Apostate, former WCG minister, challenges COGwriter’s biblical interpretation methods: Which should you rely on?


Former Worldwide Church of God minister Dennis Diehl has a history of posting negative comments about me over at the
Banned by HWA website.

Of course, he is not alone in this. Many apostates and unbelievers at that website have done the same. For people “whose minds the god of this age has blinded” (2 Corinthians 4:4) will not believe.

But I thought that perhaps readers would like to see some of what Dennis Diehl posted concerning biblical interpretation and why the approach used at the COGwriter and CCOG websites is correct.

On January 14, 2017, I posted information about the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk in a post titled Do you take seriously the warnings God had the prophet Habakkuk record?

The webmaster at the Banned by HWA site, Gary Leonard posted about my post in an article later that day titled “Habakkuk Is Now In Our Midst! Heed His Warnings!.” The next day, Dennis Diehl posted the following comment in response:

Blogger DennisCDiehl said…

“For I will work a work IN YOUR DAYS Which you would not believe, though it were told you. 6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs”

Context, context, context

Notice how Dennis Diehl emphasized the words IN YOUR DAYS related to Habakkuk 1:5 (which my article quoted) and emphasized context.

His implication is that Habakkuk’s message was only for his day and my writing that we need to pay attention to Habakkuk’s message today is essentially unfounded.

Could Dennis Diehl be correct about this?



Because there are other scriptures that demonstrate otherwise. For example, the Apostle Paul quoted Habakkuk 1:5 as having applicability centuries after Habakkuk died:

41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.‘” (Acts 13:41)

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul wrote:

20 Do not despise prophecies. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)

Yet, many, sadly, do despise prophecies, including those from Habakkuk.

As far as Habakkuk goes, he also was told by God that he was writing prophecies for the appointed time of the end:

2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. 4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

Dennis Diehl, and many others, have ignored and/or despised the following instructions as to how to understand doctrine:

9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: (Isaiah 28:9-10, KJV)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Not satisfied to comment about my position on Habakkuk, Dennis Diehl later (1/18/17) lumped me in with a bunch of others, and posted the following at the Banned by HWA:

The hard facts are that the neither the original ministry of the Worldwide Church of God nor ANY of the resulting leadership/ministry of the splits, splinters and slivers, to this day, were properly trained in theological studies and it shows in everything from exegesis to their Christology. Their hermeneutics aren’t all that good either. Men such as Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Rod Meredith and Bob Thiel are “mere Bible readers”, as are the members, and are proof texters jumping around the Bible to conjure up their beliefs like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. They have no clue that their “here a little, there a little” is not the formula for how to arrive at the message of the Bible.

Line Upon Line: How NOT to Study The Bible

All of what Gerald Flurry, David C Pack, Roderick Meredith and Bob Thiel believe with regards to their unique selves and their message is simply bogus theology.

So, Dennis Diehl does not believe that line upon line is the proper way to study the Bible. Of course, that is in error according to what the Bible itself teaches.

Now, while I will not defend the improper teachings of the others Dennis Diehl listed in that post (as I have articles explaining areas where each of them did not properly follow “line upon line”–trying to demonstrate ‘proof by association’ is a regular improper technique that is employed by many people at the Banned by HWA site), I wish to address his comment that I was not ‘properly trained in theological studies.’

But before I do so, notice something else posted at the Banned by HWA site on 1/19/17, which was written by Miller Jones:

What about the training of the ministry? How did Christ train his apostles? Did he send them to colleges and seminaries? Weren’t most of the apostles and ministers of the early church mature individuals who had years of exposure to Christ’s teachings and more years of life experiences under their belts? How many young men or recent converts were elevated to the ministry? …

Does a license from a man-made organization make one a minister of Jesus Christ? Does an appointment by some board or some single individual (like someone claiming to be an apostle or prophet) make one a minister? Does obtaining a degree or completing some course of study qualify one to be a minister of Jesus Christ? Does recognition by the State entitle one to perform the functions of a minister of Jesus Christ? Does the vote of a congregation entitle one to be recognized as such? What kind of official credentials did Peter, John, Barnabas or Paul have?

