Fun With Prophecy
Tape by Ron Kelly of Worldwide Church of God
Given June 2, 1990
The following transcription clearly shows how Ron Kelly used humor to disarm the members while making them believe that somehow they were at fault for believing in the prophecies of Herbert Armstrong. He refers to these false prophecies as "thoughts" and tries to make it seem as though members made these things up (confusion). He subtly shames them for holding on to beliefs that had been taught in the Worldwide Church of God for decades, without ever holding HWA accountable for perpetuating those beliefs. These are all tactics that religious cults have used when making new changes in their organization. (My words will be in blue text in brackets. All grammar errors are those of the speaker.)
"Ron Kelly, soothed the tumultuous minds of the members by assuring their ranks would be swelled to ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND--all of whom would be taken to (Petra) a place of safety before Ted's dreaded prophecies could fall on the wicked world which would be left behind." (Excerpted from Armstrongism: Religion or Rip-Off? - An Exposé of the Armstrong Modus Operandi by Marion J. McNair, 1977, p. 191)
"I have a number of slides that I want to show you and get your reaction to this first in a series...I want to see what you think." [RK begins his sermon with a slide show and showing members the city of Petra.]
"You will probably instantly recognize that this is the entrance to the rose red city of Petra. Petra is the subject of some interest in the Church of God." [Right from the start, Petra is downplayed as having some interest in the WCG, when in reality Petra was central to the WCG's doctrine. HWA promised the members that they would flee to the Place of Safety before the Great Tribulation and remain there for 3-1/2 years for their "final training." Salvation would be assured to those who made it to Petra. This is not a light doctrine. RK does a great disservice to the members for sidestepping this whole issue and does not bring truth to light.]
"...the thousands of caves that dot the surrounding hills." [describes the slides in details and points out the caves] "When you saw that series of slides, what did you think? What came to mind? Well, of course, it's Petra, and you thought of some historic things, you thought of Jordan, you thought of the Ancient Israelites perhaps, but I would imagine many of you thought "Place of Safety." [He says this in a playful, cocky voice.] "Because that's almost been synonymous over the years. Too many of us, when we viewed this place, we've talked in our conversations about Petra and the Place of Safety, sometimes virtually synonymous." [RK begins deploying "shaming tactics" against the members. How could members be so dumb to think that Petra and the Place of Safety were synonymous? Because HWA taught that they were one and the same. RK never brings this up! Here was the perfect chance for RK to expose the origins of how Petra came to be known as the Place of Safety in the WCG and how this phony belief isn't found in the Bible. But he doesn't ever hold Herbert Armstrong accountable for this teaching. Instead, he will continue to make the members feel as if somehow they were responsible for it.]
"Now let me show you a second sequence of slides and you tell me what comes to your mind when we see them." [RK begins to show slides of Vail, Colorado. He describes Vail in detail during the slide show.]
"What did you think when you saw this series of slides? You probably thought, "Great skiing!" That's a normal thing to think when you think of Vail, Colorado...You might have thought 'Feast of Tabernacles.' It's truly one of our gorgeous Feast of Tabernacles sites...You probably didn't think "Place of Safety." Well, stand by. If you are not thoroughly convinced in a few moments, then I will be surprised [pauses] about some fascinating 'new thoughts' and I'm saying that, somewhat facetiously. If you like to title sermons, then let's call today's sermon, 'Fun with Prophecy.'" [Chuckling by members can be heard in the background.]
"Or an alternate title: 'The Beast, 666' and all those other numbers. I know a lot of you in this audience are very interested in prophecy, and rightly so. You should be." [At this point, RK encourages this behavior of "being interested in prophecy." Later, he will discourage it. This is all part of the double-talk.]
