In its first issue, dated February 1997, The Journal reported on the WCG's initial suit against the PCG.
Six years later, after numerous articles in this newspaper about the suit, The Journal reported in its March 31, 2003, issue that the two churches had settled the matter, with the PCG paying the WCG a substantial amount ($3 million according to the WCG, but only $2 million according to
In the settlement, the WCG agreed not to impede the PCG in its efforts to publish and distribute 19 pieces of church literature, the main one of which was Mystery of the Ages.
Mr. Flurry, in his Dec. 3, 2005, sermon in Edmond, talked a lot about the six years in and out of courts in at least two states, California and Oklahoma.
He sees the court battle as seminal and indeed a fulfillment of prophecy. He sees it specifically as a battle of the true church against the man of sin.
In his earlier statements in the sermon, Mr. Flurry did not specifically mention the name of the man of sin, but a listener would have to assume he was identifying the man of sin, the Antichrist, as Joseph Tkach Sr. (who died in 1995) or Joseph Tkach Jr. (the present pastor general of the
WCG)--or perhaps both.
Whoever Mr. Flurry was talking about, he was unequivocal in his characterization of the man (whoever happened to be the current occupier of the office of Antichrist) as "evil" and a teller of "lies" and even one who is "possessed" by Satan, as was Judas, who betrayed Jesus.
The man of sin, spoken of in 2 Thessalonians, is "absolutely lawless," Mr. Flurry said. "There isn't one law of God that he keeps, and he'll lie about every one of them."
He quoted from at least three commentaries on the Bible: Clarke's, Lange's and the International Critical Commentary.
He noted that those reference books correctly recognize that the writer of 2 Thessalonians refers to a literal evil man, even though Church of God members, specifically Laodiceans, cannot seem to grasp that concept.
As Mr. Flurry progressed in his Dec. 3 sermon, he came closer and closer to specifically identifying the modern man of sin by name.
"We have to know where he is," Mr. Flurry said. He is "a man, at times possessed by the devil; that's what the Bible says. That's what it says."
Whoever the man specifically is, Mr. Flurry said, "he's here on this earth, and we've met him."
Mr. Flurry spoke of the demeanor of the WCG representatives present during the many sessions of the "court case."
"I mean, I've never heard so many lies and read so many lies," he said. "I'm telling you, brethren, they lie all the time. They just lie and lie and lie, and every time you pick up a document on that court case, they're lying."
Mr. Flurry finally got around to directly referring to Joseph Tkach Jr., the present pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, whom he described as a "liar," equating him specifically with the man of sin and Antichrist.
Mr. Flurry said the younger Mr. Tkach at the beginning of the "court case" had written Dennis Leap, an elder in the PCG and a headquarters employee. Mr. Tkach addressed his letter to Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Leap.
"And here Mr. Tkach is writing them," said Mr. Flurry, "and he says 'your first point concerned our continuing distribution of Mystery of the Ages, hereafter abbreviated MA. This book was discontinued because we have more economical ways of providing exactly the same message to
subscribers and members.' "
Mr. Flurry then rhetorically asked the brethren in the audience: "Would you say that was a lie after what's happened, what's transpired? Would you say that's a lie? Oh, that's so big it's embarrassing. But he said it."
Mr. Flurry referred to Mr. Tkach's statement that "the doctrinal message of the book is not being changed or stopped."
"Is that a lie?" Mr. Flurry asked again. "Oh, another whopper. Here he goes again. You may not be aware how this book was written. That's what we need to know. How was this book written? I'm eager to know; this liar's going to tell us."
Mr. Flurry continued his references to Mr. Tkach's stated reasons for ceasing to publish and distribute Mystery of the Ages by constantly referring to his statements as "lies" and to Mr. Tkach as a "liar."
In the court proceedings, the WCG representatives "actually made Satan God," Mr. Flurry said, "in their twisted, evil minds. That's what we were up against. They just sat there, reasoning just like Satan."