The disciples were basically considered to be uneducated men:

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Does that mean that all education is bad?


FWIW, I personally have a lot of formal education in several fields, including theology, plus have been faithful in the Church of God for decades and have read the entire Bible itself probably a couple of hundred times.

But Dennis Diehl’s position that attending the world’s theological institutions is what ministers need to do is simply not consistent with the Bible.

It should also be mentioned that nearly all who have gone through the world’s theological seminaries have not properly learned how to interpret the Bible (see also What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?).

For one example, people like Joseph Tkach, Jr., who helped transform the old Worldwide Church of God into to an apostate, anti-Church of God organization (which was later renamed Grace Communion International) did receive the world’s theological training.

When they did so, they ended up embracing doctrines such as Christmas, Sunday, and the Trinity. None of which are taught in the Bible, and none of which were beliefs/practices of the early Christians.

Oh yes, Jesus, to cite one example, was born–and you can find that by reading about His birth in Luke’s Gospel account. But if one went “here a little and there a little”one can see that December 25th was not possibly His date of birth. And historical research would demonstrate that 1) The Bible does not enjoin the celebration of any birthday (see also Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays?), 2) Early Christians did not celebrate Christmas (see also What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? ) 3) December 25 was celebrated as the birth of the sun-god Mithras (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).

What is my point?

While education can have value, ignoring the biblical admonition to look here a little and there a little to learn doctrine is inappropriate.

Actually, the proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah was itself from “here a little, and there a little” etc. The religious leaders of Jesus day because they did not properly put scripture together, and that was one reason they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah–the religious leaders expected Jesus to be different because of their traditional understandings instead. Just like false ministers today cannot put scriptures properly together to understand much of God’s true teachings.

Should you rely on the Bible and facts to understand doctrine or ‘traditions of men‘?

Dennis Diehl is really advocating the latter, whereas I, Bob Thiel (aka COGwriter) advocate the former.

Polycarp of Smyrna, in the second century, told Christians to forsake the ‘vanity of many’ who accepted false doctrines above those in the Bible and to “return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning (Polycarp.  Letter to the Philippians, Chapter VII). Polycarp). This was because “Polycarp related all things in harmony with the Scriptures” (Eusebius. The History of the Church. Book V, Chapter XX, verse 6; see also Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter)–using the Bible to explain doctrine like we in the Continuing Church of God strive to do.

The Bible is referred to as “the word of truth” (e.g. 2 Timothy 2:15). Those who want to learn the truth will be “examining the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11, ESV).

The Bible said that the Bereans of old were “noble” because they did that.

Using the Bible to interpret itself is a proper Christian ‘hermeneutic’ and is endorsed by scripture (Isaiah 28:9-10; Acts 17:10-13, 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17).

Dennis Diehl and other anti-Church of God critics remain in my prayers.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood?
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading.
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
Banned by HWA and Ambassador Watch There are various ones that oppose the Church of God, but they will not prevail (Matthew 16:18). This is an article about some anti-Church of God tactics.
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? A YouTube video or related interesy may be: Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him.
Simon Magus, What Did He Teach? Sometimes called “the father early heretics” or the “father of heresies”, do you know what early writers claimed that Simon Magus taught? Sadly, most who profess Christ still hold to versions of his teachings.
Marcion: The First Protestant? Considered to have been an organized heretic, he taught against the Old Testament, the law, and the Sabbath. Some have considered him to be the first Protestant reformer. But was he? Here is a link to a related sermon: Marcion: The first Protestant reformer?
Valentinus: The Gnostic Trinitarian Heretic He apparently was the first Christ-professing heretic to come up with the idea of three hypostases.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

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