Nonprofit and non-prophet

After doing some push-ups yesterday to prove to my children that I’m not dead yet, I feel dead today. 🙂 My stomach muscles hurt in places I did not know I had stomach muscles and my chest, sides, and arms are collecting signatures on a petition to secede from the union. However, I am still able to move, however slowly, and able to type, which is really all that matters, isn’t it?

Just a tiny thought today. (I really do have bigger thoughts, but they are currently being crowded out by bigger tasks, so I’m making this post brief.) There is a tiny group of people (as in two or three) who like to write me on occasion claiming that the Church’s compliance with 501(c)(3) nonprofit regulations is somehow blasphemously giving absolute control of the Church to the government. I’ve asked for the regulatory documentation proving this claim, and they’ve provided none. I’ve pointed out things akin to the recent Supreme Court case, which doesn’t dissuade them from their faithful belief. And, given the fondness of this little group for (their version of) Mr. Armstrong, I’ve even provided evidence that he, too, made the Church 501(c)(3) compliant up to the time of his death, but evidence — even seeing Mr. Armstrong’s signature — apparently means nothing.

Jeremias was one of the prophets of the Hebrew...
I suspect that Jeremiah did not pose for this portrait. (Image via Wikipedia)

But as I was on my walk this morning, I thought it worth mentioning that the Church is not only nonprofit, it is also non-prophet. There is not today, in any community claiming the name “Church of God,” anyone qualifying as a prophet. There are some who claim to be, certainly. There is even one who blasphemously claims to be “that Prophet” which is a title reserved for Christ in Scripture. But all such claimants to the title of “prophet” have repeatedly failed the tests given to us for prophets in places like Deuteronomy 13 and Deuteronomy 18. There simply is no prophet today in the Church of God, nor in the Living Church of God, that we know of.

This might bother some, but it shouldn’t. Mr. Armstrong (who adamantly stated that he, himself, was not a prophet) discussed the lack of prophets in the time since the New Testament was written, and his comments are very sensible. Admittedly, they’ve been erased from their copy of Mystery of the Ages by some who strive to capitalize on his legacy but who find his words inconvenient for their own claims, but if you get an original copy, they’re still in there. But there is nothing in the Bible requiring the presence of a prophet today (nor an apostle, regardless of the claims of certain other ones to be such — numerical deceptions notwithstanding), and it is apparent that there is none.

Now, might a prophet be inspired of God in the future? Absolutely — I would think so. The “two witnesses” seem to fit the bill in a number of ways, for instance. (And, no, no one claiming to be one of the “two witnesses” today satisfies those requirements, either.) And I do get occasional letters from people claiming to be prophet-ish; as a presenter on the telecast, you get lots of exciting mail, to be sure! But if any of those really have been prophets, they have a wonderful way of hiding the evidence. 🙂

So for now, it is clear that we are both nonprofit and non-prophet. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise.

17 thoughts on “Nonprofit and non-prophet

  1. obeirne

    Very good, Mr. Smith. You’ve made your point effectively and the last sentence of the second last paragraph sums it all up with an accurate and witty observation that brought a smile to my face and a chuckle I couldn’t suppress.

  2. author

    Probably one of the reasons God has not given the Church of God prophets at this time is that there is less need of them since we have the Bible complete and widely distributed, plus proof in the form of fulfilled prophecy that the Bible is God’s word. From the time of Moses through the times of the first century Church of God, God communicated with his people through prophets and apostles and backed up their words with miraculous signs showing the people that the message was from Him. The Bible was not complete during much of the history of the first century Church of God (because the New Testament was still being written), what books existed were rare and most people could not own them, and many of the prophecies that would prove that God inspired the Bible were not fulfilled yet.

    Today, the Bible is complete, available to just about anyone, and we have the proof that God inspired the Bible in the fulfillment of the prophecies about the sons of Joseph and the increase of knowledge and transportation at the end of the 6,000 year age of man. So there is less need for God to give prophetic messages to his servants and to back them up with signs and miracles. God can test people to see if they will believe and obey Him with the Bible alone.

