GERALD FLURRY'S AMBASSADOR REPORT FILE
From Issue 54 (February 1994)
No, we're nor talking about some fifties' singing group, unfortunately. The Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) founded by former WCG preacher Gerald Flurry is one of the WCG's most vibrant - and fanatical - spinoffs. While started by just a handful of Armstrongite zealots just four years ago (officially on Dec. 7, 1989), this small group has shown amazing growth ever since. Today, the PCG (P.O. Box 3700, Edmond, OK 73083), with only about 3,500 members, produces a slick, full-color, monthly magazine called The Philadelphia Trumpet, a magazine for its members called The Philadelphia News, numerous booklets, and at its own new television studios produces its Key of David television program, now seen in eleven major U.S markets and via cable access - throughout the entire U.S., Canada, Europe, and beyond. Besides "Pastor General" Flurry, other key personnel are former WCG ministers Dennis Leap, Colin Sutcliffe, Wilbur Malone, and Flurry's son Steven. (Former WCG minister John Amos, who helped found the group, died of a heart attack a few months ago.)
Reading through back issues of the Trumpet ("Tpt" - to be distinguished from "the PT" - The Plain Truth) and from their booklets, one readily can see PCG's hardcore beliefs. In a paragraph, here they are: We are living in the "end times." God sent Herbert W. Armstrong as the prophesied Elijah to warn the world. At the time of HWA's death Satan was cast down to earth. Joseph W. Tkach became the prophesied "son of perdition" who has polluted most of God's "Philadelphians" into becoming "the Laodiceans." God has now raised up Gerald Flurry to lead those remaining true to God - those still "Philadelphians" - and God, through an Angel, has inspired Flurry's book, Malachi's Message, which is essentially a warning to the Laodiceans: unless they repent of their liberal ways, recognize Herbert W. Armstrong as their "spiritual father" and Gerald Flurry as God's messenger for today ("Elisha"), and begin tithing to his work, they well be persecuted by the Beast and will all die horrible deaths in the Great Tribulation. According to Flurry, his book, Malachi's Message (which they acronym "MM"), is the "little book" spoken of in Rev.10:10 and is therefore a sacred writing. In the Sept./Oct. 1992 Tpt (p. 8) Flurry wrote about his book (and the emphasis is his):
Malachi's Message is a new vision from a mighty angel. It's a NEW REVELATION - not something somebody already knew!
This new revelation is God's way of saying that we must give the little book a special importance and the majesty it deserves. Only then can we properly respond to the great Work of God - much of which revolves around the little book.
Whew! And we thought HWA had an ego problem!
Unfortunately, Flurry's aberrations do not end there. Here are but a few samples of statements made in the monthly Trumpet during 1993:
January: The issue starts off with an article praising HWA in lavish terms (p. 3), gives a poem to their departed hero the "Faithful Warrior" (p. 8), and reprints without permission from the Worldwide News the "18 Restored Truths" of HWA (p. 9). Just as HWA was a type of Elijah, PCG is a type of Elisha (p. 13). "Mr. Armstrong said many times that he was the father of us all either DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY!.... we must look upon HWA as our spiritual 'father'.... When prospective members come to the PCG, the first and perhaps most important question we ask them is, 'Do you believe Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the role of the endtime Elijah?' If they don't believe this then we don't invite them" (p. 15, emphasis in Tpt quotes are theirs). "Paying our tithes shows submission to God's government" (p. 19).
February: "THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN WAS THE LAODICEAN ERA IN EMBRYO!" (p. 1). The Key of David is essentially the "truths" contained in HWA's booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy (which Flurry has aptly acronymed "US&BIP") (p. 2). "What is important for all to understand is the fact that God did not stop publishing when our present Bible was canonized" (p. 5).
March: "The other groups who left the WCG are also BLIND to the fact that God is using the PCG, AND NO OTHER CHURCH, to knock on the Laodiceans' door" (p. 1). "I haven't even heard one of these groups claiming they have new revelation from God" (p. 2) [clearly inaccurate]. Joseph Tkach's ethnic background is attacked as being "alien" and based on this Flurry concludes that Tkach is the "end-time Shebna" (p. 9). "God's true Levites" are equated with "true ministers" (p. 10). "Nowhere has Satan's attack on God's truth been more effective since Mr. Armstrong's death, than Christ's doctrine of healing" (p. 14). "Mixing the races only lessens the quality of the original race" (p. 18).
