each. In order, they are:

Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2013?

The Debt Crisis Will Be Worse Than Most Imagine

Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Rise of the King of the South

Should Christians watch American football?

I have watched these and I will share my evaluation of the focus of each below. You can watch any or all of these to form your own opinion if you want. I am not evaluating their accuracy, simply whether they seem to be designed for the public to preach the gospel and Ezekiel warning to those who do not yet know the truth, or designed for Church of God members who already know about the true gospel, to gather a following for Bob Thiel.

Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2013?

This video seems to assume knowledge on the part of the listener of what the great tribulation is, who it comes upon, and why it is coming, all things that the Church of God knows but most of the general public does not know. In this way, it seems to be designed for Church of God members, not the public. The focus is on whether the great tribulation can occur as soon as 2013. Anyone who has regularly read Dr. Thiel's blog knows he has spent time showing that the tribulation cannot begin as early as 2013, and he has criticized some Church of God leaders, such as James Malm, who have said it could begin as early as 2013. Again, he seems to be orienting his message towards Church of God members, such as those who may follow James Malm or others who believe the tribulation can begin in the next one or two years. He states that some people think the gospel has been preached as a witness in the world, but he says it has not been done enough. Again, this is talking to the Church of God, because the public does not even know what the true gospel is, but among Church of God members, some have said that the gospel has already been preached as a witness so we no longer have to do it.

I don't think this video is designed to preach the gospel to the world as a witness, but to persuade existing Church of God members that Dr. Thiel is right about this issue. There may be some members of the public, not Church of God members, who might know something about the tribulation and may learn something from this video, but this would go completely over the heads of most people who have no Church of God background. It certainly doesn't focus on the most important thing: that we need as a nation to repent of our sins of abortion, sexual immorality, using idols in worship, and breaking God's weekly Sabbaths and annual holy days, or the United States will be punished in the great tribulation during the lifetimes of most people alive today. That is what the public needs to hear. They also need to hear the good news that Christ will return to establish the kingdom of God ruling over all the earth to bring peace and happiness to mankind and teach mankind the right way to live.

The Debt Crisis Will Be Worse Than Most Imagine

This video shows that the government debt and other government actions will lead to the ruin of the United States. It tries to show that the government is behaving irresponsibly and not according to the Bible. This may be useful to a small degree to the public, but doesn't show the common people what they are doing that they need to repent of. It puts the blame just on the government. But also, it highlights a difference in doctrine between Bob Thiel and Living Church of God about a particular scripture or set of verses in Habakkuk, namely Habakkuk 2:6-8. As I understand it, LCG has taught that this passage does not apply primarily to the United States, but Dr. Thiel says it does apply to the United States. So in this video, Dr. Thiel chooses a topic that highlights a difference in doctrine between LCG and Dr. Thiel. I do not say that this passage is the primary focus of the whole video, because he brings out many other scriptures on other points, mostly related to what the American government is doing more than the sins of the general population. He mentioned at the end that Christ will return and says that people should turn to God, but without details or emphasis on those things, in my opinion. Most Catholics and Protestants could say, "amen" after seeing this video and not have a clue from this video that they need to change.

Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?

The very title and the first 30 seconds show that this video is oriented towards the Church of God. It refers to "we" in the Church of God having long taught that the beast of Revelation is from Europe. The focus seems to be how a Church of God member can prove to others or to himself, from the Bible, that which he already believes, that the beast is European.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Rise of the King of the South

In this video, Dr. Thiel seems to associate the biblical king of the south with the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly with Egypt. At the end, he gives a short warning statement directed towards the Islamic world that the establishment of an Islamic empire will not prosper in the end. There is no strong warning here towards the United States, towards "Jacob" who will go through the great tribulation, the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7). He does not mention Iran, but it should be noted that in Dr. Thiel's blog he has often disagreed with a Church of God fellowship which he says teaches that Iran is the king of the south. In my judgment, this video, despite the short warning statement to the Islamic world at the end, is more oriented towards members of the Church who may want to know who the king of the south is than towards the public.

Should Christians watch American football?

