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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: gr8nurse ()
Date: December 03, 2006 08:27AM

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orangeperuviscacha
Greetings,

i'm not expecting much, as i realise that this group generally flies under the radar. The church is called Berachah Church in Houston, Texas.
I am searching for people who have had a background in this church, also people known as 'tapers' across the U.S.
I am looking to collect ex-members thoughts on their time under 'the Colonel'.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: gr8nurse ()
Date: December 03, 2006 08:40AM

I am a former member of Berachah Church and a former taper. First of all let me say that the term Thiemite was one of which the Colonel himself did not approve. Colonel Theime did not approve of denominations and the Thiemite term implied something along those lines. I stopped attending Berachah Church because I divorced and did not want to attend church with my exhusband. I have nothing but good to say about the church, its members and Colonel Thieme. Why am I a former Taper? Not sure, lately I have been thinking about ordering some tapes and getting back into it. many have called Berachah a cult. This is absurd. The members tend to be conservative hard working successful people. As for Berachah flying under the radar; I am not sure what that means. It is located in the busiest neighborhood in Houston, and there is a sign outside, you cant miss it. They dont go out of the way to generate publicity or have a TV show or any of that stuff but they are far from covert. They choose to teach the word of God by face to face teaching in church and by sending tapes free to anyone who wants them. No money is ever requested. If anyone wants to donate it is put the most cost effective use possible. Colonel Thieme did rub some people the wrong way because he was blunt and uncompromising. He did not seek to control. He expected listeners in church to submit to pastoral athority and be quiet during the message. He also had choice words for members who only showed up occasionally. There were no cult element within the church that I was ever aware of . Colonel Thieme's message is often misunderstood and missapplied, that is true, and a pity. He was the premier bible teacher of the 20th century in my opinion. Not only did he teach me the Bible but he taught me to think as well. He did not dictate what I thought. Few people can really appreciate what that means. Symbiot 429.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: gr8nurse ()
Date: December 03, 2006 09:22AM

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Wright_Again
Not to worry Linda, I just wanted to make sure that others understood the pervasive jargon that is used by this group. At least they are using a new word rather than using an old one and giving it a new definition.

I do believe that there is a spiritual war going on all around us, but that groups like Thieme's tapers are missing the boat since they define sin simply in terms of material wealth, sexual chastity etc They might consider that being a snooty jerk is not following the will of God.

From where I sit it looks like there are a great number of reversionists follow Thieme. :?

I cant speak for other tapers but I know that Colonel Thieme stated countless times that mental attitude sins were among the worst. I believe that were you to study Colonel Thiemes teachings carefully you would find that he certainly did not define sin in terms of material wealth, or chastity per se. He regarded sins of chastity as being far down the ladder compared to gossip, jealousy, or pride. Symbiot 429.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: ephesians1:3 ()
Date: December 06, 2006 02:13AM

I would just like to back up what gr8nurse has stated, the statement by Wright_Again is actually the complete inverse of the church's focus.


First, the last thing Berachah would ever consider a sin is material wealth. The church is and has been attended by people of immense power and wealth over the years, including Marilyn Quayle's parents, among others. The church, as does the Bible, always taught that money as a prime motivator in life (putting it ahead of Christ) is sin, but the last thing ever taught is that having material wealth or money is wrong.

Also, the church actually [i:046d42c719]demphasized[/i:046d42c719] the indordinate focus on sexual sins that often occurs in certain denominations. Obviously they have always taught that any sexual activity outside marriage is sinful, and entire tape series have been devoted to the subject, but you did not hear about it every other sermon, as in some churches.

The whole emphasis of Thieme's teaching, regarding sin, was focused on mental attitude sins, primarily. Arrogance, pride, hatred, jealousy, bitterness were always taught to be among the worst of sins, and the ones that truly destroy the soul and any capacity for happiness. [/i]

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: HappyAndFree ()
Date: December 09, 2006 01:55PM

All I know is that I am NOW happy and free. I was neither happy nor free while involved in Berachah church. I used to plead with God, "Please, please help me to believe this stuff so I won't get scar tissue on my soul". And the whole time, it was the Holy Spirit YELLING at me, "THAT'S NOT RIGHT!!!", not my 'negative volition'.

While under Thieme's teachings, I learned a lot of 'bible doctrine according to Col Bob Thieme'. He taught in such a way that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. He was so intensely examining the bark on the tree, or the mold on the tree, that I couldn't see the whole picture. I left that church after an entire childhood and part of my adulthood not knowing most of the standard bible STORIES. And once I started to see the [i:466fec2942]whole[/i:466fec2942] picture, I realized how distorted his teaching is.