It is, however, in Flurry's editorial attack on Rod Meredith that he outdoes himself: Flurry begins by calling Meredith, in essence, a liar (p. 2). He then writes (p. 28):
Or course, there are different groups of lukewarm and dead churches. But Mr. Armstrong ALWAYS PREACHED THAT GOD WORKS THROUGH ONLY ONE MAN AND ONE CHURCH! The rest are deceived....
This leader I quoted earlier [Meredith] is teaching a satanic doctrine! IT IS VERY UNBIBLICAL TO SAY THERE ARE BRANCHES OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH!....
Where did I get this new revelation [MM]? As Paul said, it was "NOT AFTER MAN." It came from God! Members of God's Church who can't see that revelation are BLIND!....
A CHURCH COULD HOLD FAST TO EVERY DOCTRINE MR. ARMSTRONG TAUGHT AND STILL BE LAODICEAN-BLIND!
April: The attack on Meredith continues. Flurry's claims that in God's church there has been the worshipping of demons (p. 4). "Mr. Meredith must destroy God's government to get people to follow him instead of the ONE AND ONLY Church that Christ is using today - the Philadelphia Church of God" (p. 5). Collegial and/or democratic government is satanic (p. 7). Meredith is compared to Lucifer (p. 10). "Only one group can be in a covenant relationship with God" (p. 11).
May: The WCG's leadership is referred to as a Judas-type conspiracy and Tkach to "the son of perdition" (p. 1). Satan is using Tkach (p. 7). Tkach Sr. and Tkach Jr. are Russians [inaccurate] and, quoting a October 1963 Plain Truth article, Flurry writes that the Russian people are inherently liars (p. 7). The WCG is the Synagogue of Satan (p. 11). HWA's Mystery of the Ages and Flurry's Malachi's Message go together "hand and glove" [and, therefore, are both supposedly sacred writings] (p. 24). The 144,000 of Revelation are the Laodiceans (WCG and company) who will be "sealed" by God by going into the Great Tribulation and being raped and torturously killed, while the PCG escapes this fate (p. 25). Satan used David Koresh as a means of bringing persecution on the true church (p. 28).
June: "The Laodiceans have to PROVE THEMSELVES BY DYING FOR GOD" (p. 16). A Laodicean does not have to be an active member of the WCG at this time. What is a Laodicean? The Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) teaches that a Laodicean is one who rejects the Philadelphia Standard. The Philadelphia Standard is made up of the TRUTH that Mr. Armstrong restored to the Church during his lifetime (along with what the PCG teaches today)" (p. 17). But on the very same page the Trumpet admits that its teaching on the 144,000 is not in accord with that of HWA who believed that the 144,000 were the Philadelphians.
July: Flurry claims that "God's secret" in Amos 3:7 refers to his own book, Malachi's Message (p. 16).
August: Demons have turned the Laodiceans away from God through philosophy and education (pp. 20-21).
Sept./Oct.: This issue is interesting because a number of statements show how the PCG handles the sordid personal history of HWA. For example, Stephen Flurry, Gerald's son, writes:
If [Satan] can keep repeating lies over and over again, he knows that pretty soon people will believe them....
In this latter half of the twentieth century, Satan has repeatedly tried to discredit Herbert W. Armstrong, both before and after he died....
Pretty soon many lies and rumors were circulating about Mr. Armstrong. There have been manuscripts, papers, reports, and books with hundreds of pages detailing the many sins of Mr. Armstrong. I mean every kind of sin you can imagine! Most of which are so disgusting they are hardly appropriate for printed matter. Very few of these publications try to disprove the teachings, or THE MESSAGE Mr. Armstrong taught. Instead, they put down the man and then THROW OUT THE MESSAGE WITH IT.