    And while there are times when the Church does not have an apostle on earth, we always have Christ, who is called an apostle. Christ can do His work as an apostle supervising the human evangelists in the Church today just as a human apostle, Mr. Armstrong, supervised the evangelists when he was alive. The Church of God is never limited therefore in what it can accomplish by whether or not the Church has a human apostle on earth.

  3. Norbert

    When I read about what some self proclaimed persons are stating about prophetic importance, it strikes me that they are just using the scriptures and reinterpreting them to their own inventions. Is that what a prophet does? A person can say God has revealed the meaning of the scriptures to them, but how much did the major and minor prophets quote scripture to make their points?

    Lately I’ve been thinking about how to more clearly define the distinctions between false prophets and false teachers for my own understanding. It strikes me that there is a much bigger attention grabber to the label of prophet/false prophet, even by allusion, than there is with teacher/false teacher. In my opinion this media intensive time we find ourselves in, lends itself to words that claim and provoke strong thoughts.

    From what I can comprehend about persons who like to subtely inject the title of prophet to themself into an audience. They are more likened to false predictors and not even in the same ball park as a prophet. There words are nothing more than colorfully speaking a false witness and using the name of God in vain.

  4. Very good. I would imagine that you do get some interesting input to everything that you write. How well you ballance it all is evident. God has a few ministers in the true work, but the God can do great wonders with just on obedient person man so the few we have putting out the truth, feeding the flock and warning the masses seem to be doing a good job. There are always those who want their fifteen minutes of fame and they are always working to get it and to make people see that they are worth it.
    It is good that God chooses whom He will to do what He wants. It is the process that works.

  5. Don Wheatley

    [EDIT: Greetings, Mr. Wheatley. Your comment below is edited (edits enclosed in [brackets]) for reasons that will be clearer in my response: (1) I don’t want to advertise a false prophet and an abuser of God’s people, and (2) since I will mention some negative things in my response, this seems a merciful thing to do. Rest assured, the content on your comment should indicate of whom you are speaking to most who would know. — WGS]

    If many were speaking against Dr. Meredith publicly, I would come to his defense and point out the good things he has done since the apostasy began after Mr. Armstrong’s death. In the same spirit, I would like to say some things in defense of [Mr. So-and-So].

    When [Mr. So-and-So] made changes to the Mystery of the Ages, he was in error in my opinion. I wrote in to the organization and told them that. I have even written to [Mr. So-and-So] telling him to deny that he is a prophet. I wrote that God would not take any title away from him if he denied it just like he didn’t take Mr. Armstrong’s title of apostle away from him after he had denied it for so many years.

    For years it seems I badgered the [organization of Mr. So-and-So] for looking after their own affairs and not showing care and concern over Mr. Armstrong’s literature. I charged them and rebuked them for not publishing Mr. Armstrong’s works.

    The leader of one of the other splinter groups started to print Mr. Armstrong’s literature and then balked and claimed he was obeying the copyright laws by rewriting all Mr. Armstrong’s literature and putting his name on the covers. He promised me that he would go back to distributing Mr. Armstrong’s literature if he could legally do so but indicated that he thought the WCG was going to keep on preventing anyone from doing so.

    Then the [organization of Mr. So-and-So] gained ownership of the copyrights. [Mr. So-and-So] and the [organization] won. Though I am not a member of the [organization], [Mr. So-and-So] has allowed all the rest of the groups holding fast to the teachings of Mr. Armstrong the right to distribute Mr. Armstrong’s literature. I don’t recall hearing any words of kindness coming out of any of the major groups in favor of what [Mr. So-and-So] and the [organization] did. If I missed it, someone please print their words of congratulations and warm words toward the [organization]. Again I missed them.