The title really tells the story here. There has been a disagreement between Bob Thiel and the LCG ministry about football for a long time, maybe a year or more. The Living Church of God leadership has not taught that it is a sin for Church of God members to watch football, and Mr. Wally Smith, an employed, ordained minister in LCG, has posted some posts explaining that it is not inherently wrong to watch football. Here is link to a post by Mr. Smith indexing his posts on that subject:

Yet, even while a member of LCG, knowing that LCG's ministry has taught that it is NOT wrong to watch football, Dr. Thiel has published a number of posts contradicting LCG and saying that Church of God members should not watch football. Here are links to some of his posts:

Why pick this subject for a video? Consider, if you want to warn the American people that they need to repent or face punishment in the great tribulation, what sin would you focus on? Abortion? Sexual immorality? Idolatry and sabbath-breaking? Materialism and the teaching of atheistic evolution? Stealing and lying? Is watching football, not only a sin, but the greatest sin of the people who will go through the tribulation? And if not, why focus on it with an entire video?

But what makes football different from these other sins is not that it is the most serious sin (I am not saying it is a sin at all, but Bob Thiel thinks it is) but that it is a point of difference between Bob Thiel and LCG (and most other Churches of God I would think). This video is a way Dr. Thiel can emphasize what makes CCOG different from LCG and other Churches of God, and it is a platform to persuade Church of God members that he is right and LCG is wrong. That seems to me to be a design to pull LCG members out of LCG into Bob Thiel's own group. That is not a focus on preaching the gospel to the world.

Those are the five videos Bob Thiel has in his Bible News Prophecy channel so far.

I think if Dr. Thiel wants to claim zeal and commitment for preaching the gospel to the world as a witness and the Ezekiel warning to Israel, he will need, in the future, to begin to focus his Youtube videos on teaching the public the major themes of the gospel and the warning they do not know: the major sins of our nations and the punishment that is coming if we do not repent. He needs to teach about the major doctrines of the Bible, the ten commandments, the weekly Sabbath, God's plan for the salvation of mankind, the return of Christ to set up the kingdom of God on earth, etc. He needs to teach things from the Bible that will show the need even for religious people from traditional churches to repent, such as why Christmas and Easter are wrong, why we should not use images in worship, why we should keep the weekly Sabbath AND the annual holy days (Seventh Day Adventists and Church of God Seventh Day members keep the weekly Sabbath but not the annual holy days, and they need to be taught and warned). He needs to show that the major doctrines of mainstream tradition religions are wrong, according to the Bible, so people who are part of those traditional religions can learn that their churches are not following the Bible, so they can make a choice, to obey the Bible or continue in their traditions. Those God is calling can then choose to believe God and the Bible and that will be the first step towards their repentance and conversion. Those who choose to continue in their false traditions will remember, during the tribulation, that God gave them a warning, and they can acknowledge that God was fair to warn them and that they should have listened, and that can be a first step towards repentance during the tribulation. Either way, they will have heard the gospel preached to them as a witness, which is a necessary part of God's plan.

Bob Thiel needs to focus his messages better in his Youtube videos on the gospel and Ezekiel warning before using traffic to these Youtube videos as evidence of his commitment to preaching the gospel to the world as a witness. If he is primarily trying to pull members and tithes out of LCG and other COG groups, that is not good evidence of his commitment to preaching the gospel to the world.

And if he relies on his other statistics, his radio interviews, his "Bob Thiel" channel, his book sales, to show he has reached more people with the "COG message", those other statistics refer to messages so polluted with potentially Satanic-inspired messages that I question if the message is a "Church of God message" at all.

If a message directly violates the spirit of God's instructions in Deuteronomy 13:1-3, 18:14 to pay no regard to prophetic messages of pagans, can we really say that it is the true gospel? Can we say it is the "COG message"? Not in my book. And if you exclude those messages, you may find that Bob Thiel has reached very few, if any, with the true gospel in his first 30 days. Exclude his book distributions, exclude his radio interviews if they are dominated by discussion of pagan prophecies, exclude his "Bob Thiel" channel if it is dominated by pagan messages, and exclude his "Continuing CoG" channel and his "Bible News Prophecy" channel, both of which seem to be oriented towards the Church of God, not the public, what do you have left? Well, you still have COGwriter site and the CCOG home site,, both of which are mostly visited by Church of God members or former members who have already heard the true gospel, and neither of which are primarily designed to teach and warn the public. There is no way to tell how many visitors to those sites are people who have not heard the true gospel before, and that number may be very small, even fewer than some COGs have reached in their first 30 days.

If that is the case, and if you don't count messages full of pagan prophecies as the true gospel, then Bob Thiel's prediction has failed.

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