[It is very difficult to view this statement as anything other than a calculated distortion of the facts. Obviously, the author is familiar with the AR, as well as the writings of Robinson, Tuit, Dankenbring, and others. AR has criticized HWA, not just for his life style, but for many of his teachings. Robinson, Tuit, and Dankenbring have criticized HWA's life style and, in addition, have been quite specific about where they thought HWA was doctrinally in error and where they thought he was correct. Nevertheless, isn't it interesting that the author nowhere attempts to disprove the serious and well-documented allegations made against HWA. Nor, for that matter, does he give his readers the names and addresses of those making the allegations in order for his readers to make up their own minds - ed.]
November: Gerald Flurry writes (pp. 4-5):
I have been in the ministry over 20 years. In many marriage counseling sessions I have noticed that the wives are zealous and excel in numerous marital responsibilities. But many wives cause some serious problems in their marriages. The root cause is usually not submitting to their husbands as God commands. Their problem is with God's marital GOVERNMENT, and the LAW on which it is based....
Why can't the GCG accept the many REVELATIONS given to the PCG? They simply lack the childlike submission to God's government, so God won't REVEAL to them which Church is doing His Work today.
[In other words, if Dr. Meredith would only be more childlike, and submit to Mr. Flurry, as would any righteous wife to her husband, there would still be hope for him. But Meredith is too stubborn to obey Flurry. Of course, Meredith says the same about Flurry - ed.]
December: This issue is a particularly good one for seeing the unbalanced spirit that permeates the Flurry PCG.
In the lead article, Flurry writes about California's recent economic problems and its natural disasters (the kind that have gone on here for thousands of years): "California is the only state who attacked Mr. Armstrong and his work. Actually, they attacked a lot more than that. California really ATTACKED THE LIVING GOD! Today God is wreaking vengeance on California and all of Israel - mainly the American and British peoples."
In another article, Flurry writes how Christ has only one wife in prophecy - the PCG. All other churches will have no spiritual husband. He expects to see seven different Laodicean churches. "God's own lukewarm people are going to be devoured by the sword.... They are 'murderers' because they are guilty of the blood of Israel" [by not helping to prophesy with MM] (p. 19). On the next page, Flurry writes:
God will look to and use THIS MAN who is childlike before His word (Matt. 18:1-3). For example, this man will read God's revealed word in Malachi's Message and act on it out of godly fear! He KNOWS that book contains God's truth. He trembles and obeys.
Then, on page 21, Flurry writes: "The PCG has the distinct honor to SPEAK FOR GOD!"
How is it that some can believe such nonsense? The answer is given in the same issue of the Trumpet. In an article entitled "Your Living Environment," one of Flurry's associates, Colin Sutcliffe (incidentally, the father-in-law of World Tomorrow broadcaster David Hulme) explains that scientific methods based on observation are inherently wrong. He equates human reasoning to "doing our own thing" - therefore human reasoning is a no no (p. 26). God's plan for managing every aspect of the global environment "is NOT based on either SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTATION or ON OBSERVATION, but ON REVELATION!... Revelation is the basis of what will be used in the World Tomorrow" (pp. 26-27).
There you have it. Don't trust your own God-given powers of observation; don't use your own God-given reasoning abilities; just believe the revelation - of Gerald Flurry.
We've covered the Flurry group's beliefs in some detail for two reasons: (1) His own published writings reveal him very clearly to be a cult leader of the first magnitude. And (2) we expect him and his followers to he in the news in the future. Nevertheless, we don't plan any further detailed studies of his writings. The reason for that is simple - reading his "literature" gives us a headache.
In the last few years we have received a good number of letters from individuals who have made the mistake of leaving the WCG for PCG ("out of the frying pan and into the fire" was how one put it). Each told us that the experience cost them many thousands of dollars and much mental confusion. We have heard from a number who have said the experience cost them their marriage. We have even been contacted by mental health therapists who were attempting to treat some who had come out of the PCG, but who found their patients' mental problems overly complex. While Meredith's B&D church may chastise with spiritual whips, Flurry's group likes to chastise with spiritual scorpions. Flurry's outfit is for those into spiritual S&M - real pain. If you want to be spiritually brutalized, the PCG may be the church for you.
While Flurry claims that his church is one that promotes traditional Christian family values, the evidence shows otherwise. One of our readers, after getting involved with PCG along with his wife, soon discovered that PCG put a barrier between his wife and himself. When the husband discovered that his wife wanted a divorce, he also discovered that not only would Flurry not assist the husband in saving the marriage, but that Flurry was encouraging the wife in her divorce plans.