    For all of [Mr. So-and-So] faults and mistakes, I will give him credit that he stood up at the most critical time when it really counted.

  6. Greetings, again, Mr. Wheatley.

    Forgive me, but I appreciate your attitude and your desire to be fair and give “credit where credit is due,” I do disagree with a number of things you have said.

    For instance, I don’t fault Mr. So-and-So & Co. for editing Mystery of the Ages if they truly felt it was in Scriptural error (in the way they edited it, the original text is not in error, by the way). I do fault them for not saying in their reprints that it was edited. And I point out their deceptive inconsistency for claiming to fully agree with the statement that Mystery of the Ages was “God’s word as handed down to Herbert W. Armstrong” in the carnal effort to win a court case, claiming in court that the words cannot be redone or rewritten, and then, after buying the rights for $3 million (Note: they lost the case, not won, and had to buy the literature rights), doing exactly what they said they could not be done, later explanations notwithstanding. Hypocrisy is never praiseworthy.

    Ditto with the comment they have made that Mystery of the Ages is “the central book of [their] faith” — a unique place to be held only by the Bible. Calling Mr. Armstrong’s writings “the foundation of all we believe” is an abominable insult to God’s Word (the real foundation) and to Mr. Armstrong who taught some of those men better. I’m sorry, but such statements are just wrong. It’s a stated position that makes for carnally wise legal strategy (though they still lost in this case), but it’s wrong nonetheless. And as much as I cherish my (original) copy of Mystery of the Ages, I will not shamefully insult God’s Word by describing the book in the manner they have.

    (And as for allowing others to publish the materials, they could hardly do otherwise given their justifications during the dispute.)

    As for “looking after [one’s] own affairs,” versus republishing Mr. Armstrong’s writings, you are creating a false dichotomy. It is possible to preach the gospel without republishing Mr. Armstrong’s works, just as those who followed the original apostles continued preaching the gospel not by reading aloud everywhere every letter that the apostles ever wrote, but by doing as the apostles had taught them to do and by emulating their example by preaching the truth faithfully, themselves.

    And as for words of kindness and appreciation directed toward Mr. So-and-So: no, I see no need for that. Paul, himself, speaks to the issue in his words of Philippians 1:15-18. Even when Christ was preached by some out of “selfish ambition,” “envy and strife,” and “pretense” he did, indeed, rejoice that Christ was preached. But did he send cards of appreciation to the individuals for their selfish ambitions? I don’t see that. And given how much deception and rank error Mr. So-and-So has wrapped up around the $3,000,000 literature purchase — with false interpretations of prophecy intertwined with the legal maneuvering, degradation of the status of the Bible in their words, et al. — I see no reason to thank him for his ambitions, just as I see no reason to “congratulate” him on the failure of their efforts in court. Yet am I pleased that the works are available (and were so even before Mr. So-and-So dropped his TV stations and borrowed a million dollars to pay for the rights to some of them)? Absolutely. They are not Scripture, nor should they be treated as such, but they are wonderful resources well worth treasuring.

    So, I do appreciate your attitude and desire to be even-handed and fair and I thank you for it, but I hope you will forgive me for seeing things differently in a number of ways.

  7. Don Wheatley

    [EDIT: Again, some edits here, for similar reasons, including a large one explained below. Thanks for your patience. — WGS]

    Mr. Smith,

    As you stated the WCG was ahead in their legal battle. I remember it was at a time when everyone was giving up on the [organization] and predicting their defeat, that I sent my largest contribution to date to them (I believe) when conditions were at the darkest and then it was announced at a later time that the WCG and [organization] had reach their agreement on the purchase of the copyrights. The minister I mentioned that refused to distribute Mr. Armstrong’s works because of copyright restrictions never tried to reprint Mr. Armstrong’s literature after the [organization] gained ownership of the copyrights from what I understand. He has gone on with his own rewrites which I have pointed out to his group is a form of plagerism and he now only includes quotes from Mr. Armstrong’s literature in his own.