"It is one of the fascinating subjects of the Bible and we have noted that the Bible--depends on how you count the chapters--between a third and maybe downwards to a quarter of the Bible, or books of prophecy, verses of prophecy, if you take them in their total, surely one third of the verses of the Bible could be considered 'prophetic.' So it's a fascinating subject to us." [RK is backing HWA's teaching that one third of the Bible is prophecy, although he attempts to downgrade it to "a quarter." RK never explains why prophecy is a "fascinating subject" to the members. This is what HWA focused on and had his member focus on, but RK wants members to think that the "fascination" was their own doing].
"If you want a more serious title rather than a humorous title, we might ask the question, 'Just what do we know about prophecy?' And I think that's an important subject, as we live in these times that WE have tended to call, so frequently, 'The End Times.'" [Condescending tones are used. Again, RK subtly shifts blame onto the members for engaging in this behavior, instead of pointing out that HWA repeatedly taught that this was the End Times and The Work had to be completed. Would members have given up to 30% of their gross income if they had thought the End Times weren't coming for the next 50 years? Of course not! HWA squeezed money out of his followers by scaring them into believing that they lived in the final few years before the End. RK does not reveal the true motives of this teaching to the members and leaves them feeling that somehow they were responsible for another erroneous belief.]
"What do we know? Now to keep you sitting on your chair for a few moments, we are going to see, in a few moments, exactly who the Beast really is. [Says this teasingly, trying to relax the members for some fun.]
I know you've all speculated from time to time of who he might be, and you've had historic anti-types of who the Beast was, looking forward, but now we can reveal to you today who he really is." [Tries to build up suspense.]
"But before we get to the mysterious 666--the Beast and who he is--let's talk about this Place of Safety for a moment." [RK is jumping around from subject to subject to confuse the members.]
"I showed some slides of Petra, a place which many speculate [condescending tones are used again] might have some significance prophetically. Where do we get such an idea? Well, it is from the Bible, of course, that we have drawn a lot of speculation about this thought of a Place of Safety." [Now RK blames the Bible for this idea, instead of telling members that it was HWA and Loma Armstrong's doing. He minimizes the Place of Safety as a "thought," as if it was perpetuated subliminally through "thoughts" by the members instead of telling the truth about this doctrine being preached in countless Sabbath sermons, and by Gerald Waterhouse.]
"Let's go to Revelation, chapter 12. In the book of Revelation are many prophecies about the time leading up to the Second Coming of Christ; the flow of world events, from the time of the apostle John late in the 1st century, forward to our time today. And in that context in Chapter 12 are some very interesting verses about God's people and protection. The Bible, by the way, never uses the term "Place of Safety" even in the way we use it, but it does talk about God's people and God's protection. Verse 6 is one of those verses." [Notice that RK tries to justify this teaching as Biblical, even though it isn't.]
"Using the symbolism of a woman representing The Church, the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there, 1260 days. Now here's one of those 'prophetic numbers' [says with sarcasm], twelve hundred and sixty. And probably many of you have some artwork in the margins of your Bible here--some mathematic calculations, some dates and numbers, some addition and some subtraction, to show what that one thousand two hundred days represents. And you might chain reference to a Scripture that shows in prophecy a day can be equal to a year."
"In verse 14 of the same chapter is another verse of similar terminology. [Reads verse about the woman flying into the wilderness.] The woman again--The Church, being protected--the symbolic wings of a great eagle." [Talks about a mother eagle and her young learning to fly and compares this to God protecting His Church.]
"He will swoop down under them, symbolically at least, and let the Church nestle correctly and protectively on His back and spare us. We've seen that analogy--the wings of an eagle, flying into the wilderness where for a time, one year, times, two years, and half a time, a half a year, The Church is spared or protected." [Goes into a long, confusing discussion about church history and the significance of the 1260 years and how it can be applied historically or politically.]