Over the years, AR has shown that many of the cults we have reported upon have had leaders who have tolerated the worst sexual vices within their inner circles. The same appears to be the case with PCG. One PCG exiter has written an open letter in which he claims that the PCG ministry has secretly tolerated homosexuality among some members, and adultery and bizarre sexual acts by some in its ministry.
Another individual who can shed much light on the Flurry cult is Mr. Don Marshall of Edmond, Oklahoma. He wrote us:
I knew that something was not right within the WCG because of the way our two ministers, Gerald R. Flurry and John Amos, were fired and disfellowshipped. Another man, J. Timothy Thompson, and I helped raise up the "Philadelphia Church of God" in Edmond. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have been a party to that effort. Being very naive, my wife and I helped him produce and distribute Malachi's Message. Little did I know that Flurry would turn out to be a duplicate copy of Armstrong. I regret I had anything to do with promoting the same fraud upon the hundreds of people who became members of the PCG just as HWA had done upon the thousands who became members of the WCG.
-Mr. Don Marshall
Lt. Col. USAF, ret.
Mr. Marshall is an individual of high intelligence and character. And yet, for a time, he was misled by a cult leader. Getting duped by a cult leader - even one like Gerald Flurry - can happen to just about anyone. One final bit of information on Flurry. On the evening of Sept. 18 of last year, Flurry was arrested in a parking lot of a university in Edmond, Oklahoma. According to the police report, Flurry had been drinking and fell asleep in his car with empty beer cans on the front seat. What he was doing driving about a college campus late at night is anybody's guess. After discovering that Flurry was unable to either get the car into gear or to stand up the police officer asked to see his driver's license. Instead of complying, Flurry reportedly handed the officer a twenty dollar bill. When the police officer returned the twenty, Flurry upped the ante by five bucks. He was then arrested.
From Issue 55 (May 1994)
Flurry Again Praises Flurry (abridged)
It's embarrassing to have to report a story like this. But Gerald Flurry is at it again. In the February 1994 issue of his Philadelphia Trumpet he again blew his own horn - loudly. The cover story was a piece by Flurry in which he extolled his own prophetic powers in supposedly having predicted the January Northridge earthquake. Flurry began his editorial: "I made some astounding statements about the California earthquake - BEFORE IT STRUCK! Let me quote myself from a sermon given to our Church on December 21, 1991..." He then went on to give a quote from his sermon which contained this "prophecy":
What if there is another massive earthquake on this earth - maybe from two years by the time this booklet [about the book of Amos] goes out? I'm not saying that's going to happen. I don't know. But I KNOW THAT THE LION HAS ROARED, BRETHREN!
Later in the article he quoted from his own work, Malachi's Message: "You are going to see THE DATE OF MR. ARMSTRONG'S DEATH TAKES ON MORE SIGNIFICANCE AS TIME GOES ON. Mr. John Amos and I were disfellowshipped on December 7, 1989 - 40 days before the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong's death. The number 40 is significant in the Bible.
The fact that the Northridge quake (actually centered in nearby Reseda) happened on January 17, not on January 16 (the anniversary of HWA's death), didn't phase Flurry. After all, he was just a few hours off in his prophecy. So, he said, that didn't matter.
In his editorial he humbly writes: "We must understand that my stunning statements are not based on human reasoning [true - ed.] or on human prediction [not true - ed.]. They are based on God's word and His Work."
Flurry is just not getting the respect he thinks he deserves. In England, when the Daily Express ran one of his ads (with a photo of HWA) on Feb. 12, the editors fittingly put it next to a wristwatch ad that had in large print the headline, "Watch out - there's a fake about." Then, on Sunday, Feb. 20, the Edmond Evening Sun (pp. 1A and 6A) ran a front-page exposť on Flurry titled "Is It A Cult Or 'God's Church'?"