    I personally communicated with Joseph Tkach Jr concerning Mr. Armstrong’s literature. We had quite a fiery exchange of emails that went into this matter over Mr. Armstrong being a false prophet, the copyrights and other topics:

    I would like to include just one exchange between us:

    [EDIT: One e-mail from JTJr removed. My apologies! As a practical application of Matt. 7:12 I consider e-mails to be private communications between two individuals unless both parties agree that the discussion can be made public. Sometimes, of course, this is the case. If he told you it was OK to share your exchange then feel free to let me know and I can put his part of the exchange back up, but until then I am just going to post your part since I know that you are OK with that and since it seems to communicate the things you want to say well enough on its own. Thanks for understanding. — WGS]

    ————————————-

    From: (my email address)
    To: (Mr. Tkach Jr’s email address) (Joseph Tkach)

    By the letter of the law you are correct — you own the copyrights.

    By the spirit of the law you are wrong. You have stated that it is your desire to suppress Mr. Armstrong’s works and have physically destroyed the remaining pieces (except for the originals) of his works from what I have gathered.

    I remember Mr. Armstrong stated that he felt that Mystery of the Ages would be distributed after his death. I intend to help in that effort and any other material he produced.

    You also have the right NOT to sue. I hope you will exercise it. We are not taking away from your income. You have more competition from mainstream Christianity than from any of the splinter groups.

    ….

    Mr. Armstrong preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. That is THE Gospel. That is the Good News. It is not something in men’s hearts. It is a literal government. The utopian dream of all of us who have ever lived on this earth. It will not be a government of the people, by the people for the people but rather a Government of God, by God, for man that he might attain unto his incredible human potential of becoming God as God is God. We are to become members of the God Family. Blasphemy to some, but the most incredible good news anyone could ever hope to hear. Mr. Armstrong preached the True Gospel to this sick sin-filled dying world.

    And we are to endure until the end and then we are saved. We can fall away from the Truth and lose not only our reward but our very life (the 2nd death).

    Now Mr. Armstrong was not a prophet. He stated he was not. He tried to fit the words of the prophets in God’s Word to end-time events. I believe he was ahead of his time but if you read his literature, even where he said Christ would come or this would happen within so many years, for someone reading his words at the very final end of this age, to that reader Mr. Armstrong’s words WILL be true.

    His style of writing is of a man looking toward the imminent return of Jesus Christ and every action he took reflected his belief. I won’t use his words to discredit him, I admire him and his efforts and realize he probably did more for God’s Work in one day than I have done my entire life.

    You are saying I do not get the full meaning of scripture. I guess up until the day I die I expect to see something there I never saw before. You are correct.

    But Christ has given me rest. He has opened my mind to know there is a cause for everything wrong with this world and I know you don’t want to hear this again but it all comes down to those two trees. (Mr. Armstrong could probably hear a collective groan every time he explained them.)

    Donald Raymond Wheatley

  8. Howdy, again, Mr. Wheatley. Just to correct something you said a bit (or at least to clarify it): WCG was not simply “ahead” in their legal battle. WCG won the legal battle. And while the leader of the losing organization said he was not going to “make a deal,” the records I’ve seen showed that he attempted to make a deal repeatedly and that his attempts were rejected because the amount of money he offered was too low. Only by going massively off the air and borrowing an additional million dollars, he was finally able–two years after he lost his court case–to purchase what he wanted because he came up with enough money. No miracles involved, just cold hard cash.

    I certainly never proclaimed anything would happen one way or the other regarding the matter, though given his desperation for every physical mark of “legitimacy” he can get his hands on, the only real question the whole time was a matter of price. However, it is true: Anyone who predicted their defeat was proven correct, as they were, indeed, defeated in court. In the end, it was a simple–and expensive–financial transaction, made necessary because of their failure in court.

    Thanks, again, for your opinions.