And I've never since been exposed to such a group of self-righteous people. At the funeral of a relative, a Berachah member had the audacity to comment to me about my children (who belong to a fine Protestant church and engage in regular bible study), "well, at [i:466fec2942]least [/i:466fec2942] they are saved". I stood shaking my head in disbelief. And I remembered, this IS the way those people think. They think they are getting a higher quality of bible teaching than everyone else (who doesn't teach it like Bob Thieme). That's cultish. They really believe they are better than other Christians, more mature, and they expect to have greater rewards in heaven.

And they really make fun of benevolence. It's nothing but 'works of the flesh' according to those who have studied under Thieme. Totally unbelievable. Sure, they can be kind to other members of the church. That's not works of the flesh. But let a Baptist or Methodist do something benevolent, and it's works of the flesh. How do they know what is motivating others to do good?

But it doesn't surprise me that people like it. It makes a person feel good to think he/she is better than others.

I'm just SO happy to be free from all that legalism and distortion of God's word.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Date: December 15, 2006 09:23PM

Here is a comment from a few years ago, on the high-demand nature of belonging to this group. I have put this up, for those who may be considering taking up someone's offer to "listen to a tape"...

I think that an apt statement concerning coming under this group's influence, which I read, is, "When you enter the web of the narcissist, you lose yourself."

-----------------------------

Below are some of the lies that came across to me over the years. Some are quotes and some are deceptions of the unspoken variety. Some of them you wouldn’t really get unless you sat with the congregation.
HERE THEY ARE:

- There is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion. “Life in the womb is just reflexmotility”

- If you are not attending Berachah, it’s possible that you are getting decent doctrine, but it’s not likely.

- If you don’t agree totally with Thieme’s doctrines, you are a loser and you are inferior - “poor sap”

- If you show emotion, especially concerning God, you are weak and “you will fail when the chip are down” (this usually referred to the inevitable invasion of the communists).

- “Reading the Bible by yourself, is a waste of time, you can not possibly understand what it means”

- If you only attend Berachah on Sundays you are a “holy roller and a loser”

- Col. Thieme knows more about the Bible then “anyone who has lived in the past 2000 years” due to a superior knowledge of the Scriptures. Can you believe that he actually says this about himself? I’ve heard it with my own two ears. 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.

- If you sin, get hurt, fail, don’t feel it, “just rebound and pull yourself up by your bootstraps”

- If you disagree with the Col. you are certainly in “carnality” or “reversionism” and had better change your thinking or you might “be skinned alive with a whip.” This is important, because there was an unwritten rule that you never discussed your feelings about Bob’s teachings for fear that you might say something wrong and appear to be in “reversionism.”

- If you go to church six times a week and keep taking in that daily feeding of doctrine, God may take pity on me and bless you with +H (perfect happiness) but don’t hold your breath because “most of you will never make it.” I’ll never forget the time one of my song leaders in prep school announced that she was a super grace believer and she was going to receive the crown of glory when she died - even then I new something was amiss

- If you don’t believe and practice what Col. Thieme teaches or sin too much you will “die a miserable death” - maybe even the “Sin Unto Death”

- Colonel Thieme and Berachah Church are the only hope for our nation. Destruction is eminent! In fact, if it weren’t for Berachah and the “pivot” this country would most certainly already be destroyed by the communists.

- I go to Berachah Church - I AM BETTER THAN YOU. This one is a tough one to swallow, but if you really look hard, you might have to admit you’ve thought this at one time.

- “There’s only one right man or woman for everyone, and if you don’t marry him or her then your marriage will fail.”

- If I screw up, God might strike me down with “triple compound discipline” at any given moment.

- Emotions are evil and are very dangerous.

- “You should only listen to the teachings of your right pastor (Col. Thieme) and no one else”.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: ephesians1:3 ()
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.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: HappyAndFree ()
Date: December 18, 2006 12:43AM

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HappyAndFree
All I know is that I am NOW happy and free. I was neither happy nor free while involved in Berachah church. I used to plead with God, "Please, please help me to believe this stuff so I won't get scar tissue on my soul". And the whole time, it was the Holy Spirit YELLING at me, "THAT'S NOT RIGHT!!!", not my 'negative volition'.

While under Thieme's teachings, I learned a lot of 'bible doctrine according to Col Bob Thieme'. He taught in such a way that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. He was so intensely examining the bark on the tree, or the mold on the tree, that I couldn't see the whole picture. I left that church after an entire childhood and part of my adulthood not knowing most of the standard bible STORIES. And once I started to see the [i:5f2a90a3d1]whole[/i:5f2a90a3d1] picture, I realized how distorted his teaching is.