"Now, in the Church we've also taken a close look at those Scriptures and mused over the possibility of it being literally fulfilled in the time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ. A literal 3-1/2 years--or a literal 42 months--a literal 3-1/2 years in which God's Church would, as it states in these verses, fly to the wilderness on the wings of an eagle, where she would be spared persecution, the final 3-1/2 years leading up to the Second Coming of Christ. Now there's probably no one in this room that has not heard that expounded in a variety of ways and puzzled over how, where, and when these events would take place--which has lead to a great deal of speculation as I was showing in the first set of slides that perhaps Petra is this place." [RK again does not hold HWA responsible for this teaching, nor Gerald Waterhouse for traveling from church area to church area to perpetuate these "speculations" in 3-5 hour sermons.]
"It just so happens that I believe this place is Vail and in a moment I will show you why--from the Bible! This is 'fun with prophecy,' remember? So don't take me too seriously--fun with prophecy." [Tries to make this a joke to disarm members.]
"Revelation, chapter 3, is another verse that gives us some reason to pause and think about prophecy in the light of the Church and being protected. In Revelation 3, verse 10, where remarks are addressed to a church in the ancient city of Philadelphia...but to the church of Philadelphia we read, 'Because you have kept my command to persevere, I will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth.' So this church, Philadelphia, is going to be spared some of the agonies of persecution that the world will suffer, in the prophetic times. And so we have put those Scriptures together--Rev. 12 and Rev. 10 and thus we have formulated a thought in the Church in this Era that we are that Era, and that we will be protected in that period during that 3-1/2 years in a place in the wilderness, being taken on the symbolic wings of a great eagle." [Does not mention that Gerald Waterhouse taught that Boeing jets represented the great eagle and they would be purchased for use to help the members flee.]
"Now we get some idea, and I'm going to summarize a few quick thoughts here, because you may ask the question logically, 'Well why would we even speculate that the place would be Petra?'" [There was no speculation. It was taught by the organization as doctrine.] There are several reasons. [Goes off onto Isaiah 2:10-12, using the word Petra. Explain how Petra is a Greek word, and how the people were told to "enter the rock."]
"And so some people, transposing the languages, back and forth, have said, 'Hmmm, I think maybe it's Petra. I wonder if it could be Petra.' And some people are absolutely convinced it is Petra. [Shaming tactics] Isaiah 42 is another...to why some people see this symbolism. [Reads Verse 11] Sela means 'rock' or Petra."
"Now there are numerous other allusions [condescending tone used again] that the people have used the significance of Petra in the ancient world as a refuge, and other Scriptures...so over the course of almost half a century, there are those that have speculated about that." [RK does not confront HWA as the one who taught this lie for almost half a century. He continues to blame it on "some people."]
"I would like to, for the sake of fun, take a little different view for you." [Recaps about the slide show on Petra, and announces that he is going to present Vail as his 'Place of Safety' theory. There is a light chuckle coming from the audience. RK is beginning to play psychological head games with the members by sounding gleeful.]
"Now I am taking my equal time today to bring you 'Kelly's Heresy of the Place of Safety.'" [Only a few members chuckle since they are understandably confused and feeling discomfort. RK begins to unleash a series of foolish questions, trying to make light of Scriptures by saying Vail is "high in the Rocky Mountains," comparing it to Greek "Petra Mountains."]
"Why, I could almost stop right now! Why, that's proof positive to some." [Condescending tone used again. RK belittles those "some" he insists misinterpret the Bible without ever naming HWA as the one who did this. RK goes into another confusing comparison about snow representing purity and righteousness. He purposefully disarms the audience with more humor by imitating Gerald Waterhouse's famed phrase, "The Place of Final Preparation and Training!" and gains a few more laughs from the audience.]
"If we're going to spend 3 l/2 years in the place of final preparation and training, what better place to spend it as [in a] beautiful snowcapped mountain range, as opposed to a dirty, hot ole sandy desert?" [Says this in exaggerated tone and elicits more laughs from the audience. He discusses more foolish comparisons from Scripture to his "Vail Theory," and brings up that an airport has been constructed near Vail. He discusses Loma Dillion Armstrong's name and about the symbolism in her middle name.]