One final comment on Flurry. In our last issue we reported how in October, Flurry had been arrested when found drunk behind the steering wheel of a car parked in a university parking lot. To his followers, Flurry explained away this episode by saying the law was unfair and should be changed and by claiming that the officer who arrested him, Brandon C. Berryhill, was a WCG member (the WCG denies this). On February 23, Flurry pleaded nolo contendere to the main charge of "APC" - being in actual physical control of an automobile while intoxicated (like DUI - Driving Under the Influence) and was fined $400 plus $200 in victim's compensation plus court costs. In addition, he may face a term of incarceration. His date of sentencing has been suspended to Feb. 23, 1995. But Flurry apparently doesn't feel he will ever have to show up. He has been telling followers he expects to flee to Petra in Jordan sometime this year and perhaps as soon as June. We here at the Report wish him a pleasant journey.
From Issue 60 (October 1995)
Flurry Gets Flakier
Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God continues to grow on the outer fringes of Armstrongism. Most appealing to the Flurryites is the prospect of "fleeing" - not from Flurry, unfortunately, but to Petra in the Jordanian desert. The July issue of Flurry's Philadelphia Trumpet featured a cover article about this locale, Flurry's idea of a sun-filled vacation. Another article, "Elijah Has Come Already - and They Knew Him Not," centered on the life of FIurry's idol, Herbert W. Armstrong. The issue contained four pictures of the deified Apostle. Flurry, who claims to be Elisha and a number of other biblical personalities, continues to gain new followers, but it appears that he is doing so only by becoming ever more fanatical. One of our readers, in close contact with members of Flurry's group, sent us the following information:
Prospective members of Gerald Flurry's church must recite: "I believe that Herbert W. Armstrong is the endtime Elijah." Flurry has now mixed diet and religion: white rice and white bread are a sin. The Philadelphians have also adopted a policy of racial discrimination. It is now a sin for persons of different racial backgrounds to fraternize on all but the most superficial levels. According to Flurry, the wearing of jewelry is sinful. Heart pendants are demonic and will send the wearer to the lake of fire.
From Issue 67 (December 1997)
Of all the WCG spinoffs, the one that currently seems to be the most dynamic is Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God (PCG). Bruce Bell of New York writes:Mr. Bell's enthusiasm is not shared by all who have checked out the PCG. Eric Bernard of New York has been monitoring the publications and broadcasts of Flurry's organization and he writes:
Believe it or not, the PCG has been doing an outstanding job of performing God's end-time commission. All the other broken offshoots are weak and trembling now and are definitely Laodicean. Many ridiculed the PCG, but look at them now: Solvent, powerful, full of grace and truth, imbued with a power from on high!Flurry's Philadelphia Trumpet magazine frequently publishes articles about Jordan. It was even the cover story for his July 1996 issue. And we have learned that substantial PCG money has gone into a number of projects in Jordan as a means of maintaining contacts with high-ranking officials there. Those contacts are apparently intended to serve as a foot in the door for the planned exodus to Petra. Such contacts also impress many PCG members who apparently believe that a one-way ticket to the Jordanian desert will be their ultimate salvation. A trip to Petra is one of the Armstongite carrots that Flurry offers his devotees. On the stick side, secrecy and, a heavy-handed ministry also come into play. Dr. L. Jackson of Maryland told us:
Flurry praises HWA as the greatest man who ever lived. Then Flurry proclaims himself to be HWA's successor with a "double portion" of HWA's spirit - thus saying that he, Flurry, is twice as great as the greatest man who ever lived. Flurry's followers are deceived, duped, and willingly brainwashed. They are in deep trouble.