On top of that, Mr. Flurry said, "most of the Laodiceans," yea "all of the Laodiceans," believe Mr. Tkach's lies.
"You got a guy sitting in the Church of God" (by now Mr. Flurry was shouting), "acting like God and playing God, because Satan has deceived all of the Laodiceans and they don't have a clue, it seems, what he has done. I mean, this is the lie and the liar. This is the devil incarnate.
" (Mr. Flurry was practically screaming.)
"And most of the Laodiceans believe, well, all of the Laodiceans, believe him, I think. Certainly almost all of them. They believe him. And it's Satan, right there before them."
Minutes later Mr. Flurry was admonishing and encouraging the brethren to "stand fast" and "hold the traditions."
He defined the traditions as "instructions" that include the writings in Mystery of the Ages, The Incredible Human Potential, The Missing Dimension in Sex, The Wonderful World Tomorrow and other of the erstwhile disputed works.
Imperial's new name
Mr. Flurry talked about other topics as well. He mentioned that Imperial College, operated by the PCG at its headquarters here, either already had or would soon have a new name.
It seems a similarly named school, Imperial College of London, England, established in 1907, holds the rights to the name and "will no longer let us use it," Mr. Flurry said.
So the PCG's Imperial College will either soon or already has become Herbert W. Armstrong College.
"Most of the time it'll be shortened to Armstrong College," Mr. Flurry said, "which would also have the abbreviation of AC, which sort of makes it easy, I guess."
He also mentioned that the current senior class will be the first that will include four-year graduates.
God's little flock
Near the end of his sermon Mr. Flurry stated his belief that the Philadelphia Church of God is God's little flock.
In that context he expounded on the parable of the fig tree and Jesus' overthrowing of the money-changers' tables in the temple, both in Mark 11.
Jesus had told His followers they soon could move figurative or maybe even literal mountains because of their obedience and faith in God.
"He's talking about us," Mr. Flurry said. "He's talking about the people of God; He's talking about the people of God."
An example of mountains moving for God's little flock occurred on Jan. 16, 2003, Mr. Flurry said. That's the date he gave for the signing of the court settlement with the WCG. Coincidentally or not so coincidentally, that day was also the 17th anniversary of Mr. Armstrong's death.
"It's all tied to Mr. Armstrong," Mr. Flurry said. "It's all tied to exposing the devil and exposing false religion."
Mr. Flurry's current approach differs from his statements to The Journal in an interview in 1999.
At that time Mr. Flurry told this writer that "attacking" other people was not proper, and, further, he did not attack anybody.
"I'd like to clear the air on that," he said at the time. "We believe that we're all God's family, and we'd better love each other . . . I feel that, if we're lawful people, we must love all of God's people, and I mean love them.
"But I feel that even a warning message is love because it's trying to help in any way we possibly can."
Mr. Flurry ended his Dec. 3 sermon on a positive note.
"Jesus makes some wonderful promises here," he said, then he read and simultaneously commented on Mark 11:24:
"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, ... believe that you receive them and you shall have them. Do you believe that?"
If members of God's true church do whatever God says, then, whatever they ask for, God will grant it, he said.
God has moved mountains, Mr. Flurry continued, "just for us little group of people."
After reading verses that he said refer specifically to the PCG's victory in the court case (Habakkuk 2:15-16), Mr. Flurry concluded:
"When you sing that last song today, think about those two verses, and sing with a little more gusto because shortly, brethren, Satan the devil is going to be exposed to the world and put away forever."
For more information about the Philadelphia Church of God, or to subscribe to The Philadelphia Trumpet or request free copies of Mystery of the Ages or Mr. Flurry's book Malachi's Message, write the PCG at P.O. Box 3700, Edmond, Okla. 73083, U.S.A., or call (405) 340-7474.
See The Journal of Feb. 28, 1999, for an interview with Mr. Flurry and a report on his "Texas campaign," during which he warned his listeners about the scourge of pornography and proclaimed that Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah.
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