Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
God Is Not The Author Of Confusion, Well-Balanced Orderly And In Harmony, False Manifestations In The Churches, Confusion For The Wicked, Ronald Weinland Claims He's Sackcloth Witness And Endtime Elijah, David C. Pack Founds Restored Church Of God And Claims To Be God's Apostle, Gerald Ray Flurry Founds The Philadelphia Church Of God And Claims To Be Like Elisha And "That Prophet", Roderick C. Meredith Founds Global Church Of God And Living Church Of God, Bob Thiel Founds Continuing Church Of God, Other WCOG Splinter Groups, A Pack Of Wolves, William Marrion Branham, A Pillar Of Fire, Branham's Gift For Healing, Claims Of Being Prophet Elijah, Two Men Claim To Be Elijah At The Same Time, Branham's Story And Testimonies, My Personal Skepticism, Internet Information Can Be Manipulated
If there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain, it is that the Scriptures plainly teach us that God is not the author of confusion. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul said to the Church at Corinth on one occasion when he wrote to them concerning the Gift of Prophecy. Furthermore, after discussing the Gifts of Prophecy and speaking in Tongues, he also stated that all things should be done decently and in order. Consider the following verses:
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints . . . Let all things be done decently and in order."
1 Corinthians 14:33, 40, KJV
While Paul specifically applied this Biblical truth to the usage of the Gifts of the Spirit and how they should each be exercised, this very same truth applies to God's Nature in general, when it concerns how His Spirit operates within the Christian Church. In other words, no matter how we look at it, God is simply not the author of confusion. He operates in a very orderly fashion. Everything He does is planned, timed, and executed perfectly. Everything He does is well-balanced, and in harmony. In fact, the very nature of our own Universe attests to this fact, and offers clear proof of this point.
As I explain in a number of other articles, if you happen to find yourself in a church that is filled with a lot of noise, confusion and strange manifestations, I advise you to leave immediately, because that is not really the true Spirit of the living God. It is a false, deceptive, devilish spirit. Of course, how God chooses to deal with wicked people is a very different matter. The Scriptures inform us that He will bring confusion upon their heads as a result of their own sins. Such was clearly the case with the Tower of Babel, which we find in the Book of Genesis. That incident resulted in a confusion of tongues -- or different languages being spoken -- which is the exact opposite of what the Apostle Paul describes in his Epistle.
So how does this particular point regarding God not being the author of confusion relate to our current discussion? Well, it may surprise you to know that Herbert W. Armstrong and Mark John Allen are not the only men who have claimed to be the supposed Endtime version of the Prophet Elijah. As I will now explain to you, there have been several men living on the Earth at the very same time, all of whom have lived in the United States of America, who have claimed -- or who have been claimed by their followers -- to be the Endtime Elijah. The next man we will discuss is Ronald Weinland.
Online sources state that Weinland is a former minister of the United Church of God, which is an offshoot of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. In 2000, Ron Weinland founded the Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God, which is primarily active on the Internet. Since February of 2013, Weinland has been serving a forty-two months sentence due to tax evasion. Aside from his various false predictions regarding the Return of Jesus Christ -- which will be listed in part eleven of this same series -- between 2006 and 2008, Weinland identified himself and his wife, Laura, as the Two Sackcloth Witnesses of Revelation chapter eleven. In a blog entry on his website which is dated December 24, 2009, this deceived man not only claims to be one of the Two Sackcloth Witnesses, he also claims that he is the final fulfillment of the so-called Endtime Elijah prophecy, which, as we have already clearly seen, is false:
----- Begin Quote -----
"The truth is that neither John the Baptist nor Herbert W. Armstrong fulfilled the complete prophecies concerning the 'Elijah to come,' but they fulfilled a 'type' of that prophetic fulfillment. The actual fulfillment has not yet occurred, but it is about to be fulfilled in full spirit and truth."
"As God has made me both an apostle and a prophet for this end-time, He has also given me to fulfill prophecies being the spokesman of the two end-time witnesses of Revelation 11. In addition, He has given me to fulfill the prophecies of the 'Elijah to come' and of Zerubbabel."
"Yes, I have come in the full spirit and power of Elijah. God and His Son have made it so -- not me! I seek to fulfill the commission God has given me with all the zeal and power God gives me to do so. And He has given me much to fulfill this task!"
