This brief article is intended to answer the above and related questions.
Who is COGwriter?
COGwriter is Bob Thiel, Ph.D. I maintain a popular personal website at www.cogwriter.com that reports on news, prophecy, and doctrinal matters of interest to those who believe the Bible. I also function as the Pastor/Overseer for the Continuing Church of God.
What Does COGwriter Mean?
COGwriter is an abbreviation for Church of God (COG) writer. The term Church of God is used here to include those Sabbatarian (sabbath-keeping) churches that are faithful to apostolic Christianity (most generally, but not exclusively, those who had some type of affiliation with the pre-1986 Worldwide Church of God, and/or hold similar beliefs).
What is Your Academic and Religious Background?
Born last century, I was baptized as an infant and at age 10 was confirmed as a Roman Catholic. I also attended Catholic school for a time. Later, as a high school junior and senior, I studied Latin and took college preparation courses.
After reading the Bible as an early teen, it quickly became apparent to me that the Church of Rome no longer seemed to practice original biblical Christianity (it made/agreed to many compromises and changes as is documented in the article Which is the Faithful: the Church of Rome or the Continuing Church of God?). So, I began to attend Salem Bible Church (SBC) for a couple of years, but while also studying Worldwide Church of God (WCG) literature. After further Bible study, and after having a meeting with the pastor of SBC who then admitted that SBC did teach certain non-biblical positions, I began to attend the Worldwide Church of God--I have kept the same faith ever since (even though the group that last had that name has not)--and remain part of the genuine Church of God. I consider myself a committed Christian that needs to follow the Apostle Jude's admonition to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
A major reason that I became part of the Church of God is that in addition to proving all things from the Bible, I truly believe that since "God is love" (1 John 4:16) that He has a plan of salvation that will ultimately result in everyone being called and nearly every one who ever lived being saved. Two must read, free online, books to demonstrate the truth of those doctrines are Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from Protestantism and Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation.
I have always considered that Jesus was Lord, God, and Savior, even when my understandings were somewhat different than I now hold. And have striven to always be a part of the true apostolic church.
After high school I attended Allan Hancock College where I majored in Liberal Arts, including taking classes in writing, religion, data processing, and philosophy. I also have a bachelor of science degree in accounting (University of LaVerne, 1980) and a master of science degree in (information) systems management (University of Southern California, 1982). I have completed, at the graduate and undergraduate levels, many classes in finance and economics. In addition, even though they were incomplete (e.g. the materials did not teach much is in the What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History? or Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome articles as two of the schools tended towards ecumenism), I have studied graduate level Early Church History from Fuller Theological Seminary and other schools in and out of the USA. By studying, listening to numerous hours of lectures, and after a lot of writing, in 2008 was granted a foreign Th.D. in early Christianity (Calvin Graduate School of Theology/CGST, which ceased using that name shortly afterwords). A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree was earned from the Union Institute and University (1993) where I studied various biological sciences and research methodologies. I also have other degrees/training, and have studied theology, both formally and informally. For example, in late 2017, I also completed a course from Dallas Theological Seminary as part of my research for a book I was writing on the Bible. Informal studies and research have continued. More information on my education can be found at the post: Banned, Ambassador Watch, Living University, and my Ph.D. and Th.D.
After the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986, the new leaders of the Worldwide Church of God began to slowly make changes to doctrines and practices (a related article of interest might be Did You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?), while denying that they were doing anything other than making certain clarifications.
After the 'new' Worldwide Church of God wrote back to me in 1995 and told me no longer to rely on the Bible for doctrine, but to rely more on opinions of scholars, I decided that it could no longer be practicing "the faith that was once for all delivered for the saints" (Jude 3). A couple of years before me, its longest time evangelist had left for the same basic reasons and I began to attend the Global Church of God, which essentially became the Living Church of God after a managerial coup within GCG. As the result of providing doctrinal and prophetic assistance to the Living Church of God, its then top leader appointed me as an advisor to the evangelists there on matters of doctrine and prophecy in the Summer of 2005.
The Continuing Church of God
On 12/16/2011, LCG evangelist Richard Ames publicly prayed that I would continue to do the evangelizing work of God as I had been doing (internet, writing and advising church leadership, radio, etc.), which also received "Amen" concurrence from evangelists Roderick C. Meredith and Douglas Winnail. Richard Ames later on 12/16/11 called my writings, including my upcoming church history and prophecy book, an "additional witness." Yet, in the year after that, much went on in the Living Church of God including the introduction of certain doctrinal, integrity, and other matters that proved to be unacceptable.
