R.B. Thieme Jr.
Date: December 16, 2006 04:55PM
I just wanted to clarify the statement above:
[i:0a2b1931b4]I actually recently read an article in the Houston Post written by a true Greek scholar who wrote that “Thieme made several grammatical errors” during multiple sermons. This gentleman was very unimpressed with Thieme’s ability to translate the original languages. I have heard the same from other scholars. For me, this was shocking, but it does make sense. [/i:0a2b1931b4]
The person orange is referring to is Gary Wills, who is a widely regarded author and historian. He is probably best known for winning a Pulitzer for "Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America". I wouldn't call him a "true Greek scholar", though he knows some Greek. Wills visited Thieme's church in preparation for the writing of his book "Under God: Religion and American Politics".
Wills was researching, as were many in the media at the time, the connection between newly elected vice president Dan Quayle and Berachah. By the way, the connection, as I pointed out in my post above, was that of Quayle's wife's parents being members of the church. Many in the media jumped to a massively erroneous assumption in that somehow Dan Quayle was a die-hard student of Berachah, which was not the case, but that didn't stop the media from blowing this all out of proportion. By the way, when the media began pestering the church to let them in and videotape services, Thieme initially denied the request, but then let them in and gave the gospel for several services. A genius move... I think they got bored and left after about a week.
Anyway, my point was that Wills is not a "Greek scholar" (we don't even know what the "errors" Thieme made were, since Wills didn't elaborate), In fact, in a review of Wills book, Dr. Terry Morin (of New St. Andrews, and having no affiliation with Thieme), wrote that Wills' Greek word studies "leave something to be desired".
Some of the other statements, such as:
[i:0a2b1931b4]Emotions are evil and are very dangerous[/i:0a2b1931b4]
are just intellectually dishonest. This has never been said by Thieme, or any other pastor at Berachah. "Emotion" has been there as a legitimate part of the soul, taught by Thieme, from Basics tape 1. I realize you may be trying to make a far-stretching, half-sarcastic inference derived from certain doctrines, but many here reading these things are trusting posters to be forthright and honest. What has always been stressed by Thieme is that an inordinate [i:0a2b1931b4]emphasis [/i:0a2b1931b4]on emotions, or putting emotions in control of the mentality of the soul can have devastating results, not that emotions in themselves are evil.
[i:0a2b1931b4]There is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion. “Life in the womb is just reflexmotility” [/i:0a2b1931b4]
c'mon orange...this is ridiculous. Yes, Berachah does teach the concept that, though there is physical, reflexive life as well as a kind of format soul in the womb, there is indeed no soul life until it is given by God at birth, they have [i:0a2b1931b4]never[/i:0a2b1931b4] taught there is "absolutely nothing wrong with abortion". What has been taught is that "abortion is private matter between a woman and her doctor."
There are many other statements above which copy the same far-stretching, straw-man type style, but rather than go into a dissection of every statement (and make this post longer than anyone would care to read, as if it isn't already), I wanted to say this....
I have been a Berachah taper for many years, and yes, I have seen some bad things come of either immature or young Berachah members who are basically trying to emulate the personality of a former lieutenant colonel who has had 30,000 men under him during WWII....they attempt to emulate the personality without really having much thought behind what they are doing. I've run across the arrogance as well, and yes, it happens...I've seen it. I empathize with you if you have had the misfortune to have to be around or endure some of these nitwits. But I've also had the incredible honor to be around Berachah members who have been among the most gracious, unbelievably beautiful, mature people I have ever met.
What some don't realize is that the person standing in that pulpit for 53 years was doing what he did out of love for his congregation. We are talking about a man who studied his brains out for 9 years in school, then spent another 53 years studying for hours on end each day so that he could feed his congregation. And those familiar with Thieme know what I mean by this..he didn't copy a 30 minute sermon out of a book to use on Sundays..he racked his brains out studying daily. This kind of discipline and perseverance is so rare. And he did it out of love for his congregation, and his personal love for the Lord. I've never seen anything like it.
Thieme's "punchiness" and at times, testiness, were not always there. Listen to some early '60s tapes and you would think you are listening to any old Bible class at a local Baptist church. Thieme's teaching style began to change as his audience did. As the late '60s and then the '70s began to unfold there was a marked change in the audience at Berachah, which of course, reflected the general changing attitudes of society at large during the time. He did indeed become more testy at times, but I always saw this as Thieme wanting very much for his congregation to stick with it, for their personal happiness. I guess some people see this as arrogance, I saw it as dedication, as did thousands of others.
Some make an issue of the specialized vocabulary of Thieme, but the vocabulary is meant to represent Biblical concepts. For instance, instead of giving a couple of paragraphs about how we mature, as Christians, by growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit, etc. etc. ..we have terms like "divine dynasphere". Dyna from the Greek "dunamis", meaning "power", ie the power of the Spirit. People make a huge deal of these things, but all they are meant to do is teach. Not to zombify the congregation, not to enforce a cult of personality, simply to [i:0a2b1931b4]help[/i:0a2b1931b4] a Christian think about doctrinal concepts and learn. It's no different than a philosopher coining the word "utilitarianism" to describe Bentham, so he won't have to use 1,000 words every time he talks about it. One word calls to mind a page of information. Thieme's methods are no different. But since this is the Bible, people get worked up into hysterics over this, as if the English translations carry some kind of holy, untouchable sanctity.
What many people didn't see, or didn't care to see was that, behind the exterior they sometimes saw in the pulpit was one of the most humble and compassionate men I have ever known. And I've seen this compassion in action, in person, with my own eyes. He was one of the few people I have seen that did what he did out of pure love, and not out of approbation lust, desire to manipulate, desire for wealth or power, as is so prevalent in other churches. And he was man enough to admit when he was wrong. Of course, as a student himself, he has had to constantly revise his teachings as he learned new things, but on numerous occasions he has publically apologized from the pulpit for erroneous doctrines that were called out by members of the congregation. These are the action of a tremendously humble man, not a cult leader.
I'd like to echo Rio's sentiments above. It is mind-boggling that Berachah is called a cult in certain circles. We are talking about a church that never begs money, [i:0a2b1931b4]gives away[/i:0a2b1931b4] its books and recordings, never charging a penny. A church whose elders or pastors will never bother you should you choose to leave. We are also taking about a church that is among the most pro-semitic churches around (an entire book was written by Thieme about the evils of anti-semitism). Ask around and you'll see that groups aligned with cults can tend to be anti-semitic to varying degrees. I could go on and on, but it's probably best I end here.