"John the Baptist was not a prophet. Herbert W. Armstrong was an apostle, but he was not a prophet. Yet God says He will send 'Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the LORD.' I am that prophet and I am to proclaim it so! That is given to me from Jesus Christ and God the Father."
----- End Quote -----
As you can see from the previous quoted material, we have a problem. If Mark John Allen is the Endtime Elijah, then how can Ronald Weinland be the Endtime Elijah? Uh-oh. How do we even try to explain that?
Another person I need to warn you about is David C. Pack. Similar to Ronald Weinland, Pack is also a former minister of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, which in 2009 changed its name to Grace Communion International. Due to the schism which occurred in the WCOG in 1995, Pack then became a minister at the Global Church of God, or GCG, which I will discuss momentarily. However, upon being fired from the Global Church of God in May of 1999, he founded another offshoot of Armstrong's church called the Restored Church of God -- or RCG -- which is based in Wadsworth, Ohio. Mr. Pack mimics Herbert W. Armstrong in many ways; including in the doctrines that he teaches, and in the literature that the Restored Church of God distributes. Furthermore, similar to Mark John Allen and Ronald Weinland, Pack is convinced that his RCG church is the only true extension of Mr. Armstrong's ministry, and the only church through which God is currently working on the Earth. It is the same spirit of exclusivity that we have seen over and over again.
More importantly, in a lengthy sermon he gave on February 26, 2005 called "21st Century Apostle" -- which used to be available on the Restored Church of God website -- Mr. Pack makes the false claim that he is the "Apostle" of the 21st century". Additionally, in his authorized biography, which is available for free reading on the Restored Church of God website, while discussing this very same issue, Pack writes the following:
----- Begin Quotes -----
"You must come to grips with the fact that, as with Mr. Armstrong to the sixth era, there has to be one person -- one leader -- somewhere on earth today who delivers the message to the seventh era. God had to designate and inspire a man to this task."
"It has not been my task to create the message or warning to the seventh era. That is Christ's job. Mine was to understand my role under His rule, to get out of the way, and to allow the patient, merciful, loving Jesus Christ to explain His message -- His instruction -- to His people. I did not seek or ask for the job. Like you, I was drafted to be a Christian soldier (II Tim 2:3-4). The appointment came and, as with Paul, 'necessity was laid upon me' (I Cor. 9:16). And no other messenger will come."
"God has selected a new leader for the remnant of Philadelphia. Just as Mr. Armstrong would not apologize for God's decision to use him, neither can I. Perhaps the biggest single reason (and I suppose there may have been several) that God selected me is because I never sought this office -- never dreamed for a split second that God could have this position in mind for me. (If I am accused otherwise, that is someone else's error.)"
----- End Quotes -----
So as you can see, Pack is convinced that he alone is God's man for the hour, and his church -- the Restored Church of God -- is God's one true church on the Earth today. You will also notice that like other groups and people who splintered from Armstrong's church, he embraces the Seven Church Ages false doctrine.The man is clearly deceived.
Being as we are discussing different offshoots of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, let me advise you about several other individuals. The first of these is Gerald Ray Flurry. Just like Ronald Weinland and David C. Pack, Flurry is also a former minister of the Worldwide Church of God. In December of 1999, along with his assistant pastor John Amos, he founded the Philadelphia Church of God. Mr. Flurry views himself as God's divinely appointed successor to Herbert W. Armstrong. However, Flurry does not believe that this means that he is the Endtime Elijah. His church teaches that not only was Armstrong an Apostle, but he was also the Endtime Elijah. So how does Flurry fit into this deceptive picture?
For his part, as Armstrong's alleged successor, Flurry claims to have the spiritual anointing of the Prophet Elisha, who as you may recall, received the spiritual mantle of Elijah when the Prophet was taken to Heaven in a fiery chariot. To support his erroneous claim, Flurry wrote a booklet in 1990 that was entitled "Malachi's Message for God's Church Today". According to Flurry, this booklet is supposedly the "little book" that is mentioned in Revelation chapter ten. Flurry claims to have received "Malachi's Message" from a mighty Angel. I am sharing the first ten verses of Revelation ten with you because they contain something else which I will discuss momentarily:
"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter."