  9. Sounds like you haven’t done push ups in awhile!

    I like to push our boys into an annual wrestling match. The 18 year old is six foot-four, so he takes me out fairly quick. Once he stops laughing. The 15 year old and I get into some pretty good battles, but he has a lot more stamina. I end up crying uncle and complaining how I used to have power.

    Maybe you could challenge your boys to a regular push up contest. It’s okay to lose. I don’t care if I’m 70 years old; I’m still going to pile into them one more time!

  10. Okay, I know whom you guys are talking about. Being tempted to join that group after the initial apostasy, I became familiar with their teaching. Mr Smith can edit or delete my following comments, but here’s my frank opinion:

    Even though Mr So-and-So claims to uphold Mr Armstrong, nothing could be further from the truth. That group has changed more doctrines and practices than so many other groups. The last time I listened to one of his sermons, it sounded like a different religion.

    You know what pains me about this? A lot of splinter groups actually use this guy to bash Mr. Armstrong. “Okay, you see this! That’s what happens when you worship HWA!” The truth is, Mr Armstrong would’ve disfellowshipped the guy, if he were still alive.

    Do I give Mr So-and-So any credit? Yes. He was willing to take a stand against the doctrinal changes when most ministers continued to fraternize with the apostates. Problem was, it didn’t take long for him to spin off into some strange planet of his own. Holding up “Mystery Of the Ages” as scripture? Please note that it’s HIS “edited” version of MOA that he holds up as scripture. What does that tell you?

  11. Don Wheatley

    Hi Mr. Smith,

    Having the goal of distributing the Mystery of the Ages after I left the WCG in 1992, I am much more sympathetic to the [organization’s] efforts to be able to distribute Mr. Armstrong’s literature without interference from the WCG whose goal was to suppress Mr. Armstrong’s literature on their judgment that he was a false prophet and his teachings were heresy. I think the leaders of the [organization] are/were much more noble and right than those of the WCG who lied repeatedly about the changes that they were making in the doctrines we all once held as truth.

    The next step was to take the case to the Supreme Court which was declined. I don’t think that would have been the end of the story if the WCG had not made an offer to the sell the Mystery of the Ages in the damages trial. The WCG would have to go after hundreds of us who had websites and were distributing Mr. Armstrong on our own and vowed to do so even if threatened by the legal system. I told Mr. Tkach my intentions and asked if I would be put in prison in California or my home state. He knew we were dead serious in this matter. Mr. Armstrong’s works were going to be published again whether the WCG approved it or not. It was a life and death situation. There is no turning back and it will probably come down to that in the future as Satan tries to suppress Mr. Armstrong’s works again in the future.

  12. Thanks, Mr. Wheatley.

    As before, there is much I could comment on, but I will try to restrict myself to some simple corrections.

    The step of taking the case to the Supreme Court was not declined. The organization you mention did try to take the case to the Supreme Court to reverse their loss, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. That is why the legal effort was, indeed, a failure. The only legal matter left would have been determining how much that organization would have to pay WCG for damages, which became unnecessary after they went back on their word and offered a big sum of money, which is what they could have done from the beginning. And that organization you mention had repeatedly offered before then to buy the rights. It was in WCG’s interests, given, as you say, how available the material was on the Internet, to sell the rights once the organization coughed up enough money. No miracles that I can see, just an expensive waste of people’s money in an extended price haggling effort that turned unnecessarily legal.

    I do agree that those who lied about doctrinal changes demonstrated horrific character and disloyalty, both to Mr. Armstrong and, more importantly, to God. As for my opinion of the others, of their motivations I’ve already referenced Philippians 1:15-18), and of the proper way to both obey the laws of the land and preach the gospel in obedience to God, I will withhold that opinion for now, as it is beyond the boundaries of this post. (Boundaries which, I should add, I have striven to be lenient about so far, but there are limits to that leniency).

    Thanks, again, for your explaining your opinion.