And I've never since been exposed to such a group of self-righteous people. At the funeral of a relative, a Berachah member had the audacity to comment to me about my children (who belong to a fine Protestant church and engage in regular bible study), "well, at [i:5f2a90a3d1]least [/i:5f2a90a3d1] they are saved". I stood shaking my head in disbelief. And I remembered, this IS the way those people think. They think they are getting a higher quality of bible teaching than everyone else (who doesn't teach it like Bob Thieme). That's cultish. They really believe they are better than other Christians, more mature, and they expect to have greater rewards in heaven.

And they really make fun of benevolence. It's nothing but 'works of the flesh' according to those who have studied under Thieme. Totally unbelievable. Sure, they can be kind to other members of the church. That's not works of the flesh. But let a Baptist or Methodist do something benevolent, and it's works of the flesh. How do they know what is motivating others to do good?

But it doesn't surprise me that people like it. It makes a person feel good to think he/she is better than others.

I'm just SO happy to be free from all that legalism and distortion of God's word.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Date: December 18, 2006 02:33PM

Ephesians,

Thankyou for your comment again.

All of my observations re the social and learning environment have come from not being a member of this group. I am an outsider, and as such, if I have posted any comments which are far-streched, I apologize and welcome correction.

Over the past year or so, I have corresponded with a good number of former members, from young adults to those around Bob Jr.’s age. They have been members from the early years back in the 60’s, through to the twilight years of his leadership at Berachah.

Educating myself about the mechanisms of being within a ‘cult’, the effect that the leader has on those within the group, and the changes that can occur in their behaviour, emotions and thinking, I firmly believe that this developed as the years went by into such a group.

The reason I began looking into Thieme Jr., is that I have within my family, group members; tapers, like yourself.

Regarding my concerns (again, from the effect that Bob Jr. is having on their mind), below are a couple of examples:-

1. My mother (a taper for over 10 years); “If you have a problem with Bob (his teaching), the problem is you.” (This is an across the board expression/reaction amongst cult group members).
2. At my grandfathers funeral, my mother is saying that she is on, “bible doctrine”. As such, she does not need to be expressing any emotion (crying; she was trying not to cry) at her father’s death. This is an example of constriction of emotion, or repression of healthy/normal emotions. Again, this is found within group members of cults.
3. My mothers insistence that she must listen to her tape every morning (if she doesn’t she is not going to ‘make it’, or bad things will happen to her).
4. My brother taking on the more harsh mannerisms, speech, of Bob Jr. (He too is a long term taper; not “immature”).

It is my opinion, that Bob’s own persona (including his range of emotions) were read into the scriptures. Group members being indirectly? taught to adopt Bob’s own emotional range, and his own persona/views, to varying degrees. He expected -whether consciously or not- those in his group to become like him. And if they were not like him, then they were weak, or inferior.

Why are these things harmful to those caught up within this type of teaching system? Because their thinking defers to groupthink. They are unable to step back, and express themselves in their own words and thought. They put on a tape in their mind, and look for the answer.

The subject of Bob’s categorizing of cause and effect doctrines, actually constricts the thinking of the members from possible/alternate causes. Instead of examing the possibility of everday events as having numerous causes, the member thinks of a doctrinal cause first, and reasons that this is why an event it happening. One personal example of this being; someone who is not in the group has cancer, the group member is thinking, this could be the “sin unto death”. (see R. Lifton and ‘loading the language’ references on this website).

You mentioned that it is wrong or “immature” that members should become like this. But where are the checks and balances for those who do? Who is watching out for them, so that they do not? even more so for the tapers, who called Bob their pastor, but they have never met him (because they live half way around the world), and Bob has never met them! How can Bob Jr. be called their “right” pastor, when their link to him is from a 40 year old tape? Where are the elders, to stop the taper from becoming a ‘thiemite’?

If the thought is that one is in “emotional revolt of the soul” or in “reversionism” or “arrogant” if one is questioning something they hear from a tape (as one poster mentioned previously), then they are in a mind trap, because again, the problem is them and the solution is to listen to another tape, or, “find the truth of the doctrine” a.k.a. “Doctrine over person” (see R. Lifton again).

In closing, it might be helpful if someone familiar with the group, clears up Bob Jr.’s role during WWII i.e. what his tasks actually involved. (In the past, his short biography on the back of the booklets which he published, was changed from what it previously said).

Ephesians, as this site does not allow for doctrinal discussions, I can email you if you wish, a doctoral thesis dissertation written in the late 90’s by a former Berachah member, who was a model attendee i.e. an educated military person. The subject of the paper is whether or not there is life in the womb, examining Bob Thieme Jr.’s logic/teaching on the issue.

Appreciating your latest comment, but respectfully disagreeing,

j.

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R.B. Thieme Jr.
Posted by: HappyAndFree ()
Date: December 19, 2006 09:36AM

Ephesians,

I also respectufully disagree

Orange,

I agree

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