Revelation 10:1-10, KJV
According to certain online information which I discovered, Flurry's "Malachi's Message" is actually plagiarized from an earlier collection of letters which were written by a former member of the Worldwide Church of God called "The Letter To Laodicea". Whatever the case may be, the important point to consider is that the entire Philadelphia Church of God, and Flurry's position in it as its so-called "prophet", rests on the lies which Flurry tells in this book, which he claims is a revelation from God. Not only that, but Flurry foolishly claims that the seven last chapters of the current version of his book -- he has published several versions of the book since 1990, in which some material has been removed -- are the aforementioned Seven Thunders. Yes, I am shaking my head too.
In the original 1990 version of "Malachi's Message for God's Church Today", Flurry strongly suggested that he was God's Prophet. However, in later editions, as I said, some comments were removed, for whatever his reasons. However, in a sermon called "Office of a Prophet" -- which Flurry gave in January of 1994 -- he began to reacquaint his church with his belief in being a Prophet of God, although he did not come right out and say it at that time. Following is what he said in part in that sermon. Flurry begins by quoting Acts 3:22 where Peter quotes Moses saying "A prophet . . . like unto me":
----- Begin Quote -----
"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you."
"You should hear him in all things brethren, that's what God says. And he's going to raise up a man, that's just like you, but he's going to have a commission. He's just like other church members, but he does have a commission from God. And your job of course, as always, is to back him and support him, and you're, God says you're the same as a prophet or a righteous man if you support him and back him, and involve yourself in that work. It's the same for all of us. It's the same for all of us. But I'll tell you this, God's top physical office is very important to you brethren, because how you think about that office, does reflect how you think about God. I'm not talking about following a man in error. You never want to do that. But you do want to love and respect God's office, because it does reflect on how you think about God, and your attitude toward God."
----- End Quote -----
However, five years later, during a ministerial conference in 1999 which was held in Oklahoma, Mr. Flurry gave five sermons in which he made it clear that he believed that he was "that prophet". What prophet was Flurry talking about? We find out in the verses below:
"And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou THAT PROPHET? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither THAT PROPHET?"
John 1:19-25, KJV
It may interest you to know that I've had Muslims use those very same verses to try to convince me that Muhammad is the one who is mentioned in the previous verses. I will explain to you later on in this series who "that prophet" really is, for those of you who may not already know.
Following his five 1999 sermons, Flurry continued to enforce the belief that he is the so-called Endtime Elisha, as well as the "that prophet" who we find in the Gospel of John. For example, in the July and August 2000 edition of his church's bimonthly magazine called "Royal Vision" -- I possess a PDF version of the same -- Flurry published a six-part article called "That Prophet". Four years later in February of 2004, in a sermon he gave entitled "That Prophet", he again claimed that he was the Prophet of whom Moses had written:
----- Begin Quote -----
"If you just study this book, you'll know who That Prophet is . . . It does set me apart from the other ministers . . . Is God going to give us something like this that we cannot prove? . . . [It is] revelation from God; from outer space way beyond Mars. That's where it comes from. If it doesn't, I'm crazy. It's from way, way out there; far, far away. Just like they said in Star Wars."
"I'm just like you. In fact it even says when they, over in, a, Deuteronomy that, Moses said there, they'll raise up someone of the people just like me. I mean I'm just like you. I'm just like you. And so God chooses one out of that group and says, all right here's the revelation now get things going, but I'm just like you . . ."
"This is a special commission that I have, brethren, and it is directly from God. You can read Deuteronomy 18 and verse 15 later where a, look God says, look I'm gonna take, I'll take somebody out of your, from your own brethren, that's the way it works. And so that's what God has done. I'm just like you are. I'm just like you and God forbid, brethren, if I ever should try to exalt myself above you. I'm just like you, I, I am of you."
----- End Quote -----
In his booklet entitled "Who Is "THAT PROPHET"?, Flurry also continued to promote himself as the Endtime Elisha and "that prophet", with sentences such as the following. Please note that the capitalization is his and not mine:
----- Begin Quote -----
"There are only two prophesied leaders in this end time who do God's work – ELIJAH AND THAT PROPHET."
----- End Quote -----
Flurry has become so highly exalted in his own mind due to his pride, that he even places himself above his own mentor and spiritual predecessor, Herbert W. Armstrong. In fact, he has assigned himself almost three dozen different titles. I could say a lot more about the man based on what I have read, but I am sure that it is evident by now that, just like the rest of the men we have examined, he is seriously deceived.