  13. I forgot to comment, Steve: Yes, it has been a long time since I did push ups! I only got out 20 (could have done a few more, but was already at the point where I realized regret was going to be visiting me soon 🙂 ). But I’m working on it! And, yes, I take on the boys occasionally — I still win (my {ahem} mass and technique provide an advantage), but I know the day is coming…

  14. Don Wheatley

    Hi Mr. Smith,

    My words were not clear. Here is the information from the [organization’s] site which explains the situation better than I did.

    Off the [organization’s] website:

    ——–

    [EDIT: My apologies, Mr. Wheatley, but I’m not willing to allow even a scintilla of those men’s words to appear in my blog, and my respect for the many I know who have fled them and their ungodly, unchristian abuse to our doors for refuge demands I take a hard line here. However, your summary below nicely explains what their material says (though it contradicts their own statements elsewhere, which I will mention in my response), and I trust everyone will take your word for it about what the organization reported, as I would. — WGS]

    ——–

    I hope this clears up the information I intended to give in the first place.

    1) The Supreme Court declined the appeal.

    2) The WCG was the one who initiated the negotiations to sell the Mystery of the Ages.

    If the WCG is saying that the [organization] was the one who initiated the negotiations concerning the sale then I will have to side with the [organization]’s version since the WCG has repeatedly lied to all of us about their changes of Church doctrine.

    Don Wheatley

  15. Howdy, one more time, Mr. Wheatley. [And thank you for editing your own comment some before posting! I was getting a bit tired of doing that. 🙂 ]

    Since this thread has become completely off topic, this will be the last comment on the matter. I appreciate your desire to clear up the information. The only thing I have left to disagree with is your impression of where I got my information about who “initiated negotiations concerning the sale.” I did not get them from WCG but from (1) impartial court records, and (2) the organization’s own magazine. In May of 2003 they, themselves, said that they were the ones who made the offer first and that WCG had “never” (to use their own word) offered to do so before that. More than that, the court records say that they made multiple offers, all while saying publically that they would make “no deal” concerning the court case. Deceitful “spin” abounds, and not just on the part of the side you disfavor, I’m afraid. I can’t agree with what you say they did, since they, themselves, say differently than you do about their own actions. Which is the true picture? The fact that it’s hard to tell should say something important.

    I agree with you that WCG has ruined its credibility. But in many abundant ways, so has the organization you seek to praise in your comments. Personally, I trust neither of them to tell the truth about the matter, as the leadership of both have proven themselves to be unworthy stewards of truth. (I don’t say the same for the members trapped in that organization, whom I hope all of us are praying for. The tales told me by those who have escaped its grip, some at great personal cost, are hair-raising and shameful, and God will hold those leaders accountable.)

    Again, this is the last exchange we will share on this post concerning this topic, as it has been covered completely and your opinions have been made clear — and respectfully so, for which you have my thanks.

  16. Leona Dixon

    Dear Brother Wallace, Please tell me that I still have the original text – Mystery of the Ages – 1985? I enjoy reading your posts too, it sheds light full of knowledge and understanding that allows me to go back to the Bible for proof and evidence, regarding the Prophets.

  17. Howdy, ma’am. I can’t tell you by only the date, but you can look for certain things to let you know if you have a copy in which the text has been edited.

    For instance, around pages 244-245, this statement used to appear: “The prophets set in the foundation of the Church are those of the Old Testament, whose writings were used to form a considerable part of the New Testament and gospel teaching and functioning. No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church.” The organization what now owns the copyrights claims (falsely) to have a prophet as its administrative head, so they remove Mr. Armstrong’s last statement there to say only this: “The prophets set in the foundation of the Church are those of the Old Testament, whose writings were used to form a considerable part of the New Testament and gospel teaching and functioning.” (Note: Mr. Armstrong’s statement is a true one about what the Bible says. Its removal makes no sense other than to keep up appearances and hide an implied disagreement.)

    I hope this helps!

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