"It was to Loma Dillon Armstrong that the truth was first revealed, and that Mr. Armstrong was inspired as a result by Loma Dillon Armstrong's... [cuts off rest of sentence] Now you say, 'Where do people come up with these ideas?' I'll tell you how we came up with these wonderful heresies." [Continues to discuss a story about being snowed in at Vail with a ski group and after drinking a few "hot totties," they came up with all this. The audience breaks out in laughter. Now that RK is confident he has the audience's trust, he will begin to plant more notions.]
"Now folks, surely the greatest skeptics among us would now be convinced that this must be the Biblical Place of Safety. [Begins another slide show about Petra] Wouldn't you rather have a half-million dollar condo in Vail as a place to spend 3-1/2 years? Now, remember, this is all for fun. But I wanted to make a point. Because I've been able to take words from the Bible and thoughts from a place--now--and tie them together, and draw what no doubt seems like a very humorous and far-flung conclusion, a radical thing, and surely no one would take me seriously, in spite of all my personal human desires to the contrary that we should consider Vail as the Place of Safety. But then you say, 'Now wait a minute! Have we drawn some equally humorous conclusions as we have viewed Biblical prophecy over a variety of times and numbers and places and events?" [Jumps to a different topic and discusses the number 666. Prattles on for the next 20 minutes about this "mystical number" and playing "number games." He confuses the audience about how to calculate people's names to prove who the Beast is. Discusses how the name of the Beast could be calculated to represent Nero, the Papacy, Ellen G. White, Hitler, the Kaiser, Sun Myung Moon, the computer in Brussels, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, and Pat Robertson. The audience breaks out in laughter when RK reveals that John Halford is the Beast.]
"You see what we do, though? [Chastising voice used on audience] We play games with prophecy. [Quickly reverts to a playful tone] And you can have fun playing games with prophecy and I titled the sermon 'Fun with Prophecy.' And John Halford, in spite of this, remains my friend."
"Now we have found ourselves, in the Church, in prophetic times looking for answers to prophetic puzzles, and prophetic terminologies. We have, sort of a hobby, so to speak, about doing that, you and I do, and that's fine, so long as we don't let it lead us to wrong conclusions." [In the same breath, RK chastises members for making a hobby out of prophecy, and then tells them that it's okay to do. This causes cognitive dissonance in the members.]
"So long as it doesn't lead us to look at incorrect sequences of events, looking for numbers, people, places and events to fulfill prophecy, only to have our prophecies disappear in time, passing it by because it didn't happen in the way we thought, where we thought, to whom we thought." [Members did not think up these things on their own. It was taught from the pulpit and in the WCG's literature.]
"And we have a trail left behind us today, you and I do, of unfulfilled, mistakenly interpreted prophecies which were, as it turns out, to be frank with you, little more than prophecy games and speculations." [RK refuses to call this what it really is: False prophecies. And he refuses to point out that is was HWA who made these countless false prophecies that members centered their lives around. Reads Matthew 24; discusses the sequence of events in the Olivet prophecy.]
"This has lead us in the Church, over the years, to look for the beginnings of those sequences...We have looked for a specific figure to fulfill a specific event that would trigger the sequences." [HWA taught members to look for these specific events to be fulfilled.]
"We have looked for special wars to be the trigger of sequences. We have watched for famine, earthquakes, and pestilences. Over the many years, you have built, if you were zealous, a file-folder of news clippings and information that have made you watch the world's events to see the triggering of a sequence." [Members were taught to do this by the leadership. There were special columns written by John Halford and Dexter Faulkner in The Worldwide News1 that focused on world events. They were the "watch dogs," warning the members about these triggering events. Note: Read quotes from Richard Frankel's 1980 sermon on Petra being the place of safety.] [Update: John Halford died of cancer in October 2014.]