The second person who I would like to warn you about is named Roderick Meredith. Just like Mark John Allen, Ronald Weinland, David C. Pack and Gerald Flurry, Meredith was also associated with Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. After leaving that church, Meredith founded his own splinter group called the Global Church of God in San Diego, California in 1992. As you can imagine, just like all of the other misguided offshoots which grew out of Armstrong's church, it was not before long that the spirit of exclusivity had overtaken Meredith and his church. It should not come as a surprise to you then, that in a sermon Meredith gave on May 17, 1997 called "Where is the True Church Today?", he claimed that the Global Church of God was the one "true church" through which God was working. Due to a leadership conflict -- Meredith obviously felt that he deserved the position -- he was fired from the Global Church of God in November of 1998. The GCG eventually moved the base of its operations to the United Kingdom.
A month later, Mr. Meredith founded the Living Church of God, the headquarters of which is currently located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Similar to some of the other men who we have examined, Meredith believes that he has been chosen by God to re-establish the true church, and is convinced that only his church is faithfully following Armstrong's teachings. He also views the members of his church as the spiritual heirs of the Church which was first established in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Similar to Armstrong's church and its offshoots, the Living Church of God likewise places strong emphasis on observing the Mosaic Law, and is Sabbatarian in nature. While I was not able to find any information where Meredith outright claims to be Elijah or Elisha, according to a 2005 letter that was written by a woman who left his church, it was common for the church's members to refer to Meredith as "God's Anointed".
Another person who ties into the Worldwide Church of God is Robert Thiel. In December of 2012, after becoming fed up with the direction that the Living Church of God had taken under Meredith's leadership, Thiel left that church and started a new church called Continuing Church of God in Arroyo Grande, California. Other than watch a short teaching video he made regarding the possible identity of the "man of sin" -- who is described for us by the Apostle Paul in the second chapter of his second Epistle to the Thessalonians -- I know nothing about Thiel. Whether or not he has made any claims regarding being an Endtime Prophet of God, I do not know at this point.
Please note that the aforementioned groups are not all of the offshoots of Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. There are a number of other splinter groups such as the United Church of God, an International Association -- or UCG -- Church of God, a Worldwide Association -- or COGWA -- Church of God, an International Community -- or COGaic -- Church of the Eternal, God -- or CEG -- Church of God, a Christian Fellowship -- or CGCF -- Church of God Fellowship, Sabbath Church of God, and Church of God, 21st Century.
As I compiled all of the previous information regarding the various splinter groups which broke away from Mr. Armstrong's original church, in addition to the spirit of exclusivity that is so apparent in all of them, I was dismayed by the level of corrupt internal politics, vicious backbiting, betrayals and bickering which exists between them all. They are like a pack of wolves fighting over the same piece of meat. I see men who are full of pride, vanity and self importance, and who display very little true Christian character. It seems like they are all more interested in position than anything else. But, of course, they each claim that God has given them that position.
Just as both Mark John Allen and Ronald Weinland have made a simultaneous claim concerning being the so-called Endtime Elijah, you will be interested to know that there's likewise another man -- whose life overlapped Herbert W. Armstrong's life -- who is also regarded as the Endtime Elijah by his followers. That man -- William Marrion Branham -- was a preacher and a faith healer who was born in a log cabin to a poor family who lived deep in the mountains in the American state of Kentucky.
According to William Branham's personal testimony, and other online material which I have read concerning him, since the morning he was born on April 6, 1909, wonderful spiritual and physical manifestations are said to have accompanied him throughout his life. Branham came to refer to this spiritual presence as the "Pillar of Fire". There are several black and white photographs I have looked at which are purported to show this mysterious presence. Based on the articles and the testimonies I have read, these photographs are said to be authentic; and the negatives of the same unaltered in any way.
Personally, I was not impressed by said photographs. While I am by no means an expert regarding such matters, and thus cannot say with any degree of certainty what caused the odd aberration which can be seen in the images, I suspect that it may simply be a photographic anomaly which may have been caused by the camera itself. At any rate, Mr. Branham claimed that whenever this presence -- the Pillar of Fire -- was near him, he had the gift to see a person's affliction, to know if they were going to be healed by looking into the future, and then to claim the healing for them.
