Saturday, July 09, 2005

Profiting from Death

Does your church, it's leader, or your God profit from death and suffering? If they do, is this a moral activity?

I think this is a timely question given the events in London the past week. Herbert Armstrong and his trainees use similar tactics to generate a response from members and from the listening audience through various media outlets. At one time they used radio, then television and also print. Armstrong is now dead, but his techniques are alive and well.

The premise is that we are living in the end time. God has allocated 6000 years for man to run the show, and then there will be a divine government (dictatorship) set up. The government will be comprised of the god family and those humans that are converted to spirit beings at the second coming. Those issues can spawn a whole series of discussions, but to stay on topic I will leave them as assumptions.

Another premise is that as time advances, world events will get worse. Crime will increase, natural disaters will increase, wars, etc. You know the story. Apparently the only way that a super-being can get through to a stubborn, wooly-headed human is to break him at the point of death, or to threaten death, and hope for repentance. I can teach my daughter to act appropriately without threatening to kill her, so why can't the god of cogdom? Interesting topic on its own.

Since the world began natural forces have acted to change the face of the earth. These forces resulted in Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fires and more. On top of that humans have worked to modify the environment and stress the natural systems that support us. Science tells us that as the human population increases, the demand for resources increases and so does pollution. Solutions to these problems must be found. None of this should be a big mystery to anyone who has watched TV or read a newspaper in the last few decades. Yet this is pointed out to be another "sign of the times". Oh really? Just like it was in 1844, 1934, 1972, 1975? And that's just a few of the COG-related "end times". imagine if we include all of the other religious groups and their predictions of "the End".

Terrible things happen. These events are on the front page of every cogger magazine, on all of their TV programs and preached from sea to sea as proof positive that your minister has "the Truth". Pay and pray and you're on your way--to Petra of course. You might get a stone suite next to Gerry the Rockin' Prophet. I think in older times they called this a tomb. Leaders such as Flurry, Pack and Meredith rely on hyping these events such as the bombings in London to put a little fear into their listeners. The fear is intended to produce an action. A listener might write in for literature, request to attend services, send in dollars to keep the warning message alive. For members, these events are seen as an affirmation of firmly entrenched beliefs. It is not a controversial fact that responses increase after a television program recently following a disaster, when the speaker delivers an "end time" message.

Does your church benefit when it delivers a message like this? My opinion is that it does, and that it delivers this type of message on purpose to increase listener response. Part of that response is a cash inflow. The cash inflow is to support "God's Work". So your God is profiting too, the money is flowing right into His headquarters on earth. Doesn't this seem a little crass? God making a profit on the death of his own children? Even if you believe He is not trying to "save" them at this time, generating cash on their death is hardly a wholesome business venture.

I'll discuss more on these issues later. But the next time you see Ger' or Big Dave with a new suit or spiffy new tie, you should ask yourself whether this is what your Bible meant when it stated that it was unfair to muzzle an ass when plowing. Or was that an ox?



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