"Now I think it's a very safe statement to say, and I hope you all agree with me, I don't think I'm doing something heretical here, I think you'll all agree that no single event, no single prophet or messiah, no single war, no single drought or famine, no single earthquake, no single disease or pestilence, has yet triggered any sequence that has lead to the Second Coming of Christ. And if there is a sequence, it has to be yet in the future, but by that very statement it makes some people still want to look for the sequence." [Discusses that the new WCG booklet by David Hulme, "When Will Christ Return?" points out that there will always be false Messiahs, wars, famines, droughts and earthquakes. Talks about the big earthquake of 1987, and the drought for the past several years. Admits that they have sent reporters to cover it, and have written a sequence of articles and television articles, which, "we introduced that thought." He defends himself by saying that they weren't trying to call the Drought of '88 the trigger, but merely announcing that there would be droughts and that '88 was "one of them," and that there have been scores of droughts in the past 2000 years.]
"A series of signs have been important in the Church. Let's go to Leviticus 26 and see how we, in the past, took a series of events in the Bible, applied them to conditions in the world we live in today, and were wrong, to predict such a series of sequences. Now does that shake anybody's faith?" [RK puts the members on the spot. He is implying that belief in false prophecy shouldn't shake one's faith, instead of pointing out that they had all been following a false prophet.]
"For me to stand in this auditorium and say that we who speculated that certain events, or names, or numbers, in the past were wrong...I was among those who did that. You might have been among those who did that. I will stand before you with a certain amount of embarrassment to be frank and say, 'we were wrong,' but I'll still say it." [Apparently RK isn't embarrassed enough to admit he had been following a false prophet and taught others to do the same.]
"I'm still willing to say it, and why not? Why should that hurt to say we didn't understand it. And should it not teach us a lesson?" [Continues to read Leviticus 26 and the "seven times" punishment] These sequences of prophecy were interpreted by some to be a series of 7 year events that would begin and then culminate to establish God's Kingdom on Earth..." [Talks about the drought of 1951, the Korean War, the Atomic Bomb, the Russian threat, bomb shelters, and Sputnik]
"Indeed, we said, America has lost the pride of her power." [Discusses 1952, '53, and '54 and articles he clipped from the newspaper about "rabid bats" and "coyotes and skunks" and how they would render America helpless. Talks about baptizing tours in 1960-61 and warning people about the fulfillment of prophecy.]
"Sounds so silly today that we would have said such a thing. And some of you who are younger would say, "Aw, we didn't say that, did we? [pauses for effect] Yeah...we did. [Said in sheepish tones. Audiences laughs.] Not all of us, maybe, but we did." [Talks more about history, about the forming of the EEC]
"Now that was proof positive that we were on the right track and these things were rolling right along, and would culminate in 1972. That final cycle would begin in 1972, but because the Tribulation was only going to be 3-1/2 years, that last time would be 'cut short'...so 1972 would trigger the final 7-year period but it would only last 3-1/2 years because the Second Coming of Christ would come half way into it and intervene and stop it." [Goes off onto another subject--the 19-year time cycles; doesn't ever address that HWA taught that 1975 would be Christ's return. Talks about the first broadcast on Radio Luxembourg in 1953.]
"Now some enterprising mathematical games player said, 'Isn't that interesting. Just like in the early New Testament church, 19 years later, the gospel leaped to Europe.'" [RK fails to point out that it was HWA who played this "mathematical game" and told his followers in the Mystery of the Ages that it was 19 years later that the gospel went to Radio Luxembourg. Goes on about 19-year time cycles and how it led to 1972. Talks about Daniel and the 1335-year prophecy. Talks about how it was calculated that the Church [WCG] was going to Petra on January 7, 1972.]