The information I read states that Branham's fame became so widespread, that he traveled to different parts of the world in order to heal those people who had petitioned him. In some cases, they even paid for his travel expenses. One particular beneficiary of Mr. Branham's gift of healing is said to have been George VI, who was the former king of England, as well as the father of Great Britain's current queen, Elizabeth II.
While Mr. Branham was still alive when I was a young boy, I personally never had the opportunity to hear of him, or to meet him. Concerning his gift of healing, I am not sure what to think of it. It does seem unlikely that Mr. Branham's fame would have risen to such a degree if he did not possess some special gift or talent. Based on the Scriptures, we do know that Healing is in fact one of the Gifts of the Spirit, which the Lord imparts to whomsoever He will. We likewise know that Healing was an important part of Jesus' ministry, and that He passed this Gift on to His Disciples. As we have already seen with the example at Lystra, even the Apostle Paul -- who was not one of Jesus' original twelve Apostles -- possessed this wonderful Gift. I discuss this topic more at length in such articles as "Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?".
The main point I wish to make regarding William M. Branham, isn't so much whether or not he truly possessed the Gift of Healing, but rather the claim which has been made by a large number of his followers regarding Branham being the Endtime Prophet Elijah. As I mentioned earlier, the lives of Herbert W. Armstrong and William M. Branham overlapped each other by fifty-six years. I want you to really stop and think about this. If God is not the author of confusion, then how is it that He could possibly have at least two persons on the Earth at the same time who were both claimed to be this so-called Endtime Prophet Elijah? Was God purposely playing tricks on us; or was one or both of these men seriously deceived and lying? In his personal testimony which he shared before a small audience on January 17, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Branham stated the following:
----- Begin Quote -----
"I was baptizing down on the river, my first converts, at the Ohio River, and the seventeenth person I was baptizing, as I started to baptize, then I said, 'Father, as I baptize him with water, You baptize him with the Holy Spirit.' I started to -- to put him under the water. And just then a whirl come from the heavens above, and here come that Light, shining down. Hundreds and hundreds of people on the bank, right at two o'clock in the afternoon, in June. And It hung right over where I was at. A Voice spoke from there, and said, 'As John the Baptist was sent for the forerunner of the first coming of Christ, you've got a . . . have a Message that will bring forth the forerunning of the Second Coming of Christ.' And it liked to a-scared me to death."
----- End of Quote -----
Later on, as William Branham continued to share his personal testimony, he related the following incident which occurred some time later while he was in the state of Texas:
----- Begin Quote -----
"And one night when I was walking out onto the . . . in a Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas, walking out there, a little fellow sitting up here begin to speak in tongues like a shotgun firing, or a machine gun, rapidly. Way back, way back there, a fellow raised up and said, "Thus saith the Lord! The man that's walking to the platform is going forward with a ministry that was ordained of Almighty God. And as John the Baptist was sent as the first forerunner of the coming of Jesus Christ, so he packs a Message that will cause the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."
----- End of Quote -----
While I was not able to locate any quotes where Mr. Branham directly claimed to be the Prophet Elijah who is spoken of in the prophecies of the Prophet Malachi, nevertheless, it is evident to me that by sharing the previous stories, Mr. Branham was in fact inferring that very thing. As I already said, hundreds of thousands of his current followers -- who are primarily of the Pentecostal and Charismatic persuasion -- do in fact believe that Branham -- who they refer to as "Brother Branham" -- was the Endtime Prophet Elijah. I even come across some of them on Facebook from time to time, or else I will receive an email message from some of them.
Concerning the aforementioned two testimonies, to be quite frank, while I know that this will offend some of his more ardent followers, Mr. Branham's account of the Ohio River incident seems like a backwoods yarn to me. If this incident really took place exactly as Mr. Branham described it, with literally hundreds of witnesses present, I would think that the entire Christian world would have been moved by it. In fact, I would think that people would still be talking about it even to this day. Of course, I have no way to either prove or disprove his story. After all, I was not there. Neither do I personally know anyone who was there at the time. Many of them are now dead, or quite elderly.
In similar fashion, neither was I present at any of Branham's meetings where all of these wonderful miracles of healing and other spiritual manifestations are said to have taken place; so all I have to go by is the information which I have found on the Internet. The problem with this is that information can easily be manipulated, exaggerated and embellished so as to convey a picture which goes way beyond the factual truth. Furthermore, it can be difficult to prove or disprove, being as these events happened so long ago.
Please go to part five for the continuation of this series.
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