After concluding that the leadership of the Living Church of God had insufficient "love of the truth," was not truly interested in making promised corrections in order to prepare for the final end time work, that the mantle could not remain in it (see also Herbert W. Armstrong, the Philadelphia Church, & the Mantle), and getting an email that confirmed it on 12/28/12 (Roderick C. Meredith's Accusatory Letter to Bob Thiel, you can see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God), I was led to help form the Continuing Church of God Overseer and successor, a corporation sole. We have thousands with us scattered around the globe. I strive to proclaim Christ's gospel of the Kingdom (see CCOG met COG proclamation goal), adminster a church, lead the final phase of the work, and write on matters of doctrine, Christian living, prophecy, and church history (see Continuing History of the Church of God).
Along with my wife Joyce, I have been hosting Philadelphia remnant Church of God groups for over 25 years and I have given about 900 sermonettes and sermons. We have three children. One of them, Michael, sometimes writes for COGwriter. Another of them, Brian, assists with the video editing.
Hands have thrice been laid upon me by Church of God ministers for the Holy Spirit: the first was upon baptism by a WCG minister (04/01/77). And the second time was on 12/15/11 for a "double-portion" of the Holy Spirit by an ordained minister in the Living Church of God, who anointed me with oil and laid hands upon me. Responding to that, I try to do what it seems God wants (1 Timothy 4:14-16; Jude 3). Since the second time was a private matter (like King David, see 1 Samuel 16:1-9; see also Laying on of Hands), the third time was in public (like David, see 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3) on 02/09/17 by Evangelist Evans Ochieng (formerly of GCG) and Overseer Samuel Ofosu (formerly of CG7).
The "double-portion" (2 Kings 2:9-13) anointing in 2011 was God's anointing (the minister, Gaylyn Bonjour, had not intended to pray for that prior--but after he did, he stated that what he had done could not be undone) for my prophetic and evangelical role (1 Timothy 4:14-16; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:2; 1 Corinthians 12:28; see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God). Some do not always understand God's anointing and ordinations (2 Kings 9:1-11; Jeremiah 43:2; 2 Corinthians 10:7-11; 11:5); God does not always do things the way humans think He does (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9). Contrary to certain myths some wish to perpetuate, I am not self-anointed.
As far as some background, consider that On October 3, 2008, Dr. Meredith stated that God may consider me to be a prophet. We discussed the matter for probably at least 20 minutes. On October 16, 2008, LCG evangelist Dibar Apartian told me that I was "the one or the biggest threat to the church." With "the one" meaning the human being to lead the final phase of the work. Dr. Meredith brought it up again as an email I sent him on November 16, 2008 stated, "Now, you have mentioned to me a couple of times that God may regard me as a prophet. And, of course, it was you and not I that first brought that subject up." In late January/early February 2009, Dr. Meredith told me over the telephone that if he (Dr. Meredith) was raised to the office of apostle, he was considering ordaining me (Bob Thiel) as a prophet. On February 4, 2009, Dr. Meredith told me over the telephone, "You have an in-depth understanding of prophecy and details of church history. You could be a prophet--that may be what God will have you do." He also asked me to pray then that he would live another 7-15 years then--I prayed and he did (he died on May 18, 2017--just a little over 8 years later). During the Summer of 2009, Dibar Apartian expressed that I was not a threat to the church, but that God had an important role for me--essentially to lead the work at the end. In November and December 2011, I counseled with my pastor Dr. Fall, as well as LCG minister Gary Ehman, about the prophet matters. I told both of them that I thought that I needed to have hands laid upon me again in order to validate the view that I might be some type of a prophet. They both told me that, in their view related to being a prophet, baptism was scripturally sufficient. While that sounded logical, the statement from the Apostle Paul to Timothy about getting hands laid upon him (1 Timothy 4:14) gave me personal pause. And that caution led to me pray more about it. Thus, instead of concluding that I had sufficient anointing, especially considering the relative enormity of some of the ramifications of this as a conclusion, I searched the scriptures and concluded that, perhaps like Gideon (Judges 6:36-40), that I would seek further outside confirmation. And prayed God would provide that (or instead essentially provide information to deny that) when I was to visit Charlotte, North Carolina in December 2011. On December 15, 2011, LCG minister Gaylyn Bonjour, while laying hands on me, was moved by the Holy Spirit to pray that God would grant me a "double portion" of His spirit, which he said was reminiscent of the passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha as recorded in 2 Kings 2:9-13. Because LCG reneged on promises related to fixing doctrinal and other errors it acknowledged, etc., I left LCG a year later.
Since leaving LCG and beginning CCOG, I began to produce sermons and other materials for the Continuing Church of God (see also CCOG announces Bible News Prophecy magazine). Hundreds of millions have so far been reached over the internet and millions over the radio since the formation of the Continuing Church of God.
Joyce and I have traveled to many countries and essentially have been around the world.