"There could be no doubt. Was there doubt? Should you have believed it? Should you have made any plans based upon it? [Talks in a loud, challenging voice] Well I think, you know, [stutters and muses] we've had 19 more years virtually gone by. You look back upon that and we chuckle a little bit about it, which is okay." [Those members who sold their homes and businesses are not chuckling. Read more about the 1972 fiasco.]
"We had a program outlined where the Church was going to flee on Sunday; we were going to Petra, we were going to buy…uh, we were going to go aboard a fleet of airplanes. It--wasn't it interesting--that 747's, Lockheed 1011's, and DC-10, jumbo jets, and maybe Airbuses...but we had jumbo jets now capable of taking 144,000 people on several flights from all over the world and somebody thought that there was an airstrip being built right outside Petra. Maybe you remember the rumors--to accommodate these jets that were going to take us. We played games." [sounds incredulous using a "Can you believe how stupid we were?" voice. Who was responsible for starting the game in the first place? Members never thought this teaching was a "game."]
"Uh, I mean it was fun and it was speculation, but it wasn't always interpreted as fun and speculation." [Who said it was fun? Child survivors were frightened to death, especially if one of their parents was considered "unconverted" and wouldn't be able to flee with the rest of the family.]
"What I gave you about Vail is fun--foolishness if you please. Who's the Beast? It's fun! It's a word game! It's a number game! But--if you take these things too seriously, you have a problem. [The problem was HWA and his organization who would have put people out for not taking these beliefs seriously. RK repeatedly resorts to subtle shaming tactics to get members to reject their former beliefs.] I hope you can see what I mean."
"Now I want to put some words of caution in. Let's go to 2 Peter 3:3-4, lest you draw now a totally wrong conclusion as to where I'm going to end up today. 2 Peter 3:3-4 warns us not to get into a flippant [starts scolding], casual, fun-with-prophecy attitude that leads you to an opposite conclusion." [Well which is it, Ron? Another example of causing cognitive dissonance by telling members to have "fun with prophecy" and later telling them that the Bible warns against having a "fun with prophecy" attitude. Reads 2 Peter 3:3-4]
"So I'm not up here today having fun with prophecy to implant doubt or discouragement in your mind. Rather just the opposite. I'm trying to ask us today to take an intelligent, careful look at prophecy. [Reads Luke 21:29-31] When you see the things prophesied in the Bible begin to happen, know that the Kingdom of God is near. But you see, He didn't say that you couldn't misinterpret some of these things and draw some wrong conclusions, and indeed we have." [Yes, Jesus did warn about false prophets, but RK will avoid discussing this. He excuses false prophecies as "misinterpretations". If the WCG was God's only true Church, then why would God allow His apostle to misinterpret Scripture?]
"I don't think anyone would now look back on the events from 1951, or the 19-year time cycle theory, and have it hold any validity." [Discusses a person he met who said that the Church wasn't ready in 1972 and had to go through a third 19-year time cycle. RK does not explain that it was HWA who blamed the members for Christ not returning because the "members weren't without spot or wrinkle" and the Church hadn't "gotten herself ready" and had to be "put back on track." This was his excuse for his failed prophecy. RK points out that the "Church is back on track" but the 19-year time cycle will expire next January and he hasn't packed his bags, nor intends to. He makes a joke about going to Vail in January every year and gets the audience to laugh.]
"So you can draw some wrong conclusions if you know what I mean." [Talks about being in the process of preaching the gospel to the whole world as a witness. He states that The World Tomorrow program and Church [WCG] literature has "taken a very cautious approach."]
"A conservative approach, if you please, to prophesying wild things and setting dates. You have seen no programs proving where the Place of Safety is; you have seen no programs about the Beast and the mysterious number 666, and I don't think you will any time soon." [Comments how some will say The World Tomorrow program has "watered down" prophecy. RK claims it's a strong voice that gives an introduction to the world, not the Church, to the Kingdom of God. Confesses that he was "one of those people" who told people in the 1950s about "rabid bats and 7-year time cycles," etc., and states:
"And I am embarrassed. And if these events don't happen, you will know there has been a false prophet among you! [The audience chuckles.] That was dumb to say. Because you know what's true? There was a false prophet--me--among them." [RK is willing to be the scapegoat and never says that he learned these false prophecies from HWA and minimizes his actions by stating that "it was done sincerely."]