Flurry has written articles stressing that, as the only representative of God on earth, his followers must have complete faith in him. He is preparing his church to follow him in flight to "The Place of Safety" - Petra [in the desert of Jordan]. He has not stated this explicitly, but lately many of his articles have strongly implied that at a certain time, God will contact him personally to proclaim the "time of flight." Shades of Jim Jones!The Flurry Gestapo probably did him a favor. Another AR reader, David Cavall of New York, writes:
I wrote a letter to Mr. Flurry and said that as I had been a WCG member, I might like to attend one of his churches. I called the phone number they gave me and a stoic voice informed me they would have to "visit me" first. Then came an avalanche of personal questions. Flurry's new-old church is just like, and maybe worse than, Armstrong's in the '50s and '60s. And, no, I didn't got permission to attend.Flurry, who sees himself as having taken on Herbert Armstrong's Elijah mantle, has taken his followers ever further into heresy. Unlike Darrell Conder, who has subtracted from scripture by declaring the New Testament bogus, Flurry has added onto the Christian canon by teaching that some of Herbert Armstrong's writings are de facto scripture. For example, he teaches that HWA's books The Mystery of the Ages and The United States and Britain in Prophecy are as important as the very Bible itself. Of those two works Flurry has stated:
I was briefly involved with PCG and it was unbelievable. The ministers are arrogant, condescending ignoramuses who are biblically ignorant.... They use subtle and not so subtle methods of keeping you in the organization. They are at least as dangerous as the WCG was in its heyday. They are also getting bigger and richer.Also appended to the Bible is Malachi's Message, Flurry's magnum opus which is supposed to be the "little book" prophesied in Rev. 10: 10, and whose last seven chapters Flurry equates with the "seven thunders" of Rev. 10:3-4. Flurryites are taught that "MM" is a divinely inspired writing and to encourage its veneration, Flurry now subjects his followers to a Catholic-like catechism whereby his followers repeatedly go through long strings of questions which they must answer appropriately. Examples:
There is a colossal reason why Christ moved us to print both these books. WITHOUT THEM WE CAN'T UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE OR GOD'S MASTER PLAN! That's how critical they are today! [1/21/97 co-worker letter]
Q: Who fulfilled the Elijah role in this century, and restored all things? A: Herbert W. Armstrong. Q: Whom have the Laodicean ministers truly disfellowshipped? A: Mr. Armstrong (and by extension Christ Himself). Q Who then is the man who is the spiritual father of the ministers today? A: Mr. Armstrong. Q Who has replaced Christ as the head of the WCG? A: The man of sin. [etc., etc., ad nauseam.]
From Issue 69 (July 1998)
Flurry Now Laodicean
Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) has been one of the more successful WCG spinoff groups. With its Key of David telecast and slick Philadelphia Trumpet magazine leading the way, it has continued to experience steady growth since its inception in 1989. Now, however, the Flurry organization is beginning to experience the same kinds of troubles that have beset virtually all the other major WCG offshoots.
Within just the last few months, PCG ministers Ron Roth, Mike Okamura, and Randy Schafer have parted company with Flurry taking with them tithe-paying PCG members in a number of states. The three have made numerous accusations about the PCG. They say Flurry's organization is authoritarian and that its ministers are encouraged to spy on members and behave like army officers whose commands are never to be questioned. They say that Flurry now improperly claims to be a prophet, and that the place of safety doctrine is emphasized in order to make the saving of the flesh the principal focus of attention for PCG members. All this is done, they say, because the PCG hierarchy is less driven by a desire for righteousness than by an overwhelming desire for money. Sound familiar?
Schafer also doubts Flurry's claim that his book Malachi's Message was personally delivered to him by a great angel and that it was intended to be a part of the Book of Revelation. If that is the case, says Schafer, why then has Flurry revised the book a number of times since the angel originally gave it to him? Mike Okamura additionally points out that in Malachi's Message Flurry claims that WCG Pastor General Joseph Tkach Sr. is the prophetic "Joshua," but that "Joshua" is supposed to be alive at the second coming of Jesus Christ, while Tkach Sr. has been dead now for almost three years.
Roth is now distributing an open letter to Flurry which invokes the Armstrongite theory of church eras to show that, among other things, Flurry does not really head the Philadelphia era of the church as he claims, but that Flurry actually heads the final Laodicean era. In his letter, Roth quotes II Thes. 2:11 which talks about God causing his people to believe a lie. Writes Roth:Roth is now convinced that "the Philadelphia era was located in Pasadena; the Laodicean era, the seventh and final era, is located in Edmond, OK." Roth says he is only waiting now for the Two Witnesses.
WHAT IS THE LIE? The lie is that the leader of the PCG is telling his members that through their support of his church they will receive salvation. Malachi's Message, on page 144 epitomizes the lukewarm attitude by saying, "Backing and supporting this message is your ticket to a place of safety and a magnificent reward. This is how God makes up His jewels!" Here you are promising a place of safety to those who support the work of the PCG. It is the development of our character that God measures when He makes up His jewels, not the supporting of any work.