Of those of more religious interest, we have been to Italy seven times (the Vatican six-eight times), Greece four times, Turkey (Asia Minor) thrice, Ephesus twice, and once to Fatima (in Portugal), Patmos, Izmir (Smyrna), Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Rhodes, Cappadocia, Istanbul (Constantinople), and Crete (plus traveled throughout much of the rest of the world, including Africa, Asia, North America, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific). Most of the major islands we have been to are mentioned in the article Islands and Bible Prophecy. I have also been to Jerusalem and other areas in the nation of Israel.
Theological Articles Have Been Published for How Long?
After meeting a particular elder in the old GCG in 1996, he told me that I needed to write theological articles, so I began to do so. My theological articles first started to get published around 1997.
The COGwriter webpage began in 1997 at the extreme urging of a former GCG minister as an AOL member site. It was not my idea.
In 1998, after a discussion with then GCG evangelist Larry Salyer (which he initiated), the webpage was re-named members.aol.cogwriter. The entire site officially was renamed www.cogwriter.com in 2005 (though it had the name cogwriter since 1998, cogwriter.com has only existed as a referring point since about 2001).
In addition to consulting with various individuals and groups on COG-related books and booklets, I have had approximately 200 articles published in the following religious-oriented publications:
G&S' Church of God News
Global Church News
Living Church News
The Journal: News of the Churches of God
The Sabbath Sentinel
Examiner (two positions there included: Los Angeles Church History and End Time Prophecy Examiner and National Church History & End Prophecy Examiner)
I now regularly write many of the articles in Bible News Prophecy magazine.
Does Anyone Pay You for This?
I hold no paid position in any church (I have been asked this many times) Yes, I used to sometimes receive a small amount of money from the Examiner, but it was of an inconsequential amount; but yes, I will accept reimbursement for travel and other church-related expenses.
Some Advice From Herbert W. Armstrong
Herbert W. Armstrong frequently taught:
“Don't believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD!”
Herbert W. Armstrong, Plain Truth magazine, Sept. 1963, Personal pg.1
That is great advice. And I would tell Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS, and everyone else the same thing. Here is my own slightly expanded version of the above:
“Don't simply believe me – Believe what the Bible really Teaches – Believe the Truth – Prove all things – Believe God!”
Now the same 1963 issue of the old Plain Truth shows a bit more for that quote from Herbert Armstrong:
Now the same 1963 issue of the old Plain Truth shows a bit more for that quote from Herbert Armstrong:
Don't believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD! I always say...check up! Listen without prejudice, with open mind, then check up--go to your BIBLE, and BELIEVE what you read there. (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth. September 1963.)
This is what I encourage readers of this website to do.
This is what I encourage readers of this website to do.
And I will take it one step farther. Irrespective of how any may view the role that God has for me, unless I am directly quoting the Bible, or preface a statement to something of the effect of "thus saith the Lord," I am NOT necessarily stating anything that is not subject to later correction.
So, let me make a statement here:
“Don't simply believe me– Believe what the Bible really Teaches – Believe the Truth – Prove all things – Believe God! Unless I am directly quoting the Bible, or preface a statement to something of the effect of "thus saith the Lord," I am NOT necessarily stating anything that is not subject to later correction. We who are truly part of the Church of God only accept as inspired the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament and no other document. Therefore, although other current and historical documents/articles/books/booklet/posts by various Church of God leaders throughout history often have value, as they generally also tend to contain personal opinion, we do not consider that any of them are on the same level as sacred scripture, and hence believe that they can contain error.” (Thiel B. Statement at Who is COGwriter? 12/22/12)
Why does God use certain leaders? Here is what Herbert Armstrong said about himself:
We should remember how this Church is not just something, just another church. It is something special that God has raised up.
God revealed truth to me; and if there is any reason why He has chose me, there's only one. It's not because of any righteousness of mine. It's not because of any abilities or powers of mine. I've known scores upon scores of men with better minds than I have, better personality, better appearance, more leadership. I'd say about more of everything that you think of humanly. But God has not called them or used them. Why? Why did He pick on one as inferior as I am? Because I was willing to believe Him. Adam and Eve didn't believe Him. Jesus Christ talked to thousands who didn't believe Him. Only a hundred and twenty still believed Him after Christ had talked for three and a half years to multiple thousands of people.
But I did believe Him, and I have NOT COMPROMISED WITH THAT BELIEF ONE IOTA; (Armstrong HW. Revelation 12. Sermon, April 18, 1981)
God does not see people as humans do (1 Samuel 16:7), and God knows who should lead, despite flaws and limitations.
Liars, Scoffers, and Certain Critics
While I certainly am capable of making typos or similar mistakes, there seems to be an abundance of people who post false and misleading information about me, my writings, and my background. This is happening so often, some sadly have believed the false accusers.