"Perhaps there was no major harm done, but I do know some harm was done because I know people made decisions based on dates; they made decisions about marriage, about children, about their health, about home buying, about careers, about educations..." [Another duplicitous statement. RK insists that no major harm done, but gives a long list of things that members had suffered due to HWA's false prophecies. How can RK make such a callous statement? Major harm was done to the members, and RK can never hold HWA accountable.] You see, I hurt for that. [Apparently he didn't hurt enough to tell the truth about Herbert Armstrong.]
"I don't want people to do that in the Church, or viewers of The World Tomorrow telecast, or readers of our literature--to make those kind of mistakes again. The lesson we should have learned is that if you don't know when the date is, who the person is, and what the numbers mean, don't - state - them - publicly. [annunciates between each word] I don't care. You can sit around with a group of friends and start playing with 1335s, 1290s, 1260s, 42 months, 666s and all those numbers. That's fine. Just consider it speculation." [The lesson that members should have learned is, "Don't follow a false prophet."]
[RK discusses members stating that the Church will "lose it's zeal" when prophecy is taken away.] "Why? Why would the Church lose its zeal to proclaim the wonderful message of the Kingdom of God to the world because we can't name names, places and dates??" [RK gives a long analogy about how God views prophecy from His perspective. Tries to give a time frame from Adam through to today. Claims that when we are within a century of Christ's return, we are in the last 2% of time. Compares this to a human lifespan. Gives distracting equations and states that members have a job to do no matter how much time is left. RK states that this doesn't discourage him and that he's excited about the work that's left to do. Since the ministry only pays one tithe, he can stay excited, but understandably, members cannot.]
[RK emphasizes that members must "be ready whenever that occurs."] Because I don't know who the Beast is, doesn't bother me. But when I do know who it is, it will be very interesting...But you know we thought it was a variety of people from the Kaiser, to Hitler, to Franz Joseph Strauss. Do you remember the Franz Joseph Strauss-Beast-Theory?? And some people now say, 'Otto Von Hapsburg.'" [Makes a joke about not being able to make his name come out to 666, and the audience laughs.]
"And when we get to those last 3-1/2 years in which the Church would be in its final preparation and training for the Kingdom, that would be about the last two weeks of the human life." [RK, again, engages in duplicity as he supports the idea that the Church [WCG] would go into a final preparation and training in the 3-1/2 year time period.]
[Reads Acts 13:41 and states that the early apostles read it and realized it was about them. RK states that the phrase "The Work" comes from this verse.] "The Work. You and I are a part of what we call the Work. The Work is the job of proclaiming and teaching the message of Christ, to go out and make disciples of all nations, yes, as a witness and as a warning before the end comes." [Warning? Didn't RK just tell members that it was foolish to speculate about the end? Reads Rom. 9:28 and discusses the "short work."]
"Jesus Christ sets the tone in John 9 the same way we ought to do it. We're doing the Work of God, carrying out the instructions of Christ. We have a Church of enthusiasm and excitement [And one completely devoid of truth], a Church growing in wisdom and in knowledge and in balance, and how to proclaim the gospel to the world without falling into the traps of number games and prophetic puzzles that lead to embarrassment in the wrong way." [RK may be "embarrassed," but he isn't sorry. Reads John 9:4 and talks about working while it's day. Discusses Jesus and the Passover. Discusses that the Church was small and persecuted.]
"It's still very small, but has a very powerful voice in the world. It is day, and has been day since 1934 when the Work began in the media methods that we are presently using...It's day, and Mr. Tkach leads the Church, shining in the light, to proclaim and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world. Excitedly, with zeal, and I hope you'll never lose that zeal. [Tries to drum up enthusiasm. Talks about night will fall, but one cannot predict when that will be]. There's still a job to do, and I hope you will share in the excitement and enthusiasm. And when you think about prophecy, I hope you will think about it from a balanced, correct perspective, and realize where we are, where we're going, and the most important thing is, as Mr. Tkach is leading us, is to be prepared, to be ready, to be personally growing, to be growing as a Church, to be united as a family, but doing the Work that we've been called to do. I hope you can enjoy having a little "fun" with prophecy and at the same time, carry on as long as it's day."
******************* End of Sermon ********************
I clearly recall when Ron Kelly gave this taped sermon. After services, I heard comments from members such as, "I never believed in that stuff!" One young lady, a newer member, said, "I didn't know what he was talking about. I didn't know the Church believed all of that." Another member, standing next to us, quickly interjected in a snooty tone, "Some people, who didn't know what they were talking about, would take the Bible out of context and make prophecies that weren't true. As a result, some of them were dumb enough to sell their homes and quit their jobs."
Ron Kelly's propaganda worked well. Members quickly divorced themselves from the idea of going to Petra. I know I was stunned by this sermon. If we weren't going to the Petra, why had I been taught all those years that we were? If we weren't going to Petra, why did HWA teach this in his literature? Why did Gerald Waterhouse travel from congregation to congregation teaching about our "final training"? And how would we obtain our salvation if we weren't going to be there? Why should I continue to give sacrificially when "the Work" could go on forever?
I gave all I had because I was made to believe that time was short. Still, I was a very loyal member and was taught to never question headquarters. I trusted Ron Kelly. After all, he was one of the presenters of The World Tomorrow program. How could he ever do anything wrong? I blamed myself for lacking zeal and for being a fool to have believed in all this nonsense for the past decade. Now I see that the "new" leadership is no less deceptive than the old. They have learned how to use mind control but with a new twist. Instead of the yelling and threats, they used humor to "laugh away" all our former beliefs, and shame, condescension, and embarrassment to get us to adopt the new ones. "Wasn't that silly? Ha! Ha! Ha! How could we ever believe in such nonsense! Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, now we're more mature, and we aren't afraid to change, unlike these other churches." Jehovah's Witnesses use the same tactics. They believe that they are given "new light" and they believe they are the True Church because "they are willing to change." Of course, what they don't understand is that they, like the WCG have made so many "changes" that there won't be any unity in the Body when Christ returns. Those who have died with outdated beliefs will come up in the First Resurrection along with those who are still alive and holding completely different beliefs. But Ron Kelly and the Headquarters leadership will never point this out, nor have they ever been truthful to the members during "The Changes." Ron Kelly was willing to be the scapegoat so members wouldn't focus on Herbert Armstrong and ask too many questions. His gamble paid off handsomely as he is now one of the top men at WCG Headquarters.
Transcription and comments by Kelly Marshall
Exit & Support Network™
October 27, 2006
NOTE 7-6-08: Ron Kelly (now retired from Worldwide Church of God) claimed in this sermon that members "imagined" all these details about Petra, but he knew that this belief had been taught directly from the pulpit by other ministers. Read how Regional Director Carn Catherwood gave a sermon on the place of safety in 1981.
Memories of Petra (includes quotes at end from Petra sermons by Richard Frankel and Carn Catherwood, which reveal that members were specifically taught to believe in a literal place of safety)
Your Website Gave Us Answers to a Multitude of Questions (March 10, 2003 letter to ESN which tells of a later sermon Ron Kelly gave where he called the members "stupid" for believing in polytheism.
UPDATE: In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.)
1 In Feb. 2005 The Worldwide News in the United States changed its name to WCG Today. In May 2006 it was changed to Together. A few years later Together was no longer available Their magazine is now Christian Odyssey.