The true Christian Church of God, as well as those in it, have long been spoken against (Acts 28:22).
Notice what religious leaders falsely said and/or improperly encouraged to say about Jesus:
24 ... We know that this Man is a sinner. (John 9:24)
59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'" (Matthew 26:59-61)
Would you have believed the numerous false witnesses against Jesus?
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)
Will you heed Jesus' words?
Jesus taught His prophets would be reviled and spoken evil against:
11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
Consider also something else Jesus said related to the end times:
4 Take heed that no one deceives you. (Matthew 24:4)
The Apostle Paul warned:
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)
So, perhaps I should mention here that despite various lies about me:
Notice something that Jesus said:
11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
And many have reviled me and said all kinds of evil against me falsely (to see some false accusations and responses, check out the article Banned by HWA and Ambassador Watch).
Notice the following:
12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people. (John 7:12)
Notice that THERE WAS MUCH COMPLAINING about Jesus. Jesus never lied, yet people slandered Him. Would you have believed that Jesus was a deceiver like many claimed? Hopefully, not. Hopefully, you will not believe the lies against and about me.
Jesus also said to religious people:
43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God. (John 8:43-47)
Believe the truth!
The Apostle Peter warned that scoffers would rise up in the last days who discount Bible prophecy (2 Peter 3:3-7) and quite a few scoffers seem to like to improperly scoff about me in these end times. God will judge (1 Samuel 2:25; Romans 2:16), and those who have the "love of the truth" (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10) should be willing and able to discern it (Malachi 3:18; Hebrews 5:14). If you personally feel that you should negatively judge me, please base that judgment upon what I actually do, say, and/or write, and do not rely on inaccurate scoffers who misrepresent me and what I try to stand for. The Bible does not look favorably towards those who wish to believe lies (Revelation 22:15).
Perhaps it should be mentioned that Moses, Jeremiah, Amos, and the Apostle Paul also had to repeatedly 'defend themselves' from a variety of critics and unbelievers as well as assert the positions that God put them in.
Why Do This?
The simple answer is that I believe this is part of what God has called and ordained me to do (Jude 3; 1 Timothy 4:14-16; 2 Timothy 1:6). Philadelphians show brotherly love (which is what Philadelphia means) by supporting the important work of proclaiming the gospel (Matthew 24:14,28:19-20; Revelation 3:7). The final phase of the work has been began, and leading it is part of my calling.
Another reason to do this is, because I also believe Jesus when He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4), I believe that I personally must do that, which includes the following verse from Jude 3:
"...contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints"
Which is the keynote verse, if you will, for the COGwriter and CCOG.org websites, along with Hebrews 13:1, "Let brotherly love continue."
And that is what this website strives to do, despite my flaws and limitations. Jude 3 is a verse I take quite personally, as well Hebrews 13:1.
Some additional information is about me in the sermon: Personal Christian trials, lessons, & faith.
Mistakes and Theories
If you notice actual mistakes (typos, improper citations, faulty links, etc.) at the COGwriter or ccog.org sites, please email me so I can try to correct them. My email address is COGwriter@aol.com and I greatly appreciate those of you who have assisted me throughout the years in this manner. If you have a sincere question about something written at the COGwriter or ccog.org sites, I will try to answer it if I can. Also, please provide the URL for the item if possible as there are over 10,000 articles on COGwriter and simply telling me that I wrote something does not tell me where to find it.
However, I am not interested in religious spam, newsletters I have not signed up for, non-personal emails, group emails, sales offers, slams against the Churches of God in general, broad-brushed condemnations of my writings by those who cannot cite where my references may be in error, nor peoples' personal prophetic theories that disagree with what those in the Continuing Church of God believe. If you feel that somehow God has given you a special prophetic message or insight, please contact an appropriate COG minister for your geographical area to discuss that--do NOT CONTACT ME (my not taking time to shoot down contrary doctrines should not be interpreted that I "couldn't find anything wrong" with them as some have improperly claimed). If the minister believes that I should be involved, he will contact me. If you will not do this, then please understand that I will not respect any such submissions. If you are not serious enough to contact a real Church of God minister, please understand that I consider such people as unwilling to accept biblical church governance and/or as religious hobbyists as opposed to those who are truly willing to be led by God--even if you think you are an apostle, prophet (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God), one of the two witnesses (see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?), specially-called, had some dream/vision, etc.
Those who are being led by God, will seek to understand how and why He has a ministry and will submit themselves to God's will to help accomplish His plan (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 16:16) (see also The Bible, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).
For a brief summary of what the Churches of God are all about, please visit Overview: How Does the Continuing Church of God Agree and Disagree with Other Faiths Professing Christ?
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